RIP Leonard Nimoy

DSC01300

This was the last time I ever saw him in person–at the Capetown Film Festival at the Egyptian, where he had a brief interview with Geoff Boucher prior to a showing of “Star Trek (2009.)”  Thank goodness it hadn’t been “Star Trek:  Into Darkness,” or I might have been tempted to pass altogether.  He seemed in good spirits, going over the same issues he’d been talking about since I first started seeing him at conventions back in the 80’s, and even treating us to a quick rendition of his trademark song “Bilbo Baggins.”

He died today, 2/27/15, and despite knowing that his health had been deteriorating recently and that this day was rapidly approaching, the loss is devastating nonetheless.  By all accounts he was a smart, talented fellow who treated others around him with consideration and compassion–and it’s not like the world can easily spare someone like that, under any circumstances.

But it was his connection with Spock that made him universally famous, and his departure personally affecting.  To back up, when I was young (and the Earth was new,) there was no YouTube, no Netflix, no internet, no DVRs, no DVDs, no VCRs, for God’s Sake.   If you wanted to watch Star Trek, you had to just hope one of the seven TV channels (2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, and 13) decided to rerun it, and that you remembered to check the TV guide that week for it, and then stay home.   I mention this only to point out that being a fan back then involved an enormous amount of effort that is almost unbelievable today even to me…and I was there!  I was lucky that just as I came along, the cassette player started to become available at price points a normal person could afford, so I would periodically get organized enough to make audio tapes of the shows, and then play them ad nauseum.

(I was also a sickly child, and consequently spent days on end in bed, listening to the same handful of episodes.  This is why, even today, I can quote some of them by memory even though I haven’t watched them in years.  “The readings are perfectly normal for me Doctor, thank you.  And as for my anatomy being different from yours…I am delighted.“)

There are many out there who think fiction is stupid, and imagination a waste of time, who doubtless roll their eyes at all this investment in something that doesn’t actually exist.  All I know, is that, fictional or not, I’ve probably spent more time with and derived more consolation from Spock than virtually anyone considered “real.”

P1060119

[Nimoy at the LA Film Fest screening of “Star Trek:  The Wrath of Khan” on its 30th Anniversary.]

Things I learned from Spock:

  • Power comes from self-control.
  • The more you know, the more fascinating the world around you becomes.
  • Be sensitive to the feelings of others, even if you don’t understand them.
  • The scientific method provides a structure for investigating new phenomena.
  • There are many different ways people express themselves–look for what they mean, vs just what they say.
  • Be proud of who and what you are–prouder, if it’s something uncommon.
  • People may ridicule you for being different, but the opinions of the hateful and the ignorant are of little account.
  • Acknowledge your strong points and your weaknesses, and then accept yourself for who you are.
  • It never hurts to play an instrument.

Movieland Wax Museum 063

[Spock’s figure at the old Movieland Wax Museum, shortly before it closed and liquidated all its stock.]

It’s probably not an overstatement to say that there isn’t one other figure who was a stronger influence on my early life.  As Glinda told Elphaba, “who can say if I’ve been changed for the better/(I do believe I have been changed for the better.)/And because I knew you…/Because I knew you/I have been changed…/For good.”

Godspeed Mr. Nimoy.

nimoy_lg

“What mark will I leave behind?

How will anyone ever know I’ve been here?

What sign will tell the future traveler

that I existed?

Shall I carve it on a door?

“I am here!

                           Today…

                                                I exist”

I believe the deepest impression is made

In those moments when I can say

I Care.

I Love.”

–Leonard Nimoy, “You and I”

 

 

 

Dragon Age 2: Act 1 Thoughts

Spoiler Thoughts:

  • Varric!  Long time no see, buddy.
  • I must say, if it hadn’t been for Tumblr, I would probably never have noticed the guy Varric punches out hanging around the bar.
  • So Bartrand has no maps and no money.  Maybe we should have suspected from the outset that this was not a well-thought-out plan.
  • Poor angry Sebastian.  First he gets exiled to the Chantry, and now he gets to be the bad guy because he wants to get back at the people who slaughtered his whole family.
  • Ah, I had forgotten about the thugs that drop out of the air, even when there is clearly nothing around for them to drop from.
  • Aveline liiikes Donnic…
  • Merrill is such a sweet soul, for being so universally reviled in her clan.
  • Flemeth clearly had some work done from DAO.  Either that, or this fragment was better preserved.
  • Anders!  It’s like old home week.  If your old home was filled with demon-possessed magical people.
  • I still think Bethany is a little hard on Gamlin.  It’s true that Leandra had no intention of coming back to see her parents or claim her inheritance until the Blight, and they have stayed with him apparently without paying for rent or food for a year.
  • Plus I think it’s crappy that their parents left like nothing to Gamlin after he had to take care of them for so long.  Harsh parenting apparently runs in the Amell line.
  • Also I like how they’ve been living there a year, and are all “GAMLIN IS THE WORST.  THIS CHEESE HAS BEEN SITTING HERE FOR A YEAR.  LOL.”  Maybe toss it yourself, Hawke?
  • While I understand people thought the whole leveling up process got oversimplified, I kind of like it, because I’m the world’s worst at managing things like that.
  • I love that they out and out tell you what loot is junk so you can unload it at the next merchant.  Otherwise I end up carting around wheelbarrows full of stuff no one ever needs.
  • Oh Fenris.
  • Gideon Emery really does a wonderful job with Fenris, who could easily have just been some creepy barefoot alcoholic squatter.
  • Ok Anders.  We’ll go get Karl.  I just don’t think this will end up as satisfying as you imagine.
  • Look, I don’t want to say “I told you so,” Anders…
  • Bodahn and Sandal.  So reassuring.
  • …And Isabella, whom we always meet dueling mashers in a bar.
  • Another thing I have to thank Tumblr for, is the knowledge that Isabella never wears pants.  I guess I just always assumed she had shorts on under her tunic.
  • The difficult part of this game, is trying to balance everyone’s approval.
  • I must have had to do the part with Feynriel a couple times to try to get the right party combination so everyone wouldn’t disapprove.
  • (I’m looking at you, Fenris.)
  • Oh hey, here’s where we first meet Samson, that bum.
  • Petrice is the worst.
  • I’m going to agree with the Arishok that Jaravis doesn’t seem like the most responsible person to have a gunpowder franchise.
  • Grace is also the worst.  Don’t take it out on me, because you can’t get over your blood mage boyfriend.
  • I would have to say, the dragon in the the bone pit is a world easier than any of the DAI dragons.
  • Man, Trask is the poster child for Bad Things Happening to Good Templars.
  • Fenris is actually a lot funnier than I remember him.  He and Varric have good times.
  • Hey thanks Anders, for almost letting the prostitute make me slit my own throat if I hadn’t mentioned it.
  • Creepy elf-kid killer is the worst.  Maybe some playthrough I’ll earn the favor of the magistrate, but this will not be the one.

Dragon Age 2: Prologue Thoughts

Spoiler Thoughts:

  • You know what sort of game you’re getting into, when the first major choice of the game is “which sibling do I want to die.”
  • I’m just going to come out and say it:  Hawke’s Mom is the worst.
  • First she insists they go to Kirkwall (“come to lovely Kirkwall!  Where everything hurts and happiness has no home!”) and then she out and out blames Hawke for Carver’s death.  Phbbtthh.
  • Oh then, they’re stuck outside Kirkwall and have no money or estate, and she still won’t let them leave to find someplace better that doesn’t resemble a slave crematorium.
  • Smugglers or mercenaries?  I think this is another one of those patented BioWare “good is evil” choices where the faction that looks less awful ends up actually being more awful.  Mercenaries.
  • Welcome to Kirkwall.  Enjoy your visit.

Dragon Age Origins: “Awakening” Second Half Thoughts

Spoiler Thoughts:

  • Auggghhh. I forgot about the Silverite Mine bug.
  • Oh, and apparently I haven’t done a real save in like five days.
  • Choices now: Redo everything since Amaranthine vs. lose everything I had equipped.
  • Making a save point now. Calling it “Lost All My Damn Stuff.”
  • Wow. Nida is stone cold.
  • “Hi. Your husband died fighting the Darkspawn and saving the world for everyone.” “Hey lover–can you hang outside for a mo while the Warden and I chat?”
  • Ugh. Didn’t upgrade anyone high enough to make the runes or potions needed to complete the “make the rare armor/weapons” quest.
  • “You’re a terrible person. And your ears are clownish.”  Nathaniel don’t play.
  • Oh and Sigrun’s quest won’t activate apparently because I already did the law and order quest. I had forgotten how touchy this game was.
  • I found it incredibly difficult to get approval with some of the characters.  It seemed like Anders had a jillion gifts to raise approval where I didn’t even need the last three to get to 100%, but I funneled every last bit of alcohol into Ogren that I could find, and I still couldn’t get him high enough to chat about Felsi.
  • Amaranthine or the Keep?  I usually feel like at least the Keep has a chance of defending itself, while you’re actually burning the survivors alive if you ditch the town.
  • Live Architect or dead Architect?  I can’t get over his plan in The Calling, where he wanted to turn everyone into modified Darkspawn, so I usually turn down the deal.
  • I will say that, just considering what he says in the game, he sounds pretty reasonable.  Deciding whether to back him or not is, I think, one of the harder decisions Dragon Age asks you to make.
  • Man, the Mother is just horrifying.  Then, when you think you might be able to get over the jillion nipples, her face flays open.  Ugh.
  • The epilogue here was pretty interesting, although some of it seems inconsistent with subsequent happenings.
  • It seems clear that Anders did not stay with the Wardens and live happily ever after, like they said.
  • Poor Ogren.  I tried to help you buddy, but you wouldn’t open up.
  • They say the story of the Warden wasn’t over, but I guess this was the first expansion?  I guess you could argue that she went on to Witch Hunt at least afterwards.
  • It doesn’t sound like the Warden’s likely to make a comeback in any future games, but you never know when BioWare will drag a character back for a tragic demise.
  • I feel a little poorly that Velanna never got closure with her sister, but she was just so abrasive I rarely felt like bringing her along.
  • Also sad to think that this is the last time we’ll see Justice before sharing a skull with Anders drives him totally crazy.
  • Alright.  Next stop:  Kirkwall.  The town where the phrase “what a wonderful city!  I’m so glad I came!” was said by nobody ever.

Dragon Age Origins: “Witch Hunt” Post-Game Thoughts

Spoiler Thoughts:

  • Always so interesting that besides Awakening, most of the DAO DLC seemed so small and straightforward, compared to it, while the DA2 DLC (that no one I knew ever played) actually seemed like a more vivid experience than DA2.
  • I forgot Finn makes mention of Anders in this one.
  • It’s too bad that you don’t get to talk to the characters more, since Finn seems like he’s probably the brother of Carrol, the lyrium-addicted-Templar-boat-guy.
  • There’s something a little sad about revisiting some of the places you had gone to in DAO, but with all the doors sealed shut.
  • Holy Moly, but that varterral fight was hard.  I was lulled into complacency since all the other fights barely required my character to join in.
  • Why did it attack us to begin with, if it was supposed to protect the Dalish?  Did Morrigan want to get rid of us that bad?
  • I think part of the problem I have with this one is that the end really only makes sense to me if you’re a male warden who romanced Morrigan.
  • If you’re just a pal, why were you hunting her down in the first place?  What’s all the talk of betrayal, when, as she says, she only did what she said she was going to do in the first place?
  • I’ve actually never not done the ritual, since I can’t have Alistair die, and I really can’t have me die.  I wonder how the talk changes then?
  • Also the ending really confuses me.  You did all this to get the book for the one clan, and then having gotten it and whatever the other thing “of great interest” was…roll credits?
  • Like I actually replayed the ending about 4 times because I was convinced it was some sort of a glitch that kept ending the game prematurely, before Ariane or Finn could say anything.
  • Ok.  On to Awakening.

Dragon Age Origins: “Awakening” Half-Way Thoughts

Spoiler Thoughts:

  • I like how the soldiers say “oh, there’s probably dark spawn in the basements. Well, we’ll be over here, then.”
  • Love Wade and Herren. I wonder why they never reappeared?
  • Wow, I totally forgot about the guy who wound up hanging himself because he couldn’t fix up a house for his wife.
  • People go hard in Amaranthine.
  • One disadvantage of playing these games in rapid succession is that the quests start to blur a little. Having the description change in the “Finished Quests” list is a huge help, and something I really wish they’d bring back.
  • Also the ability to read over the last few dialogues. I need that back too.
  • The one thing I find a little disturbing is when we walk up to people, they get agitated, and we end up killing them, without much of a reason why.
  • “Hi!  Do you know…”  “AUGGGHH!”  “Oh well.”  [draws sword]
  • The worst part of any DA game is when you’re walking along and suddenly a dozen spiders fall on you with a deafening “HIIISSSSS!”
  • It’s kind of extra-sad to see Spunky!Anders! when you know what’s waiting for him down the line.
  • Ok, who among us really thought it was a good idea to reassemble the dragon bones in the creepy haunted village?
  • Peasant uprising went poorly.  Thought of going back and trying again, but the last save I made was apparently before the dragon fight, so we’re just gonna have to deal with a few dead peasants.

Dragon Age Origins: Post-Game Thoughts

Ok, our quest to revisit Dragon Age in its entirety begins here, with Dragon Age Origins.

Spoiler Thoughts:

  • The mechanics of this game are so smooth to me–it’s so much easier to walk around, pick up loot, interact with stuff than some of the sequels, it makes me wonder why they changed it.
  • Oh Alistair.  You’re my favorite.
  • The one quest that has always eluded me through all my playthroughs is that one where you have to find all the love letters.  I think at best, I’ve gotten 10/12.
  • The problem is that even after I upgrade Leliana and Zev’s lockpicking skills all the way, they still have insufficient skill to open some of the chests.  What’s that about?
  • For that matter, I wonder why I can’t just hammer on a container to get it to open, like in KotOR?
  • I know a lot of people don’t seem to be overly fond of the Fade, but I kinda like it.  Getting to use all the different powers instead of the same 3 attacks I usually have, is a kick.
  • I’m not crazy about Anora, but man oh man, I loathe Isolde way more.
  • I was all “wow, the characters talk a bunch more in DAO than DAI,” but then I realized I think I installed a mod that makes everyone blurt out thoughts all the time.
  • I still hope Jowan, the perpetually-screwing-up-mage, made it out ok.  At least we know if he was tranquilized, he could get better now.
  • My favorite rando character is Carroll.  Lyrium addition and all, anyone who likes cookies and says things like “by the Maker’s shiny gold cutlery!” is ok in my book.
  • While I don’t find the werewolf story to be as exciting as some of the other segments, my least favorite is Orzammar.  In the first place, you have all those weird politically-based fetch-and-carry missions, and in the second place, you end up in the deep roads forever and have to listen to that disturbing poem.
  • Plus the broodmother, which has to be one of the most ick enemies ever.  I remember the first time I played it, I must have died half a dozen times probably because I was so traumatized at having to look at her.
  • The Bhelen/Harrowmount choices is a perfect example of the typical BioWare “everything is terrible” choice.
  • Tim Russ always sounds like he’s still doing Tuvok to me.
  • Dwight Schultz is so good.  I wonder why they didn’t use him again for DAI?
  • Such a good game.  The writing is really fine and the plot is well-paced.  Plus, I have probably never been as traumatized by anything in a game as the first time I played it, when Alistair dumped my poor mage’s ass right after he had done the whole “I don’t want anyone but you even for pretend” speech, and she had made him king.
  • From the Dragon Age Keep, I’m guessing the only after-game DLC of consequence were Awakenings and Witch Hunt…so maybe Witch Hunt next, while we start up with Gaider’s “Stolen Throne.”