November 2nd, 2007

#674: More musings from the bunker

Haven't, and won't, read Neal Stevenson's Cryptonomicon because it's written in present tense. I hate stories written in present tense.

What finally sealed the deal for present-tense writing, for me, was Ordinary People, which I had to read for an English Literature class.

The main aim of using present tense is to make the story feel more immediate. There are other good sound reasons for using it. But I don't like it, and I have never liked any story I read which was written that way.

John Grisham writes primarily in past tense, but slips into present tense here and there. It's a technique I've tried myself, and it makes for some interesting reading, but I decided it wasn't for me.

My favorite mode is first person, past tense. Most of my stories are written that way. I can do third person but I just don't find it as entertaining; mostly I use it for stories that require multiple viewpoints. (I was once told that I was incapable of that technique but--considering that the person who told me that is an irredeemable hack--I don't believe it.)

The "irredeemable hack" made a conscious choice to begin writing this turgid, purple prose which was so inscrutable that it began to feature great numbers of dangling participles. (When even the writer can't keep track of what he's saying, the prose is too complex.) This same person accused me of copying other writers to the point of plagiarism, and of being unoriginal in other ways.

Then he wrote the ultimate cliche of fantasy stories: wizard finds, in farm village, young man who is Destined For Greatness, and leads him to magic sword, which he then uses to kill Evil Overlord Who Kills His Friends And Parents And Burns His Village.

Not content with that, he decided that this story was the first story in an epic about this guy who was always being reincarnated, who started out as the "Farm Boy With Sword" and ended up being second only to God. (Basically? He read Moorcock's various "Eternal Champion" books and thought it was cool.)

Meanwhile, because I drew a picture of a space ship with a habitat which rotated for artificial gravity, and called it a "carousel" like Clarke did, and referred to the nuclear engine as similar to the one in Heinlein's Rocket Ship Galileo--because of all that, I'm a "plagiarist".

This is why I scoff at his criticism of my writing ability.

* * *

I figured out part of what keeps me coming back to Diablo II: freedom of movement.

When you finish a section of the game, you're not locked out of it; you can go back and run around there if you like. The monsters you kill are only gone until you quit the game; when you start it up again, they respawn. So you can run around in the first screen of the game as long as you like (and can stand saving, quitting, and restarting) without ever going any farther, if that floats your boat.

Unlike Neverwinter Nights. I was thinking about the utterly whacked experience tables in the thing. They're set up so that you reach a certain level just as you get to point X in the game--side quests and wandering monsters don't amount to a hill of beans--and there's no way to change that short of saving your character (not the game) and restarting the entire campaign. Of course, you then wade through an endless parade of critters which get you 3 XP per kill, which--again--do nothing to advance you to a higher level.

The things you've killed stay dead, and nothing takes their places once they're gone--which means if you use up half your resources to kill one dragon, you don't have any way of replacing them, because the dragons in the game don't have real dragon hoards.

That was what made me find "god mode" for NwN: that first dragon I killed required that I burn up quite a lot of money to buy magic that could effect the stupid thing, and at that I almost got killed several times. For my efforts, I got four hundred stinking experience points and a handful of trinkets which didn't replace a tenth of what it cost me to kill the dragon.

Twenty minutes later I got two hundred XP for letting a guy out of a jail cell. WTF, where the hell is "god mode"?

When you kill a dragon--particularly single-handed--that's supposed to be major XP and major treasure for you. The encounter level was ludicrously unfair, and as such four thousand XP would not have been overdoing the experience gain. Particularly when the dragon's "hoard" was approximately the same haul you got from taking out the troll king a few chapters past.

But D2 isn't like that. Everything respawns, so if you run low on money, you can jet back a couple chapters to where the monsters are easier and spend time regenerating your stash of money. The experience is fair, too: a hard monster gets you more EPs than an easy one, and "effortless" kills get you about 1 or 2 EPs. (When you need 100,000,000 EPs for next level, it discourages going after the effortless things.)

And you can easily jump to any point in the game using the waypoints, too--you're not locked out of the Rogue Camp once you fix its problems. You're not banned from Kurast once you get rid of Mephisto. Everywhere you've been is open to you.

* * *

Thursday was a beautiful autumn day. I got some junk out of the garage, freeing up another 10 square feet of floor, and found another box of books and tapes which should not have been put into the garage. *sigh*

I still have a long way to go, though, and it's not going to happen at this rate. I think I'll take a week off before Thanksgiving to try to get some of this BS taken care of.

* * *

Tokimeki Memorial is beginning to grate. I hate the main character and want him to get beaten up. I hate his friends and want the main character to shoot them all: "You guys are pathetic losers!" blam blam blam. "Oh noes, what have I done?" Blam. Then I want the guy's whiny bitches to do the same thing: 3("Oh no, Aoba-kun!" Blam.)

Well, not Sayuri. She has some sense, so she can stay. And Hiyoko, too. The others? No.

There are only a few episodes left, and I do want to see how the story is resolved, but I'm not sure I can take more of Aoba's pathetically inept stupidity. I want to see if he breaks up with volleyball girl in order to be with Sayuri. (And makes whiny swim team girl unhappy, too.) Or maybe there's a surprise School Days ending with multiple stabbings and severed heads. (And a "Nice Boat".)

It woud be an improvement, but it's too much to hope for.

* * *

The kickin' con wear this year for me would be a t-shirt with the School Days logo on the front and "Nice Boat" on the back. That would be awesome. In fact, if I get a wild hair in an unlikely place, I may make such a shirt to wear to work. But the humor would be wasted on the great unwashed.

* * *

I found--in that box in the garage--my entire collection of future toilet paper Wild Cards novels, volumes 1-11.

I kept buying the books because, "It gets better! Right? It gets better?" Only it never got better. In fact, it got worse. I have never read a collection of stories which was meaner than the WC books. (Hmm, good acronym for future toilet paper!)

Not "dark". Elric of Melniboné was "dark". WC? WC was just spiteful, playing on all the badness in the human psyche and ignoring all the good parts. The one character in the entire series who did the right thing because it was the right thing was denigrated and treated like shit by the other characters.

Why? Well, because he testified before HUAC about "un-American" activities among the people infected with the WC virus! To the commie-libs who wrote the books, that was worse than drinking a bottle of drain cleaner and then changing bodies with someone against their will, thus killing the other person in the body you left. (And the character who did this liked doing it pretty much at random.)

In the first freaking book an otherwise normal guy ass-rapes a corpse because the corpse is a guy who has information he needs. The guy had a talent for "tantric energy" which enabled him to bring the dead guy back to life that way.

I was a pretty stupid kid when the WC books came out, which is why I didn't immediately recognize that "dude buttfucking corpse for information" is a big flashing "WARNING! DANGER!" sign. I mean, that's pretty much the international symbol for "run away" (well, that and Marv Albert in womens' lingerie).

Accepting that I didn't recognize this, at least I should have realized the problem when I started skipping whole sections of the books because I hated the characters they were about. If you read them, you'll recognize the name "Bagabond"--those are the sections I skipped. They were pointless, boring, and stupid.

And what about that guy who turned into an alligator approximately at random? Was I the only person who noticed that he was suddenly gay and had AIDS at a time when AIDS was really starting to get noticed by the American media? There was no foreshadowing of that shit; book X, no mention; book X+1, by the way, he's gay and has AIDS. (About like Rowling mentioning that Dumbledore is gay, in fact.)

About book 11 I finally twigged to the fact that this shit is not going to get better and stopped buying them. And I noticed that the series petered out about then, so I'm reasonably confident that I was not the only person who did this.

Judging by the sheer volume of WC books I've seen at used bookstores, I'm sure I'm not the only person who is never planning to read that crap again, too.

If I wasn't afraid of karmic backlash from burning books, I would have had a nice fire last night. But they're not worth it. Let someone else recycle them into toilet paper.

* * *

Halloween is over. Time for Christmas. At least, if you're in retail.

* * *

I slept all day, and here I'm all tired again. Going to bed.

#675: I should be in bed.

I watched all 24 episodes of Momoiro Sisters this morning, at one sitting. They're only 6.5 minutes long each, but they add up; and I watched single episodes of Tokimeki Memorial, Seto no Hanayome, and Pretty Cure beforehand.

Oh well.

Momoiro Sisters is vintage 1998, and it's really entertaining; I couldn't stop watching it. It's cel-based animation--I mean ink and paint on acetate--not CGI, so the video quality isn't really all that great. It's kind of ecchi. I liked it.

Now for some news and commentary:

Fear pilot fatigue. Both the pilot and co-pilot of a commercial jet fell asleep on approach for crying out loud. That could have been bad. What do you do in this post-9/11 world when an aircraft ignores all communication and it's heading for a vital transportation hub? Scramble the fighters?

But the pilot woke up and landed the plane safely. Jeeze--something's got to be done about this kind of stupidity before a whole mess of people get killed.

The University of Delaware is temporarily suspending its racist indoctrination program which included the statement that all whites are racists. It'll probably be reinstated once the furor dies down, though.

Watch out for Chase Bank. Every time I hear about Chase Bank I am hearing bad things. I'm not sure how much is "journalism" and how much is real, but reasonable caution seems indicated.

Chrysler LLC, the wave of the future? Might be. Big job cuts, eliminating models, and tightening up the business' profitability--all things that they're all going to have to do sooner or later. Ford bleeds $5,000 for every car it sells, and GM loses $1,500 or so--it's only a matter of time before something either must be done, or the companies go into receivership. Either way, the long union gravy train is pretty well over.

I didn't know that 8 of the 19 9/11 hijackers was illegally registered to vote. (Thanks, Unix-Jedi.)

Boortz said it best:

Which political party has historically been the beneficiary from voting fraud over the past 100 years?
Answer: The Democrat Party.
And which party is consistently opposing any requirement that voters prove who they are when they show up to cast a ballot?
Answer: The Democrat party.
That pretty well explains that issue. It's not Republicans who oppose making sure that our elections are 100% honest.