April 25, 2005


who dropped his tools and his keys and left

I periodically wonder how impenetrable my usual slapdash sort of casual writing is, and of course they have formulas for such things. Currently, here's where I stand, according to this site (you know with a domain name like "Juicy Studio" it's a rigorously academic center):

Total sentences 187
Total words 2,217
Average words per Sentence 11.86
Words with 1 Syllable 1,453
Words with 2 Syllables 470
Words with 3 Syllables 170
Words with 4 or more Syllables 124
Percentage of word with three or more syllables 13.26%
Average Syllables per Word 1.53
Gunning Fog Index 10.05
Flesch Reading Ease 65.10
Flesch-Kincaid Grade 7.12

Somewhere foggily between a year or two back, whenever my peak blogging activity on livejournal was, my Flesch-Kincaid grade was something like 11, so clearly I'm backsliding. I'll have to pump up the syllables.

I've mentioned before that I'd been playing a fair amount of World of Warcraft. It's got the common design that when you do good things, you get experience. Not just vaguely-defined character-building sort of experience, but an actual number. Frequently, it just bursts into being above your head--usually, games being what they are, after you kill something. (I'd still like to see a game that takes the implications of that more seriously. See also Killer Instinct. Pen-and-paper wise, I think Sorcerer could probably do the trick pretty well. But I digress.)

I've also been preparing for a looming move, and me being who I am, that's involved some procrastination as to things like packing and cleaning and whatnot. As one example of just how much of a geek I am, I had the thought over the last few days--that being when I've finally started moving under deadline pressure--that such tedious and inherently unfun tasks would actually be easier to get done if, for example, every time I got another box properly filled and taped up, a burst of XP numbers appeared over my head. Especially if I also had a progress meter that showed how close I was to leveling up.

I figure that shortly before I sleep tonight, the trusty computer is being boxed up (I'm sending it separately via UPS, movers being slower as they are, and me being a geek as I am). I will then be out of internet-type contact for FOUR WHOLE DAYS. Pretty intense stuff, that.

I've seen elsewhere that this is apparently "turn off your TV week," which is also pretty intense stuff for other folks. Intensity of these things vary by person.

posted by Gar @ 4:39 PM

April 20, 2005


Ipecac, using TCP/IP

Like many in my demographic of me, I've been on the internets for a good long while. I admit to often feeling jaded about some of the highlights of the heights and/or depths (choose what you will) of the intense weirdness people are capable of. Lady married to the Berlin Wall, check--surprising the very first time I saw it, sure, but that was in younger days. Dude pracing around in Peter Pan regalia, whatever works for him. Some of my readership may remember I got some roleplaying-story-generating mileage over discovering there was such a thing as a self-trepanation movement. And so on. As years pass, these kind of things elicit less of a reaction.

Then on occasion, I find stuff like...well, BEHOLD! You can probably consider it safe for work, but more probably not quite as safe for stomach.

It's good to know I'm not really completely jaded at all.

And upon edit, I've noticed the date on aforementioned story. Disappointing, really.

posted by Gar @ 9:54 AM

April 16, 2005


rambling only

The other day I, or rather the sun, burnt heck out of the back of my neck. This is one of the problems of outside. There's a lack of proper climate control, which is a scheme it uses when it occasionally generates days that are just gobsmackingly beautiful, which Friday was. This persuades you into, say, spending a good few hours out and about; all the while, Sol (Invictus only until I get that powerful gamma-ray laser up and running!) works on moving you a few steps down the probability distribution of getting melanoma several decades hence.

It's akin to to someone distracting you while a partner picks your pocket, only with blind insensate forces. Or, if you like to row your boat gently down the stream of teleology, me getting sunburned is a small but important part of a greater plan. Perhaps the dermatologist who will confirm that the future melanoma is benign will regain his faith in life by the diagnosis, something like that. You never know!

I still haven't found out if the last third of God of War falls apart or not, because World of Warcraft has pretty much completely consumed my gaming time.

I recently watched "Home Movie", and recommend it. It's a rather short documentary of a handful of somewhat non-traditional homes, and the generally offbeat people living in them. It's by the same folks who made "American Movie," that being a longer documentary about a completely batshit-insane dude and his battle to make independent films against the host of troubles presented by, pretty much, his own delusions. I like that one a lot more, personally, but Home Movie probably has wider entertainment appeal, inasmuch as it's lighter, as in less disturbing, affair.

Anyway, their documentary style is to pretty much stay invisible, only occasionally speak to ask questions of various sorts at the subjects, and otherwise shut the hell up and let the subjects speak for themselves--which is an approach that's pretty bafflingly rare in the genre in general. If you like films about people living in decommissioned ICBM silos, a ramshackle housebout in the bayou, a treehouse in Hawaii, a home fashioned after The House of Tomorrow! as defined in the 50's, and a house more or less ran and designed by its cats, Home Movie is probably the best in the highly crowded list of such films.

posted by Gar @ 8:49 PM

April 13, 2005



This link vectors by way of the most recent post atMind Hacks. Just another of those really neat demonstrations of how a lot of our cognitive functioning consists of unconsciously recognizing and/or imposing a pattern on what's really a very small number of actual points of perception--pretty much the central feature-and-sometimes-bug of the brain.

I somewhat-recently read through Greg Bear's Anvil of Stars (in general a fun little story of murkily-righteous xenocide) was the idea that one of the tools the alien benefactors gave those who were to be agents of the Law (what is the law? To utterly exterminate any civilization which produced self-replicating planet-killing machines. That is the Law! Are we not men?) was momerath--basically using the unconscious processing powers of the noggin for the kind of mathematics needed for pseudoscience. (Named after Carroll's Jabberwocky, of course, in fine sci-fi tradition.) This is the kind of thing I've always thought of as a neural co-processor, only with no additional hardware posited. I like the idea.

posted by Gar @ 8:52 PM

April 12, 2005


the bicycle streamers were the secret

One of the things that many people don't realize about the internet is that it evolved out of a military project to ensure that, even in the case of a limited nuclear exchange with the Reds, people would still be able to make frivolous legal threats.

This exchange wouldn't have been possible without that design intent. My personal favorite bit is this:

My dad actually called me last night to say "some crazy guy phoned the house here. He called me a 'candy ass' and then hung up." I replied to him, "oh yeah, that's this guy representing the Ultimate Warrior. He pretty much has an airtight legal case against us, which is why he's spending his Sunday night calling you, my father." My dad doesn't understand the Internet as well as I do.

posted by Gar @ 8:54 PM

April 10, 2005


where's the rub?

One of the wrinkles in how my brain is wrinkled is that I can count on one hand the number of nightmares I've had (in terms of relatively grown-up years; I'm sure I had a fairly standard amount as a kid). What really makes a nightmare a nightmare isn't the dream itself, but rather the reaction to it--waking up badly, etc. In general, I think people have nightmares and wake up discombobulated and sort of freaked out; I have dreams that many others would have the nightmare-defining reaction to, and I tend to wake up, briefly disoriented, and then find the whole thing pretty neat as the noggin shifts to awake status.

Part of this may just be my own particular smartwiring. A "if you don't watch the violence, you'll never get desensitized to it" kind of deal. A lot of my dreams tend to dance the edge of lucidity, and that's probably a factor, too.

This is a good recent example: I'm with a group of folks. Their identity is sort of liquid, in that dreamwise way--friends one moment, family the next, strangers after that--that sort of thing. We're using a remote robot-drone gizmo to scout out a house where something terrible has happened--we're all clustered round a screen where the remote-eye's view is at. (Lacking is any sense of actually controlling the thing--that's apparently just a given, which, dreamwise, I accept at the time.) Exactly what that something-terrible is ill-defined, more just the atmosphere of the place. The remote proceeds into the next room, where there are bodies. Other people with me are not taking this well.

Then the screen darkens and goes black, the darkness is from the image, understand, not just the screen futzing out, and--dig it, this was a killer special effect, and was pretty much the toehold by which my memory kept the chunk of dream it did--forms into a hand that reaches out of the screen and seizes my arm firmly. I announce, "I did this. I did all this," which was the moment the dream went fully lucid with the immediate thought, well, of course I did, it's my imagery after all, and then I was awake.

No distress--my reaction was pretty much finding that shadow-hand-from-the-monitor to be really cool.

Tangentially, now that I'm sleeping a more normal schedule again, my dream recall is definitely improving. Go figure.

posted by Gar @ 9:01 PM

April 09, 2005



After some years of avoiding MMOGs entirely, I've failed to continue doing so. (I blame Jeff.) It doesn't help that World of Warcraft works just ridiculously well over dialup (I never would have believed it; I figured pretty much confirming it was no-go for a few weeks till I get broadband access, but--barring a truly impressive patch download first thing--nope), which used to be one of the mainline defenses of my MMO immune system.

Anyway, if any of the vast readership of mine wants to say hi whilst I'm grinding, and further learning to translate the crazy moon-language that's involved in talking about the game, I've got three characters on the Garona server, Ralfas, Striiga (I don't know what that is, either. It just sort of came out of my fingers after three names were already taken), and Grignr; dwarf hunter (he doesn't actually hunt dwarves; that wouldn't be sporting what with their stubby legs and all), night elf druid ("I have gray eyes!"), and orc warrior respectively.

posted by Gar @ 9:56 AM

April 06, 2005


lashings of the old ultraviolence

Two quick reviews of media of the extreme-violence category, passive and active respectively.

Sin City: There's a common theme to discussions about movies that arose out of comic book (graphic novels if you really must) sources--mainly, fanboys of the source material being variously outraged-to-mildly-cranky about all the liberties and changes to things. You know the sort, who're sad because the Green Goblin didn't kill Gwen Stacy, whoever the fuck she is. That sort of thing.

Discussions of Sin City I've seen have presented an interesting, and deeply amusing to me, twist on that factor--namely, fanboys of the source material who are mildly cranky because not enough liberties were taken in the film adaptation. Apparently, the movie's an almost direct translation of the Sin City comics, with the only changes being Hartigan's story being split to bookend the other two story arcs. These voices feel it would have worked better to intercut between all three stories or somesuch.

I think they're dumb. The movie works great as it is. Hartigan's story works great as a bookend device, so that's a change (if it is one, I've never read the original comics though that'll probably change) that I agree wholeheartedly with. It gives the film an overall structure of:
1: ordinary guy pushed to extraordinary extremes
2: superhuman antihero's story
3: lesser-but-still-debateably-superhuman antihero's story
4: closing out on ordinary guy in extremes.

...which works really well. Marv's story arc was my favorite to watch, but Hartigan's had the biggest emotional punch to it.

Extremely stylish and enjoyable. The quasi-black-and-white was used to particularly good effect in some of the gorier bits--dark figures bleeding bright white. Not deep symbolism by any means, but fun.

I'd like Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller to team up someday to do a hyperkinetic 80-minute-tops translation of "Hard-Boiled."

God of War. I've really been enjoying this Playstation 2 title lately. It's a highly polished and extremely violent action game with occasional puzzle/platformy bits dashed in, and just does a lot of things perfectly right. In no particular order:

Basically, it's a joy to play. I'm apparently two-thirds or so of the way through now, and will post a follow-up if the whole experience just catastrophically falls apart at the end (as some games are known to do).

posted by Gar @ 8:08 AM

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