Archive for March, 2012

Weird Word: Espy

by on Mar.30, 2012, under Announcements

Espy

Verb

  • To catch sight of; to perceive with the eyes; to discover, as a distant object partly concealed, or not obvious to notice; to see at a glance; to discern unexpectedly; to spy; as, to espy land; to espy a man in a crowd.
  • To inspect narrowly; to examine and keep watch upon; to watch; to observe.
  • To look or search narrowly; to look about; to watch; to take notice; to spy.

Used in a sentence:

  • She leaned in close to the circuitry, espying the loose wire that was keeping the entire contraption from exploding right in her face.

SourceWiktionary

Commentary:

So here is a word that is actually a word, that I will likely never use. Why? Because spy works just as well for everything espy does. Okay I take that back. I totally could see using espy to fill out the grammar of a haughty know-it-all, or a character that is out of touch with modern language. So I do have a use for it. Espy likely was used before spy and it wouldn’t surprise me if it was one of the words Webster decided was too British and therefor lopped off the e to make the American version of spy. Or some other strange tale of why spy encompasses everything espy means.

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Free Write #18: A Fateful Meeting, Part 1

by on Mar.28, 2012, under Entertainment, Free Write, Writing

Another short one tonight.

~~~~~~~~~~

A Fateful Meeting
By Nojh Livic

“Really though, the entire thing is quiet absurd,” Joan assured her companion as they walked down the street. It was mid afternoon and the heat was only partially mitigated by their parasols. Unlike Joan, Marla could not sweat to help keep her internal systems cool but  she expected to reach their destination before she was required to seek out a source of coolant. Their destination not far.

“Absurd but none the less entertaining. I quiet thank you for relaying the story to me,” Marla said politely. She was grateful for Joan’s companionship however a story regarding two men possessed of enough spirits to participate in dueling during a garden party was not as entertaining for one who did not attend. Although it was just as likely Marla was not one to enjoy gossip. The two came upon their destination, a house of a size that likely shocked Joan’s sensibilities. Although the woman had enough good manners not to say such in public, she had often lamented that her family’s manor in the city lacked enough space to properly host. The house before them certainly also fit into this category to a much greater degree but did take Marla noted that its entry way and facade were well-kept, unlike similar houses which they had passed.

Marla held open the small gate for her friend. “Are you sure about this?” Joan asked quietly as they approached the door, pretending to lightly scratch an itch on her cheek with one gloved hand to cover her question.  Marla forced herself not to roll her eyes.

Instead she began looking herself over. Setting her small briefcase down, she folded her parasol and hung it from one arm before smoothing out some wrinkles in her skirt and adjusting the fit of her jacket. “Yes I am sure. I am in need of a diversion and I have no family to look down upon me for collecting pay for my skills and knowledge. There is respect to be had in tutoring. Now how do I look?” Marla presented herself after finally adjusting her hat and gloves.

“Perfect dear, as always. I dare say a bit conspicuous given the locale but you’re always drawing attention to yourself as it is.” Joan sighed dramatically. “If only I could have your skin…”

Marla smiled graciously in order not to smirk. “You could always paint yourself like the women on clank street.” Marla faced the door again and applied pressure to the house’s announcement plate. Above it was a name plate set in copper with the etching of the family name. Warlam. The faint sound of a bell clanging could be heard from beyond the door.

“Don’t think I haven’t thought of it,” Joan admitted quietly, a faith flush to her cheeks. “But really, I wouldn’t have a thing to wear if I were to take on your shade of silver. I’d have to borrow-” She was cut short by the door opening.

“Hello?” An older woman in a simple day dress and apron inquired, opening the door fully to greet the two women. Past her Marla could see a small view of the house. It was clean but sparsely decorated. In the background there were loud noises that could only be made by children. The woman’s greeting was directed to the pair but her attention directly fell to Marla. She had that effect upon most who had never met her before and she believed Joan preferred her company because of it. In their normal circles, most ignored Marla in favor of the young woman. In the greater world, Marla was the popular one.

“Good afternoon, ma’am. My name is Marla and I am here to inquire about the tutoring position,” Marla asked, curtsying fully.

The woman hesitated a moment before nodding, more to herself than to the two visitors. “I am, um, Lilly Warlam. A pleasure to meet you,” Lilly made her greeting sound almost more of a question than a statement of fact. She had managed to look away from Marla to address Joan but her attention remained divided.

“May I introduce my associate Joan Nel Trayark. She will be providing my references. I do hope the position is still open?” Marla inquired. She clasped her hands together in front of her and offered an earnest expression. She found people got over their initial amazement at meeting her quicker if she kept them engaged with questions and made a point of emoting. It helped them to think of her as a person.

“Oh. Welcome, my lady,” Lilly said to Joan, quickly curtsying. “Would you like to come in?” The question was directed at Joan but Marla was happy to see that Lilly made a point of looking at her in order to include her in the query. She would most certainly prefer to work with someone who would not treat her as subhuman.

“Of course. Thank you,” Marla accepted while Joan smiled and nodded her agreement. The two ladies were escorted into the house. The front door opened into a small foyer where they paused to deposit their parasols before being led into a small hallway that exited not into a receiving room but a small dinning area.

Marla now observed that while the house was indeed clean it was also cluttered and in a state of disarray that did not feel out-of-place. They passed a small study on their way through the hallway that Marla let herself peek. It had the usual wall of scrolls and books and a desk one might expect to find in a study. It also had two tables, one covered with papers, the other with obviously mechanical objects.  On the floor in the hallway were several wooden and metal toys likely left out by children. There were no pictures for decoration or rugs covering the floor. Furnishings were obviously chosen for function as much as comfort or appearance. Overall it made Marla feel a bit more comfortable.

As they entered the dining area which was dominated by a large circular wooden table with chairs surrounding it. Lilly moved to it and quickly scooped several items that were upon it into the large pocket the front of her apron formed. Inviting the women to sit, Lilly then excused herself to start some tea while the ladies sat. Marla spied as she bustled away that clutter was yet more mechanical trinkets.

“I suppose the men of the house are guildsmen then?” Joan asked quietly as she looked around at the furnishings. As she spoke a loud banging began, as if someone were hammering on a pile of pots, from an a joining room.

“Yes. The Warlam family has been an associated with the airship guilds for generations, I understand,” Marla settled herself into a chair and laid her hands into her lap. She listened to the banging and surmised it was actually a hammer and the material being struck was likely some form of tin.

“Um,” Lilly said as she entered carrying a small tray laden with cups. A contraption that vaguely resembled a teacup  sat at the center. A pressure gauge sat atop it, and there were at least three valve openings that were all closed. The most interesting part seemed to be the lower plate, which was glowing slightly suggesting some kind of energy transference. Lilly set the tray down. “Tea will be ready in a moment. Now how can I help you?”

To be continued.

~~~~~~~~~~

Well that didn’t turn out short at all. Sorry. The final part will post next time, I promise.

To help explain, Marla is a character in my novel, Everlasting. This story takes place considerably earlier than Everlasting. Since I’m writing this before Everlasting is even done, I don’t expect you to guess why this is a fateful meeting but perhaps, if Everlasting ever gets fully finished, this will have more meaning.

Stay tuned next week for Part 2!

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Comic Links: Johnny Wander, Girl Genius, Extra Ordinary

by on Mar.26, 2012, under Comic Links, Comics, Entertainment

Johnny Wander: #360: c’mon I was checking my e-mail

Hehe. I love how angry Cricket looks in the last panel.

Girl Genius: Volume 12: Page 055

The last few comics have been hilarious. I need to learn how to write science-y scenes like this. “I’ve already got one of those!”

 Johnny Wader: #364: water cat

I’ve never used a spray bottle on my cat. She does love faucets though.

Extraordinary: #221

It’s true. It really isn’t a party until my cat joins in either.

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Weird Word: Ensconce

by on Mar.23, 2012, under Announcements

Ensconce

Verb

  • To place in a secure environment
  • To settle comfortably

Used in a sentence:

  • The trinket could be no further ensconced than in the fingers of the little girl.

SourceWiktionary

Commentary:

I like this word because of its pronunciation and its meaning. It is somewhat archaic which gives it a intelligent connotation or an old fantastical feeling. I would expect to hear this from the lips of Bilbo or a Lannister.

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Watch the Premier of The Legend of Korra this Saturday (March 24th)

by on Mar.22, 2012, under Entertainment, Television, Trailers, Visual Media

I’ve posted about this earlier in the year. The sequel series to Avatar: The Last Air Bender, The Legend of Korra, will be premiering on Nicklodean on April 14th, 2012.

Unless you have access to the internet. Then you can totally watch the premier at KorraNation.com! Apparently Nick was running a promotion to get 100,000 likes on Facebook. And they got it.

The series already has 28 episodes produced, with an expected 2 season of 14 episodes each.

For those of you who missed it, here is the official trailer:

Source

And two other trailers:

Second Official Trailer

Teaser Trailer

 

 

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1000 posts! And the return of Free Write!

by on Mar.22, 2012, under Announcements, Free Write, Writing

There is now officially 1000 posts of A Singularity content for you to read. This post is not the 1000 post. It was actually the prior post, Free Write #17: Nemesis, which seems very fitting to me, considering this blog was have founded on the idea of sharing my trails of learning how to write fiction.

Also, in case you didn’t notice, Free Write has returned! For those of you not aware, Free Write is my attempt at daily writing. Just small pieces of flash fiction where I write out whatever comes out of my head, edit it up into something vaguely worth sharing with the world. Today’s Free Write I think is rather adorable and worth checking it.

I spent all last night editing several of the free write stories I had left over from last year. Expect them about once a week now on Wednesdays. If I get into the habit like I am planning, you may see additional stories on Mondays as well.

As always, if you’re interested in more than just writing content, A Singularity has a Tumblr which posts random stuff found throughout the internet. Summary posts here will be implemented soon, hopefully.

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Free Write #17: Nemesis

by on Mar.21, 2012, under Entertainment, Free Write, Writing

Another free writing session. Let see what comes out of my head this time.

~~~~~~~~~~

Nemesis
By Nojh Livic

She scampered after the ball of yarn, little paws barely finding purchase on the polished wood floor. A strand fell loose from the ball as it rolled away and she leapt, bringing her front paws down on the piece as if it might wiggle away were she to not put her full might upon it.

For a brief second, she was torn. The ball was rolling further and further away but the string would most certainly escape if she lifted even a single paw. She agonized for an eternity before she was off again, chasing the yarn ball. She would deal with the offending string later.

The ball was easy to catch for it had been tiring, its rolling growing slower and slower. Yet, when she used a paw to deal the death-blow, the ball would spring to life again and go zooming in a different direction. Each new direction required a sudden change in velocity that slippery wooden floors would not allow. More than once the ball had alluded her only because wall that the smooth floor decided to introduce her too.

This time was different however. The ball had rolled into a corner. A mistake she would make sure it would never make again. Letting loose a fierce hunting meow, she pounced the ball and pulled it close, sliding on to her side so she could bring her hind claws up to rake at it while her front paws held it close. She sank her fangs into the yarn. It tasted terrible and fuzz filled her mouth.

Hissing she pushed the yarn ball away and got back to her feet. The yarn had been tricky and tried to suffocate her with its foul insides. It was now limply rolling away from the corner. A small strand was sticking out one side. She had injured it. Now it was the time to go in for the kill.

She stalked after the ball, keeping low to the ground so it wouldn’t see her approach from behind. It slowed to stopped near the doorway and she laid low and observed. Slowly she calculated the exact distance between herself and her target. She lifted her hind legs in preparation. It wasn’t moving.

“Aww. Aren’t you so cute!” the girl gushed, giant hands swooping down to pick her up. “So fierce!” She was being wrestled into the girl’s arms. No amount of pawing kept the giant girl’s over whelming strength from clutching her. She watched as her nemesis grow smaller as she was lifted up so high. She mowed her challenge to the yarn even as the girl began rubbing at her ears. She did like that. But she had to vanquish her foe. Now the girl was rubbing her chin and it felt so good. She began to purr and let her head relax.

“I think someone is ready for bed, yes.” The girl coed as she continued her hypnotic petting. She was sure there was something she was supposed to watch, or to, or… The hand rubbed her from head to tail, repeating, and her entire body relaxed, all thoughts of conquest purred away.

~~~~~~~~~~

Sometimes I feel bad for taking away my kitty’s toys late at night. Then I remember that she’ll keep me all up playing if I don’t. Plus she’ll just find another toy for me to take away in a few hours time anyway.

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Weird Word: Brackish

by on Mar.16, 2012, under Articles, Weird Words, Writing

Brackish

Adjective

  • (of water) salty or slightly salty, as a mixture of fresh and sea water, such as that found in estuaries
  • distasteful; unpleasant; not appealing to the taste.
  • repulsive

Used in a sentence:

  • It was brackish, the filet, which according to one companion had a primary ingredient donated from a three eyed and yellow-skinned fish.

SourceWiktionary

Commentary:

Writing the sentence for this word was kind of hard. Not sure why. I guess because I’ve only ever heard the word used in conjunction with water and learning it could be used elsewhere meant stretching my literary muscles? Either way this is another word that sounds as negative as it means. The syllable “ack” definitely helps with that, I believe.

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Game Watch: Batman: Arkham City

by on Mar.14, 2012, under Gamewatch, Gaming, Reviews, Video Games

So over the weekend I finished a video game. It has been awhile, it feels like, since I did that. Video games are something I still have trouble finishing, as I’ll let myself get distracted by new games, or I’ll try to focus on other things that should be more important such as updating this blog, or my writing. However the weekend was rainy, most of my plans had been canceled and I was very close to finishing. So I punched it. Or rather, I punched the joker, a lot.

Batman: Arkham City, is the sequel to the video game Batman: Arkham Asylum. In some ways it exceeds its predecessor and in some ways it falls behind. In both games you play as the world’s greatest detective, Batman, facing off against Batman’s numerous villains and their henchmen. The first game was limited to the contents of Arkham Asylum, the prison/psychiatric facility where a majority of Batman’s super villains are sent to once they are captured. In this game, you are limited to an area of Gotham City that has been re-purposed into a giant sprawling prison renamed Arkham City, run by the former warden of Arkham Asylum.

I admit, the idea that any city would let someone build a giant wall around a section of itself, then populate it with criminals and super villains seems insane to me and even at the beginning of the game I was questioning if it wasn’t just some way for the game to “think bigger” like some sequels like to do. However by the end of the game, after unlocking back story that helps explain what happened in between the two games, I feel much better about it. Still it would have been nice if that information was available from the beginning and not an unlockable.

[spoiler show="Click to read about the Gameplay"]So where in you were Batman before, wandering through corridors and into vents and hanging from ledges and railings in an insane asylum, you are now Batman swooping around an entire cityscape, landing on unsuspecting “inmates” and generally causing mayhem for super villains who have carved out territories among the mostly un-policed Arkham City. You begin as Batman was at the end of the last game, which grants you access to quiet a few gadgets which are mostly unexplained. The game lack an obvious tutorial, although I suspect the beginning sequence attempts to teach you the basics, it certainly is no substitute for having played the prior game.And where Batman: Arkham City shines is in its game play. Between gadgets and simple but infinitely complex combat system, Batman Arkham City manages to make you feel like you are Batman. Except that my Batman was more likely to die than any other Batman I’ve seen. That aside, the combat system works at it’s more core with four actions. A strike, a stun, evade, and counter. Batman will automatically target the nearest enemy in front of him if you strike or stun. However if you point the direction stick in an opposite direction from Batman and hit strike, he will attack in that direction, regardless of his facing. This leads you to doing complicated and fun combinations of elbow jabs, kicks, punches, and the occasional acrobatics. The system gets more complicated as gadgets, a combo system, and enemies which weapons are introduced, but the game gives you plenty of time to practice these added complexity until you can at least overcome the standard challenges of the game.

For those who fall in love with the combat system, there are extra challenge modes which test your fighting game skills.

Combat isn’t really even the central part of being Batman. Batman is also all about the stealth or being a “predator” and there are numerous ways to take down an unaware enemy, from sneaking up behind them silent, to dropping down from a ledge and pummeling the, to using your grapple line to string them up, pull them off ledges, jump through glass/walls to tackle them, jump out of grates and smash them into a wall, the list really never does end.

Which leads me to the gadgets. No only do you get Batman’s trusty batarang and grappling hook, but various other gadgets including an electrical emission “gun”, freeze grenades, a grappling line, small yield explosives, a hacking tools, smoke pellets, and more. None of which aren’t used at least numerous times throughout the game. I made much use of the smoke pellets, thanks to my ability to sneak up right on someone, only to have them turn around and start shooting at me.

Guns, by the way, hurt. Batman is not the kind of hero who can take a bullet. His armor protects somewhat but enemies with guns are something to be worried about and avoided or snuck up on using one of your many predator techniques. This, I feel is, one of the most awesome aspects of the game. I have to worry about guns and getting shot. Compared to so many other games where rushing the person with the gun is a viable strategy, this really helps the game hit it home that you are the Batman.

Speaking of armor, it is worth noting that the game has a token upgrade system. I say token because this time it didn’t feel so much like I was upgrading myself as I was completing all my capabilities. Individually each upgrade only felt like a minor power up, with a few notable exceptions which helped you get around the city much quicker (and were some of the first upgrades I got), and it was only towards the end of the game that I began to understand that I needed every upgrade. This I felt was a small failing of the game. When I gain a level, I should feel stoked to get the next upgrade, not feel like I’m filling in a jigsaw puzzle where the payoff is at the very end.

[/spoiler]

So game play aside, Arkham City manages to tell as interesting of a story as it’s successor did if in a bit more haphazardly way. Since the game is “sandbox” style, the story is told through a main story line that can be abandoned to do numerous types of side quests and collection quests, or just playing around. This means that the main story suffers a little, especially since there are so many collection quests thanks to The Riddler, and more than ten different official side stories to complete, some of which you can’t complete till the end of the game.

Despite the confusion, the game does a good job of providing reminders of the main story line and what you’ve been doing, during loading screens, which really helps keep the narrative together. While I won’t divulge the full story here due to spoilers, trust me in that it is a story well worthy of Batman, and (some of) the twists at the end will leave you wondering if maybe the game was trying to fool you.

All of this culminates in a game that will steal at least forty to sixty hours of your life. More so if you decide to do the optional challenges, the extra characters you can purchase for download (I highly suggest Catwoman, as her story is somewhat integral to the main plot), and trophy gathering. I spent a weekend completing the predator challenges as Batman, the final challenge taking me well over two hours and quiet a bit of frustration, despite being ultimately satisfying.

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Comic Links: Something Positive, xkcd

by on Mar.12, 2012, under Comic Suggestions, Comics, Culture, Entertainment

Something Positive: 2012-02-03: Dumb Ideas

I don’t think I’ve ever managed to get an entire cat’s head in my mouth… they usually run away before I do that, unless I’ve eaten tuna. Why are you looking at me like that?

Something Positive: 2012-02-15: Seasonal Spirit

Does this service exist? It needs to. I have so many friends who would love to get this!

xkcd #1022: So It Has Come To This

I am so doing this from now on.

Questionable Content: #2135: They Also Serve Drinks

I am so loving Hannelore now. She is my favorite. More so than Faye.

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