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Paul's Occasional Rambling
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It could have been called "500 Days of Psycho", but it wasn't. Mary suggested we go see "500 Days of Summer", so we hit Lincoln Square and caught an afternoon show. It was amusing, and enjoyable, and surprisingly not what I expected. Still, it was evident, even without the prologue, that it was about a relationship that was doomed from the start. Maybe the benefit of age and hindsight clued me in to all the warning signs. There were certainly relationship fragments that rang true to me: the girl who pulls you close one second and then pushes you away the next; someone who is physically intimate, but puts up an emotional wall that is insurmountable; a partner who acts poorly, and then apologizes only for the tiniest transgression, and proceeds as if everything is then okay; someone who never truly defines the boundaries of a relationship, yet goes through the motions of normal dating, but still feels free to do what they want because ground rules were never laid down.

I think any guy who has ever been head over heels in love and had their heart broken, because they were been blinded to all the flaws in that relationship at the time, can relate to this movie. It's clever and funny, and also frustrating for anyone who has moved on and found a much better relationship where the people involved were on equal footing. There were many times during the film that I realized, if that were me now, that relationship wouldn't last past three weeks. But I also saw previous relationships and flirtations of mine in this movie, and saw my own narrowly avoided land mines up on the screen.

It has what I would consider a happy ending, although if you're like me, you'll be wondering if certain people can ever truly be happy, or even if it is possible to really know certain women. If you're also like me, and in what I would consider a solid, healthy relationship, you'll be thankful for what you have, because the alternative can really be misery.

Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful

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I noticed, while we were on the opening weekend ride, that all the stations have a little symbol associated with them. Mount Baker is a mountain, SODO is an anvil, the International District has a dragon, and so on.

It really made me want to see a commercial that was a takeoff of Lost, only with the word LINK all in white 3D rendered sans serif, gliding into then out of focus, followed by some schlocky dialog between a faux Jack Shepard and John Locke.

Shepard: "Locke, what is this place?"
Locke: "I don't know, Jack. I think it's called 'The Anvil.' There seems to be some kind of train system running through it."
Shepard: "But where does it go?"
Ben Linus, entering from the shadows: "Wherever Sound Transit says it goes, Jack."
Shepard: "Sound Transit? Who's that?!"
Ben: "We're the good guys, Jack. We're the good guys."

Current Mood: amused amused

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If you're trying to get in touch with me, give me a call. My PC is in some kind of funk, and I'm not sure how recoverable it is. I already yanked the video card when I was getting beep warnings (it wouldn't even POST), and now I'm trying to determine how deeply the problems lie.

Ahh, Safe Mode.
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Only you could alert me to Scanwiches.

Current Mood: amused amused

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I finished it. Yes, it was short, but almost mercifully so. One of the problems with this game was that once the basic mechanic is mastered, there's nothing else to learn or do. The levels are essentially puzzles to solve, forcing the player to figure out what series of jumps or wallruns will get them to the next point on an essentially rail-locked game, occasionally making the actually finding of the goal location a puzzle in itself. Unlike Braid, where new mechanics were constantly introduced in a playful, creative manner, ME is a one trick pony. A beautiful one pony that craps out stylized cities of unique artistic quality, but a pony nonetheless.

There is a mild bit of replay in the race mode for levels after the single player game has been completed. These are mercifully free of gunfire dodging or punching, but without the "runner vision" to highlight targets, this mode is less of a graceful experience in Zen Parkour and more of a frustrating exercise of "you want me to go where? How?!?"

I applaud EA-DICE for creating something unique and beautiful. They took some real risks, and they did get my money. I just wish it were a better game and less of what feels like an artistic research project.

Current Mood: bored bored

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There were people holding Socialism and Government Spending protest signs in Redmond, at the very end of 520. In Redmond. Protesting Socialism.

Yes, on the brand new public sidewalk, near a brand new bridge and highway expansion project, people were holding signs protesting Socialism and undue taxation, while other people, driving by in their Mercedes Benzes and BMWs honked their horns and waved appreciatively.

It doesn't matter how much fucking money you make, you can still be a total idiot.

Current Mood: annoyed annoyed

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I spoiled myself and purchased this game on Steam the other night. Last night I played it for about four hours, and I guess I'm about a quarter of the way through. I've been really really picky about what games I buy lately, mainly because if I'm going to drop $40-$60 on something, I want something that will last a long time and be very enjoyable, not a rehash of the same old crap that I've already seen a thousand times before. In fact, I've been playing Railroads obsessively for over a month now. That's a good value.

Anyway, I can appreciate the risks that were taken with Mirror's Edge. Clearly a parkour style game is innovative, and the stark graphical look with color highlighting to simulate "runner vision" is really unique and interesting to view. The controls are pretty smooth, as well, and when running towards visible goals, it's very easy to get into a "runners zone" and just feel like I'm making great, high speed progress. So kudos for that.

The cutscenes, animated in some vector-style flat 2.5D format are a little iffy, since there are in-game cutscenes as well. The story moves along, and it's an interesting style, but it doesn't work as well as, say, the animatic cutscenes that Relic does so excellently, mainly because Relic is wisely consistant to only feature cutscenes in one format, and those scenes in a game like Homeworld largely focus on people or history, while the rest of the game is strictly about ships in space. Still, they took a risk, and that's brave and commendable.

The combat sucks. In fact, it's a frustrating break in otherwise mildly enjoyable gameplay. I probably should have selected "Easy" in play mode (why I don't just default to that these days, I don't know), but still, it's too difficult, the AI corners me too often, and it winds up being a 15 minute diversion to subdue half a dozen armed and armored jerks before I can get back to freerunning. The "bullet time" feature also sucks, since I can't move any faster, and by the time I realize that I should act, I've already missed my cue.

Finally, the non-obvious running and jumping puzzles can be frustrating. I wish there were some kind of "stumble" feature, where if I was going to make a leap to certain death, the character would instead catch herself, and prevent me from doing so. Instead, I'm met with an all-too-realistic wind-rushing sensation followed by a wet crunch and a sudden cut to black. I already have a fear of death by falling from great height, thank you, and having to replay this uber-realistic paranoia over and over again because I misjudged a jump is actually more creepy than fun. This character is supposed to be a smart, skilled runner. Have her wisdom help me, the player, to have more fun and less frustration.

I'll have to play through to have a full feel for the game, although I suspect that I've already gotten the gist of the experience. The free running and environments are great, the rest is meh. The aggregate rating on this game was an 80/100, which is about the lowest I should tolerate, as I know how skewed these ratings are, and I give this a C-.

I suppose once I finish, I'll have fun on some abstract jumping challenge levels, which are probably where the experience shines the most.
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Microsoft Cancels Campus Pub

Seriously? I mean, seriously? At the last minute? The coolest thing about the new campus gets pulled? Who is making these decisions, and why are they making them so poorly?

As an employee, I have no qualms about publicly stating that this makes Microsoft look bad. If there was a reasonable chance that this project would have been canceled, it never should have been approved in the first place. All that's happened now is that morale has been killed, and money and time have been wasted.

We can do better. This is very disappointing.

Current Mood: annoyed annoyed

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Oh Terminator: SCC, how could you mess with me like that? And now it's not renewed for a third season? Suck!

I want my own robotic Summer Glau. :(

Current Mood: sad sad

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This site is fascinating. I'm especially enjoying reading the employee reviews of Microsoft. This one in particular is dead on hilarious:

Top notch people everywhere around you. Everybody's committed to what they are doing. Singular focus.

Lots of lip service about internal opportunities and getting ahead. You really have to do two jobs there -- your current one, which is always on some insane unattainable schedule, and your next one, which you have to do to get noticed.

Yup, that's Microsoft!

Current Mood: amused amused

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