Category Archives: Off-topic

Another food post?

This is for day 25 of Blaugust

I’m playing catch-up since missing a post on the weekend, so I’ve posted another restaurant review on my food blog. Head on over there if you’d like to read it.

Here’s a sneak peak.

Meringue

My Gaming Spaces

This is for day 23 of Blaugust. (Aah, I’m falling behind!)

This was inspired by a post over at Soul of the Forest in which Ocean shared her gaming spaces. By the way, if you’re looking for a new Resto Druid resource, go check it out. Ocean has written guides and shared Weak Aura strings and good stuff like that.

My gaming area - desk

Here’s my computer desk. It’s just a wee little thing. I could use a bigger one but I don’t really have the space for it (the dog crate takes up the rest of the wall beside it). I use a Razer Chroma keyboard which I really like, and a Razer Naga which I’m looking to replace. The side buttons are sort of wasted on me. I use a Blue Snowball microphone for video voice overs and the occasional podcast. I have two pairs of headphones. I generally use the Beats at the computer, while I use the wireless Playstation ones to play consoles in the living room. I really need a new mousepad – I’ve never even played Black Ops 2. Also, there’s frequently a bad dog hanging out under the desk while I’m sitting at it.

My gaming area - consolesThis is the setup in the living room. Set up here are the XBox One, PS4, PS3, WiiU, Sega Dreamcast, Sega Saturn, X’Eye, NES, and Retron 5. Clearly not enough consoles. We’ve got a 5-way HDMI splitter and an A/V switch so we can plug everything in. There’s also an A/V to HDMI upscaler in the back and my Hauppauge HD PVR Rocket so I can record gameplay.

There’s also a third gaming area in the bedroom. This is where the XBox 360 is, along with a Wii, a(nother) PS3, and a PS2.

Arrested Development footage not found

Organizing Steam

This is day 14 of Blaugust.

Today on Knifesedge Blogs, there was some commentary on organizing Steam. My Steam collection is up to 151 right now (too many), and I use a few custom categories in order to sort everything.

Steam organization - GamesFirst, there’s the defualt – Games.

This has a lot of stuff in it. It includes both games I’m currently playing and games I plan to play sometime in the near-ish future. Games that I continually go back to (like Civ 5 or CS:GO) are in here, though now I’m thinking they should have their own category.

 

 

 

Steam organization - Games 2Next, there’s Games 2. These are the games that I plan on playing… maybe. A lot of them are games I got as part of a bundle that don’t totally spark my interest, but I plan to try them out at some point. Some, like Fallout 1 &2 are games I’ve played before but plan to play again at some point.

Steam organization - HmmThe cleverly named Hmm category is for games I haven’t quite decided if I will play. Some, like Warlock or Syberia, I’ve tried and they didn’t totally catch my interest.  Others I haven’t tried yet.

Steam organization - Go awayGo away houses the games I don’t want to see because I don’t plan to play them, for a variety of reasons. Some I never chose to add to my library, like DOTA, which seems to be forced on all Steam users. Others, like Prison Architect or Face Noir, are games I played a bit of but had no affinity for. And some came from bundles but don’t interest me at all.

Steam organization - FinishedThe Finished category seems pretty self-explanatory. These are finished, done, complete. I beat them, I won. Yay!

Niche

This is my 11th post for Blaugust.

I’ve been having a bit of a blogging identity crisis of late. Actually, it’s been going on for a while. There used to be a clear reason people came to my blog – I had a niche. I was a WoW player. I wrote about resto Druids, and sometimes hunters. I wrote guides on how to heal, tips for boss fights, the odd bit of theorycrafting, or gear advice. I got a fair amount of traffic to these kinds of posts, from search engines, regular readers and people linking to them from forums and such. My Warcraft Logs guide (which is actually up to date) and Resto Druid guide (from way back in MoP) are still, kinda sadly, two of my most popular posts each day.

It’s been a year since I’ve played WoW so, obviously, I don’t have a whole lot to say about it any more. Even in my last year playing Warcraft, I was pretty burnt out and posted sporadically. Over the last few years, my blog traffic has gone down…down…down. I’m a bit of a stats nerd and this graph is pretty depressing:

Cannot be Tamed yearly stats

It’s not so much that my views are low (they’re actually not bad), but the fact that they’ve been steadily dropping for the last 3 years, and dropping by a lot. I know, it’s not about traffic. It’s certainly not about money, as my one google ad I’ve hidden at the bottom of the page so as not to be obnoxious has earned about me about 5 (unpaid) dollars in the years it’s been there. Write for yourself, blah, blah, blah. But honestly, I like knowing that people are reading what I write. I appreciate the people who are regulars and friends, who stick around and comment more than those who come from search engines, but still, I feel like I peaked in 2012 and it’s disconcerting.

When I bring up the topic of falling blog traffic, people usually offer me two reasons for it. First, that blogging as a whole is becoming less popular. I’m not sure I believe that, and I really have no frame of reference other than my own blog. Second, I no longer have a niche. People don’t know what they’re going to get when they come to my blog. Sometimes I write game reviews – could be on a 4 year old indie game, could be on the latest Call of Duty. Sometimes I write about feminism, or what I’m playing, or The X-Files. I write about whatever’s on my mind rather than try to stick to a certain topic. The thing is, I like it that way. Just like with my videos – though my retro reviews are by far the most popular, I also want to talk about new games. Now that I’m not confining myself to WoW, I don’t want to confine myself to anything.

So… I guess I’m really just whining that my traffic has gone down, because I don’t really plan to change anything.

What do you think? Does a blog need a niche to be “successful”? Do you like when blogs stick to one topic rather than act as a stream of consciousness?

Hey, I have a food blog

I’m still playing catch up from my missed post yesterday. I didn’t really have any ideas for another post here today, so I cheated a bit (is it cheating?) and posted something on my neglected food blog instead!

If you like nice pictures of great food, then go on over to Damn Good Food and take a gander.

DaiLo beed carpaccio

This is my 8th post for Blaugust.

Revisiting The X-Files – Space

“It ranks right up there with getting a pony and learning to braid my own hair.

The episode opens with a newscast. A reporter, in an outfit that defines the early 90s professional ladies look, talks about the 1977 rover mission to Mars. We see closeup pictures of the red planet. One looks like a sculpted human face, but a NASA official denies it being evidence of an alien civilization. Later that night, that man dreams about being in orbit and wakes to see the Mars face form on his ceiling and rush towards him.


Yes, that’s really what happens.

Space is pretty much the low point of the season. Maybe even the series. It takes some great topics – space travel, alien civilizations, astral possession – and somehow makes them incredibly dull.

Mulder is contacted by the NASA communications commander, Michelle Generoo, who believes there’s a saboteur at work, preventing the space shuttle from launching. This threatens the entire space program, so him and Scully go to investigate. Mulder meets one of his childhood heroes, astronaut Captain Marcus Aurelius Belt (yes, that’s really his name) and is giddy as a schoolboy while Scully takes her skeptic role way overboard.

There are a number of major issues with this episode.

First, the special effects. They’re just terrible. At one point, the Mars face gets superimposed onto Captain Belt’s face and it’s laughably bad. This episode was intended to be a money saver so they used a lot of stock NASA footage of the space shuttle but never actually showed any of the astronauts in the space shuttle. The episode mainly took place in the communications command center and intercut stock footage and the result was quite dull.

Second, Scully. I know, she’s the skeptic, but in this episode she takes that skeptic role and runs so far with it that she becomes a total buzzkill. She’s so blasé about the whole idea of space travel. I don’t believe she never wanted to be an astronaut. She’s a scientist, how is space not interesting to her? Who can watch a space shuttle take off, from the command center no less, and not be moved? Is Scully a robot?

Third, the cardinal sin of X-Files, this episode is completely lacking in humor. There’s a distinct lack of witty repartee between Scully and Mulder. Without the give and take of its two leads, the X-Files magic just isn’t there.

Also, since Dahakha pointed it out, I can’t help but notice Mulder invades the personal space of so many women on the show. How did I not see it before? At one point he’s trying to calm down and get information from Generoo, and he rests his hands on either side of her waist as he talks to her.  Whyyyy?

In the end, it seemed that Captain belt had been possessed by Mars face during a previous trip to space, who was making him sabotage operations. And it did this because…? Mars face also:

  • appeared in a ceiling
  • appeared outside a car and caused it to crash
  • took over Belt’s face
  • broke the space shuttle

Mars face is watching you masturbate

The concept of being possessed by some astral force while exploring space is not a bad one, but the decision to have the Mars face represent this made it hard to take the episode seriously.

Revisiting The X-Files – Ice

“Before anyone passes judgment, may I remind you, we are in the Arctic.”

Cold open. Literally. It’s dark and blustery. A whining dog walks through a research station, passing bodies as it goes. A lumbering man with a gun turns on recording equipment and begins to speak – “We’re not who we are” then is attacked by another man. The ensuing struggle leaves them pointing guns at each other, in a standoff. Reaching a silent understanding, they slowly point their guns at their own heads. A quick cut to outside, and two shots are heard. It goes no further than this. Or does it?

After a few middling episodes, Ice offers a breath of fresh, cold air and is the first episode that really showed X-Files as something that could be great. Mulder and Scully are sent to investigate the disappearance of the Arctic Ice Core project team, who haven’t been heard from since the video recorded in the opening. Some scientists and a helicopter pilot are also along for the ride (one of whom is played by Felicity Huffman), meaning the agents will be trapped in the arctic with a group, rather than just each other.

From the start, paranoia is rampant. Doctor’s Da Silva and Hodge request everyone show ID so they all know everyone is who they say they are. These two are also immediately suspicious of Scully and Mulder, assuming they know more than they’re letting on because they work for the government.

X-Files season 1 - Ice

We start discovering what happened when a dog attacks the helicopter pilot, Bear. The dog shows symptoms similar to bubonic plague and Bear, in secret, discovers he has the same symptoms after he’s been bitten. He immediately becomes paranoid and aggressive and the doctors soon notice a worm wriggling around under his skin. When the worm is removed, he dies. Things devolve into chaos as the survivors wonder who else may be infected. Who’s not really who they are? The influence of The Thing is plain to see.

This is a really great Scully and Mulder episode, and a standout for Scully in particular. While everyone else is losing their heads, Scully is the only one who keeps a semblance of cool. She stays scientific and analytical, while everyone else engages in a witch hunt. As Mulder’s paranoia grows, we think he may be infected but really, that’s just Mulder. The pair get a couple great scenes together, as their trust in each other is tested but ultimately grows.

X-Files season 1 - Ice

One of the more dramatic scenes has Scully and Mulder pointing guns at each other after Mulder is found with the body of Dr. Murphy, a reflection of the scene from the intro. Mulder is the  one to lower his gun first, as Scully suggests that he may not be who he is. He’s locked away and its up to Scully to find a solution to their problems, which she does very quickly. It turns out the creatures causing the infection will not tolerate each other and will kill one another if a second specimen is introduced into the host.

Scully, unsure that Mulder really is the one infected, goes to talk to him alone.  The agents inspect each other for physical symptoms in a scene that’s slightly reminiscent of the examination scene from the pilot, but much less gratuitous. It comes down to Hodge and Da Silva vs. Scully and Mulder, each pair convinced the other is infected. But it’s Da Silva who, at the last minute, is discovered to be the one. The agents work together to hold her down and she’s given the last worm.

Aside from being one of the more well-written and thrilling episodes of The X-Files so far, I really like how Ice showed much more respect to Scully than she had gotten previously. Her scientific background comes into play when she realizes how to cure the infection, and her skepticism ensures she never gives in to the hysteria being experienced by the other characters. Scully finally gets to be the hero here.