Yesterday did not deliver the nothing that I'd sort of hoped for. There were errands that needed running. Usually, Spooky does the errand running, but since I wasn't writing, I wanted to go along, get out of the house. Nothing remarkable. There were supplies I needed from Staples (paper, mechanical pencil lead, etc.). Then PetCo, because Hubero needed stuff (the demanding little bastard), and a trip to the Eastside Market for groceries. We also went to three different liquor stores trying to find a bottle of Smirnoff Pomegranate Martini (vodka, pomegranate juice, Meyer lemon liqueur, and lemon juice), which just looks too tempting not to try; but, alas, no one had it in. It's very new, and we're going to try one of the big booze megamarts in Warwick or someplace. It was late in the day when we headed out, and the sky was beautiful. The day was about ten-degrees colder than Monday, but still, beautiful weather. I had a very brief absence seizure while we were walking on Benefit Street. I've had a few of these the last few weeks I've not mentioned. I call them "blips." Anyway, that was pretty much the excitement that was the daylit portion of yesterday.
Last night, after dinner, we went to the Avon Theater on Thayer Street and saw Charlie Kaufman's Synecdoche, New York (2008). It's not often that a film simply leaves me at a loss for words. Or that it's so utterly briliant (as in smart, and also as in bright and shining), that it makes me feel stupid. But Synecdoche, New York pretty much did both. I don't want to heap hyperbole upon it, or resort to mere adjectives. But it's the best film I've seen this year, and it's one of the best films I've seen ever, I think. At the very least, it deserves Best Director. And it deserves a much wider audience, one that I doubt it will get. It's not as "accessible" as Kaufman's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) or Being John Malkovich (1999). I'm still trying to decide which "reading protocol" I should employ for understanding the film. It is arguably science fiction, but, then again, this degree of metafictional surrealism short circuits any meaningful attempts at such categorization. The screenplay...I wish I had it today, to read a couple of times. The film unfolds like an unimaginably complex puzzle box, or pop-up book. It's Danielewski's spiraling, labyrinthine narrative techniques, but translated, successfully, to the screen. And Philip Seymour Hoffman is grand. His performance here ranks with his work in Capote (2007) and The Savages (2007). He's just amazing. But the film...the film as a whole...see it if you are lucky enough that it's playing anywhere near you. It needs to be seen on a big screen. So, yeah, I have now officially forgiven the Avon for delaying Låt den rätte komma in by a week.
After the movie, we came home and watched the two most recent episodes of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. I continue to be intrigued and entertained. But I think that with the latest episode, "Self-Made Man," the show's creator missed an opportunity to really do some interesting things, and tossed off what could have been a complex, fascinating direction for the story. Though I was pleased that I figured out what those three dots were before we were told.
Oh, and a new cat will soon be coming to live with us. A polytactyl Siamese named Linus, that we're taking from a shelter, because Hubero really needs a buddy. I think I finally feel stable enough to handle two cats.
Now, further thoughts on WoW, but I'm putting them behind a cut, because I know there are lots of people here sick of reading about the game:
Yesterday, Chris Simmons (alias "Sissy," scarletboi), made some comments to my post that I'd like to quote, because, ultimately, they get to the root of why I'm having trouble with the game. I will note that Chris is a friend, and that he loves WoW, and writes for RPGs himself. He says:
"One issue is that RPG has different connotations in the mainstream video game market than one would think. I think the problem lies in the origins of RPGs. There are many subcultures of RPG players. You (and I) are considered a simulationist, or storyteller. To us, it's a Role Playing game. To others, it's about the dice-rolling and the rules, the 'gamist' side of things. To them, the role playing is secondary (or tertiary) to the fact that they're playing a game."
This is very true. As I have said many times in this blog, I prefer games that rarely remind me that I am playing a game, because I don't really want to be playing a game. I want a simulation.
"Video game RPGs fall pretty heavily in the second camp. Their origins are in reproducing the turn-based strategy combat of miniatures warfare with a story tacked on, much like the original D&D was. The difference is, where D&D (and the rest of tabletop gaming) evolved to embrace the open-ended, freeform aspects of storytelling, video games continue to emphasize the gamist tendencies of the medium, because it's a lot easier to tell a predictable story than to write polymorphic code that actually reacts to the player's actions."
And, again, near as I can see (from a more limited experience than Chris'), yes. So, thank you, Sissy, for saying these things better than I was able to say them. In the end, I wish that "rpg" were not so widely used in marketing games. For me, it implies, well, roleplayng. Impromptu theatre. Immersion. You become the character, and think and act as the character. And those thoughts and actions, in concert with the thoughts and actions of other players, that creates a story. There is no script (though there are "rules," dictated by the world of the story). No prescribed destination. It's pretty much what happens when I write, only there are other people helping me to make the story happen. And when I see "rpg," even if it's part of "mmorpg," this is what I automatically expect. Full, total immersion, and an ending that will only exist once it has been made to exist by the players. Stories that one can, literally, lose oneself in, as the player becomes the character. No ooc chatter. No points. No quests. No "accomplishments." No stats. No leveling. No endgame. As John Connor would say, "No fate but what you make."
Though, for the most part, Second Life is a mess, and there's little hope of salvaging it, there have been moments...beautiful, extremely rare moments of rp...when it was exactly what I'm trying to describe here. I'd try to describe one, but it would only come off sounding silly (because I can't write synopses that don't sound silly). But, I have written short stories from some of the best of these. For example, "In the Dreamtime of Lady Resurrection," that was the first one inspired by SL rp. Then there was "Scene in the Museum (1896)," written directly from an SL rp transcript. There was "Flotsam," which was more indirectly inspired by SL rp, but still would not have happened without it. And then "Regarding Attrition and Severance," which was, essentially an SL rp transcript that I fleshed out into prose. There are others. And, in each case, no one involved knew where the story would lead. We each assumed a role. And we played that role, in an environment that might be likened to a virtual soundstage. And this is what I'm talking about.
I will continue to play WoW, at least for a while, but it's not roleplay, sensu "simulationist." And it doesn't offer any real opportunity to be made to be roleplay. And I'd be perfectly cool with that, with it only being a game wih a faint whiff of quasi-rp, if only it were not marketed as an "rpg." Ironically, Second Life isn't marketed this way (and, truthfully, good rpg is scarcer than hen's teeth on SL, and must be forced from the medium if it is to occur). Okay. End of rant. I need more coffee. And Craisins are probably not the most nutritious breakfast.
Postscript (1:54 p.m.): Spooky and I just calculated the number of hours I've spent on WoW since I began playing on the 13th of September (you can find this info by typing /played). It comes to (a very close approximation) 15 days and 18 hrs. That's 15 days and 18 hrs. subtracted from the last 78 days. Anyone want to calculate the percentage of my life I've spent playing WoW since September? I think it averages out to about 4.75 hrs. per day (roughly). Oh, I suck at math.