Renoir – So Much Time, So Little Substance

I semi-recently celebrated my birthday, and at this time both my mother and I received the gift of a trip to the movies with my aunt (her sister-in-law). She suggested the movie Renoir and it’s been drilled into me that you don’t complain about gifts so I essentially smiled and pretended it was as awesome a gift as the ones that actually took my personality into account at all. I’m nice that way. I privately ranted to my fiancé that I find such gifting rude, but I was going to be a good sport about it all.

The movie, for those unfamiliar, is supposed to follow the later days of the painter Renoir and his son who went on to become the filmmaker Renoir. I’m passingly familiar with the former, not really at all with the latter. Specifically, the movie was supposed to deal with their experiences as a new model comes into Renoir Sr.’s life. In itself, this premise isn’t flawed, and could probably have made a very decent movie. Unfortunately, it didn’t.

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Glitch: An Ode to Imagination


This coming Sunday, the world will lose one of the most wonderful things most of it never knew it had. The popularity of Lewis Carrol alone should give a hint as to how fond we as a species are of whimsy, and the sounds zoo visitors make when seeing this year’s crop of baby animals should tip us off as to how prone our heartstrings are to being tugged by anything cute. So why is it that an awesome product that combines the two, and adds the friendliest and most helpful community I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting in a multiplayer game along with some wonderfully quirky (and sometimes hilariously inappropriate) humor to sweeten the deal, is meeting a tragic, untimely end?

Glitch is a browser-based massively multiplayer game built around the Flash engine, pushing it way beyond what I would have ever thought possible (and I have dabbled in Flash development). In this game, your avatar is a small humanoid known as a “glitch”, starting out as being newly-imagined by the Giants whose imagination is the fabric, meat, and potatoes of the world you move around in. As you discover more and more of this wondrous world, you gather up imagination, or iMG, which can be used to purchase upgrades for your character, making it able to learn, run, or harvest faster, or even adding some new skills to your repertoire.  Everything in this world has a soul and personality: the Bean Trees crack awful, forced tree/bean puns; the Sparkly Rocks are incurably full of themselves; and the Butterflies speak in a sometimes painful mixture of text speak and LOLcat-ese.

Your guide in this crazy landscape is a talking magic rock, who pokes his nonexistant nose in now and again to give you quests as you learn new skills or reach new levels. Even the Giants are present in the world of their own imagining, speaking to you through their Shrines, granting you boons through player-created Icons placed outside those same players’ in-game homes, or occassionally popping up to announce this or that, be it grand or sad, to the players who happen to be online at the time.

Glitch encompasses so much more than I could ever hope to describe. It is the first MMO I encounter to have a crafting system that doesn’t require me to lock my character in to a small subset of the available crafts, which in itself pretty much makes it everything I ever asked for in a game. It isn’t afraid to not take itself too seriously, with streets named things like “Axis Denyde” (a street which cannot be accessed through ordinary means, but requires the user to teleport in) and upgrades that do nothing more than make one of the machines used for crafting play metal music as it works. It is set apart by bright, crisp graphics, far from the Real Is Brown aestethic of so many recent games, and if you’re still having trouble spotting the items you’re looking for you need only hit the “I” key on your keyboard and all clickable items will be highlighted in blue and equipped with a name tag until you turn off info mode again. The user interface is friendly, never seeming to contain more or less than you need (even if a few specific actions sometimes feel like they could have done with removing a step), and the icons are, like the game graphics, bright and crisp.

The game is not perfect, and like any other media has its drawbacks. The most notable one is probably the platform that makes it so appealingly pick-up-and-play – while I can log in on any computer, log into my account and instantly pick up where I left off, no downloads necessary (unless for some reason Flash hasn’t been installed on that machine yet, but how often does that happen?), it is not compatible with data pads or smartphones that do not have Flash support (so the iPad and iPhone are right out), and it does have Flash’s well-known bloating problems to contend with. This does necessitate reloading the game or even the browser now and again, how often seeming to depend on exactly where you’ve been, what you’ve been doing, and what you’ve seen there. While most of the game can be played alone, some quests require involving other people, something that I, who don’t like interacting too much with people I don’t know, sometimes find intimidating.

And, of course, the game contains virtually no conflict. If you equate MMO with PvP or fighting baddies, you’re probably going to find it limiting.

Overall, though, Glitch is such a good game that I can’t decide whether I regret having encountered it. Because while it may be better to have loved and lost, finding this game was a feeling much like coming home for the first time, and getting so little time at the hearth before my home is torn down and I’m back out on the street is something that is going to hurt for a long time.

I hold on to a tiny sliver of hope that one day, Glitch can be back, and I can return to the loving home I’d never known I was missing.

Until then, I will miss it. How NOT to Do Christmas Recommendations

As I was looking up an order I’d recently placed, I noticed the online game store I’d ordered my new toys from had added a feature to suggest Christmas gifts based on three parameters: sex, age, and maximum cost. I will admit I didn’t have high hopes for this feature from the moment I saw it, but I figured it couldn’t get worse than comically stereotypical and gave it a spin, just for laughs, asking it for recommendations for girls over 18, at a max price of 1000 SEK – basically, what did the feature think I should enjoy?

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Oh My? Apple Pie!

I live on a pretty strict food budget, but even that budget does have space for the occassional treat. Twice that treat has been the single-serving cup of Ben & Jerry’s “Oh My! Apple Pie!” flavor that’s available in ice cream freezers near the checkouts in a lot of stores. Since Ben & Jerry’s is pretty pricey as ice cream goes, I had rather high expectations of this frozen treat, expectations that weren’t quite met. (Ben & Jerry’s is also the only ice cream with “bits” in it I’ll eat.) The container contains apple pie flavored ice cream, pieces of apple, and pie crust crumbs, and I’m going to look at how they contribute to the whole:

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Carnia Lynx Litter – A Dust-Free Blessing or Pure Shit?

I have owned indoor cats for some four years or so by now, starting with a tortoiseshell mutt that was getting harassed by the other outdoor cats at my parents’ farm, and then moving on to ragdolls. In this time, I’ve primarily used two kinds of litter, with a third coming into play for my ferret’s litter boxes (since clumping litter is out of the question for him) and for the cats’ show cages (since clay-based litter can stain white paws and both my girls have white paw markings). I relatively recently made the switch from EverClean Multicat (with the occasional venture into other varieties of EverClean) to Carnia Lynx, a Swedish cat food manufacturer that also markets litter, and due to having very limited experience with other litters, most of this review will be something of a compare-and-contrast between EverClean and Carnia.

When evaluating clumping litters, the most important factors for most people seem to be clumping ability, odor absorption, and the “mileage” you can get out of a set amount. To a lesser extent, price will probably also factor in. Since I suffer from asthma, primarily reacting to particles in the air (I do not have a dust allergy, but dust acts as a very strong mechanical irritant to my respiratory system), and I keep my cats’ litterbox in my bedroom out of necessity, the amount of dust generated when cleaning or refilling the litterbox is another strong argument for me, which may not matter as much to other owners.

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Den inbillade sjuke – Moliére at Marsvinsholm

I had the fortune of being invited along to Ystads Stående Teatersällskap’s open-sky show at Marsvinsholm Castle this past weekend; the show they’re giving this summer is a modernization of Moliére’s The Imaginary Invalid. These shows are a recurring summer event, held on a stage in the castle park, and typically people will either bring their own picnic baskets or order ahead for one, as part of the show experience.

I was anticipating having some trouble sitting through the whole show, as I have a tendency to get antsy when I need to sit still with nothing to do but watch for an extended amount of time, especially since I didn’t find the last show I went to there (somewhere upwards of two decades ago) particularly captivating. I could not have been more wrong!

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Creatopia: lots of functions in a… not-so-small package

Xyron’s Creatopia is, basically, an attempt to make an all-in-one craft station. By inserting different components into the base machine, it can add adhesive to items, laminate, cut, emboss, or die-cut; basically everything a paper crafter would need, in one handy package. Its handiness is somewhat reduced by having to remove and replace the components to change the machine’s functionality, but this is a relatively easy process that can only get easier as one gets familiarized with it.

I purchased mine as a birthday gift for myself, and ended up receiving it in the mail a full month early. I bought it in large part for the die-cutting capability, heartened by reports that it’s supposed to take practically any manufacturer’s dies. I’ll go over the different components that were included in my starter kit plus the die-cutting component which I received as a gift from a relative. The one functionality that gets left out, this way, is the laminate, which I’m happy enough to either borrow a heat laminator for or manually use self-adhesive plastic for, so I’m unlikely to purchase the component.

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PY Hobby Scrapbooking: friendly online craft vendor

I am not (yet) someone who would call herself a scrapbooker. I’m fascinated with the results, especially those that are purely artistic as opposed to more traditional photo pages, but as of yet it still hasn’t quite “clicked” for me. I do, however, have a deep love for crafting in general, and have recently gotten into ATCs (Artists’ Trading Cards), for which I wanted to borrow some techniques and get myself some papers, glue, and other assorted odds and ends. It was while searching for a particular set of paper, which I’d first run across by chance on an auction site (where I got outbid to a point where it no longer seemed worth the fuss), that I ran across PY Hobby.

It’s a fairly simple store, layout-wise, which carries a varied but in some categories somewhat limited stock of craft supplies that might become useful for a scrapbooker. The shopping process is similarly simple-but-utilitarian, with a couple of nice shopping cart functions such as a counter for how far off you are from reaching e.g. the free shipping level. Aside from the shop, there’s also a fairly sizeable inspiration section on the site.

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Smokey Steak & Bacon Melt: full of sensational flavor!

My food budget any given month is around $75 US; I don’t eat out often – once every few months, at most, at a guess. When I do splurge by letting someone else prepare my food for me, Subway is one of my prime choices – it’s relatively cheap and a 6″ sub is enough to leave me quite satisfied. Normally, because I am very reluctant to part with my cash, I’ll spring for the Sub of the Day, but I just so happened to end up in a Subway before 10 am, when all subs were this price.

I smell an excellent opportunity to try their current Limited Edition creation – a sub that normally outpriced any other sandwich in the store.

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Draykon: A journey to a wondrous realm in upheaval

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll start out by saying this: I don’t read many e-books. In fact, I try to avoid them; I dislike reading on the screen. Charlotte E. English’s Draykon, much like the other two or three e-books I’ve read in semi-recent years, I aquired through LibraryThing‘s Early Reviewer or Member Giveaway programs. I only request books whose premise I find so intriguing it makes me willing to look past their primary failure: being pixels on a screen.

The story follows two characters: the pathologically shy jeweller Llandry, and the powerful High Summoner Evastrany Glostrum. Though the two come from different worlds – Eva from a country kept in perpetual darkness by sorcerers, and Llandry from another which never sees anything other than daylight by similar means. Through a chance discovery of Llandry’s, their paths and adventures get interwoven, largely without their knowledge, and the story progresses with alternating chapters showing how each of their worlds are slowly ripped apart by the ripples created by Llandry’s remarkable but accidental find.

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