Word Crimes and Blogging

I read a fair few blogs. Some I’ve stumbled across, some are by friends and family, and some are just random posts and not blogs that I read on a regular basis. I’ve started to notice a startling trend: some people who blog can’t write.

I’m not saying that the ideas aren’t there. They just don’t have the technical skills to make what they’re writing about readable, at least not for me. There are a few things that I need to have, or need to not have, in a post to make it an enjoyable read:

  • Proper punctuation
    • Really, periods and commas are not that hard to use. If you’re finished with a though, use a period. If you need to put a pause or break in a thought, you will most often use a comma. I’m not going to go into the more difficult stuff, and I’m using the term difficult very loosely.
  • Proper spelling
    • If you’re not sure how to spell something, it’s not hard to find an online dictionary to look it up, and that’s assuming the word processor/blog editor/website doesn’t point out misspellings with a fat red line. Granted, sometimes the red lines are wrong. WordPress doesn’t recognize Canadian spelling for things like favourite, but if a word is underlined, it’s worth taking a look.
  • A lack of run-on sentences
    • This ties back to my first point. If you know how to use periods and commas, odds are high that you’re not going to have many run–ons peppering your writing. If however you don’t feel the need to break up your thoughts when you’re writing then it stands to reason that you’re going to end up writing an awful lot of run-on sentences that make things really hard for potential readers to get through your posts or make sense of what you’re trying to say without mentally inserting their own punctuation. (See what I did there? Example!)
  • Paragraphs
    • I find it really hard to read when people forget to use paragraphs. If your blog posts look like one huge chuck of text, you need to take a trip back to basic English and learn when and how to use paragraphs. It’s great for thought organization.
  • No text slang
    • Seriously. You have a full keyboard. Use real, complete words.

I’m by no means saying that I’m perfect, especially when I’m writing a post on the iPad (damn you autocorrect!) I do, however, think that I have the required skills to bang out a post that’s not so awful it makes other lovers of the English language want to assassinate me, or, at the very least, attack me with a red editing pen. In an age where there are so many online resources available to bloggers, especially those built right into blog editors, I find this kind of stuff inexcusable.

But don’t take my word for it.

The Walking Dead: Season One – A Game Review

This review may contain spoilers. I’ll try and keep them to a minimum, but I make no promises. With a game like this, it’s going to be hard.

There have been many times when I’ve been reading a comic or graphic novel and thought to myself, “Man, this would make a great game.” Not being a developer or programer type myself, I had no way to make that happen. Luckily for me, Telltale Games exists to make stuff like that for me. No one, in my opinion, does episodic, cell shaded games quite like they do.

In case you’re unaware, the premise is this: the world is gone, and we’re living in the zombie apocalypse. You play the game as Lee, and every choice you make as this character will have an affect on how the rest of the game plays out. This give the game an incredibly high replay value. You can go through the game multiple times and not get quite the same outcome twice, unless you make exactly the same decisions each time.

Keep in mind, this is a Walking Dead story, so it’s violent, grim, and definitely not for children. It’s got a mature rating for a very good reason. That, and it’s incredibly fucking sad. It’s not often that a game can make me cry, but this one did, and on more than one occasion. The game keeps the feel of both the graphic novels and the TV series quite well, and it was really interesting to see how the choices I made impacted what the other characters in the game said and did over the course of the game.

I would best describe the overall feel of the game as a classic adventure game mixed with quick time events (you know, for the zombie killing and such.) The thing I liked about the dialog interactions is that they’re timed. You don’t have forever to make u your mind about what you’re going to say or how you’re going to react; if the timer runs down and you haven’t chosen, you’ve basically chosen to stay silent, and that can have consequences all it’s own.

The graphics are gorgeous, the voice actors did a great job, and i also really enjoyed the writing, which is important in any genre of game where dialog is super heavy. There were characters that I didn’t like, for sure, but that is bound to happen and makes for a better story.

This game is a definite 5/5 in all categories, and I picked up the second season as soon as I was finished. You’ll get a review of that when all the episodes have been released and completed. Also, for reference, I have the Walking Dead on PS3, but I did grab The Wolf Among Us on Steam so I could compare platforms. Don’t worry, I’ve got you guys covered 😉

Also, we’re currently smack in the middle of the Steam Summer Sale. What have you guys been picking up? How many games have you grabbed? Let me know. It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

The Lunar Chronicles: A Review

Have you ever wondered what would happen if certain fairy tale heroines ended up in a dystopian future on Earth? Yes? Well, the Lunar Chronicles will be right up your alley.

Written by Marissa Meyer, the threes books out so far came across my radar when I was perusing sale books on hyena Kobo store. The first instalment, Cinder, sounded like just the thing to keep me awake during late night/early morning feedings. Cinder is a cyborg living in New Beijing who gets caught up with a prince. She even has an “evil” stepmother and two step sisters. Sound familiar? She’s loosely based on Cinderella.

Here’s why that works: while you will see noticeable similarities between Cinder and Cinderella, the story is not just an updated version of the old classic. The author picks certain aspects of the he original story to work in to the story she wanted to write, and the effect is white simply, magical.

This is one of those books that I gave a 50/50 chance, and it didn’t disappoint. Th second book, Scarlet, and the third, Cress, are based on Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel, respectively, and I couldn’t wait to gobble them up after the first book was closed. My 50/50 had turned into not only a win, but a genuine pleasure to read and continue reading.

The characters make you want to get to know them on a personal level, even while feeling that you know them already. The future setting. Unlike a lot of dystopian fiction, is completely believable. If there ever happen to be more world wars, I can totally see the world government being restricted as Meyer has imagined.

The only downside? The next book, Winter, isn’t slated for release until 2015. I hate having to wait to continue a truly excellent story.

I could write more, but I don’t want to risk spoiling the plot or story too much for anyone that thinks this may be worth checking out (and trust me, it is). Likeable characters and a believable future history pair with solid writing to make this one series I will be coming back to.

Doki Doki Universe: A Review

When I first saw the trailer for Doki Doki Universe, I thought it looked adorable. Who wouldn’t want to wander around the galaxy as a cute little robot and learn about humanity? I downloaded the demo and liked it enough to buy the full game. ($14.99 CAD on the PSN)

Developed and Published by HumaNature Studios, this game is not up there on the cutting edge or graphics, but that’s one of the things I liked about it. It felt like a bunch of children’s drawing had hopped in to a game engine and started moving, and I found that very quaint. It’s categorized as an adventure game, but I don’t think that’s entirely accurate. While it does have some of those elements, I also felt that it had a huge hidden object element to it.

Basically, you’re running around the universe to different planets in order to learn as much as you can about being human. On the way, there are psycho analysis tests to do that supposedly tell you all about yourself. Sometimes these were wicked accurate, sometimes… not so much. This ended up being a big bummer, especially when you did an entirely different quiz and got the same results at the end.

The puzzles themselves are not that hard to solve. I found that it was a lot of running around talking to different NPCs on the various worlds. The dialog was interesting enough to not make it a tedious process.

Now, I don’t know if I had a faulty install or what, but the game kept freezing on me to the point where I almost gave up playing. Not only would it freeze, but the whole system stopped wanting to work, forcing me to do a hard reset before I could either try again or move on to something else. This was very frustrating, as I often lost a lot of progress when this happened.

Another thing that irked me is when I finished the final planet, I was still missing several of the collectible items. I’m one of those crazy people who likes wrapping a game 100%, so I went back to the places I had missed so I could try and round out my collection. Unfortunately, the items I should have gotten from solving those puzzles didn’t come up. I’m guessing that I needed to complete those quests before the end of game in order to get everything 100%. That, I must say, didn’t thrill me.

The mail system (getting letters from game characters) was a nice touch, but having it attempt to log me in to Facebook constantly was a little irksome. Not everyone needs everything they do broadcast on social media. I know, this coming from a blogger sounds a little ridiculous, but blogging is not on the same scale as a Facebook update.

Overall, the game play was smooth, the controls were easy to master (really easy to master), and the graphics were great. The freezing was bad, but like I said, it could have been a faulty install. I’m going to reinstall it when I have some time and see if I can round out my trophies.

While it was worth a play, I don’t think it needed to be priced at $14.99. I really don’t think it’s necessary to have more personality tests available as DLC. I’m definitely glad I gave it a look, but it’s not on my must play list. If you want to try it, wait until it goes on sale. 3/5

We Watched This is the End!

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if a bunch of celebrities got stuck in a house during the apocalypse? No? Well, you should see This is the End anyway. It’s hilarious.

The premise is this: James Franco is having a party at his new house. A ton of his celebrity friends are there, and during the party, the rapture decides to happen and a bunch of them are left behind to try and survive. I know, it sounds ridiculous. That’s because it is. This is not a movie to be taken seriously, in the slightest, and that’s the attitude you have to go in with. I was expecting a ludicrous good time, and that’s exactly what we got.

The main cast have great chemistry together, especially considering they’re all playing themselves. I think it would be harder to play myself than to pretend to be someone else. I could be totally wrong, but regardless, these guys all do a stellar job.

Deep thoughts? No. A marijuana induced sequel to Pineapple Express? Yes. A devil type figure with a huge flaming cock? Absolutely yes. For what it is, I give it a solid 4.5/5. Anything that makes me laugh that much is a good time, and I would totally watch this one again.

On The Wedding, Six Months Out

Well, Shawn and I have been married for just over six months. We just got our wedding album back from the worlds best photographer, Kelly Redinger, and it’s absolutely gorgeous! Between the album itself and the beautiful box it came in, it weighs close to ten pounds, and it’s worth every ounce!

Seeing the photos in glorious size, on pearl finished paper, made me want to relive the day in my head as much as possible. All the other things in our life having been going at near warp speed, and it sometimes feels like we didn’t get a chance to properly absorb the day. We had several family gatherings the day after (that I did not want to attend; I was more keen to spend some quality alone time with my new husband), and we left the following day for our vacation. Couple that with my pregnancy woes starting before we were even off the cruise ship in our second week, and things have been very much a blur.

A lot of people, particularly those in the midst of planning their own weddings, have asked me what I would do differently. The list isn’t a long one, especially compared to some other, bridezilla types that I know, but here’s a round up anyway:

We did not have a DJ. Neither of us are particularly fond of DJs, and the music that they play, for the most part, does not mesh with our style. We also didn’t have the money in our budget for someone of real quality, so we opted to do all the music ourselves and just do an iPod playlist. I don’t great doing this in the least. It worked out wonderfully, people were dancing most of there night, and we got a good variety of songs going. What I regret is leaving the finalizing of said playlist so late in the game, and not having the time to put the songs in any type of order. We ended up just putting the iPod on shuffle and letting it do it’s thing. Yes, it worked out, but there were songs that we wanted to hear that never came on. It probably didn’t help that we had over eleven hours of music on the list, but we are not good at narrowing things down.

Next, our emcee. I love my sister in law to death, but she didn’t really seem in to the job. She pretty much read what I emailed her verbatim, and it sounded totally unprepared and unenthusiastic. I totally get it: she was five months pregnant at the time, had just moved in to a new house and her fiancé didn’t end up making it to the wedding. Naturally, she was in a bit of a bad mood (I was unaware of this until my wedding planner told me about a conversation they had in which she admitted to being pregnant and bitchy.) If I would have known that she was going to be that unenthusiastic, I probably would have found someone else to do the job. Again, this isn’t anything against my sister in law, it’s just not what I was hoping for.

I definitely would have been more insistent that guests participate in the D20 kissing game we came up with instead of the traditional glass clinking nonsense. It would have gotten a lot more people involved in the festivities, and I don’t think that guests were aware that this was, in fact, the only way to either get us to kiss or have a chance to tell a story. I put a lot of work in to the action cards and in to making sure there was a little something for everyone, and it barely got used. It was kind of a bummer.

Probably the last thing would have been the photo booth. It was amazing fun, and the pictures and stop motion video we got out of it are priceless. I didn’t go in it enough, though. I would have made time to go in the booth more often and with more guests. It really is true that you get caught up in everything that’s going on, and you miss some great opportunities. I don’t have a single shot of me and our fabulous wedding planner, Jordan, either, and that is not cool.

Everything else went off as well as I could have hoped for. The venue, for both ceremony and reception, were perfect. Dinner was spectacular. I have honestly never had wedding fare that tasted that good. All of the vendors that we dealt with we’re amazing, starting with hair and make up in the morning and ending with the hot dog truck at night. I don’t regret getting a planner/coordinator in the slightest. It was a brilliant plan, and it made the day feel smooth like butter.

Obviously, there are things we would have added or elaborated on if the budget had a been unlimited, but we had a hell of a day with what we had. I proved all the skeptics wrong, and that as severely satisfying. There were some people, right up until the day of, who could not see how comic books, video games, cartoons and vintage would turn in to a cohesive event. Shawn and I knew our vision was a great one, but there will always be naysayers especially when it comes to a wedding. After all, for things like that, everyone knows better than you 😉

Since the big day, we’ve gotten some attention for our unique party. Off Beat Bride featured us on their main page, which was awesome for me because that site was a lifesaver during the planning process. The boutique where I got. MY gown actually called me one of their coolest brides ever. They do a lot of business, so that was also awesome.

When mum and I paid Jordan and Kelsey of Atmosphere Wedding planning a visit several days ago! they told us that our wedding was the most popular from the last year. I guess they judge these things by how many new clients bring in pictures from a particular wedding, and we are in the lead. I have such a hard time believing that, but why would they lie? The thought of people bringing pictures of my wedding in with elements that they want to steal circled is mind boggling, and it makes me a little giddy. There are also two photos from our wedding up in the new Atmosphere office: one of me leaning against a wall looking all purdy, and one of Shawn and I walking away from an airplane at the museum (it’s super spectacular and one of our favourites). that one is also featured in the main slide show on their new website, and a bunch of other ones are featured under the vintage tab of “Our Work”. I was so in love with our wedding, I just never imagined that so many others would be in love with it too.

I like the fact the brides and grooms see the picture of our Adventure Time cake and decide they want to do something more fun Than white with flowers. I love that people can see our venue for the amazing space that it is, and that they’re actually requesting to see it because of what we managed to do there. I also love that Jordan is recommending my make up artist to new brides now. Chelsea is so so good,and. Any new business that I helped throw her way is great.

We got another surprise in my Facebook feed this week in the form of one of our photos placing in a competition Kelly entered it in! The “wizard” photo from the ends of the night placed 15th over all in a competition (I’m not sure which one) that had a pure art category. How zazzy is that? Our shots were so fun, and they tuned out so we’ll, that im glad the accolades are rolling in.

Our wedding was pretty damn perfect. Not a lot of brides come away from the day saying that, and I am well pleased to be one of them. Not only did we get a perfect wedding, I got a damn fine husband out of the deal, too. I’m one lucky gal.

We’ve Been Watching… Lots of Things

This going to be a round-up of writing on all the new shows (and some old faves) that we’ve been working on this fall, as we’re going to start with Once Upon a Time in Wonderland.

This show is terrible. I was willing to give it a chance because we both loved the first season of the original, but there i almost nothing about it that I like. I do like the actor they cast as the Knave of Hearts, but that’s about where it ends. Alice seems stiff and unemotional (in spite of the emotion surrounding her circumstances), and her costume, for me, is the only real saving grace. A corset and combat boots? Yes please. John Lithgow also bugs me as the voice of the White rabbit. I also pictured the Rabbit as being very frantic an having a high, squeaky voice. This is definitely not what I get from the character as it stands now. Don’t even get me started on the Red Queen. I don’t know if her face is just unable to emote, or if she just doesn’t.

(I do need to point out here that a lot of people I’ve talked to have been angry because Cora from the original series was a queen in Wonderland, but she was the Queen of Hearts. The Red Queen that we see in the new show comes from the books “Through the Looking Glass” and leads an army of red chess pieces. So, while their are similarities, that is one thing that ABC managed not to screw up.)

There also hasn’t been enough explanation about where Alice’s genie comes from. In the original show, Sydney Glass was originally the Genie of Agrabah, who then accidentally turns himself in to the magic mirror. So, if he is the genie from the Disney Aladdin stories, who is this new genie and what happened to a) Aladdin, b) the old genie to get him sent from Agrabah and c) Jafar, that he needs the help of someone else to solve his problems. There are just too many holes in the story they are trying to create to make it worht my time.

I think the final straw, though, was the Red Queen using the Sarlaac from Star Wars as a possible way to get rid of Alice. That, and the Caterpillar bearing an uncanny resemblance to Jabba the Hutt, made things almost unwatchable for me. I know the Disney (who owns ABC) now has all the rights to Star Wars, but come on. Some things need to remain sacred.

I also understand that making actual, tangible sets for most of this show would be beyond the budget of an ABC series. Blue screen would be needed, but they could have done a better job. The resolution of the characters is not in line with the backdrops, and when the action gets really moving, you can see a distinct difference between actor and background. This show had potential in all areas, particularly visuals, and it’s failed for me on all counts. Poor acting, bad special effects and a plot with more holes than a  cheese cloth make with show earn, for me, a generous 2/10.

Up next, Sleepy Hollow. This is one that both Shawn and I are rather enjoying. The casting for Ichabod Crane is one I find delightful. He’s charming, handsome and doesn’t play his role as someone from the past living in our time with a lot of cheese. His character could very easily come across as campy, but it doesn’t. The chemistry he has with Lt. Mills has a nice pace to it, and I like now the relationship is evolving. And hey, how can you say no to anything with Orlando Jones in it?

I also love the alternate tellings of American history that they writers have come up with. So much of world culture is steeped in the occult, and it’s nice to see it have a place here. This is one I’m looking forward to watching for the rest of the season. It’s either going to stay strong or turn in to a disaster, and I’m really hoping for a strong finish to the year. Thus far, a solid 7/10.

Now, who doesn’t love Robin Williams? I’m sure there are those that exist, but we are not in heat gat camp. That’s why Shawn and I were both stoked to give his new sitcom, The Crazy Ones, a watch. The cast has great chemistry, and it really is a wonderful place for Williams to show off his over the top personality in a way that works. It has the potential to get old if they mishandle it, but so far so good. Sarah Michelle Geller is charming as his hard working daughter, and I think this will be one to watch for a while. Definitely make sure ohio catholic the end credits, as they always include bloopers and extra adlibs by the cast, and it’s well worth the extra few minutes. A solid 7.5/10.

Dads. Okay, this is one we’ve been having difficulty with. Seth Green is a really funny guy, and Giovanni Ribisi works well as his. Ore straight laced best friend and business partner. However, I find that Seth McFarland uses the show, more often than not, to be offensive just for the sake of being offensive. I also get the feeling when watching that it’s not so much about a pair of game developers as it is about making fun of game developers (much the way The Big Bang Theory is not about and for geeks and nerds as it is a platform to rib on them and showcase every possible stereotype). We do have Dads set to record every week, but it’s not one that we are overly eager to watch. Does it have hilarious moments? Absolutely, but they are really too few and far between to hold our interest. This one gets a 4/10.

I have a thing for Karl Urban,so naturally I was really excited when I found out about his new show, Almost Human. It doesn’t hurt that Michael Ealy plays his “almost human” android partner, and that is not a bad looking pair to stare at for 45 minutes every week. The premise is simple: it’s the future, and technology is advancing more quickly than police can keep up with it, so each man police officer is paired with an android partner to help balance things out. John Kennex, played by Urban, gets paired with an older older of android more suited to his personality after returning to work following an injury. The chemistry between the two leads is great and the balance of serious crime plot and humour is spot on. This is a top pick for us each week, and we really hope it gets to be one of the sci fi shows that sticks around. 9.5/10.

That’s about it on the TV front. If anything else pops on to our radar that we feel like giving a watch, I will sum it up for you guys. There are, of course, some old favourites that we have gone back to, but that just might be another post. What have you been watching this fall? What are you loving, and what did you drop from your roster? Let’s hear about it in the comments.