Contents

Caty and Cara's Page

Our Computers

Snapshots with Text

Essays for Fun

Ken Burch's Tales

Ken's Neocron Tales

More Neocron Tales

Secret Wars

Tales of the Walker Clan

Our Cast

Why Kevin Doesn't Dance

Writing of Mine That Doesn't Totally Suck

Stuff dl Thinks Is Cool

The Old, Old Grandma Story

The Final Battle

James' Photos

James Meyer's Birds:

Introduction

Photos 1 through 25

Photos 26 through 50

Photos 51 through 75

Photos 76 through 100

Reading

a book cover

Playing

alChandler's Halls



Serving dozens since 1999!


Arthur

That's what Arthur Morgan looks like, you don't get to change his appearance I'm afraid. He's sort of like Geralt in that regard. In fact Geralt was more customizable then Arthur, you could shave Geralt's beard and cut his hair if you wished. I don't know if Arthur can get a haircut in the game. Taking a screenshot without the HUD is convoluted, you hit F6 to enter photo mode and it's saved to Rockstar's servers. Then you can enter Rockstar's social club from the menu, bring up the photo and take another shot of it by hitting Steam's photo key, F12, that saves it locally. Rockstar, like a lot of companies that have their own launcher that people really don't want to use, is trying to come up with ways to make you want to embrace the thing rather then just putting up with it. Hence the whole social club thing.

I'm sure you're not blown away by the picture. I've got a lot of stuff turned down and since my monitor runs at 1920x1080, even if my computer could run everything at ultra without choking, I wouldn't notice a difference. I've been through lots of video cards but I've only had a few monitors. However good RDR2 might look at higher resolutions then 1920x1080, I don't think it's the game that's going to inspire me to get a new monitor.

Now Cyberpunk 2077 that might do it.

December 12, 2019


A Red Dead Report

I've played a bit of Red Dead Redemption 2, so far I've learned to ride and shoot. The next step is to learn how to hunt. Our little party has taken refuge in an abandoned farm, we're snowed in and running out of food. So Charles has just handed me a bow and we're off to bag some game. No doubt it will be slow work and require a bit of patience. Indeed, the game is remarkably slow paced, I've played for an hour and a half and I'm still in the tutorial.

From what I gather, some people never finish this game. Not because of any difficulty but because they wander away from the plot and just explore, fish, hunt, trade and pretty much leave Dutch to his fate. In Skyrim and Witcher 3 Id do that, I'd just forget about the impending doom threatening the world and go off to help an old woman find her beloved frying pan. But in Red Dead Redemption 2 the world is not in danger. You are but your fate, and the fate of the rest of Dutch's gang for that matter, is pretty unimportant in the larger scheme of things. So why not take some time to fish at a quiet stream. the rest of the world can wait.

Of course this freedom is not available to me at the moment. I'm trapped by a blizzard at the Mountains of Madness. But I expect things will open up soon enough.

December 12, 2019


A Report on the Media I Consumed Today

First off, I caught up on some of the CW superhero shows, then watched the first episode of their big crossover, Crisis on Infinite Earths in which the heroes from their shows get together to try to stop the destruction of the multiverse. It's based on the 1985 comic book series by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. You've probably never read it but you might have see this cover.

CW's version doesn't have as many heroes and it's unlikely that Supergirl will die but it did not disappoint and that's something.

And I just finished an hour and a half of Red Dead Redemption 2. It took two tries to get is started, but it did start which puts me ahead of a lot of people. In this game I'm Arthur Morgan, a member of Dutch van der Linde's gang. It's 1899, the age of outlaw gangs is over and we're holed up in an abandoned camp in the middle of a blizzard straight out of The Terror. The last game by Rockstar I played was Grand Theft Auto 5 and I was never able to get out of the training mission. I suck at driving vehicles in games and GTA5 had a lot of cars. But I'm doing all right at riding a horse, so far anyway. Hell, I actually managed to kill a couple of wolves on horseback.

And so things are rather pleasant, media wise, here at the Halls.

December 9, 2019


alChandler Does Something Unadvisable

It's still not ready for prime time and I have a poor record with games from Rockstar but I'm about to pay $60 for Red Dead Redemption. Just call me alChadler the Self Destructive and be done with it.

By the way, they get fucking weather in Sparta. Snow! Lots of it!. Power was out there for four days. But I'm safely back home and about to hit the purchase button on Steam.

December 8, 2019


Exile

I was planning to return home from Sparta on Monday, then the power went out in most of Sussex County. So we abandoned Sparta and headed to New york to take refuge in Donna's daughter's apartment. It's a very nice place ad Donna and I are grateful for the shelter. Furthermore Donna can do some of her work there. But I haven't really used my laptop for a couple of days.

Caty and Donna use their laptop's trackpad and are quite good at it. And they're used to using their laptops in confined spaces. I can use a trackpad but I'm still pretty pathetic at it, and I like to sprawl. It boils down to a simile I've used before, people's computers and their workspaces are like kitchens. If you're a good cook and you're cooking in someone else's kitchen you're going to flounder.

But I've been here three days now, Donna and Caty are at work and I finally set up Little Kosh on Caty's coffee table and updated this page. It takes me awhile to adjust but I believe I can now function here, computer wise.

By the way, the Christmas picture is by the late Gahan Wilson, it's probably his most famous cartoon. And finally, it's rather dark in here at the moment and I turned on the laptop's keyboard lights. Damn, I've got to get me a keyboard like this for Kosh. While I still love the clickety clack of a mechanical keyboard, my 63 year old eyes love the back lit keys Little Kosh has.

December 4, 2019


Games 2019

I don't anticipate getting involved in a game before next year. That may change but meanwhile here's the list of games I played in 2019. As usual a + means that I actually beat the game, an increasingly rare occurrence now that I'm 63.

Far Cry 5
Dead Space+
Seven: The Days Long Gone Rage
Blood+
Blood: Post Mortem+
Dead Space 2
Dusk
Warhammer Chaosbane+
Wolfenstein Youngblood
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
Rebel Galaxy+
Control
Disco Elysium
The Outer Worlds+
Void Bastards
Superliminal+
Ion Fury

The game that disappointed me the most was Disco Elysium, it did nothing for me and yet it's universally being hailed as a work of art. I feel like the one guy in the room who likes fantasy but is bored by Game of Thrones. And the one game I would have loved to finish was Control. Alas the penultimate fight was too tough for me. There was a patch released in October that was supposed to tweak the combat a bit but it was yanked and so far the devs haven't released another one. I still have my saved games on my drive just in case. Finally the game I was proudest of finishing was Dead Space. It took me 10 years to beat that one.

Next year the game I'm really looking forward to is Cyberpunk 2077 by CD Projekt Red, the folks who did Witcher 3. That will be released in April. In December of this year Steam is supposed to get Red Dead Redemption 2. At one point it was on my buy sight unseen list but its launch on the Epic Store was so awful I'm going to wait to see what the Steam forms say about it before I drop my $60.

And that's it for gaming in 2019.

November 25, 2019


Deep Fakes

You know, for as long as there's been media there's been people trying to manipulate it. I realize that it's possible to produce videos that have people saying things they never said and doing thing they never did but let's step back for a bit. In 1917 this photograph convinced Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that fairies were real:

If you're gullible or you desperately want to believe something, you'll believe it. This sort of thing has been happening since the Donation of Constantine and the Letter of Prester John. Spread truth when you can and don't worry about the things you can't control.


Half Life Alyx

Valve is finally releasing a new Half Life game next month. It's called Half Life Alyx, you play as Alyx Vance, it's set between Half Life and Half Life 2 and it's VR only. So if you don't have a VR headset you'll have to buy one to play it when it's released next March. Here are the minimum requirements:

OS: Windows 10
Processor: Core i5-7500 / Ryzen 5 1600
Memory: 12 GB RAM
Graphics: GTX 1060 / RX 580 - 6GB VRAM

Not to mention a VR headset. Verge points out that Only 45% of Steam customers have 12 GB of RAM, 35% have a video card that will pass muster and 25% Steam customers don't have four cores. I qualify to play the game but I'm not sure my vision would work well with a VR headset at this point. And even if it could manage, when I tested the Oculus Rift at Best Buy a few years ago I discovered that unless I can see the controls on a device I can't use it. So I'm probably going to pass on Alyx's adventures.

When Valve released Half Life 2 back in the day they distributed it exclusively on Steam. A lot of people bitched, then downloaded Steam and bought the game. Valve has invested a lot of money into VR technology and would like to see more people adopting it so it makes sense to force the issue with a new Half Life game. All that being said, I hope Half Life Alyx succeeds because I'd like to see Valve get back into producing games on a regular basis. The whole thing is a gamble for them but let's face it, they can afford to gamble at this point.

November 21, 2019


Gordon Sondland



I may be a scwewy rabbit, but I'm not goin' to Alcatwaz.

November 20, 2019


The List of Games

I almost posted my annual list of games today. But you know what? Rockstar released still another patch for Red Dead Redemption 2 and it's possible that by the time Steam gets the game next month it will be playable, so I decided to hold off. If I'm known for nothing else, I'm known for my optimism.

November 19, 2019


Alan Moore's Birthday

That's Alan Moore, he turned 63 today. Moore wrote Watchman, From Hell, V for Vendetta, Jerusalem and he created John Constantine. He tells the story of how he met Constantine in real life:

"One interesting anecdote that I should point out is that one day, I was in Westminster in London -- this was after we had introduced the character -- and I was sitting in a sandwich bar. All of a sudden, up the stairs came John Constantine. He was wearing the trenchcoat, a short cut -- he looked -- no, he didn't even look exactly like Sting. He looked exactly like John Constantine. He looked at me, stared me straight in the eyes, smiled, nodded almost conspiratorially, and then just walked off around the corner to the other part of the snack bar. I sat there and thought, should I go around that corner and see if he is really there, or should I just eat my sandwich and leave? I opted for the latter; I thought it was the safest. I'm not making any claims to anything. I'm just saying that it happened. Strange little story."

If anyone in our universe could meet Constantine in a pub in London it's Alan Moore.

.

November 18, 2019


The Snyder Cut

A bit of history first, if you please. Zack Snyder directed a reboot of the Superman movie franchise. It was called Man of Steel and it made $468 million world wide. That was considered a disappointment. I saw it and didn't care for Snyder's take on Mr. Kent. Snyder went on to direct Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. It made $873.6, that too was a disappointment. And that brings us to Justice League. Zack Snyder directed it but before he could finish his daughter died. Snyder turned over the reins to Joss Whedon who finished the movie. He also lightened the tone of the movie, injecting a little humor here and there. Justice League was another box office disappointment, grossing $657.9 worldwide. After that DC and Warners scrapped the idea of an overall arc for their movies, instead concentrating on stand alone films like Joker and Wonder Woman.

A lot of people loved Snyder's darker take on superheroes and when you love something the natural impulse is to try to share it with the world. Some of those people think that the reason Justice League underperformed had nothing to do with a dislike of Snyder's vision for Superman and the gang, it's because Snyder's vision for the League was altered by Whedon. They want Snyder's original cut of Justice League released. Recently Gal Gadot and Ben Affleck called on Warners to release the Snyder cut.

I don't know if Snyder's version of the movie is finished enough to make a release viable. But while the release of the Snyder cut of Justice League would please his many fans, I don't think Snyder's original version would win any converts to his vision of the DC univese.

Having said all that, I love this scene in Man of Steel in which Superman reminds Zod that you don't threaten a person's mother.

November 18, 2019


The Mandalorian: Part 2

From the people who brought you Manimal.

November 13, 2019


The Mandalorian

Star Wars was never a thing for me, my pulpy space franchise was always Star Trek. I loved Trek, I liked Star Wars. That's why when the prequel trilogy came out I was able to dismiss it with nary a tear. I saved my outrage for Star Trek Voyager.

Tonight I watched the first episode of The Mandalorian on Disney+ and for the first time in ages I'm interested, really interested in Star Wars. Mandalorians are a warrior race but unlike Klingons they can keep their mouths shut. The Mandalorian in question is a bounty hunter, he gives off a Clint Eastwood vibe and the show is a space western, a genre I haven't seen since Firefly. The next episode drops this Friday and I'm eager to see it. I've never associated the word eager with the Star Wars franchise before. In short, Disney+ earned its $6.99 tonight.

November 13, 2019


alChandler's Rules for Ads

I pay for four news sites and allow ads on three of them. My rationale is that while the New York Times gets my digital subscription money, it needs ad revenue as well. The paper's ads are annoying, as most ads are, but not obnoxious. And that's pretty much my rule, I'll turn off my ad blocker on your site if your site is valuable to me and if you don't pull shit like 15 second full screen ads before I can access your content.

Occasionally I'll follow a link to a site that gives me the Opps! It looks like you're using an ad blocker. Please whitelist us to continue. At that point I go somewhere else. Turning off my ad blocker on your site isn't a right, it's a privilege I grant after I've checked your site out. And by the way, if I go to a site and it wants me to log into Facebook or Google before I can continue, fuck you, I don't care if you're giving away bacon dipped in cocaine, I'm leaving.

I'm stern but fair.

November 12, 2019