Monday Missions: A Lesson Learnt

•August 11, 2014 • 4 Comments

Hey gang! Did you miss me?

 

 

 

I already know the answer to that question. I am sitting here trying to get into a groove, and distracted by two grandmothers using a laptop and a mobile phone for a skype call to someone else. I don’t really understand what is going on, but they are sharing the mobile back and forth, and the call is being played (complete with slight delay) through the laptop speakers. I tried something different last week, and after that different thing I reviewed the site’s stats, the activity, it’s general well-being. The good news is that the site is okay. It’s great, in fact. It’s bullshit level is a little high, but I have no one to blame but myself for that. Visit levels remain steady, Share levels remain steady, Spam comments are just as plentiful as always. But you guys….you guys didn’t even ask.

Even computers need holidays sometimes...

Even computers need holidays sometimes…

So last week I tried something different – instead of heading into the city to stake out workspace in the State Library (of which I have been doing every Monday for a while now), I decided I’d try something radical. My reasoning towards the Library locale was I feared that working from home would leave me with too many other things to do, and too many procrastination opportunities, and to an extent, the Library does prevent this. There are drawbacks to the Library though: traveling into the city, sharing space with people who may/may not be doing library-worthy activities…but my biggest gripe is that should I need a break, use a bathroom, eat a lunch, I have to PACK UP ALL MY STUFF AND LUG IT AROUND WITH ME. AND THIS DRIVES ME NUTS. Mostly because I’m using an old laptop that requires a constant wall-connection or it has the lifespan of a single well-held breath.

 

This prompted me, nay, this DEMANDED I try something different. So I thought I’d use a combination of an anecdotal work-from-home technique, and my old tried-and-tested methods. The first step, was to actually get out of the house. This is the bit based on anecdote: a colleague told me of someone they knew who worked from home, but had initially struggled to get up, and work. Their solution was to get up and ready to leave the house, and then leave. And walk around the block. And return home to work (…) The act of getting up and out was enough to trigger a change in their behaviour, so that when they returned, they had switched to a working mentality. I did the same – but my plan was to walk to the train station (as I do everyday), and then get a coffee and wander home, to begin my day.

 

At this point, standing at the cross-road opposite my station, and whirling around on the spot like a character in a Michael Bay film, I came to the horrible realisation that on a Monday morning, at 9:30am, there is no coffee option within walking distance of the station. (ALMOST no options…) I scrambled, going from door to door feverishly checking opening hours, (ALMOST every door…) and sniffing around the doorjambs for a hint of roasted grounds…Nothing (ALMOST Nothing…). I could feel my pulse racing, my vision trembling, my knees weakening. I stumbled, like a panicky survivor of a vampire feeding frenzy, looking for a coffee respite. I passed two awkward looking security guys as they tried to get the sliding door on their van working. They looked at me like I may try to rob them in this vulnerable state, and that I may fall over doing so. I made it past them, and to the Pascoe Vale Hotel. Shuffled up the steps, and inside…

I had avoided this place, as to my mind, the PVH was the last bastion of a bygone age, and inhabited by drunks, former drunks lapsing, and people interested in sports both local and national. (What?) So entering here was a real last ditch effort…Inside was not what I expected. The PVH is what an RSL would be, should the Retired Servicemen’s League up and sell their business. It looks like it was decorated at the end of the 60’s, and has allowed a TAB to gradually take over a corner of it’s floor space. The staff were friendly, one carrying a perpetual tray of sandwiches, of which I was offered to take some. I declined, but did order coffee, not really knowing what I was in for, and found a seat. Producing my index cards (my old faithful!) and a pen, I started scribbling. Now this bit, this bit ALWAYS works.

If I’m in a creative slump, a great way to break that is go somewhere with my index cards, and just write down ideas. One line concepts, dialogue snippets, whatever. I did this over a coffee and wrote an entire 13 page comedy script. I do this and come up with breakthroughs for my book. It ALWAYS works. So I did this, and drank two coffees (whose prices differed – Odd). I began to recover from my earlier shock, and then I heard the badly filtered radio play “Werewolves Of London”, which, as always, I take as a sign from the universe that everything is sorted. I finished my scribbling, and marched back outside. The security van was gone, I was feeling myself again, and back on track to go home and write.

 

I then took a long detour through the parks and searched for geocaches. BECAUSE HOME IS NOT WHERE I CAN WORK.

Help me guys, I need a new work location. State Library is more a meeting ground and skype call place than workspace, and my house is the eye of a productivity storm – nothing happens there. Got any ideas??

 

Today’s Music: “Counterattacks“, by Dick Valentine

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Monday Missions: Letters To An Editor

•July 28, 2014 • Leave a Comment

The first thing the above title made me think was, “Why do they always say ‘The’ Editor? There’s multiple Editors. In fact, if we’re going to get pedantic (AND I AM), only THE Editor should really get that capitalisation. If there were only one. Which there is not. All editors are equal, as editors all ascribe to the teachings of Communo, the creator of Communism and lord of our shared ethereal plane.

This got strange. But okay,  if that’s going to be today’s theme then who am I to argue? STRANGE IS AS STRANGE DOES!

"The name is Strange...STEPHEN Strange....DOCTOR Stephen Str- look, just call me Steve."

“The name is Strange…STEPHEN Strange….DOCTOR Stephen Str- look, just call me Steve.”

So today’s themes are “Strange” and “Letters”…Which I can only take to mean “Strange Letters”

Like this.

Like this.

Or….like this:

“Superb, what a weblog it is! This web site gives valuable information to us, keep it up.”
Vickie Barrientos

So today I thought I’d take a moment to reply to some of the many comments i have been receiving. For various reasons, these comments will not be published elsewhere, but I feel they deserve their own fifteen minutes of fame. Starting with Vickie’s praise above, I’ve hand-picked a number of entries I personally felt had something special to say, to me on a personal level. Personally.

Am I stressing the person-involvement enough? On we go!

“I all the time emailed this website post page to all my contacts, because if like to read it afterward my friends will too.”
Laurinda The Rio

Thanks Laurinda! That’s exactly the kind of reaction I’m hoping to get out of you, and vicariously through you, out of your contacts. Tell your friends that after they’ve read it, they should do the same! Keep rioting, Laurinda The!

“It was hard for me to find your blog in google. I found it on 11 spot, you have to build a lot of quality backlinks , it will help you to get more visitors. I know how to help you, just search in google – k2 seo tips”
Beatris Hoang

Google is indeed a wild and unpredictable place. I congratulate you for sticking it out and trekking to that scary second page of results, Beatris! Did you make any other interesting discoveries there? Like the blog of that other, twisted and evil Nick Durbridge? He’s not me. No, really. So whilst I’m doing my Google searches for the tips of K2 (a pretty damn tall mountain, I’m led to believe), can you refer me to any craftsmen who can build for me some high quality backlinks?

"I know SEO"

“I know SEO”

“Elles sont noires et avec plein de clous à l’arrière: un vrai coup de coeur.”
hogan stivaletto uomo

I’m terribly sorry, hogan – I Don’t Speak French

“Do you have a spam issue on this blog; I als am a blogger, and I was curious abbout your situation; maby of uus have developed ome nice methods aand we are looking to exchange strategies with others, please shoot me an e-mail if interested.”
Arnold Cashin

FUNNY YOU SHOULD MENTION IT,  ARNOLD. THE THOUGHT HAD LITERALLY JUST CROSSED MY MIND THAT THERE MAY BE SOMETHING ROTTEN IN THE STATE OF DENM- MY SITE. Have no fear, I’ll be ready to shoot you, should such a discussion on strategies be required…

“{
{I have|I’ve} been {surfing|browsing} online more than {three|3|2|4} hours today, yet I never found any
interesting article like yours. {It’s|It is} pretty worth enough for me.
{In my opinion|Personally|In my view}, if
all {webmasters|site owners|website owners|web owners} and bloggers made good content as you did, the {internet|net|web} will be {much more|a lot more} useful than ever
before.|”
Marcella Bracken

I, uh….Marcella, I don’t know how to break this to you, but your robotics are showing. Or did you eat a thesaurus and are now finding it repeating on you? You should probably see a good doctor. Or a good doctor who knows a good mechanic.

The above has illustrated two things, I believe.One) I get some very strange letters. However, whilst I call them letters, I think most people would call them “Spam Comments”. Most people would be right, but my naming convention makes it feel a bit more personal, and like someone in the world wide web actually likes my writing and wants to let me know. That makes me feel warm, and fuzzy, and…cyber threatened. It also illustrates (“Two)”),  that I was a little stuck for material today. So, with that cold data-like chill running down my spine, I’d like to finish on a bit of wisdom and lightness that I think we can all take a lesson from:

“You can certainly see your enthusiasm within the article you write. The world hopes for even more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to say how they believe. Always follow your heart.”
Mila Gross Hay (in response to my article “Happy Fire Day“)

Always follow your heart. Thank you Mila, thank you very much. You’re all right.

For a ROBOT.

Today’s Music: “I Want Your Face”, by Andrew W.K.

Monday Missions: Creating On The Internet 101

•July 21, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Hello netizens. After last week’s gang-busting, block-rocking, tea-cart-upsetting centenary of a post, I was wanting to follow up with something just as mighty, a bit of a one-two combo, like the boxers of old used to unleash.

I almost called it a “centaury of a post”, and then got distracted by ideas of half-man, half-horse bloggers, typing their posts whilst at a full gallop around a coffee shop. For some reason, in my head, centaurs are also hipsters, so these bloggers were also sporting big beards, short hair cuts and ironic non-prescription glasses. Given the terrifying reputations the centaur folk used to have in real mythology, I think I’m drastically ruining their image.

So I intentionally left today’s slate clean, a blank post with no pre-preparation, mostly because I previously called on you, the omnipotent denizens of the internez, to instruct me on a rational way to celebrate this milestone. Okay, I didn’t quite use those words…rational WAS NOT used. But it should have been. Pedantic request structure aside, I have the misfortune to announce the following:

No one replied.

I had no feedback, be it encouraging and bursting with ideas, or denigrating and harsh as vinegar on a split-lip. So I dedicate today, what should have been a celebration of sorts, to a harsh lesson of the internet: The internet simply does not care.

This is not being written as a guilt-trip, no sir! It is an informative piece. Like a BBC documentary, information without emotion. The sad truth is that everything on the internet takes time and effort to create, and yet we, the consumers of such content, are so voracious and so accustomed to it, that we devour and move on rapid-like. I know that when I sit down at my computer, I open multiple browser windows for various sites and services, and I scan them with methodical, quick behaviour. I will occasionally double-click for an article or link I want to follow, but for the most part I simply scan and close the window. Click. Gone.

That article may have taken a while to write – if it required research, that compounds the time involves. Was there a video? Even a short, 60 second presentation? That production, from writing, to recording, to editing, took hours. Heaven forbid there’s also any other kinds of media involved, like a gallery of photos (that would have taken hours and potential culling from a much larger collection).

The internet, and all creative works, take a lot of time and effort to produce. And we eat them up so fast.  Go back and read some older articles. Don’t Van Gogh me. Don’t Lovecraft me. Let me know, whilst I live, if you like my stuff.

 

Chew your food slowly.

Thank you, internet.

 

Today’s Music: THERE IS NO MUSIC. I left my headphones at home…

Monday Missions: Enter The Centurion

•July 14, 2014 • 2 Comments

Today is a very special day. I am playing my part by literally playing my part – over my shoulders I wear the banded steel armour made famous by Caesar’s legions. On my head I wear what can only be described as the unholy union of battle helmet and toilet brush. At my beck and call are 100 of Rome’s finest warriors (or at least 100 of Rome’s fairly paid warriors). Yes, dear reader, today I am… THE CENTURION.

 

No, NOT that one.

No, NOT that one.

Well, it’s a nice idea. Who wouldn’t love to have 100 fearless, well-drilled minions at their very command? Sounds like a grand idea to me. But sadly, my costume aside, I am not today’s Centurion. Rather, Today is a centurion, of sorts.

 

Back in my uni days, of which there were startlingly fewer than there probably should have been, parties would break out with regularity. At the time, a party was something I’d have to plan ahead for, and really give considerable thought to things like drinks, where to get them, how to transport them. If I spent a bit more time alternatively thinking about cars and licenses, I’d probably have had an easier go of it all, but it was not to be. Anyway, these parties that occurred with bin-night regularity often boasted of someone’s attempt to perform a Centurion. This wasn’t a latin-based Cabaret with dubious choices in head-dress, (although now I think about it, that may just be something I can develop in the near future – MY IDEA. GET BACK). Rather, this Centurion was a drinking game that would feature the contestants drinking a shot of their favoured drinks once a minute, for one hundred minutes straight. I never saw one of these attempts reach the big triple-digit-finish line, but I knew people who claimed to have made it. I think these were boasts of little actual merit – I think they THINK they made it, but with everyone absorbing that much alcohol, I can assume unreliable narrative as the only form of narrative present. Today is not that kind of Centurion. I have only had fifteen shots of water, and then I got bored.

 

Believe or not, a Future Roman. No, really.

Believe or not, this guy is a Centurion: a Future Roman. No, really.

 

Rather, today’s post, this very piece, is my 100th post. 100! What a number! It’s got so many components! It breaks into percentages so nicely! Percentages are a form of comfortable data, in that you know exactly what they will total. Every time. And those times they don’t? There’s an explanation. A good one. So here’s some other data for you.

Data Bullllllets!

  • Since the dawn of this blog, it has received 2374 views. That’s right, TWO THOUSAND, THREE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY FOUR VIEWS. I have no gags for that number – it doesn’t strike me as pop-culturally relevant. (It might be something in Star Trek terms, but I wouldn’t know – I’m a Whovian.)
  • Since the dawn of this blog, the busiest day saw 88 views.  What a day that was (I wrote a letter to Dan DiDio. Did he reply? No, he did not. But I’m keen to hear from you, Dan.)
  • Since the dawn of this blog, I have somehow collated a close-knit group (who refuse to interact with each other – what the hell, guys?) of followers, who amount to a total of 22. Given that I’m pretty sure three of you are robots (not judging, just observing), I would like you all to say hello to one another, and then think about what you can do to help me get that number into the “Legitimate 20’s” (which, given how society is going, will be on us in just six years).
  • 230 Google searches of various terms have arrived at this, my erroneously-named hallowed ground of rambling conjecture.
  • Since the dawn of-, I have used 184 tags. Yes, those little bits of meta-data used to filter and categorise my writing. More on this below.
  • There’s been 94 comments. This includes mine. (Wait for it…)
  • The formatting on this blog sucks so bad you can barely make out the bold words, and the italicised words. I should probably do something about that.

So let’s crunch some stuff.

  1. Not including this post (because, you know, it’s not out there yet – get temporal with me!), the above means each post has an average of almost 24 views. ALMOST 24! Now given my robot assumption (which is based on your ludicrous names and urls, that’s right, lauraagudelo272lauraagudelo272 of “lauraagudelo272.wordpress.com” fame), I’m feeling this means that more people than my followers are reading my stuff! OH JOY! OH RAPTURE!
  2. Here’s a surprise. Of all the many and varied people who like, read and comment on  my posts, the one who does the most interacting with the posts, in total, is…me. 24 of this-almost-one-hundred quantity were mine, so obviously I’ve been working about a quarter of the interactions, trying to ENGAGE. And I’m obviously failing.
  3. Now the tags…given the post count, that’s an awful lot of tags. I have an explanation, I swear: I use them as a way to hide subtle jokes, or reminders. It occurred to me after a great deal of posting, that they were actually a UTILITY, but by that point I’d already filled the meta-data with so much rubbish, it really isn’t worth trying to use them. Sorry gang, maybe during my spring-cleaning-procrastination, I’ll do something about them. No promises.
  4. Of the 230 Google searches that have resulted in people finding me, 13 used my name. MY NAME. Given that I’ve done NOTHING of repute, and I have no idea why people would be looking for me without already knowing me, THIS IS SOME KIND OF FAMOUS. A fraction of famous, maybe.
  5. There’s a bunch of you awesome followers out there, thank you for sticking with me, and an even BIGGER thank you to the people in that group that DON’T ACTUALLY KNOW ME. Wow. That’s pretty damn cool of you – you gregarious folk! (Bigger thank you to those that actually do know me, because let’s be honest, you know better than the encourage this)
  6. A lot of the views are potentially me, stuffing up my URLs and accidentally getting to actual pages. Whoops. Way to sully the data, nimrod.

I comment more than anyone else. I account for more views than anyone else. I feel oddly happy and depressed by that. Dappy? Hepressed? I guess the upside that can be drawn from that (it is data, after all), is that I know my main readership. I know them intimately, inside-out. I could take over there life and commitments at the drop of a hat and no. One. Would. Ever. Know.

That’s a creepy note to finish on. ONE HUNDRED POSTS! I’m gonna celebrate, but how? HOW? Tell me, deer readers, tell me how I should mark this event.
If you are not a deer reader, you too can contribute, just bear in mind the deer hold the power in this activity.

Laura Agudelo, the 272nd, I called you a robot and this may be incorrect/insensitive. Please prove me wrong, and I will apologise to you, netizen.

(As it’s Monday, I’m also doing some powerful creative work. Today there is going to be a sketch or two slammed out. Why? Because I gotta! There’s also a creepy, ghost-story-like segment of my phantom book that is coalescing, ethereally, like a…ghost.)

Dammit. ONE HUNDRED!

Today’s Music: “Big Trouble In Little China”, by John Carpenter’s band “The Coup de’ Villes”

Monday Missions: Speedbump

•July 7, 2014 • Leave a Comment

On this, the second Monday into my 10 weeks of productive and officially sanctioned creative time, I did manage, for the second week in a row, to completely ruin the planned day’s events.

For someone who gets conditioned to routine too easily, this is potentially a problem.

But I have a good excuse – I really think I do. You see, it may be attributable to another creative endeavour that has been leeching my waking hours, and thought processes. (note the fast eroding of confidence as I explain further…) This weekend was the opening weekend for the theatre production I have been heavily involved in for the last few months. It’s a show called “All Shook Up”, featuring the King’s greatest hits, and a storyline reminiscent of the type of films the King would appear in. Which is nice. Do you like the King? Do you enjoy cheese? I hear this show is good for lovers of both and either. I am lactose intolerant. However, as with any late night endeavour that takes months of preparation, and absorbs five hours of your each and every evening, the show has left me a little…drained. I slept through two loud alarms this morning.


One of them played this song, really loudly.

So this whole “Treat Monday as a work day, just go to a different work” thing? It’s off to a rough start. All Shook Up will be over this time next week, so let’s call this rough start simply a part of the teething issues, and not dwell on it. Three paragraphs is enough. Let’s talk about metaphors…or do I mean analogies? Let’s talk about analogies

Do you know the difference between a metaphor, a simile and an analogy? I’ll tell you later. But first, my favourite definition of an analogy comes from Community:

Jeff: Do you even know what an analogy is?
Britta: It’s a thought… with another thought’s hat on.

That’s perfect. After that balls up of a closing statement on my last Monday post, I decided that it wasn’t going to happen again, and that I would make a large (but maybe not supreme) effort to compensate you, the dear readers I crave, with better wordplay. I have been juggling my syllables, arranging my adjectives in alliterative arrays…

And now I feel that I cannot compete with that Community quote. Dammit. I feel like I am making demands of myself, and then failing to really understand what I am demanding, yet still demanding it. Is this who I am? Am I that customer who complains about what they ordered, but cannot explain what the complaint really pertains to? (Probably a childhood trauma whose memory is triggered by the sight of cucumber sticks) Am I a constantly demanding person of everything around me? There’s a few things around me I make ceaseless demands of, this is true. Gravity, for instance. If that guy were to ever become complacent, I’d be extremely put out. And probably put off – I’ve seen movies about space, I assume a planet without gravity would look similar, but contain more quizzically confused small dogs, drifting free of their terrestrial prisons. I don’t think my demands on Gravity are unreasonable.

The Tick: Philosopher and Crime-fighter

The Tick: Philosopher and Crime-fighter

Any ways…as I did last week, I will now wrap this thing up with a statement of effort: Today I am going to write two different types of blog posts, and a quick script for a filming idea that was thrown together last night. We were on a live performance high, words were exchanged, laughing got out of control…you know how  it is. Who needs drugs when you have friends who will dance like monkeys with you? I might also look at that book, should I be able to get into the right, claustrophobically dark mind-space (This library is WELL lit). Anyway, last week I said two blog posts and some work on that dormant book of mine, and I did achieve this. The book work involved a fair whack of writing that, whilst it may not be included in its current form, goes a long way to addressing some issues I was having with a particular element in the narrative. No, not the plot, you condescending people. Just a plot-point. Like a fork in the road, with many directions that would all eventually lead back to the main path no matter which way I went, but required me to make an immediate choice least for the short term.

Ahh, metaphor!

Today’s Music: “Skyfall”, covered by Paul F Tompkins. (No, really)

Edge Of Tomorrow: An Exceptional Video Game?

•June 30, 2014 • 2 Comments

One of my fondest memories with Miss N (yes, that’s her name – I’m shortening it so as not to wear it out), is when we were rugged up on the couch watching Groundhog Day. I can’t tell you the date, I can’t tell you why it was on, I just remember it was, and we watched it together. This memory is one that I hold on to, maybe because of the combination of company and choice of film, maybe because of the juxtaposition of a story about a neverending moment and the, in-comparison, relatively brief moment we spent watching it. It will stay with me for an awfully long time. In fact, if I were to have to choose a form for an everlasting limbo to take, I’d mostly likely choose this. Fact. I’ve never told her this, and she might read this, but until then let’s keep it between us, okay?

Okay.

So the reason I bring this up, is because we went out and witnessed Tom Cruise’s latest effort, Edge of Tomorrow. Now there may be spoilers, so if you don’t want spoilers, don’t read below the picture of the bewildered 50 year old…

SPOILER: This guy is in it.

SPOILER: This guy is in the film.

The trailer makes no secret that he keeps living a day over and over again. So, if you’ve seen the trailer, you’re probably expecting a mash-up of Groundhog Day and Mission Impossible. (Impossible Groundhog! I’d watch that film.) On it’s own this wouldn’t have been a terrible idea, but the film actually does one better: It creates an almost perfect video game movie.

We’ve had a few of these before that almost worked: “Mortal Kombat” is effectively a remake of Bruce Lee’s “Enter The Dragon”, but then “Resident Evil” had an interesting approach that fell on it’s face (don’t even mention the sequels), Doom was… Max Payne did….And then there’s the abominations stitched together out of otherwise-good licenses by the Dr. Frankenstein of film directors, Uwe Boll. Okay, video game movies are bad. I see that. And that may be why Edge of Tomorrow works so well as one – it’s a movie first, and a game second.

Uwe Boll: The Spokesperson For Disastrous Video Game Adaptation.

Uwe Boll: Horseman Of The Cinepocalypse

The problem with oh-so-many video-game movies is that last statement above: it’s always the other way around. When you put the game first, you are trying to retell a story whose details are either extremely limited (so as to force the film to come up with a lot of new, and probably not-going-to-be-well-received details), or they stray from the source due to the source being…a setting, for a puzzle or repetitive combat simulator. This is fact – “Super Mario Brothers” is little more than a puzzle game about getting from A-to-B. The princess, the villains, the setting, they don’t really carry much weight at all. Mortal Kombat is a tournament about extremely competent fighters mutilating each other for sport. Your story is going to be new, and not what the fans are accustomed to getting when they load up their game. On top of this, as soon as people hear that your movie is based on a video game, people switch off – games are often quite a niche idea, that simply will not appeal to a wider audience regardless of their tone, topic or tale. This is all why I like the way Edge Of Tomorrow feels like it was built the other way around, movie-first.

Now I don’t mean there is an actual Edge of Tomorrow game coming out or even pre-existing – there isn’t (Which, I admit I was a little surprised by). Instead, it’s a movie crafted in such a way that it feels every bit like a video game experience. When you first start a game, you will be plunged head-first into it’s unique world, and you will have to quickly come to terms with your role here, and what you can do. Now this is very important – every game has rules, and these rules are what defines the game itself. In EoT the rules were: you must defeat the alien menace, and you will not stay dead. Sounds like a winning combination. It also sounds like Gears of War, Halo, Doom, Marathon, Borderlands… Not to flog the proverbial horse, of course.

The structure of the movie even closely parallels a video game story – you begin with a tutorial, guiding you through the general controls and involvement you will have in the world. Are you going to be firing a lot of weapons? You’ll have some easy combat and weapon handling training. Will you be doing a lot of puzzle solving? There’ll be a door that requires you to unlock it (however that may work), but ultimately whatever the genre, this first sequence will be showing you the ropes. Sometimes this involves actual ropes. In the movie? The first battle sequence literally has Cruise grappling with his controls, unable to get them to work – he stumbles around without direction, barely knowing how to move in this new, power armour-assisted environment, and cannot for the life of him figure out how his armament operates. This all followed an exposition-laden wandering around, with Bill Paxton setting the scene and walking us to the beginning of our story. The contents of the last two sentences is literally the first twenty minutes of any game you pick up today. Sadly, no game to date has included Bill Paxton. But the important element, the stumbling and control grappling, leaves Cruise as it does many gamers – dead before they even knew what they were doing.

From here, the movie kicks into Groundhog Day territory, with Cruise reliving this battle, and every time he dies, he wakes up pre-Paxton pep talk. Luckily he recalls everything that happened in the day that was just rewound, so he learns from his experience, and improves on the day each time he relives it… Just like a gamer, who treats their digital demise as a step of learning, going back to the last save point and re-attempting the mission that stymied them, with a little more knowledge of what they are heading into, and how to face it. Probably the least subtle method of evolution in storytelling, ever.

And this here, is what I loved about it. He makes many of the same detours Murray did, getting into all manner of mortal incidents, but he kept coming back, improving his approach and making progress. There is a particularly lovely moment when he and the heroine are holed up in a barn, and he reveals that not only has he been this far before, but he’s now stuck – he cannot find a way to get them both any further. Anyone who has ever played an adventure game will be able to relate to this. There is always a sticking point where you cannot determine the next step forward, where you have exhausted your previous set of solutions, and tried to click every element, tried every combination of items, all to no avail. After trying every option within the game, we would soon turn to those outside – we’d talk to people we knew who had played the game, we’d go online and look up walkthroughs, or in some extreme cases, we’d put the game aside. But where you or I could turn to Google, Cruise is stuck in an immortal quandary. Of course he makes it through (it’d be a surprising movie if he didn’t), but he does so by effectively “mapping out the dungeon” – a process us OCD people go through, where we have to cover every nook and cranny before we can go any further. He does that, and finds it was the wrong way, so….he goes back to a previous save point.

This isn’t to say that the film is marketed and directed solely at the game-playing community. I don’t for one second think that the script was engineered to adhere closely enough to video game story techniques as to be easily ported into a game experience in the near future. It really isn’t. However it does tell a story in a language and format that we can immediately relate, which, judging by the reception it has been receiving from non-gamers (Miss N included), makes me think that the art of game stories has become something that the mainstream would be more open to, if only they were not clad in obviously licensed packaging.

And I cannot wait for the Xbox version to come out.

Monday Missions: Inception

•June 30, 2014 • Leave a Comment

There’s a strange thing that happens to you if you work for the one place long enough. A strange, nice thing.

I’m not talking about the sense of comfort and acceptance one may achieve, or even the camaraderie and relationships that can be forged through regular, eight-hour long bouts of having to cohabit with others. Rather, it’s a reward, albeit an abstract one, provided to you. This reward is intangible – you cannot buy it, you do not receive it in a nice box, and you definitely cannot return it for goods equal to the same value. No, it is that most elusive element that we never seem to be in surplus of, and always that little bit more: Time.

"Until I am measured I am not known, Yet how you miss me When I have flown." So subscribe now.

“Until I am measured I am not known,
Yet how you miss me When I have flown.”
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You work for an operation log enough and you get long service leave (LSL), a special kind of time away from work that is not to be used in times of sickness, nor does it became a resource to be called upon when you need that week away, or you want to make the first weekend in November and even LONGER weekend (If you aren’t from Victoria, that’d mean little. If you are, you’re probably rushing to get that Monday off right now). I am using my LSL now, as I write this. Real-time.

For many people LSL represents a chance to do something they wanted to do, like travel a world, which may take longer than their annual leave may allow for (especially if that world is, say, Mars). For others, it’s like a short career break. It’s not a year of study, or not-working, but it can be the time to engage in something you’ve dearly wanted to, but cannot due to the requirements of you that business hours make. This is sort of what I am doing – I am taking the first working day of the week, and I am making it MY time. Time to create, time to write, time to ENGAGE WITH THE WORLD.

So every Monday I will be taking up residence at a desk that is not my work desk. Nor will it be my home desk. Both of these places offer too many distractions to me (one is where I really should be doing something completely different), and so I have researched and found new locations. Today I am in the State Library, a place where I am immediately feeling smarter, simply for being surrounded by so many books. Like osmosis-by-paper. My vocabulary has passively stretched, and now includes the word camaraderie, which I have also learned is not a cheese.

Today I’m writing a movie review, and a blog post, and remember that book I raved about in November? The one I was writing about a sober middle-aged man investigating a coastal town only a few hours from Melbourne? I’m back on that  wagon as well. For two people out there, this will mean I have things to share with you soon. For everyone else, your likes and sharing of my words will be like spurs to a cowboy’s steed, and prompt my thoroughbred writing fingers to…gallop-type…that much….

I have to go now. And work on my metaphors.

Today’s Music: “A Writer’s Dream”, by Petri Alanko. (Alan Wake: Original Soundtrack)