Thursday, 24 July 2014

Apocalypse Parteh via Polyvore

Apocalypse Parteh

Apocalypse Parteh by nightxade

The end of the world does not mean the end of sexiness. I can survive just fine with corsets, tight jeans and thigh high boots. And pouches. You can never have too many pouches. Also, I owned a katana long before Michonne ever showed up. #HipsterApocalypse 

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Preparing for the Inquisition


My finger is hovering over the pre-order button for Dragon Age: Inquisition, but being a responsible adult, I have not yet committed. It will happen though. No matter how much Bioware has hurt me with tri-coloured endings, missing Wardens and almost everything else about Dragon Age 2, I just can’t quit them. It certainly doesn’t help that they know all the right buttons to push. And by that I mean companions.

Aside from the fact that Bioware is fully embracing the concept of DiversityTM and Strong Female CharactersTM, and totally standing behind their choices, with team members openly shutting down the bigots, their NPCs are always just … awesome. And Bioware knows it.

Subject Zero convinced me to play Mass Effect, thanks to her teaser:
She might not seem like much more than an angry woman child looking to rage out on anything in her way, but getting to know her meant that, by the time I met up with her again in Mass Effect 3, she had made mama so damn proud.

Bioware’s characters are so wonderfully nuanced. Layers upon layers, with rich histories and connections that players can only truly learn by taking the time to talk to them and to listen to what they have to say. Reading their bios isn’t good enough. You have to truly hang out with them to appreciate them. That doesn’t mean players are meant to like all of them. That’s the best part – the characters are so realistic in their quirks and their flaws that everyone can relate to them in some way, for better or for worse. Making the effort to get to know the NPCs can lead to some of the games best moments, and because of Bioware’s obsession with ChoiceTM, the NPCs reactions and interactions can be completely different from playthrough to playthrough, revealing even more about them.

I’m currently playing SWTOR as much for the class stories, as for the companions related to each class. Unfortunately, there are limitations to the amount of interaction the player gets with each of the five companions, but I grasp at those little tidbits of goodness, and am sad when my companions run off on their own personal missions, but don’t invite me along.

It’s fun to compare the companions from one Bioware game to another, because the writers have clearly developed a framework of their own special archetypes. The child-like apprentice-type, who isn’t as na├»ve as they seem to be. The anarchist. The mother figure. The eager to please. The uncaring. Archetypes typically found in other media as well, but Bioware seems to have developed and branded their own little twists.

Bioware also knows that some of us (lol we are the 99%) are here for the pixelated romance. How many times have I vowed not to romance Alistair, but end up falling for this every time? So why fight it? In fact, with the introduction of Dragon Age: Inquisition’s Dorian Pavus, I am, for the first time ever, making plans to make my legacy character a male. You don’t understand how major a decision this is. Because boys are yucky. They can be nice to look at, but if I have the choice, I prefer to create female characters. I suppose the simple answer is that, being a female, I relate better to female characters. The simpler answer is that, if I’m going to be staring at the same character for 100 hours, I want it to be appealing to my eyes – which leads to the simplest answer: boobies.

Dorian Pavus by Ymirr
But Dorian Pavus fascinates me. I’m not *just* making a male NPC *just* so I can bed the rebellious Tevinter mage, but I know that romance options means even more opportunity to get to know the characters. I’ve also already planned out the rest of my main team, which will be comprised of the following:

Vivienne: Because she is fabulous and will mountain climb in heels because fuck you.

Iron Bull: Because the kossith have developed over the years and we’ve gotten to see them from the more rigid qunari religious aspect. I expect lots of interesting dynamics between him and Dorian, since the kossith have a long history of animosity with the Tevinter.

I’m leaning toward a mage for my first character, though I haven’t spent too much time exploring the class options. I’m more interested in the party dynamics. My second will likely be a rogue, a class I’ve learned to appreciate since Dragon Age: Origins and have honed in Skyrim. This one will likely be a kossith female and I’ll definitely have Cole in party, at least for a few minutes. I know Cole from the book Asunder and was so pleased when he was announced. He’s a ghost of sorts, with physical form that is forgotten if you move away from him, and I’m curious to see how his story continues here.

Save for the latest book, The Masked Empire, I’m all caught up on my back stories, which I know will play into the game. Non-lore hunters won’t be hurt by not reading all the surrounding materials, but for me, it’s almost necessary. When such effort is put into creating a world with such depth, why wouldn’t you go beyond simply killing all the things with fire.

Not that I won’t be killing all the things with fire, mind. I just haven’t paid much attention to the game mechanics. It’s not my main point of interest, and considering I’ve struggled through games with awful and even glitched mechanics just for story purposes (and Kreia), I’m really not worried about Dragon Age: Inquisition causing me any more stress.

Now all I need is Prince to show up in Orlais, and all will be well in my world.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Penny Dreadful Quotes

via Penny Dreadful Quotes

There are many reasons why I have come to like Showtime's Penny Dreadful, not the least of which is the magic of its writing. Some of my favourite quotes...

***

Vanessa: Your father loves you very much and would do anything to save you. But I love you in a different way. I love you enough to kill you.

Dorian: I suppose we all play parts.
Ethan: What's yours?
Dorian: Human.

Vanessa: Is it poisonous?
Dorian: Like all beautiful things, I hope so.

Dorian: What does it say to you?
Vanessa: Touch me with your finger, softly. My scent on your neck. Open your lips. Taste.

Victor: You seek to threaten me with death? If you seek to threaten me, threaten me with life.

Caliban: I learned to stay in the shadows. To protect such a heart as this you gave me.

Ethan: Do you believe in God?
Sembene: I believe in everything.

Vanessa: I think, Mr. Gray, there are... tremors around us. Like the vibrations of a note of music. Hidden music. Some might be more attuned to them than others. What do those people do, those who have been chosen?
Dorian: They endure uniqueness.
Vanessa: To be alien. To be disenfranchised from those around you, is that not a dreadful curse?
Dorian: To be different, to be powerful... is that not a divine gift?
Vanessa: To be alone.
Dorian: To be seeking.
Vanessa: What?
Dorian: Another.
Vanessa: Like you.
Dorian: Who shares your rarity.
Vanessa: Then you are no longer unique.
Dorian: Nor are you alone.

Dorian: Photographs are so ironically impermanent. They capture one moment in time to perfection. A painting can capture eternity.

Dorian: You have exceptional composure.
Vanessa: Do I?
Dorian: Poise, I mean.
Vanessa: Control.
Dorian: Yes. What if you were to abandon this?
Vanessa: I couldn't.
Dorian: Why?
Vanessa: There are things within our soul that can never be unleashed.
Dorian: What would happen if they were?
Vanessa: They would consume us, we would cease to be and another would exist in our place, without control. Without limits.

Vanessa: Don't ask permission. If you want to do a thing, do it because it is your desire, not my allowance. You must risk rejection.

Victor: I believe in a place between Heaven and Hell. Between the living and the dead. A glorious place of everlasting rebirth, perhaps even salvation. Do you believe in such a place? Well, there is a price to pay for such a passage. As there is with all things. I know that you'll pay it easily.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Soul binder

To raise the dead is to wield power over the soul. Not the souls of the dead, mind you. To raise a dead thing—to animate the flesh to do your bidding—is to give them a piece of your own soul. Your essence becomes the spark that sustains them and binds them to your will. You see, the souls of the dead do not tarry, but when summoned, whatever remains entwines with the necromancer’s own like black webs seeking, clinging to the life once known. Look into the eyes of the dead and you may yet see that fleeting glimmer of life. But is it the shadow of the dead soul you see, summoned back from the abyss? Or is it the soulspark of the necromancer on which the undead thing feeds? Perhaps something else entirely has been pulled through the veil, for even the most learned necromancer does not truly know what lurks beyond death itself.

Summoning the departed is the most intimate of rituals. In an instant, you will know them—know what they were when they lived. It is as if you wear their skin like it were not quite your own. You feel the echo of a once beating heart, the feather touch of ghost blood flowing through veins, hear the whispers of their thoughts, their dreams, their memories. An unskilled mage should never attempt to raise the newly dead, for all of these things are too close to the surface, waiting to draw you down. Often, the newly dead have not yet come to accept that they no longer have a place amongst the living but by the necromancer’s command. They are the most difficult to control for their appetite for life can be voracious, consuming a novice necromancer whole and leaving only an empty wraith in their place. Such a creature must be destroyed, for they are a void—a breach in the veil through which the dead can cross unbidden.

A necromancer proves their true skill, not in who or how many they can summon back from the final darkness, but in how many they can release before the dead souls bind to their own, nibbling away at the life that sustains them. But even the dead that are released—through destruction or by the necromancer’s command—still take something of their master back with them into the depths.

That is, if the necromancer chooses to release them at all…

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Screaming about Banshee

Sometimes all it takes to get me hooked on a new obsession is the smallest taste. Tease me with striking visuals, and I'll make a trip to the comic book store. Whisper me an enticing quote, and I will just-one-more-chapter a book into the small hours of the night. Lure me in with a fascinating character, and I'll sell my soul to Bioware.

The latter is how I came to meet Job, thanks to a friend who knows my buttons and can feed my addictions.

Banshee isn't about Job, though Job is fucking awesome. It's about Lucas Hood. Actually, it's about the guy who, after leaving prison, escaping one of the best chases scenes ever, getting into a bar fight that results in dead bad guys and a dead sheriff, takes the new sheriff's badge and name and makes himself comfy in the town of Banshee, where the love of his life and former partner-in-crime, and daughter of the incredibly dangerous mob boss, Rabbit, is trying to hide from their past. Throw in the threat of Rabbit's return due to some missing diamonds and a few vendettas, animosity between the various cultural groups residing in and around town, including Amish and First Nations, and you get a big soup of amazing television.

Sordid details aside, this show is just the perfect example of excellent storytelling combined with amazing acting and cinematography. The latter reminds me of some of my favourite Steven Soderbergh scene work, particularly in Out of Sight. Movement is often cut or stuttered, with scenes transitioning almost like panels in a comic book. It knows the value of heating a moment with silence, allowing the actors to ground scenes in raw emotion right down to the very last second (read: stay for the credits).

Unlike Out of Sight, Banshee is not subtle. Or rather, it is subtle in many, many ways, but not when it comes to sex and violence. But unlike the sex and violence in some shows on some stations that are all about viewer ratings first, neither is about mere titillation. Every scene in Banshee serves a purpose to advance the story and characters, not just to entertain. This is a bit surprising to me, since Banshee comes from creators of True Blood, a show that seems only to serve that purpose, and, with its last season upon us, appears to have forgotten the entire concept of storytelling altogether. Anyway, Banshee literally pulls no punches when it comes to its violence, with Lucas Hood at the forefront as a sheriff ready to solve every case with his fists.

These fights are not for the squeamish. They are very realistic and often leave me cringing. But they are true to the characters--because Hood isn't the only one capable of such violence. There are a number of characters who can hold their own, sometimes quite surprisingly--and the show never fails to deliver when it unleashes them. But I stress, every fucking and every fucking up is pivotal. And some of them have even left me in tears because of the heart and soul behind them, which we learn even as the blood flies. I particularly love the way many of these scenes are shot, with some of them juxtaposed against others. The latter link in particular is amazing for so many reasons that I can't get into because SPOILARZ! But if you choose not to clicky, I will reveal that it features two of the main female characters in separate battles, dealing with their shit.

Because, like I said, everyone can hold their own in Banshee. Everyone has their issues, their vulnerabilities, their strengths. And it is so incredible to see an ensemble cast where everyone is on equal footing, with the women not having to be called out as kick ass GRRL POWER. They simply are, like the men, doing what they have to do in the situations they are given or get themselves into.

Following my season one binge, I discovered Banshee Origins, vignettes providing a tiny peek into the history behind the characters. More shows need to do origin episodes like this--but only if they understand the power of "less is more," like Banshee does.

Hmmm... and now I see that IDW Publishing has taken the Banshee Origins phenomenon one step further with a comic book. Do I dare take my obsession to the next level? I'm actually of two minds about this because, while I do want to know more, the magic of Banshee is in what it doesn't tell or show. Even with the Origins shorts, there is only just enough to make you be like oooooooh, while still leaving the mystery firmly in place.


I shall report in anon.

Oh, almost forgot to mention the soundtrack. A lot of shows use music to set a scene, and Banshee isn't unique in that. But since the show is already doing everything right for me, it's not surprising that my music box is frequently getting an update. The latest? "Hope" by Abi Wade.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

For fashion

One of my favourite games is DCUO. Why? Is it because of the story? The gameplay? The opportunity to kick Aquaman’s ass, even as a hero? The answer is yes to those things, but the best part of the game for me is customization.

And by that I mean fashion.

My gaming sessions in DCUO always began with a costume change, and a few moments of strutting. When I stopped playing that, I moved on to City of Heroes, where I could create all sorts of unique characters, each with their own costume change options to go with their fancy powers.

City of Heroes
Saints Row IV
And time spent with the Saints never begins without an all important, reputation building clothing change (and a restock on bullets).

In MMOs in particular, we’re going to be dealing with these characters for a significant amount of time, so why shouldn’t their appearance please us? Call me superficial, but if I’m going to save or destroy the world, I need to look damn good doing it. I appreciate that many games have come to understand this, such as the upcoming Dragon Age: Inquisition, which will give me Vivienne, a companion after my own heart who will mountain climb in a ball gown and heels because fuck you.

For the games that don’t understand this very important need, creative and talented fans save me in the form of mods.
Dragon Age II
I may or may not have been inspired to play a certain game specifically because of its mod options. It’s amazing how much mods can improve an otherwise bland character appearances and attire. (Yes, this is part of the reason why I have little to no interest in playing TESO. It’s just not pretty enough.) But when a game lets me look fabulous without having to spend hours searching through Nexus for the perfect outfit to install, I am a very happy gamer.
Skyrim
Don’t look at me like I’m being all girly girl and ruining gaming for boys. I know many males who take just as much pride in the appearance of their characters. Do you honestly believe the consistently lucrative market for dyes and the high cost of armour skins in Guild Wars 2 is controlled only by females?
Guild Wars 2
SIDE NOTE: As much as I appreciate the current fashion options in the Guild Wars 2, I am disappointed in the limited facial and hair customization in comparison to its predecessor. Because this is how you culture:
Guild Wars
Tera
While I may have played Tera mainly because of those outfits (one of which my Skyrim high elf is sporting, above), I’m not *just* about boob windows and thigh high boots. I do at least consider important things like stats. Thanks to Final Fantasy XI, I have earned my right to complain about bad outfits after a decade of swapping out fancy armour for ugly armour (seriously, that hat looks like a condom) to ensure my debuffs stuck, to fastcast a nuke, or to maximize crits on a weaponskill.

And I usually keep my outfits mostly lore friendly, save for when I’m playing fuck-the-lore characters who do whut they want, such as my insane little City Elf in Dragon Age: Origins and her Legend of the Seeker posse. At least she and Alistair are actually wearing Grey Warden gear, which is ironic since there is no actual Grey Warden gear in the game about Grey Wardens unless you mod it.
Dragon Age: Origins
Ugly outfits were my bane in SWTOR. I love so many things about this game that I’ve recently returned to, but the armour designs? Not so much. Did Bioware not see how many times Amidala changed her clothes in the movie? Fashion is part of the lore! Fortunately, updates over the past while have dealt with this, proving lots of adaptive armour options that players can play with, along with dyes to ensure everything matches perfectly.

I am blessed with friends who understand this and will virtually walk through fire to help me fashion, as I would do for them. And even though my husband mocked me when I reported the two hours, 750 Cartel Coins and 500k credits I’d spent last night on redesigning and outfitting my Sith Assassin, he did so out of love and irony. Because he knows. He understands. And he totally crafts his own armour so that he can look awesome too.
Worth it.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

BREAKING NEWS: @digitaltempest and @nightxade missing, presumed dead

Image captured by Google Street View
A tragic car accident has finally claimed the lives of Wendy and Tiara, better known in the underworld, Thedas, and most of outer space as Nightxade and Digitaltempest, respectively. Their silver MAKO was found at the bottom of a cliff early this morning. While no bodies were found in the flaming wreckage, they are presumed dead or transcended.

Witnesses claim that their vehicle was swerving erratically all over the road, before mounting a steep, rocky incline and bouncing over the edge of a cliff. Evidence suggests that Nightxade had been the one behind the wheel. Alcohol is not considered a factor.

“They were just going out for french fries,” lamented Digitaltempest’s husband in an interview. Nightxade’s husband shook an angry struggle fist at reporters and otherwise  refused to comment.

Mothers and office workers by day, the pair frequently moonlighted as bounty hunters, assassins, superheroes, and members of Ryan Hardy’s Secret Taskforce (RHST) for the right price. Police have not ruled out foul play and/or Cerberus Rogue Faction involvement due to the nature of the women’s extra curricular activities.

Nightxade was recently arrested for the alleged use of blood magic, and Digitaltempest was up on charges for renegade punching a client. Their charges were dismissed after they thwarted a gathering of Joe Carroll’s followers, taught the Sith how to change lightbulbs, found where the whores have gone, and saved the galaxy from a reaper invasion by talking down Harbinger.

DT leaves behind a son and daughter, whom Google has since taken custody of, as per their recent contractual agreement. Nightxade’s first born daughter has been sworn to Bioware, but Marvel and Steam are both claiming paternal rights over the second daughter.

Their last will and testaments are currently under review, but their respective nephews have each laid claim to the Steam libraries and gaming laptops and accessories that both women have left behind.

Condolences can be reblogged on Tumblr with appropriate reaction GIFs. The family asks that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Nightxade and Digitaltempest's favourite charity, Children of EEZO.

Monday, 3 March 2014

RoboCop Rebooted

I’m glad my husband convinced me to watch the original RoboCop last year, so that I would actually have an interest in seeing the reboot. No, that’s not true. When I first saw the trailer for the new RoboCop, I thought, “OMFG fuck you Hollywood and all your fucking reboots. Leave my youth alone!” But then the trailer revealed the presence of BAM. Samuel L. Jackson. BAM. Gary Oldman. BAM. Michael Keaton. Fine, RoboCop. I’ll watch you, but be warned, I’ll be watching you while I watch you.

I figured it would be a “meh, when it comes on The Movie Network,” kind of movie, but reviews turned out to be surprisingly positive. As in, the reviewers were surprised that they could be so positive. So we surprised the girls with their favourite babysitter and headed out for date night. Still, had we waited a week longer, RoboCop would have been out of luck because I’d have wanted to see 300: Rise of an Empire. For the plot.

Aaanyway, the movie jumped right on in with Samuel L. Jackson as media mogul Pat Novak, loudly proclaiming the ignorance of a United States that refused to use the technology available to protect its people from crime. Cue harrowing scene in Tehran where law enforcing robots intimidate the people, until some of the people rebel. Shots fired. Shit hits the fan.

It set the tone for the movie. This wasn’t going to be the silly violence of the original, but thankfully, it wasn’t a heavy-handed moral-of-the-story machine, either.

This is rated only PG-13, which means very little blood and gore, which pleased me. The original movie was over the top with that, and unless you have ample naked and rippling flesh to balance that (I’m looking at you again, 300 … heeeey ;) then I’m not so much interested in the gratuitous violence, though I'm sure diehard fans of the original aren't happy. I know the reason for a PG-13 rating is mainly marketing – as in, maximizing the audience and making it possible for nostalgic parents to take their kids along.

I thought RoboCop 2014 paid great homage to its predecessor, not just in name, with Michael Keaton playing the role of not-so-nice businessman, Raymond Sellars. It was, in many ways, a reflection of the previous, with each element updated to suit our time. There were differences, of course. Namely in the focus on making Murphy more human @1. The original RoboCop required intrusive flashbacks to eventually get his memory and thereby his humanity back. The 2014 version opts to keep Murphy’s humanity – complete with the feels that Joel Kinnaman portrays very well (which diehard fans also might not appreciate so much because OMG MAN TEARS!). His wife and child play an active role in this maintaining the humanity process, making it all the more horrible when Gary Oldman’s Dr. Norton is forced to remove the last pieces of his humanity after an ill-timed malfunction.

From there, it’s not entirely clear why Murphy ends up reverting back to his old self. We just have to accept the wife and child triggers, as well as Dr. Norton’s say so. It leaves the final showdown a bit wanting, especially considering how it previously ended, but it's not enough for me to complain too much.

In fact, my only significant disappointment turned out okay in the end. I had really liked that Murphy had a female partner in the original and she wasn’t automatically a sex object or love interest BECAUSE VAGINA. Ann Lewis was his partner, loyal to the core. She had his back as he had hers. Murphy’s partner is male now, played by Michael K. Williams, and initially, he doesn't seem to have a whole lot to do with the focus so squarely on a very efficient Murphy, but when Murphy really needs him, Jack Lewis is there, as solid as a woman rock.

Oh I was also disappointed in K.C. Collins’ character because OMG Hale you can’t be a bad cop! This is not going to go over well with the Light Fae at ALL.

Overall, even though I wasn’t invited to reprise my role as Business Woman #3, I was very pleased with this reboot. While I would still appreciate if Hollywood at least tried to tell new stories, I’m okay with reboots and remakes if an effort is made to understand why the original failed or succeeded. As long as there is a clear attempt to do a good job, as opposed to merely make a buck by making things explode (lookin’ at you, Michael Bay), then I suppose I can live with a trend that apparently will never go away.