owlmoose: A photo of a Highway 1 roadsign, with the California Coast in the background (california - sign)
This long weekend in Los Angeles was just what I needed. We did too much for me to go into depth about everything, but here are some highlights:

Friday: Drove down, taking the Central Valley (I-5) route. I got to LA (actually Orange County) around 5pm, not too bad considering that I drove through most of the LA Basin during the first part of afternoon rush hour. There I met my friends A and AM (whom some long-time readers might remember as [livejournal.com profile] luvmoose and [livejournal.com profile] letters_to_ed; they were both regular players on the "guess the song lyrics" game that I used to post every week). We stayed with friends of A's, who were excellent hosts. I was tired from the drive, and A and AM were on East Coast time (they had flown in from Boston early in the morning), so we just had dinner and then found ice cream for dessert. And when one of the top hits on Yelp was Creamery N7, I knew where we had to go.

Saturday: The initial reason A and AM planned this trip was to attend a concert on Saturday night. (I'll explain my reason for joining them a little later.) But first, it was time for a spa day. We dropped by A's favorite nail place in Hawthorne for pedicures, then spent the rest of the afternoon at Burke Williams in Santa Monica. I got an excellent massage and then mostly lounged around reading my book, Heroine Worship, chosen because I thought it might be good vacation reading -- and I was right. Afterward, we drove up to downtown LA for the show, 80s Weekend 4, which is one in a series of concerts that bring together a bunch of New Wave bands, hosted by legendary DJ Richard Blade. The lineup: Berlin, Colin Hay (lead singer for Men at Work), The Fixx, Belinda Carlisle (my main draw to the show), The Psychedelic Furs, and Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark (aka OMD). I didn't know all the songs, but I knew at least a few things played by every band, and they were all engaging and high-energy performers. I sang, I danced, I had a good time. Right before the Psych Furs came out, Blade announced the line-up for 80s Weekend 5 in January, and A bought tickets before the show was over. (I might join them; depends on what else is going on then. One of the bands is the Violent Femmes, so it is tempting.)

Sunday: And now we get to my reason for traveling to LA this weekend. But first, a bit of context. A lived in LA for a couple of years a little while back, and while she was there she took a class at The Magic Castle, a private magician's club in Hollywood. She went to the club on a regular basis (that's actually how she knows the friend we stayed with), and still gets back whenever she has reason to be in the area. A few years ago, she mentioned that she had recently seen one of her favorite close-up magicians: Steve Valentine.

Yes. THAT Steve Valentine.

After recovering from my fangirl freak-out, I made A promise to let me know if she ever went back to the Magic Castle at a time she knew he was performing. Unfortunately she only got advance notice once, and the dates conflicted with FogCon, so I'd never managed it. (However, on that occasion she did somehow convince him to leave a message on my voice mail). So it remained a pipe-dream... until A called me about a month ago to inform me that he was performing his one-man show on July 30th and I was coming down to see it, and I concluded that she was right. So thanks to the cosmic good timing of the universe, the three of us went to see the show. It was splendid, an excellent blend of magic and memoir and storytelling, and afterwards I was brave enough to go up and say hello and get a picture.

omg I still can't quite believe this really happened )

He was very sweet and gracious, and if he didn't actually remember the voicemail incident, he did an excellent job of pretending. They say "never meet your idols" but I think it went pretty well this time.

Monday: AM got us day passes to use the pool facilities at the Hyatt in Newport Beach. It was swanky and nice, a relaxing way to spend the afternoon. I dipped in the pool but spent most of the time lounging again, switching between my book and my phone. This was the day that Anthony Scaramucci's brief moment in the sun came to an end, and the three of us had enjoyed reading each other our favorite Tweets and Facebook posts about the Mooch. That night, we went to the Magic Castle, where we saw three magicians (two of whom were women, which is unusual). The Castle is a neat place, and if you ever have the opportunity to visit I recommend it. (A took me once before, back when she was taking her class.)

Tuesday: Time to go home. I took the coastal route back (US 101 version, not Highway 1), which only takes a couple of hours longer and is a nicer drive. The return drive was mostly uneventful, except that I got rained on in the Santa Barbara area, highly unusual for August. I got home just before 7pm, missing the worst of SF traffic, and settled in for a nice evening flop on the couch.

Even after this brief a trip, I've still had some readjustment to normal life. But it was the perfect break, and I'm really glad I took it.
owlmoose: (marvel - jessica jones fractured)
I just realized that I totally neglected to mention here that I recently went back on Fangirl Happy Hour to talk to [personal profile] renay and [twitter.com profile] booksmugglers about the first season of Jessica Jones. Well, really more like "gush about", with a few minor criticisms. :) Spoilers throughout.

Listen here! Also links to download from iTunes and to all the resources we talked about on the show. And if you do listen, let me know what you think. :)
owlmoose: (marvel - peggy carter)
Peggy Carter TV series Peggy Carter TV series!!!!!

I am so excited about this you have no idea. Ever since word came down that a pilot script existed and that Hayley Atwell's option with Marvel had been extended, I have had my fingers crossed, waiting and hoping for this news. And now it is real. It is really actually happening. And it's been ordered direct to series so there's no question of whether it will be picked up. I AM SO EXCITED OMG.

Slightly more coherent thoughts on my Tumblr, here.
owlmoose: (avengers - captain america)
I have been waiting two years for this movie, and it did not disappoint. Some rambling spoilery thoughts behind the cut, cross-posted from Tumblr:

Spoilers yes these are spoilers )

Also, [personal profile] renay fed me a plot bunny and I wrote a quick fic, entitled "You Have 76 New Messages." Major, major spoilers.
owlmoose: (da - alistair 3)
AHHHHH OMG OMG MY FRIEND WAS AT THE MAGIC CASTLE AND SHE SAW STEVE VALENTINE PERFORM AND I COULDN'T GO BECAUSE FOGCON SO SHE GOT HIM TO RECORD A MESSAGE ON MY VOICE MAIL.

I am never getting rid of this phone. Never.

brb going to listen to it again. And again. And again.
owlmoose: (da - aeducan)
I've been contemplating doing this for awhile, and now it's done: "screenshots" (aka photographs taken from the television screen) of each of my three Grey Wardens. On my Tumblr, here. Also see above (or to the side, depending) for a shiny new icon of my dwarf lady. It makes me very happy.

I got the snap of Sereda today by replaying the opening of Awakening. I should do that once every few months just to get her back into my head -- watching her fight, hearing her battle shouts, relieving the reunion with King Alistair did so much for the story I've been stalled on.

Back later with my DA post for the day, where I take on the impossible task of choosing a favorite NPC. Because seriously, how am I supposed to do that?!
owlmoose: (da - anders hand)
So in Dragon Age 2, we somehow triggered a bug in the quest "Justice". Spoilers for that quest. Also for DA:O. )

We did finish Legacy today, and I adored it. More on that when I calm down a little.

Bad Romance

Aug. 9th, 2011 12:35 am
owlmoose: (da - hawke squares)
I had every intention of keeping my romantic options open for this first Dragon Age 2 playthrough, with an ultimate goal of a Fenris romance, because, well, Fenris. And I liked the theory of trying to romance a man so thoroughly broken, especially given that we've been siding with mages, which puts us on a bit of a rivalry footing. So that was the plan.

But then...

In which the best laid plans went terribly, awesomely awry. )
owlmoose: (da - alistair 3)
Last Monday, I finished up my replay of Origins (Sereda Aeducan, romanced Alistair, married him off to Anora without ending the relationship, and everyone seems to be living happily ever after, or as close as this game ever really gets) and started the first quest on Awakening (just through meeting Anders). After taking a quick break to play through Darkspawn Chronicles, I returned to Awakening later that night, and just in time, too, because I was provided the perfect antidote to the downers of DC in Awakening spoilers; a little over four hours in, just wrapping up the quests in the city proper. )
owlmoose: (da - alistair)
I suppose this was inevitable, really.

Title: Tainted Dreams
Fandom: Dragon Age: Origins
Rating: PG-13
Wordcount: 10,161
Pairings: Alistair/Female Cousland
Spoilers: Yes, for all of Origins. May not be compliant with Awakening or the DLC.
Notes: Written for the [community profile] newgameplus reversathon. The prompt, which was from [personal profile] wallwalker, was this: "If you romance a non-hardened Alistair as anyone BUT Cousland, and he becomes king, he'll say that he can't continue the romance because he has to have an heir, and both parents having the taint is too much a risk. Apply this statement to Alistair and Lady Cousland, once Alistair is king and the two are married. They produce an heir, but there's something... wrong, somehow. What's going on, and how do they deal with it?"

DW version / AO3 Version

This prompt... oh my god this prompt. It sat up and grabbed me and ate my soul. I wrote ten thousand words in five days, and it would probably have gone even faster if I hadn't needed to take a break to finish some things for FFEX. It has everything: tasty angst, a chance to explore a major detail of canon and to imagine what the world might look like after the game was over, my shiny new OTP (because let's face it, Alistair/Warden is so my OTP for this game, and quickly becoming one of my favorite pairings ever). How was I supposed to resist?

So I suppose writing a 10k-word fic in less than two weeks (and having an almost-finished WIP in my back pocket, ready to post in a few days) is a sign that I have a new fandom, and I would love to start meeting people. I've been a little leery of just jumping in to communities, though, because I'm a game and a half behind and worried about tramping into a den of spoilers. Does anyone have recommendations for newbie-friendly comms (on DW or LJ) that have a good culture of spoiler cuts, and won't mind someone who wants to talk about older content?
owlmoose: (da - alistair)
We beat Dragon Age: Origins tonight. That final battle: oof. It took us all day. Otherwise, I would like to find something rational to say about it, but I'm afraid my brain has gone to mush with all the squeeing. I loved this game. As in, totally unabashed fangirl adoration. As in, I started a replay before we even finished the first time through. I love the world, I love the characters, I love the backstories, I love Alistair, I love the gameplay, I love the balance between sandbox and storytelling, I love Alistair. Did I mention that I love Alistair? Maybe just a little bit.

Some spoilers. Female Cousland backstory, a few tidbits on other backstories. )

Another thing that I love about this game is that it's not over. The high replay value, of course, but I look forward to downloading some of the extras. Unfortunately, we don't have the "ultimate" edition that comes with everything bundled, so if we don't want to spend ridiculous amounts of money, we'll have to pick and choose. Any recommendations? Is Awakenings worth playing? Not to mention fic -- I have been itching for fic for weeks, but I was good and avoided spoilers and didn't go looking. And now I can! *rubs hands together with glee*

And of course there is Dragon Age 2 to come, as well. But not just yet, because Portal 2 takes priority. Oh yes. It does.
owlmoose: (Default)
We just finished Portal.

What an amazingly awesome game. The gameplay, the writing, the design, the ending (omg the ending): it was all excellent, but I think my very favorite part might be that the player character and the villain were both female, and not for any particular reason. Yay.

Also, I finally understand the song now.

So, when's the next one?
owlmoose: (Default)
Sweet, sweet shipping notice behind the cut. )

Of course, life being how it is, I have no idea when I'll have time to actually play it. But I can be excited anyway. *bounce bounce*

Shinies!

Mar. 2nd, 2010 11:37 pm
owlmoose: (Default)
A thousand thanks to [livejournal.com profile] auronlu, who gave me a heads up that the Distant Worlds Final Fantasy orchestral concert is coming back to San Francisco this summer! (July 15th and 16th) I went to check it out and discovered that, lo and behold, tickets are already on sale. So I snapped up a pair, and T and I are going on 7/16. I am very, very excited about this.

Also exciting: pre-ordering Final Fantasy XIII last weekend. I can hardly believe that it's just a week away.
owlmoose: (Default)
I saw Dennis Haysbert in a restaurant this afternoon! He was just walking by my table, calm and cool as could be. I didn't say anything, I just sat and stared, unable to take my eyes off of him until he was out of sight, hopefully not too embarrassingly open-mouthed. This is not quite as exciting as it would have been 7 years ago when I was a full-blown "24" fangirl, but it was still really, really cool.

He was a lot taller than I imagined he would be, and his smile is even bigger in person.

In other news, I went to a baseball game tonight, and although no one threw a no hitter this time (curse my luck for picking a game one day too late!), it was still an enjoyable outing. Even though it rained on us a little bit. Rain? In San Francisco? In July? What is this world coming to? On the upside, I saw one of the most spectacular rainbows of my life, springing out of the scoreboard and covering the sky. T took some pictures, and if he decides any are worthy of posting, I will definitely link.
owlmoose: (Default)
I've just come back from a reading by Naomi Novik, author of the Temeraire series, and I am officially a puddle of fangirly joy.

It was a joint event with Novik and epic fantasy writer Eldon Thompson, who was new to me. Novik kicked off the event by reading a short story set in the Temeraire universe about the first dragon to be tamed in the West (it's going to be published in an anthology of dragon stories). Thompson read from his latest book, and then the two of them gave a good hour of Q&A. They talked about the differences in their writing styles, and how they both got started in writing -- Novik got her start in fanfiction, but her first professional writing job was on the team that wrote the game Neverwinter Nights! -- and how they've benefitted in different ways from the experience of other writers. Thompson is also a screenwriter, and his latest project was an adaptation of The Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks, which was pretty exciting to hear. He admitted that it was his favorite book when he was nine; I was a bit older, probably around 14, but still. Naturally the first question was a request for an update on the films that Peter Jackson is planning to make of the Temeraire series, and she said that doesn't know the status, and in fact isn't going to be involved in the process at all. She trusts Peter Jackson to do it right, and I have to admit that it's hard to blame her.

In which there are spoilers for the Temeraire books, although nothing specific to Victory of Eagles, I don't think. )

The issue of fanfiction versus profiction came up, of course. Novik had two comments for anyone interested in making the switch: first, to write AU for practice in world-building, and second, to fall in love with your characters. Which I'd never really heard stated before, but it makes a lot of sense: most fanfic writers are attached to their characters, and it could be difficult to sustain interest in writing origfic if you don't have that same drive. Thompson (who has clearly never been involved in fandom) brought up the old "training wheels" analogy (paraphrased, the idea that writing fanfic is a way of getting started in writing, because you have the world and the characters as training wheels, but eventually you get tired of it and want to ride the bike on your own), but Novik disagreed with him. First she pointed out that there are plenty of people who are happy to only ever write fanfic and have no need to turn pro, or write origfic. Then she made another analogy: she said it's like playing music. You start out playing music written by other people, then you start making jazz riffs, and then maybe you move on to your own original compositions, but that doesn't mean it's not fun to play covers sometimes. A new comparison to me, but one that really felt right.

Then I got my books signed (and I was too tongue-tied to thank her for spearheading OTW, which I had planned to do, oh well), and then I came home, and then I immediately sat down to type this up because I didn't want to forget anything.

I need to see about going to more readings; I almost never do, and it's such fun to get that kind of insight into writers' ideas and their processes. And of course there's the fannish glow, which still hasn't worn off. Fun stuff.

ETA: Oh, one more thing. She's only under contract for one more book right now, but she thinks the series will go to about nine. And yes, we will get to North America eventually.
owlmoose: (Default)
Before the game was released, when I first heard that Final Fantasy 12 would feature a real-time rather than a turn-based battle system, I was among the dubious, because I have always preferred games that don't require much in the way of hand-eye coordination. The first time I played FFX I made T do all of Auron's overdrives; that's how clumsy I was. I've gotten better with practice but I'm still not terribly quick. I do best when I can take my time. So I was concerned -- would I hate having to deal with real-time battles?

25 hours in (non-spoilery keywords: Welcome to the Jungle), I can say that the answer is an unequivocal NO. I love this battle system. It's the best one ever. Let me tell you why.

Four reasons that the FFXII battle system rocks my socks. No spoilers, unless you count battle system mechanics and player-character names as spoilers. )

Auron yay

Apr. 2nd, 2006 10:48 am
owlmoose: (Default)
Pardon me, I'm having a fangirl moment.

Wooooo! :) Ah.

All right, nothing more to see here.
owlmoose: (Default)
Gavin Newsom, Boy Mayor, was spotted outside my workplace today. I was walking between buildings, on my third fruitless attempt to get some keys (fortunately the fourth was successful, accomplished when the facilities manager actually called my office and said "Come right now, I promise not to move a muscle until you get here!"), and there he was, chatting with the denizens of UN Plaza and pressing the flesh. I didn't get a good look at his face, but I recognized him right away: by his hair. Really. That shellacked coiff is highly distinctive. I briefly considered trying to slip in for a hello and a handshake, but there were too many people and I needed to get back to the library. Then I got upstairs and the place was buzzing -- apparently the library tech is a huge Gavin Newsom fangirl (yes, such things exist, I'm on the border of being one myself), and as soon as word got around that he was outside she ran downstairs and met him.

I wish I'd had my phone on me. Teach me not to carry it at all times!

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