Friday, July 27, 2012

I Hate Indoor Plumbing

After spending several days at the in-law's cottage a few weeks ago - days spent rebuilding a deck and having no luck getting a water pump to work - we're going back for a spur-of-the-moment long-weekend.

My theory is that it's not safe to sneak up on the cottage like this. Big jobs (even bigger than deck repair) that were out-of-the-question for lack of strong backs, suddenly head to the top of the To Do List when a few more able bodies show up at the docks.

On the plus side, the weather There will be better than the weather Here, so it's conceivable that I'll get a few minutes to sit on that freshly-repaired deck with Book, Beer, and Snack. And if I really luck out, I may use the next three days to plough through six or seven pages of Infinite Jest.

Dare to dream.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I Like It Scary

The Slenderman mythos that sprang from the foul depths of SomethingAwful and has been at the core of the sometimes-brilliant Marble Hornets series has now been turned into a video game. Slender is free-to-download PC game that was released just a few short weeks ago at and has since gone quietly viral around the Net. Fact is, the download site has shut down - presumably under the traffic load - although I have to believe other download sites will become available soon.

So what's the big deal? Tonight I found out.

Part Marble Hornets and part Alan Wake, the game is short and simple. You're in the woods at night armed with a flashlight and batteries that will eventually wear out. You need to find 8 pages posted on trees and outbuildings - pages that tell a weird story of something else that might inhabit the forest. For every page you find, the risk of encountering that 'something' increases.

The graphics are simple and effective - especially the lighting. But it's the soundtrack and audio effects that convincingly create an atmosphere of walking through the woods at night.

In my own run-through, I encountered the Slenderman after the second page and it was unnerving (actual screenshot above). While easy enough to escape at that point (he never actually chases you), the effect was convincing and I found the hairs on the back of my neck at full attention. I even managed to scare myself a second time in true Three Stooges fashion when I turned too quickly and found a tree a little closer than I planned.

If you can find this game for download, it's worth the clicks to try it out. If you can't find it (yet), I recommend entering 'slender game youtube' into your favourite search engine. You'll find a few videos of people playing (and reacting to) Slenderman The Game.

As for myself, I need to go turn on a few more lights.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Last Bay on Your Left

Tomorrow starts the ritual I've observed for almost 25 years now: the annual sojourn to my in-law's cottage. I've written about the place before (type 'cottage' in the Search field up top), so I don't need to do it again. This isn't about that. It's about the mindset connected with being in an isolated place with too much time to think and read. Here's how things will go:
  • It will take a day or two to slow myself down to cottage speed. In the meantime I'll be heroin-jonesing for an Internet connection and wondering why, oh, why I'm too cheap-ass to get a smartphone.
  • I will wonder why I didn't bring a laptop since I'd have LOTS of time to write that bit of software I never find time to write. Note that I do not own a laptop nor is there any particular bit of software I'm longing to write these days.
  • It will suddenly make perfect sense to damn the torpedoes and empty the bank account for a trip to Machu Pichu - if only I had an Internet connection to make the arrangements.
  • I will read a lot. Instead of breakfast-time newspaper, I will read a Wired magazine.
  • I will discover a burning need to try my hand at writing a short story, start a really great podcast, or address some other creative itch. I will also discover that the intensity of my itch is inversely proportional to my proximity to paved roads and wifi.
  • I will be silently thankful that I don't have to be the 'banker' during evening Rummoli. We go broke a lot during that game.
  • Showering every other day will be a-okay.
  • A sort of Stockholm Syndrome will take hold a day or two before we have to leave the cottage. That feeling will evaporate with my car's A/C kissing my skin.
  • On the trip home we will stop for a meal somewhere along highway 400 and it will feel like an oasis.
It's the same every year. Oddly, being cut-off from the world (a little bit) seems to charge my batteries even as I chafe against it all. So, I'll see you all in a week - maybe with something to show for the trouble, but probably not.