Friday, May 21, 2010

Discussing StarCraft 2 beta, on the way to Buffalo

Hola amigos!! Summer has finally come around the bend and I now find myself trying to find the optimal balance between cooling the condo and dealing with the noise of the heat pump. That is to say, if I choose too low a temperature the heat pump is on frequently and it's loud enough that it can wake me. Of course, if I use it less then I'm sweating uncomfortably. Such was the battle fought last night, a three hour battle I might add. The thought of sleeping downstairs occurs to me now.

I've been watching StarCraft 2 beta videos for the past while and although the game is a lot different from the original, there seems to be enough carried over that older SC1 skills still apply in the new game. I like that they've cleaned up much of the micro, allowing players (like carpel tunnel-sufferers like me) to concentrate more on strategy. It does seem that many newer players still have problems with their macro game, something I (and perhaps many others) consider the ability to multi-task under pressure. Incidentally this is what I enjoy most -- building stuff is fun! Also, I'm greedy so it definitely feeds the desire to vacuum up the region's resources.

Regarding the new units.. eh... I'm happy they kept the Ultralisk, that they gave it extra damage against buildings, and bestowed it with the Burrow ability -- pop-up RAGE! I don't like that they got rid of Vultures, probably my favorite Terran unit. Does Terran no longer have mines? Zergs kind of do now with Banelings, though they drain on gas and require micro so it's not nearly the same. Also, having to convert Overlords to Overseers is a big change since that was Zerg's thing -- they were much less prone to getting surprised by cloaked units. Now you have to create these gas-hungry, non-food-supplying units, giving Zerg a very different feel. Queens, ah, now there's a bonny unit with lots of abilities and doesn't cost gas -- a sweet deal for an early caster with ground and air attacks.

I find Protoss to appear to be very similar to its SC1 form. Sentries are interesting tier 1 casters with an attack, and give Protoss much more variety in its early game. Immortals seem to overlap the Colossi in terms of place in the army as a heavy-damage inflicting unit, but I suppose that remains to be seen.

Before that I was playing Team Fortress 2 on No Heroes, in anticipation of the new Engineer patch. However, with SC2 around the corner I've been pulled away from that for a while.

I am getting fatter. In order to combat this I have re-introduced sit-ups into my workout regime. Also, I've modified my workouts to include a bit more cardio i.e. to be more than just push-ups. I'd like to blame my weight on rich eating but in truth I've been fairly good with sticking to healthy foods, though perhaps not always in the ideal proportions. I have stopped having sugar in my coffee, unless it's instant, a surreptitious vice of mine -- I hate the stuff but some mornings I can't wait the 4 minutes for the grinds to steep.

Did I mention that I sometimes get a pain in my liver region? I've cut down on my drinking since I've started dating again and of late (not sure when exactly) I've noticed a slight discomfort on my right side. Yes, I have been meaning to speak to a doctor about it but I do, somewhat tentatively, conject on what it might be.

Well, I'll be in Buffalo, NY this weekend which looks to be cloudy with showers. No matter; some rest and time away from computers can only be a good thing. I shall be reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Ta!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

remembering 14 films, A Natural History of Love

Indeed, this Hwan is losing the energy to update hwan.com.

I have watched a few films of late, though recalling them is not all that easy.
  1. Kick-Ass. I enjoyed the fighting and the daughter/father team, but the rest of the film was mostly unpalatable. The obvious Toronto landmarks mercifully distracted me from some of the more painful bits.
  2. Disgrace, 2009. Shakes up everything without closure; some things can't be fixed even when they obviously need to be. Uncomfortable to watch. Malkovich is excellent.
  3. Battle in Heaven. Yikes, just yikes. Another film difficult to, ahem, swallow. Leaves a lasting visual impression, even if the plot is otherwise non-existent.
  4. Broken Embraces. Well-acted enough but predictable, obvious.
  5. Departures. I thought it was rather enjoyable. Quirky. Right up my alley.
  6. 3 Extremes, 2005. Not for the faint of heart: bloody gristly crunchy goodness. Fruit Chan, Takashi Miike, Chan Wook Park. In truth I only saw two of the three stories.
  7. Avatar. Technically impressive, needs to be watched on a big screen. I saw the 3D version and was entertained from start to finish, without a minute of feeling restless, which is a feat in a 5 hour, 24 minute film.
  8. Crazy Heart. Really liked it. Is it wrong that Bad Blake reminds me of me?
  9. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. Wow, just excellent. A role entirely suited to Nicolas Cage's wildman personna. Unpredictable, delightful, powerful.
  10. An Education. Good performances from a deep, talented cast. Not a film that's normally up my alley but gains my approval nonetheless.
  11. Up in the Air. I really enjoyed this one, lots of nice touches, I was pleasantly surprised.
  12. The Brothers Bloom. Seemed to have the ingredients for a great film but comes up short. As such the first half is promising, the second, disappointing.
  13. Elegy, 2008. Smart and at times engaging, I eventually lost interest in the characters. Maybe I just don't like Penelope Cruz? I would definitely choose Patricia Clarkson over her, anyday.
  14. Fugitive Pieces, 2008. Holocaust films tend to be on the emotionally draining side, but this one manages to work through that, with the characters developing to a natural conclusion. I did find some of the scene transitions confusing.
I haven't much else to talk about, or that I can talk about easily here. I suppose I could rant about my joining the newly-poor, but that's incredibly boring I find. Videogame-wise, I haven't done anything new. On my third run through The Spirit Engine 2, been playing a bit more StarCraft and updated my Steam to play Team Fortress 2. Watching more of The Big Bang Theory. Worked through yet another cold, this one plaguing me for but a day. Oh, I'm currently reading Diane Ackerman's A Natural History of Love, an entertaining and informative book. Seems like I can only stomach female writers if they stick to the facts. Uhm, I've re-introduced milk into my diet? And speaking of stomachs, mine has certainly grown softer and pudgier. Yes, my stomach has, not me.