Comics And Games

I had to pay rent on the storage unit this evening. I prefer to do that in person. Phillip asked me if, since I was in the area, I’d mind stopping into Phoenix Comics & Games and seeing if they were holding anything for him.

Of course, I didn’t mind. Phillip didn’t know this, but I’d planned on stopping into Phoenix anyway. Eternity Girl #2 came out earlier this month.

Phillip had a couple of comics on hold. But they weren’t more issues of Squirrel Girl, as I’d expected. (I had thought it was kind of funny that I was picking up girls at the comic book store.) Instead, they were two issues of something called Venomized. I didn’t remember seeing Phillip reading this series before, and the covers didn’t look like Phillip’s style – except for the fact that they were issued by Marvel. I thought, briefly, about asking the owner if he’d given me the right comics. But, I trust him, and Phillip does love most things Marvel, so I bought them.

I figured that if I were the wrong comics, we do know people who would enjoy them as gifts.

But, Phillip actually was expecting two issues of Vemonized. So there.

Meanwhile, I’d been trying to figure out how to make a screenshot of Life is Strange. I do love my screenshots. Making a screenshot of Life is Strange isn’t as important as games where I’m actually creating something I want to show off – like The Sims 4 or Cities: Skylines. Still, Life is Strange is a visually beautiful game, and a screenshot might come in handy for a blog post someday.

Because it’s a Steam game, pressing F12 should make a screenshot. That worked in Kerbal Space Program and Cities: Skylines. But it hadn’t worked in Life is Strange. Internet searches led me to forums where people have been told to press the F12 key. I searched around my Steam settings, but couldn’t find anything out of place.

Then, tonight, something obvious occurred to me. The Function Lock on our keyboard was off. I’d been looking for a software solution, and it was a hardware issue. I turned Function Lock back on, and now I have screenshots whenever I press F12.

Chloe and Max

The graphics of this game are realistic, but more like a painting than a photograph.

I am loving this game. It’s a puzzle-solving game, and the puzzles, so far, haven’t been too difficult. But they haven’t always been easy, either. And, since the game is frequently reminding me that actions have consequences, I have a feeling that once the game is over, I can go back later, make different choices, and find a different story.

At The Movies

Today, Phillip and Cristina and I drove up to Regal Thornton Place Stadium 14 & IMAX, and saw Avengers: Infinity War, in IMAX 3D.

The movie was just about 3 hours long, but it didn’t feel like it. It was action-packed, non-stop fun, and time flew by.

(Actually, it may not have felt like 3 hours, but I’m exhausted. I’m going to bed, and I’ll finish this post tomorrow.)

So, we saw the movie yesterday. It wasn’t actually non-stop fun. I don’t think any of us saw that coming. Or that, or that. Or that, in the post-credit scene.

The movie jumped right in, assuming you’ve seen most of the previous Marvel movies. For a 3 hour movie, it didn’t waste a lot of time on backstories.

I loved this movie a lot.

The special effects were well done. (Well, there was that one scene where Bruce Banner’s head didn’t quite move in sync with the rest of his armor. He was in the background, so maybe I wasn’t supposed to notice it.)

This was twice this month I’ve been left stunned by an ending. First, it was Game of Thrones, Season 7’s ending. Now this.

Afterwards, Phillip and Cristina and I drove to Veggie Grill, in University Village, for dinner.

Dining Out

This evening, Phillip and I participated in Dine Out For Life, as we do every year. A portion of the sales from participating restaurants benefit Lifelong AIDS Alliance.

We went to Roosters, on Broadway, which was donating 30% of its sales (including alcohol!). So, we racked up a sizeable bill, had a good meal, and got slightly buzzed. Plus we made a direct cash contribution in the envelopes provided by the Lifelong volunteers.

Meanwhile, the weather in Seattle is turning from warm to hot. So, of course, this is the time for our living room fan to start acting up. It’s working, for now, but it takes minutes for the blades to start turning after we switch it on. Soon, I suspect, it’ll just not turn at all.

Meanwhile, I’m enjoying our new game, Life is Strange, even though I haven’t yet got the hang of it.

Life is Strange is a multiple-choice adventure game with nice graphics that remind me a bit of The Sims.

The game puts the player in the role of an unpopular young woman named Max. She grew up in Arcadia, Oregon. Her family moved to Seattle for a while. Now she’s back in Arcadia, where she’s going to school to learn photography.

At various points in the story, Max faces a choice of which action to take. Actions, the game reminds us, have consequences.

Here’s the game’s twist: Max suddenly discovers that she has the ability to rewind time. If an action doesn’t have the desired effect, Max can go back in time and try something else, using the knowledge she gained. It’s a fascinating element of gameplay I’ve never seen before.

Books And Shows And Games

During my light rail ride from Pioneer Square to Capitol Hill, yesterday evening, I read more of The Cyclist Who Went Out in the Cold. When the train arrived at Capitol Hill, I was within 50 ePages of finishing the book.

I walked to the Capitol Hill Library, where a book I had on hold had come in unexpectedly soon.  It just happened to be a quirky road trip book similar to the quirky road trip book I was almost finished with.

I came home and watched two more episodes of Game of Thrones, Season 7.

Phillip went to bed unusually early. I resumed the download of Life is Strange while I finished reading The Cyclist Who Went Out in the Cold.

We have acquired quite a games library in our Steam account. Some games we bought through Humble Bundle specials. Some games were game key gifts from friends. Some games were bought on Steam discount sales. They sit in our account library until we’re in the mood for a new game, and then we download something.

Lumino City was a Valentine’s gift to me from Phillip. I finished it a week or two ago, and uninstalled it. I enjoyed the game. It was beautifully designed. The puzzles were challenging, but not unreasonably difficult. I had to resort to a cheat on one puzzle, only to discover that I had the solution – I had merely misunderstood the puzzle. So, it was time to try a new game.

Life is Strange was a game key gift. Neither one of us knows what the game is about, yet. It seems to be a story/puzzle/adventure game, but we’re not sure. It’s a huge download. I’ve been downloading it whenever the computer is free – a few minutes here, an hour there. That’s the beauty of Steam – you can stop a download at any point, and it’ll resume right where you left off the next time you start it up.

I finished reading The Cyclist Who Went Out in the Cold, stopped the Life is Strange download, finished my blog post book review, uploaded the post, returned the eBook to the library, and then resumed the download.

It was only 9:00, or so. I watched another episode of Game of Thrones. That brought me to Episode 5, and there are only seven episodes in the season. So it’s possible that I may complete Season 7 tonight.

I decided to leave the download going when I went to bed last night. I stuck a Post-It note to the computer monitor, telling Phillip that if he gets up later tonight, and wants to use the computer, to go ahead and stop the download.

When I got up this morning, I was surprised to find the Post-It note still on the monitor. The Life is Strange download had finished. I’ll have a new game to discover tonight, so it’s possible that I won’t finish Game of Thrones, Season 7 tonight.

On the ride from Westlake to Pioneer Square this morning, I shared a train car with the Husky Women’s Beach Volleyball team, and all their luggage. (The internet tells me there’s a Pac-12 tournament in Stanford, California.)

A Book About A Road Trip

(A.K.A. My favorite prompt from the 2015, 2016, or 2017 POPSUGAR Reading Challenges.)

The Cyclist Who Went Out in the Cold: Adventures Riding the Iron Curtain, by Tim Moore, was published in 2016.

The first sentence is: “‘You understand how it is here, the weather?’

The Cyclist Who Went Out in the Cold

Tim Moore is a British humorist and a travel writer. The Cyclist Who Went Out in the Cold is his tenth travelogue.

At the age of 51 (“two years older than much too old“), Tim Moore set out to ride the length of the Iron Curtain Trail, officially named EuroVelo 13 (or EV13), which follows the line of the former Iron Curtain from the Barents Sea, at the northern border of Norway, to the Black Sea, in Bulgaria. According to his research, the trail is 6,700 kilometers long. His editor corrects him: It’s closer to 10,000 kilometers long.

Because he believes in choosing a bicycle that fits the theme of a ride, Tim Moore chose to ride the EV13 on a MIFA 900, a cheaply-made East German bicycle from the 1970s. It was designed for short shopping trips within a city. It has no gears, tiny wheels, a folding frame, and a single “spoon brake”. Tim Moore describes it as “a Trabant on two wheels“.

(He did value safety over authenticity, though. He modified his MIFA quite a bit, strengthening its frame, adding better brakes, and so on, before setting out on his 10,000 km ride.)

He started his ride in Kirkenes, Norway, in the middle of winter. Friends suggested that he do the trip the other way around, starting at the Black Sea and arriving at the Arctic Circle in the summer. He’s a slave to the “idiot’s gravity” of a map, however. He felt it would be wrong to make a trip from south to north.

So, his ride would start off in the flat north, and finish in the mountainous south.

Tim Moore did the ride by himself, but he was rarely alone. Even when he suffered mechanical failures in the remotest parts of Finland, a friendly motorist would happen by to check on him. He posted regular Twitter updates. He was in frequent contact with his editor. His wife and son joined him in Finland for a few days on his ride. And everywhere he went, he was approached by fans who had read his story in the local newspapers.

The book’s opening sentence was spoken by one of the many Finns who warned him that winter is the wrong time to ride any bicycle in Finland. Tim Moore’s many falls along the Finland-Russia border proved that advice to be true.

Rather than take a ferry across the Gulf of Finland, from Helsinki to Tallinn, as his guidebook seemed to suggest, Tim Moore followed the trail, still under construction, or not yet constructed, into Russia, where his Garmin GPS Navigator didn’t work, through St. Petersburg, and around the gulf.

He rode through Estonia, where the EuroVelo 13 merged with the EuroVelo 10. “…I rode EV13 as I’d ridden it in my pre-departure daydreams, freewheeling through sun-speckled pines on smooth and car-less tarmac, the view refreshed by glimpses of twinkly sea and fairy-tale woodland cabins.

He rode through Latvia, which, when he compared it to Estonia, felt “…less Scandinavian and more Soviet.

He rode past some 6-year-old cyclists and imagined one of them, in the future, saying: “Daddy, I’ll never forget the morning when you were teaching me to ride, and that man went past us on a little bike with oven gloves on the handlebars, and you said: ‘If you try, if you really push yourself, one day you’ll be able to buy a car and never, ever have to look that utterly desperate and pathetic.”

He rode through Kaliningrad, which felt more Soviet than Estonia had – and even more Soviet than Russia. “In Russia, I saw one hammer and sickle in five days; in Kaliningrad, I lost count after an hour.

He rode through Poland. He rode through Germany, where the irony of his GDR cycling jersey was not appreciated.

He visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau museum, where he got in trouble for parking his bicycle in the wrong place.

In Germany, he was contacted, via Twitter, by a man named Peter, who gave him a tour of a still-operating MIFA factory. At the end of the tour, he was offered a new bicycle, delivered to his home, if he would donate his MIFA 900, after his ride was finished, to their museum. He accepted.

He peddled through the Czech Republic and Austria. He rode through Hungary, Slovenia, and Croatia.

His wife and son met up with him in Hungary. They brought his less-controversial, yet still era appropriate, 1970s Peugeot cycling jersey. Thanks to the weight he’d lost since Finland, it fit him.

Tim Moore had few nice things to say about Romania. “The European Union is a rich tapestry; here I was at its tattered seams.

He met some New Zealanders who were bicycling from Spain to China – on real bicycles.

He pedaled through Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

He rode through Greece, Turkey, and finally to Tsarevo, Bulgaria. At the Black Sea, he was met by his parents and his daughters, who took him home.

Tim Moore pedaled his East German shopping bike through 20 countries, across 8,558.4 kilometers.

How long did it take him to get from Norway to Bulgaria? I’m not sure. The book mentions kilometers and temperature, but rarely time. What year did this take place? I don’t know. The Twitter posts shared in the book don’t have date stamps. I’m not sure how to react to that lack of information. (I imagine the year being important to a future historian, since, at the time of the ride, large portions of EV13 were still under construction.)

I made frequent use of Libby by Overdrive’s bookmark feature. The Cyclist Who Went Out in the Cold is chock-fun of witticisms. It was tough to keep myself from quoting something from every page.

The Cyclist Who Went Out in the Cold is a road trip, and a travelogue, and a history lesson. As he pedaled his way along the former Iron Curtain, Tim Moore told us stories of the Cold War, how it effected him as a child, and what his children thought of it now. He passed through towns once occupied by the Soviet Union, and earlier by the Nazis. At times, the curmudgeon humor of the book is replaced with wartime grimness.

The book is illustrated with Twitter posts (including photographs) and hand-drawn maps.

I enjoyed this book immensely.

Why I chose this book:

I chose this book in the opposite way that I usually choose books for the Reading Challenge. It appeared on the “reading suggestions” screen of the Libby by Overdrive app on my phone. I loved the cover, I loved the title, and the story sounded intriguing. I put it on my “For Later” shelf at the library, and tried to think up a way to make it fit a Reading Challenge category.

The solution came to me: It’s a book about a road trip.

I regret the choice I made for the “book about a road trip” category for the 2016 Reading Challenge. Sure, I loved reading The Motel Life, by Willy Vlautin, and I thought it was an excellent novel. It just wasn’t the road trip book I’d been lead to believe it was. There wasn’t any other category I could have fit it into, and I was still not convinced that I’d be able to finish the Challenge, so reading a book just to read a book didn’t seem like a luxury I had, plus I’d already imposed a rule that I would finish every book I started, so I felt trapped into using it as a road trip book. It was too bad, since it was one of my favorite categories.

So, The Cyclist Who Went Out in the Cold became the type of road trip book I wish I’d read in 2016.

Got It!

In the middle of last January, I was in hold position 751 for 100 copies the library had for Game of Thrones, Season 7. That seems like a daunting number until you consider, as Phillip likes to remind me, that that’s less than 8 holds per copy.

Last Friday, I was in position 84 on 98 copies. (Two copies were lost.)

On Sunday, my hold was “In Transit”. It was still in transit this morning.

GoT 7I rode Link light rail home this evening, walked to the Capitol Hill Library, and picked up my copy of Game of Thrones, Season 7.

I came home, booted up the laptop, plugged in the ear buds (to protect Phillip from spoilers), and inserted disc one. I watched episodes 1 and 2, back to back.

I am loving this show a lot.

No, I don’t think Ed Sheeran’s cameo was a mistake. (It’s impossible to completely shield oneself from Game of Thrones spoilers, but I don’t consider that a spoiler.)

(As I was looking up how to spell Ed Sheeran, I discovered that Jónsi also had a cameo, in a previous season. How did I miss that?)

I originally named this post GoT It, but decided that was too corny, even for me.