Gussi’s tail

Gussi’s tail

180820142996Everyone knows that if you get one cat, you want another. And another. And another. By 2008 I had several cats (most of them related) – but this story is about Gussi.guss

I’m lucky enough to live in the countryside, and can have more than one kitty. More cats equal no vermin. The first batch of kittens were planned love children and got good homes, the second batch also planned – father(s) unknown. I’d noticed a stubby ginger tom prowling around and figured he was the father, but I didn’t want more cats and certainly not a battle-scared old ginger. You know what I mean – ginger toms fights, black cats are bad luck, silly superstitions but we all think it. At least this one seemed gentle – I didn’t hear any cats screaming warning me of huge fights.

I spent a month that autumn doing field work in Finland, and the neighbours cat-sat for me. By the time I got home, he’d been in and out of the house and I had to decide what to do about him. He seemed nice enough but had a bunch of scars and sores and ticks, probably a few years old, the kind that’s had a decent enough home at one point but got lost or thrown away.

1808201429962As he’d already moved in and become part of the family, I had no choice but to castrate him and keep him. Putting an old ginger tom in a rehoming facility – in a tiny cage – a cat who no-one would even consider giving a new home – was out of the question. I couldn’t decide on a name so the vet suggested Gustav Mahler – in Norwegian, purring is “maler” – and it suited him quite well. He was a purrer.

Luckily for him, it was only after he’d been snipped that I found out homeless cats can be put down, no questions asked.

I often wonder what his story is. He has a pellet from an airgun in his hind leg. He’s gentle and sweet and has the most amazing manners. He must have been highly loved when he was small, because cats aren’t dogs – they won’t love you if you’re cruel to them. And they certainly won’t adopt you as Gussi has.

Six years on and he still looks like a barnyard ginger tom. He has the moustache of a walrus, he’s stocky with short feet and a kitten tail that tends to point straight up when he waddles along. His stockiness is a conundrum because he weighs next-to-nothing. He’ll sit peacefully when a ghost flies by then jump up and hop along with straight legs; he twirls when he wants kibbles; he can be so ecstatic when being cuddled that he’ll drool and he just loves to help me type. He doesn’t say much but his purring can be heard in the next room. He often tends to look really confused, like a dotty old grandpa who doesn't remember who you are, just that he loves you.

gussigulIn the end it was I who was lucky to be adopted by him. He’s taught me that if you’re nice enough, don’t pick fights, just kinda hang around in the background and wait your while, all things good will come to you – as long as you pick the right hoomin. Then you too will have cheezburger (read: kibbles) and cuddles and love.

 

Perspective: Getting back into WoW

Perspective: Getting back into WoW

Another perspective segment? Yes. I have been recently seperated from the love of my life, my piano, but not for long as I see a reunion in the not-so-far future. That is to say within two weeks from the time of writing. Then I can get back to the ProduX #3 project. For now, ranty-times intensifies:

The new World of Warcraft expansion is coming up. If this is news to you, then; Oy! Wake up! World of Warcraft continues to be a mastodont in the mumorpuger wasteland and there is a documented trend that whenever a new expansion pack comes out (yes, enough have been published for there to be trends!) quite a few players who get fed up with World of Warcraft returns – however briefly it may turn out – and affirms after a while, that why yes, World of Warcraft still blows balls.

The reason I am typing this out is because I recently got back into World of Warcraft and after trekking through the questline to get the legendary cloak, I fell I am in a position of experience wherein I can comfortably make some assertions as to the state of the game and in the process save you all some time. Alternatively you may interpret this as me just ranting at the game and its players.

The looking for raid system is as dumb-dumb-speckled as it has always been and with the sort-of-recent addition of character boosts to level 90, the amount of dumb-dumb's is ever increasing. Fair word of warning, never attempt raid finder raids on a Friday. As weird as the bored people can be during the week, Friday night is when the weirdest of the weird come out to play. And not in any good way. These are the ninja-pullers that wait for the last boss to wipe the raid only to emote teabag all the healers while saying "get 'rekt n00bs lol" or something analogous, but with equally poor grammar. People in glass houses I know, but at least I am trying! And why yes that was specific, and yes it was genuine. The huntard could not be kicked for an additional 14 minutes though which begs the question Blizzard: Why are we – the sane players – forced to put up with these idiots? If something like this happens (and they do) the system is not working optimally. Sort it out already. It is not like you had years on years to do so, oh wait.

I raised a priest from level 15 to 90 through only doing PUG's through the game's LFG system. Never ever listen to the hunters. I started jotting down quality hunters, the term quality denoting a hunter that does not screw up, ninja pull or spout offensive, racist, sexist or otherwise profane comments in chat. And only 8.41% of the hunters I grouped with in over 500 groups have satisfied these conditions. Which begs the question: Why is it always the hunter? I will spare you the speculation, it is a class that even a mindless cretin can master within 10 minutes leaving plenty of brainspace for hastags, "yolo" and "swag". If you do not believe me there is a plug-in that tells hunters which skills to use next in order to maximise DPS output – it is called HunterDPS so the target group is not confused as to its and their purpose. It is literally so simple a computer can tell you how to do it.

Reputation grind is still at the very center of the game, which is something I do not understand from a design perspective. I get that the developers wish for players to have a long-term invest in the game to keep them around, but should this not be centered around the core appealing mechanic of the game, rather than a tedious grind of the usual four archetypes of quests, fetch, kill, escort and deliver? To me the gameplay is never interesting when I am alone, except for the few times that I get to comandeer vehicles, a feature that is both too rare and thorougly misused. Why does it have to be war machinery every time? The gameplay magic happens when you are not alone and thus Blizzard has earned a gold star. The gameplay is better the more people you are, of course to swiftly diminishing returns especially when a hunter joins the fray, so it is indeed and does feel like a multiplayer experience. The pacing of the game hits an iceberg though when you sign up for groups as a DPS because the usual composition of a 5-man group, one tank, one healer and three deepers sounds right on paper, but looking at demographics we have significantly more than three deepers for every healer and tank, which begs the question: Why are there comparatively few tanks and healers? Hints: soloability and accountability. More on that topic, and why I loved WotLK to no end; the center of the game was dungeons and raids. You could grind all the reputation you wanted through dungeons and raids because that is where the game shines. Why have Blizzard forgotten this?

I wanted to comment on cloak design, but I found that subject is rather personal to me and to me alone, so I will leave all you content with the cloaks as they are with your dainty bath towels. Meanwhile I will envy Arthas, The Lich King, Maeiv and Kael'thas their cloaks.

The lore of Warcraft 2 is at play to get old players who were originally invested in the universe because of their love to the Warcraft-franchise and specifically the amazing lore of Warcraft II. I still have the game on disc and play it from time to time, along with the remaining original Warcraft and Warcraft III. However, from the few streams I have seen of the beta and the content already on YouTube I do not believe Blizzard is being fair to their own lore. If you truly wish to revisit the lore of Warcraft II, then by all means go play Warcraft II. What to take away from this here is a cautionary word, that the characters you have come to love based on Warcraft II might not be represented as well as they were originally. Hell, the books do the best work on that front if you ask me. 

This leads straight to the big Item Squish. If you do not know what power creep is, you can look it up elsewhere. Clearly, Blizzard did not have this in mind when they developed their expansions as the numbers are getting too huge to handle, so they are basically scaling down everything from 100% to roughly 5%, still keeing everything scaled in difficulty as it is now. Old content will still be soloable – supposedly – and there is more room for Blizzard to completely ignore power creep anew in the subsequent expansions, they on-and-off aim to start releasing with smaller content, but more frequently and reliably. What I would love to see is for the game to end. Construct Warcraft IV to tie Warlords of Draenor to the next Warcraft-universe MMORPG that continues the story anew. With the coming graphical updates it does smack a little of a wish for a completely new rendering engine for the game? This is just speculation and wishful thinking on my part. Feel free to disregard it entirely.

There are still way too many over-sized mounts with increasingly ridiculous features. We have "item upgrader"-NPC's on gaint yaks you can buy for 120.000 gold. 120.000 gold! That is insane – and just another instance of Blizzard power creep: the economy and sizes of mounts. Remember the Ashes of Al'ar? Burning phoenix bird no larger than a gryphon? That was cool. A yak that is the size of Gruul at 25%? Over the top. And trolls take their massive hit-boxes and place themselves on the mailboxes to endless tedium for everyone else. Lulz, right?

Basically, I can keep harping at the game as it is. It is remarkably balanced when it comes to raiding, but if you single characters out the balance issues show. Warlocks and hunters are still way too powerful in solo-gameplay than everyone else to call it at all balanced, but in a larger scale it is. Whatever you may think the game is not perfect, but I have yet to try a mumorpuger that is more engaging than World of Warcraft. And yes I have tried Neverwinter, Tes:O, GW2 and Archeage I tried them alot and neither did it for me, although GW2 was great. Just not good enough to keep my interest. What I am trying to say is, when you return do not expect anything to have changed except the numbers got alot smaller. Artificially. The idiots, the trolls and the huntards are still there. Do not kid yourself.

See you in Draenor.

Everything is awry as usual – I think I disappointed myself

Everything is awry as usual – I think I disappointed myself

It has been a while since I did the last post, moving along quickly. I have been a lazy bastard not forcing in the 25th hour in my busy schedule to make up some in-depth cock’n bull about my feelings and/or my observations upon life itself in its many turns and twists… oh god somebody please stop this sente…

Tonight I will bring back some recent memories about my vacation to London and the great ups and downs of this magnificent trip, because it was in itself a great experience, but I didn’t like London.

Well that was rather harsh to say, since the metropolis itself was grand and had many unique experiences for me. Yet I was continuously growing more and more disappointed at the landmarks and tourist attractions around the overwhelming city. Somehow I had seen Big Ben and the Tower Bridge and The large church and the Buckkers Bunker or Buckingham Palace just to make sure that everyone understands my predicament, in so many variations, sizes and colours. Buckingham Palace is TOO square! Something about the construction is off and I came to the conclusion that it was far to Square to be proper baroque.

We were around the gargantuan capital for an entire week, we took the DLC from Greenwich where we lived to Bank or the jubilee line or the central line etc. to wherever we wanted to go. We chose to walk around the city and use the underground to get near the things we wanted to see. The funny thing was that it was actually the railway system that excited me the most. The coordination and the fluent integration into the daily lives of so many people was the thing that excited me the most. The Thames and the eye was nice to ride, but something about 3 hours in line to look at something you have seen on Google maps just didn’t cut it and for that my vacation turned into a strange experience.

I can’t say that I became bewitched by the British lifestyle… oh god… there was no full wheat bread… you maniacs. Black bread daily or I’ll die. None the less I have dabbed a lot in the culture and news of the British over the last couple of years, especially comedy and series have caught my attention and to become a small part of that new culture… well it didn’t differ that much from my own, but seeing the places, common places that I could mentally relate too was exciting in itself.

The daily life in Greenwich or Green’ich as everyone pronounced it was funny to watch. The life in the outer corners of London where industry never closed down completely or shops never shut over the summer because the owner wanted to go back to Timbachtoo or whatever was quaint and pleasant for me. For our amusement the inner London was teaming with tourists, or half of China had immigrated whichever is the real reason… We watched people gawk at the large blue chicken or tackle a wax statue at the museum. For me that was like a long trip in a zoo. I know it is not nice to say to anyone, but acting local and watch how the tourists from all around the world treated the attractions while watching the real “Londoneers” gallop ten feet behind them to make sure they didn’t break anything was amusing… I was amused.

It was equally annoying and funny to watch the Waitrose personal run after us acting casual when my parents talked Danish to us in the supermarket. Beyond paranoid they kept guards or other personal close to us every time we came to that place and we came at least once a day. We never acted up or talked loud or acted rude, but the language barrier was enough to make them uneasy… or maybe it was my wild beard that drove them off their rockers? Who knows… who cares?

The trip itself was a small breakthrough for me if we should jump around it a little more. The beginning which in this small anecdote is closer to the end was a first time flying for me. I have never been in an airplane and had no idea about the feeling when you took off, landed or hit air holes which we called them. I had not been in an airport before and was pleasantly surprised about the entire ordeal. We had paid a little extra for the trip to make sure that the first time was a good ride and not to bore you with boring details, it was a nice experience that I look forward to do again under similar circumstances. Again here I was thrilled at the coordination and professionalism in both countries. From getting to the airport and through it, into the plane where every trip was well executed was a joy that my little perfectly squared heart could hardly contain.

Finding the underground and learning to use it in London took us no time. We had studied a little before we took off and it pretty much worked as intended. This is where the core aspect of it all comes into play.

It worked! Our planning and our timing worked! It felt like work for me. I would take part in planning our trips the next day and making it work with trains, timing and hitting the shops and attractions at the right time to get there without being drowned by other tourists felt like work… and it was satisfying. We came to experience London as we imagined it. We didn’t want it staged or walk around with an orchestra depicting the right tune for the current mood the location set. We wanted a little of the tourism and mostly a taste of the real life in a foreign place we so often saw on TV or the internet.

British people would if they haven’t already scoffed at this and I can only wish they turned it around and thought about it as Hong Kong for them. It is foreign, it has a different language although I can’t sound too smuck if I stated that I controlled it. Dialects are the devils work… just adding that in! Yet think of your daily place as something new and… exciting… well… different for someone who only seen it on the tellie! I grew up with Monty Python as a kid and they created an ambivalent Britain, yet a desirable Britain for someone outside the Islands.

It was a kid’s dream to experience that place, but not the landmarks. It was the daily clockwork that oiled my gears. I like London although it is paranoid. Greenwich has a larger university culture than London and different people are more tolerated there than in central London. Is that because you are tired of the tourists or is it immigrants? I have seen enough news to know that we are far from the only country with issues although Mock the Week can put it in a more ‘bright blue’ perspective… on that note… Frankie Boyle leaving Mock the Week was the worst thing they could have done. I like the show although I do take the news there with a grain of salt, but hearing him molest every other sentence was like a birthday treat for me… damn I miss people who could be funny, rude and obnoxious without crossing the fine red line.

So thumbs up London. You are better as you are, rather than trying to be what tourists want you to be.

To read… or not to read…

To read… or not to read…

Usually when musing, I tend to create an interesting title then get all ambiguous before bringing all together and attempting to make sense of it all towards the end.  I like to think that it makes it interesting.  Not this time.  Not so much.

READ!!!  ALWAYS READ!!!

bellecoverWhether it be the daily papers, blogs, biographies or novels…  Immerse yourselves in the words of others as often as you can.  They can challenge you, enlighten you, offend you or uplift you.  But most importantly, they can open your world up to ideas that you may not have had without them.

But, while I whole heartedly believe this noble idiom…  I’m gonna bang on about something a little less cerebral.

 

I don’t read much anymore.  That confused you, right?

I am mildly dyslexic.  So I can read a page four or five times and still think ‘whu?’ (I used to have the piss taken out of me SO much at school when it was my turn to read the next page…  But again, not the point I am making today.  That said, thank you Audible.  Never go bust.  Cos I’d hate to lose access to the couple of hundred audio books that I have bought and enjoy).

So while I may not have ‘read’ them…  I have listened to fair few (unabridged, always unabridged) audio books in the past… um… while.  And then I have seen the films that have been made of them.  And this is what I'm going to waffle about today.

If I felt the urge I would include the works of Mr Tolkien and the subsequent renditions of Mr Jackson.  But I don’t.  Those comparisons have been done to death.  And everyone (who embraces either creators works) has their own opinion on their greatness or lack thereof.

I’m going on about the ‘lesser known’ works that have hit my DVD player in recent times.

I bring to your attention ‘Ender’s Game.  A novel by Orson Scott Card, which was made into a film directed by Gavin Hood.  ‘The Hunger Games’.  A novel by Suzanne Collins, which was made into a film directed by Gary Ross.  And ‘Divergent’.  A novel by Veronica Roth, which was made into a film directed by Neil Burger.  These are not the entirety of examples I could give , but they are three that spring immediately to mind.

In each of these cases I don’t know who was responsible for the adaptation from page to screen, and to be perfectly honest…  I don’t give a shit.  I only looked up the directors to give a little balance to my nod to creativity.  But the names are completely irrelevant of the point that I am stumbling towards.

I have often had the argument, usually in the pub, about whether it is better to read the book before seeing the film or not.  Having read the book you have more insight into the thoughts of the characters, what is driving their actions, about the world that the story is taking place in.  Things that could not be covered in the film unless (like Mr Jackson) you are going to take a reasonably short book and turn it into three 3 hour films, and still miss out the stuff that makes the world come alive in the mind of the reader.

But going into the film without having read the book, you have no preconceptions.  No ideas of what the world is.  What the actions of the characters should be.  What everyone and everything should look like.  What you feel is actually important to story.

I read all three before I knew that they were making a film of each.  Yeah, I know.  They were all pitched as ‘teen fiction’.  But don’t be fooled by that.  Anything that does not have an adult lead character (or contains a certain amount of messiness…  ‘The girl with all the gifts’ would be teen fiction if it wasn’t for the ##SPOILER## [And I recommend this as a read too!]).  But it does not mean that it is any less well written or less engaging than books aimed at the ‘adult market’.  And all three that I mention here have a particularly nasty edge to them, and all left me a little unsettled in their own particular way. (but only cos I chose to think about the subtext.  You can gloss over that if you just want a good read).

But would I have enjoyed the films any more if I had seen them before reading the books?  Or enjoyed the books any less if I’d seen the films first?

I really don’t know.

To be honest, all three films confused the fuck out of me.  I found it very difficult to follow what the hell was going on.  This may well be because I was trying to relate what they were cramming onto the screen with the long, involved and engrossing stories that I had read.  Or it may have been because they were trying to cram a tale that took someone 8 to 10 hours to read to me (again, thank you Audible…  Do I get a discount for name checking twice in a single post?) into a 90 minute film?  Or cos I was a little drunk.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed each of the films.  But it did take a second watch where I wasn’t relating it to the book to achieve this.

So would I have been better to watch then read?  I don’t actually think so.

The films will never… can never capture more than the merest essence of the book.  Of the prose, the poetry, the thoughts, the flavour that the words (if well written) can create.  But it can capture the storyline, the tale (often at it's simplest), the shocks and the twists.  So if you watch the film first, you will still get to immerse yourself in the glory of the writing…  But you know what is going to happen.  You first read the name Eddard Stark and you know what happened to Sean Bean.  It has been reduced from a gripping page turner that you will stay awake for ‘just one more page’ to find out what happens next, to quite a nice tale that fills in the back story that the film didn’t have time for.

You could, and many have, argue that the same goes if you reverse the case.  Reading the book first dilutes the potency and impact of the film.  I suppose it all comes down to your choice of medium.  Shit, I love films (I just looked over my shoulder at my DVD collection.  I need another bookcase.  Maybe two.  The piles behind the sofa are getting quite large).  But I will always, given the choice, read the book first.

Why?  Cos when I read the book I am seeing the story that I am being told my way, through my eyes.  That way the delights and failings of what I see are those of my imagination.  When I watch the film, I am watching someone else’s vision of the tale.  That way, when I come to the book, I am reading it through their eyes.  I am seeing what they saw, which may be vastly different from what I would.  It has nothing (or at least, very little) to do with what they missed from or included in the film.  It is all about what they saw, and what I may have seen if I hadn't experienced their vision first.

I kinda like watching a film and thinking, ‘wow, I saw that totally differently.  But I get it, and that works too…  Mine was better tho’.

So, yeah.  In my meagre opinion… Read it first.  Always read it first.

Now I’m gonna watch ‘The Raid 2’.  Excessive violence and not a book in sight. 

 

What?  I never claimed to be an intellectual.