Wednesday, September 11, 2013

just leave me out, you name-dropper, stop trying to catch my eye

Yes, yes yes, I wandered away again. I know. It's been a somewhat exhausting week.

Part of it is we're coming close to the end of the summer event--the Midsummer Festival of Sune--in Neverwinter. Sune is the goddess of love and beauty in Faerûn, the game setting in which the Neverwinter MMO plays out--for some obscure reason known only to the writers of game quests--most of her celebratory events involve fighting.

Being as the worship of Sune involves meticulous care to be sweet of word and pleasing of feature, one would think the contests would involve writing poems, singing songs, practicing temple dances, and exclamations of courtly love. Instead, they're divided into three main quests, in three different areas of Sune's festival grounds:
  1. Protecting the Feasting Grounds. Given that part of the Festival involves keeping the feasting tables piled high in hospitality, there's a great deal of cooking that goes on. The main "grilling grounds", however, have been set upon by mountain trolls, for...some reason. Our job as celebrants is to...kill the trolls. No, really. And we're rewarded for doing so with a few bolts of blue and green fabric, lightweight linen thread, filigree trim, and flower petals.
  2. Harvesting Fireflower blooms. Apparently the only time the Fireflower blooms is during midsummer, and it is apparently both a vital currency to the clergy and an important ingredient in making...festival garb. No, I'm not making that up. So, as a result, we as celebrants are sent off to gather blooms. The catch: the blooms are guarded/preyed upon by kobolds, who are addicted to the flower, and it makes them territorial, aggressive, and angry. They're kind of like kobold PCP. Our job: well, what else? Kill the kobolds. For this, we get packs of flower petals, plus various harvest foods we can use to make into squash soup, caprese (not even kidding, it's called that in the game, and that's exactly what it is), and...watermelon sorbet. Again, not kidding.
  3. Harvesting and Herding. Lastly, mystical, blessed corn needs to be gathered--because apparently, clerical barbecue requires roasted corn--and chickens and pigs must be herded into the pens so the...erm...messy stuff can happen, to get meat to the grilling grounds, and...that's our task, too. At least this one doesn't involve battle, just frustration. Our task: run towards chickens or pigs until a bright, radiant sun appears over their heads, then run them towards the pens until they cross the glowing green barrier and are 'counted'. We get one point for ten ears of corn harvested, two points for each chicken brought in, seven points for each squealing pig, and--should we be lucky enough to encounter one--thirty points for the larger, named 'Golden Chickens' that pop up now and again. And again, for doing all this running around trying to herd animals, and gather corn, we get more farm-fresh vegetables, more flower petals, and...I suppose...a sense of accomplishment about everything?
Honestly, I'd rather engage in drinking and country dances.

And these three things must be done every day, because we need the ingredients to make the things that will get us the festival garb, or special flower-bedecked armaments, for...reasons. Oh, and there's a dirty pig we can buy with the flower petals, too, that will--I'm being serious, here--roll in the mud and scatter that mud on enemies, distracting them enough to ignore us for a bit while we kill them.

MMOs are strange.

I'm thinking I'm going to start culling through the many, many pictures I've been taking over the past two or three weeks, too, and start tossing them up, but sadly, I no longer remember the sims in which I took most of them. More's the pity.

In the meantime...some links! And we're starting with the iodine clock reaction first seen on io9. Now, it's been some time since I was involved in chemical experiments--and, among my friends and I, that usually meant things that blew up, whether we wanted them to or not--but I remember the iodine clock. And it's just as fast as it seems to be. It's like...magic, in a sense, only it's pure SCIENCE!

And science is cool, so there, link, go watch, be amazed.

There's a certain link on translating British English to American English that's gone viral, and it's absolutely brilliant. I rather wish there'd be a version where American English is translated into proper British terms, for reverse understanding, but...I have a feeling it would involve cursing, or something else vastly inappropriate.

In other news from the Telegraph, I can't figure out if this link is a joke, or not. Because it sounds so very much like something the Onion would write up. If it's not a joke, things have gotten very, very odd in Turkey and Egypt.

In comics news, I'm increasingly unhappy with Dan Didio. Actually, it's more a general unhappiness with DC Comics in general (last week simply being the most stunningly stupid example of the tar-laden flailings of DC Comics as a corporate entity that I've seen in some time.

But the signs have been there for some time, I've just been trying to ignore them. Because, in the brand-loyalty department, I've always been a DC girl. I've liked the characters better, the plots better, and then...current management took over. And by "current" I mean "the idiot micromanagers who've been destroying DC for the last five years".

Most particularly, though, the straw that broke my figurative camel's back in this instance surrounds their callous treatment of Harley Quinn as a character. To wit, from the official DC link describing the contest:
PANEL 4
Harley sitting naked in a bathtub with toasters, blow dryers, blenders, appliances all dangling above the bathtub and she has a cord that will release them all. We are watching the moment before the inevitable death. Her expression is one of "oh well, guess that's it for me" and she has resigned herself to the moment that is going to happen.
Now, if you look at the page as it stands--which has been substantially revised--there are other comic panels added. There's also been a fair amount of explanation and context given as to why they thought this was a good idea to do in the first place. According to officials within the company, this was never about supposedly "sexualizing" suicide, it was meant to be a tongue-in-cheek meta-commentary on the absurd directions DC writers--and, by extension, comics writers in the industry as a whole--take on occasion with female characters under their purview. (See TV Tropes' excellent description of the 'women in refrigerators' concept that's plagued comics for over three decades, at least.)

Which I suppose would have been tenuously fine, save for two things:
  1. They released the fourth panel alone, on the original contest page, with no meta-context given at all for why this was happening; and
  2. They announced the contest during Suicide Prevention Week, thus raising this to a PR nightmare the likes of which was only seen before during the dickwolves debacle on Penny Arcade.
I have no place in my brain--or heart--that allows me to keep supporting a company that is--even as a meta-commentary--willing to sponsor a contest supporting the slaying of a popular female character, especially after the same company has refused to allow LGBT characters to marry, invalidated previously assumed marriages, tossed Wonder Woman at Superman like she's some sort of party favor for Superdickish behavior...I mean, dear gods, the list can and does go on. It's horrifying watching them flounder--and anger fans in the process.

And in the meantime, very nearly effortlessly, Marvel's figured out the trick to keeping fans happy: giving them real characters of depth, that can get married no matter what gender--or species--they are, that have real problems in spite of being superheroes, that we can relate to as fans, as fellow beings, and as consumers of media--be that media movies, television or comic books.

You'd think DC would've figured out the same thing, but no, they're still the mammoth in La Brea, slowly sinking, without ever really seeming to comprehend why. It's deeply sad, but they're still stupid for doing it.

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