Tag Archives: bloggery

Minecraft or more like FINE…craft?

Amirite?

Heidi and I have been playing Minecraft together in the last couple of months and having an unwarranted amount of fun.

I realize that I am a bit late on the Minecraft bandwagon (though to my geek cred, I did purchase the game a few years back when it was still in alpha, but I played it only sporadically back then.) However, Minecraft for Xbox 360 is recent enough that I don’t feel too bad discussing it.

Having the game on a console lends it to a more pick up and play mentality, despite the boot up time for the Xbox, and that means it is a little bit easier to get my wife on board.

As I have learned with her and various forms of entertainment, the biggest battle is getting Heidi to try something. Even if she believes that she will enjoy it, she takes a long time (or it seems long to me, anyway) to bridge the gap between hypothesis and reality. But once she samples it, gets that first taste, then we can really ascertain her reaction to the game.

Since her first exposure around Christmas, Heidi has gone out of her way to play the game at least once a week. I call that a win.

Minecraft is just plain more fun with someone else. By myself, I quickly find the game to be somewhat lonely and frankly a bit depressing. With someone else, however, it turns into the best LEGO session ever — specifically, one in which no one is required to clean up all the little bricks afterward.

Over Christmas break, I played a decent amount of Minecraft with my brothers, and Tim and I worked on a rather impressive transcontinental mine cart system. At one junction, the user may get off the rail, pass into the Nether, then ride that rail (dubbed “The Netherway”) and cross to the other side of the world in less than a minute. It was an extensive project, and one that took a lot of time and effort.

(Admittedly, most of the manual labor was done by Tim, but I take great pride in my management abilities shining through — I synthesized our systematic processes or something.)

But we bonded over it! And we came up with faux military protocol that had to be followed while using the railway (such as a formulaic announcement of which rail you plan to ride) and ‘consequences’ for breaking protocol. We put Heidi through a rigorous application process in order to justify a stop on the railway for her house (after she insisted on making a floating house which happens to be inconvenient for rail travel).

Now Heidi has discovered Creative mode, where the player has unlimited access to all materials and the only real limits are the imagination.

She has been hard at work for a few weeks constructing a gargantuan crystal castle in the sky, towering over a nearby village whose residents she has given theoretical serfdom.

When she asked me to join her, I popped into the world for a bit and gave some advice on making secret doors, some opinions on interior decorating, spawned an unreasonable number of skeleton archers on one of her towers.

My biggest contribution, however, is an automated system for flushing the unwashed masses, straight out of her throne room. With the flip of a switch, the dirty peasant slips down into a stream that passes through something vaguely sewer like and is ejected from the castle grounds (*floating* castle, mind you) and dumped into the ocean.

At least that’s what it does in theory. We’re still in development, working out the kinks. Honestly, I’m finding the tests to be almost more fun than I suspect the result will be.

I’d love to tell you more but that castle toilet isn’t going to fix itself.

Six Television Shows I’m Watching Right Now

Well. Not right now, as in this instant.

Never mind.

As a budding writing professional, my life is full to the brim with trying to get around to writing. I am actually productive for at least part of the day, but I spend a larger chunk than I’d prefer in the limbo state of just-about-to-start.

Because of this, I only have enough room in my free time for a limited selection of television programming. I’ve cut shows that I just didn’t care enough about to keep up watching, so the shows that remain must have some semblance of value (to me, at least).

Here are the shows that are currently occupying my mental space.

COMMUNITY

Community is one of those shows that you either get or don’t get. When it first started, I didn’t get it, and therefore it dropped off my radar.

Then, years later, I watched three seasons of the show in about two weeks of time. Something clicked, and I quite enjoy the show now. (Is it a coincidence that, in that intervening time, I attended a community college? Yes, I believe that is pure coincidence.)

It is in its fifth season and therefore beyond the realm of possibility that students as basically competent as the show’s main characters could still need further ‘educating.’ The writers have managed to give a reason for the characters to still be there, and the transition of Jeff to the role of teacher was brilliant.

GRIMM

I started Grimm without expecting much. It looked like it might be a fun show to see run itself into the ground. But no, somehow they have managed to keep it (relatively) fresh and entertaining.

Some may find him bland, but I like Nick as the lead of the show, and the supporting characters tend to have a depth actually explored over the course of the seasons. Some of the subplots are stretched rather thin, but at least I. Sort of care enough to see where it goes.

SLEEPY HOLLOW

My wife and I came upon this show late, but in time to catch the pilot episode. The misadventures of a time traveling (or rather time displaced) Colonial turncoat may not seem like a winning concept, but the actor depicting Crane offers just enough charm, mixed with just enough British reserve, to keep our collective interest.

I wish the show would decide on what it wishes to focus, as the overarching goal seems to change with every episode. Also, plot lines seem to show up in the middle of episodes, especially related to character development, and never resolved, a habit that is growing frustrating to me. Perhaps the writers are doing this on purpose, but the sorts of questions they leave unanswered makes it feel more like sloppy writing / poor time management than pre-planned glimpses into the characters’ lives.

AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.

Honestly, I’m just watching this because it’s a family event (we watch it with my dad), and… that’s basically it.

The show has somewhat failed to present compelling characters and the writers don’t seem to realize that as they try to create tension that, for me, falls flat.

Maybe it will turn out to be the coolest thing ever, but the only way I see that happening is for the writers and producers to loose the reins, to let the team interact with the greater Marvel universe rather than seem to be tied down to the movie franchises.

THE BLACKLIST

This one, I’m not really sure what to think.

James Spader as brainiac super slick criminal Red Reddington seems to oscillate between sly manipulator and kid-with-a-magnifying-class nuts. He almost works as a character, but I need to see more from him to believe that he’s as bad (and as good) as everyone else in the cast seems to view him.

I like the tension, I am intrigued by the overall mystery, as this show builds sympathy for the characters in ways that S.H.I.E.L.D. has so far failed to do. (Obviously, these are very different genres, but I think something could be learned from The Blacklist.)

The overarching conspiracy seems intricate and well thought out, so I hope I won’t be disappointed when we find out what’s really going on.

ALMOST HUMAN

I’ve been sort of a closet that-guy-Karl-Urban fan for a few years now, after he finally passed into my consciousness as a name in THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK. I know that movie is much maligned, but his Lord Vaako was just badass (even in the silly costume). I mean, anyone who can take a role, married to what’s-her-snakey-lady and keep a straight face has some acting chops. (Yes, his turn in the STAR TREK reboot has been quite enjoyed in this household as well.)

In this show, though? He’s kinda meh. Not bad, but it feels like Detective John Kennex is not stretching the bounds of the actor’s abilities. Kennex is kind of a douche, and might need to learn to “save the cat” sometime in the near future before he leaves audiences behind (or before they leave him).

Dorian, on the other hand, is quite adorable (and I say this with all of my masculinity in check). There’s something about the way he interacts with that world that is rather charming. Dorian helps carry us through each episode and his actor manages to capture those moments when he’s a little more machine than man.

Perhaps the show intends to imply that Kennex is more robotic than Dorian, with his singleminded approach to his police work, but I’m not sure they’re doing it on purpose.

Either way, it’s promising — and has a decent supporting cast — so we’re sticking with it, for now.

— — — — —

So, there you have it.

What shows am I missing out on? I don’t have a lot of room for something new, but a strong enough recommendation might sway me to add one or two to the stable.

An Exercise in Adaptive Writing Techniques / or / Writing Anywhere Despite the Circumstances

Here I sit, in a slowly depopulating parking lot outside a wayward Starbucks Coffee shop. The shop will close soon, but I managed to stop and get my One Day Only savings of fifty percent off a hand crafted espresso beverage, reducing the price to something approaching a reasonable markup for the drink.

It’s a gingerbread latte. I’m kind of iffy on the gingerbread flavor, but they are soon to close down the holiday side of the coffee shop and I figure it’s now or never for trying the specialty drink. It has molasses, REAL molasses, drizzled on top, and I cannot decide if that’s a feature or a bug. (Really undecided on the taste of straight up molasses, as well — ever since playing Candy Land as a child, I’ve possessed a cautious dislike of the stuff.)

We made this special stop to get my special bonus — which, no less, required a special double left turn due to my ‘special’ driving skills — and now here I sit with a mediocre beverage in a car that quit working.

There is no indication of why it’s not working, no special reason. In fact, it probably would be considered a ‘special’ car (for my family) if it managed to go six months without suffering some grave and random disfunction.

But it happened today, when I was planning on taking my half-off hand crafted beverage home and slurping through my writing for the day.

My initial reaction is to rail against the circumstance — why me? why my car? why now?
Instead, I’m writing this.

It helps that I have a wife in possession of nigh-infinite patience and understanding. She raised no objection when I pulled out my iPad and began tap tap tapping away at my virtual keyboard — a skill which I ought to develop, but I suspect I am in the nineteenth percentile in regards to effective usage of the esoteric word transference method.

In his, I am certain I could find a valuable life lesson, a way to grow as a person if I could but overcome my frustration with circumstance. I mean, does it say nothing that my inclination is to write out my frustrations rather than beat with my fists until I run out of energy and / or a solution presents itself?

Yes, that probably does speak to my personal growth, but still I linger on the inescapable shiftiness of it all.

Perhaps that means I’m still human.

Good to see that I didn’t ascend to the next plane of existence while I wasn’t looking. Wouldn’t THAT be embarrassing?

“Hello chums, it seems I took a wrong turn somewhere back at the coffee shop, I was wondering if it would be too much trouble for me to ask you to direct me to the bathroom?”
Of course, it would be after that when I discover that bladders are a thing of the past life and that mere implication of our former scatological tendencies is nigh heresy, especially to a stranger who has no reason to put up with your shit.

Assuming that the ascended being is one of pure energy, as the cultural keystone Stargate SG-1 (from which we may ascertain much truth and cool space battles) purports, does said enlightened one need to be concerned with waste removal? I mean, we already have in our vernacular concepts such as ‘bad energy,’ is it too much a stretch to think that an energy-based being might need to expel any negative energy it acquired while divining the secrets of the cosmos?

Such ponderings do I ponder, for it is a greater use of my mental faculties than whining about my present circumstance. My wife has been sent along her way, whisked to the house so that she may go through this ordeal only remotely and so that our kitten may not be lonely for any longer than necessary.

In the car, in the dark, I wait, and write this essay which itself confesses to be about not much at all, and I feel better. Ever so slightly better, but better.

It is nice to remember (or re-learn would perhaps be the better term) that my writing can serve a therapeutic role for myself, in addition to the entertaining and thought-provoking I hope to do for others.

Aha! At last I have determined the lesson which I may take forward from this treacherous night and apply to any similar situations in the future should they arise, and hope to pass on the knowledge to others:

Unless you just really love gingerbread, people, pass on the gingerbread latte at Starbucks. It’s kinda meh.