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This journal is Friends Only.

No, this isn't because of a wildly exciting life and a desperate desire to keep the details of such delights under wraps, but rather because I feel a little more comfortable knowing who gets to read my entries, particularly the more personal ones.

I think it's a little pretentious to have a long list of requirements for friending, so my so-called "friending policy" is simple. If you think we have anything in common and could add value to each other's Friends pages, please go ahead and friend me, and I'll add you back. Part of the fun of LiveJournal is meeting new people and seeing new perspectives. You don't need to ask me first or anything, although you should probably leave a comment in one of the open entries if I haven't friended you back after a couple of days: I might not have realised that you're around.

My only request is reasonable spelling and grammar in your journal. If I can't read or understand your entries, then we're definitely not going to be compatible.

Oh yes: I exercise my mad flirting skillz frequently. Be warned.
Melancthe the Woe, So-Called
Tuesday, February 23, 2010 at 09:14 pm
I just did a mass-defriending so that I can keep up with LiveJournal; time constraints have made it impossible for me to read everyone's posts properly. To those I've defriended, I wish you the best of luck for the future, and thank you for letting me participate in your lives.

Also, if you are on claidheamhmor's friends-list, I've removed you, because, among other reasons, I've discovered that some mutual friends have been leaking protected content. It's not personal, and I'm not accusing anyone in particular of doing so, but I do value my privacy. I also wish you all well - I've enjoyed our friendships and will always value them.
Current Mood: busy
Melancthe the Woe, So-Called
Wednesday, November 21, 2007 at 06:28 pm
Comments on NWN2: MOTB ...
Well, I finally finished Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer. It's fairly short, but it's far better written and more satisfying than the Original Campaign (henceforth "the OC"). The story is far richer and more involving, even if it's a little obvious at times. A few people have compared it to Planescape: Torment, but I think that's being excessively generous; while MOTB is entertaining, it's hardly in the same league as PS:T.

I cut because I care. Also, this is seriously tl;dr if you don"t play NWN2. And there are TEH SPOILERS.Collapse )

Many of my comments here come across as somewhat negative, but that's not really how I felt about MOTB; it's just easier for me to criticise than to praise (hmm, what does that say about me?). If you were disappointed in the OC but still have a yearning for some NWN2, give MOTB a try, because it's a lot better. No, more than that: it's actually pretty good.

And finally: I could swear that someone at Obsidian is a Vance fan. I can't put my finger on precisely what makes me think that; perhaps it's the recurring theme of the masks that was so prominent in The Moon Moth, the odd dialogue hint, or maybe just because there's a character called the Faceless Man.
Current Mood: nerdy
Melancthe the Woe, So-Called
Monday, December 11, 2006 at 12:36 pm
"And fate carries an executioner's axe."
I've been wanting to lay out my thoughts about how I like my journal to function, and the way I would like to deal with problems (should they ever arise), just so that all my LJ friends have an idea of how they can expect me to behave. I'd normally find it awfully pompous and overly self-important to have a "friending policy" - it's really not my style - but I can't deny that it's useful for friends (and prospective friends) to know what to expect from me. In many ways, though, this is more for me than for anyone else: having been on the sidelines watching drama from all corners of my f-list has gotten me thinking, and I think better when I type. Or, um, something like that.

Although I think I've already failed the pompousness test by having a numbered list of points like this, anyway. Whoops!

So, without further eloquence, here goes. Comments are in no particular order, by the way:

On Friending, Commenting, and General Journal Behaviour:
  1. I like making new LJ friends. I'll friend back anyone who friends me, as long as it's a) a legitimate journal and b) understandable to me. I've been friended by a couple of people whose entire journals were in a language I didn't understand, and I didn't friend them back because it'd be a one-way friendship. I prefer reading people who're in their twenties, at least, but I don't have any hard and fast rule about that; it really depends on the person in question. I certainly can't imagine saying, "Oh no, I'm not friending you because you're too young."

  2. I like to read new journals, so I often go look at the journals of other people commenting to my friends, of interesting people in communities, of random LJ-ers with icons or usernames that appeal to me (hey, I'm nosy!). If you've ever made a comment to me, or if you're a frequent poster/commenter in a journal or community I visit, I've most likely read some of your public posts, looked at your userinfo and browsed your icons. I don't friend the vast majority of people whose journals I take a look at, but occasionally someone's entries really appeal to me and I'll add them to my f-list. Although, believe it or not, I'm quite shy at times, and I occasionally find it hard to add people, even though I may enjoy reading their journal.

  3. I have no "commenting policy". I don't expect you to comment a certain number of times per week or anything ridiculous like that. There are a few people I've friended because I enjoy what they write, but I rarely (if ever) have anything to contribute to their posts, so I figure a lot of people are like that too. I dislike feeling pressured into commenting, and I won't do that to anyone on my f-list.

  4. I'm never going to tell you what content to post or not post in your journal. If you want to post very large photos that aren't behind a cut, that's your right: I've got image placeholders turned on for large pics so that they don't screw up my Friends page, so I'll go look at the entry itself in your journal. Want to post lots of videos and quizzes? Same thing: it's your journal. My journal style is set up to automatically place quizzes and videos behind an LJ-cut, so I'm not going to whine about it. Use whatever colours and font sizes you want. Also, my mouse scroll wheel works just fine, as does my scrolling finger, so long entries are perfectly okay with me. Actually, I prefer long entries that aren't behind a cut: unless I'm really running short of time, I'm going to read them anyway and it saves me effort to not have to open up another tab.

  5. If I'm commenting on a post of yours, I'll always be polite and respectful towards you and your other LJ friends, even if I may disagree with you or with them. In return, I ask that you extend the same courtesy to me and to everyone on my journal. There have been quite a few heated debates here, but they've always been polite (and yes, I think we can all differentiate between the faux-rudeness between good friends and genuine unpleasantness). Disagreement is one thing, but that's not the same thing as taking something personally. We're all adults here, and everyone manages to suck it up and get along.

  6. I won't de-friend you because I don't agree with your posts, unless I feel that you're attacking me personally (this is purely theoretical, because no one on my f-list has ever made a post that's made me feel personally attacked) or unless your behaviour towards others makes me question the wisdom of my friendship with you (for purely selfish reasons: it's my belief that if you treat others in a way that I wouldn't want to be treated, there's a fair chance of you doing it to me too at some point). There are plenty of people on my f-list with religious and political views directly opposed to mine, and yet we all manage to get on well.

  7. I'll never make a post attacking someone personally, especially if it involves mentioning him or her by name. That's just in poor taste. I've occasionally made posts about people I know, never referring to them by name, but I make a point of filtering it to people who don't know the people in question and thus can't make a guess at who I'm talking about; I'm asking for advice, not gossiping behind someone's back.

  8. I don't like being in a position where I feel like I have to choose between friends. In fact, it makes me very cranky, and the person who asks me to choose is the automatic loser. I don't care who's annoyed with whom, but please keep it off my journal and please don't ask me to be involved. In the past, I've had people miffed with me because I continued to have certain others friended, and it was hinted to me that I should de-friend them as a gesture of solidarity. Of course, I refused. If someone upsets me with their actions to the point where I feel uncomfortable about having them on my f-list, I'll de-friend them, but I'll never do it just because I'm taking someone's side.

  9. Yes, it is indeed my journal and I'll make the final decision about any issue, but, by having people on my f-list and making posts that they can see, I'm also actively soliciting contact and discussion with people. If I didn't, it'd be a private journal with no friends. Therefore, I need to be open to feedback from the people who read my posts and who interact with me in my comments section. Just please be polite and remember that I tend to respond best to constructive criticism.

  10. I don't like having lots of rules. To me, my journal is like my home: I don't like visiting people who're constantly looking at me like I'm going to pee in the potplants and steal their placemats, so I'm not going to do it to my friends. We all know how to behave in company (when we're sober, of course, heh), so I'm not going to compile long lists of rules with LOTS of CAPITAL LETTERS for EMPHASIS about how you must write three paragraphs per comment and/or write me weekly love poems in order to remain on my f-list.

  11. And speaking of comments, you're welcome to respond with whatever you feel appropriate on any of my posts. I won't be miffed if you comment to say "I like your icon" at the end of one of my tl;dr epics, or if you write long paragraphs about the existential angst you perceive in my entries in response to a one-line post about my underwear.

  12. I'm not doing anyone a great big favour by adding them allowing them to see my friends-locked entries: I dislike it when others make their f-list feel like they should grovel for the privilege of being allowed to remain, and I won't do it myself. The only reason my journal is almost completely friends-locked is because I don't like the thought of some of the people I know in person stumbling across my journal and seeing the eccentricities I try hard to keep hidden from them. Which brings me to ...

  13. ... "Comment here or be de-friended" posts. Nuh-uh, not a chance. This is one of my pet hates: I don't care who it is or how much I love their journal, I'll never comment on a post like that.

  14. I occasionally do clean-outs of journals that appear to have been abandoned for more than a year - I figure that the people in question aren't coming back to LJ. But for any active journals: as far as I'm concerned, once you're on my f-list, you're there to stay. Even if I don't interact much with you, I'm still reading your journals, and I don't like dropping people.

  15. If you de-friend me, I'll de-friend you as soon as I notice. This isn't a "you were mean to me and now I'll show you!" thing; it's just that I feel reluctant to share personal details about myself with someone who's not willing to do the same in return. Now that we have the Track feature, it's a lot easier to keep up-to-date with someone's public posts without having to friend them, so I'll most likely just track your journal if I find your posts interesting enough to want to continue to read. I'm also reluctant to ever re-friend someone if he or she has de-friended me because we didn't get along - if we didn't click the first time, why would we do so this time?

  16. I won't make a scene if you de-friend me. I don't expect you to tell me why - it's usually pretty obvious that we didn't interact much or that we had an argument - and I won't comment to you or email you to ask why. If we bump into each other in mutual friends' journals, I'll be as friendly to you as I would be to anyone else; I don't carry grudges.

  17. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy when people interact in my journal. None of my friends bite, I promise (well, they might, but I think you have to ask nicely first).

  18. I'm eternally grateful for the kind and decent people on my f-list. Yes, that means all of you. You've all been wonderfully supportive at times when I've really needed it, and I've been honoured that you've shared so much with me. Thank you for always being nice, for always being welcoming, and for generally being awesome.
Comments and feedback on this post welcome. This is all still, to a certain degree, a work in progress. As I think of something I'd like to add, I'll edit the post appropriately.
Current Mood: grateful
Current Music: "Welcome To Tsavo" - The Ghost and the Darkness (Jerry Goldsmith)
Melancthe the Woe, So-Called
Tuesday, November 14, 2006 at 01:56 pm
Neverwinter Nights 2, Part Deux
I must say, I enjoyed the official campaign far more than I thought I would after the slow start I had. It ended up being quite engrossing, as you may have guessed from the speed with which I finished it. The plot was the usual RPG cliché of myserious menace, but it was decently written with a fair amount of humour, and I found myself getting very much into it. It's not in the same league as Planescape: Torment or Baldur's Gate II, but it's entertaining and worthwhile overall, with a few quibbles.

There's quite a bit of repetitive combat, particularly in the early part of the game. I'd also love to be able to solve quests and negotiate solutions with my skills rather than just hack 'n slash. That's something I loved about PS:T - you could start the game with pitiful STR, DEX and CON and you'd be more effective than if you raised those stats high and neglected WIS, INT and CHA, and you could talk your way out of situations instead of just slaughtering anything. Don't get me wrong - a good bit of slaughter is fun - but it would be nice to have an alternate way of resolving something at times.

The OC is also somewhat buggy. I had quite a problem with cutscenes not firing (I'm patched up to 1.02), quests not being completed, and spawning issues. I didn't have any game-stopping bugs, fortunately, but just be aware of the problems. There'll hopefully be a few patches coming out soon.

I played through the OC as an aasimar: my final build was Paladin 6/Cleric 4/Divine Champion 4/Neverwinter Nine 5. All my other party members hit level 20, but the aasimar only 19 because of the ECL. In retrospect, I could have skipped on the cleric levels, but they were useful for buffing spells early on, so I'm not really sorry about it.

Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS and tl;dr under the cut!

Act ICollapse )

Act IICollapse )

Act IIICollapse )

CompanionsCollapse )

I'm a little sad that I've finished it now, but I consoled myself with the thought that there'll likely be lots of new modules out soon to occupy my NWN2 time.
Current Mood: optimistic
Current Music: "Reunited" - Mimic (Marco Beltrami)
Melancthe the Woe, So-Called
Tuesday, November 14, 2006 at 01:47 pm
Neverwinter Nights 2, Part One
I've just finished the Neverwinter Nights 2 official campaign. That's one of the reasons I haven't been around on LJ much since Thursday - I even decided to give up my post-once-a-day-during-November plan in order to play. I haven't read my email or my Friends page for a good couple of days now - did anyone say addiction?

Anyway, now that I've finished, I can post my comments on it all. I'm going to split them up into two separate posts: one on the gameplay, with only minor spoilers, and one on the official campaign itself, complete with spoilers galore.

I'm sure this post is going to seem awfully negative, but I don't really feel that way about the game. It's easier to talk about the negative things than the positive ones, which is why there are lots of complaints and fewer raves in this post. Now that I've gotten used to the controls, it's a lot easier to play, and I've had a lot of enjoyment out of it. Overall, I think it's a decent game. I'm trying not to compare it to NWN - I only got into NWN when it had already been out for a while and lots of issues had been fixed and features added. Even now, the NWN on my PC is quite different from the one I first played (it's now at patch 1.68 and I got it around 1.30; a lot of new content has been added in the meantime).

Once some of the problems are fixed and there are some quality modules out, I think NWN2 will be a good successor to the original. In the meantime, it's still a lot of fun and it's worth playing.

So, anyway, my thoughts, in the traditional and beloved bullet-point style, on yaoi Neverwinter Nights 2's gameplay:
  • The camera, aaargh! I found the camera to be exceedingly hard to control during the first half of the game, until I'd gotten used to it. I don't like having much vertical camera movement - it makes me feel nauseous - and it irks me to have the mouse controlling the camera angle too. By the end, I was a lot more practised at keeping the camera angle steady, and it was a lot better. I'm sure there'll be camera hacks out on the Vault fairly soon, though: I'm keeping my eye out for them.

  • The pathfinding is dreadful. It's not so bad on a big map, where the characters seem to have no problem getting from one end to the other, but I've lost count of the number of times my character has been surrounded by a mob and died because the other party members were stuck behind an outcrop, or were still lurking at the entrance to the dungeon. It happens in all games, but not to this extent. I remember the NWN2 devs talking a while back about how their new walkmeshes were going to make pathfinding so much better: er, no, I think not.

  • The AI is also pretty bad. Admittedly, it's no worse than the original NWN, and at least you can control your party members this time around, but it's still annoying. I had to stop having my mages memorize Fireball because they'd constantly cast it on enemies while the rest of the party in melee combat. There's nothing more vexing than just finishing a tough fight with each party member having only a few hitpoints left, and then being crisped by an overenthusiastic wizard. And what's a party without Fireball and Delayed Blast Fireball, hmm?

  • With regard to the AI, I was finding that there were a few settings that didn't seem to work properly. For instance, I turned Ability Usage off for the druid, and she still kept shapeshifting every chance she got. I turned spellcasting off for my PC and, when I switched to another character, she'd cast Sanctuary, Resistance or some other low-level spell right in the middle of combat and was taking attacks of opportunity. Bah.

  • Many of the new menus feel clunky and dated to me. The character sheet in particular looks iffy. I can't put my finger on just what looks wrong, but it has an awkward look about it; NWN looks more polished and streamlined in this regard than NWN2.

  • And speaking of looking dated, I kept having memories of Planescape: Torment whenever I opened up my inventory screen - it looks like a game that was made in 1999. Don't get me wrong: PS:T is still practically my favouritest game ever, but that was because of the story rather than gameplay. I find the new icons for items to be horrid: it's damn near impossible to figure out what anything is. The icons themselves are pretty, but they're just not recognisable. In the original NWN, you could tell at a glance between a short sword and a greatsword, but that's not possible with NWN2: you've got to either hover over the item until the tooltip comes up and then hope that the name would identify it, or (more likely) right-click and examine the item to see what it is.

  • I didn't like the old radial menu in NWN much, but these are also pretty non-intuitive. It took me a while to figure out how to pickpocket someone, for instance: it wasn't immediately apparent that you had to open up the character sheet and drag the Sleight of Hand icon to your quickbar. I guess I'm not used to drag-and-drop in NWN, so I can't really blame the game for that. Still, in the end, I managed to figure out how to use everything effectively enough.

  • And I know I'm not the first person to complain about this, but no dual-wielding on the toolbar? This'll apparently be fixed in a patch, but I wonder how it could have been overlooked. My character switched between a longsword and a greatsword a lot, and it was a pain to go and put the shield in the off-hand manually every time.

  • I really like the new Quickcast menu. One of the things I hated most about playing a spellcaster in NWN was that either you had to use the radial menu to cast or you had to drag your spells to the quickbar. The latter turned into a serious organisational exercise every time you wanted to change your memorized spells, which is why I almost always played a sorcerer instead of a wizard.

  • What's with the new cleric domain benefits? Getting free feats like Evasion and Toughness just for taking a single layer of cleric seems a little overpowered to me.

  • I love the way bards and druids are suddenly much more viable characters from a power point of view. Bards in particular, now that they can wear light armour and still cast without arcane spell failure(as in PnP). I like the Battlecaster feat myself, which allows bards (and warlocks) to cast in medium armour without arcane spell failure. It might be a bit overpowered for warlocks, but it's great for a bard.

  • Why can't you select multiple characters at the same time? Not being able to do that is very irritating because it makes certain tasks repetitive. I hope they fix that soon.

  • I'm not way keen on the way character portraits are done: I much preferred the original NWN's use of portraits. All the characters look vaguely ridiculous, especially when stoneskinned (the stoneskinned portraits for a shadow and a dire bear are particularly giggle-worthy). At least the helmets and headbands look better: the Headband of Intellect is no longer an unattractive helmet, ditto the Mask of Persuasion (although it made my character look a bit like a bandit).

  • I find a lot of the spell effects quite ugly. Battletide, for instance, which looks hideous. Not to mention Isaac's Greater Missile Storm, which looked great in NWN but looks amateurish in NWN2. Some of the effects are nicer and more appropriate - Turn Undead looks a lot more like I'd expect it to look. My favourite spell effects were still the ones in BGII, though. Ah, nostalgia.

  • No fog of war? What's with that? I'm a lazy person and I don't always like having to explore every inch of a huge map, but seeing the entire map as soon as you enter an area makes things both unrealistic and too easy. It can also be a spoiler at times, so I have no idea why it wasn't included.

  • All the reused sounds and music irritated me. I don't mind a certain amount of continuity, but when almost all the voicesets are rehashed and much of the music is endlessly familiar to me, it irks me a bit. Even a lot of the casting sounds were the same.

  • I haven't played it in multiplayer yet, but I can't help wondering how the dialogue pausing is going to affect multiplayer. I can see it being potentially annoying. Still, I only play multiplayer for the hack 'n slash, so there's never that much dialogue anyway.

  • Crafting! I love this! Being able to create your own enchanted items is something that I really enjoyed in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II, and I like it in NWN2. Some of it is a bit of a pain, especially having to get moulds for making any weapons or armour (!), but it's a good start. One of the problems I had in the OC, though, is that you're not always sure what gems to keep for crafting, so I had an inventory full of random gems, just in case.
Eeks, I just read through this again and I sound like a serious whiner. Seriously, it wasn't as bad as this post has made out: it's a lot of fun.

Next up, the Official Campaign.
Current Mood: accomplished
Current Music: "Main Title" - Mimic (Marco Beltrami)
Melancthe the Woe, So-Called
Thursday, October 12, 2006 at 09:53 am
The Great Fire-Related Post!
Today is the first anniversary of last year's fire. I'm not normally the sort to keep re-visiting the past like this, but I'm hoping that it'll make you, the readers, pause to think about fire safety in your own houses.

For those of you who weren't on my Friends list then, we had a fire in our townhouse that was serious enough to force us to move out for a month while the entire townhouse was re-done. The fire was (apparently) an electrical fault that started in the smaller bedroom, the one where our three-year-old son normally slept. Fortunately, he was staying with his grandfather that night; the thought of what would have happened if he hadn't been is enough to keep giving me nightmares.

About 4am, we were woken up in the middle of the night by odd noises (that we later realised was glass breaking from the heat) and by the power tripping. We went out to investigate, opened the bedroom door ... and saw a ceiling-high fire in the corner of the bedroom.

We rushed out and started looking for the fire extinguisher, which we knew we had somewhere. Fortunately, we found it, and dashed around to the side of the house for easier access to the fire.

By that time, it had filled the entire room.

Our neighbour had awoken, and she'd brought her fire extinguisher out. Using both extinguishers and the garden hose (which hardly helped at all), we managed to put the fire out. From the time we discovered it to the time it was completely put out was, I would guess, less than five minutes, yet it managed to destroy the entire bedroom.

When we tried to go into the house, we discovered that it was filled with a choking black smoke. It was a good half-hour before we could even enter. When it was light enough for us to examine the devastation, we realised the full extent of it. The fire itself had largely been confined to the bedroom, but that room had contained large numbers of plastic toys and such objects. They'd melted and sent clouds of black smoke through the entire house. Everything, from the main bedroom to the upstairs loft where the computers were kept, was covered with a layer of greasy black soot.

Of course, the worst part was when, a little later, we discovered the stiff body of our cat, Hobbes, under a table upstairs. She'd been fast asleep and had been smothered by the smoke. She hadn't even woken up: her body was in the same position she always slept in.

This photo is of the bedroom post-fire. The fire itself started in the left-hand corner, right behind the bunk beds. The doll on the left-hand side of the picture managed to survive the fire, amazingly enough, by being wedged in the middle of the toys under the bed. Right after we'd put the fire out, we heard strangely distorted singing from inside the bedroom; once we investigated further, we found the doll, the singing obviously triggered by the heat. It continued to sing "Ashes, ashes, all fall down" eerily the whole day, until the battery eventually died:

More photos, cut because there are quite a few of them!Collapse )

The one good thing about all of this was the amount of support we received from everyone, both online and offline, family and friends. Especially kind was fsnut, who was in Botswana at the time, read our posts about the drama, and immediately phoned up to offer us his place to stay for a month! Without him, the aftermath would have been a lot more uncomfortable and difficult. Thanks again, fsnut.

What did we learn from all of this? Firstly, it can happen to anyone. I'd always thought that it was the sort of thing that could never happen to me - after all, we live in a modern townhouse, not a farm or an older house. As we discovered, that's not true. It could, and did happen to us.

Secondly, fire extinguishers can save the day. If we hadn't been able to put the fire out quickly, it would most likely have consumed everything we owned. We would have lost everything.

My purpose in making this post? It's to ask everyone who's reading this to give a moment's thought to what you'd do in this situation. What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night to discover a fire? Have you got fire extinguishers handy? Are they regularly serviced and useable (ours was years old, and we were damn lucky that it worked)? How will you get out of the house in case of an emergency? Most important: do your children know what to do in the case of a fire - do they know where the house keys are kept and how to use a fire extinguisher?

If you've gotten this far, please learn from this story. Take a few minutes to think about how you'd deal with the situation if it arose and if there's anything you could do to prevent it. We were lucky - while Hobbes' death was a sad loss for us, none of us were hurt and most of our possessions were okay (if rather filthy) - but we wouldn't have been so fortunate if we hadn't been lucky enough to have the outdated fire extinguisher work and have a neighbour who could assist us. Our (relative) good fortune was due to luck rather than to anything else, a situation that has changed considerably since due to us being far more alert and aware of fire-related safety procedures; I daresay we're far better equipped right now to deal with it, although I'd rather not put that to the test!

By the way, there are a few very useful tips in claidheamhmor's post about the same subject, including a link to a gallery of more pictures, if you're feeling suitably morbid.

I'm making this post public because I'd like more people to read it. Even if it only inspires a few people to give their fire safety some thought, I'll be happy.
Current Mood: determined
Current Music: "Rae's Arrival/Opening Titles" - Medicine Man (Jerry Goldsmith)
Melancthe the Woe, So-Called
Friday, May 26, 2006 at 02:43 pm
On Online Dating ...
I've been giving dating advice to a couple of people lately. More specifically, things to say and things NOT to say in an online dating profile. Not that I'm an expert or anything but I did have some small amount of success in getting good responses to my profiles. I mean, I went out on lots of dates and even married someone I met on a dating site. Yes, indeed.

I think there's often an unfair stigma against online dating. It's assumed that you're too unattractive to get a date in person, which is why you need to hook up with the other unattractive people on the Internet. That's ridiculous. A lot of us looked online simply because we were tired of going out with narcissistic jerks who'd spend the entire evening talking about themselves and telling you that your hobbies were weird. I once went out with a guy who seemed really nice, then dropped a bombshell after a while: he hadn't read a book since high school! How do you not manage to read a book since high school? I knew then that we were entirely incompatible and I made a hasty getaway. At least it's relatively easy to weed that sort out online.

I'm usually more interested in someone's personality than their physical stats, too, and it's hard to meet people in so-called "real life" if you have unusual interests. Sure, if I was interested in rugby and cricket, I could have met lots of people, but I wasn't. And, to be honest, I wasn't terribly keen on meeting people who were big sports enthusiasts; I'd had lots of guys boring me to death telling me about someone-or-other's goal or try or whatever they call it. Since I've been on the Internet, I've realised that there are a lot more people out there who're like me, and who have a lot in common with me.

You don't always meet wonderful people online. Like anything, there's a fair amount of trial and error. Most of the guys I met seemed nice enough, but we just didn't have enough chemistry in person, so things never went any further. I met one guy who shared a lot of my interests, but I didn't like him as a person. You know those types who feel it necessary to not just say they don't like something of yours but actually sneer at it? I detest that sort. No one expects everyone to agree on everything, and I'm all for a good argument, but it's important to have respect on both sides. I might not like the same things you do, but I don't think you're an idiot for having different taste to me.

Oh damn, I got off-topic again. Okay, back to the internet dating issue. I still get a kick out of reading people's dating profiles/personal ads, actually. To be honest, it's more like trainwreck syndrome than a kick, because I sometimes shake my head and say, "WTF BITCH?" but it's fun anyway.

So, without further eloquence, here are some of my thoughts on what makes a profile/ad interesting and readable. I think it's fairly relevant to both men and women, although I obviously can't speak for what guys like to read in a woman's profile. Next up, my thoughts on yaoi! No, just kidding.
  • Usernames are the first thing you notice about someone, so they're incredibly important. If you're just looking for a quick shag, then I don't suppose it really matters, but if you're looking for a serious relationship, remember the old truism about first impressions. I wouldn't care how interesting, witty and charming someone called "wellhung69" seemed to be, I'd assume he was an idiot not my type. I always liked people who seemed to have "names" rather than "descriptions" - "Claymore" rather than "swordlover", for instance. Oh, pardon me: "swordlover69". Especially for guys: It's not necessary to add "69" to your usernames. I'm sure I'm not the only one who'd rather dig her eyes out with a spork than do anything sexual with someone who had that in his or her username. I saw lots of them, though, and I'm sure everyone thought they were being so original and so witty. NO.

  • Spelling, grammar and punctuation are key. It doesn't matter if you can't spell - that's what spellcheck is for. Not good at punctuation? Ask someone else to go over it for you. If you're hoping to have a relationship with someone and you can't even be bothered to make sure of the difference between "you're" and "your", then you need to rethink your priorities. As far as I'm concerned, your use of language is as important as your appearance. If I showed up on a date with unbrushed hair, a grubby dress and smeared lipstick, you'd assume that I didn't care enough to make myself presentable, and that's exactly what a badly spelled and punctuated personal ad says to me.

  • More behind here ... I cut because I care!Collapse )

    Other thoughts on Internet dating? What do you like to see in a profile/ad, and what would turn you off? While my Friends list is extremely diverse, almost everyone is above a certain age group (mostly older than 23/24 or thereabouts) and has a fair amount in common with me, so I'm curious to know how my views coincide with everyone else.

    Oh dear, I'm seriously bringing the TL;DR Smackdown of Doom today, right? You're not all going to defriend me for it, are you?

Current Mood: productive
Current Music: "Raisuli Attacks" - The Wind and the Lion (Jerry Goldsmith)
Melancthe the Woe, So-Called
Friday, October 21, 2005 at 09:57 am
"And you shall henceforth be known as ... SMUDGE!"
Now here's a world-first! Not only is it a picture of me without any makeup on, it's me covered in soot and grime and all red-cheeked and sweaty from exertion. I don't think I've ever been so dirty (physically, I mean!) in my entire life. melancthe/dirt = OTP, baby! (ourloveissosmutty)

I'm normally much more fetching, I swear. You're not all going to DEFRIEND and BAN me for fugliness, are you?
Current Mood: embarrassed
Melancthe the Woe, So-Called
Friday, October 21, 2005 at 09:45 am
More Pics!
Remember the pic I posted a while back of my desk and my PC?Collapse )

Well, here's what the desk looked like after the fire, with soot covering everything. And you guys thought it was messy beforehand, haha:

Current Mood: shocked
Melancthe the Woe, So-Called
Thursday, October 20, 2005 at 08:23 pm
I was going to sort out all my pictures of the disaster when I got a chance tomorrow, but this one made me so sad that I wanted to post it tonight, just to say goodbye for the last time. This is the spot where we found Hobbes. After seeing the perfectly-formed sooty outline of her body, I can't stop the tears running down my cheeks.

RIP Hobbes. We all loved you.
Current Mood: sad
Melancthe the Woe, So-Called
Thursday, October 13, 2005 at 10:35 pm
Crisis Update!
Well, things are certainly a mess right now. We went back to the townhouse yesterday and it's like a war zone - everything is black with soot and ash. The fire gutted one room completely, but the rest of the damage was from the smoke. I never understood what people meant when they talked about smoke damage, but now I understand just how bad it can be.

Fortunately, the insurance people have been wonderful. They've organised almost everything, and I've barely had to lift a finger as far as that sort of thing goes. The dry-cleaners (you should have seen the guy who came to assess the items - very tasty indeed, arrr!) have already taken almost every piece of fabric that was in the house in the hope of getting them clean. The salvage guys have hauled off all the furniture for cleaning and storage. The assessors have been around to give quotes on the actual repairs to the house.

However, I'm absolutely exhausted, both physically and due to a lack of sleep (I couldn't sleep last night, despite vast quantities of Savanna) from moving stuff and generally trying to cope with everything.

Thank you to everyone for your support and for the kind comments and emails. I haven't had a chance to read everything, but I wanted to make a post and let you all know that everything's okay and what's going on. I'm posting from my dad's PC - the wireless modem is connected, so I'll have more Internet access, but we haven't had the heart to take a closer look at our PCs. Oh well, as long as the hard drives are okay, I don't really care. The rest of the stuff isn't as important as the data.

I thought I should save the worst news for last, though. Hobbes, one of the two cats, died due to the smoke. We found her body upstairs - it looked as if she didn't even wake up, but died peacefully in her sleep. She's buried in the back garden. I took a macabre picture of the clean white patch where she was sleeping. The rest of the carpet is sooty, except for her outline. Very sad indeed.

I'm so tired I can hardly keep my eyes open. That's it from me for the evening. I plan to go to bed and listen to iWench until I fall asleep (if it hadn't been for iWench, I think I would have gone insane today). Thanks again to everyone for your support!
Current Mood: exhausted
Melancthe the Woe, So-Called
Wednesday, October 12, 2005 at 06:19 am
Well, this has been an interesting morning - there was a fire at the townhouse! Everyone is okay, though, and none of the important stuff has been lost.

Fortunately, only the one room was damaged by fire - we were woken up by odd noises and the electricity tripping, then went out to investigate and found the fire in a bedroom. We managed to put the blaze out, but not before it consumed most of the stuff in the room (and what wasn't burnt is ruined by water).

The PCs were upstairs and they seem to have been quite affected by the smoke, so we haven't switched them on yet and won't until we've cleaned them out and inspected for damage (I'm posting this from my dad's place). I'm really worried about the hard drives rather than anything else.

Absolutely everything is covered in ash, even in the rest of the house. It's going to be quite a mission to clean up. Blech. Insurance is up-to-date, though, for which I'm eternally grateful. Well, theoretically speaking, it's up-to-date.

So, anyway, this is just to let everyone know that I won't be online for a while. I'm still in a state of shock - is it too early to start drinking the contents of the liquor cabinet, haha? I'll post more when I have a chance. And, of course, we have pics of the charred room! Yay for digital cameras!

And it says something about me that my first instinct was to grab iWench and ensure its safety. I don't think I'll be playing Backdraft today, though. "Show Me Your Firetruck", anyone?
Current Mood: shocked
Melancthe the Woe, So-Called
Sunday, August 28, 2005 at 04:27 pm
Jack Vance's birthday!
Today is Jack Vance's 89th birthday. I'm having one of those busy days, but I couldn't let such an occasion pass without a post from me raving about my deep affection for ... no, make that worship of Vance's genius.

I always used to think it was somehow pretentious to talk about enjoying an author's works because of his or her writing style - surely it's the plot or characters that make it interesting? Since then, fortunately, I've realised that's not true. Jack Vance is the perfect example of that. Those of you who are fellow fans will know that, no matter how slight the plot (and, let's face it, some of them are definitely on the thin side), it's the sheer joy of his words, his magnificent creativity, and the wonderfully dry humour in all his books that make his works so endlessly fascinating.

There are other authors I love for their writing in a similar way - Robert E Howard (creator of Conan) for the robust lustiness of his work, Edmond Hamilton (the Starwolf trilogy) for the way in which he transcends pulpish material with such beauty, J R R Tolkien for the vividness with which he creates a world - but none of them have the same richness or the same appeal that Vance does.

A few favourite quotes:

"All is mutability, and thus your three hundred terces has fluctuated to three."

The creature displayed the qualities reminiscent of both coelenterate and echinoderm. A terrene nudibranch? A mollusc deprived of its shell? More importantly, was the creature edible?

"So now, be off! Or I inflict upon you the Spell of the Macroid Toe, whereupon the signalized member swells to the proportions of a house!"

"Gookin! Why do you lie among the cheeses?"

Visbhume made a negligent gesture. "The question is nuncupatory."

And, of course, Dame Maugelin's comment to Suldrun in Lyonesse: Suldrun's Garden: "... nothing is more conspicuous than a farting princess."

In case you're interested: last year I posted some thoughts on Vance, and some recommendations for Vance reading.

Happy Birthday, Jack Vance!
ready for some Vance reading
Current Mood: ready for some Vance reading
Current Music: "What's Your Pleasure?" - Hellbound: Hellraiser II (Christopher Young)
Melancthe the Woe, So-Called
Thursday, July 29, 2004 at 06:12 pm
Jack Vance - thoughts and recommendations
As many of you may know, sf/fantasy writer Jack Vance is my favourite author. I've recommended him to a couple of people lately, and I figured it was about time for me to do a Vance-related post, along with a few recommendations for someone starting off with his books.

Why do I love his writing so much? He creates worlds that are rich and endlessly fascinating. His use of language is so beautiful that I read some of his novels for that alone. He's not a strongly plot-driven or technology-oriented author. He writes books that you read simply because you're so overwhelmed by the beauty of the way he writes and because you're so smitten with his particular brand of dry and sardonic humour, which comes out in the dialogue. I'm not the sort of reader who'll enjoy a book for these reasons, normally, but Vance is an exception.

He's not easy to get into, I must admit. If you choose your first Vances wisely, you'll develop a feel for his language and you'll be completely hooked by the time you finish them, but if you read one of his "lesser" works first, you may well find yourself put off by the apparent tediousness. He's incredibly addictive, though. Once you've gotten a taste for the way he writes, it won't matter to you what you read of his - you'll just crave more of it. I love every single one of his books, even the ones with the most trivial of plots, because I'm addicted to his writing style.

Don't read his books when you're hungry, by the way, because he has a fondness for including lavish descriptions of food.

Recommendations - cut for length!Collapse )

If I think of any others that really should be on the list, I'll add them. Also, if anyone out there is a similarly devout Vanceophile, please add your own recommendations. I'd like others to get the same sort of pleasure from Vance's writings that I do.
Current Mood: helpful
Current Music: "Bishop's Countdown" - Aliens (James Horner)