…not that there’s a cache of enslaved rice grains somewhere in the world that we haven’t been told about until now.

What I’m referring to is this: a site where you play a vocabulary game, and with each right answer, you indirectly donate 10 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program. …or so it says. I wouldn’t know; as my “About” page indicates, I’m frankly not interested in engaging in an endless debate on the trustworthiness of sites like these, or in the reliability of the whole notion of charity. Nope. I’m just here to introduce you guys to a pretty nifty word game that makes you realise that you maybe aren’t that forgetful when it comes to words…you just need a little prompting via multiple choice.

I maxed out at level 47. Floated between there and 39 for quite a while – you win 3 rounds to level-up and lose 1 round to de-level – before my brain protested against unwanted lessons in philology. (…which, by the way, is a word in the game).

How far can you get?



Bah. I know I’ve promised a whole slew of less self-absorbed posts, like more on the ASEAN scholarship, GRRM, So Far, Hana Kimi, etcetera, but I’ve been caught up with research essays. and I couldn’t help getting suckered into joining Nanowrimo this year. …So here’s a couple of links to the NaNoWriMo site, my member page; and see you in December! (where is the collective moan of despair? doesn’t anyone love my little textual voice?)

What’s NaNoWriMo? It’s essentially a project to write 50,000 words in a month; and it’s quantity, rather than quality, that counts. It works toward just getting your creative juices flowing, to use a really tired phrase about creativity that says a lot about just how creative people are nowadays – ahem. Well, to take on the project requires nothing more than signing up at the Nano site, perhaps joining a region or a group to share ideas, encouragement, and eventually congratulations with…and of course, a plot you want to expand into 50,000 words. You “win” if you reach 50k before the November 30th midnight, you “lose” otherwise. “Win” in quot. marks because there isn’t a prize, you just feel satisfied you’ve done it and you can now tell people you’ve written a 50k novel without having to lie anymore. (You’ve done that?) Losing doesn’t matter either. Nobody reads your novel unless you want them to, because the site doesn’t host your novels. Hm, and if you were wondering, that’s 1666.666…7 words per day. That’s all I can think of offhand that I really wanted to know when I first signed up a couple of days ago. Check the FAQ and About pages on the Nano website to find out more.

Why have I signed up? Good question. Why am I here? Why do I live? Who am I? What is life?!

Though a’course, if things work out, I’ll probably be wanting to post an excerpt, or two, or godhelpme several chapters, and I’m not sure where to post them. Should I start a livejournal account just for it? Or just post here? Wonders. I’ll think about it. As of now, I have very little more than a gimmicky idea that looks like it could bud into a plot if I water it enough and give it some sporadic affection. I have a Fool. Not this Fool, or this Fool, but this Fool. Though they’re all connected, and it might be interesting to put all those definitions of Fool into one.

Adding Nano onto my list of things to do this November just reminds me exactly how easily distracted I am, how much I want and have to do, and how little time there is. Gah. Is it strange therefore that I’m not actually worried about meeting the 50k goal? I’m more concerned about my impending lack of sleep. Check back with me on the state of my eyebags come November 30th. 😛

…Raaargh. I’m addicted to this online game.

I keep thinking of little smidgety cutesy voices squealing before my upgraded squirt towers. And I now have an obsession with closing up spaces. Closingupspaces. Last night I even dreamed about this awesome pattern I could make out of frost and bash towers.

I’d advise you to think twice before clicking that link. Or, if you already clicked it – consider closing the window before buying that first tower. It’ll change the next few days (weeks? months? oh god, how long am i going to be tormented with this addiction?!) of your life. Irreversibly.

Desktop Tower Defense ftw!

…die, flying evilthings.

What is so addictive about Desktop TD? It’s just a click-and-upgrade flash game after all; and, yeah, the satisfaction of watching your invaders dwindle away at the mercy of your mighty little hand-drawn towers is probably rather petty. But no denying it, I’m hooked, and I’m not the only one. 😀 Maybe it’s the satisfaction of laying out the maze, although I’m not very good at it. I can’t seem to get past the fast ones, or the flying ones, at around the 40th level of Hard mode.

Desktop TD, rarrrgh. Muarrhgh. Yearhg. Gaaaaah.

…news here.

I’m…shocked. Sad. Shocked. I’m not sure which. His was probably the first real ‘epic’ fantasy series I’d read, Eddings and Brooks aside, and decidedly the very first series I was actively ‘following’…he was always so confident and optimistic in his blog, it seemed like if anyone was going to overcome this disease, he was. I loved his writing (The Wheel of Time series) regardless of how they might’ve slowed down later on in the series, and I think I somehow expected him to trump all our expectations with a totally blowoffyafeet last novel, the now unfinished A Memory of Light.


A more fitting title I can’t imagine. Like Pat said, thanks for the experience, and the memories. And that extends to more than the books. Without The Wheel of Time, I’d never have gone on to explore the genre as much as I have.

Note: Robert Jordan’s page at Wikipedia has been updated, if you’d like to go and find out more about what he wrote other than The Wheel of Time.

i watched Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige on DVD yesterday, loved it. the book it’s based on, Christopher Priest’s World Fantasy Award winner of the same title, has been waiting for me to get my grubby hands on it – it just has to go through 8 more pairs of grubby hands before it reaches my local library, and i’m especially keen on reading it because for a change, people have been saying the movie > book. now that’s really good news; it shows that you don’t necessarily have to compromise when you’re making a film adaptation. after all, you adapt it to fit your medium, and it looks like the Nolan brothers certainly did that, and well. but i’ll reserve final judgment til i actually read The Prestige.

can’t believe i missed out on watching it last year. think i’ll go look up more of Nolan’s stuff.

that’s it for regretful reflection. now it’s time for excited expectation! within the next few hours, OverClocked ReMix‘s newest project Final Fantasy VII: Voices of the Lifestream will be available online. free. 4 discs. yes! their very first official remix album from final fantasy, and from the pretty much unarguably most famous final fantasy to boot. what’s not to get excited over? the advance review seems to promise it is every bit as good as it sounds – sure, ocremix has churned out some less than likeable remixes on its site, and its also got its share of meh projects – the EarthBound one i found hard to appreciate in its entirety – but this is final fantasy. no one’s going to mess around with nobuo uematsu’s fine work in FFVII; i’m convinced this will be anything but mediocre. take the Chrono Trigger project as an example; fantastic, ingeniously remixed stuff. i love that it wasn’t just single tracks being reworked, but multiple tracks went into one remix, including material from Chrono Cross. So: OverClocked, receive my trust. it’s a small and insubstantial thing, but it’s all for you.

on a more personal note, me and a friend have decided to embark on a, uh, quest for enlightenment. spec fic enlightenment. *wry grin* we’ve drawn up a plan to read all the Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy Award winners for novel, and probably the short stories too…and if we have time or we hear that a nominee for a particular year should have won instead, we’ll read the nominees as well. and maybe the novellas and novelettes. *ponders* we figure that since we’re still youthful and fresh-like, we might as well design a project for ourselves that’ll give some productive structure to our currently unproductive free time, and besides, the both of us love speculative fiction. and besides, i’m a damned literature student. why the hell am i not reading more!? argh! i’m an idiot! a big idiot! an idiot for idiots! an idiot of idiots! idiots call me idiot!

anyway, come the mid-semester holidays, i’ll probably put up a pic or spreadsheet or someotherformat with all my intended readings on it, and tick it off as i go. 😀 what i’ve read off that list is uh, very limited. if anyone has any suggestions what i should start on first, go ahead and tell me, please.

Update! (SpoilerFULL) Rowling turns to selling encyclopaedias for next source of income! …Kidding. But seriously now…

When I was writing that last review on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, it looks like I missed out on some fairly important news from the current reigning Queen of Fiction (whether we like it or not, she is queen, just as in the good ol’ pre-20th century days. Well, actually, it’s not ‘whether we like it or not.’ Apparently the masses decided to ‘vote’ her queen, and the sadly outnumbered saner few had their protests drowned out), J. K. Rowling.

Refer to Epilogue, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Recall vagueness and abruptness and severe dissatisfaction. Master feelings of confused rage. Click here. Apparently Rowling did intend to write a detailed description of all the events and children that spun out of the Harry-Voldemort showdown, but for reasons I can’t fathom, she decided to not to publish it, but rather leave it for her post-coronation greet-the-masses-on-yon-royal-balcony interview. Why ever would you not publish the part of the book that people spent years reading for? It’s rather like opening Forrest Gump’s memorable box of chocolates of which life apparently resembles, only to find nothing inside. But never mind that – let’s see what Rowling intended for her characters (that we never got to see). (more…)

Interactive Fiction.

Spider and Web

So I’ve just gotten into it. Strange, in an age where most people are leaving wordy passages and verbose descriptions and >what now? prompts for 3D swordflinging and spectacular lifelike tank-and-airplane crashes. But being an irrepressible gamer and reader both from as early an age I can remember (I have a video from my childhood with mini-me yelling at Mario to jump over the stupid green pipe), text gaming is naturally my element. Besides, one of the first games I completed was a text game – an Alice in Wonderland adaptation that I lost when the 3.86 crashed, and never found again. I thought it was great, a fantastic idea. That was back in, oh I suppose, 1994, so I’m no child of the golden era of text gaming – I really did stumble back into those hedges. I eventually tripped up Quest while doing some of that stumbling, and after MUDding a little as well, I realised how unpolished Alice was, and how much more sophisticated text games could be. Sure, they’re just games, and lots of them are made by ordinary people not in the gaming industry, but even games made of words and prompts can shine. *gleaming letters*. Not ‘shine’ in that sense. I’m using the overused metaphor. But see, that’s exactly what I mean – like art, interactive fiction is open to interpretation and adaptation. If one decides that blinking letters makes a good point, then blinking letters it is, and it doesn’t have to be tacky. (Check out shrapnel, by Adam Cadre for a good example of innovative style.)

Perhaps most importantly: interactive fiction isn’t quite the same as text games – the latter can arguably be said to have its emphasis on the gaming aspect, and the former can arguably be said to focus on the literary aspect. Storytelling, like Cadre says in his (brilliant) game Photopia, where you tell the tale as much as I do. You absolutely have to get the idea out of your head that text games are just made nowadays because they’re considerably easier to code than graphic-driven ones – if there’s one idea we all should do away with, that’s definitely the one. What I have played of interactive fiction leaves me breathless, excited, astonished, addicted. It can be like literature. It can be literature. I’m practically hyperventilating with the absolute expanse of things you do with interactive fiction!

At any rate, you should stop listening – metaphorically speaking – to me fawn over interactive fiction, and try out some of these games… here’s the link to the Frotz interpreter archive. It’s what you need to play the Z-code games, which are all I’m playing at the moment. I’ll move on to TADS and the other kinds of files soon enough. I downloaded the WindowsFrotzInstaller, if that’s any help. Now go to Emily Short’s IF ‘Notables’ listing, where she categorises some of the more significant or prominent games according to Playable Character style and personality, Gameplay and structure, interactivity of NPCs, etc. Very good if you’re into playing unique, stereotype-bending games, which I am.

I’ve played quite a few games, but finished less – some are tough, and some are outright incompatible with my still nooby brain. I *did* manage to finish Andrew Plotkin’s (brilliant) espionage piece Spider and Web with only a small hint about grilles , and that means you should be able to do it too. Just hone your exploratory skills. Pay attention to everything that’s said or described, and examine, search, try everything. Trust me, the chair puzzle alone, when you solve it, is worth all your effort and time. I finished Babel by Michael J. Roberts and Sting of the Wasp by Jason Devlin too; the last took more time than the first, and has a wholly enjoyable streak of malice running through it. *grin* Schadenfreude! Babel, while possessing a rather cliched plot and premise, has sufficiently evocative descriptions that I was wearing a sweater and a jacket and the heater turned up high when I was playing it. Right now I’m handling two activities: playing as Adam Cadre’s delightful little Machiavel of Varicella, and currently swearing at the NPC in Jon Ingold’s Fail-Safe. That last primarily because I’m convinced what I’m stuck on is a guess-the-verb problem more than a real block on my part. Fail-Safe‘s got a very interesting idea working here though, so don’t let my being stuck stop you from checking it out. All games can be found at Baf’s guide to the IF archive… here.

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