28 February 2005

Puppets, Again

Here's a great quote I found:
Part of the fascination of puppetry lies in its betrayal of reason: lifeless objects are made to act in a lifelike way.
It's from "Last Supper: The Lively Art of Puppetry" by Jill Boettger (Geist 53 (Summer 2004): 54-61).

Back in Business

As much as I can be, anyway. I went along when Sue took Ryan home, and we made a stop at EB Games and Futureshop in Langford. I am now the proud owner of this monitor. It's the cheapest model they had, but it's nicer than my old one, plus they had one in an opened box (probably either a display model or a customer return) that was $20 cheaper. Yay! I can play games again. And do work. Of course. Lots of serious work. And, it's not that horrible putty colour computers always used to be. It's black and silver, and so won't look out of place when I get the Mac. Not that matching colours is a big consideration when buying computer equipment, but it is nice to have something that isn't "computer colour." So I've started playing The Cameron Files: Secret at Loch Ness, which is pretty good so far (all 1/2 hour I've played). But I just remembered I told Selena I'd play Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill first, so I can pass it on to her, so I'd better start that one next time I play.

Also, I decided a while ago to buy a Gameboy Advance SP. I had been thinking about it for a while. I tend to think about things like that for a while, considering carefully, but when I make a decision, I want to act on it right away. Anyway, I decided that there were enough action/adventure and adventure/rpg (and even a few straight adventure) games available for it that I would actually play it, so it wouldn't be a waste of money. Plus, they have a long-lasting rechargeable battery, so when the power goes out (which it does fairly often up here), I won't have to wander around wondering what I should do. With three hours of laptop battery and ten + hours of Gameboy battery, I won't have to strain my eyes trying to read by candlelight, which is what I usually do when the power goes out. Anyway, I've been looking on eBay for a week or two, and discovered that used Gameboys sell for nearly as much as new ones, even with the Nintendo DS being out now (that's the next generation handheld) (it's really expensive) (so is Sony's very cool PSP handheld--it's like a mini PS2, almost). Used Gameboys at EB Games aren't all that cheap, either, but they are guaranteed, so I saved about $20, and didn't have to pay eBay shipping. I also picked up a couple of games: Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars (adventure) and The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (rpg). I've played the second Broken Sword on PC, and it was very good. I've got the third one now, but I think I need to install a different version of DirectX to get it to work. Either that, or I'll be sneaking downstairs to play it on Sue's machine. Anyway, Shadow of the Templars was the first one, so I'm really looking forward to it. And the Zelda games have always looked like lots of fun, though I've never felt quite like buying a GameCube in order to play them. So there you go. I am big-time game-girl now, but I must not get too distracted by Gameboy (or the PS2 game I just got on eBay) until all my PC games are finished.

Blah, blah, blah, games, games, games. I'm sure you're all very bored now. Next time I will endeavour to write about something halfway interesting.

26 February 2005

Recent Games

I've been (or was, until my monitor went snap crackle pop) playing through all these adventure games I'd amassed. I want to finish them all (or as many of them as I can get to work) before I switch over to a Mac. Just for fun, here are the games I've played most recently:

  1. The Longest Journey (pc). I'd been wanting to play this for ages and ages. It's one of those adventure games that gamers who usually don't bother with adventure games were playing and raving about. And it was good. There was a little too much walking across essentially empty screens, and a few times I couldn't figure out where to get the tools to solve a problem I could see how to solve (if that makes any sense), but basically this was a very good game. A little old now, maybe, but still good. I think there's supposed to be a sequel in the works, but with my luck it'll never make it to Mac.
  2. The New Adventures of the Time Machine (pc). Now this game, on the other hand, was not so good. It was a good idea, and some of design was nice, but the gameplay was mostly pretty awful. There were some good puzzles, but way too much walking through some really ugly environments (poor graphics partly due to the age of the game, to be fair). The designers tried to make this an action-adventure, but the controls were too sluggish and the camera too bad to make any of the action elements anything but an annoying (and sometimes maddening) task to get through. Imagine walking into a room where you're immediately shot at (and you can't not go into the room, or else you won't get any farther along in the game), but you can't actually see the guy shooting at you, and if you walk to where you can see him, you'll soon be dead, because you can't move and shoot at the same time. That actually happened. More than once. This could have been a much better game if they'd either left out the action elements, or else made the controls better--either an auto lock-on or else the ability to move and shoot at the same time would have helped immensely. I'm a stubborn old lady, though, and I kept at it until I was done (consulting a walkthrough for hints on how to actually fight the bad guys when I couldn't see them). Why? you may ask (especially if you heard me exclaim "I HATE this game" many times over during an evening's play session). Like I said, I'm stubborn. And there were some good puzzles. Plus, it was oddly satisfying to finish the game. I may not have liked it much while I was playing it, but I liked having played it. Once it was over.
  3. Shivers (pc). This is a really old game. It won't run under WinXP, I don't think, since it's DOS-based. But damn, is it good. It's like a lot of older adventure games, in that the graphics are what's sometimes referred to as a "slide show"--there's no 3D movement, just zooming along from one view to the next (there is animation joining the screens, like you see the hallway zooming by as you click your way down it). The museum setting was the perfect excuse for lots of bizarre puzzles, and it meant there was mostly not too far to go from room to room, so it wasn't a big deal that you'd have to keep going back to places you'd already been. The only quibbles I had is that the animation of the evil spirits you have to trap was really cartoony and stood out (in a bad way) from the lovely museum rooms and artifacts and live-action ghost sequences (not very many of those), and that a few of the puzzles were really hard. There were only two I finally gave up on and went looking for the solution online--one was a move-coloured-pieces-back-to-where-they-should-be puzzle that I probably could have solved if I'd had more patience, and the other was that solitare game you play on a Chinese chequers board (or on a fox & geese board, should you have one of those). That one where you have to clear the board of pieces by jumping them and end up with the last piece in the centre. I've played that for hours offline and never been able to get closer than two pieces left on opposite sides of the centre position. I gave it a good shot, but after an hour or so, I decided I'd better just look up the solution so I could continue hunting down evil spirits. I just discovered that there was a Shivers 2--probably only for pc, but I may grab it on eBay anyway, since I probably won't have a Mac for a while yet.
  4. Atlantis: The Lost Tales (pc). I thought I was going to have to sell this game without playing it, because when I first tried it a year or two ago, it wouldn't work on my machine (or on my old machine, which I still had kicking around). I guess the video card I installed since then was compatible, because it worked when I decided to give it one more try. The game itself has some lovely graphics and decent puzzles, though sometimes the puzzles seemed rather tacked on. The story was pretty good--the Queen of Atlantis is missing and her consort seems to be trying to take over and turn it into a Kingdom, and you have to escape the city (or navigate secretly through it) to find the Queen and stop her consort from taking over. There were a few sort-of action elements that really didn't work that well. Trying to flee the bad guys with an interface made for peacefully clicking through slideshow-style screens doesn't work very well. Nor does shooting a boar with a arrow that points diagonally across your bow and can only be aimed in a very general way. The character graphics were pretty basic, and everybody had some irritating repetitive mannerism that made them look like they all had some kind of degenerative muscle disease. Anyway, it wasn't as good as The Longest Journey, but it was way, way better than The New Adventures of the Time Machine. Even though the ending was rather disappointing (**spoilers** you rescue the Queen, but she later gets killed; you stop the consort and his evil weapon, but then Atlantis is destroyed by a volcanic eruption and sinking into the sea--you know the story; you do get to escape with the fisherman's cute red-headed daughter, though).

I still have a fair pile to get through, and that's not counting the Playstation games (but I'll leave those until the pc games are done, since I'll still have a PS2 after I get my Mac).

Recent Reading (and some not so)

I kept meaning to get around to writing about what I'm reading for weeks, and kept not doing it, too. So finally I am, as I procrastinate away my Saturday (I should be drawing, or writing).


  1. A History of Reading by Alberto Manguel. The may have taken the place previously occupied by Into the Looking Glass Wood (same author) on my desert island reading list. Depending on the size of the bookshelves on my hypothetical desert island, I might take them both. There is simply so much to think about in this book, that I'm going to have to read it over and over. It's comfort reading for a reader, a nice thick book that says "You are not alone" and then shows you hundreds and hundreds of years of readers, and the way readers use reading, and the way reading is done. I'd read anything Manguel wrote or edited, but currently this is my favourite (mind you, I haven't read a lot of his stuff yet).
  2. Taking Wing: Archaeopteryx and the Evolution of Bird Flight by Pat Shipman. This is another example of my favourite kind of science book. Or one of my favourite kinds. It explores the development of the various ideas about the evolution of bird flight, carefully describing the possibilities in a way that is not too technical for the non-palaeontologist, but has enough meat and details that the reader can begin to evaluate the evidence for themselves. Shipman presents both (or more) sides of each issue fairly. I'd often find myself agreeing with the first idea presented, and then having to re-evaluate when the next one was described. And the writing is well done, pleasant to read, and only technical where it needs to be (but not overly simplistic anywhere). If you're into birds or dinosuars or the history of life, read this. It's not cutting edge, being a few years old (late 90s, if I remember right), but it's still good science. Plus archaeopteryx fossils are probably the most beautiful fossils ever found (though I'm also partial to ichthyosaur fossils).
  3. The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2004 edited by Steven Pinker. This was one of my purchases from Bolen Books, made with my assorted Christmas gift certificates. I chose it because I thought it would have a nice range of different kinds of science writing, and it certainly had. Not only that, but the writing in all of the essays was absolutely top-notch. I found myself thoroughly enjoying essays on topics I wouldn't normally seek out. There was one essay I had already read--the one on multiple universes that was published in Scientific American (I think; maybe it was Discover). It was interesting to see it without all the sidebars and visual aids the magazine adds in, and I had forgotten a lot of the details, anyway. This was definitely a good choice, and I'll probably be looking for previous editions.
  4. Explore Fairy Traditions by Jeremy Harte. I'm supposed to review this book. The author sent it to me, all the way from England, and it's taken me unforgivably long to get to reading it, even though it's on one of my favourite topics. It's a well written, intelligent exploration of different aspects of fairy traditions in the British Isles, and the meaning of the stories for the people who tell them. I kept thinking how useful it would have been when writing my Master's thesis. If you want a good general book on fairy lore to start with, this would be a good choice. You'd probably have to order it from the publisher though (their website is here: http://www.hoap.co.uk/), or maybe from a UK bookseller.
  5. Making and Playing Marionettes by James McMahon. Puppets! Not long after I first mentioned my growing puppet obsession, I logged on to the library website and requested a few books. This is one of them. It's really meant for teachers wanting to get their students into puppetry, but it assumes the students are capable and relatively mature--that they could do basic carpentry and sewing and work togther in a team in a professional manner--so it's a decent book for interested adults, too. Most importantly, it has diagrams and plans for the basic form and stringing of marionettes, which is exactly what I was looking for. There will be notes and sketches made from this one.


  1. A Scientific Romance by Ronald Wright. This is one of the books I got at the recent books sale at the Duncan Mall (which has approximately five stores, plus WalMart at one end and Staples at the other). I thought it sounded kind of neat. It ended up to be one of the best novels I've read in a while. It's not easy to write long stretches of a novel with only a single character, and no one for them to interact with, without losing the reader's interest. Wright pulls it off though--at least half of the book has only the main character all by himself, and much of the rest is so closely focussed on his viewpoint (being in first person), that we only see interactions through him. But it works. It's a beautiful book, and I am going to be searching out more by this author. Plus, everyone I know should read it. I think you'd all get something out of it. (Well, maybe not everyone I know, but most of you.)
  2. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. I found this thing at Superstore of all places. Mostly they have overpriced cookbooks and overpriced books about God. And an odd selection of other stuff. This is one of those books that feels magical without having anything particularly fantastic actually happen. It's a story about books and love and writing and families, and I thoroughly adored it. It has a Cemetery of Forgotten Books. Probably almost everyone I know should read this one, too.
  3. Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi. This is so short, it maybe shouldn't count, but it is over 100 pages. So there. I hadn't read Pinocchio since I was a kid (thanks to my parents, or some gift-giving relative, I had a copy of the originial--though translated, of course--and not one of those "retold for children" horrors). This isn't the copy I had back then, but I think it might be the same translation, and it has lovely, super-detailed illustrations by Roberto Innocenti. I love his cityscape panoramas, especially. I decided to read this because of my recent puppet obsession. I'd forgotten how moralistic the story is, but it has enough beautiful writing and clever comments to make it a good read nonetheless.
  4. The Mammoth Book of Werewolves edited by Stephen Jones. If you've read this blog much, you'll know I have a weakness for werewolves and other shapechangers. I thought, for some reason, that the Mammoth Books of . . . were best-of volumes, rather than ordinary themed anthologies. Turns out they're a mix of reprinted and new material, and pretty much as mediocre overall as other themed anthos. Which isn't to say it was a waste of time. Most of the stories were all right, and a few were very good. Plus there was a long Manly Wade Wellman story that I hadn't read, so it was worth reading for that alone.
  5. Awful End by Philip Ardagh. I'm not sure when this was published (don't have it to hand), so I don't know if it belongs in the "jumping on the Lemony Snicket bandwagon" category, but it looks like it from the cover, and it feels like it when reading. It's not a bad read. The writing is good, and some of the characters are pretty fun, but overall, I think it just tries too hard. Mind you, I'm not remotely the intended audience, but for me, a lot of the wordplay (things along the lines of "He took the seat across from her. 'Don't steal that!' she shrieked, so he put it back and sat down." That's not the actual words, but you get the idea) was so over-the-top that it detracted from the actual story, which was otherwise fun. Basically, I got jarred out of the story so much I ended up not being particularly interested in what happened to any of the characters. Perhaps young boys would like it for the sillyness alone, but I can't imagine more sophisticated kids getting into it. But what do I know?

Sequential Art:

  1. Rurouni Kenshin volume 1 by Nabuhiro Watsuki. I really liked the anime made from this series, so I thought I'd try the manga, and it's just as good (maybe better in some ways). The series in general (manga and anime) is a fun mix of serious more-or-less historical (early Meiji) action and rather slapstick humour, and mixes more and less realistic art styles.
  2. Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle volume 2 by CLAMP.
  3. Wish volume 2 by CLAMP.
  4. Ranma 1/2 volume 5 by Rumiko Takahashi.

Looks like it's all manga this time, and only one new series. I haven't been comsuming comics at quite the insane rate I was, but I've been trying to finish off some of the stuff I've already got on the shelves before buying more. Actually, I've been trying to do that for books in general, though I've been less sucessful with fiction and non-fiction thanks to Value Village, thrift shops, book sales, and the remainder section of Chapters (good thing the nearest Chapters stores are in Nanaimo and Victoria). I have to say, though, I've picked up some really cool books.

I've also been having one of my periodic magazine cravings, and have been continuing to work my way through back issues of Geist (only one left, and then I have to decide whether or not to subscribe again). I've also been reading Scientific American and Discover, as well as the usual anime and gaming magazines (I've not been picking up any PC gaming mags, though, since I don't intend to have a PC for very much longer, and there are no Mac gaming mags).

More Thought

After more consideration, I think I'm going to stick with my original MacMini plan, and just go buy a monitor at Staples. They have a decent 17" for around $150. And that way, I can keep playing my games (I hadn't even had a chance to install some of them) until the Mac is shipping more quickly than "3-4 weeks." Still, if anyone knows of a used Mac with decent specs, let me know.

25 February 2005

Fey page 33: About Bloody Time

Right, so here it is. This morning, after blazing through scanning, reassembling and cleaning up the edges of today's page, I was thinking of calling this blog entry "Fey, Now With Fewer Crashes." Aside from the laptop shutting itself off in protest in the middle of scanning the second section (it does that some times, when it thinks whatever I've asked it to is using too much memory, or something), everything behanved perfectly, though it did get slower the farther I went. Oh, I thought, I should have switched to this machine ages ago (remember, my desktop machine is currently without a functioning monitor). That was before Photoshop kept shutting down for no particular reason (the usual "illegal action" error that never seems to bear any connection to what you've been trying to do). I finally managed to finish the last thrid of the text by typing the text for a single bubble, flattening the layer and saving before going on to the next bubble.

I'm looking at used iMacs on eBay. I figure if I'm going to need a new monitor (not yet determined, but I haven't found a place in town that actually fixes monitors; plenty fix computers, just not the part you see what you're doing with), I might as well get a machine with a monitor already attached. Plus I love the look of the old G4 iMacs (they're the ones with the half-spherical base and the monitor on a steel arm coming out the top). Not that I would turn down a G5 of any description, if I could get one. Or a G4 PowerMac with a separate monitor, as long as it had one. Even used Macs aren't cheap. At least ones with sufficient power. On the off chance someone I know happens across a used Mac, I'd like the following:
  • at least a G4 processor
  • at least a 1 GHz processor (though I'd go for 800 MHz is it was cheap enough)
  • at least 512 MB of RAM (again, 256 would be okay if cheap)
  • at least a 40 GB hard drive (more is better)
  • a 3D video card with at least 32 MB (64 is better)

20 February 2005

Pop! Goes the Monitor (and Crackle, Too)

So I was playing Tomb Raider III, finally, and just getting back into it, when I hear this sort of "pop"--kind of like a lightbulb makes when it goes, only quieter. Then my monitor starts making these funny crackly sort of noises, then it powers down like it does when I've left it on too long, or turned off the computer without turning off the monitor. Oh, greeat.

Pluging the monitor into the original monitor port (instead of the one on the 3D card) makes no difference. Same crackle, same powering down. So it's not that the somewhat aged second-hand 3D card went wonky, it's the monitor itself. (To make sure, I'll see if Sue will let me plug her machine into it tomorrow). Crap. Crap. Crap. Now I need a new monitor.

Well, okay, maybe I can get this one fixed. But that "pop" was kind of ominous (though I know pretty much nothing about monitors, so maybe it's only a minor thing). Oh how I'd love to buy an Apple flat screen to go with the new Mac (whenever it is I get that), but they start at approximately twice the price of the Mac Mini (it is a 20" flat panel, but still . . .). Crap. I wonder if Sneakers fixes monitors, or if I need to take it to a special monitor place.

Lucky for me, I have my important work stuff on my laptop (thought it's not exactly a reliable machine, either). Crap, again.

18 February 2005

Fey page 32

Here is is: page 32. Bad day for computers, today. First my laptop decided to shut itself off while I was trying to answer an eBay question, then there was the usual struggle to keep the desktop from freezing up while Photoshopping today's page of Fey. Sigh.

15 February 2005

You Know You're From British Columbia When...

You Know You're From British Columbia When...

You know the provincial flower

You consider that if it has no snow, it is not a real mountain.

You can taste the difference between Starbucks, Blendz, and Tim Horton's.

You know how to pronounce Squamish, Osoyoos & Nanaimo.

You can tell the difference between Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean and Thai food.

In winter, you go to work in the dark and come home in the dark - while only working eight-hour days.

You have no concept of humidity without precipitation.

You know that Dawson Creek is a town, not a TV show.

You can point to at least two ski mountains, even if you cannot see through the cloud cover.

You notice "the mountain is out" when it is a pretty day and you can actually see it.

You put on your shorts when the temperature gets above 5, but still wear your hiking boots and parka.

You switch to your sandals when it gets about 10, but keep the socks on.

You recognize the background shots in your favourite movies & TV shows.

You buy new sunglasses every year, because you can't find the old ones after such a long time.

You use a down comforter in the summer.

The local hero is a pot-smoking snowboarder

The local wine doesn't taste like malt vinegar

Your $400,000 Vancouver home is 5 hours from downtown

You can throw a rock and hit three Starbucks locations

You've been to a deforestation protest

If a cop pulls you over, just offer them some of your hash

It's November, it's raining, but you're still wearing birkenstocks

You go broke just paying rent.

You don't own a heavy winter coat

You can't figure out why Manitoba is considered part of Western Canada.

You wouldn't be caught dead on Vancouver Island or Vancouver without your umbrella and plastic shoes.

You actually get these jokes and pass them on to other friends from British Columbia.

Get Your Own "You Know You're From" Meme Here

More cool things for your blog at

I Am Not Scary

You Are Not Scary

Not Scary!

Everyone loves you. Isn't that sweet?

12 February 2005

No Longer Late

With page 31 now posted, I'm no longer behind on pages-to-post (well, except for the cover to part 2, maybe). I am, however, still behind and falling farther on pages-to-draw. Oh well. I'll catch up eventually.

10 February 2005

Fey: Better Late?

I finally got the machine to work long enough to finish page 30. With luck, I'll be able to finish page 31, too, and post it on time (which is to say, tomorrow).

06 February 2005

Beta Reading

So I finished my NSCAD admissions essay. I'm pretty happy with it. I went for a somewhat more creative angle rather than a strict "here's why I want to go to your school and why I think you should let me in approach." I hope that doesn't count against me. So anyone want to beta read it for me?


The day we broke
up I couldn't get out
of my mind the food
stuck in the corners
of your mouth.
All I could see
was that bit of orange.
And, Christ, I thought
as you tried to convince
me to go back,
Couldn't he at least wipe
his face?

Word Obsession

And speaking of words that catch my imagination, sometimes I get obsessed with a particular word. For some reason it sticks in my brain and won't go away. It fascinates me, and soon I have to do something about it--make a story or a poem, read a book about it, say it so many times I get sick of it. Right now the word is "puppet." Why? I have no idea. I think it may have started with an episode of InuYasha that involved demon puppetry, and the phrase stuck. Or maybe it wasn't that at all. I've always been fascinated by puppets. My grandfather used to have an old suitcase full of hand puppets, and a rack of marionettes hanging in the basement, many of which he'd made himself. I was especially enamoured of the skeleton marionette. I still am. That's one cool puppet. And kind of creepy, too, which is even better. I think Granddad might still have a few of those puppets, but I don't know if the skeleton is among them. Perhaps I should ask.

The weird thing about word obsession is that, if it's a good word, I don't even want to make it go away. "Puppet," I think to myself. "How cool. Puppetry. Puppets." Just say it out loud. That repetition of "p" sounds is fascinating, isn't it? Or maybe I'm just weird. I wonder if there's a good online tutorial on puppet-making. I could make a marionette to photograph for my NSCAD portfolio (I'm supposed to be devoting this week to getting that done). That way I could exorcise the puppet obsession and not feel like I was wasting time. Then again, "puppet" is such a fun word to have stuck in your head. Or in mine, anyway.

Fun With Words

I was flipping through my mostly-neglected journal, looking for the notes I made for my NSCAD admissions essay, when I found some lists of words I'd made. They almost sound like poetry.
eldritch dirigibles, poulpe-shaped
sundry savants dancing
tenebrous tentacular antennae
bioluminescent sleepy steam calliope
aerodynamic piezoelectric
antediluvian aeronaut

05 February 2005

Invisible Library

The Invisible Library is a collection of books that only appear in other books. Within the library's catalog you will find imaginary books, pseudobiblia, artifictions, fabled tomes, libris phantastica, and all manner of books unwritten, unread, unpublished, and unfound.
I love this. It makes me want to go through all my books and find more things for them to add. I know there are some in Charles deLint that they don't have listed.

Cool Stuff

I'm sitting at the dining room table, wasting time because I really don't feel much up to working (Darwin's going to be fine, but I'm still pretty frazzled). Blog reading leads me to this site: I Want One Of Those (via Diane Duane's Out of Ambit). Some of the truly cool stuff you can buy there: the Binary Watch, the Write Light, the USB Swiss Army Knife, Emergency Cufflinks, the Death Clock, the Pet Doorbell, and many other strange and wonderful things. I can't take it all in.

04 February 2005

Of Hellhounds and Fey

I suppose it was inevitable. One of our neighbours' dogs, Daisy the evil bitch dog, charged Darwin on our way back from the mailbox and took a chunk out of his left hip. So Darwin's at the vet getting stitches (for which the neighbours will be paying), and I'm completely frazzled. I'm not even going to try to get the new page of Fey up (I'm having enough trouble with basic spelling; don't want to fight with Photoshop and cranky computers). I'll try to get it up tomorrow. In the meantime, I'll be having a long, hot bath and a cup of tea before I have to go pick up Mr Tall, Dark and Handsome dog.