Monday, March 30, 2009

Agency Wars. M16 Agent #78930. Shaken, Not Stirred.

Stoker told me last week he'd gotten a little something for my birthday and asked me to not look at the bank account. I thought, Ok, he's gotten me a book, or a video game, or tickets to the soccer game. Because it was a little something.

So the little something he gave me last Friday turned out to be an Ipod Touch. Excellent present and I haven't been able to stop caressing it and downloading apps and playing games on it. We're Verizon users and will never switch to AT&T and thus the Iphone is useless to me. But the Touch works for us. Stoker has one as well.

I'm addicted to Agency Wars.

It's a role playing game where you pick an agency, CIA, M16, KGB or one from a variety of others that I'd never heard of until yesterday, and then you go on missions for the agency. You earn money and buy weapons and sell weapons to other real life players. If you have the Iphone, you can apparently go to real time locations for missions--I assume it's all legal and whatnot ha ha ha. I played it for too many hours yesterday and I'm embarrassed about it, and all I have to show for it is that I'm a level 13.

One of the first things I did was try to attack Jungmaster, a level twenty million or something. As you can probably imagine, there was really no contest. He had some outrageous gun and I think I only had a measly handgun or something (in the game guns are one-offs, like a WaltheN PPK). Jungmaster won the fight and then of course he had to turn around and teach me a lesson by actually KILLING me. And it did teach me a lesson. Thereafter I only attacked other agents who were a level or two below me. Unfair, but I need the money and experience in order to rise in the ranks (new goal, reach level 30 million and kill Jungmaster).

It's not personal, it's business.

Others have attacked me and some of them have won. But I add them to my hitlist and if I ever surpass them in weaponry or by leveling, I get my revenge. Oh yes, I get revenge, my friend.

The interface of the game resembles one of those blue screen type programs you always see in detective/FBI/24 type shows. I doubt the real-life databases look like that (who knows?), but it lends an air of sophistication to the game despite reality, and in some ridiculous, romantic part of your brain, you feel like you COULD be a government spy engaging in espionage and other James Bond tom-foolery without actually being in danger. So you get all the good part of the fantasy sans the threat of death or torture. In short, I feel that the game rocks.

Yes. All morning I've been devising a way to get to a free WiFi location so I can check on my status. It seems that while offline, others can attack your agent and steal your money (JERKS!). What comes around goes around. Anyone who messes with me will be dealt with, I assure you.

On a different note, my main criticism is that their server kicks me off quite often. I could forgive this if the game was free (like Guild Wars), but since the full game is not free, I can't forgive it. Another improvement would be to enhance the in-game selling feature. To sell to other players, you simply list your price then the item disappears from your inventory. If the item is ever sold, the amount appears in your account. But you never hear for sure, and since you're constantly making money, it's hard to be certain if you've ever sold the item.

Anyway, as you can see the game is quite enthralling. For me anyway.

Add me (other agents know what that means. If you're not already an agent, become one and add me)*.

*What it means is that in the game, to do certain harder missions, you have to have a number of contacts. It's hard to make contacts because for some ridiculous reason, you can only add them with the agent number (or some other intrusive way like with an email address). Basically you have to go online and advertise your agent number in some way. So get the game and add me. And then we can do joint missions. Cassi, this means you.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Looking for a Scene from Superman, I Find Death Cab for Cutie

I was thinking of downloading "Can You Read My Mind" because I'm almost 31 and old people such as myself like that kind of song, even though as a child we ridiculed it. But I agree. I mean, I'd wonder if Superman could read my mind too.

I wanted to watch the scene when Superman tells Lois that he has X-Ray vision because it seems like he tells Lois she's wearing pink underwear, but maybe I'm making that up. And I've always thought it ridiculous that Lois would wear pink underwear, if indeed it's true. Only dorks wear pink underwear. Pink is the worst color in the world unless it is part of the sunset, the sunrise, or in a flower (including blossoms). And I will sometimes make exceptions for really masculine men wearing pink, just because I find the contradiction appealing.

All I could find was this cool video. And I admit it, it gave me chills. Good love stories are enduring, right? I mean Superman gives up his powers to be with the woman he loves. You can't not let yourself be a little bit melted to think of that kind of sacrifice. Love is only gorgeous when it has made sacrifices. Indulgent love, love that has compromised its values for itself is hideous. I guess in that case it's not really love because real love IS sacrifice.

Anyway, this video was cool. I've no idea the true author, thanks to the endless chain of youtube copycats, but whoever did the editing made sure it was beautiful.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Recently Read: Posts from Goodreads Reviews "Chekhov: Selected Stories"

There's something about Chekhov. I remember reading a review or an essay about him in The New Yorker a long time ago, back when I read the New Yorker (I don't anymore, pretentious jerks ha ha ha), and I remember finding it interesting. But I assumed that Chekhov would be a stuffy old bookish writer whose work I would find boring. And then I began reading, recently, some of Anna Karenina. Some sort of fever started in me to consume as much Russian literature as possible. So I bought this small used copy of Chekhov's work, the very edition you see here. The first story I read was "The Father." I read it quickly and then I read another story, "Peasants," and I was enthralled by his writing and the portrayals of the Russian people. He has such skill with language and my only regret is that I can't read his work in the original Russian.

At the same time I read A Moveable Feast by Hemingway (an amazing book), and I was very pleased to read his impressions of the Russians. He said of Chekhov that people had told him that Katherine Mansfield wrote great short stories, but once he had read Chekhov, Hemingway realized that Mansfield's stories were the equivalent of an old maid's tales (to recall from memory). One man's opinion. I have not read much Mansfield, but I can say that Chekhov is so widely read for a reason. I love his writing and have bought many more collections of his writing since then.

I'm not a huge fan of the short story genre, necessarily. But if you read his work it feels loosely strung together, a vast mural of the late 19th century Russia. It's quite beautiful.

My favorites so far are "Peasants," "He Understood," "The Dance Pianist,"In Exile," and "A Cure for Drinking."

Recently Read: Posts from Goodreads Reviews "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich"

I loved it, even though I didn't give it five stars. I didn't give it five because at the end I wasn't blown away or something. The end just comes kind of natural like you'd expect, because it's the end of the day. And you know that Ivan is kind of like an animal now, and all he has are days and he doesn't think too hard about the future because if he did, he would go crazy. I've heard that Gulag is a very depressing story, this one is kind of a downer, but not like Gulag, probably. You end up loving Ivan because even amidst this horrible, completely undeserved sentence, he still has a heart and exhibits altruistic behavior.

Sometimes Solzhenitsyn's writing reminds me of Salinger, and I liked that. At times he would speak from this place of "the prisoners, the men" and show their rage at other prisoners who were messing things up for everyone else, or their rage at the injustice and stupidity of the warders. All you can think through the whole book is about how cold it is. Obviously the cold is a strong character, the main element shaping their lives, even stronger than the bastard communist government.

There were loads of things I liked about this story. I like Solzhenitsyn's writing style, although I have to admit I feel weird saying that, knowing he himself was a prisoner and this book was derived from that experience. But it's true, he's a good writer. I ended up liking Ivan, and pretty much all the characters except for Fetyukov, who we're not supposed to like because he's a vulture and a wimp.

I will probably read more of his books because of his skill with words. My big regret is that I can't read Russian and of all possible languages I would choose to learn for the sake of literature, Russian is the language I want to know. I checked it out and Rosetta Stone costs like a million dollars. I'm 30 and my brain is set in stone. Is there any hope?

Recently Read: Posts from Goodreads Reviews "Name of the Wind"

Finished on February 20th:

Very good. I had some criticism but it was minor and based on having studied folklore for my post-grad work. The author does a good job of weaving a story and utilizing language better than most contemporary writers. I liked his style and look forward to the next book.

March 3rd: I have to amend this review. This update comes almost two weeks later. I am still thinking about that blasted Kvothe and what's happened to him. I am planning a way to obtain the next book and read it as quickly as possible. I am making sure my reading schedule will fit it in, still knowing deep inside that all other books shall be set aside to continue the story. I have gone to the author's personal website and read some of his blog entries just to feel like I've somehow been in contact with the world of Kvothe.

p.s. Ordered a first edition hardbound copy, planning to someday meet author at a book signing. Hoping.