|What is the lowest possible surviving score in a game of Space Alert? What's the highest?
||[Dec. 21st, 2013|01:34 am]
In this entry I want to consider the questions, "What is the lowest possible surviving score in a game of Space Alert?" and "What is the highest possible score in a game of Space Alert?". (I like to say that dying is -∞ points, but that is not very interesting.)|
Let's be clear on the parameters of the problem -- this is Space Alert without the expansion. (Because I don't have the expansion, and there doesn't seem to be a list of the cards available online.) 4 or 5 players may be used. The players are actively trying to achieve the lowest/highest score. Any deck of threats may be used, any set of tracks, etc.; we assume we are allowed to rig all the decks (damage tiles etc.) and that the players know in advance everything that will happen. The audio track must be one of the 8 normal missions provided.
Some terminology: Let's define the "total threat value" of a mission to be the number of common threats plus twice the number of serious threats. This is a useful quantity, because serious threats of a given difficulty level are (with a few exceptions) worth twice as much as common threats of that same level. Furthermore, it is constant across mission types -- it's equal to 3 for the test runs, 5 for simulation or advanced simulation (6 with 5 players), 7 for a mission (8 with 5 players), and if we include the expansion, it's equal to 8 for the easier double-action missions (10 with 5 players), and 10 for the standard double-action missions (12 with 5 players). So for are purposes now this quantity will always be equal to 7 or 8.
First, the maximum problem; this is the easier one. There's an obvious upper bound on the maximum possible score, which is 8*6+21=69. (8 total threat value, times 6 points for killing a yellow threat, plus 21 points from the window.) 69 points is a "perfect game"... but is it actually possible?
Well, after several hours of trying to construct such a scenario, I can report that the answer is yes. Solution (and hints towards my solution) is spoilered for those of you who really want to try this yourself. Note of course that there may well be other solutions that look very different; this is just the first one I found.
Use 5 players. OK, that's not really a hint. Use audio track 8.
Trajectories are as follows: T3 blue, T6 white, T4 red, T1 internal.
Threats are as follows: T+3 Overheated Reactor, T+4 Psionic Satellite, T+5 Nebula Crab, T+7 Juggernaut, T+8 Scout.
Players will move in the order Red, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple.
Turn 1: Red hits C, all other players change decks. (Green, Blue, and Purple are delayed.)
Turn 2: Red changes decks, Yellow hits B, all other players do nothing.
Turn 3: All players press C. (7 points.)
Turn 4: All players press C. (7 points.)
Turn 5: Red uses heroic B (the other side of which shows upper red). Yellow presses B. (Overheated Reactors killed.) Green moves blueward. Blue changes decks. Purple heroically rushes to upper blue. (Psionic Satellite reaches X. All players are delayed.)
Turn 6: All players do nothing.
Turn 7: Yellow moves redward; all other players press A. (Psionic Satellite killed; Nebula Crab takes 3 damage. Nebula crab reaches X.)
Turn 8: Red and Green move redward. Yellow and Purple change decks. Blue presses C. (Nebula crab reaches Y.)
Turn 9: Purple presses C; all other players press A. (Nebula Crab killed; Juggernaut takes 4 damage. Scout reaches X.)
Turn 10: Blue changes decks; Purple presses C; all other players press A. (Juggernaut killed.)
Turn 11: Red moves blueward; Yellow heroically rushes to lower white; Green presses B; Blue presses A; Purple moves redward. (Scout killed.)
Turn 12: All players press C. (7 points.)
...I didn't list what the *other* sides of the cards do, but it's pretty easy to fill these in in a manner consistent with the contents of the deck.
I do have to say, though, that the maximum problem seems kind of silly if you don't include the expansion, which raises this upper bound to 12*8+21=117. Or... is it even higher? I seem to recall reading that threats that call in other threats have their scores a bit weird. And, actually, I guess just the possibility of calling in other threats should raise that bound, shouldn't it? I don't actually have the expansion. Crap. Yeah, this is why I'm ignoring the expansion.
Anyway, so the minimum -- how about lower bounds? Well, there's an obvious lower bound of -36 -- all penalties, nothing else. Now wait, you say, shouldn't that be 7*2-36=-22? Because you get 2 points for surviving a threat? No! It's possible to neither kill nor survive a threat without dying; remember you only count as having survived a threat if it reaches Z. That said, we can certainly make a lower bound based on this idea.
The longest track, T7, is 16 spaces long; a threat needs to advance 15 spaces to reach Z. If it has speed 3 or more (let's assume everything is constant speed for now), it will assuredly reach Z regardless of when it appears. If it has speed 2, however, it will have to appear by turn 6 to reach Z; and if it has speed 1, it will never reach Z. One can come up with similar numbers for the other tracks; I won't go into details here. Note that straight-up "speed 1" threats do not exist -- there are two "speed 1" threats, the Man-Of-War and the Juggernaut, and both speed up. It's straightforward to compute numbers for both of these. (Be careful, the Juggernaut has the odd property that it sometimes arrives *sooner* on longer tracks.) There are no threats that lose speed so these are not a concern.
[Previously here were two paragraphs giving a probable lower bound based on this idea. However, the numbers were wrong, and it ultimately yielded no improvement, so I don't feel like fixing it. Let's skip ahead a bit.]
I guess we'll have to analyze the actual audio tracks. There's only 8 of them after all. We'll consider both what happens with only 4 players and with only 5 players -- while having fewer threats may seem better, let's remember that with 4 players, one can only get -8 points from knockouts, not -10. After a bit of work, we find the following (not necessarily unique) minima for points let through:
Track 1: 10 points (put T7 on red); 12 points with 5 players.
Track 2: 12 points (put T6 or T7 on blue); 14 points with 5 players.
Track 3: 6 points (put T7 on blue and T6 on white, with T+6 being the Man-of-War); still 6 points with 5 players (put T5 on red).
Track 4: 10 points (put T7 on blue, with T+6 being the Man-of-War); 12 points with 5 players.
Track 5: 12 points (put T7 on red and T6 on white); still 12 points with 5 players.
Track 6: 12 points (put T6 on red); still 12 points with 5 players (put T7 on white).
Track 7: 10 points (put T7 on red and T6 on white); 12 points with 5 players.
Track 8: 6 points (put T7 on red and T6 on white, with T+5 being the Man-of-War); still 6 points with 5 players (put T5 on blue).
OK. And it's pretty clear these are indeed minima, so we get a lower bound of -30 points. Still, it's not clear whether this is achievable. Let's consider -- achieving this requires knocking out all players. But there's not too many ways to do that in the base game. Especially since whatever delivers the knockout must either A. be white or B. do so without reaching Z. The only white threats that knock out are the Battlebot Uprising and the Commandos (both serious internal). The only threats that knock out without reaching Z are the Battlebot Uprising (serious internal), the Executioner (serious internal), and the Power System Overload (common internal); however, the Executioner and the Power System Overload each lack the ability to knock *all* players out, and so if we are relying on one of them to deliver the knockout, we must have both. (Or rather, Executioner can knock all players out, but it can't both knock out all players and disable both battlebot squads.)
From this we can see that -30 is not achievable with track 8, since its only internal threat always reaches Z (meaning it must be white) but is also common, incompatible with the above. Track 3 can be ruled out for similar reasons. Thus -30 is not achievable. And since the only common threat that knocks out is Power System Overload, and it can't knock out all players by itself, one can deduce that -29 is not achievable either.
And -28, it turns out, is achievable. Solution is spoilered if anyone wants to sit down and figure it out themselves.
Audio track 8, 5 players. T7 red, T6 white, T5 blue, T4 internal. T+3 Hacked Shields (blue), T+4 Psionic Satellite, T+5 Man-Of-War, T+7 Frigate, T+8 Gunship.
I'm not going to go into details of how it's executed because, well, it's fairly obvious -- pick up battlebots, fiddle with the shields, get knocked out. You need 2 shield up on red. You also need exactly 2 shield up on white, which means first you'll have to hit B in lower red before filling up the white shield. Don't worry about the blue shield, it'll take care of itself. Point is, you'll survive with all players knocked out, both squads disabled, 6 damage on each zone, and a mere 8 points for threats survived, for a total of -28.
So we have an answer to our question: The maximum possible score is 69, and the minimum is -28.
...yeah, I basically spent all day on this instead of working. But now I'll never have to do this again! Unless I someday try to figure out how the expansion affects it, anyway.
|50 points? What does that even mean?
||[Dec. 20th, 2013|04:20 am]
So. I've been playing a bunch of Space Alert lately with the people here at Truth House. (I bought it because I thought I might actually get people to play it, and, holy crap, it actually worked.) Mostly with Andy, Seth, Ryan, and Dan (Ryan in particular got kind of obsessed with the game...).|
When we started out we often did disastrously. Things got a lot better once we started taking marking energy usage seriously. Eventually Ryan was (along with me) playing every game and we made him captain because, well, he seemed to be the best at it. Before long we could consistently beat white-threat missions... well, unless we just really screwed something up. Which is always going to happen now and again.
So we started mixing in the ordinary yellow threats. It took a bit, but before too long we could handle those pretty well too. So we mixed in the serious yellow external threats. Those posed more of a problem. I'm not sure we ever really got to the point of really being able to handle those, but we certainly beat them a few times.
Ryan graduated this semester and was leaving Ann Arbor on Wednesday, so Tuesday we played a few games and, even though we weren't really sure we were ready for it, we mixed in the serious yellow internals as well. (Dan is also going back to Australia shortly.) The first few games they didn't come up, so in the last game we reduced the density of white threats in all the decks. Indeed, Contamination came up, and we killed that, but ended up dying anyway.
Then yesterday I played with Justine, Angus, and Nick -- all of whom had played before, but not in a while, and never with any yellow threats in. (Seth was also in for one game.) So we went down to only white threats, and, well, it was tough. I'm not convinced this is yet a crew with whom we want to add in yellow threats.
Anyway. All this is prelude to the story I want to tell right now. Tonight, Geoff Scott hosted a game night. First we played a few games of The Resistance -- which, I gotta say, though it's apparently still weighted towards the spies (the "Mafia", the "bad guys"), certainly seems to be easier for the Resistance (the "townspeople") than Mafia is. Resistance won 3 out of the 4 games. Basically, it seemed to me, the game forces the spies to act rather more openly than the Mafia do in Mafia. Of course a lot of that could be us not having the hang of it yet. In particular, in one particularly embarrassing incident, when straight-up asked "Are you a spy?" in the final game (I was), I started kind of giggling; simply saying "No" at that point wouldn't have been believable so instead I went with "What the hell is this?" and only then stating "No I'm not a spy." It didn't work. But, like, it's a little ridiculous, because I'd never do that during Mafia; I'm a decent Mafia during Mafia. Somehow, though I was prepared for "Are you Mafia?", I wasn't prepared for "Are you a spy?". Nor was I generally a good spy most of the time. (First and last games I was outed very quickly; second I managed to convince people I was Resistance, but I tried to be too tricky and cast a "mission success" when I should have cast a "mission failure", and that ended up us getting us in the end.)
(You know, it only now occurs to me that I was on the losing side every game.)
Er right but the point was Space Alert. So after that we played Space Alert. I had intended to play things other than Space Alert, because I'd play so much of that recently, but Geoff was saying we should play something... well, I don't remember what the conditions he said were, but Space Alert fit perfectly, so I suggested it.
Crew was me (captain), Geoff (comms), Julian, Jordan, and KK. (We didn't bother appointing a security officer.) Julian, Jordan, and KK had all played before, but it had been so long that we did a full rules explanation anyway. (I suggested we play one round of simulation first, but Geoff wanted to start on full mission.) The first game or two didn't go very well -- lots of non-marking of energy especially -- but by the third game we'd gotten some of the hang of it (though we still died). The fourth game finally we survived (with 28 points or so). (Side note: Geoff has the first edition, where Stealth Fighter has its speed misprinted as 4 instead of 3. I didn't realize what was going on there until well into the game so we decided to just play it as 4. It wasn't a problem.)
Then Geoff says, OK, one more round; and since this is our last round, let's play with all yellow threats! You must be kidding, I say. The people I play with at home with have played well more than you and they're not ready for such a difficulty level; we're certainly not. We're going to die horribly. Well, let's try it, Geoff says. It's a Vlaada Chvátil game; dying horribly is the point!
And so it was. All yellow threats. And somehow... we won. With 50 points. That's such a large number I don't even know what to make of it. OK, we've had some high-30s wins here at Truth House, but... 50 points. Every threat killed -- Minor Asteroid, Nebula Crab, Phantom Fighter, Major Asteroid, Power System Overload. Only one damage (on red zone, from when we killed the Minor Asteroid). And we even had time to look out the window, for 1 point in phase 2 and 3 points in phase 3. Everything basically went perfectly.
I mean I'm not even sure what to say about this. Obviously we had a bit of luck, but... the people in the math department are just that much better than the people here at Truth House? Well, I guess that's not too unbelievable, but it's still kind of astonishing. We really did have quite a bit of luck though -- the Overload could easily have wrecked us; we needed to coordinate perfectly, all of us hitting B at the same time in 3 separate stations, in order to bring it down. (Plus one additional point from me on the turn before, and one additional from one of those Bs being heroic.) And the one point of damage that got through knocked out the blue gravolift. Fortunately, we didn't need it to get into position -- we already had someone in lower blue to fire on the Minor Asteroid, I was already in lower white manning the main reactor, and Geoff used his heroic action to rush to lower red from the bridge. So in fact knocking out any of the gravolifts wouldn't have caused a problem... OK, I guess that's a bit less luck than I thought. Still!
(I'm pretty sure had the Executioner or the Seeker come up, it would have been a slaughter. Those two really scare me.)
Anyway, 50 point victory, holy crap.
Well, one thing worth noting -- there are basically two ways that threats can be harder; they can be harder to deal with (increased probability of failure), or do worse things to you if you fail to deal with them (increased disutility of failure). (Though sometimes they can be intermingled, e.g. with Psionic Satellite.) I'm of the opinion that the game is harder (and more fun) when things are primarily hard the first way rather than the second (with one or two of the second for splash). Firstly, the latter tend to make things too all-or-nothing; either you die, or you survive with a huge number of points. Except the funny thing was, Power System Overload really is a hard-to-deal-with threat! Which is why it's so surprising we survived; Major Asteroid is not exactly scary, you know? (The Nebula Crab is a little, but they just zapped it before it could reach X.) If it had been more of the second sort of threats, our survival would have been less impressive.
Secondly, the first are just more interesting -- you have to spend more time figuring out what the hell you're doing in the first place; you can't just quickly come up with a simple plan and do it. (For the same reason, I prefer more smaller threats to fewer larger threats.) I think a game where there's more damage, and more chances for damage to screw you up (rather than just killing you outright), is more interesting. Although, I guess, even with a lot of damage, it often just isn't a problem -- guns frequently take damage after you've stopped using them, for instance. And who really cares if the shields are damaged? It is a little disappointing. Actually there's a number of things in the game that just don't seem to come up much. I mean, the interceptors, obviously -- those seem to be mainly used if someone's picked up a squad of battlebots and has nothing else to do -- but the one that really sticks out in my mind is repairing battlebots; due to the fact that you never have more than 2 internal threats per game, the existence of heroic battlebot actions, and the fact that few threats both have 2 hit points and fight back, it's just rarely necessary. Probably more necessary in the expansion when you have double-action missions with threats (and also harder threats).
Actually, tonight's crew was pretty keen on shields. I tried to convince them that shooting more was really just better most of the time, but they were not so convinced. Personally, this experience playing with a little more shielding and a little less shooting seems a data point in favor of "No, it really doesn't work as well." Although -- Ryan came up with this neat trick with the shields I'm teaching to people now. It is: On the first turn, someone refills the white shields; on the second turn, someone cracks a canister. Isn't that a bit early to be cracking a canister?, you say. Or at least, I said at first. Well, maybe, but this seems to work pretty well -- running out of energy by the end of the game due to insufficient canisters has generally not been a problem for us. (Certainly not compared to running out of energy due to people failing to mark, or people getting delayed, or not having people in position... you get the idea.) As I recall, when I learned to play, and played with Mickey and Nick, we typically had an unused canister at the end of the game. And often there just isn't much else to do in the first few turns, so, why not? Shields on white!
ADDENDUM next day: Well, OK, one reason not to is that it will seriously hurt you if you draw Crossed Wires...
Maybe shields are also something we could use a bit more in cases where we're deliberately not killing a threat, as often happens with the asteroids. But that needs proper timing -- it should be after the shooting is done. Of course, often, after the shooting is done, there's no more energy left, and in that case having someone draw energy just to put it in the shields seems wasteful. If there's energy sitting around in a side reactor to shield with, it would make sense, but drawing from the main reactor to do it -- especially having two people to coordinate to do it -- doesn't seem worth it.
Anyway. I think I've rambled a bit. I think that's all I had to say on the matter. I'll stop here.
This is Dan the first-year who lives here now, not Dan Zemke.
(From the math department.)
Naturally, before the game started I kept making jokes about "Why do you asume the Resistance is the god guys? This game is just Resistance propaganda!" Later after a few votes on forming a team failed, I commented, "What an inefficient system they want to replace our government with!"
In fact, I was a spy in 3 out of the 4 games we played.
But on the good side, with the first edition, the canisters aren't rolling away all the damn time.
Although, the Seeker kind of maximizes the first of these, and I'm not sure I'd consider the Seeker fun. I guess it goes a little too far. But, well, I've yet to actually encounter the Seeker, so we'll see.
|According to some Redditor called "BlackBrane"
||[Dec. 18th, 2013|05:25 pm]
[...] In my view this is exactly the sort of thing that demonstrates why its wrong to dismiss string theory as "non-predictive". This attitude simply fails to grasp that string theory is not analogous to the standard model, but to quantum field theory. People still have to write down a model in order to make a prediction, just like always. Now that process just has taken on a totally different set of constraints, that in many ways are far more restrictive than before. Scientifically the only difference is that now we call it "choosing a vacuum", but its scientifically the exact same thing as "postulating a Lagrangian" in quantum field theory, like the one that earned Higgs and Énglert the Nobel Prize.(Yes, this is a followup to this old entry.)
||[Dec. 18th, 2013|11:04 am]
I'm not sure what kind of hormonal war was going on inside me last night, but I didn't appreciate the fallout.|
I started my Zumba class feeling fine. We had a substitute instructor and after about 20 minutes, I started to feel irrationally annoyed at my inability to keep my mind focused on what was happening and follow along. I didn't like the music. I didn't like the mirror right in front of me. I didn't like the fact that most of the other people in the class go the sub's regular class and knew the moves. My mind wandered far and wide and didn't show any signs of stopping. I nearly made an excuse about feeling ill and left. "Five more minutes," I kept thinking. Then the class was nearly over and suddenly the wave had crested and broken and I was okay again.
On the drive home, I felt my eyes smarting, as if I were going to cry. Then, suddenly, I was crying. Then, suddenly, I was sobbing. My glasses ran with tears, which is pretty crappy to deal with while you're driving, so behind all my surprise at this sudden outburst of emotion, I was thinking, "Son of a BITCH, what is your problem, eyelashes?"
When I came home, I sat down beside Adam and just hugged him for a while. He asked me several times if I could tell him what was wrong. I couldn't. There were too many things and nothing in particular at the same time. I was all right within the half-hour.
My eyes are still puffy this morning. Putting eyeliner on unevenly puffy eyelids proved to be an interesting challenge I won't have to take again soon.
Sometimes you just need a good cry and I was overdue. Normally all that gets me now are movies. Even times where people might normally cry or where I feel like crying, I don't. It feels strange, but is a nice change from my early life, when I teared up much too easily. So I'm okay now. Guess I just needed to get it out of my system.
||[Dec. 17th, 2013|09:55 am]
It's been a dreary week, but I'm going to continue trying to make posts that don't feel somber, even though it's a little forced right now. So.|
When I was little, my siblings and I had this album of Christmas songs we'd start playing the day after Halloween. I know we drove my poor mom crazy with it.
Copyright 1972, guys.
One of the songs on it was "There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays," which, I think, is actually just properly called "Home for the Holidays," but since the Peppermint Kandy Kids probably didn't have a place to Wiki this, I'm willing to overlook it. Every time I hear the song now, I remember how I fondly believed the chorus to run, "If you want to be happy in a million ways / For the holidays, you can't be home, sweet home."
Did I wonder why this guy hated being with his family at Christmas so much? I did, but I couldn't dwell on it for too long. I had a lot on my mind, troubling over the scenarios from other holiday songs. Why was Mom macking on Santa Claus IN PLAIN SIGHT? What if Dad walked in on them getting their swerve on? Christmas would be ruined for him forever. And how could Mom have such a hardon for an old beardfacé like Santa? Did Madonna want in on that action, calling Santa "baby" and asking him to bring her a ring? This guy gets some serious tail. Also, that kid who just wanted his (her?) teeth to grow in for Christmas was an idiot and I say that as someone who looked like a jack-o'-lantern in her first grade yearbook photo, which was then commemorated forever on the family Christmas tree with an ornament decorated in elbow macaroni noodles spraypainted gold.
Have you ever noticed how "Silver Bells" always sounds like a cassette that's warbling on the verge of slow-motion, threatening to gum up your radio with tape that you'll have to use a pencil to wind back into the reels? Same with "Do You Hear What I Hear?" which became the scariest Christmas song ever the moment it appeared in Gremlins when I was a toddler and to this day makes me uneasy.
This is my favorite Christmas song, which is not a Christmas song at all, but is a song I happened to be listening to as I wrapped presents a few years ago, and now the two are irreversibly linked in my mind.
|More physics I don't understand: Mass-energy equivalence
||[Dec. 16th, 2013|04:57 pm]
I used to think I understood mass-energy equivalence. Well, to the extent that you can understand it without seriously learning modern physics, anyway.|
It seemed to be pretty simple: Mass simply is energy. That is to say -- well, there are two things we mean by mass, right? Gravitational mass and inertial mass, though of course relativity demands that the two are equal. Well, both of them are simply equal to energy -- this is only meaningful of course if energy has an "absolute zero", but, well, apparently it does. Energy warps spacetime around it, attracting things to itself; and the more energetic a body, the more its inertia. When something speeds up it gains mass and when it slows down it loses mass. An object on earth has slightly less mass than that same object 1000 miles above the earth. Rest mass of a particle I guess is just how much energy it takes to create that particle ex nihilo -- OK, I imagine there's a better explanation than that if you actually understand QFT, but I don't.
Except I keep reading that the notion of "relativistic mass" (i.e. γm0) is not really right, and it shouldn't be used, because it acts like mass in some ways but not others, and it shouldn't be thought of as mass, and objects shouldn't thought of as gaining mass when they accelerate.
(...on the other hand, there do seem to be number of contexts where I see "mass" being used to mean "relativistic mass". So I dunno.)
This doesn't make sense to me. So you're telling me that if I have, say, 2 protons and 2 neutrons, and I put them together to form an alpha particle, they do lose mass because of the energy difference, but if they're moving really fast and I declerate them, they don't? Huh?
"Energy is mass" I can kind of wrap my head around. "Energy is sometimes mass" is just weird.
||[Dec. 14th, 2013|04:39 pm]
Um, I think I just invented a cast-on. Like, a really important one.|
ETA: Ok, a bit of research suggests that the crochet cast-on is pretty similar to this, but mine does not need a crochet hook. I do not have a crochet hook to explore the exact physics of that one, but I will say this: mine is an EXACT match to the classic bind-off. It doesn't just look good with it, it's the exact same motions of the yarn. Crochet cast-off might do this as well, or it might just get very close - I'm not sure.
People talk about matching cast-ons to bind-offs all the time, and I've never seen instructions for anything like what I'm doing; I do still suspect I've actually invented a novel method for getting stable loops onto the needle.
||[Dec. 14th, 2013|08:18 am]
Laying awake having feels about Captain America and 杨过. This is a very tumblr moment.|
Thinking about how the 3 protagonists of the Condor series has 3 different approaches to heroism --
郭靖 acts heroically without thinking about it -- his whole deal is that he's most successful when he thinks the least. His story is only interesting after he gets paired up with 黄蓉, who only acts heroically when she's influenced by 郭靖.
杨过 acts heroically in spite of himself -- he's always in situations where he wants to do the wrong thing, but can't bring himself to do it (ex: when he really wants to kill 郭靖 for political and personal reasons, but ends up saving him at great expense.) Really, any scene with 郭芙, he does the right thing while cursing himself. The heroic actions that he does is often at great personal cost.
张无忌 tries to do what he thinks is the right thing -- his conflict is that what the right action for him personally at any given moment isn't what is societally perceived to be the right thing. Ironic because societal morals is what guides all of his behavior. He tries to be honorable to 赵敏 and uphold promises, and Jianghu suspects him of consorting with the evil Mongols. He defends the "bad guys" against the evil actions of the "good guys." But this makes the story much more focused on these complex opposing forces of the Jianghu rather than about 张无忌. It makes 张无忌's world much more interesting than his character, whereas with 杨过 it is the opposite -- his character is far more interesting than his world.
Of those three, I like 杨过 the most.
Captain America (sorry, not a serious comics nerd -- just based on the movie and that 1 comic I read) seems to do the right thing after much thought. He's not like 杨过, in that he isn't dragged into heroic actions kicking and screaming, but he's also not like 郭靖, who does good without thought, and he's not like 张无忌, in that he's not guided by societal expectations. He has to consciously choose the right actions, and like 杨过, it often comes at great personal cost. And that's why I'm laying in bed with feels about Captain America and 杨过.
|Many miscellaneous thoughts
||[Dec. 13th, 2013|10:44 pm]
Head swimming from perhaps too much procrastinatory media consumption. Need to expel into quick blog form. Jono is currently busy with some gamer coding thing, so I'm of course having a super late dinner type thing at the boba shop after an afternoon of snacking on salami. Saaaaa....|
- LJ is such a better platform than tumblr. So sad that everyone is now on tumblr, and so sad that tumblr is so much better at image hosting.
- I just watched 1.5 seasons of Elementary in the last week or so. It's very different from Sherlock, and I think is better considered on its own merits instead of being considered an interpretation of Sherlock. I know everyone's like "omg for once Watson is (a) Asian, (b) female, and (c) and equal partner to Sherlock." And yes! That's amazing! Especially compared to, say, Doctor Who. I think it follows more in the American formula of "eccentric guy + rational girl" crime procedural (Castle, Bones, etc), and compared to that, it's Real Solid, but not earth-shattering. The earth-shattering-ness serves more to highlight the problems British series (especially the likes of Doctor Who, which... ugh.)
But Elementary isn't true to the Sherlock/Watson dynamic in the book. I guess in general that's a good thing, b/c original Watson basically exists as someone for Sherlock to explain things to. My ideal Sherlock/Watson relationship, though, is the one in ep 1 of the British Sherlock series: Watson's loyalty, his sharpshooting, him saving Sherlock from his own hubris... etc. No, he's not Sherlock's deductive equal, but he is the Sam to Sherlock's Frodo -- he's there to carry Sherlock to the finish line. (I have lots of problems with most of the other episodes, though, especially the sketchy Chinese one. I also love Elementary's Moriarty much more.)
Elementary is definitely freed from a lot of Sherlockian tropes, and I like what they've done with the characters -- Now let's just hope they don't do the Reichenbach Falls.
- Recent Arrow developments: I hate Ollicity shipping, so recent episodes gave me hope for non-Ollicity, but this week's episode brought it back. Sigh. Felicity deserves better than Oliver. (Especially since I ship Oliver/Black Canary) Also, can we stop having people come back from the dead, already? Also also, kind of upset that Murder Death Island, which is in the East China Sea, now has no Chinese people on it. :/ More Thea and Moira and Black Canary, less Laurel and Murder Death Island, please.
- I read the first volume of Captain America: Castaway in Dimension Z, and also cherry-picked my way through the Return of Condor Heroes manga. Self, remember these comic thoughts
---> Captions and internal monologues -- such a time saver for plot and character development! Too bad Tisquantum is pretty anti-both. Self, you are a dumbbutt for picking the hardest kind of comic to tell. :/ Remember this for the next comic.
---> Fights are really boring when it's just a bunch of writhing bodies. You need more unbalanced panels and sharp poses. Remember to use white space. Remember to contrast foreground/background. Don't feel compelled to draw all the bodies.
---> Remember to use the slow pan, sometimes. You really need to sloooooow doooooown for dramatic moments. More, smaller panels, with no background.
---> Remember to find a good dramatic moment for a wide shot.
---> Action scenes and quiet contemplative panels really help break up the monotony of people talking for plot or character purposes.
- Erg comicking is such a slow process. On the one hand, I can't believe I'm on pg 21, but on the other hand, I'm only on pg 21????? Can I stop drawing half-naked Indian men yet? (answer: no). Playing Candy Crush is so much easier than comicking. But I need to push myself to comic!!!!!!
||[Dec. 13th, 2013|01:46 pm]
I came to a realization lately: I don't actually hate Christmas anymore.|
I used to. Since I was little, it's made me sad. I remember a December night when I was maybe five, sitting in the living room lit only by tree lights with all our comforting, familiar decorations out, eating a candy cane, watching that claymation version of Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer. That movie always made me cry anyway--especially Rudolph's romantic interest singing a lovelorn song--but on that particular night, something made me realize that we wouldn't always be together like this, my family and me. One day, my brother and sister and I would be adults with lives of our own and we wouldn't spend the nights leading up to Christmas huddled on the couch watching holiday specials with our parents nearby. We'd have kids and jobs and we might be scattered all across the world and maybe we'd never see one another at Christmastime. It was one of the saddest thoughts I've ever thought and I sat crying silently onto my candy cane for a long time that night.
That thought always came back to me at the sight of department store Santas. One day, upon seeing Santa had arrived at our local BX, I burst into tears. My bewildered mother asked if it was because I really wanted to talk to him and since I had no idea how to tell her why I was crying, I nodded stupidly. Confused but unquestioning, she stood in line with me, waited patiently while I talked to the man in the red suit, and even bought the picture they took of me with him. In it, my hands clasp anxiously at one another, my mouth long, my eyes puffy and red with crying.
That thought always came back to me, too, once the initial excitement of present unwrapping wore off on Christmas morning. For this reason, you can tell I'm tearful in all the childhood Christmas photos my parents took until I was nine. My brother and sister always thought I was pouting because I didn't get what I really wanted, present-wise, and my parents adopted this line of thinking, too, so I was often mocked. There are pictures of my brother and sister exaggeratedly imitating my unhappy expression. This, combined with my inability to communicate to them or even myself why I was so sad, combined with the thoughts always waiting to make my eyes smart and a lump rise in my throat, made me angry. That was my Christmas morning cycle: awe at all the presents waiting under the tree, sadness at the nearness of the family who would be so far away one day, anger at the fresh realization that sometimes said family were really jerks and maybe undeserving of my tears.
And now that time has come. We are adults. My parents, my siblings, and their children all live near one another and get together regularly for the holidays and here I am, once the homebody, now hundreds of miles away. My prophesy is fulfilled, but only for me. Is it any wonder the Christmas music we listened to endlessly in childhood makes my eyes water and something in my throat catch now?
And it's so inescapable, Christmas music. They've been playing it at work since the Monday before Thanksgiving and usually do into January. It makes every homesick thought that much worse.
But I've been thinking lately, for all that, there's something I enjoy about this time of the year. I like the idea of getting the perfect presents for friends (not that I always manage) and the general air of excitement and the little holiday gatherings and the possibility of snow...and what the fuck, even? I usually hate snow. It's a nice contrast to the bleak and cheerless winter months stretching before us after New Year's (though there's a part of me that loves that, too, if I'm honest). The Christmas music does still occasionally give me a pang of sadness, but I guess now it's usually more on par with the way other people see it, as more an annoyance than anything.
That being said, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" still slays me.
|Family Vacation Coming Up
||[Dec. 7th, 2013|04:08 pm]
My mother and sister consistently try to "fix" me. For years - nay, decades - I've been trained to resent my own looks and desires.|
... now, how do I get over resenting them for having done, and continuing to do, this to me?
|Obligatory Holiday Season comic pimping
||[Dec. 2nd, 2013|09:55 pm]
Apparently people are buying stuff to give to other people?|
And apparently I have comics to sell??
China Comics: Buy book, Buy print, read online
Oldie but goodie! Various observations of daily life in China. Print vs. online comparison
Full disclosure: A recent printing mishap resulted in me having 0 books in stock, but I'll be getting 2 in 3 days and another 30 in about 10 days. On the other hand, the printing mishap now means that I have a bajillion laminated prints of individual pages, with the description of each page on the back. Yes, it's both sketchy and swank at the same time.
Tisquantum: Buy Prologue Booklet, Read Online (Prologue and Part 1 thus far)
This is what I'm working on right now! I made a little booklet of the Prologue to sell at APE, so I'm happy to toss it into any other order.
Sixteen: Buy book, read online
My first attempt to draw a narrative comic! I re-read it recently, and hey, it's not bad! It's also got killing and sadness.
You might have noticed that you can read everything online here: http://www.sushux.net/comics/
(Crossposted on Tumblr... apologies to those who follow me in both places.)
(Also, glory be to sketchy cell phone photos on my futon at 10pm)
||[Dec. 2nd, 2013|08:06 pm]
Do you think, is there ever a child out there who's heard their parents worrying about finances, basic necessities like food and electric, and knowing that coal is a way for heat to happen, is naughty on purpose because then instead of a frivolous gift Santa will bring something that helps their whole family?|
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