Sunday, 12 June 2016

Value, Vexation and Voltron

The word of the week is inscrutable.

June 6 – Aw, nuts..

Well, it doesn't look good.

I heard back from the local repair place where I took my pair of wonky laserdisc players a few weeks ago, and it's not good news: neither of them can be fixed. To add insult to injury, in order to try to salvage one working player out of the guts of the pair of them would cost upwards of $500 - way, WAY outside my tiny repair budget. AND there's no guarantee that all the parts used will work properly, thanks to the a**hole who must have drop-kicked my player's package somewhere along the way hard enough that broke many of the internal components, despite the extremely well-padded box. Motherboards don't crack nor bend at crazy angles from just getting tossed onto a truck - someone along the way was a jackass because they could get away with it and I hope karma gives that particular... person a rough time soon.

That bottom mboard should be FLAT, and the tray's snapped from it's greased groove...

So I'm shelving my laser disks for the time being, as I can't afford to spend any more money on trying to salvage things. Despite my desire to watch my collection of about 50 laserdiscs( about half of which are Babylon 5 episodes ) there's nothing I can do right now. Players like mine of the calibre that I managed to luck into finding a pair of currently go for anywhere from $250 CDN on up on eBay ( I paid less than that for the both of them, with shipping )and the average is about $500 - again, way outside any kind of budget I have for the next long while.

So disappointing, but there's nothing I can do about it.

June 7 – Cool it!

The summer around here has been quite cool so far; I like it.

After a rather warm second half of April this year, things for the next month look to be rather cool and cloudy, which is kind of nice. Victoria has always been known for its moderate weather thanks to our location next to the ocean and proximity to the Olympic Mountains to the south, which have a cooling effect on our climate.

It's been dry June though. Really dry, but looking nice:

Vancouver Island always dries out in the summer, making water rationing and fire safety both mandatory occurrences here. You can tell it's the summer by the color of the grass: everything not on a sprinkler system goes brown around April and stays that way until the cool months of late September, or later.

I've actually had a headache this week, mainly from the air pressure rising gradually as the sunny skies move in. As I am used to this sort of thing, I've been able to moderate it with occasional and judicious use of headache medication. It's not so bad, though I do tend some days to feel a bit tired but not nearly as much as I would if I was sweating like crazy from excessive heat, which I've spoken of a few times in the past due to my increased sensitivity to such these last few years.

I'll take a few Tylenol now and then instead of overheating any a day.

June 8 – Re-Reading

Not half-bad, if I do say so myself.

It's been a year since I last re-read my first book from start to finish, and that's been intentional. It's common advice to writers to let their work lay fallow, so to speak, before re-reading it in order to come at it with a fresh mind.

In my case, I let it sit for a year before reading it in full again, which I've been doing for the last week this June. I've poked at parts of it on and off during that year, but never just read it as a full story until now. I needed time to process things and to think about how everything fits into the next books in the trilogy.

So far in the reread, I've surprised myself by liking far more than I thought about the third draft. While I'm not blind to the fact that writers shouldn't really like their own work too much, the work that I've created in this third draft a year ago still holds up when I look at it with my even-more-experienced writerly eyes.

That's not to say there's no work to be done still; far from it.

The purpose of this reread is to generate new ideas and to let me tweak the third draft in a multitude of places and so come up with the fourth draft. As I read, every few paragraphs I see places where some small changes need to be made and every chapter eyespot places where some major points can be inserted to better serve the book overall.

I'm enjoying getting reacquainted with the entire story all at once, an experience most unusual for the author of any story that they may be far too familiar with.

Plus, it's just plain fun to read it again anew!

June 9 – Cities?

I picked up a new game on sale this week, though I don't know when I'll be able to find the time to really play it.

Back in the day - high school, as I recall - I was a huge SimCity fan, and I picked up most of the sequels over the next 10 years up until about when SimCity2000 came out, and then I got too busy doing other things.

However, the love of creating my own city has stuck with me.

The most recent spiritual successor to the old SimCity game is Cities:Skylines, which has the twin advantages of having been on deep discount this week and which runs happily on my current not-cutting-edge 4-year-old PC system: huzzah! And it looks gorgeous:

I played a little with that this week, with the idea of using it to possibly model some of the cities in my novel. As it stands, it will be a lot more work to do it that way then simply using my imagination, but I like the concept and I may explore that idea later with some other software, should I discover something better suited to the task.

For now, I've added Skylines to my sadly-neglected Steam account and I'll get back to it( along with FAR too many other games ) at some point later this year when I have a little bit more time to just sit down and play some games to relax.

June 10 – Robot Lions!

I'm so excited: Voltron returns today!

I've been a fan of the giant 5-lions-combine-into-1 robot since his debut back in the early 80s, though I admit the old series doesn't really hold up to re-watching it nowadays - you really can't go back to being a kid again in some ways.

However, neither of the two attempted follow-up series( 1998’s Voltron: The Third Dimension and 2011’s Voltron Force )were any better: despite decent animation, writing was simply subpar and didn't do anything to advance the show.

Thankfully, Netflix stepped up in 2016 to deliver a new series!

Created by DreamWorksSKG, the series looks to be a winner, with executive producer Joaquim Dos Santos, and co-executive producer Lauren Montgomery ( who both brought us  Korra and The Last Airbender )taking a hand in the creation of the new  Voltron. The best part is that they greenlighted an entire series to view at once, in the now traditional bow to the binge-watching crowd.

I will be watching it that way though: I'll be treating myself to one episode a week, preferably on Saturday mornings... just like I watched it as a kid.

If you're also a fan, you can check out this stellar interview that did with the show runners here - it's a fantastic read for anyone who likes Voltron!

June 11 – Patience Pays!

Holy manifestation, Batman!

After lending my sister my noise-canceling Parrot Zik headphones today to use while she was at the too-crowded Moka House patio today, I wondered if there was a second pair floating around eBay that she might be able to use.

Shockingly, there was, and for a mere $100!

Before anyone else could, I snapped them up, hardly able to believe my good luck. Normally, these headphones go for anywhere around $300, as their some of the best of their type that you can get to do what they do. I'd actually stopped looking for them two years ago, as the prices always seem to be at least that or more. They're perfect for tuning out distractions and annoying noises, which help you to focus on work, or also to relax and even help to reduce anxiety by removing environmental annoyances.

Yet somehow, I immediately managed to find a pair today that the seller listed as being in perfect shape and even came with all the original accessories. There was no way I was going to wait even a minute after finding that before buying it; even with two newer models on the market from Zik, my original pair still retain their value.

Which is why I'm so happy with my lucky find today, and so too will my sister!

June 12 – Apocalypse Meh?

After lunch, I went to see the newest X-men movie.

 X-Men: Apocalypse has garnered many mixed reviews to date, so I reserved judgment until I actually got to see it myself. I also managed to avoid any spoilers, which is actually kind of hard to do these days if you're on social media in general.

So: minor Spoiler Alert for what follows below.

The movie is a continuation of the franchise( obviously ) to introduce many familiar characters in new ways, some of which have new back stories... and some of those stories I don't particularly agree with the new tack that has been taken.

The movie follows the re-discovery of the all-powerful First Mutant Apocalypse, as he rises from his ancient tomb where he was buried after being betrayed to try to remake the earth in his own image... which is apparently is the first thing to do when you've been buried for thousands of years and out of touch with everything.

Overall, I think the movie will make a decent rental: it's visually pleasing, makes sense in terms of plot and story choices and has a decent cast. There's no slow spots, which is a lot safer something that's two hours long and the story progresses decently from start to finish without any majorly strange sidetracks or conveniently-overlooked plot holes. I wouldn't say I would go back and watch it again anytime soon, but I nod my head to a job well done, more than can be said then for the mediocre Batman Vs. Superman I saw earlier this year: the less said about that movie, the better.

What impressed me the most about the movie came before it even started: there was a personal "Thanks for coming to see the movie!" From the actress who plays Storm in the movie, which I found endearing. In this age of internet downloads and Netflix, it's refreshing to see that some people in Hollywood recognize that the audience who goes to see movies in the theater is changing and that important demographic needs to be recognized: we're stepping out of our homes to go somewhere for an experience that needs to deliver on the tickets we buy.

Well-done, X-men... you may have seen the 'Theatre Apocalypse' coming, and may just help to stave it off for a while.

These posts are getting earlier and earlier, which is fine by me as I get more time to relax before bed: this one's been published at 8 PM PST, easily three or four hours earlier than posts from even a year ago. Enjoy!