joanna irl

Hello, 2015

DSC_6723

Well, here we are.

Things have been quiet here for the last couple of months.

First I was off on an extended road trip with J, exploring the entire southern half of our country, with nearly a week in Orlando to do all things Disney and Harry Potter, and then I was in our new home trying to sort through the mess that has been our move. The team that packed our stuff did a great job and we lost very little. The team that was responsible for our furniture? Not so much. As I write this, I’m waiting to hear back from a wood and upholstery repair shop. Fun times.

Chicago has been a shock, though not an unexpected one. We’ve shifted from sunny SoCal to frigid MidWest and it’s going to take some adjustment. And some good boots.

But the trip was lovely and we’re finally starting to settle in and life goes on. I’ll try to get back into the swing of things with updates soon, and probably roll out some new features this year. Five Fandom Fridays sound kind of fun. ^_^

Here’s to a happy 2015!

Three Broomsticks butterbeer cheers

the geek life

Sierra is BACK and bringing us a new King’s Quest

teaser at Sierra.com

I’m a few weeks late to this party, but when I found out this week that Sierra, one of the premier gaming companies from my childhood, was making a comeback, I may have squeed in delight. They’ve restarted their website (with a brief teaser of…something or another) and at Gamescom they announced two games coming very soon.

For those not familiar, Sierra was founded in 1979 and was one of the gaming companies who thrived in the 1980s. My own connection was through their popular King’s Quest franchise, following the story of Graham, as he rises from knighthood to being the king of Daventry, and then the adventures of his children over the years.

kings quest ii screen shot 2
King’s Quest was one of those wonderfully simple and yet difficult text-based 8-bit games, where you were given almost no instruction and had to figure out how to beat the game through trial and error. As a kid, this often meant polling the audience, or in this case, bugging your classmates about how they beat this particular part. You had a giant map and you walked through it, finding objects and having random encounters, until you figured out the puzzle. It was all about repetition and logic and simply seeing what worked.

kings quest 7 screen shot
Over time the storylines and graphics got more advanced, until with King’s Quest 7: the Princeless Bride, we got animation. This was my first experience with what I’d call “modern” gaming, where you’ve got the toolbar and the items and whatnot. I loved this game. The player rotated between playing the princess and the queen, going through a ridiculous cartoon world trying to escape from an evil enchantment and return home to Daventry.

kings quest moe screen shot

The final installation was King’s Quest: Mask of Eternity, which came out in 1998. You can see more screen shots of it here. This was two years after Sierra was sold to another gaming company, and the original founders and developers retired, and it definitely shows in the game. Though this one carries the King’s Quest game, it’s much more of a first person “shooter” (or in this case, first person sword-slasher). It wasn’t so much a logic puzzle as a check-off-the-quest-box type game, and though I enjoyed it when I played it, it was certainly different. I think Mask of Eternity was the stepping stone for me to console games like Fable and Baulder’s Gate and the like. But there it is.

And then Sierra disappeared. In 2008, it simply stopped existing, except in very old copies of the PC games, most of which have become obsolete over the subsequent OS updates since. I’ve been occasionally playing on a laptop from 2000 that can still read the CDs I have (a “special release” at some point).

Until a month ago.

Last month, the new website went live, and they unveiled a new King’s Quest. It will be the story of King Graham’s granddaughter learning about his adventures, and hopefully going on some of her own.

Though I didn’t know it at the time, these games were made by a husband and wife team, Ken and Roberta Williams. Roberta is credited on every game, and she really was a pioneer for women in the gaming industry. Though there are many more women making games now, they are still very much the minority, and games based on story telling and logic puzzles aren’t in vogue the way first person shooters are. I hope this new chapter takes us back in that direction, toward the smart and well written challenges and away from the hack and slash that’s so common these days. Or maybe it can at least round out the choices a bit more. Let’s head back to Daventry!

the geek life

As seen on… June 2014

Hey hey hey, here’s another monthly wrap-up post thing! I’m about a week late because things have been super busy since July 1st. At any rate, here’s what I wrote about when I wasn’t here (and I wasn’t here much, was I?).

On +5 Charisma at Geek Girl Pen Pals…
I featured a couple of super creative ladies in my Disneybounding/Everyday Cosplay series. Check them out!

Movie Reviews for June:
The month started with The Fault in Our Stars. I thought it was good, and I’d recommend seeing it now that the theater isn’t going to be full of sobbing teenagers.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 was fun, exciting, beautifully animated, and had some really great emotional undercurrents. I loved the relationship between Hiccup’s parents. Do not watch with small children, however, because this movie does follow a couple of coming-of-age, related-to-parent tropes. (You like how I avoided spoilers with that one?)
For its 30th anniversary, I rewatched Ghostbusters and thoroughly enjoyed myself. The humor holds up well. The effects? Not so much.
Transformers: Age of Extinction was possibly the longest movie I’ve ever sat through, and that includes a marathon of all of the Lord of the Rings extended editions. Seriously.

Over at Paper Droids…
I talked about Maleficent as an allegory of assault survival in light of the #YesAllWomen movement on Twitter. Deeper than my usual fare, not for light reading.

And that’s about it! I had a bit of an adventure on July 1 that I’ll share soon (J had a “take your family to work” day and it was both fascinating and very very long at the same time), plus I need to finish the last Australia entry. I’ve been taking a bit of a break for summer, but by August I should be back into full swing, plus with some new content (more animal/conservation/zoo stuff maybe? yes?) for you. Woot! Until then.

joanna irl, the geek life

As seen on… end of May 2014

Well, it’s June, and I’m still working on my Australia reports, though between various life happenings and short out-of-town outings, it’s slow going. In the meantime, here’s what I did in the second half of May!

Over at +5 Charisma on geekgirlpenpals.com, I’ve got three new movie reviews you can check out! (Click the links for full reviews.)
Here are my thoughts on Godzilla (2014): it was all right, but the only really good parts were the brief times when Godzilla was actually on screen; the humans were dull at best.
X-Men: Days of Future Past was outstanding! One of the best X-Men movies yet, and moves leaps and bounds to correcting the issues with the earlier films (including negating the awful X3: Last Stand).
Disney’s Maleficent was an interesting and visually beautiful take on the classic Sleeping Beauty tale, and shows that Disney is continuing to break out of their usual formula.

Speaking of things I write for, International Geek Girl Pen Pal Club AND Paper Droids are both up for Geekie Awards! The Awards are meant to honor and give recognition to up-and-coming content creators and the sites that host them, and both of these places have been nominated. The judging is happening this month, with winners selected in July and an awards show in August. I’m excited for both sites.

So there’s the news from my corner of the internet. Hope you’re doing well, and look for more travelogue to come later this week!

joanna irl

Accidental Radio Silence

This is a placeholder more than anything else to apologize for my relative radio silence. It wasn’t intentional. Lots of life has been happening and unfortunately the blog had to suffer. More to come in April for sure, but hopefully some this month, too.

And I definitely need to write a post on the differences in seals and sea lions because it’s THAT time of year.

If you need something to read in the meantime, I reviewed Stargate (1994) for International Geek Girl Pen Pals Club.
Over at Paper Droids I talked about the subversive nature of “selfies” given the historical context of self-portraiture.

More soon! ^_^

the geek life

Capaldi’s got clothes! Thoughts on the Twelfth Doctor’s costume

twelfth doctor costume

Last week the BBC released its first images of Peter Capaldi in his official costume as the Twelfth (Thirteenth if we count the War Doctor) iteration of our favorite Time Lord, the Doctor, and oh what a costume it is!

My basic reaction? Love!

His coat and vest is similar to the last rendition of Matt Smith‘s costume, which is a nice homage to Eleven, but gone are the bowtie and fez. Well, that really remains to be seen I suppose, but I really doubt Capaldi’s Doctor will have as much childlike pleasure in wearing different hats as Smith’s did.

In fact, here’s the direct quote from Capaldi about the new look:

He’s woven the future from the cloth of the past. Simple, stark, and back to basics. No frills, no scarf, no messing, just 100 per cent Rebel Time Lord.

I couldn’t agree more. To me this costume choice harkens back to the Third Doctor, played by Jon Pertwee. During that time, the Doctor’s costume was almost like a dandy magician’s, with a cape that sometimes appeared along with the various velvet dinner suits he wore, including his iconic first costume that featured a very familiar looking red lining.

third doctor costume
You can see how the new is reminiscent of the old, and I wonder if Capaldi’s Doctor will be likewise a slight nod in that direction. The Third Doctor was the one banished to Earth for breaking Time Lord law, after all, and with Gallifrey sort-of-back, kind of a little bit, and with the amount of rule breaking the Doctor has done in the last several hundred years, he might be heading back into the full on rebellion mode again. This is also interesting because Matt Smith has said that he patterned his own Doctor after the Second, portrayed by Patrick Troughtan. Could there be similarities?

Regardless of any connections, real or implied, I’m excited to see what direction the show goes as it enters its eight season since the 2005 reboot. I’m ready for an older Doctor, and I think it will be interesting to see who he is after everything he’s been through, losing his home and then finding it again. I’m also still holding out hope for improved writing for Clara (seen below, with Capaldi wearing Smith’s last costume), who has so much potential but, in my opinion, not well utilized at all. But this isn’t about that. This is about costume. And I love the new look for the Doctor. Bring it on!

twelfth doctor, clara

joanna irl

New Year, New Look

current blogging configuration

Hello hello!

As promised, the new year is bringing a new look to my site (which is still a work in progress and whatever you see now might not be what it is later). Among other updates,  you can now find links to other places to read things I write (mostly movie reviews and opinion pieces).  Also, that weird set-up at the top? That’s my current computer situation, so things might move a little slowly until I get a new desktop. Ha. (I like to type on a full size keyboard and use a mouse. Does this make me old school?)

That’s about it. After a bit more housekeeping, things should get back to a somewhat regular schedule around here. I’m looking forward to whatever 2014 brings!

joanna irl, story spinning

December 1: post-NaNoWriMo and looking to the new year

So.

NaNoWriMo is over. I am slightly exhausted but mostly really satisfied. I finished the month with over 75,000 words, which brings my grand total to over 120,000 words. Woot! I’m giving myself at least the next week off to let my poor brain recuperate, then it’s into rewrite-landia.

I know the blog got a little ignored during November. All the words were going to the book. That’s expected. And now that I’m done with that first draft, post ideas are coming back to me. I’m taking notes. But the thing is…

I think I’m going to change the format of this blog a little bit. Same topics will still be covered, but I’m thinking less of my day-to-day life and more of my thoughts and opinions on things. Maybe I’ll even make you laugh. We shall see.

None of the old posts will go away, but the site itself will probably get a bit of a facelift. Just as a warning.

So there we go!

I hope everyone has had a good November, and here we go, careening into the holiday season. Geronimo!

joanna irl

So, it’s July

And I haven’t posted in almost a month.

To be fair, there’s been a lot happening in personal-life-world so it’s no surprise, but I realized I have a draft from June…teenth that’s nothing but a title and it’s really time to get back to it. So here we go.

Things happening right now:

  • The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had their baby today; it’s a boy. I’m predicting he’ll be named Edward, but Twitter seems to think Joffrey is a better choice.
  • San Diego Comic-Con ended yesterday, and I went on Thursday! I had a fantastic time and I’m SURE that will be a blog post (or three) by the time I’m done.
  • J has deployed to far off parts and won’t be back for a bit.
  • TWO planes have landed badly recently (one tragically and one seems to have just been damage to the plane itself) and NEITHER is helping with my dislike of getting on airplanes in the first place.
  • Weirdly, it’s been cloudy (and rainy) in San Diego this week, and today there are flash floods somewhere? I’m staying inside today so it’s doesn’t matter, but it’s VERY STRANGE for us down here.
  • Actually, that’s all I can think of at the moment.

So there’s a summary of what’s happening in the world (of which I’m aware at this moment). Now back to the regular schedule of LOOK ANIMAL PICTURES and also LOOK I TRAVELED type things. Enjoy.

joanna irl

Thoughts on Boston, Editorial Choices, and why I’m choosing not to look.

This has been stewing in my mind for a couple of days, so you’ll have to bear with me.

The whole world is aware of the bombings that took place two days ago at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Thanks to this age of social media, in which everyone has a phone and every phone has a camera, we knew within minutes what happened. It was like a flood: the first few confusing mentions, then more and more until everyone from national TV to Twitter to the street corner were talking about it, and mostly nothing else, on Monday.

And with it came the photos. Raw, in-the-moment photos. Images normally reserved for movies and special effects were real and vivid and so bright and clear.

And I decided not to look.

As humans, we can’t help but watch sometimes. Horrific things unfold and we can’t tear our eyes away, we can’t seem to stop the “rubberneck” effect. In a time when we have unlimited access to images like those coming from Boston, it’s hard to not look. It’s also hard to know when you’re going to see something that will burn itself into your mind for the rest of your life.

One of the strange things about our instantaneous news is how we have shifted from wanting to know to actually feeling that we need to know what’s happening. We are almost like a hive-mind, reaching out, making sure that every single person knows something bad is happening somewhere. And then we sit and obsess over it, either by planting ourselves in front of the television, or the computer, or the Twitter feed on a phone, and we watch for every update, for every theory, for every new shocking tidbit.

Don’t get me wrong on this. It is important to know what happened. It is vital that we find out who or what is responsible for this terrible act, that we bring justice to them, and that we make every effort to stop this from happening again.

But we seem to have developed an idea that it is somehow our civic, or even our moral duty to watch these things as they unfold. Minute by minute, we stare at the continued lack of information, the increased flood of sickening images, as if somehow by letting our lives stop it will change things.

The people running toward the explosions to help, those carrying away the strangers to get aid, those running toward hospitals to give blood, they are all heroes, all showing the capacity of humanity for good in the face of evil.

But in the midst of all of that, for those of us hundreds or thousands of miles away, those of us who are removed, there wasn’t anything we could do. I think that feeling of helplessness is what draws us to stop and do nothing but watch, to put ourselves into the situation as if somehow by participating in the communal watching we can help.

And in the midst of it, hundreds of individuals (and then news agencies) have to make editorial decisions about what we as a community will watch.

The images coming out of Boston were horrific. They were sickening and shocking and most of all real. They were unedited snapshots (and videos) of real time disaster and, especially at first, none of them were posted or shared with any warning.

No matter how much we feel it is important to know in the moment, it is important to remember that we are not obligated to look. We just aren’t. There are things that can’t be unseen, and there are people who do not need to see the blood to understand the horror of it.

And while there were amazing, helpful things that came from social media that day (such as helplines getting passed quickly and Google’s person finder spreadsheet), there was also potential for people to see their loved one, lying on the street, and to find out that way what happened, or for a child to suddenly find themselves facing something that will induce nightmares for years to come.

Why does this matter?

I read an op-ed that pointed out that these bombs were meant to be seen. They were left at a place conspicuously crowded and exceedingly photographed. The finish line itself is covered with cameras to record winners, record runs, you name it. The person or group responsible wanted us to see and wanted us to be horrified.

And so I chose not to look.

I am angry, yes, and I am horrified that this happened and by the idea that such a thing could happen anywhere at any time. But I also know that seeing those images would do me more harm than good. It was hard to break the mental cycle, that need to read every article, to know moment by moment the reactions on the ground, but I had to pull myself away, to give myself that sense of separation, the wait-and-see to find out what really happened instead of the rumor and fear-mongering and hearsay.

I am still avoiding the pictures and videos. I will continue to do so. They don’t deserve the power we give them. Instead I will continue to pray for the victims, and remember Romans 12:21.

Do not be overcome by evilbut overcome evil with good.