I came across this new calendar proposal the other day and found it to be fascinating. Thirteen months of 28 days each, plus a New Year's Day. Every day of the month is consistent (the 3rd is always a Tuesday, regardless of the month).
No more having to remember how many days are in a month because the calendar was created through a hodgepodge of events that happened centuries ago. I like it.
At the end of the last final exam every semester during grad school, as I walked away from the business building, I felt a relaxed feeling in my shoulders and in my neck, like a heavy load had been lifted off of them, along with a tremendous feeling of relief, knowing full well that I'd be getting a terrific night of sleep ahead of me.
I don't have that grade-worry anxiety any longer, but the one time of the year when I get a feeling that's similar is when I get done doing my taxes. It's always such a pain in the ass to go through all the year's receipts and itemize everything, that once I have my meeting with my tax guy and hand it all in, I feel relaxed as hell as I walk out the door (knowing that I'm getting money back helps as well).
I had my tax meeting yesterday afternoon, came home, hopped into bed, and had the best three-hour nap I've had in years, during which I had the most memorable dream I've had in a long, long time.
I'm not going to divulge the concept of the dream, but I will say this: it was a frightening (but often in a good way) narrative that had a very distinct beginning, middle, and end. What was amazing is that I woke up right after the climax but before the denouement, at the exact time when the emotional rise had peaked and had started falling like a rock. It was a wonderfully immersive experience that was scary as hell.
Though it was not complete enough to form a complete novel or feature-length story, the concept was complete enough to serve as the foundation as one.
I think it says a lot about how the creative process works. Sometimes it's in the abnormal times in our lives (emotional or comfort level extremes) that we come up with good stuff. It's in these times that our minds, even our unconscious minds, can see things from a slightly different angle, which is often all it takes to open up the development process deep inside our brains so the magic can happen.
That's the awesome thing about dreams. There's no work involved. You just kick back and watch the story that you create in real time. For a writer, it's doing work, while doing no work at all.
I'm currently in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for an extended weeklong vacation. I came here for a wedding, which I believe is only the third time I've visited the UP during the winter since moving to Southern California in 1994.
I've been congested since arriving and have probably not slept more than a couple hours a night since my CPAP doesn't do well with blocked sinus passages. Fortunately, it's not been too cold, but definitely more than my body is used to. Even Sudafed can't clear me out. I think if I ever moved to a cold climate again, I'd be in for a rough time.
The amount of difference in open space between Marquette County and Los Angeles County is stunning. Every square inch in LA seems accounted for. In the UP, there's ample room wherever you are.
The urban industrial restaurant/bar trend has definitely reached rural America, even in my hometown of Ishpeming, as has the micro-brew explosion that is sweeping the country.
What hasn't reached the UP is the onslaught of electric cars that one sees in SoCal. Haven't even seen one Prius, much less a Tesla.
I've been making good use of my niece's electric blanket to keep me warm. I think they need to engineer something in reverse--a cold blanket--for the hot summer months of SoCal.
It's been great to see family, friends, and my old stomping grounds, but man, am I missing the ability to sleep. Cold weather is definitely not my friend.
Haven't blogged or written much in the last ten days, because I went through a down cycle with my sleep. But now I'm back up and energized.
I've still been playing two games mostly. I'm at level 48 in Star Wars: Battlefront, nearing the current level 50 cap. I'm still enjoying the hell out of it, especially the new maps they've released. Playing to complete the bonuses keeps it fun. I especially enjoy the larger modes like Turning Point, Supremacy, and Walker Assault. The first DLC drops in a few weeks and I'm looking forward to it.
I'm currently level 59, and just over 150 hours into Fallout 4. I'm nearing the end, as I have over 90% of the map cleared. It does get a bit repetitive, especially because you're always battling your carrying capacity limit. But it's still fun enough for me to hop on every couple of days for a mission or two. There's not much story, but searching the Wasteland for material to improve your settlements is a good time. Once I finish the main quest and clear out the map, I'll get back on Witcher 3 and finish that, and then hopefully there will be plenty of Fallout DLC to play down the road. You can't ask for much more than 150-200 hrs of good play from an open-world shooter.
I did download Rocket League, the much-loved $20 game, and played it a few times, but it seems far too chaotic for me. I'm sure I'll give it a few more chances.
I'm heading off on vacation for a week and a half, and when I get back, I'm going to try to learn how to play Elite: Dangerous, a space exploration game that has a massive learning curve. From what I hear, it's a blast for certain types of players, and will be available at the launch of Oculus Rift, and you'll be able to migrate your account over.
The goods news is that Titanfall II is coming out by the end of the year. I'd like to finish some of these other games and maybe even get back to some Xbox 360 games (Alan Wake in particular) before November when we're bound to get some new big ones.
I was thrilled to hear a sequel was being made to one of my favorite movies of all time, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, the 2000 Ang Lee romance/action film that somehow was made for only $17M. However, when I heard that Harvey Weinstein was producing and that it was going to be an Imax/Netflix co-release, I was worried. Not having Ang Lee on board to direct the sequel was dangerous enough, but having Harvey in there messing around--how could that possibly come out well? If it wasn't getting a wide theatrical release, how big could the budget be?
The reviews came out a few days ago, and they were brutal. Most praised the film for its action sequences but knocked it hard for its story, which didn't have the impact or nuance of the original. I watched the film on Netflix last night, and here's my take:
I loved it. The action sequences aren't good--they're absolutely fantastic, from beginning to end, but especially the last two, one of which happens on an ice-covered lake at night, and one of which happens at a temple in daylight. Ridiculously great blocked and shot, eye-popping, action.
And there's enough story to hold it together. Is it as well written and directed as the original? No. But how could it be? The cast is stellar, from top to bottom. Michelle Yeoh is amazing as usual. Natasha Liu Bordizzo and Harry Shum Jr. shine as the new young ones. And Donnie Yet does a great job as Yu Shu Lien's former flame.
There are a number of absolutely stunning establishing shots throughout as well, which are clearly CG, but don't look overly CGish. Like its predecessor, this film must have had a very limited budget, but doesn't look it.
Is the film going to win an Academy Award for best screenplay? No. It's too simple of a story. But even though it's simple, it's good. And the story is a foundation to showcase the incredible fighting sequences that truly make the film shine.
My biggest complaint with the film: it's in English, not Mandarin. But, that's not a deal killer for me.
Are the critics really wrong? No. They're all entitled to their opinions. But do they discount the film too much based on irrational expectations of what it could be in comparison to the original? Yes, in my opinion. It's okay for a film to be great based on action as its priority. Sword of Destiny does this well. It's a different type of film than its predecessor, and that's fine with me.
My rating: 8.5/10
I'm doing a promotion for a couple of days. Through March 5th, you can pick up the Kindle edition of The Wicked Trees free at Amazon.com. I'm hoping to get some Amazon and Goodreads reviews out of the deal.
I'm planning on getting the paperback version out in the late Spring.