Archive for March, 2005

Lumines

Do you remember playing Tetris so much that you’d see the pieces falling when you closed your eyes? Sleep was no escape — I just kept fitting them together in my dreams. That’s when I knew it was time to take a Tetris break for a few days.

I haven’t had the same experience with any other game since then. Until last night. I bought a new Sony PSP the other day (yes, I am occasionally susceptible to hype) and have been playing Lumines ever since.

Lumines (darned if I know how to pronounce it) is a puzzle game in the falling-block tradition of Tetris, but its mechanics are different enough to provide a completely different experience. Every block is a 4×4 square made up of some arrangement of two different colors. Your goal is to arrange the falling blocks into 4×4 squares of the same color, which will then disappear. There are more subtleties that enhance the gameplay, but that’s basically about all there is to it. Pretty simple, but somehow it works, and it works very well. Especially when you add up the exceptional production quality of this game. The music is so tightly integrated with the gameplay it feels like I’m composing it while listening to it at the same time. And it looks stunning on the PSP’s sharp LCD screen.

It works well enough that now I have to take a little Lumines break so that I don’t see these stinking blocks falling every time I close my eyes. I left my PSP at home this morning so I wouldn’t be tempted to play it on the train on my way to work. That’s the only reason you’re getting this entry. :) Argh, my eyes! Somebody make it stop!

Here’s a screenshot from the Ubisoft website:

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Never fear, Distracto is here!

In keeping with the theme of this weblog as it seems to be evolving, I have adopted a new blog title: Distracto! It’s literally the story of my life. :)

There’s a new domain name to go with it, too: distracto.net. All future updates will go there, so be sure to update your bookmarks (yeah, both of you!). I’ll link the RSS/Atom feeds so that existing subscriptions don’t break, but your best bet is to start using the new domain name.

I’d write more, but I just started thinking of something else. Hey, that’s why they call me Distracto!

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Short-short stories at shortshortshort.com

I’ve been a subscriber of Bruce Holland Rogers’ shortshortshort for slightly more than a year now, and his few emails each month are always some of my most enjoyed.

For a measly five dollars per year, Bruce will email you thirty-six short-short stories, meant to be read in no more than a couple minutes. I can say from experience that they’re well worth the money. You can check out some samples of his work for yourself at his site. I especially like Don Ysidro, his most recent sample story that won a 2004 World Fantasy Award.

If nothing else, it’s a very cool example of an independent artist using the power of the Internet to support his work and reach an audience in a way that would have been impossible in years gone by.

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Transparent ibook

I saw this on boingboing and couldn’t resist joining in with my own iBook. Pretty cool, eh?

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On (Reading and) Writing

What is it about used book stores that makes me love them so much? They’re full of already-read books, which are mostly like new ones, but dirtier and more beat up. So why are they so great? For me, I suppose it’s a combination of two things.

First, I’m a big fan of old sci-fi and fantasy novels, many of which are out of print, and a well-stocked used book store gives me a chance to pick some up that I might not otherwise have access to. And second, not only do I get to enjoy a story, not only do I get transported to another world bounded only by my imagination (am I starting to sound too much like Reading Rainbow here?) but there’s also a bit of mystery around the idea that this same book was in someone else’s hands. Where did they read it? What did it trigger in their imaginations? It’s the same kind of curiosity that fuels ideas like BookCrossing. Keeping these questions in the back of my mind adds something small but satisfying to the act of enjoying a story.

on_writing.gifHaving recently moved to within walking distance of a used book store, I find myself enjoying previously-read books much more often than I normally would, and I especially enjoyed my latest read: Stephen King’s On Writing. It’s nonfiction, half autobiography and half advice on writing, a fraction of the length of the average Stephen King book, and it might just be his best work yet.

It inspires me to write. Short stories, blog entries, a novel, whatever. Reading that book just made me want to write something. Of course, I have the attention span of a gust of wind, so by next week it might be back to woodworking or wire jewelry making. Who knows? That’s why my life is interesting. :)

In On Writing, Stephen King describes his working environment and habits, and his process of taking a book from an idea, through editing and rewriting, to publication. The care he takes when refining his work, his methods for working around the second-guessing every writer does. The personal problems he struggled with while writing some of the stories I have since enjoyed reading. To know something about the author’s state of mind sort of extends further the feeling of intimacy with a story that I get from reading previously read books.

If you like to write, or maybe just have enjoyed the occasional Stephen King book and want to understand something about the author’s motivation, you could do much worse than to read this book. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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Google for lame bloggers

I was talking to my friend/boss Gever this morning about how often small blogs go through “dry spells” where the only post is an apology for not posting more often. He mentioned that it would be funny to find the google query that would find all of them, and I thought that would make a great post. So here you go: Google for lame bloggers. Or try Technorati to see who hasn’t posted most recently.

I somehow manage to avoid showing up on the list. I’ll chalk it up to my refreshingly original writing style when posting my own lamer apology. :)

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Addictive flash game (time-waster)

I’ve been pretty lax in posting here lately… but you can’t say you weren’t warned. It does say short-lived obsessions, after all. Still, this blog is something that I would like to continue doing, so I’ll be making a stronger effort to chronicle some of those million mini-obsessions that pass every day through the spot behind my eyes.

nanaca.gifIn that spirit, here’s one wacky but addictive flash game: Nanaca Crash. The goal is to get the maximum distance possible when you drive your bicycle into a guy and send him flying. The flying guy bounces off the ground, and gets different results depending on the various characters that you land on. Clicking at the right time (when the character you land on shows up in the “special” box) will get you specials, which are really cool. :)

Most of the instructions are in Japanese, and I don’t speak Japanese, but that doesn’t matter once you’ve played it a few times. Warning: this is (strangely) addictive.

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