Jan. 1st, 2020 08:00 am
lea_hazel: The Little Mermaid (Default)
Drop me a line about anything here.
lea_hazel: Arthritis: It does the body bad (Health: Arthritis)
I am increasing my vitamin D dose to approximately "metric fuckton" (I think it's actually 1000mg or thereabouts) in hopes of doing something about the "always tired, always depressed" thing. The bottle has ninety pills! It should last me until the ritualistic murder of the solar deity has expired and the world is born anew in a flutter of chirping swallows and almond blossoms. Or something.

I downloaded and played the demo to the new Dark Parables game, "Goldilocks and the Fallen Star". It's... okay? Like, I want it and I want to play it. I just don't feel any huge urgency or attachment. The puzzles are good. The art is pretty. The story is about as overblown as you'd expect. There are secrets and fables to collect, but there don't seem to be morphing objects, which is a shame.

I will probably play and replay it eventually. Right now, I'm in 7KPP hell. When I'm ready to buy a new game, I might favor Botanica over this one.


Nov. 25th, 2015 09:44 am
lea_hazel: Arthritis: It does the body bad (Health: Arthritis)
The results on my thyroid-related things are not encouraging. Therefore I am going to do two things, the first of which is to go to the pharmacy and buy some 1000mg vitamin D gel caplets (and a hot water battle because it is terribly cold in my hobbit-hole). Then I am going to make an appointment for an endocrinologist, by phone, which will be very fun. So much fun!

No, I have not gotten around to watching Jessica Jones yet, although I am confident from reactions that it will probably meet 80-85% of my expectations. Roughly. I have also not yet watched the midseason finale of HTGAWM. And I have not finished reading Baru Cormorant.

In fact, I exited Sunless Sea hell only to immediately dig myself a chest-high ditch in 7KPP alpha hell. Yes, there is a new alpha update and I am flipping out every which way. As usual, with a branching storyline the new content is scattered across multiple playthroughs and so unlocking everything I want/need to see is taking some time. I have had a hard time resisting playing the game late at night on my laptop, which has done my circadian cycle no favors.

Meanwhile writing is proceeding sort of apace with 3-4 stories running in parallel. And writing in Hebrew now, because I'm doing a workshop. And thinking of gathering a local writers' social group for chatty meetings twice a month or so.


Nov. 23rd, 2015 01:06 pm
lea_hazel: Typewriter (Basic: Writing)
I wrote today, and all else is secondary.

"You have class in four hours and you didn't do the reading."


"Have you eaten today?"


"Are those dirty dishes from last Friday?"

Completely secondary.

"It's the apocalypse! Oh no!"

lea_hazel: Angry General Elodie (Genre: Games)
I adore the world of the Echo Bazaar, the world of the Neath, damned to a shadowy existence both literal and figurative. Horror isn't usually my jam, but this world has undeniable character and a creepy kind of charm. I've played Fallen London, on and off, for a while. Though I was initially very enthusiastic about it, I found the game mechanics wearying and never progressed as far as I liked. As such, I was terribly excited when Failbetter Games announced Sunless Sea, a desktop game exploring a new, wider horizon of their addictive fictional realm.

As a Kickstarter backer, I got access to the earlier, incomplete (and sometimes buggy) versions of the game. Not surprisingly, it was an up-and-down journey. The earliest versions had a somewhat notorious problem raising enough cash to buy fuel and supplies. Sometimes, just as I was setting out, only starting to get comfortable with my explorations, a new update would throw me for a loop. At one point map-shuffling was introduced which, at a stage of development when many map tiles were blank, was a major challenge to the player.

Still, new content kept coming out, expanding and improving the game, and I knew that eventually one of my captains would survive long enough, and raise enough cash, to reach the later stages of the game's many quests. The major thing that changed this perception was the Steel beta. Sunless Sea updates were rolled out in batches, coded by color. The Steel update was added to the development plan rather late, and hadn't been part of the Kickstarter game concept. It changed the game's combat system from a turn-based mini-game to an integrated, time-sensitive style.

I wasn't enthused for the Steel update. I don't do well with time-sensitive portions of games, and I had been generally pleased with the turn-based combat, except for the over-abundance of low level opponents at mid-level gameplay. Naturally, I did want to give it a chance. I was a little apprehensive because I was launching a mid-level captain into a situation where I didn't know if I'd be able to defeat (or survive) mid-level zee monsters. Even though I was resolved to give the Steel beta a chance, the game I was playing became less relaxing and less fun.

I didn't play for very long after the Steel update. I had no intention of abandoning Sunless Sea altogether, even though, with the number of hours I'd already sunk into it, I'd definitely gotten my money's worth. Because the game was in beta, I decided it would be better to wait and see whether future updates would compensate for the change I was so impatient with. I had little interest in re-learning combat, to begin with not my favorite part of the game. If my screenshots folder can be taken as reliable witness, I swore off the game for a little over a year. It was only lately that I picked it up again.

A lot can happen in a year. The game I launched three weeks ago was very different from the game I'd played pre-Steel. A little disorienting, with certain features having been removed or replaced with more elaborate, dynamic variations. But overall, the game benefited from a huge addition of content. The early parts of the game were still a trial, and I did find myself consulting more than one informal player's guide. At least, though, the game no longer felt unplayable -- or playable, but not enjoyable. Combat remained fairly stressful in the early stages of the game, but then I've always been a gun-shy game player.

After three weeks of intense preoccupation, my third captain achieved her life's ambition to write the zong of the zee, and I achieved the much more modest ambition of making peace with the Sunless Sea combat system.

Crossposted to
lea_hazel: Arthritis: It does the body bad (Health: Arthritis)
Doctor has some suspicions regarding my persistent fatigue (and also seemed concerned about my tendency for heavy sweating). Sent me for a bunch of blood-work and heart/lung tests today. I'm worn out. I don't know when/if/how I will get back to studying, which is a high priority, and trying to fucking write something, which likewise.

Meanwhile Baru Cormorant is screaming good. There are things in this book that I didn't know I wanted to read, you know?

And the second update of the 7KPP alpha is out, too. Just in time, as last night I won at Sunless Sea for the very first time. Wow. Maybe now playing out the other ambitions will feel less urgent? I kept the captain's lineage (despite the fact that it lacks the handy bonuses you get from playing Fallen London) and that left me in a pretty cushy position for a novice captain, but the map regenerated and it must be Salt's revenge or something. Last time I had the Salt Lions right next to London and the map overall was very convenient. This time the tile just east of London is the Snares, which means I've got bound fucking sharks prowling right near London. Boo.

I think I might go lie down a little. Or try to rally the energy to make myself some tea.

Book News

Nov. 16th, 2015 12:15 pm
lea_hazel: Don't make me look up from my book (Basic: Reading)
Yesterday I got about halfway through The Traitor Baru Cormorant. I had a big of a pickle getting my hands on the ebook, since it transpires that the US edition is not available for purchase from my IP. Which means I couldn't get it through Kobo, my usual method of buying ebooks, for some reason. Never mind that, though. What's important is that, though it's not exactly what I expected, it's still a very entertaining read.

Baru Cormorant is brilliant, driven and ambitious. The world of the Empire of Masks is considerably more complex (in more ways than one) than what I've gotten used to seeing from secondary world fantasy. Issues of sexuality make a central theme in the book; issues of gender identity and expression come up, although as far as I've gotten, they are still not a major thread in the plot. More like part of the backdrop, the cultural imperialism that pervades the setting and provides an impetus to all of Baru's actions.

Like I said, I'm enjoying it a lot.
lea_hazel: Arthritis: It does the body bad (Health: Arthritis)
I woke up spontaneously at six thirty today and my mind started racing. A little after seven I gave up and got up, made myself breakfast, turned on the boiler. I still feel kind of crap but I'm ambivalent about going to the doctor. Also ambivalent about my obligations for today. I should be reading and critiquing a story for the workshop, but IDK if I'm up to it.

I am also already on the verge of falling behind on classes. While taking only two classes, one of them bi-weekly. And working from home (not 9+ hours and a commute). I need to catch up on set theory and I need to solve the first home exercise for cell biology. And I am starting (again) to feel as though the things that get in the way of my doing as much as I hope to -- which all seem reasonable, individually! -- are just called "life" and I'd best get back to powering-through mode.

I showered and changed the linen and now I'm wiped. Back to bed it is. At least I have plenty to read?
lea_hazel: The outlook is somewhat dismal (Feel: Crash and Burn)
Feeling low-key worn down for a few days and wondering if it's a discipline problem, a motivation problem, or the weather getting to me. Then I receive some incontrovertible evidence of legit physical illness. In an unpleasing phase of matter. Most likely just an upper respiratory tract infection, best dealt with by taking hot showers and some OTC meds. If on Sunday I'm still feeling lethargic or have other symptoms, I'll make a doctor's appointment.

Meanwhile I want to talk about Blindspot. I have no idea whether any of my mutuals watches this show which I am still trying not to call "the Lady Sif show"* so I might be shouting into the void here.

See, the meta-plot of Blindspot, which used to be a two-bit sci-fi cliche revolving around amnesia and mysterious shadowy organizations (and maybe time travel)... is now about wire-taps. And illegal surveillance. And high-ranking members of named organizations having moral crises about whether the good they do outweighs the bad, and changing their minds, and then changing their minds back. Three characters struggling with the same choices in different ways, and none of them easy with the decisions they made.

I don't know where the hell the whole tattoos-predict-future-crimes angle of the show is going, and I'm not sure I (need to) care. Blindspot is now a show about power, and the people who abuse it, and whether or not they can believe that they're doing it for the greater good. I just... need to know where they're taking this. There are two more ultra-drama cliff-hanger type episodes followed by a long hiatus, and then the second half of the 22-ep season. And it's been renewed for season 2.

It's now officially more interesting than it has a right to be.

*I called Person of Interest "the Ben Linus show" for years.
lea_hazel: Typewriter (Basic: Writing)
I wonder if the Mexico and Brazil IPs that are showing up in my blog hits for today, the 11th, are the same as the ones from the same countries that showed up yesterday the 10th.

I probably spend too much time wondering about my blog hits.
lea_hazel: Neuron cell (Science: Brains)
I've been thinking again on the dilemma of villains.

Common wisdom has it that every story needs a central conflict. Conflicts come in many varieties, and certainly are not restricted to individual antagonists. All the same, most of the stories we see in mass media are structured around the opposition of a protagonist and an antagonist, although not all antagonists can be termed villains. A villain can easily be considered as a special category of antagonist.

Read more... )

Crossposted to
lea_hazel: The outlook is somewhat dismal (Feel: Crash and Burn)
Last week there was no blogging and very little writing, due mostly to real-life considerations. November has not launched well, but there is still time to change that. To that end, I've decided to submit my review of Uprooted (Dreamwidth link here) to a non-fiction anthology. Crossing fingers and toes and all that.

In the mean time, I am still looking at all sorts of possible avenues for publication, while at the same time waiting to hear back on an interview for a tech job. And classes. And a writing workshop.

...and Sunless Sea.

On an unrelated note, I am looking at WordPress crossposting plugins, so if you use one, I'd love to hear about it.
lea_hazel: Typewriter (Basic: Writing)
I've been testing out a new writing workshop. Yes, this means I've started writing in Hebrew again. Somewhere along the line I started reading primarily in English and, consequently, writing almost exclusively in English. But I read the autobiography of an author once, an Israeli immigrant, who wrote about losing his mother tongue. Ever since then this has been a persistent existential dread of mine. And so I am writing in Hebrew, again, and I am doing it in a workshop, because I sure as shit can't do it alone.

Last week I finished a first draft to submit to an anthology, and submitted it. Next week I'll reread it and see if I don't hate it. I will likely not find out that it was rejected whether it was accepted for a couple of months, or more. After finishing the draft, I was relieved to the point of ecstasy that I was free from the gnawing anxiety of not finishing to deadline. This led directly to me falling down the rabbit-hole of Sunless Sea which I hadn't played in, I believe, over a year.

And so I may do a proper review of Sunless Sea, now that the game is big and rich and nearly (or wholly?) complete. This is as opposed to the short snap-review that I posted, earlier in the beta process (before the Steel update was introduced). Meanwhile, I'm struggling to keep zee-madness at bay, at least enough to get a consistent night's sleep.
lea_hazel: Typewriter (Basic: Writing)
The Speculative Fiction 2015 anthology is accepting submissions for non-fiction published in 2015.

I am very definitely going to submit blog posts from

What I am struggling with is knowing which pieces to submit.

Way too many considerations. )

Looking forward, I want to revisit some subjects from older posts I did, specifically "women abusing power" and "the gay elf books". I feel like I ought to do a proper review on the latter. Especially since I'm rereading the second one right now.

This week has been pretty trying, though. And next week shapes up to be even more so.
lea_hazel: Wonder Woman (Genre: Comics)
I binge-watched the first season of Killjoys concurrently with reading Kameron Hurley's God's War. The latter sat at the top of my metaphorical TBR pile for years, after having received multiple enthusiastic recommendations. I started reading it and was quickly sucked in, although at intervals there were lulls in my reading. Not surprising, given the pervasive violence of the narrative, that now and then I needed a short breather.

Killjoys suffered somewhat in comparison... at first. Read more... )

Crossposted to
lea_hazel: Kermit: OMG YAY *flail* (Feel: OMGYAY)
Wow it's Yuletide time again! This is super exciting.

Some general notes on squicks: squicks )

Fandom specific things: fandoms )

Please have lots of fun, and I can't wait to read what you write. :D


Oct. 25th, 2015 12:16 pm
lea_hazel: Neuron cell (Science: Brains)
Logic homework: check.

Now all I need to do is... everything else.

It's rainy today and I neglected to pick my raincoat up from cleaning last week. An anthology I want to submit to has a deadline at the end of the week. I'm not very comfortable with the timeline. I have to ought to really want to read my [community profile] femslashex gift. And I need to sweep the floor. Especially in the entrance and the corners of the bedroom.

Things are going pretty much okay. And I got an extra hour of sleep for free this morning, because of the clock change.
lea_hazel: Angry General Elodie (Genre: Games)
Comment here if you want to be in the Dreamwidth filter for my Twine experiment and watch me try to write a branching plot for a choose-your-own-ending romance game.
lea_hazel: Wonder Woman (Genre: Comics)
Not sure exactly how I got on to the Dark Parables series, or hidden object games, or the Big Fish games interface. All I know is, I started playing them sometime last year, tore through the whole series, and swapped part-way through to buying the extra-features collector's editions. I started getting really excited for new releases and then... the excitement dissipated a little.

From the top:

Blue Tea Games is a game studio that puts out primarily "hidden object" games, where the plot is moved along by a series of small puzzles, most of which involve picking out specific objects from a cluttered scene. I find this a fantastic game genre for me, since it provides a very relaxing level of challenge and generally comes in games with beautiful art and music. What's more, HOGs pretty commonly come with several different difficulty levels, of which I usually select the middle one. Many of the really good games have thematic objects hidden throughout, and discovering all of them is a fun extra challenge.

One of Blue Tea's most exciting series is/was the Dark Parables games. This is a series of adventures in which a nameless protagonist called "the Fairy-Tale Detective" investigates strange, magical occurrences all over the world, only to discover the source of the mischief to be a fairy-tale character run amok. The twist that draws you in is that the fairy-tales are mashed up, crossed over and fused rather liberally, which allows certain characters to serve multiple roles in different stories. If you were personally insulted by not being able to like Once Upon a Time, you might find these games comforting.

The games have a rough chronological order and playing them out of order gives mystery spoilers. Generally, though, that's not really the main draw. They are beautifully drawn, intricate and rich with details and motifs. The visual language of the games is distinct and recognizable and truly, to me, the very best thing about them. Unlocking the titular "parables" gives a little insight into how the original tales were forged into an amalgam.

The characters are fun but not very deep. The villains are frequently heroic characters turned dark by adverse circumstance, and last-minute redemption is pretty common. In addition to the fairy tale amalgams, the games add some original characters, of which my favorite is undoubtedly Queen Ivy, Briar Rose's sister.

I played the games out of order beginning with Rise of the Snow Queen, before tracking back to the first game, The Curse of Briar Rose to get the full experience. Given my love for the games' aesthetic, the entries I remember most fondly are The Exiled Prince, about the curse of frog prince, and The Ballad of Rapunzel, which adds my other favorite original character.

After the Rapunzel game, Blue Tea apparently sold the whole brand to a game studio called Eipix. Quite coincidentally, while googling around for game information, I discovered that I am not the only fan of the games who was less enamored of their two most recent additions. A trailer for a third game has been released, so I am waiting to see if I feel better about that one.

Meanwhile, I replay some of the earlier games in an attempt to catch all of the extras and bonuses, and use earned credits to upgrade the regular versions to collector's editions. However, I am due to replay The Little Mermaid and the Purple Tide, since I seem to remember very little of it. Of all the hidden object games that I've played through the Big Fish app, the Dark Parables games are still by far my favorites.

Crossposted to
lea_hazel: Arthritis: It does the body bad (Health: Arthritis)
I was going to write a blog post today and then I lost an entire afternoon to migraine.

I went to the neurologist on Sunday and he gave me a triptan script which I filled immediately. I think this is my first full-blown migraine since August or thereabouts, and definitely the worst I've had since May. Even I don't think it's credible that I got a headache that doesn't respond to pills four days after filling the prescription.

And yet.

Lying still in a dark, quiet room is incredibly boring. How do other migraineurs keep themselves from being bored silly? And distract from the pain? I think maybe I need a podcast.

New blog category: migraine-compatible podcast reviews.


lea_hazel: The Little Mermaid (Default)

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