Monday, July 30, 2007

Best Necrotised Foot Forward

The other day I answered a survey about DVDs. When questions came up regarding as to which genres I was buying I noticed something I felt was interesting. For the Horror genre, they had chosen what might be an obvious choice, but at the same time made me wonder, is this really the best representative for the genre currently. Their choice of representative for horror was the movie Saw. I have to admit I haven't seen this movie yet myself. As such I cannot judge whether this is an excellent choice or a poor choice or anywhere in between.

I have a fair idea I think in regard to what Saw is about, and as far as the sub-genre I believe it belongs in, I have to think, based on reviews, that it sounds like the best example of that kind of movie. This is without regard to the film's popularity, and obvious success. Saw seems to be one of those father films that spawn a lot of progeny. People saw (oh the pun!) how well it did and started making their own movies in the same vein. There is nothing wrong with that as long as you are differentiating yourself rather than being derivative. So, we have Saw, and then we have others like Hostel and Touristas just for example. Of the batch of them I think I'm only interested in seeing Saw.

Back to the representation aspect I do ask, is Saw the best foot forward? The survey is just naming a movie that I as a buyer in the genre am likely to have heard of, but what went into their decision to use it as the sole example? I have to ask, given that the first Saw film is not that new, why not say The Texas Chainsaw Massacre as an example? Either the remake or the original could be held up as an example of which people have heard. The remake spawned its own sequel, which in context says great things about it, given the number of sequels out there from the original. What movie would you pick to be representative of the genre, and at the same time be popular enough for practically any moviegoer/watcher to have heard of it?

Mood: calm.
Music: Pour Some Sugar on Me by Def Leppard and Inertia by Bruce Dickinson.

Def Leppard: Hysteria (Deluxe 2 CD)
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Bruce Dickinson: Skunkworks (2 CD)

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Thursday, July 26, 2007


Today, a day later than I should be blogging, I am going to take the time and do some shameless self-promotion. Yesterday I was on Facebook ( Robert Male @ Facebook ) going through groups and seeking out people I lost touch with over the years. A question came up, can I see your sites. I compiled a list, but when it came time to pass on this information I went ahead and did it in a private manner. I believe there is a time and a place to toot my own horn, promote, and otherwise advertise myself. Certainly this blog is an appropriate place. So here goes.

  • This is my main business site... R.M.T.P. Co.

  • Here is a place to keep up with what I'm writing... Robert G. Male, Author of Horror and Thrillers

  • I run a site called... Bob's Reviews

  • Here is my storefront for my horror fiction... R.M.T.P. Co. Bookstore: Scary Short Story Collections

  • It is partially defunct and not wholly written by me but here are writing examples of a more generic nature (while the site above is safe the horror itself requires some warnings)... Rifts: Coalition Wars

  • You are of course already here at... R.G. Male's Dark Corners

  • I designed a site for the local chapter of the Horror Writers Association... HWA Ontario

  • I have a MySpace profile... Bob Scares @ MySpace

  • I have a Windows Live Space... Atramentus Gloaming

  • I am a member of the Artzone community (this may require joining to see my other art)... The Male Bob @ Artzone

  • My Artzone blog is here (this may require joining to see my other art)... The Male Bob's Blog @ Artzone

  • Here is a small art project I undertook recently... The Adventures of Atramentus™ and Scintellatus™ - Part 1

  • I have a video I rendered over at YouTube (hopefully better stuff on the way)... My YouTube Profile

  • Mood: besieged.
    Music: The Grouch by Green Day and Misery by Green Day.

    Green Day: Nimrod
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    Green Day: Warning

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    Saturday, July 21, 2007

    Weather or Not

    Beyond what was discussed last time about the weather in games—and this applies to all story telling—there are other factors to consider. The most visible of these factors in indeed visibility. Whether it is heavy rain, driving snow, or clinging mists, the weather does affect how far away things can be seen. This can be an important factor in game combat or in mood creation in fiction. Additionally in both role-playing and stories this helps determine the feasibility of certain actions as well as precipitates the need of other actions.

    In a similar manner, knowing the temperature is one thing, but dealing with it as a force that acts upon your character(s) is something else all together. It can dictate right off the bat what clothes will be required. It can present challenges like dealing with heat exhaustion at one end of the scale and hypothermia and frostbite at the other end. More so than rain, snow, or obscuring fog the temperature in a setting can alter the moods of the characters as opposed to the moods of the audience.

    Precipitation can be a part of a larger situations as well as working on its own. Watching the news one sees two big scale conditions caused by rain, or its lack. Too much rain and you have flooding. Also too much can lead to deluging rivers, and mudslides. If there is too little rain then there is drought. Drought affects crops and impacts economies and impacts the lives of everyone. It can also be a mitigating factor in wildfires whether they are caused by careless people, or they are caused by another weather factor, lightning.

    Carrying over to snow and there are blizzards. They can ground planes, seal off villages, trap people in places they'd rather not be and create situations where they have to deal with other people they would likely not encounter if not for the storm. Heavy accumulations of snow can damage houses as buildings just as unpredictably and suddenly—if not universally—as a tornado. Then lastly there is the avalanche possibility when the conditions or setting is ripe for it. There is a plethora of ways to use the weather in any kind of tale, be it role-played, rolled with dice, or found static in a short story, novel, or movie.

    Mood: brainy.
    Music: Going Mobile by The Who and Heavy Metal Poisoning by Styx.

    The Who: Who's Next
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    Styx: Kilroy Was Here

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    Tuesday, July 17, 2007

    All Up in the Air

    Just a note about last Friday (if you missed the addendum): It was reported that 150,000 people (not just motorcycles, since some ride two people) descended upon Port Dover, a town/area of normally 6,000 people!

    I spent the weekend, and a couple days around it, in game writing mode. Most of it was work on my fantasy role-playing game, though maybe as much as ninety percent of it will be useful in any other game I decide to write. First off I was working on information dealing with sound and how far away sounds of certain levels can be heard. I started with a borrowed chart from somebody and then I went to town tweaking it and making it my own. The biggest change I did was to remove the effect of sounds that lessen the distance something can be heard. Then I detailed rules how to add those "distractions" back in.

    The fantasy game's setting made for a couple out of the ordinary additions to be made to these sound rules, particularly where distance is involved. The sound chart only covers up to certain distances. The reason for this is the curvature of the planet makes the sound essentially travel off into space, if it's loud enough to breach that distance. That is for horizontal sounds. Once you look at vertical distance the sky is the limiting factor, or rather the air. Past a certain point the air is too thin for sound to travel any great amount of distance. Of course once you run out of atmosphere then you get no sound at all because a vacuum doesn't carry sound.

    The second thing I was working on—and still am chugging away at—is the weather in games. Here I have breakdowns of things like wind speeds, amounts of precipitation—that being rain or snow—a look at temperatures around my fantasy world, and numerous things that the Game Master can roll randomly. Specifically for the fantasy game I even have monthly norms and a multiple year weather cycle. Some of this fantasy-setting information is on the wonky side compared to the real world, but there is a method to the madness, and such oddities can and will have a social impact on the game.

    Mood: level.
    Music: Walk Right Back by The Everly Brothers and Last Train To Clarksville by The Monkees.

    The Everly Brothers: All-Time Original Hits
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    The Monkees: The Monkees (Deluxe)

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    Friday, July 13, 2007

    Friday the 13th and the Bikers

    Happy Friday the 13th everybody. That special day that only comes one or twice a year is upon us. Being summer, the usual 13th ballyhoo is larger than when it falls in cooler weather, not that today is all that hot outside. It seems rather nice out if a bit windy. Not the weather some would have liked, certainly not weather for ogling Ontario's topless swimmers. Though when the wind drops its warm.

    What am I talking about you ask? You don’t know what goes on every Friday the 13th around where I live? Well let me tell you. Every Friday the 13th thousands upon thousands (says the news) of motorcyclists descend upon a town call Port Dover for a big gathering. It's been going on now for twenty-one years, counting the earlier date this year, and today. Bikers from all over Canada, and most of the US—especially in summer—come out for this often bi-annual event. I can only guess maybe it's an especially lucky year if there are three Friday the 13ths on the calendar.

    What do all these bikers do over there at Port Dover? Other than carouse and get together with people they haven't seen since the last time I have no idea. One might suppose it's not the safest gather to snoop on. Probably a silly misconception, but one that's there nonetheless. Actually they are all well behaved or someone would have tried to put some kind of stop to it by now. People in Port Dover report they don't get much sleep, the bikers stay over the night and ride around the countryside for hours on end. A few hundred go by throughout the day here and we're twenty or more kilometres away.

    Addendum: It was reported that 150,000 people (not just motorcycles, since some ride two people) descended upon Port Dover, a town/area of normally 6,000 people!

    Mood: happy.
    Music: Rainmaker by Iron Maiden and Wild Child by The Scorpions. Today's music is the 13th studio album by each of the bands.

    Iron Maiden: Dance of Death
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    The Scorpions: Pure Instinct

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    Monday, July 09, 2007

    Seasons and Spaces in Time

    I was just thinking about how I like to specify a timeframe in my stories. Sure you can set the year and affect many facets of the story. What I like even better is to deal with things a bit more specific and that is by choosing a season. The first thing that this affects is the weather. Now I'm not super big on this whole weather and atmospherics should mirror the mood of the story. Certainly at the least I'm more of a contrast kind of guy. However I think the weather, should it be an issue—which it will any time a story takes place outside—should be whatever makes the story more interesting. It shouldn't be just a gimmick or a function of mood already established without it being present.

    My personal preference of season is, as many may already know, autumn. Certainly it lends itself to the horror genre even without its connotations that Halloween can't be far away, or far back. I won't go into detail of just what it says with its colour changing trees, or after that's done the dry leaves that skitter with their menacing sound in the stillness of the night. Of course I don't use autumn all the time. That would be against everything I said up above. Again I use what best serves the story. More than the weather, the season expressed in a story is dependent upon the characters with or without the plot. People do certain things during certain seasons. Those things may be a part of the plot or they may not. Certainly I like to mix things up whether they parallel or contrast or just are independent.

    Mood: bored silly.
    Music: Black Reign by Quiet Riot and Prophecy by Iron Maiden.

    Quiet Riot: Rehab
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    Iron Maiden: Seventh Son of a Seventh Son

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    Thursday, July 05, 2007

    Web Coding Woes

    I have not done the work that I set out to do for my reviews site. The reason for that is I am looking for an intelligent way to do it with coding above and beyond HTML. The first step I took was to try my hand at Microsoft Visual Web Developer. I have always been pretty reticent to work with WYSIWYG software because it generally creates messy and bloated code. I had someone who knows their way around web coding look at one of my sites and he was much impressed by how clean, neat, and orderly everything is. My answer as to why that is was simple, I code things by hand so only what I want is in there.

    So far using Visual Web Developer I have dropped some things into a page, an aspx extension, and fiddled around with the controls. The help section isn't very helpful and everything has a tonne of options with names that make little sense to me. Also, some of it does crazy things by default; like a vertical menu that only appears when you hover over a little triangle making it essentially a pull down when I want something on-screen. However that is the only vertical menu available in the navigation section.

    This certainly beats what I saw when I hooked up with Microsoft's Popfly beta. There it said menus and navigation were coming soon. At least Popfly is easy to use and understand. I built a pretty cool mashup with it following the tutorial. I'll have to go back there and see what I can make and then port them out to wherever. In the meantime I'm pursuing other avenues of exploration. Such explorations will include database driven website construction, and work with PHP. The two may actual converge, which would be a bonus.

    Just as a final note I also tried installing my own Apache server, but it's virtually useless to do so since you have to physically use a computer connected to a different internet connection otherwise you forever get your local version without so much as stepping a toe onto the internet which its pretty pointless. Like I want to have to go elsewhere to test. This is without mentioning that I couldn't run CGIs since they ran locally meaning not at all.

    Mood: bored.
    Music: Back in the Village by Iron Maiden and March of the Pigs by Nine Inch Nails.

    Iron Maiden: Powerslave
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    Nine Inch Nails: Downward Spiral

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