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Ever Evolving Primate: Travel, photography, food, cooking, and just about anything else.

Ever Evolving Primate: Travel, photography, food, cooking, and just about anything else.: November 2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Art of Storytelling

I haven't written much about video games lately, mainly because I've been in Korea and not playing a whole lot of video games for a while. I think I mentioned Uncharted 3 in my last post, but I have to tell you that this is the only game I managed to get on the day it came out since I left home. Mom helped, of course, by preordering and picking up Uncharted 3 on the day it came out, November 1st. It arrived here in Korea on November 11th and I managed to start playing it on November 12. I finished the story mode at 2am on November 20th. I'm not nearly done with this game because it has a great multiplayer component, but the story of the campaign mode doesn't have any more surprises, so I can talk about it now.

The story is titled "Drake's Deception" and focuses around the relationship between Nate Drake and his father figure and partner in crime, Victor Sullivan. I thought it was really interesting that the game started with a flashback to "20 years ago" when Nate was in his early teens. The game did something I didn't think it could do, and that's improve on the last iteration. Uncharted 2 received perfect ratings and Game of the Year awards from just about every major publication. The technical stuff was better than Uncharted 2, the graphics, gameplay, everything was better. The story was far better, even going so far as to have some real downer moments where you see Nate looking pathetic and beaten down. In the last game the lowest point we saw Nate was with a bullet in his stomach hanging off of the edge of a cliff in the Himalayas. In this one we see him dead tired, laying his head down on Elena's lap saying "I'm sorry." Ann Hennig is an amazing story teller, I wish she'd write a novel with these characters.

Now speaking of storytellers, I think there's a divide between someone who can come up with a good story, and someone who can write the dialogue and wield the pen the write way to make a story truly great. Case in point: Dan Brown. He's gotta be really rich after his success with The Davinci Code and Angels and Demons. I've seen the movies, and I thought the stories were great, complex, and well suited for film. I've recently been reading The Davinci Code, and I think it's a great story, but something about the writing just doesn't work for me. Somehow its believable on film, but in the book I'm finding something about the sentence structure or dialogue to be a bit disingenuous. I think he's created a great story, but that somehow it falls flatter than it should. Now, I don't think Dan Brown is a bad story teller at all, he certainly writes better than I do and has some huge feathers in his cap. I just think that there is a difference between a good storyteller and a great one. That's not even a fair statement, there's a difference between a great storyteller and a stellar storyteller.

I would love to be a novelist. I think I have the basics of writing and grammar down pretty well. I can speak two languages. I can be creative. My problem is on follow through. Somehow I missed the beginning of NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, which would have been a great way to get started. Maybe I'll check it out and see if there's any deadline goals or anything that I can just impose on the month of December or something.

Anyhow, the whole point of this ramble is that I think Uncharted 3 was quite inspiring in the sense that it was just a great story, told well, and produced perfectly. It's even got me wanting to read a nonfiction book. Thanks to the kindle store, I'll be reading The Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T. E. Lawrence because he was a significant figure in Uncharted 3. I think it's funny how an intelligently made video game wants me to do something more intelligent like brushing up on history.

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

I got that boom boom, pow.

The past week has been pretty interesting. About 10 days ago, we decided that we should get an oven so we don't feel so far from home over the holidays. The first thing we did was roast a chicken...or three chickens. This week we used it for toast and that kind of thing, but not really anything too big. This weekend I changed that...more on this later.

Since I'm talking about things that make us feel a little closer to home, let me tell you about the amazingness of my Playstation. It's quite easy for us to use it to keep up on our favorite American TV shows by using it as a media player, and playing video games is one way I feel like I'm right at home. It's been worth all of the trouble it took to bring it over here, and I'm super happy we have it. I had last Thursday off, and I planned to stay home and play video games all day. After about 4 hours of Call of Duty and 2 more hours of Battlefield: Bad Company 2, I decided I should do the dishes. As I was washing I heard a loud BOOM! I swear I saw a bolt of light too. I looked around and realized the Playstation's status light wasn't on. following the problem back towards the outlet I realized that the transformer I had been using for 6 months had gotten really hot and fried. I went to the nearest electrical supply store and got another, got back into the game and BOOM! It exploded about an hour after I plugged it in. The next day I realized that the Playstation has a 380 watt power supply and the transformer was rated at about 75 watts. I bought a 1000 watt transformer and the world seems much happier now.

As for the pow, Carolyn's coteacher took us out for dinner after work on Wednesday night. We took a cab from her school over to the Pizza Hut where we were going to have dinner. At the final stoplight of the trip, while STOPPED in traffic, the cab driver suddenly honked his horn and accelerated, rear-ending the car in front of us. With only about three or four feet to accelerate we didn't reach an injury producing speed before impact, but the guy in front certainly felt it! Both drivers hopped out of their cars so fast that I was certain we were going to witness some sort of confrontation. After screaming at each other for the duration of the red light, they got back in the car and went their separate ways. It was interesting, for sure.

Back to food. One of our friends got an oven about a week before we did an decided that November would be NOMvember. I've joined in on NOMvember, and we've been eating better for it. Here's the meal count (so far as I can remember)...or is it a death toll...

  • KC Barbecue Rubbed Chicken (Rotisserie)
  • Barbecue Rubbed Chicken (Rotisserie)
  • Roast Chicken (Rotisserie) with vegetables
  • Cinnamon Toast
  • Baked Ziti
  • Pizza
  • Chicken Pot Pie
  • Brownies
It's been a lot of time in the kitchen but I've really been enjoying it. I think Carolyn might be baiting me into cooking so much by making me watch Top Chef before bed every night. Good strategy.

Now that the PS3 is back up and running I've been playing a game that just came out about a week ago (I had to wait on shipping from the U.S. to get started). Uncharted: Drake's Fortune was my favorite video game, until Uncharted 2: Among Thieves came out about a month and a half after I played the first one. Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception is on track to take that top spot. So far the campaign has been amazing, although I'm trying to break up between campaign and multiplayer as much as I can to make it last longer. I might be putting in some late nights this week.

For the next two weeks at school we're doing speaking tests, so I have no planning or teaching to do this week. Hopefully I'll make an off period into some German study time. I've been working on my German language quite a bit. My reading and listening have gotten pretty strong, and with the help of a new German pen pal I've been developing my composition and working on my vocabulary a bit. I think I'm going to be in a really strong position with the language in the next  year and a half or so.

That's the news.