Thought I'd end the year with cat portraits 'cos to be honest, I'm not ready for the year to begin. This old rustbucket seriously needs a lube job before he can be deemed properly roadworthy again. Grumble, grumble...
Over in Skyrim, there's a choice I can make about whether to join the Empire, or to support the Stormcloak rebellion. There are other affiliations to be made, but this one appears to be a firm commitment with no take-backs. I haven't made up my mind yet, since there's no immediate pressure to; and I still want to wander Skyrim at will without feeling like I'm trespassing on enemy territory.
I have no love for the Imperials as they initially treated my character shabbily at the start of the adventure. The Empire is modeled after the Romans, so that makes them kind of like the invading force, though they appear to have been in charge for a long time already. The Stormcloaks are the Nords, yes, the invaded peoples; but their platform of Nordland for Nordsmen doesn't sit well with my character either -- High Elf (so obviously not a Nord, of course), if you must know.
I can feel my personal political beliefs being tested here with this decision. If that's so, then that makes my choice much easier. If push comes to shove and my back's to the wall, I'll be flying the red banners.
"Look at you. Like fat dathrasi you feed, and feed, and complain only when your meal is interrupted. You do not look up. You do not see that the grass is bare. All you leave in your wake is misery. You are blind; I will make you see!"
Good dim sum eats at the Wah Lok Restaurant, Carlton Hotel. Each item is a la carte from the menu rather than from the actual cart. I like the freshness of the servings; the portions which don't make me feel overfull; and mostly the absence of the heavy oil taste that tends to make me feel sick (I mean, really sick). That usually occurs with the deep-fried yam balls (bottom right), just one of which usually takes me out of the meal for good; but these ones were easy on the gut. I could keep going until dessert: a dainty osmanthus jelly cut in a diamond shape, lightly sweet to the tongue and a very refreshing touch with which to end lunch on a pleasant note.
What can I say about Wicked that hasn't already been said? It's a very succinct summary of Maguire's Oz story reboot from the perspective of the Wicked Witch of the West, giving her more purpose and personality than the original's mere embodiment of random malevolence. Though I loved the musical as much as everyone else, I couldn't fork out the expense for souvenirs from the merchandise store. One item did catch my eye -- see the low cut green ladies' tee on the back shelf immediately under the 'W'? The print says 'Defying gravity'. On a buxom wearer, it would be overstating the obvious; on one less well-endowed it would just be ironic. Now, that's wicked!
This here is June's festive project, a Lego Christmas diorama. I loved Lego when I was younger, and it has evolved a lot since then. Today, there are lots of fiddly little parts that snap together to build complex structures like the bake shop in the background. In the last couple of days, June's been noticing that a few tiny bits have gone missing. Our first suspicions were on faulty industrial packaging practices resulting in a shortfall of inventory. But that couldn't possibly account for so many lost pieces, right? Then, only last night, we discovered the real culprit: Q-tip!!! To say more about the discovery itself and the retrieval process of only two (latest update: five) of the lost pieces would be providing too much information. If I told you, you would have to kill me.
Having returned from Thailand, I've been continuing my travels in lovely Skyrim. The going was tough at first. so many people looking for a hero to get things done for them that it's easy to get overwhelmed. Find this, fetch this, bring this, kill this... the demands are endless and your quest journal fills up with a laundry list of things to do. and while you're trudging the main map, there's more locations to be found, more wild things to defend against, more dungeons to go spelunking in 'cos the opportunity to venture is too good to pass up and just because they're there.
First, the landscape in Skyrim is just beautiful. No sunny, tropical locales with swaying palm trees and hula girls, but hard, cold Northlands, sweeping vistas and open plains. Day transitions into night seamlessly as does the weather which changes at random, though logically according to the terrain. There is no load time between regions so it's rewarding to hoof it between locations just to see the variety of countryside. But because the map is so huge, we're also grateful for the fast travel ability between known points on the map.
Things have become a lot easier since I could afford a travelling companion and a horse. Two swords are better at taking out the nasties and the crazy horse lends a couple of fighting hooves too when we're attacked outdoors (poor Frost, how did you end up dead? I only left you for a moment). Recently I picked up a dog who is both a boon and a bane. In battle, the dog is an excellent tank: he draws nearly all enemy attention 'cos he can only melee attack, he's tough, heals fast, and while they're all wailing on him, I and my partner can pick them off one-by-one with arrows, flame, ice or lightning as the situation merits. Oh, and he's a bane because he tends to walk so close to you that he often pushes you away from what you are examining, or he traps you in a corner, and if you're not careful he might accidentally push you over a cliff out of affection. Stupid dog.
Life in Skyrim is manageable once you figure out that selecting quests in the journal often puts a marker on the map or person you need to go to for this or that. There are so many ways to make money too, so whether you want to just sell loot; or craft potions; or smith/enchant arms, armour or jewellery you'll soon have more moolah than you know what to do with. In between quests, there's also flower picking and food gathering along the way for your inner chef to express himself. Get in good with the local Jarl in the eight cities and you'll soon be spending money on some local real estate, and furnish it to look more respectable than the yokels. Also great for storing your hoard of souvenirs collected from your travels.
The game adjusts itself to your preferences. The more you use a skill, the faster it levels up. That makes choosing perks a lot easier since each perk augments the skills you like to use most. There are lots of skill options, so try everything first. Eventually, your gameplay style will become evident and you can tune up your character accordingly.
With so many side quests, it's easy to forget why we're in Skyrim in the first place: Dragons. 'nuff said. XD