Friday, May 25, 2012

These are a few of my favorite things...

Jason Spisak
property of EniJoi on dA

I already posted this epiphany on tumblr. But why not here too, right?

I just noticed that many of the drawings of Tom Hiddleston's Loki that I like best, such as the one above, bear a striking resemblance to Jason Spisak, the voice and inspiration for the face of Vulpes Inculta in Fallout: New Vegas -- who is another character I really like.

I think I have just identified my “type.”

Me = Shallow but Consistent 

So. Do you readers have a "type" you prefer?  It's not always easy to recognize in yourself. My sister used to say she loved brunettes, but every single fan-girl crush she had was on a blonde fellow.

Share, my pretties! ;)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

eBook Prices

How do you put a value on a digital book? It doesn't seem like this should be the conundrum it is.

Paper books are priced to cover the amount it cost to produce them plus a markup for both the publisher's and the bookseller's profit.

Ebooks should be priced the same way, right? The problem is, we assume the production cost will be significantly cheaper because there is no paper and no binding--forgetting that paper is cheap and binding is not especially costly either.

All the costly things--cover art, editing, etc.--must happen in the production of a digital book, just like a paper one. So logically the price isn't going to differ dramatically.

And yet, it doesn't seem right.

Maybe because so many eBooks are "free." It seems like the average price thus should be lower.

But those eBooks are free because either they are classics, antiques, if you will, long ago falling into the public domain, so libraries or volunteers can legally digitize them, or they're new books whose publisher wants to boost word-of-mouth on a particular title or author and is willing to take a financial hit to do it.

Those eBooks still cost time and money to produce, but your tax dollars, the goodness of others, or a marketing plan paid for them.

So, again, digital books should cost about the same as paper.

What about resale value? Maybe we feel digital books should be cheaper because we can't resell them as we can paper books?

That isn't within the publisher's purview. Paper books are not priced with any thought to the used market because neither publishers nor authors get any money from those venues. Why should eBooks be any different?

We aren't automatically entitled to resell things in our possession. Many items you buy cannot be resold, and we accept that. The video games industry may be going toward a used-games-are-unplayable model. That there is no used market for digital books may simply become the standard of the future.

So again, digital books' and paper books' prices shouldn't be that far apart.

But then why, when I am faced with a $12.99 eBook, do I wince?

I've paid $9.99 for eBooks. I'd pay $12.99 for a paperback. And yet I stall at $12.99 for an eBook.

$12.99 is what - the price of dinner for one? Lunch for two? Food you'll never get back (unless it gives you food poisoning and then it will be returned to the world in a state far different from when you last viewed it) whereas an eBook lasts forever. You can even lend it to others and, trust me, no one wants you to lend them your food or other perishables.

$12.99 is a few hours of work at minimum wage to pay for something that took the author months of agony to produce. If the eBook is nonfiction, it might have taken years. And yet we won't shell out our coffee money for it.

Why is that?

I really should buy that $12.99 eBook. I just... argh. Do any of you have this problem?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Identify The Tanks

One of my best friends can name every tank in this picture.

Can you?

Friday, May 18, 2012

I'm With The Band

I'm With the Band: Confessions of a GroupieI'm With the Band: Confessions of a Groupie by Pamela Des Barres
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having recently had occasion to use the phrase I'm with the band in actual conversation, I thought I should read this book next. The cover image captures the sexy yet innocent vibe of the 1960s perfectly. I mean, the rock stars called her "MISS Pamela". There's an endearing formality amongst all the wild sex.

It really was a different time. You could phone-up the backstage at arenas. Miss Pamela hitch-hiked *everywhere* and only once did the driver who picked her up try to kill her.

Also-- Not sure why people have called her a slut. She didn't lose her virginity until 19 years old, she made Jimmy Page really work for it before she slept with him, and she turned down Mick Jagger because she was being faithful to Jimmy Page (who was not faithful to her). It wasn't until later, on the rebound, that she went from one relationship to another, but they were relationships, not one-night-stands. (And yes, she did end up with Mick Jagger for a while, don't worry.)

I thought she was fairly self-aware. The horrors visited by hard drugs and alcohol are plainly depicted. "Intimate diseases" are present as well.

Oh, for what it's worth, Timothy Hutton is not in this book, so that other reviewer is thinking of another story.

I found this book to be a very entertaining read, a glimpse behind the curtain at the 1960s-1970s rock scene as experienced by a woman of the times.

View all my reviews

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Let's Spend the Night Together

Let's Spend the Night Together: Backstage Secrets of Rock Muses and SupergroupiesLet's Spend the Night Together: Backstage Secrets of Rock Muses and Supergroupies by Pamela Des Barres
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I found this an interesting and mostly fun read. Each chapter of the book is devoted to a SuperGroupie - a gal who knew what she wanted, went after it, and succeeded. And in the process inspired her rock heroes to write songs about her.

These particular women interviewed consider themselves freewheeling feminists who were neither victimized nor exploited, but flashes of girls who did experience degradation at the hands of cruel bastards drunk on fame can be seen hovering at the edges of some of their recollections. And violence even found one of the SuperGroupies. (The rape scene in Showgirls seems to be based on what happened to one of the women interviewed.)

Full of advice for anyone wanting to become a SuperGroupie, though it also warns of the dangers and heartbreak that accompany the role, this book is a fun read for those interested in the 1960s-1970s rock scene. It gets somewhat repetitive when it gets to the 1980s stories.

And if Elvis is on your radar at all, you should read the first chapter at least.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Chris Avellone's Help for Writer's Block

From Reddit

I thought these tips were pretty ingenious. How about you? What are your suggestions for combating Writer's Block?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Vulpes and Arcade Plushies

Look what The Last Kiss Of Damaris made for me!!! Are these not the cutest Fallout: New Vegas plushies ever? Arcade's expression is just so him. And I wanted an uncharacteristically-happy Vulpes Inculta, and there we are.

Excuse me while I go Kermit-flail.

Friday, May 11, 2012

My Shaved Kitty

No, that's not code for anything. My girl kitty literally has been shaved.
I love how she has tiger-striped skin as well as fur.

We chose to do this for two reasons:

1) We don't have central air conditioning and her thick Maine Coon fur coat makes her hot and uncomfortable in the summer.

2) She was born feral and lived feral for like the first 8 months of her life. Often such cats don't care much about cleaning themselves. Hey, it's just gonna get dirty again. Why bother? Concentrate on survival. She won't let us groom her, either. So her beautiful thick coat becomes a matted mess.

This way she is cool and clean. She likes it, too. She's actually invested some time in cleaning herself, now that she doesn't have to fight with fur.

Of course, as luck would have it, the first two nights after her shearing were record cold for the time of year, and she definitely felt it. I got out a flannel pillow case and tucked it over her so she had her own blanket. This was apparently the correct solution because she curled up under it and stayed put.

So if you have a cat who might be a good candidate for shearing (actually known as the Lion Cut for cats - although we modified it to have the neck ruff shorn, too), remember to have something for them to warm up with if the temperature turns cold.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Captain Devlin Video Cameo Appearance

This is a photo of the Saturday Book Fair at one of the RT BookLovers Conventions.
At this one they played book trailers/videos on large screens. 
See where the arrow is pointing?
As it happens THAT IS MY VIDEO they were playing when the photo was taken!!
It's this one below:
That just tickles me pink. 

Click for more info on Captain Devlin's Captive

Monday, May 7, 2012

PAX East 2012 Overview

The Boston Convention & Exhibition Center is a cool place. It has animal art installations. Like this horse.

And some really big animal art installations. Like this giraffe.

And this year it hosted a really big games installation called PAX East.
This is PAX East.

Well, actually, it's the showroom floor, where all types and sizes of games are on display, from indie to blockbuster studio productions -- most of them future releases yet to be touched by the unwashed masses.

But touch them you can! You can play demos on the showroom floor. You can go over to the LAN and play computer games with top of the line NVIDIA tech.

Do I know what that tech does? No. Did Battlefield 3: Close Quarters look and play awesome? Yes! I got more kills than I usually do playing BF3 Team Deathmatch.

Prefer tabletop gaming? PAX has you covered.

They've got the tables and the games. Bring your crew or meet up with people there.

If it's a type of game, it's at PAX.

But say you're tired of gaming, and bored with all the chances for obtaining swag from the various companies. Say you want to craft something. And you don't want to pay for it.

Well, here are some tables where you can paint something and take it for free.
I don't know what they were - I saw the table from one of the ceiling cross-walks and I never got back to it on the floor. But I liked the concept.

Some of the upcoming games had giant displays. This one let you climb inside and experience getting attacked by Alien's alien. It didn't move or anything. But it looked pretty convincing.

Speaking of moving and convincing:
This Big Daddy's drill arm actually worked! He and his Little Sister were impressive.

In fact, all the costumes in Irrational Games' contest were impressive, as were the cosplayers walking around the convention. Fans put a lot of time, effort and love into their costumes, and it showed.

You don't have to wear a costume to PAX, of course, but if you do attend in one, expect admiration and frequent photo requests.

Where were we? Oh yes.

Other game displays showed only a mysterious front. You had to wait in line for the chance to see inside.

Umm...yeah. Should probably mention that a lot of your time is spent waiting in lines at PAX. It's not surprising. Each game station, each panel room, only contains a finite amount of space and there are a millionbillion people who want to occupy it. Maybe not that many. But you get the idea.

For a chance at the games, you have to wait. For a chance at attending a panel, you have to wait. And for popular panels, you have to get there ahead of time--possibly hours ahead--to make sure you're in the part of the line that fits in.

Had I mentioned that there are panels? Yes, you can not only play games, you can attend panels on games and learn about all sorts of aspects of the game industry.

One intrepid soul actually filmed the Plot vs. Play panel, which was one of the best panels ever (in my fan-girl opinion), and put it up on YouTube. (I already posted it on my blog.)

My favorite panel room was the (nyan) Cat Theatre. 

(This still makes me smile. I am easily amused.)

Here we watched the original Fallout: Nuka Break fan film plus the entire first season of its web series.

They have a Kickstarter running to fund a second season, if you'd like to help out.

A Q&A panel followed, with the cast, creators, and Chris Avellone (who has been intimately involved with Fallout through several apocalypses and whose Obsidian Entertainment created Fallout: New Vegas).

I include this shot (from before the panel started) because you can see Chris Avellone is wearing a PIP-Boy!

It's a totally cool prop and was made especially for him.

Are you all properly jealous yet? ;)

One final observation: You remember the unwashed masses I referred to at the beginning? Attending PAX can mean you run the risk of catching PAX Plague. There always seems to be some type of super-flu which someone inadvertently brings along with them. And it has a very good time. I believe everyone I knew came down with some form of it. Including me. But it was a small price to pay for one of the most fun-filled weekends I've ever had.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

PAX East 2012: Plot vs Play panel

Here are Ken Levine (Bioshock), Chris Avellone (Fallout: New Vegas), and David Gaider (Dragon Age) speaking about the importance of writing, plot, and game mechanics.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Feline Intelligence FTW


Today my kitty was poking at one of her toys and mewing that she needed help getting it out.

So I stand up to walk over there.

Whereupon she darts onto my chair, right where I was sitting and curls up.

Leaving me standing there, wondering if this is simply opportunistic behavior from a cat with a short attention span, or a carefully crafted cunning plan to get the best seat in the house.

Such an innocent face, such a devious mind.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Magical Scottish Fling

If you attended the RT BookLovers' Convention you know about this year's Magical Scottish Fling Faery Ball. For those unable to attend, here are some photos, the stage shots courtesy of RT Book Reviews:
This was our Faery Court for this year; we hosted the party. I'm the one in the blue hat next to James Rollins. You can't tell, but I'm in a matching blue cavalier coat and Appin Stewart tartan skirt (kilts are only for men). Unfamiliar with Appin Stewart?
The plaid inside the shield is Appin Stewart.
Each of us had tartan badges like this lining the entrance to the ballroom. I chose Appin Stewart as my tartan.

The costumes this year were fantastic (as always):
Six foot wing-span on this one!

tattooed wings!
You might be wondering - why is this event called both the Faery Ball and the Magical Scottish Fling?

Traditionally, the Convention's Thursday night dinner and dance was called the Faery Ball and had Faery/Mythology themes and costumes. It was thought that after so many years, it would make a nice change-up to open the theme beyond Faery/Mythology. 

So this year the Thursday dinner and dance was called the Magical Scottish Fling. We're the same Court, but your costume only had to connect with Scotland. It could be historical, mythological, steampunk, whatever.

And under the category of I-have-wings-and-am-ready-to-party:
J.A. Konrath & Blake Crouch
Next year we may cast an even wider costume net, we'll have to see. Anything to get the fellas to participate, right?
Courtesy RT Book Reviews
Oh, and if you want a closer look at my hat:
Jacobite Susanne
I hope y'all can attend next year in Kansas City, MO!