I'm glad I sprung for the hardcopy of this for two reasons: one, I like to mark up my nonfiction, and two, its formatting! The left-hand page in every two-page spread is text; the right-hand page has an illustration related to the material on the left-hand page. While the illustrations are not technically the most accomplished, they are generally extremely effective communicative cartoons or diagrams.
This book comes with a ton of blurbs, and Cory Doctorow's--"Does for games what Understanding Comics [by Scott McCloud] did for sequential art"--pretty much sums up how I feel. I've read other game design books that were insightful, or thorough, but the Koster is accessible and very interesting in its approach to what makes games games, and how to make them fun (in the instances where that's a thing--cf. Brenda Romero's Train).
One of Koster's arguments is that "with games, learning is the drug" (40)--a game that interests us is one that strikes the necessary balance of not too easy (Tic-Tac-Toe, for most adults) and not too hard (multiple failure modes possible, depending on the individual--witness me and chess or go ). He suggests that games (and play, which is common in a lot of young animals!) are an artifact of how we try to learn survival skills, and moves forward into making suggestions as to how to move the form forward into values/skills more suitable for the modern era than "kill things" or "jump over things" or "search for all the things."
 Joe gave up on teaching me go when I told him I have severe difficulty with visual patterns. In fact, I am starting to wonder if aphantasia just screws me over for this kind of game in general. :p
There's also a particularly interesting chapter on ethics and entertainment where he discusses the difference between the game system and the flavor/dressing:
The bare mechanics of a game may indeed carry semantic freighting, but odds are that it will be fairly abstract. A game about aiming is a game about aiming, and there's no getting around that. It's hard to conceive of a game about aiming that isn't about shooting, but it has been done--there are several gmaes where instead of shooting bullets with a gun, you are instead shooting pictures with a camera. (170)
The bare mechanics of the game do not determine its meaning. Let's try a thought experiment. Let's picture a mass murder game wherein there is a gas chamber shaped like a well. You the player are dropping innocent victims down into the gas chamber, and they come in all shapes and sizes. There are old ones and young ones, fat ones and tall ones. As they fall to the bottom, they grab onto each other and try to form human pyramids to get to the top of the well. Should they manage to get out, the game is over and you die. But if you pack them in tightly enough, the ones on the bottom succumb to the gas and die.
I do not want to play this game. Do you? Yet it is Tetris. (172)
In general, Koster has a background in game design AND writing AND music, and he draws on all three in his analysis of games, as well as other disciplines (e.g. psychology). It makes the book a scintillating read. I can't believe I waited so long to read this--but it was exactly what I wanted to read last week, so hey. Highly recommended.
written by Pax, performed by bienenalster, pax
Summary: "Pub crawl?" Keyleth said.
"Pub crawl," Percy agreed.
written by Poetry, performed by Shmaylor
Summary: The thing about magic is that you can’t do it by yourself. No one person has enough magic in them to do even a minor casting – you need a coven. Parker knew that about magic, which was why she couldn’t trust it.
Cleave (Steven Universe (Cartoon))
written by thingswithwings, performed by susan_voight
Summary: “Tell me a story,” Steven asks, as he shuts his eyes. Garnet, as far as she has the capacity for it, is surprised; Steven is seventeen, and while he still has a tendency towards whimsy, he hasn’t asked for this particular indulgence for years. Not since he was a lot smaller.
Garnet feels a little angry at herself for not having noticed that earlier; she feels regretful, too, that she can never seem to see any part of Steven’s adulthood coming in advance.
Loss In The Night (Harry Potter - J. K. Rowling)
written by luvtheheaven, performed by marsmaywander
Summary: Set at the end of book 5, Hermione finds out from Lupin that Sirius has died. Her grief hits her hard. The conversation about everything that happened in the Department of Mysteries happens while she is in the hospital wing, still recovering from the effects of the Death Eater's purple flame. A few days later, she talks to McGonagall about the loss of Sirius.
Once Upon a Dream (Marvel Cinematic Universe, The Avengers (Marvel) - All Media Types, Iron Man (Movies), Captain America (Movies), Agent Carter (TV))
written by endeni, performed by KeeperofSeeds
Summary: In which Tony meets Steve earlier.
Despite the Abundance of Violence (Captain America (Movies), Iron Man (Movies), Marvel Cinematic Universe)
written by romanticalgirl, performed by Hangebokhan
Summary: Tony is trapped and stripped of his Iron Man suit. He sends out a distress call to Steve and Sam. Someone else answers.
The Short Telephonic History of the Hipster and the Ginger (Dead Poets Society (1989))
written by phonecallfromgod, performed by Chestnut_filly
Summary: “Oh my god, why do none of you answer your phones!? It’s Gin; when are you done with class? I need your second opinion on something. I think Charlie and Steven might have become a meme? I’m not 100% sure but this is starting to look like the best day of my life. Call me back quick!”
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On the down side, it was entirely "how not to fuck up midnight switchover: a guide" since I'm off work for the next two nights and they scheduled two people who don't know what they're doing.
Them feet-folks from York and Leeds that be always eatin' cured herrin's and drinkin' tea an' lookin' out to buy cheap jet would creed aught. I wonder masel' who'd be bothered tellin' lies to them, even the newspapers, which is full of fool-talk.I'm not terribly sure what 'feet' means in this context, and Google isn't helping, even when I put the phrase in quotation marks to rule out ordinary references to feet. Maybe it just means foot-passengers who have come to Whitby on the train? Or might it be Bram's attempt at spelling a local pronunciation of 'fit', and perhaps means something more like 'fine folk' (in a sort of 'fit to be Queen' kind of sense)? If any genuine Yorkshire-born chums have a clue, let me know. If it's a proper dialect word, it will have been something Bram got out of a book on Whitby dialect which we know he used in his research.
[ETA: apparently I wasn't Googling very effectively before. I've found the answer now and my first guess was right: feet-folks are foot-passengers.]
Anyway, I will be going to Whitby myself in just over a fortnight, along with lovely lady_lugosi1313, to join a long weekend event marking the 40th anniversary of the Dracula Society's first official trip to that location. I don't have any particular plans to eat cured herring or drink tea (which I hate), but I won't turn down any nice cheap jet, and I will make a particular point of believing any and all legends of the macabre and supernatural which anyone tells me for the entire weekend - just to annoy Mr Swales.
Dear Mr Derringe
Your direction has been conveyed to me by way of Lady Bexbury, whose offices in the matter had been requested by Mrs Lowndes, sister of Miss Netherne – though I doubt not she is now Mrs Carter? – that so very kindly conveyed news of you.
I am entirely glad to learn that you and Mr Perry did not die of a fever in the South Seas, nor were eaten by cannibals, as some have rumoured, though I mind that you told me that the stories of man-eating were an entire figment, or at least exceeding exaggeration. I hope that you are entire recovered from the fever that brought you under Mr Carter’s care, and that your plans for a school prosper.
Dear Mr Derringe, pray do not distress yourself concerning our marriage that never came to pass: I confide that I too am by no means suited for the matrimonial state. But I assure you, I am now in quite the happiest way of life. Your very fine remarks about David and Jonathan brought to my mind that other remarkable tale of devotion in the Old Testament, that of Ruth and Naomi.
You will recall that my cousin Hester is Countess of Nuttenford – now Dowager Countess of Nuttenford, the late Earl having been fatally savaged by a bear whilst on a botanical expedition in Virginia. I became companion-chaperone to her middle daughter, Lady Emily Merrett, a very fine young woman with no inclination to marriage, while she was keeping house for her brothers, the Countess having been an invalid these many years and gone to reside with her eldest daughter, that had but lately married the Marquess of Offgrange.
The present Earl is now married to a very fine young woman, and has given over to our use one of his smaller estates, Attervale, an exceeding pretty little place if somewhat quaintly old-fashioned. There is a dovecote of considerable antiquity and I have taken to the keeping of these birds. Meanwhile,
dear Em Lady Emily takes to the keeping of hawks, for there is a mews that we suppose originally intended to that purpose - as she also practices archery we might almost be took for some household of the Middle Ages.
There is a very fine orchard and we brew our own cider:
dear Lady Emily’s stepfather, Sir Charles Fairleigh, was most helpful in instructing us in the matter, his own apples and their brewing being highly renowned.
Are you now acquainted with the Thornes and the Carters I confide that you are in a very good antipodean set. The Thornes’ fine humane endeavours for the unhappy convicts are very widely admired in our circles and Lady Bexbury, as I daresay they will have told you, is their benevolent patroness raising interest for them. Their scientific observations are ever attended with the greatest eagerness by savants. I like to think that you will have the opportunity of many fine games of chess with them: I ever regretted that I was by no means up to your mark in the matter.
Is there any service I may do you, I hope that you will always consider me your friend. Please convey my kindest regards to Mr Perry.
In great regard and esteem
Top of the features list is Touch Bar support, enabling owners of compatible MacBook Pros to use the OLED strip with Microsoft Outlook, Excel, and PowerPoint, as well as additional integration for the Windows Start Menu and Desktop, including Cortana, Task View, and Taskbar pinned elements. A Touch Bar Wizard also allows users to customize the Touch Bar and add their favorite Windows applications.
New dynamic resolution support mean users can change the window size of their Windows session, with booting and rebooting speed said to be faster and smoother as a result. Meanwhile, enhanced support for Retina displays should see better scaling of Windows applications on Mac screens.
A new Picture-in-Picture mode aims to let users monitor their virtual machine with ease, while support for the upcoming Windows 10 People Bar promises to allow users to view recent contacts in the Windows Taskbar or Mac Dock.
More generally, Parallels claims over 47 percent faster access to Windows files and documents compared to the previous version, faster file transfers over USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt SSD devices, and up to 32 vCPU and 128GB vRAM per virtual machine with Parallels Desktop for Mac Pro Edition, with code for all new versions optimized for macOS High Sierra (10.13) and Windows 10 Fall Creators Update.
Elsewhere, Parallels claims over 30 new additional tools can be found in version 13 that simplify everyday tasks on Mac and Windows. They include a drive cleaner, video conversion, a file archiver, a GIF creator, a video downloader, Do Not Sleep and Do Not Disturb modes, a Lock Screen, and the ability to temporarily hide files on the desktop, amongst many others.
Parallels Desktop 13 for Mac costs $79.99 for a new license. Existing users of Parallels Desktop for Home and Student can upgrade to V13 for $49.99, with a time-limited offer enabling users of the Desktop Pro Edition to upgrade for the same price (usually $99.99). For more pricing details, see the Parallels website.
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They say that electric car owners have been warned that if they attempt to boil a kettle while charging their car it will blow the fuse:
The National Grid have expressed concerns that an average size 3.5kW battery charger would take 19 hours to fully charge a car battery, even when it is 25 per cent full.
A “thought piece” document obtained by the Financial Times warned that a more powerful 11kW device would still take six hours to charge a car battery and during that time, the use of everyday items such as kettles and ovens would blow the fuse.
“The average household is supplied with single phase electricity and is fitted with a main fuse of 60-80 amps,” the National Grid said.
“If one were to use an above average power charger, say 11kW, this would require 48 amps. When using such a charger it would mean that you could not use other high demand electrical items... without tripping the house's main fuse.”
The National Grid went on to say that most electric cars will require a battery capacity of 90 kilowatt hours (kWh) to make journeys of around 300 miles. It suggests that the ability to travel longer distances without stopping to recharge will be a “must have” if motorists are to abandon petrol or diesel cars.
We await the UK Government investment needed to counter these concerns and to fulfil the vision they have set out.
The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare is a fairytale Regency that blends Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella and Batman.
Seriously. And it’s amazing.
I actually read it twice. The first time I was at home on a Friday night, enjoying a few rum and Cokes and unwinding. Apparently I can have exactly two drinks before I start loving everything and then forgetting I loved it.
I woke up the next morning surprised to see that Drunk Elyse gave it five stars on Goodreads because I didn’t remember the end. I opened it up to a random chapter and was like, “Who the fuck is Trevor?”
So I read it again. But Drunk Elyse was right the first time. The Duchess Deal is full of Feels, and a hero who has his head up his ass, but is not completely oblivious to it. And it’s laugh-out-loud funny.
Emma Gladstone was kicked out of the house by her vicar father when she was found having sex with a young man. She walked all the way to London on a frozen winter night (losing a toe in the process) and pieced her life back together as a seamstress.
When the book opens she’s just completed the wedding dress for the Duke of Ashbury’s bride-to-be; unfortunately the wedding was canceled and Emma shows up at the Duke’s door to demand payment for the dress she spent so much time on.
Ash pays her, and offers her another deal as well. He was horribly wounded when a rocket went off near him at Waterloo, and as a result one side of his body and face is badly scarred. His fiancée broke their engagement off when she saw his injuries, and now he’s torn between wanting to spend his time brooding in the dark and knowing that he still needs an heir.
So he proposes to Emma. Sort of.
He sets the rules:
- They will have sex at night – no lights, no kissing – until she produces an heir.
- She and said heir will then go live in the country completely apart from Ash.
- She will not ask about his scars or touch them or even think about them too hard.
Emma agrees because she doesn’t feel like dying in poverty when she gets old and her eyesight fails and she can’t sew anymore, but she immediately goes about making their marriage an actual partnership rather than the nonsense he’s proposing.
I love it when a hero is being all broody and struggling with his man-feels and the heroine is like, “Right, you can go sulk in the corner if you want, but I’ve got stuff to do.”
He’s all like “Look at my horrible, monstrous visage!” and she’s all, “They’re scars dude, chill the fuck out. You’re upsetting the cat.”
Emma is never appalled or frightened by Ash’s appearance. She accepts it almost immediately and as she begins to fall in love with him, it barely registers. It’s Ash who can’t move past the way he looks.
And while Ash does spend time sulking, he’s still pretty upbeat all the things considered. I got the impression that he liked the idea of being a monster rather than actually being one.
Like the rest of Dare’s books, The Duchess Deal is full of snappy banter and teasing and moments of utter and delightful silliness.
Such as feline interuptus. Emma and Ash are about to consummate their marriage when Ash senses an intruder in the room:
How the devil had someone slipped in?
Never mind, he told himself. That question could wait. The more pressing inquiry at hand was this: How was he going to kill the bastard? He mentally ran through the available weapons in the room. The fireplace poker would be most effective, but was out of reach. The sash of his dressing gown could make a decent garrote, in a pinch.
If needed, he’d fight hand-to-hand. His only concern was keeping Emma safe.
He rolled to his side and came to his knees, putting his body between her and the threat. “You have three seconds to leave the way you came,” he ordered. “Or I vow to you, I will snap your craven, knavish neck.”
The intruder struck first, leaping forward with a fiendish yowl.
Something that felt like a dozen razor-sharp barbs pierced straight through his nightshirt, digging into his shoulder and arm. He gave a stunned shout of pain.
Emma flung back the bedclothes. “Breeches! Breeches, no!”
Claws. Teeth. Hissing.
I don’t think I’ve ever read a romance novel yet where the hero and heroine have been interrupted by their pet, which is wild because I’m pretty sure everyone with a cat or dog has experienced this delight.
I also liked the fact that even though Ash spends a fair amount of time having a pity party for himself, he’s still pretty aware of the people around him and he’s never intentionally hurtful.
In this scene he and Emma are preparing to go to the theatre (a huge step for him):
She remained at the top of the staircase, hesitant. Well, and why wouldn’t she be. She was about to go out in public accompanied by a hideous monster in evening attire. One who flung hats and walking sticks about at random intervals.
“If you’d rather not,” he said, “it’s all the same to me. I’ve a report from the Yorkshire estate to look over.”
“Would you prefer to stay home?”
“Only if you prefer it.”
“I want to go. I should say, I’d hate to waste Mary’s efforts.” She touched a gloved hand to her hair.
What a horse’s ass he was. She wasn’t hesitating because she was concerned about his appearance. She was waiting for him to compliment hers.
A moment later:
Ash offered her his arm, and she took it. He escorted her down the staircase and out to the waiting carriage, mindful of her voluminous skirts, but never pausing. He refused to give any appearance of reluctance.
Tonight, it didn’t matter that he was scarred and hideous and would prefer to hide from society.
Emma deserved to be seen. And this night was for her.
I also liked that there was a really solid foundation for Ash’s Wounded Feels that didn’t come entirely from Ash being self-conscious regarding his scars.
And because we’re not done with the awesomeness, Emma becomes friends with some amazing (slightly eccentric) ladies who live nearby and are clearly sequel-bait. Female friendships FTW.
Now, I bet you’re thinking “But Elyse, you mentioned Batman earlier. Please explain.” When he’s brooding Ash walks the streets at night and, after chasing off some thugs who are robbing a woman, gets named the Monster of Mayfair by the press. The Monster’s nightly appearances get either exaggerated or entirely made up, and earn Ash the affection of a boy who is determined to be Robin to his Batman. It’s all adorable.
So I totally recommend reading The Duchess Deal, but preferably while sober so you can really appreciate all of it. It’s the perfect blend of two of my favorite fairytale tropes, it’s got a hero who never an alpha-hole, it’s funny, and it’s got female friendship. What more could you want?