Archive for February, 2006

The Frites Come Out at Night

There’s a little store near K’s place that sells authentic Belgian frites: cut into neat three-dimensional rectangles, all the same size, served in a paper cone with your choice of mayo-based dipping sauce and a cute little wooden spear to gobble it up all with.

Their hours, when they first opened at least, were late night, just right for all the hipsters coming out of a concert or a club, nicotine and grease consumed on a street corner.

Much as I love french fries, I can count the amount of times I’ve been there on one hand. Beyond the starchy goodness, there’s something satisfying about walking around, eating something wrapped in paper. With a little wooden spear!

At first I was worried if they’d have enough business, but it seems they’re doing OK. You know why, right? 🙂

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Basic Mac OSX Security

I’ve seen lots of articles covering this subject, but this one was actually pretty good. I’ve already implemented many of them, but it’s a good reminder anyway.

I will say that creating a non-admin user account for daily use was a bit of a bother. Enough for me to abandon it–but that was back in the Jaguar days. Authenticating when necessary seems easier in Panther. I think I’ll give this one a go again.

And I’ve mucked about with the Keychain, but I always feel like I’m missing something. It might be that Tiger made some improvements here that makes it easier to manage in a secure way. I’ll give it a try anyway.

Read Basic Mac OS X Security.

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The Stills: “Of Montreal”

Yet another song I heard on KEXP. That was actually last summer when the sun was more prodigal. Finally got around to buying it, the whole album actually.

I like songs with undercurrents of yearning. Either in the lyrics, instrumentation or vocal stylings. Something in the way this is sung and played reminds me of Adorable’s “A to Fade In”, a song that comes this shy of breaking my heart.

Listen to a preview on iTunes.

Of the other tracks on “Logic Will Break Your Heart”, so far I’m listening most to Lola Stars and Stripes, Gender Bombs, Let’s Roll and Changes are No Good.

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Envy the Watcher

A while ago, I stumbled across this video of somebody playing through the final level in Rez, one of my all time favorite games. Though it’s almost a half hour long, I actually watched the whole thing.

It’s a beautiful game. And though I’ve played it to death, I saw some things in this video that I hadn’t marked before.

Playing video games, it’s not unusual to have someone nearby watching the screen behind or next to you. At a certain age as a kid, most of my time in arcades was spent standing next to someone much taller than me, doing exactly this. Sometimes it was to take their measure, silently scoff at their inability to get past a point I could breeze through. Other times it was to observe a master or simply to learn how a certain game’s controls worked (Defender had so many buttons and Mortal Kombat was mesmerizing).

Ever since I’ve gotten back into gaming as an adult, this dynamic has persisted. My roommates at the time would sit in front of the TV with me as I played, utterly content to just watch me make my way through a game. And when they picked up the controllers themselves, I’d do the same, though twinges of impatience would seize me as they struggled through areas or with puzzles I could solve and surmount in no time at all.

Even with a game as simple as Rez (it’s a shooter on rails; you’re on a predetermined path and need to blast anything you see), there’s a lot going on. Just watch the video. Flourishes and flash, to be sure, ornaments hung on really straightforward gameplay. But trippy, pretty, cool.

It’s a totally different experience of the game to just watch it. Something I’ve come to mourn. Yeah, I’ve played it, evangelized it even. Given it pride of place in my heart as further affirmation of this hobby of mine. But interacting with it as a passive viewer, unmindful of enemy patterns, life bars or how to take down the current boss, this was something I hadn’t really done in all the time I’ve owned it. A whole layer of the game was unfolding before me, making me wish I had the faculties to engage titles on multiple levels.

Some games lend themselves to this more than others. I actually can’t watch K play certain games: his frustrations too easily became mine. Or I find myself shocked that others aren’t possessed with that certain intuition I take for granted: always knowing where I am in a game, which buttons to press and when to time certain actions.

Katamari Damacy is definitely a “watcher game”, for its sheer weirdness and all of the little exclamations objects emit when picked up. When K and I lent a convalescent friend the game, he talked about how he would play and his boyfriend would just watch and crack up. No interest in trying it out himself. He derived as much entertainment, perhaps even more, by observing the gentle mayhem being wreaked on screen.

I know what he means.

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Animal Crossing: Release me from your silken claws!

Wild WorldThough I knew it would someday come, for a while there it felt like I would never be able to pull myself away from Animal Crossing: Wild World on the DS. It’s hard not to write about the game without wanting to document all of the little happenings in your town that you obsess over while playing. But there are lots of online diaries out there that already do this. Playing the game consumes enough of my time, I don’t need to blog about the minutia as well.

I’ve found that people use all sorts of ways to accelerate events or rewards in the game, and I’ve even partaken of a few myself–stalk market trading in other towns, picking up dropped items so they become available in your catalog at Nook’s (thanks Joe!). But I think I’d like to pull back a bit and let things happen naturally.

My hope is to resume posting now that the (real-world) rain has let up a bit. Maybe even finish that movie I promised my family for Christmas.

I don’t think I can bring myself to attempt a review of this game. The pull of the minutia, you know. Though I will heartily recommend it to everyone. I even hunted down, reserved, and picked up 3 copies for building mates–it’s that (time-sucking) good.

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