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Serving dozens since 1999!
The House on the Borderland
Below I lnked to The King in Yellow. Here I'm linking to The House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson. It's in Kindle, EPUB or text format, or you can just read it online. It's Hodgson's most accessable work for whatever that's worth.
There's a lot of good stuff online, really.
March 9, 2014
The King in Yellow
There's a show on HBO called True Detective. I'd love to watch it but I just don't think HBO is worth $15 a month. I'm aware that I could obtain the show by nefarious means but I just can't justify piracy because I'm cheap. I'll wait until the first season is available on DVD and watch it then.
But in the meantime, I'm aware the show exists and there's somebody who looms large called the Yellow King. I didn't seek this knowledge, it was thrust upon me. That's the internet for you.
Now, in 1895 a writer named Robert W. Chambers wrote a book of short stories called The King in Yellow. The title actually refers to a play called, strangely enough, The King in Yellow. Every so often Chambers would quote from the imaginary play:
Along the shore the cloud waves break,
The twin suns sink behind the lake,
The shadows lengthen
Strange is the night where black stars rise,
And strange moons circle through the skies,
But stranger still is
Songs that the Hyades shall sing,
Where flap the tatters of the King,
Must die unheard in
Song of my soul, my voice is dead,
Die thou, unsung, as tears unshed
Shall dry and die in
The King in Yellow, Act 1, Scene 2
The gimmick with the play was that the ideas it presented were so terrible that there's every chance you'd go insane if you read the thing. But you my friends can indeed read it, at least Chambers' stories, they're available right here all free and legal. For the good King is in the public domain.
One thing that makes me really curious, I knew about The King in Yellow in the 70s and had already read a couple of the stories. But the good detectives of True Detective seem unaware that the book exists. In the course of a murder investigation one would think that they would have stumbled onto the Chambers connection. Unless, of course, that in the show's universe The King in Yellow isn't a book of stories but a real play that has the properties Chambers ascribed to it. And so the work is kept secret, to guard the terrible knowledge from the masses who are not, and may never be, ready for it.
The other possibility is that the cops are not too bright.
March 9, 2014
Nichelle Nichols finally gets command of the Enterprise.
March 7, 2014
Jurassic Park with Cats Instead of Raptors
March 7, 2014
Anyone remember when the page looked like that? The picture was a throwback to the days when alChandler really was a Dwarf. I don't have any idea why I thought a white gothic font on a black background was readable.
March 5, 2014
That's a screen shot from Asheron's Call and it's relavant because after 15 years Turbine has decided to stop making new content for the game. They're not shutting it down and you might see a bug fix now and then but the game's story is over. So I thought a little tip of the hat to the first MMO I played was in order. That shot was taken in 2000 and it says something about me, I suppose, that I still have screen shots from 14 years ago floating around.
Update: Unlike other games I've played, the devs were frequently on line and would sometimes talk to the players. Now the game was one continous world and if an area became too crowded a portal storm would strike. That was just a way of keeping the game from lagging too badly. The storm would hit and players would be randomly teleported somewhere else. The idea was that rather then risk being teleported into the middle of a bunch of monsters, people would clear out.
Well one day a new island was seen off the coast. The devs dropped it in early in preperation for a content update. Naturally everybody wanted to get to the island but there was no way to reach it. Then someone shouted portal storm. If everybody in the game crowded to the beach the random portal storm teleports would send a few lucky bastards to the island. The devs figured this out right away and threatened to teleport the whole ot of us into lava if we didn't back off.
Those were good days.
March 5, 2014
The Future of Tea
When I was up north at Mrs. Silverman's, Caty made me a cup of Earl Grey, my tea of choice, with their Keurig. I've been drinking the stuff for 25 years and I felt I
was drinking it for the first time. I told Caty, "You know, when I get home I'll have to blow $75 on one of these." I was told I was looking at substantially more then that. So that idea was put on hold.
Today a huge package arrived and a Keurig was inside, courtesy of Mrs. Silverman and Caty. Not only does the tea taste extraordinary, but for the first time in a long while I'm getting a caffine buzz. Although to be fair, the three cups I had before the Keurig arrived probably had something to do with that.
Life is very, very good.
March 4, 2014
I had one of those things, bought in the late 80s. I opted for the second external drive and a monitor so the whole thing cost me about $1,500. Had some good times with that
But Radio Shack hasn't been in the computer business for some time. Oh you can buy them there, they just don't make them anymore. And today they announced that they'll be closing 1,100 stores around the country. These are not good times for traditional retailers.
My dad used to get catalogs from them a couple of times a year. In those days they still sold kits for building you own radios and things. I suspect the catalogs were part of dad's plan to interest me in electronics. It never really worked but I did end up giving Radio Shack a lot of (for me) money.
Radio Shack isn't closing, not yet anyway. And while I bought the Tandy there that was about it for my relationship with that company. But right now I'm feeling oddly nostalgic about the company, perhaps it's the sentimentality that comes with age.
I wonder if my old Tandy 1000 EX is still alive.
March 4, 2014
The Mt. Gox Disaster
Wired has a wonderful article on the collapse of Mt. Gox. Apparently Mt. Gox's CEO liked doing stuff like this:
Says another insider, "Aside from the cafe, he liked to spend time fixing servers, setting up networks and installing gadgets. probably distracting himself from dealing with the real issues that the company was up against."
I'm not much on business, but I think the CEO of a finical institution should be doing more, I don't know, financial stuff.
March 3, 2014
Why Not Visit the City This Summer
That's right, a miserable peasant hauling a cart full of dead plague victims to a factory for disposal. And this is one of Thief's cheerful scenes.
March 1, 2014
Thief: The Dark Project Intro
This was the opening to the first game in the series. I normally get impatient with intros and skip them but this was, and 16 years later still is, the best opening to any game ever.
February 28, 2014
So, in 1998 a studio named Looking Glass released a game called Thief: The Dark Project. Your character, Garrett was a thief in a medieval kind of city called, ironically enough, the City. It was a first person stealth game. As a thief you were quite frail compared to the guards that patrolled the streets and mansions of the City. But you were a master of sneaking and hiding. When I played Thief and its two sequels, I felt a kind of empowerment. There I was on a ledge and two guards below me had no idea I was there.
In 2000 Looking Glass went under, but in 2004 Ion Storm, a studio that was home to a lot of former Looking Glass people, released Thief: Deadly Shadows. And that was it until a couple of days ago when Eidos Montreal released Thief, it's a reboot set in a parallel universe version of Thief: The Dark Project. Indeed, it might almost be a direct sequel to the third game, at least if you squint really hard and don't look directly at it. Currently I'm three hours into the thing.
There's a lot of water over the ol' gaming bridge since 2004 and Thief has a the bad luck to come out after 2012's Dishonored. Dishonored was about Corvo Attano a man accused of killing his Empress. Unlike Garrett you could play Dishonored like a badass, killing as many damn guards as you liked. There were consequences, but you had no problems taking them out, if that was how you wanted to play the game. I played it as a stealth game.
At any rate, a lot of people know that Dishonored is a spiritual successor to the Thief series, were looking forward to the reboot and are disgusted by the frailty of the main character. If Garrett takes on one guard he may, may mind you, survive. If he takes on two then he's a dead man.
Then there are the people who fondly remember the original series. Some of them find the new game too easy. Others find the world oddly limiting. In the second game Thief: The Metal Age there was a huge level that sprawled across the City's rooftops. Eventually you find your way to a huge mansion and have to find the item you need to steal while avoiding the guest staying there for a party.
Nothing like that in the new game I'm told. But the game does look better. And it has the unenviable task of running on the PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. No wonder there are some limitations.
Personally, after three hours I'm liking it better then Thief: Deadly Shadows but not as much as the first two games. I'm told the plot doesn't make a lot of sense but plot was never Thief's strong point. Right now I'm having fun. I'm just wondering if poor Viktoria the Dryad who gave her life to help Garrett in the second game is still in continuity. Garrett and Viktoria were enemies in the first game but they had to work together in the second. Eventually he began to actually care for her, in as much as his amoral nature allowed him to care for anyone.
I like to think she's part of the current Garrett's past.
February 28, 2014
In the first of what is sure to be a well received series of action shots from the remake of Thief may I present Garrett in an attic full of birds! pulse pounding excitement indeed. Actually, it is a rather pretty shot.
February 27, 2014
The Last Batman Post
That's the final boss battle and that's as far as I got. I managed to get him down to 1/3 health but wasn't able to defeat him. Without getting into details, I might have been able to win the battle if it weren't for the two minute cut scene that replayed every time I died. I just ran out of patience for it.
I'll never be a fan of brawlers but for $20 I really got my money's worth out of Batman: Arkham Asylum. Now on to Thief. I know I said I'd wait and I know it's getting mediocre reviews but it's Thief.
February 26, 2014
Titan in a Sewer
So, the Joker's plan was to get captured and get sent to Arkham Asylum. He wanted a chemical formula developed by one of the doctors. Similar to the stuff that powers Bane, it gives its users super strength. It also makes them pretty stupid. The Joker planned to drop it in Gotham's water supply.
Here you see the aftermath of a fight with a titan, some inmate already injected with the formula. I've already taken down two titans but this fight was in a confined space with quite a lot of thugs thrown into the mix. In fact it was the toughest fight of the game for me. And some rate it the toughest fight of the game. We'll see, I think I have two more boss battles to go.
I've had a good run in this game, much better then I expected. Like Tomb Raider last year this is a game way outside my comfort zone and it really rewarded the effort I put into it.
Once I beat the game, or it beats me, I'll probably take a break for a few weeks and then get the new Thief. I've heard mixed things about it but hell, it's Thief. Of course, that's what I said about Splinter Cell: Blacklist. Not every game outside my comfort zone is a game I want to play.
February 25, 2014
Warren Ellis on Murder
February 24, 2014
February 23, 2014
Still Another Gaming Post
I'm in a gaming mood, I get that way sometimes.
Leigh Alexander wrote a wonderful article on the closing of Irrational Games for Gamasurta. At this point I'm going to repost the games I played in 2013:
Half Life 2: Spherical Nightmares
Half Life 2: Minerva: Metastasis
Dishonored: The Knife of Dunwall
The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing
Half Life 2: Mission Improbable
Dishonored: The Brigmore Witches
The Stanley Parable
The Bard's Tale
Of those games two, Bioshock: Infinite and Tomb Raider were AAA games. A third, not on the list, was Splinter Cell: Blacklist, it was also AAA. I didn't play it very long but it was a major title by a major studio and I gave them my money. And it has this in common with Bioshock: Infinite and Tomb Raider, it didn't sell as well as the publisher thought it would.
Two were non AAA titles, Shadow Warrior and The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing. Doom and The Bards Tale were older games that I finally decided to try to finish. It helped that they were on sale.
Skyrim: Dragonborn, Dishonored: The Knife of Dunwall and Dishonored: The Brigmore Witches were all expansions for games made by the studio and four, Skyrim: Wyrmstooth, Half Life 2: Spherical Nightmares, Half Life 2: Minerva: Metastasis and Half Life 2: Mission Improbable were free add ons made by fans. That leaves two indie games, Gone Home and The Stanley Parable. If you count Splinter Cell: Blacklist then that's 15 games. Only 3 were AAA titles, and all three (even the two I liked) underperformed. The rest were indie games, older or non AAA titles, official expansions or fan expansions.
From my personal point of view, 2013 was the best gaming year I had in a long time. But if you're a big studio backing AAA titles that list is kind of scarey. I mean I'm not the core demographic the studios are aiming for. I'm not even sure I'm what you'd call a hard core gamer. But I'm not alone in getting a lot of my content from non AAA sources. Hell, next week the new Thief game is being released. At one point I would have preordered it months ago but after the disappointment of Splinter Cell: Blacklist I'm going to wait for the reviews, and I don't think I'm alone.
In 1983 there was a console game crash and a lot of money was lost. I don't know if there's going to be an AAA game crash but I do know that games with $200 million budgets are rapidly becoming unsustainable.
And that's why Irrational Games is closing and Ken Levine is going to make small indie style games for Take-Two. And that's probably why I spent the last month playing a game from 2009.
February 21, 2014
PC Games You Must Play
At least according to Kotaku. I've played a lot more of them then I thought. And one of the games, Adventure dates all the way back to 1976! Damn. The earliest game on the list that I played was Zork back in 1983. If you want a taste of what gaming was like when alChandler really was just a psychotic dwarf, you can play the game here. And in honor of said game:
February 21, 2014
A Batman Boss Battle
When I saw these guys I figured that my adventure in Arkham Asylum had come to an end. As it turned out I defeated them on my first try. Granted, I'm playing on easy but considering that the game has kicked my ass for five years I'm proud of myself
Oh, in case you were wondering, that's not me in the video. It's fairly close to the way my fight went down though.
February 20, 2014
A Quick Note on Saves
After the las post I decided to play a little Batman: Arkham Asylum, just to see how I'd do after a week's layoff. The game uses a checkpoint save system. I've long since accepted that system and the game's checkpoints come pretty close together so I don't get frustrated. In fact the only thing that disappoints me is that if I want to redo a fight with a different strategy, I can't. A minor thing, and I guess Batman always looks ahead but still...
February 19, 2014
Perhaps a Cat and More Stuff
I spent five days in North Jersey and there my biorhythms got synched to a more normal schedule. I'm back home and severely jet lagged, if you will. It's 9:00 PM and I'm having some tea so I can stay awake until two or three in the morning and get back on track.
Meanwhile I ran into my downstairs neighbor. Last year I told her Cadbury died and I'd probably be looking for another cat sometime in 2014. Long story short, neighbor's daughter and daughter's roommate get two kittens. The young women have to move. Roommate moves to a place where she can keep her six month old kitten. But daughter can't keep the kitten at the new place so mom is going to take it in. But mom already has cats. So if old grey haired guy upstairs would be interested, mom would have the kitten neutered.
It was a split second decision but I said yes. It's hard to turn down free neutering. Besides, I miss having a cat around. Yeah, seven months is a bit younger then I'd like but Kafka was six months when I got him and that worked out.
I should probably have waited a bit before posting this but it's 9:00 PM and I'm swilling tea. At any rate her name is Quinn and barring unforeseen circumstances I should get her in three weeks.
In other news, I'm following the whole Titanfall beta with interest. I'm not interested in the game itself but I follow the industry. Titanfall will be released for PC, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. Currently the PS4 is outselling the Xbox One 2 to 1 so Microsoft needs Titanfall to be a hit. Everything I've read about the beta indicates that it's a great game, if you're into team based multiplayer stuff. Thing is, a lot of AAA titles fail to live up to expectations. One of the rumors about the Irrational Games closing was that Take-Two was disappointed by the sales of Bioshock Infinite but wanted to keep Ken Levine. That's the rumor, anyway. But the point is that Microsoft has a lot riding on the success of Titanfall.
And, as long as I'm rambling, here's a take on the Irrational closing.
Finally, when the expansion for Shadowrun Returns comes out, a save anywhere will be patched into the game, so the thing will finally be playable. Currently I'm still playing Batman: Arkham Asylum but I still have Shadowrun Returns on the old hard drive.
February 19, 2014
Windows 8 Design Decisions
Over on Reddit pwnies, a designer at Microsoft, explains why Microsoft went with Metro. I'm not sure how I feel about it all but it is an interesting thread.
February 18, 2014
You know, while I say that radio sucks and I never purchase music based on radio, that's not true. In fact there are three staions that have turned me on to new stuff. The first is
WFMU. It's a free form station operating out of Jersey City and the jocks program their own music. The next staion is, of course, is WRTI Temple's radio station. During the day is plays classical and at night it plays jazz.
Finally there's WLFR, Lake Fred radio out of Stockton. Like WFMU the hosts program their own music.
So there are good things on the radio. Just yesterday as I was driving home from North Jersey I turned on WLFR and heard the best guitar instrumental I've heard in a long time. Turned out to be Jam 292 by Jimi Hendrix off his album Blues. Absolutely wonderful. While I am a "the water is probably poisoned" kind of guy. I do remember from time to time that the world is full of wonderful things.
February 18, 2014
In 1997 Irrational Games was founded in 1997 by four refugees from the beloved (beloved by me anyway) Looking Glass Studios. One of the four was Ken Levine. Irrational published, among other things, System Shock 2, Bioshock and Bioshock Infinite. Levine is shutting down Irrational and starting a new company. Or as he puts it himself:
I am winding down Irrational Games as you know it. I'll be starting a smaller, more entrepreneurial endeavor at Take-Two.
In time we will announce a new endeavor with a new goal: To make narrative-driven games for the core gamer that are highly replayable. To foster the most direct relationship with our fans possible, we will focus exclusively on content delivered digitally.
Which sounds exciting but sucks for the soon to be laid off employees of Irrational. Still, being able to say you worked for Ken Levine will open a lot of doors.
February 18, 2014
The Three Types of People
There are people who see the glass as half full, there are people who see the glass as half empty and there are people who see the glass as half empty but don't care because the water is probably poisoned.
February 17, 2014
The Sweetest Sight in the World
Is a car that's just been pulled from a metric shit ton of snow.
February 16, 2014
It's Fucking Narnia Up Here
February 15, 2014
One of the nice things about no longer working for the Casino Control Commission is that I now feel free to comment on state affairs.
This is an article in the New Republic on Chris Christie. It's called Chris Christie's Entire Career Reeks.
It is less then complimentary.
February 13, 2014
I'm up in North Jersey. I took my laptop but in my rush I forgot my mouse so I'm using the track pad for the first time
since I bought the thing.
I suppose it's a useful skill to acquire and the mental effort will do me good but right now I want to do an Xbox on the fucking thing.
But sanity will prevail, in theory anyway. I'd rush out and buy a goddamn mouse but it's after five and I'll be snowed in until Friday
at the earliest.
Stupid first world problems.
February 12, 2014
Email hacked, Maybe
A group called NullCrew FTS says that it hacked into 34 of Comcast's email servers. It's recommended that you change your Comcast password. Even if you never use your Comcast email account, it's still a good idea.
February 11, 2014
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