Threes goes Free(s) – dev income is doubled!

Good news for the team behind Threes, the simple, elegant and (game cliche incoming), highly addictive mobile game.  [i]Gamasutra[/i] report, via a tweet, that the dev team has doubled their income a month after going free-to-play. This is big new because after a few days of a paid release (the game cost $1.99), they were ripped of in a careless manner – careless in design, careless in business ethics.

I don’t recall what compelled me to purchase the game – some mix of social media presence, as well as the fact that one of the designers is an ex-roommate of one of my favorite gamers and streamers turned designer, Sean Day[9] Plott. What I do recall is what happened when I showed my girlfriend this game. It was enough to turn her off Candy Crush, at least for a little bit, and it brought us a bit closer. The game is simple in design, and as intended, difficult to master. The soundtrack along with the voice over work from the chips give the game a slew of charm. [i]Threes[/i] is an ideal activity to engage in side-by-side with yoru loved one.

Musicians have their stuff sampled all the time. In the 60s, people were writing songs and other people were singing them. Napster, though, is cited as one of the biggest incidences of “stealing music”. A novel becomes much more difficult to clone, especially right when it’s hot off the press. Also, there’s this little thing called plagiarism. Gamers approach their games in a utilitarian factor. That is, games are something we use. Games also are a medium that track side-by-side with other technologies like digital distribution, that have potentially increased the notion in the minds of all digital consumers that everything is free and ought to be free.

I never got on the bandwagon of downloading things for free (he said from his high-horse). I just always believed that artists especially, of any kind, should be compensated for giving us a little joy. After reading some compelling statements about our compulsive Steam Sale consumer habits, I have even curbed my own frothing purchases, to keep my spending in check, to make more conscientious decisions, and to give full-value to a company and game I want to support. We shouldn’t take advantage of their efforts, and the cloners did exactly that.

I am still playing [i]Threes[/i], albeit sporadically. It’s a high-value game, with a high replay factor. Check it out – it’s free!

If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler – Italo Calvino

a posed picture of me not actually reading "If on a winter's night a traveler"

a posed picture of me not actually reading “If on a winter’s night a traveler”

“You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino’s new novel, If on a winter’s night a traveler.” This is easily one of the funniest first lines of a novel I have ever read. 50 pages in, I wonder if I will ever finish.

The title syntactically is incomplete. It’s merely the beginning of a phrase, and if I had a better grasp of grammar rules and technical terms, I would be better equipped to tell you more. Just listen to it, though. If on a winter’s night a traveler…what? Should happen to stop by, we will feed him? Brings a knife to a gun fight, he will surely lose? Is this a book only of beginnings, as I have discovered, there are no complete stories here.

The story – or rather, stories – are interested in posing to you the very sensation of reading. It’s a meditation on the whole act from buying the book to seeing the words to translating the words into a scene to capturing a character and developing your future expectations of said character. Here are a few sentences from the first-ish chapter of the book:

The novel begins in a railway stations, a locomotive huffs, steam from a piston covers the opening of the chapter, a cloud of smoke hides part of the first paragraph. In the odor of the station there is a passing whiff of station cafe odor. There is someone looking through the befogged glass, he opens the glass door of the bar, everything is misty, inside, too, as if seen by nearsighted eyes, or eyes irritated by coal dust. The pages of the book are clouded like the windows of an old train, the cloud of smoke rests on the sentences.

It’s like watching a theater production with spectacle where they don’t hide the ropes or strings. Calvino isn’t hiding the fact or trying to cover up the “illusion” that you, “dear reader”, are reading a book.

There are bits about identity, within the mini-chapters of various books that all end abruptly (non-spoiler: they tell you this on the back of the book) to even the identity of the author himself and you the reader.

If all of this sounds a bit heady, well, it is. It’s also pretty darn fun and funny. It takes a little out-of-the-box thinking and reconfiguring of your expectations as a reader. And sure, it is a wee bit intellectual. After finishing The Grapes of Wrath in the first of my summer reads, I will take it.

I’m still trying to figure out how this all relates to the Oulipo. What is the constraint? Chapter 3 begins with a meditation on the material reality of reading and language, an oulipian direction of interest. I’m also figuring out how long wUndertUnge might go without another post. Will the blog continue? Will wUndertUnge end abruptly, confounding the expectations of my scattered and nearly non-existent reader base?

Not before I finish If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler (or it finishes me…)

Fun Fact: This book was published in the year I was born. Coincidence? Of course it’s a coincidence!

We Someones (Frost Street)

It is a fine thing, a Wednesday
dining with a face you’ve only
begun to know. In anger and shame,
we sing songs of yester ways and future

beers not quite like this. A name, a ripple,
a grapple, a chill. The shades of dinner & late
summer sun. We babes, we lucky ones.
We dreamers, schemers, we rats & goats.

Seeing with our beady, bleeding hearts.
Let the beer be mellow fire Wednesday.
We fellow, we fine. We fall. We pine. Always.
Not repent much for lust & anger spent

in Spring. Please let we be free as
men of ample green and gusto.


with names.
With friends
midst ground,
Not fame.

For There is a Dark Sky

So it’s been a long time since I’ve written any poetry, much less read any. But for some reason, today was the kind of day where it comes flying out of every part of my body, including the rude ones. But out came this little lyric.

And I know it’s Summer, and we’ve been having some beautiful summer days,
but the name of the poem is called, For There is a Dark Sky

At some point, I want to start putting more stuff up and do graphics, but I’d like to do something special to accompany the poetry. But in the meantime, considering this is the first poem I’ve written in awhile, I’ll let the words speak for themselves. So here it is.

For There is a Dark Sky

A reason for this unease, this distrust.
We raise our eyes to each other, suspicious.

A silent admission. Tightly sown anger.
Invisible griefs. We being chief

inspector of shadows. Will we be drowned
in the sea when the dark skies come? We raise

our eyes to each other to be saved. Islanders,
immigrants all. We fall like dominoes

Click. Click. Click. Stay on your toes
and believe that one day Grace be your God,

and love, and friends. So Stranger, give me a name.
Give me a name, Stranger. Give me my name

given to me some time ago. Always
the throes of the earth and the sky

shakes the stone where our stories are told.
But they couldn’t remember our names. Same be

our eyes! Try, try stranger to remember mine
and I’ll do in kind. No tricks. No hurts. No licking

of my lips. No forked tongue. No lies. Be kind,
not blind. Be as beautiful as I can see. Be mine.

And be bold and worthy of that Name that in
step with time withers the future away. Lines

of history. Of you’s and me’s. Of friends and favors
and we in kind. Be gentle. Shine,

for there is a dark sky. And I saw it
last with you, my Love. May it not last,

my Love. For in the wake of pain
we thrive. So let me be kind, be blind.

My First (Digital) Game Board

Built in Garry’s Mod for my game design class.

First G-Mod Board

A simple 8×8, sixty-four square game board.


It took me about 2.5 hours to complete.

No thanks to these two clowns.


But thank you two for your help…


…even if you are doing that weird thing with your hands
and the robot is doing a layout.

Download Map with Board from Steam Workshop
working on getting the board up as an asset without the map –
if anyone knows how, please leave a comment)

Street Fighter IV: Beaten By a Girl

At tonight’s performance, Ryu will be played by Brooke S.W.

7 Eleven. That’s where I first experienced Street Fighter IIbut I was never any good at it. My cousin spent years pumping quarters into that machine. I stood in the background and watched. The competition was intimidating. “Block! Block! Block!” I just didn’t have the mechanical agility to get the concepts. I was only really good with the Nintendo controller and adventure games that required puzzle solving and thinking.

Out of all the game genres, fighting games continued to be my least-played. I just didn’t get the appeal. Now, with EVO and e-sports as a whole, fighting games are back in my purview. And last Saturday night was a chance to check it out again.

There were five of us: three guys, a birthday boy, and his girlfriend (our friend, too). She was stoked to go at it. I’m sure none of us can recall who went in what order, but we did let the birthday boy and said girlfriend play first. She picked Ryu (not Chun-Li like most of my friends assumed). When she beat her boyfriend (I can’t remember who he picked), quite convincingly, I was up next. I went to my old standby, Zangief, the hyper masculine Russian wrestler who to me felt like he had no reach.

She beat me. Then she beat my friend. The first person to knock her out was the game owner, whose apartment we were sitting in.

Over and over again, though, I exclaimed with surprise. “Wow, Brooke, just wow.” Befuddlement: “How are you doing this?”

Her response? “I do play video games occasionally, you know. I just happen to be skilled at this one.”

Why was I so shocked? Why my borderline sexist reactions? A girl? Beating us at video games? It didn’t last all that long, especially once we switched over to Marvel vs. Capcom, a more frenetic but less satisfying and responsive fighter. But still, how to explain my reaction. Was I surprised? Was I in awe?

This post definitely cannot be an in-depth post about sex and gender roles in game characters and game audiences – besides, Daniel Floyd does a damn good job in this video –

but I do think it is important to at least examine my reaction and my overwhelming joy that not only was I playing a game with a girl, something that doesn’t happen all that often, but also that I was being beaten by a girl. It’s also important to dovetail the Extra Credits video above and say that whenever I do discover a girl in gaming, it comes as a genuine and joyful surprise. Is it an evolutionary sigh of relief that whatever niche I sit in as a gamer will not be relegated to Y-chromosome only?

Perhaps. Maybe it’s also the idea that an activity and experience that I’ve treasured for so long has made its way past the boundaries of that 18-34 male demographic. Games are awesome.

So thank you anonymous female for teaching me how to use the ubercharge in Team Fortress 2. Thank you, Ms. Spyte for being an even better Zerg player than me. And thank you, Brooke, for taking a few hours out of your boyfriend’s birthday to decidedly kick my ass in Street Fighter IV. I look forward to our rematch.

The Fetish of The Fermata (1994)

fermata – a symbol in music denoting the elongation of a note, a stretching out

I am currently on page 185 of my second readthrough of The Fermata by Nicholson Baker, a book that my friends affectionately refer to as the “time freeze-rape book”. Not only was I revisiting one of my favorite all-time books, but I had to see what might remain now that the titillation of a first read was gone, i.e. is this “literature”? I’m happy to say that unlike most erotica, this book has substance.

The Fermata centers around a temp in his mid-thirties, Arno Strine, and his escapades in The Fold, or The Fermata, a time stasis where the he is still in motion while the rest of the world takes a breather. What does the man use his powers to do? To fondle and undress women who are complete strangers, of course.

I’m sure there are some of you out there right now who are actually not reading this, and I wouldn’t blame you. Bias: I am a pervert. Another bias: I enjoy good literature. The Fermata covers both of these bases. I knew that I’d have to reread what is arguably the hottest book I’ve ever read. What makes it so hot is not only that it’s seriously raunchy, but that Arno Strine is also a very sensitive guy with a streak of the romantic.

Perversion: (taken from Arno’s own erotica writings) “Keep pumping the brake and watchi this hot little cunt come!”

Poetry: (while talking about a former girlfriend) “Nineteenth-century novels were all-important to her. It wasn’t a question of hr liking them; they were a neurological necessity, like sleep. One Mrs. Humphrey Ward, or a Reade, or a Trollope per week supplied her with some kind of critical con-enzyme, she said, that allowed her to organize social sense experience. It was nice if the novel was good, but even a very mediocre one would do; without a daily shot of Victorian fiction she couldn’t quite remember how to talk to people and to understand what they said. I miss her.

Poetry AND Perversion: “Kneeling by the edge of the tub, I spotted something dark in the water near her feet. Her toes were curled around it. When I put my head very close to the surface of the lavishly chlorinated water, steadying myself on one of her knees, I determined that the object was, as I had of course hoped but hadn’t really allowed myself to expect,a large black realistic rubber dildo. She was bathing with her rubber dildo–oh poetry!”

What I’m realizing during this latest read-through is that this is no gimmick. The book is still hilarious and hot, but it also contains revelations, observations, and insights about everyday life and love. It’s like an erotica novel as written by Virginia Woolf. Sex is simply the force by which the realities of the mundane world are made significant and elevated to magic.

He also writes about relationships and loneliness: “I don’t think loneliness is necessarily a bad or unconstructive condition. My own skill at jamming time may actually be dependent on some fluid mixture of emotions, among them curiosity, sexual desire, and love, all suspended in a solvent of medium loneliness…Loneliness makes you consider other people’s lives, makes you more polite to those you deal with in passing, dampens irony and cynicism.”

If you can stomach the ambiguity that goes into Arno’s fantasies and time-freeze escapades, you’ll get a lot out of this book. If you’re turned off by the premise, this post, or the first few pages of the book, it’s understandable. Even Nicholson Baker admits that for all of his loneliness, intelligence, and sensitivity, the guy is a creep (which is maybe why I love him so much)

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