A little bit of this, a little bit of that

Well hello there. I've got a lot of little things on my mind right now and I'm not sleeping any time soon, so I thought that this would be a good time to unload a few of them. 

 

Tell The Machine Goodnight is a curious novel that I tore through as quickly as anything I've read of late. It's by Katie Williams, and it batted around my expectations like a cat playing with a catnip-filled toy. The inside cover description made me think of a Terry Gilliam-ish dystopia, but that's not really it at all. The first chapter left me thinking I had the rest of the novel neatly figured out, but I couldn't have been more wrong. 

I'm not certain what I think of the ending, but that's true of a lot of my favorite speculative stories. It's science fiction, but it's more so in the manner of The Twilight Zone than space opera, which, I should point out, was at its best when the endings were a little ambiguous. It's also nothing at all like The Twilight Zone. It's an interesting, thoughtful book and it's a great read. 


Speaking of The Twilight Zone, we watched one of the less-famous Richard Donner-directed episodes last night: "Come Wander With Me". Nicole pointed out just how pitch-perfect the casting was, and how this was so often the case with The Twilight Zone. The other thing that stood out were the production values and, yes, the direction. I've seen films that weren't as tightly constructed as "Come Wander With Me". It's a delight to see the craftsmanship involved in telling these stories, even when the stories themselves don't always hold up. The big downside of this episode? The song is an evil, evil ear worm. Don't say I didn't warn you.


We're going to be moving to a new apartment next week, so things are a little untidy around here. We're going to be staying in the same area; I'm pretty sure the distance between the front doors is around 50 yards. The new place is a little larger, a lot newer (we'll be the first occupants), and we're hoping the management and maintenance will be a little more to our liking. 

We'll won't be on the first floor anymore, which means we won't have our garden which, for all intents and purposes, has served more as a snail sanctuary than a proper garden. That was fine, as we weren't going to eat anything we grew. This left us with a bit of a dilemma: What to do with the little creatures who depended on us for food and shelter? Simply leaving would put them in a bad situation as snails are generally considered to be pests. 

You can probably guess what we decided. 

snail.jpg

A little bit of zucchini, some lettuces, and a cuttlebone and our new guests seem quite happy indeed. They're marvelous little creatures, very relaxing to watching and as gentle as you could want. Given the likely result had we left them, I'm certain we made the best choice for them in bringing them in. I hope they have lovely lives.


Maybe one of the reasons that I'm not sleeping so well is that I go "on call" tomorrow. "On call" is the worst. It's pitched as a benefit to the people who are part of the rotation. No, really. The line of thinking is "At least it's only one week out of four that you're expected to be available 24/7 if (when) something comes up." That's a fiction, of course, in two ways. One is that you're expected to be available at all times anyway, at least to some degree. In addition, it's not really "if something comes up". There's no making plans when you're "on call". No being away from your computer for more than an hour at the most, so no movies, fast food if you dine out, and no real weekend. It comes with the gig, and the gig is well-compensated, but that doesn't mean I'm a fan.


I recently re-played on of my favorite old PS2 games, Final Fantasy X. It was ported, largely successfully, to PC and I've been eager to see if it lived up to my memories. It did in almost every respect. The gameplay itself is not particularly challenging and it's possible, through a little judicious grinding, to remove most of what challenge there is. It's still fun, though. The "sphere grid" system for advancing the characters is ludicrous, beautiful, and kind of delightful. The combat is 100% turn based, so once you get your head around it, it's not especially difficult to get your tactics right.

Of course, Final Fantasy games are only tangentially about gameplay, and that's as true of FFX as any of them. You're playing a story, a story that's told with beautiful art, and with some wildly inconsistent voice acting. It all makes a sort of sense that would make you sound like a madman if you tried to describe it to someone, and it's deeply, deeply sad. The pacing is near-perfect and the ending will give you feels. The only bit that was different than what I remembered is that I had a key part of the story backwards in my head. It's no less melancholy than I recalled, just for slightly different reasons. And, honestly, it's just gorgeous to look at. Worth a play (or replay) if you're in to that sort of thing.


I've been dreaming of spending some time in a little cabin, somewhere remote, somewhere rainy, and taking a week to get my head on straight. It's cruel, then, that there's been a little unseasonable rain this weekend. Not enough to do much of anything beyond make it too humid to go outside, not that we were going to do much of that. There's packing to be done. In case there was any doubt in your mind, the cliche is true: It's not the heat, it is the humidity. 100 dry degrees is a cakewalk compared to 90 degrees and moisture in the air. 

I guess that's about it for now. One of these days I'll get back in the rhythm of writing shorter posts about a single thing. That's not going to happen until after we settle in at the soonest. 

Goodnight all. Sweet dreams.

-RK