roadrunnertwice: Protagonist of Buttercup Festival sitting at a campfire. (Vast and solemn spaces (Buttercup Festiv)

I'm testing out one of those new Mac builds of Chromium (via), and it is actually kind of awesome! Feels sleek.

Lately I haven't been posting as often as I otherwise might have, because it turns out that I'm actually kind of reliant on having a native-app LJ client. And they all suck right now.

Xjournal used to be awesome, but it doesn't work with Dreamwidth and is stagnant these days anyway. iJournal always kinda sucked, and now it hasn't been touched for three years. MarsEdit technically works, but its DW and LJ support is... lacking. asLJ is too new to trust, Deepest Sender kind of defeats the purpose of using a client in the first place, and nothing supports the DW crossposter. So I have to post via a web form, which shouldn't slow me down as much as it does, but it does, so.

I AM MOVING HOUSE. Gonna go live with Schwern in inner Northeast! It'll be rad. I have not even started packing yet. Expect me to become increasingly bugfuck insane until the 6th or so.

The place I'm moving into is a 2nd-floor apartment in a brick building that kind of reminds me of my digs in Minneapolis. Not anything close to identical, but familiar enough to immediately feel like home.

That is a rather large spider in the bathroom, isn't it? I have granted her Not My Problem status, on the condition that she gets off the counter within the next half hour.

Writing continues to be difficult. DON' WANNA TALK 'BOUT IT.

It's one of those nights where The Replacements are once again everything I could ever want from pop music.

So yeah, this is my new job. I likes it lots. Folks is cool. Things:

  • The yarn world is far larger and stranger than I imagined.
  • Indigo is awesome. No, seriously, it's the weirdest shit. Reacts on oxygen contact! Changes color as you watch!
  • We get free coffee. My caffeine tolerance has shot through the roof.
  • The shop runs on this app called POS·IM, which apparently has a 20-year lineage and is One Hairy-Ass Beast. It's got a majorly schizoid personality. On the one hand, it's been polished for 20 years to suit the needs of small-to-midsize retail outfits, and in general, the developers have thought of everything you will need to do with the thing. On the other hand, the interface seems to be held together with baling wire and fun-tak, the search capabilities are about the least sophisticated I've ever seen, and none of the features seem able to decide whether they're made for database-savvy power users or the technically-disinclined. The manual is written in at least two, probably more like three different voices, which switch off without discernible pattern and use distinctly different sets of vocabulary. It perversely re-invents every available wheel. It makes it frustratingly fidgety and tedious to make any large-scale changes to the inventory, and frighteningly easy to wreck vast havoc.
    • I am absolutely confident in my ability to bend it to my will. JUST YOU WAIT.
  • No, I don't know how to knit yet. Gimme another week or two.
roadrunnertwice: Yrs truly surrounded by trees. (Ryoga is lost.)
Football season is over.

Time for the return of an old Minneapolis favorite of mine. No, I still don't get it.
roadrunnertwice: Yrs truly surrounded by trees. (Reversal!)
And isn't it just typical of me that ten minutes after I spend $75 on mailing off my books, I go book-shopping?

Ryan and I went to Dreamhaven before both of us left (he sails off tomorrow), and I got Elizabeth Bear's Whiskey and Water, which I have been itching to read since finishing Blood and Iron. Which I also bought my own copy of today, because they had a signed one for $5. (Part of the back cover was scrunged up.) And I snagged a $1 hardcover of Brust's The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars, just because it was there and I liked it quite a bit.

Other expenditures for the day: Something like 40 bucks to replace the bent fucking axle on my back wheel (wow, how'd that happen?), $20 on food (mostly fruit)...

...and, uh, another 20 at Barnes and Noble for the new Harry Potter. (I had $1.50 on a gift card to use up, and they had it for $13 cheaper than Dreamhaven.) The plan is to not crack that fucker until I am safely loaded onto that westbound train. We'll see how that one holds up.

Anyway, I'm meeting Sanden in a little bit at the 331 club; we're gonna catch up a bit and see some old-timey band play.
roadrunnertwice: Yrs truly surrounded by trees. (Default)
My little brother and sister are graduating! And I'm going to Massachusetts (for the first time ever) to watch and hang out.

It occurs to me that most of the people reading this have never seen Target Corporation's headquarters building. It's just a blocky sort of tower, but at night, they turn on this crazy lightshow, and it's one of the things that, for me, defines summer nighttime strolls around my neighborhood. Anyway, I took some videos a few nights ago. (One, two. Pardon the shake, I am not a filmmaker.)
roadrunnertwice: Yrs truly surrounded by trees. (Default)
Oh, so I went to Dreamhaven yesterday with [ profile] nightswatch, since Neil Gaiman had recently put out his Batsignal to drum up some business for them; I guess they got broken into recently, and while not much was stolen, the place got kind of busted up. Anyway, I dropped like 45 bucks and got a signed hardback of Martha Wells' Wheel of the Infinite* (used, $15) and a signed copy of the unspeakably sexy 2006 edition of Gaiman and Pratchett's Good Omens. Hardback. The white version, with Crowley on it.

I used to own the somewhat fuglier 1996 Ace mass-market paperback edition, but strangely enough, it went mysteriously missing. (grazzafrazzamuzzarazza...) Gaiman notes in the intro to the new edition that "if we run across a shiny new copy [at a signing], it's usually because the owner's previous five have been stolen by friends, struck by lightning or eaten by giant termites in Sumatra." Yes, that's roughly the size of it.

* First book of hers I've, uh, paid money for. I'll buy the whole Fall of Ile-Rien eventually, with "eventually" being defined as "sometime when I'm not living on 1K per month."

I'd wanted to grab Death of the Necromancer at Dreamhaven, too, but they didn't have it.
roadrunnertwice: Yrs truly surrounded by trees. (WELL?! DO YOU?!?)
Foshay Tower is the namesake of Wilbur Foshay, a businessman who bought and sold utilties companies in order to build his fortune. The building has the name "FOSHAY" in capital letters on all four sides just below the top. The top few floors of the building were designed as Foshay's business office and personal residence. When the building was completed, he held a large ceremony featuring music by John Philip Sousa. Foshay even persuaded him to create a special march named "Foshay Tower-Washington Memorial March" that was only played once during Foshay's lifetime, for the opening of the Tower. Six weeks after the building's opening, Foshay's corporate empire had crumbled to dust as the Great Depression began. Ignominiously, Foshay's check to Sousa bounced, and in retaliation, Sousa prohibited the playing of the march so long as Foshay's debt to him remained outstanding. In 1999, a group of Minnesota investors repaid Foshay's debt to Sousa's estate, and the march was permitted to be played again.
roadrunnertwice: Yrs truly surrounded by trees. (Viva! La Revolution!)

Yeah, highs of minus seven. There are things I will miss about this place, and there are things I will not.
roadrunnertwice: Yrs truly surrounded by trees. (Mischief brewin'!)
Yup, it's a category, now. Today: Spyhouse. Came here today and yesterday. This one's right on Nicollet and 25th St., and I give it quite decent marks. The coffee is stellar, the prices are reasonable, and the atmosphere is... really comfortable. Possibly not equally comfortable for everyone, though. Because here's Spyhouse in a nutshell: it's the one and only place I've found in the Twin Cities that is a reasonable approximation of a Seattle coffeehouse. Something about the airiness of the architecture and layout, the mannerisms of the baristas, the furniture they chose. Even the mugs they use and the placement of the lid/sugar/cream bar. It feels like home. And to the extent that your home does or doesn't feel like Seattle, your mileage with the place will probably vary.

Oh, and it also styles itself as a gallery-slash-coffee-bar, but it doesn't do it nearly as well as Caffetto—there are some unframed pen drawings on the walls, some dusty yard-sale paintings, and a badly unfocussed kitsch fetish dictating the contents of the shelf space. (Tin lunchboxes and orientalist statuary, mostly.) Mostly, the reason to come here is that the coffee is fab and it's the one place in the cities whose entire design conspires to make it feel good while it's raining out.
roadrunnertwice: Yrs truly surrounded by trees. (Vast and solemn spaces)
I started thinking of Kartia (PSX; SRPG) tonight when I ran into an old review I wrote, sitting around on my HD. And damn, that game is still revolutionary. Sure, it was tediously linear, had a somewhat simplistic battle system compared to other contemporary SRPGs, sported unimpressive graphics and sound, and mostly only sold on the strength of Yoshitaka Amano's artwork. But observe:

Unconventional cast. Well, yes, you've got your young knight out to prove himself and your young noblewoman determined to do something useful and justify her existence beyond her title. But the rest of the cast? They're basically volunteer EMTs/firefighters with crappy swords. That was new. Plus, they were flawed (Posha cracks under pressure; Troy is an asshole; Kun is prime, grade-A naïve virgin), interesting,* and by-and-large likable. And Kartia had plenty of non-plot-centric character interaction, which I've gone off about before w/r/t the Tales Of games.

Villains attempting something more interesting than either ruling or destroying the world. I won't spoil it for you.

Consistent and tightly integrated game system and story world. Every RPG reuses the main battle system mechanic as the central plot macguffin, but it's NEVER thought through very well. Except here. The card-writing system that fuels all of your equipment creation and magic use actually has a purpose BESIDES kicking ass. People use it to brew coffee, start campfires, put out structure fires, do landscaping and demolition work, fabricate tools, and perform both major and minor medical procedures.** There's a licensing bureaucracy in place, and your characters' capabilities in battle are limited to what endorsements they have on their ID. (As opposed to your above-the-law enemies, who can and will summon huge amounts of a dangerous and nearly uncontrollable caliber of Phantom, and bollocks to the DOL.) And there's none of this no-Phoneix-Down-for-Aeris bidness: Any main character goes down in battle, the game's over and you start the fight over again.

Basically, the cast has to live in the game world, instead of just visiting it whenever there's some ass to kick.

Kartia is one of the only video games I've played that could hold its own as a novel, and I don't say that lightly. I think it had some tricks up its sleeves that any fantasy storyteller could learn from.

* You know the stereotypical haircutting scene, whereby a female character makes some sort of vow of fortitude by giving herself an A-line cut with the nearest sword? Posha's was probably the only one of those I've ever believed in and cheered for. And she didn't magically get her act together afterwards, either; it was like pulling teeth the whole way. I think I consider her the bravest character in the whole game.

** There's this absolutely FABULOUS scene where a semi-major character is dying of massive contusions and hemorrhaging, and Posha is trying to save him. She orders the bystanders to start using Water and Iron Kartia to generate enough blood for a major transfusion, and starts using Stone cards to rebuild his crushed ribcage and probably a cracked femur. Totally fucking intense.

EDIT: Update on the Caffetto café: They DO have a bathroom, their coffee is decent, there's a new photography exhibit in here, they play awesome music, they've got baked goods from the Hard Times bakery instead of some random yahoos who use too much oil in their muffins, and they've got something like 30 different sodas. Plus their packaged sandwiches are things like hummus and gouda/veggie. I think we have a winner here, folks.
roadrunnertwice: Yrs truly surrounded by trees. (Vast and solemn spaces)
My neighborhood café is the shit. I love that I can walk 3 blocks and get good coffee, 24 beers on tap*, a stylish and unpretentious atmosphere, and wireless. Fuck yes. Sure, their baked goods are crap and the food is overpriced, but who cares? I'm here for fluids and radiation, and they deliver in spades.

Plus, lots of singer-songwriter type concerts, though I tend to not actually pony up for those.

Anyway, since I'm reliant on cafés for my internet access right now, I've also been exploring other places nearby. (Because it's nice to be a regular, but showing up every single day seems kind of desperate.) Here are my reviews:
  • Muddy Waters, a block south of the Wedge: Rampantly hip, with baristas who clearly don't give a shit about anything. (Which, according to that TAL episode**, means they probably kill in tips.) Coffee is so-so. But they've got a TV that's always on, which is totally irritating.
  • Caffitto? Or something like that? Just west of Humm's Liquor Store. Stylish 2 THA MAXX. All the tables are laquered-over clippings from old children's books and magazines and stuff, and half the seats are couches and easychairs, and they've got outside seating, and this woman had her dog in there and was feeding it a muffin, and everyone seems to know each other and they all have good haircuts, and there's art on the walls. I don't know what the usual brew is like, since I had iced coffee and it's hard to completely botch that since it numbs your tongue out anyhow. Minuses: No visible bathroom? WTF.
  • The Urban Bean, on Bryant somewhere south of Lake. Uncute and with an irritating atmosphere. It's not enough to just buy a bunch of chrome, you guys. I ordered iced tea.
  • This one place way south of Lake and I think west of Nicollet, like on 43rd or something, I forget the name, I was out there when I was garage-saleing. I liked it!

* Current favorite: Singletrack Copper Ale. A fabulous, unabashedly beer-flavored beer.
** "The allure of the mean friend," or something.


roadrunnertwice: Yrs truly surrounded by trees. (Default)
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