Category Archives: random mental floss

And here I pause to ramble a bit…

Delays between reviews on my site are something most of you should be used to by now, but this time around, the delays have to do with a number of disasters that I knew were coming. The biggest of those is that my beloved dinosaur PC died, and now I am stuck trying to steal time on hubby’s computer. Hubby is both a gamer and an internet addict, so this is really quite hard. (He really is an addict, by the way. We had service go down for half a day, and within two hours, he was wandering around the front of another provider near our home.)

So while I have some time during one of his naps, I wanted to let y’all know what’s going on here. (Besides the PC breaking.) Those of you who follow me on Twitter or Facebook may know that I lost my wallet last year, and that I have been languishing in the bureaucratic hell that Italy puts all immigrants through. I finally got my sojourn permit back, and so now I can hopefully get my debit card reinstated. This is important because without it, I can’t sell any books. Or rather, I can, but I can’t get access to any profits I make from those sales. There is a chance that I still won’t be able to get my card without a carta identita (ID card), but I don’t know that just yet.

Even if I can get the debit card, it may still be a bit longer before I can sell new books because I need to get a PC of my own to finish editing and formatting the next book to go out. This should take a few months at the very least. So if you’re one of the people who have been waiting patiently for the next book in the Alice the Wolf series, I’m sorry, but you’ll have to wait a little more until I can sort out this mess. Continue reading


My thoughts on the weapon durability game mechanic…

Zelda: Breath of the Wild has a lot of people raving about how good it is, and watching people play on live streams, it certainly does look fun. And yet, there’s a problem that even people who like it have called out, and that’s the introduction of weapon durability. The problem isn’t that it’s a part of the game, though. No, the real problem is the exaggerated fragility of the weapons.

I’ll have to wait quite some time before I can play BotW, but I have played a number of games recently where durability is a mechanic in them, and I think it’s a good idea if it’s done right. For instance, it’s mostly okay in Dark Souls III and the original game (I still haven’t played the second installment so I can’t say how it is, but it’s on my “want to play” list.) while it’s decidedly more frustrating in Bloodborne, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and Let it Die.

In particular, Let it Die has constantly annoyed me with how fragile the weapons are, especially in the higher levels. I can carry a supply of four or five swords for one level and still not reach the next floor before I’ve used up my supply. This is a problem for many reasons. One is the high cost of the upgraded weapons, requiring a half a day of grinding for cash just to afford a decent supply. But even with cash on hand, the game blocks additional purchases of the same weapon type with a timer, so gathering my arsenal requires upwards of two hours sitting around and doing nothing. So imagine the “fun” of wasting a whole day to buy a weapon cache, only to have said cache be wiped out in twenty minutes. Continue reading


A “Where the hell have you been” update…

Yeah, I know, I’ve been a very bad writer lately, but I want you to know, it’s not just you blog readers left isolated out in the proverbial cold. I’ve been just as horrid keeping folks in the loop on Twitter and Facebook, and if you think you’ve got it rough, the poor souls following me on Tumblr and Wattpad haven’t heard a peep from me in over a year. I would love to say things will change for the better for all parties soon, but I can’t quite make a promise because things here are still iffy. But with warmer weather coming, I hope my health will recover somewhat, and then I can devote more time to you lovely peoples whom I love, respect, and admire. (You’re looking very good, by the way.)

With butt smooching and apologies out of the way, I finally have the brain cells to sit down and whack out an update to let you know where I am and what I’ve been up to. First, I should explain that this winter has been pretty damned nasty to me, with several bugs tag teaming me like some kind of sadist Wrestlemania of flus and colds. I’d just start to get over one thing when I’d get something else, and so I spent a lot of time on my couch.

In theory, that should have meant another game review for y’all, only Let It Die has proved to be a lot longer than I would have expected from a free game. That’s not an issue with the difficulty, though. It’s the absolutely dreadful RNG for crafting item drops, leading to instances where I have spent whole weeks looking for one fucking item to upgrade a weapon ONE level, and then I got to look forward to hunting for that same rare item twice or even three times. I’ll talk more about this when I can finally do a proper review, but I’ll just let you know, I will not be kind to the grind of this game. Like, at all. Fucking hate it, actually. Continue reading


Book review: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

I want to begin this review with two disclaimers and a side comment before getting into the book itself. The first is a warning that this review will contain spoilers. I don’t think it’s so much of a big deal because some of what I want to talk about is so garishly signposted early on in the book that within the first few chapters, I set the book down and gave predictions of what was to come to my husband. Nothing I said was wrong, and there were absolutely no surprises or twists to this tale. But if you want to read this without knowing what it’s all about, I’d suggest you look elsewhere for impressions because to explain my feelings, I need to dig into the spoilery guts of this book.

The second disclaimer is that even if I talk about the story and its characters in a negative way, I really did enjoy the story. I’ve spent several nights staying up reading under the spell of “just one more chapter” until fatigue was making the letters go crawling over the pages in a distracting manner. But this isn’t a happy story, nor are the characters entirely likeable. The setting is dark, and the conclusion is grim. That doesn’t make it a bad story, unless you just need all your fiction to be cheerful with happily ever afters. I don’t, but I realize I need to say right at the start, no matter what else I say, this is a good book.

And finally, here’s my aside: my first Ishiguro book was The Buried Giant, and I read that because it was supposedly a huge departure from his previous works. Having now read a second story from him, I’m not feeling that complaint. So one is fantasy, and the other is sci-fi. Both are speculative fiction, and both end somewhat grimly. I’d say they both have his signature writing style, even if they take place in vastly different time periods. So if you liked Never Let Me Go, but hated The Buried Giant because it had a dragon in it, I’d say the fault is more with your very narrowly defined comfort zone and not with the writing of an extremely talented author. Continue reading


The year 2015 in review

This post was supposed to go up before January 1st, but didn’t on account of me not writing it yet. With mere days left to the end of the year, I caught a cold and ended up going to the living room to hide away from the chill in my room under a pile of blankets with a warm heater nearby and a steady supply of citrus drinks to try and burn out this snotty bug. Today, it seems like I can breathe without drugs, so I’m declaring a tentative victory and venturing into my cold, cold room to finally do this post. This is my dedication to you. Witness my love for alla y’all.

How to begin? Well if 2014 was one of my better years, 2015 was certainly one of the worst. Right at the start, my husband contracted a staph infection and had to be hospitalized. Before the doctors could identify the strain, it had already gummed up the stents in his heart, and he had to undergo open chest surgery. He was moved from one hospital to the next, and no one had any answers about how effective the treatments were or when he might finally come home. Even after we had an answer, the doctors kept changing their minds and pushing it back. Poor hubby looked like a pincushion, and he endured so many treatments that eventually the doctors ran out of viable locations to put in new catheters.

Some of you may recall this, but I have multiple sclerosis. I’m mostly fine unless I move around too much. Well for the first two and a half months of the year, I did more moving around than I had in all of 2014 and 2013 combined. It wasn’t just travel to and from the hospitals, either. I had to wash hubby’s things and cart them back and forth. I had to clean the house and care for the animals, all stuff I’d normally done with his help. And when hubby got home, he needed a lot of help with everything. So even if I was exhausted and in pain, I just kept pressing on. Continue reading


A tale of two trailers…

Yesterday, my Facebook stream lit up with reactions to the new Jem and the Holograms trailer, and they were all bad. I read through an article about how awful it was and how it was angering fans of the show, and bracing myself for the worst, I took a look at it. And…I want to see the movie. Right off the bat, my first thought is how this is an origin movie for a series that started off without an origin. The series follows this group after their initial success, so they already have an established routine, and even an established rival. But you wouldn’t find any of that in their origin, if they’d had one, would you? Not really, no. So I’m ready to give the movie the benefit of the doubt. I may be wrong, and the film may suck and make me wish I hadn’t wasted my time or money on it. But based on this one short look, yeah, I’m intrigued.

I feel kind of alone on this, though, because the vast majority of coverage on the trailer is 100% “Ugh, really?” This reminds me once again on how often I end up being outside of the in-crowd when it comes to just about everything. This sucks because if I love something, it usually means it’s gonna die due to a lack of interest. Even when something I love has a big enough fan base to sustain it, ANY mention that I like these things instantly invites a flood of criticism and teasing. I must be stupid to like them, because the mainstream zeitgeist has classified them as pure shite.

The same thing has happened with the new Supergirl trailer. I found out about it from the collective groaning on social media, and I watched the trailer and got goosebumps. I want to see this show so, so bad. I can’t wait for a box set, I need it to come to Rai NOW. This is a thing I need in my life, and I haven’t felt that way about any superhero TV show since Smallville.

And yet, go look at io9 and Polygon marching lock-step in their hate for Supergirl, and for Jem. And the thing is, what’s the gist of all their hate? “This is not the way we wanted it to be!” Continue reading


My problems with indie platformers…

This week I bought They Bleed Pixels, and after three chapters, I gave up and walked away in frustration. I didn’t play enough to make a proper review, but the experience did help bring to mind several complaints I’ve had with indie platformers, and I want to talk about them after a few days to calm down. If I had written about this immediately after leaving the game, about 80% of every sentence would have been variations of fuck.

To begin, I love platformers. Back in my youth, Nintendo was full of these side scrolling gems, and I think back on how many of my favorite games were the 2D jump/attack variety. Among some of my favorites were Super Mario Bros. (And 2 and 3), Castlevania (and 3, screw 2), Bionic Commando, and Contra (And Super Contra). Those titles give you some idea of the variety of the formula, with each game having a very different feel and look, and they were glorious. They had a great blend of challenge and fun, and to this day, I can still go back and play some of them over just because I love them so much.

Then at a certain point, all the new consoles coming out created a shift away from the 2D side-view platform in favor of the 3D environment. I’m not knocking this because there are a lot of 3D games that I’ve loved over those consoles as well. But the dearth of the familiar platformer was always something stuck at the back of my mind. I wondered why we lost this particular style of gameplay when the increasing hardware capabilities should have made it possible to have some really pretty games on the 2D plane. Continue reading