I finally finished the combined read of Orlando Innamorato and Orlando Furioso and I must admit it got to be a bit of a slog towards the end. I probably should have taken a brake between the two books. If you're interested Orlando Furioso is the better poem. Paradoxically, I recommend the prose translation by Guido Waldman if you plan to tackle it yourself, I don't think Barbara Reynolds' poetic translation quite works. But perhaps I'll give it a second try in a few years.
Since then I've read a very short book about Charles Dodgson's interest in photography and I'm half way through Rage, Bob Woodward's second book on the Trump administration. It's not going to change anybody's mind but it does drive home the point that even if Trump was a left wing Democrat he would still be intellectually and emotionally unsuited for the presidency.
I'm in one of my insomniac periods but I finally made up my sleep deficit. I'm tempted to celebrate with some beer but something tells me that drinking stimulants late ant night would not be a good thing, at least not until my sleeping patterns become a tad more regular.
September 16, 2020
You Say Reavers, I Say Marauders
Peril on Gorgon sets itself up as a noir mystery. A woman named Wilhelmina Ambrose hires you to find her mother's journal on an asteroid named Gorgon. Gorgon was the site of a project by Spacer's Choice, one of the major corporations in the system, to develop a drug that would give workers more energy and lessen their need for sleep. The project collapsed, Spacer's Choice evacuated the asteroid and Wilhelmina's mom, Doctor Olivia Ambrose is believed to be dead and she's been blamed for the disastrous outcome on Gorgon. Wilhelmina hopes the journal will clear her mother's name.
Along the way you fight lots of evil grunts called Marauders. They're the equivalent of orcs in a fantasy game. As you travel through the ruined pharmaceutical complex you discover the truth behind the Marauders. The drug Dr. Ambrose was trying to develop, Adrena-Time, had a side effect that made the test subjects psychotically aggressive. They became the Marauders. In fact the Marauders are still addicted to the stuff and that's why so many of them hang out on Gorgon, scrounging for Adrena-Time hypos in the ruined labs.
But that plot twist was used in Serenity back in 2005. The marauders were called Reavers and the drug was an atmospheric agent designed to inhibit aggression. It was tested on a small colony and it worked too well, 90% of the colony's population just laid down and vegged out until they died. The other 10% became psychotically aggressive and became Reavers.
The Outer Wilds made no secret of its root in Joss Whedon's Firefly my ship, Unreliable looks like Mal's ship, Serenity. My mechanic, Parvati, is a lot like Serenity's mechanic, Kaylee. Fine, I get that, but borrowing the Reaver storyline from Serenity seems a bit much. And because I was a Firefly fan, the big reveal fell flat for me.
All that being said, it was nice to be back in that universe for a little while.
Update: I've done just about everything there is to do in this expansion, including killing the feared Marauder, Charles from Accounting. Every so often I like hanging around in a game world after the quests are done, I did that in Skyrim and Witcher 3. But they were open world game with procedurally generated bad guys. The Outer Worlds isn't like that. Still I may stay on Gorgon a bit longer. I've pretty much settled on Nyoka and Ellie as the NPCs I take out with me. I may take some of the others in my crew out for a spin, just to level them up for a bit. Meanwhile, here's a shot taken from Gorgon looking up at the Ambrose Estate on an asteroid orbiting Gorgon, a nice touch.
September 13, 2020
The Outer Wilds has two parents. The first is Fallout New Vegas, the second is Firefly. My ship, Unreliable, has a distinct resemblance to Serenity, Captain Reynolds' ship and my mechanic, Parvati, owes an awful lot to Mal's mechanic, Kaylee. All well and good.
I've been playing the expansion to The Outer Wilds for a few hours now and I've reached what seems to be the big twist, you know, the twist that changes everything. I was suitably impressed until I remembered the plot of the Firefly movie, Serenity. It took me an hour or two and I was somewhat disappointed when I got the connection with the movie. Of course I haven't finished the game so there may be a major fake out coming up. And I'm still having fun albeit somewhat subdued fun.
September 12, 2020
Rolf and I had started playing The Division a few days ago. After all, we finished The Division 2, the first one should be a breeze. It didn't work out that way, Rolf found the gameplay repetitive and I found it too difficult for me. My hand/eye coordination was nothing to write home about in in my 20s and it hasn't gotten any better in my 60s. So, Rolf is going to play Horizon Zero Dawn and I was psyched for The Outer Worlds: Peril on Gorgon dlc for Obsidian's answer to Firefly that I finished last year.
It was supposed to be released on the Epic store today, it's 5:30 PM and it looks like it isn't showing up today. Seems that Epic accidentally put it on the store yesterday and some people bought it and downloaded it. So Epic took it down and released an emergency patch for The Outer Worlds that would remove the dlc. That worked but since the dlc made changes to your saved games, folks who had it early found that their saved games would no longer work. Obsidian posted this helpful message on Twitter:
And that's been the only message from Obsidian. Console players did get the dlc today but a lot of them have a different problem. The dlc requires you to have finished a quest called Radio Free Monarch. But it also requires you not to have gone on to the final area of the game, Tartarus. But not to worry, the game autosaves before you leave the ship on Tartarus. Unfortunately console players don't always have the luxury of keeping around a lot of saved games and some of them just have saves on Tartarus. So even if they buy the dlc, it won't run for them. Well it will providing they start a new game and finish everything up to and including Radio Free Monarch.
And I can't get upset about this, I mean the world is fucked right now.
But Epic is trying to take on Apple in court and trying to set itself up ad the spunky alternative to Steam. So the people running Epic might be a little angsty about things right now.
September 9, 2020
Gaming in the Year of the Great Plague
You know the last big solo game I played? It was Greedfall and I finished that on 2/1/20. I've played other games since then and finished three co-op games with Rolf but Greedfall was the last big solo game I finished. No wonder I feel a bit sluggish.
But this Wednesday the first DLC for The Outer Worlds arrives, it's called Peril on Gorgon:
I don't expect it to last as long as The Outer Worlds did but if I get 15 or 20 hours out if it I'll be happy. Then on 11/18/20 Cyberpunk 2077 arrives, it's by CD Projekt RED, the people who did Witcher 3, a game I played for 178 hours. With luck Cyberpunk 2077 will carry me over until 2021.
September 6, 2020
I've never owned a Jaguar and I don't anticipate owning one in the future. I had one friend who owned a Jag and she bitched about $1,500 oil changes. My sympathy was limited I'm afraid, Jaguars weren't designed for practicality and that's how I feel about Apple products. If you buy an Apple computer or phone you're going to pay more money then if you bought a HP laptop or a Samsung phone. Your software choices will be limited and if your laptop breaks forget about taking it to the Geek Squad, you're taking it to the nearest Apple Store.
All that being said, many people do like Apple's stuff, some because they use software that's not available for Windows, others because their place of business is an Apple house. And some people are Apple fans because they just like the aesthetics of Apple products.
And to be honest, my first two smart phones were iPhones, so I've no right to be snooty about happy Apple users. But you'll pay less for an Android phone or a Windows computer, you'll have a greater choice of software and if your machine breaks you won't have to drive to Cherry Hill to get it repaired. If none of those things are deal breakers for you, then enjoy your iMac, I admit it looks a lot cooler then my HP.
September 6, 2020
Video Killed the Radio Star
As sung by Hitler and Stalin. One of the more bizarre things I've seen in a truly bizarre year.
September 3, 2020
Peggy Murphy worked as an inspector for the Casino Control Commission. In 2008, I think it was 2008, she retired and a going away party was held for her at High Point Pub in Absecon. I don't do well at parties but I liked her and showed up, to Peggy's surprise as I remembered. I didn't stay long and as I was going she asked me when I planned to retire, I told her I was thinking of going in 2012 when I'd be 56. She nodded and said, "You might make it."
Peggy knew what she was talking about, her cousin was Senator Jim Whelan and Whelan, like a lot of people in state government, did not think very highly of the Commission and its 200+ inspectors. As it turned out Peggy was being a bit too optimistic.
In 2009 Chris Christie, a former prosecutor, ran for governor. Among other things he promised that he would cut state government and lower taxes. A lot of inspectors I knew voted for him, after all lower taxes are great! And this was after Christie released a position paper that recommended that the functions of the Commission and the Division of Gaming Enforcement be merged. My patience for adults who have a poor grasp of where their self interests lay is limited.
Christie was elected and he put together a task force to look at streamlining gaming regulations. On 6/30/10 the task force released its recommendations. The only one I cared about was the one that said the inspection staff should be abolished and its duties turned over to the Division. At 2:00 AM on 7/1/10 I filed my retirement papers via computer and picked 9/1/10 as my retirement date. At the time there was no legislation to abolish the inspection staff, that came later, but it was coming. Christie had several task forces and he always followed their recommendations.
And I'm rehashing this because yesterday was the 10th anniversary of my retirement. I saw no reason to stay to the end. As it turned out the legislation abolishing the inspection staff was passed shortly after I retired, and it was passed overwhelmingly:
But for my friends things worked out all right, a few former inspectors are still working for the Commission, others got jobs in the Division, still others ended up in a casino job or something else in the private sector and one just sat around like a lump and played games.
And after ten years I've come to the conclusion that the casinos have managed to limp along without me.
September 2, 2020
Rolf and I gave up on Ghost Recon Wildlands, the annoyance factor was starting to beat the fun factor. Still, we got 40+ hours out of it, I don't always get that out of games that I liked. We're in the process of deciding on our next adventure, tentatively looking at Diablo 3. It's a quick play through, it's relatively inexpensive (as befits an eight year old game) and mindless fun is good. Meanwhile there's these guys:
The goblin on the left is Snotwicket, a rogue. The one on the right is Plurp, a priest. Moon and I created those guys in World of Warcraft ages ago. But Moon got a nine to five job and with one thing and another we haven't played in years. But we're both retired now and a new expansion drops in October so we trotted out these low level characters to relearn the game. The short term goal is for Moon's character, Sparrowmoon, to get through the opening bit of the last expansion,The Battle for Azeroth so Sparrow and alChandler can play together in Kul Tiras, a series of islands added to the game in 2018. The long term goal is to get them back in fighting trim for the Shadowlands expansion. Meanwhile, Snotwicket and Plurp get to play for a bit.
August 31, 2020
When I finished Matteo Maria Boiardo's poem, Orlando Innamorato, Orlando in Love, I took my paperback copy of Ludovico Ariosto's sequel, Orlando Furioso from the shelf. My first encounter with Orlando Furioso came via the Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series in 1973. A fellow named Richard Hodgens translated it as prose and sent a sample to Lin Carter, the editor of the series. Carter liked it and commissioned a full translation, I read volume one of that. However the series was canceled by Ballantine in 1974 and that the end of Hodgens' project. But I wanted to read the whole work so years later I picked up both volumes of Barbara Reynolds translation and read the whole work. I hate to admit this but it was tough going.
Reynolds translated the poem as poetry and that's usually a good thing. But she also tried to keep Ariosto's rhyme scheme intact and that wasn't so good, Italian has a lot more rhymes then English. Hodgens translated the poem as prose and I enjoyed the small section of the work that found its way into print a lot more, it's just a matter of taste. Years after that I picked up a prose translation by Guido Waldman. That translation was a lot better, although Ariosto's poetry was lost.
So when a translation of Orlando Innamorato was published I bought it, I wanted to read the backstory. But it was translated as verse and I put it off until a few weeks. It was translated by Charles Stanley Ross and while it's still a little clunky it works better then Reynolds. Ross kept the verse form but dumped the rhymes, although he'd take an easy rhyme now and then. So armed with the backstory of Orlando, Rinaldo, Rondomonte and the others I picked up Waldman's translation to reread and saw:
I actually wanted to reread Waldman's translation in print but I'm afraid my eyes aren't up to text that size anymore. Fortunately the translation was available on the Kindle. Yay.
The story is basically this, Orlando is Charlemagne's best knight. He however is in love with Angelica, Princess of Cathy (as is Orlando's cousin, Rinaldo). When Agramante, the King of Africa, decides to invade France Charlemagne isn't worried, he's got Orlando. If Charlemagne's knights were Avengers, Orlando would be Thor. Unfortunately, Orlando realizes that Angelica doesn't love him so he goes crazy and is out of the fight for most of the poem. France is pretty much fucked. Orlando Furioso translates as The Madness of Roland.
I mentioned the Avengers, Orlando and his buddies are essentially 16th century superheroes, routinely cutting their enemies in half with a single swipe of their swords. Ariosto just wanted you to have fun and hoped you wouldn't over think things.
By the way, somebody pointed out that if Thanos could use the infinity stones to kill have the people in the universe, he could also have used them to give every inhabited planet twice as much resources.
August 30, 2020
I follow @scalzi on Twitter. John Scalzi is a writer but he also has four cats, all of whom enjoy catnip. But even the best catnip toys putters out after a bit, so he took an old sock, poured catnip into it and threw it to his cats. When they got bored he'd refill it with more catnip. So I decided to try that with Newton. It seems to be working.
August 26, 2020
An Official Gaming Mouse
You can tell it's a gaming mouse by the LED G.
August 26, 2020
The universe is moving towards a state of maximum entropy and that probably explains why I've had to replace my office chair, computer headphones, mouse, modem and router over the last few weeks.
The mouse and headphones went down today. I'm quite pleased with the headphones but the mouse will require a period of adjustment. I bought a Logitech G502 gaming mouse, as opposed to a business mouse I guess, and the mouse wheel is very, very loose. At first I thought the mouse was defective but it turns out the wheel is supposed to be loose, a apparently it's a gaming thing. Searching for opinions on the G502, the more time you spend gaming the more likely it is that you like the wheel. People who don't play a lot of PC games tend to dislike it.
I'm set in my ways and that's not really a good thing, so while I don't like the loose wheel, I'm going to try to adjust to it rather then take it back. And it just might help me with changing guns on the fly in Ghost Recon.
August 24, 2020
The Outer Worlds
When it was released The Outer Worlds was billed as the spiritual successor to Fallout New Vegas. Having played both games I'm afraid I don't see The Outer Worlds quite that way but I had a lot of fun playing it. When I was finished I kept my saved games on Kosh because there was talk of expansions and I paid good money for a 2 TB drive. Today I learned that the first expansion comes out on 9/9/20 and I reinstalled the game and watched the ending sequence again.
By the way, Baldur's Gate 3 enters early access on 9/30/20. It's being done by Larian, the studio that did Divinity Original Sin 2. I had mixed feelings about Baldur's Gate and never got very far in the second game but after completing DOS2 with Rolf, I think I'm going to give Baldur's Gate 3 a try. So while I'll be keeping an eye on the reports from the early access players, I'll hold out for the full game. By the way, Baldur's Gate 2 was released in 2000. Twenty years is a long time to wait for a sequel.
August 20, 2020
A few years ago I read a verse translation of the Ramayana. It was translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith in 1870 and since the original was in verse he rendered it in rhymed couplets:
To sainted Nárad, prince of those
Whose lore in words of wisdom flows.
Whose constant care and chief delight
Were Scripture and ascetic rite ,
The good Válmíki, first and best
Of hermit saints, these words addressed:
“In all this world, I pray thee, who
Is virtuous, heroic, true?
Firm in his vows, of grateful mind,
To every creature good and kind?
Bounteous, and holy, just, and wise,
Alone most fair to all men's eyes?
Devoid of envy, firm, and sage,
Whose tranquil soul ne'er yields to rage?
Whom, when his warrior wrath is high,
Do Gods embattled fear and fly?v
Whose noble might and gentle skill
The triple world can guard from ill?
Who is the best of princes, he
Who loves his people's good to see?
The store of bliss, the living mine
Where brightest joys and virtues shine?
Queen Fortune's best and dearest friend,
Whose steps her choicest gifts attend?
Who may with Sun and Moon compare,
With Indra, Vish?u, Fire, and Air?
Grant, Saint divine, the boon I ask,
For thee, I ween, an easy task,
To whom the power is given to know
If such a man breathe here below.”
And on and on that way. I got through it because I always wanted to read the Ramayana. I suppose I could have went with the Mahabharata but it's a lot longer.
Gutenberg has another translation of the Ramayana by Manmatha Nath Dutt in 1896. Unlike Griffith, Dutt doesn't merit a Wikipedia article and he didn't translate Sanskrit as rhyming couplets, opting for prose instead:
The ascetic Valmiki asked that best of sages and foremost of those conversant with words, ever engaged in austerities and Vaidika studies, Narada saying,—"Who at present in this world is alike crowned with qualities, and endued with prowess, knowing duty, and grateful, and truthful, and firm in vow,—who is qualified by virtue of his character, and who is ever studious of the welfare of all creatures? Who is learned, hath studied society, and knoweth the art of pleasing his subjects? And who alone is ever lovely to behold? Who hath subdued his heart, and controlled his anger, is endowed with personal grace, and devoid of malice; and whom, enraged in battle, do even the gods, fear? Great is my curiosity to hear of such a person. Thou canst, O Maharshi1 tell me of a man of this description." Hearing Valmiki's words, Narada, cognizant of the three worlds, said with alacrity,—"Do thou listen! Rare as are the qualities mentioned by thee, I will, O sage, having duly considered, describe unto thee a person endued with them. There is one sprung from the line of Ikshwaku, known by the name of Rama. He is of subdued soul and exceeding prowess; effulgent; endowed with patience; having senses under control; intelligent; learned in morality; eloquent; crowned with grace; the slayer of foes; broad-shouldered; possessed of mighty arms, a conch-shaped neck, fleshy jaws, and a broad chest; a powerful bowman; the repressor of foes; having plump shoulder-blades; of arms reaching down unto his knees; with a beautiful head, and a graceful forehead; and endowed with excellent might; having symmetrical limbs; and of a cool hue; and possessed of prowess; and having a well- developed chest; with expansive eyes; crowned with auspiciousness and favourable marks; knowing duty; firm in promise; aye engaged in the good of his subjects; of accomplished renown; furnished with knowledge; pure in body and spirit; modest towards superiors; versed in self-knowledge; like unto Prajapati himself; blest with prosperity; protecting all; the destroyer of enemies, and supporter of all living beings; and the stay of order, practising all the duties of his class; and preserving those cleaving unto him; versed in the profundities of the Vedas and the Vedangas; accomplished in archery; gifted with a good memory; ascertaining with rapidity the truth of things; the darling of all; unreproved; of unvanquished spirit; discerning; proficient in every branch of learning; ever resorted to by the good even as the ocean is, by the rivers; worthy of being honored; having an equal regard for all; and capable of filling the heart with ever-new sensations. Crowned with every grace; he enhanceth the joys of Kaucalya; being like unto the sea in gravity, and unto the Himavat in patience. In prowess, he is like unto Vishnu, and boasteth of the personal attractions of the Moon. In anger he resembleth the fire raging at the dissolution of all; and in forgiveness, he is like unto the Earth. In giving away, he is like unto (Kuvera) the Bestower of riches, and in truth, he is like another Dharma.
A bit flowery but easier to swallow then Griffith.
Rama was the ideal prince but it's sort of unfair, he was an avatar of Vishnu so he had a leg up on the rest of us. And while I'd like to read Dutt's translation I'm not sure my aging brain has the discipline. Like a lot of people, living in the age of Covid 19, not to mention Trump, is making me strange.
So there it is. Right now after reading a book on the right wing's successful drive to loosen regulations on businesses over the last 40 years I'm not in the mood for anything serious and right now I'm reading one of Martha Wells' Murderbot books. The Ramayana is not even on the schedule, much less in the batter's circle. But even if I never read Dutt's translation, I'm still surprised he doesn't merit a Wikipedia article.
August 19, 2020
Hail, Caesar! is the first film by Ethan and Joel Coen that I enjoyed. Among other things it's a movie about making movies in the early 50s and the film has bits from the movies that Capitol Pictures is making. The musical number No Dames from a movie about sailors on leave is a lot like numbers in the musicals from the late 40s and early 50s that I watched as kid, but it's just a little off.
Perhaps it's just that I got the jokes in Hail Caesar! I watched enough movies from that time period to get the references. Hell, maybe it's time to give The Big Lebowski one more try.
August 18, 2020
I've made no secret of my love of comic books. Today Rolf and I were talking and I mentioned that DC Comics laid off 20% of its staff. I said something to the effect that at one time shows like Batman and Wonder Woman were adjuncts to the books but now it looks like comics will serve DC's television shows and movies. Right on cue I saw this in Gizmodo about the DC layoffs. Jim Lee, the publisher is talking about DC's future:
Lee, however, did clarify that the reduction in staff would absolutely mean a reduction in the volume of work published by DC.
“That said, we will be reducing the size of the slate,” he said. “But it’s about looking at everything and looking at the bottom 20 percent, 25 percent of the line that wasn’t breaking even or was losing money. It’s about more punch for the pound, so to speak, and increasing the margins of the books that we are doing. It was about aligning the books to the franchise brand content we’ve developed and making sure that every book we put out, we put out for a reason.”
Dear me, that doesn't sound promising at all. Still, nothing last forever, not even Superman.
August 17, 2020
Shadowlands Beta Test
Shadowlands is the next expansion for World of Warcraft. For some reason I got email from Blizzard telling me that I could get into the test iff I wanted. Apologizes for the wonky sound, my voice starts out soft and then gets louder. I'm assuming that's because my headphones are getting old, or perhaps it's a setting on Bandicam. Either way I don't record my voice often enough to care to investigate. It's partially Kosh fatigue, over the last couple of weeks I've spent a large (for me) chunk of change on him and I've had enough.
At any rate the purpose of a beta test is to discover bugs both small and large and the video shows a game breaking bug. I, and a thousand other people I assume, dutifully reported it and can now sleep the sleep of the just.
August 8, 2020
That's my old modem/router combo. I'm sorry to say that we never really got along but you have to put some work into any relationship and for a couple of years we were able to get along. But for the last month or so things got pretty bad. Today Rolf installed a new modem and a new router, they're separate units.
Most people use modem/router combo units from their cable companies these days and I'd be willing to consider that if I could buy the equipment from Comcast. But Comcast leases the stuff to you so I remain in the minority of folks who insist on owning their equipment. I've gone form cutting edge to old geezer. You know, the type of annoying old shit who tells you, "You're not driving a car unless you're using a manual transmission." I ignore those guys and you should ignore me.
But it's been a few years since I've had a modem and a router on my desk and I'm pretty happy about things right now.
August 7, 2020
Newton was somewhat leery of the new office chair at first but today he finally came around.
August 7, 2020
Upgrading the Office
That's my new office chair. My old one was comfortable but was also falling apart. This one is supposed to be better for my back, is somewhat less comfortable, more expensive then the old one and I can't sit cross legged on it, at least not for very long. But I'm 64 and I'm under the impression that an ergonomic chair is an unmitigated good thing, at least as far as my back is concerned.
I'm also replacing my old modem/router combo with a separate modem and router. The old combo had to be reset once a month and recently that's increased to once, and sometimes twice, a day. It's gotten to the point where Rolf and I can't play Ghost Recon because my net keeps cutting out. In a day or two the new equipment will be installed. But for right now I have net access so I'm posting this while I have the chance.
August 5, 2020
I just finished Mervyn Peake’s Vast Alchemies a biography of Peake by G. Peter Winnington, a guy who has devoted his life to writing about Peake and his work. As such, it was a scholarly book and not very entertaining but I knew surprisingly little about Peake and found the book fascinating.
Mervyn Peake died at 57 of dementia with Lewy bodies and he also had to deal with Parkinson's, so his last 12 years were not good ones. But thanks to Winnington I now know the general outline of his life and I was surprised to learn of one similarity he had with Tolkien. One of Peake's impulses behind the Gormenghast books was to create his own world with its own rules. He didn't take it as far as Tolkien, no invented languages and no appendices with thousands of years of history; but Gormenghast and the world outside of it was every bit his universe as much as Middle-earth was Tolkien's.
I've mentioned before that Neil Gaiman was helming a television adaptation of the Gormenghast books over at Showtime. The project was announced last year and since then there's been no word on its progress. I suspect that's largely due to Covid 19. After Peter Jackson's adaptation of The Lord of the Rings it almost seems selfish to want an adaptation of the Gormenghast books but goddammit I want one. Yeah, I know the BBC did an adaptation of the first two books in 2000. It got mixed reviews and I never bothered to watch it. I suspect the universe will withhold Gaiman's Gormenghast until I do.
August 5, 2020
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