The Big Bad Wolf

Bigby-sama, show me the ways of the Wolf.

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The Wolf Among Us is an episodic game by Telltale Games based on the Fables comic book series by Bill Willingham. Since I am almost always late to most video game parties and all five episodes have been released at the time of playing, it didn’t feel at all very episodic to me but was instead a point-and-click adventure/mystery drama that didn’t play so much as a game as it did an interactive movie.

A huge selling point of Telltale Games’ episodic series was that every choice you make can lead to enormous and vastly different consequences. Apart from the gorgeous graphics and the promise of excellent story-telling, I liked the choice-based mechanic of the game because it felt like an opportunity for me to learn how to be more unyielding and maybe, a bit more zen too.

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You see, I’m a chronic worry-wart and making choices is almost always excruciating for me. I irrationally suffer through the process of making decisions for myself, and suffer twice more when making decisions for others. Huge or tiny choices, it really doesn’t matter. All is fair in mental health problems and war.  If I had my way, it can take me as much time to choose what Jollibee value meal to order, or what internet service provider to choose as much as it takes to decide if I should move out of my folks’ home or not, all of which can be a looong time. And when I finally make the decision, it will always feel like something’s amiss, that maybe I still missed a pro or a con on my list of pro vs cons. Or I didn’t do enough research. Something. Anything. Sometimes, I get so bogged down by the gravity of the act of choosing (not so much the choices, as sometimes the outcome is irrelevant), that I give up and end up not making a choice at all.

That is why choice and consequence games can be a good way for me to make decisions fast (before a timeout!), stay firm about them and not look back (e.g. whine too much). I need to learn how to live with the decisions I make. Unless I die in which case, I go back to an earlier save point.

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But I digress. This post is about the game and not about me, and The Wolf Among Us didn’t feel at all like the decisions I made throughout the game really had much effect on the plot line. They didn’t feel like they added up to something big nor did I see any changes that may have been defined by tiny dialogue options that I had to click before a timeout bar disappears. Apart from a couple of obviously huge decisions (which you would know are huge choices because they are totally IN YOUR FACE), I didn’t think that every other time-based choices made an impact to the story as have been over-hyped. They would probably make you miss a two second retort from the eponymous Bigby Wolf, but nothing major will probably happen. I just didn’t feel any sort of gravity from the choices I had to make. Choose this or that, or not choose at all, and it would probably not matter*.

Continue reading “The Big Bad Wolf”

Transience

Hi.

So, I’m on medical leave. It’s been 9 days so far, and I’ve been home alone cooped up in my tiny fortress of solitude for about seven of those days and it has been great. I feel like myself again, or at least a version of myself. One that gets so very easily tired. The doctor said that surgical anesthesia and getting some parts partially lopped off of you can do weird things to your body for at least a couple of weeks. So far, the weirdest things that have happened were a three-hour afternoon nap today, an irrational craving for Jollibee, and rereading Rilke.

And if I cried, who’d listen to me in those angelic orders? 

Seriously, Rilke. I first knew of him from following this older girl from the early days of blogspot and livejournal. She wrote about her first few years out of college, and I was in high school, which makes it more than ten years ago now.

She wrote so beautifully and passionately and quoted Rilke like it’s nobody’s business. She was lyrically intense, and after reading The First Elegy from the Duino Elegies and some letters from that book, I figured her obsession with Rilke has a lot to do with how superlative and passionate she always seemed to be. I wonder where she is now.

Maybe what’s left
for us is some tree on a hillside we can look at
day after day, one of yesterday’s streets,
and the perverse affection of a habit
that liked us so much it never let go.

The Selfish Gene

In the beginning was simplicity.

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The Selfish Gene made me feel funny feelings about being alive. It’s nice to think of yourself as a vehicle for a million-year old replicator gene to drive around in and I find the theory that we’ve arisen from such humble beginnings to such unthinkable complexity to be weirdly self-affirming.

We, alone on earth, can rebel against the tyranny of the selfish replicators..

George Saunders once wrote that stories are black boxes where the reader enters in one state of mind and exits in another, and that rings true to me for The Selfish Gene. I didn’t think I would finish reading it, let alone learn so much out of it and enjoy that feeling that you’ve become a slightly different version of yourself after the fact. It’s very cool.

Let us try to teach generosity and altruism, because we are all born selfish.

This is all because of Richard Dawkins, of course. What a marvellous story-teller – he is wonderfully attuned to the voice and shape of his theories, and those of others which he built his gene-centric theory from. He writes with such cadence and uses accessible metaphors to teach laymen what we need to know, what we want to know and he makes each chapter truly a world in itself. I loved this book and can’t wait to read more non-fiction books that are as good as this.

p.s.

I’ve had this in my Drafts for about two years. I read this book in 2013.

Friday’s 7 Happy Things

When something makes me happy on Tuesday or Wednesday, the over-sharing part of my brain makes a tentative list of things that made me smile during the week, so far. Come Friday though, I get cranky and grumpy and who cares about all the good things that happened when I just want to take a nap, right? I still want to take a nap right now but I can’t and I hate everyone so here’s a list of things that made me smile the last few days, even if I’m not smiling at the moment. Also, I didn’t make it to 10 😦

1. Alessia Cara

Her EP is precious and she sounds like young Justin Bieber but smarter. Here is a gem and I feel it so much because I hate hate hate going out these days.

2. Disclosure’s Caracal

Checked it out for Lorde’s Magnets and stayed for Jaded. I love the direction they’re taking with this new album because I was not a fan of their disco/club groove in Settle (2014). Except for Latch. Everybody liked Latch.

3. Miranda July interviewing Rihanna

Looking at her, I was reminded that thousands of people search ‘‘Rihanna’s eyes’’ every year. And there they were: a pair of dizzying hazel-green starbursts. I took another gulp of wine. ‘‘What turns you on?’’

It made a stronger Miranda July and Rihanna fan out of me. Bad gal Riri so precious.

Continue reading “Friday’s 7 Happy Things”

Hong Kong State of Mind

I spent last weekend in Hong Kong, and when I landed and saw the familiar buses and smelt the familiar scent of anise in the air, I decided that Hong Kong had to be one of my favorite cities in the world. Hong Kong is charming, and busy, and vibrant, and had the right enough energy and the right enough weirdness, beauty, and confusion that I wanted to be in the center of.

  
I’ve always been a big city girl and resented growing up in a sleepy town so, in many ways, Hong Kong felt a bit like the home my stupid heart always longed for.

  
Real estate is crazy over there though, and I get turned off at the idea of living in a box, but then I already live in a box, so what’s the diff?

***

I’ve been wearing glasses almost all day for the past week or so. This must come off as a non-event to some, but it’s a big deal to me especially considering how long and aggressively I’ve resisted the need for these and then, here we are.
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A funny thing: I always find something to complain about wearing glasses. Firstly, was that it was bothersome, because d’oh. People tell me I’d get use to it just stick with it you can do it come’on, so I did. It has gotten quite better in the bothersome department so my focus shifted to feeling the tightness behind my ears from the temples pinching into my head. I’ve been gently  pulling the earpieces apart from each other to loosen them up and they’ve loosened up, and I don’t feel the same tightness, so I looked for new things to complain about and it’s now the heaviness of the pads that rest on my nose.

It’s amazing how you suddenly feel things when you run out of ways to make yourself miserable.

***

Been feeling introspective lately and there have been tiny stirrings of wanting to live a creative life. Must be the haze.

Piloting This Ship

I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life, and some have been really dumb but if there’s one mistake I’m proud to have never made was that never, not even once did I ever let other people run my life for me.

People and circumstances will influence a lot of my actions but ultimately, this is my life. Whatever thing I did, I will take full responsibility. I will not make decisions and then blame things and people – my parents, my heritage, my race, my… whatever. I mean, while all these things have been factored in, my decisions are still MY decisions. The cowardice that has stopped me from doing things was my cowardice, but in the same vein, my bravery was all mine too. Full accountability in both the good and the bad.

I still whine about the bad cards I’ve been dealt with. I still wish I had it better – I wish I was richer, smarter, and had a better upbringing for example, but if I had the sense to spot the flaws with which I was brought up, I figured I would also have the sense to change things in my life, including myself, for the better. And then accept the things I couldn’t.

Ah, life’s becoming weirdly difficult to pilot the older you get.

2014 in non-reading

What a weird year 2014 has been. I started out the year wide-eyed and optimistic – that my life would be a better version of what it has always been for years. I’ve set a few goals, planned a few trips and felt like a superhero. I’ve even set my 2014 reading goals to an ambitious 52 books before the year ends, because I was feeling brave and fancy, but well, we all know what happened to that. (I failed at 23 books only huhu).

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photo by keight83

2014 was definitely not a year for reading but looking back, I don’t think I have lived a life as fully as I did last year. There were so many changes that happened to me. So many decisions, so many hurts and pains, failures, and joys, and so many lessons learned.

It will be juicier to write about the many life events that happened but as I also resolved to tone down on the oversharing, I think it’ll be much more worth it to share what I’ve learned instead:

The more you insist on sticking to a rigid life plan, the more it’ll hurt when those plans taper off. It’s terrifying to face an uncertain future, but aren’t all our futures uncertain really? I don’t think anyone could see much from where they are right now, and my over-controlling urges for what should happen were making me unnecessarily suffer. I cannot control everything. People will disappoint me, I will disappoint people, things will not go according to plan but things will be fine, more or less, and eventually.

I’m not suggesting that you go into your life battles without at least an emotional dagger and shield because that’s naïve and idiotic, but I learned that being dynamic to life’s changes is far more rewarding than strictly following a life plan down to its tiniest bullet points. This is easier said than done of course, and I’m still struggling to separate what has happened to what is happening, and what could. I need to nail to my brain the idea that although much of my past will influence my future, the future isn’t guaranteed to mimic what happened yesterday, or what’s happening today, or anything at all. Plainly, the future is not guaranteed and you control what you can right now and fervently hope your efforts pay off tomorrow.

Life is crazy. It’s beautiful, it’s sad and it’s ever-changing. Be like water.

Happy new year, people.

Paul Pope’s Heavy Liquid

Heavy Liquid is my second Paul Pope book after the thoroughly entertaining Battling Boy (which, I noticed, I have not written about lol), and I can see why my friend (i.e. Pope mega fanboy) kept noting about Pope’s self-indulgence in this book. I know that Paul Pope enjoys inking and there’s not a book that would attest to that as much as Heavy Liquid did.

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Heavy Liquid is a bizarre story about S (short for Stooge), and a heavy liquid – a mysterious, precious metal S has stolen from one of the clown gangs of the city. For a man who both writes and illustrates his books, Paul Pope did incredibly well with the dynamism and intensity of the story and the art was interesting with some gorgeous, gorgeous stand-alone pieces. I admit that it was a bit off-putting at first – I have not been exposed to art so inked that it was initially disconcerting but the visual noise Pope rendered fits very well with the cyber-punk, thriller setting.

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The story was also pretty entertaining – a scifi detective thriller in a future setting, with that insane clown posse with cubist masks; a hilarious cray cray girl gang; an art collector that reminds me of Mr. Motley; friends leaving; leaving friends; and a love lost, found and lost again.

The art fits the mood of the story so well too that reading it felt like reading a somber rock and roll song – heavy, fun, but sad.  Like, like… Interpol in graphic format.

I enjoyed this book very much and I’m glad to be exploring some new, fun, and good comic books. I can’t wait to read 100% after this.

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The Romance of Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West

“Great thinker”: Virginia Woolf, painted by Duncan Grant, a Bloomsbury Group member (Picture: The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Art Resource/Scala, Florence Photo/Estate of Duncan Grant/DACS 2014)
“Great thinker”: Virginia Woolf, painted by Duncan Grant, a Bloomsbury Group member (Picture: The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Art Resource/Scala, Florence Photo/Estate of Duncan Grant/DACS 2014)

…I am reduced to a thing that wants Virginia. I composed a beautiful letter to you in the sleepless nightmare hours of the night, and it has all gone: I just miss you, in a quite simple desperate human way. You, with all your undumb letters, would never write so elementary a phrase as that; perhaps you wouldn’t even feel it. And yet I believe you’ll be sensible of a little gap. But you’d clothe it in so exquisite a phrase that it should lose a little of its reality. Whereas with me it is quite stark: I miss you even more than I could have believed; and I was prepared to miss you a good deal. So this letter is really just a squeal of pain. It is incredible how essential to me you have become. I suppose you are accustomed to people saying these things. Damn you, spoilt creature; I shan’t make you love me any more by giving myself away like this — But oh my dear, I can’t be clever and stand-offish with you: I love you too much for that. Too truly. You have no idea how stand-offish I can be with people I don’t love. I have brought it to a fine art. But you have broken down my defenses. And I don’t really resent it.

So… yeah. Virginia Woolf is one of my favorite female writers and she (apparently) had an affair with Vita Sackville-West, an English poet who will become her lifelong friend. The quote above is taken from a letter by Vita to Virginia and dayummm.

Try the hell out of yourself.

So… I dropped by Goodreads today out of sheer habit and was glared at by a vicious reminder of my flaws:

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That would be 3 books in two days too. Not exactly a proud stat for someone who considers herself readerly. I haven’t book-blogged for two months now. Two months!

So what’s been up?

First: I haven’t really been feeling too chatty as of late. My mind is all over the place and it has become too taxing to switch roles: from wifey, to mama cat, to corporate biatch, to socially inebriated friendy friend, to… many other roles I have to play on a weekly basis. It’s quite difficult maintaining a healthy social life, some physical activities, do good at work, and nurture my nerdery all at the same time. I also had some personal issues I needed to work through which were very mentally exhausting.

People have been bothering me about TV episodes I cannot catch up with, and books I haven’t been reading, and believe me – I tried. I try very hard, actually, but I need to sleep too.

Second: For some strange reason, the outdoors have become unduly fascinating to me. I’ve climbed two major mountains in the last three months and worried myself to eyebags for both trips. They have not been easy but mountains are so grounded, and so strong, and they all feel potent and permanent to me. I want to climb them all just for the heck of it.

Mt. Kinabalu 2014
Mt. Kinabalu 2014

Don’t get me wrong  though – I am not a great hiker; I am a card-carrying Super Noob. I am always, always worried, nervous, and scared, and my pace is slow, but “nothing else exists, only the climb.” Mountains are so unforgiving and I’ve waded through dark, maladaptive behaviors to haul myself up to the top, and I always have (so far) and I plan to always do. I have so many insecurities and doubts, but dark thoughts will not give me shelter, they will not give me those impossible views, they will not get me anywhere. Nothing else exists, only the climb.

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Mt. Pulag 2014 by Michael Jay Abalos

I’ve just gotten back from a trip. It was the most outdoorsy I’ve ever been in my entire life (literally!) and I’m so drained but I am so happy. I always question my sanity before and during these relentless adventuring but I need to write this down to remind me why I keep doing this to myself – I am happy, I feel so brave, and weathering through cruel discomforts makes my soul grow. 

I am back in one piece albeit nursing an injured tailbone. I didn’t even know I had a tailbone and now I hurt it, and I cannot ascend anything without wincing. As much as I am taking delight in feeling extreme and intense outside with no roof on top of my head,  I’m taking this  as a sign to lean back gently, open a book, and go back to old loves.

I cannot wait to read again.