Sunday, July 29, 2007

More Human than Human

Blade Runner 25th Anniversary Ultimate Edition
(Image taken from Binary Bonsai)

I can't wait!

My favorite movie of all time, Blade Runner, is coming out with a 25th anniversary ultimate edition. I have adored this movie since I was in high school. It continues to be my favorite movie of all time.

When the movie was available for sale on Beta (videotape) to the general public, as opposed to only available to retail video rental stores, my mother bought it for me. Of course, back in the 1980s, a movie videotape made available for sale to the general public could go for anywhere between $50 - $150. Blade Runner went for somewhere between $50 - 75. Dune, my other favorite movie later in high school, went for ~$55. Videotapes only available through video rental stores were priced around $200 - $350+ each!

According to Binary Bonsai, the 25th anniversary DVD set will include:

- DVD 1: The Final Cut (2007)

- DVD 2: Complete film versions
... 1982 US Theatrical version
... 1982 International Theatrical version
... 1992 Director's Cut

- DVD 3: Documentary

- DVD 4: Enhanced Content Bonus

- DVD 5: Work Print version and Enhanced Content

Blade Runner 25th Anniversary Ultimate Edition
(Image taken from
Product Reviews Net)

This edition will be packaged in a blade runner's briefcase and will also include a model spinner, origami unicorn, pictures, and other goodies. HD-DVD and Blu-Ray versions will be available. I'll probably get the Blu-Ray version - my very first commitment to the HD wars. Oof!

HD quality aside, I am just giddy that we'll finally have the original version on DVD available! For me, the voiceovers that Harrison Ford and other members of the crew apparently despised, enhanced the noir feel of our futuristic dank world. I felt the voiceover gave the movie a retrograde (in a good way!) spin and didn't dumb down the movie. The Director's Cut was enjoyable with the addition of the unicorn scene and the omission of the "happy" ending.

Blade Runner is set in Los Angeles, in the year 2019. Rick Deckard (played by Harrison Ford) is a retired blade runner, a bounty hunter of stray replicants. Replicants are built by the Tyrell Corporation to such a high degree of sophistication that they've become "more human than human" (Tyrell motto), built specifically for occupations too dangerous or undesireable for humans. Due to their sophistication, their lives were capped to 4 years since they were found to develop human traits like emotions and desire.

Deckard grudgingly returns to hunt down 4, although 5 are actually mentioned, replicants who have escaped from a space colony with Roy Batty (played by Rutger Hauer) as their fearless leader. They have returned to Earth in search of their "maker" to find out how they can be fixed to live longer.

Cyberpunk Review has a lengthy write-up on the movie with numerous screen captures that are splendid to this day.

The touching soliloquy by Roy Batty sitting in the rain before he expires, with the injured Deckard listening, is my favorite quote from the movie...

I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams...glitter in the dark near Tanhauser Gate. All those...moments will be time, like rain. die.

- Cassaendra

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Let's Do the Time Warp

The Taste of Tremont was LAST SUNDAY!

I was bloghopping last weekend on Sunday and landed on Craving Cleveland (also under Linking Logs), where I read about the Taste of Cleveland. I looked over to Bug and said, "Oooh! The Taste of Tremont is today!"

After reading further, I glanced up and saw that the entry was dated "Monday, July 24th," and continued reading. Something about the date bothered me - the fact that it said Monday didn't really register. I re-read the date and saw that it was an entry from 2006. How disappointing.

I've been curious about some of the restauarnts like Lago (Italian), Sokolowski's University Inn (Polish), Grumpy's Cafe (?), and Fahrenheit (fusion), but I've been too lazy, stingy, and/or not in the mood when I've been peckish and thought about those places.

Not very many things hold my attention for very long, so all was forgotten when I jumped to another site a minute later - yes, it was another blog that reviewed restaurants.

I didn't think twice about the Taste until a co-worker had asked me on Friday whether or not I had gone on Sunday. My eyes widened as I recalled reading about it last Sunday and replied sheepishly, "No...I missed it."


- Cassaendra

Saturday, July 21, 2007


(Still from the video "Wamono" by Hifana)

While rummaging through some email folders, I found a YouTube link (below) that Bug sent me a year ago showing the art crew, Rinpa Eshidan, painting a wall over a span of a week. It is a sequence of time lapse shots with three songs playing in the background. It's pretty nifty!

("1 Week of Artworks," Rinpa Eshidan)

The first song is "Music is Mine" by Nujabes (Jun Seba). The song was reminiscent of Ryuichi Sakamoto's music from the mid-1990s. It must be the piano, synthesizer, beat...I guess almost everything! Nujabes has collaborated with others and created the soundtrack to one of my favorite anime series, Samurai Champloo.

The second song caught my fancy, "Wamono," by Hifana ("southern wind" in Okinawan). Off of their 2nd cd, "Channel H," which was released in 2005, the song mixes hip hop, and Japanese and Okinawan folk music. I don't care much for most hip hop, but the layer of Okinawan music made it pretty catchy.

+cruz from London-based, Love, worked on the majority of the animation on "Channel H," under the W+K Tokyo Lab record label. The video link for "Wamono" (below) from YouTube is low quality. A more watchable version (34 MB) can be downloaded directly from Love.

("Wamono" by Hifana)

From watching a few clips of live performances of Hifana, the two men seem pretty active on stage, even though they are percussionists/mixers. Reading an interview, it mentions that they do not pre-program their music when performing live!

(Still from the video "Wamono" by Hifana)

- Cassaendra

Sunday, July 8, 2007

A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma

(Day Watch. Fox Searchlight Pictures. 2007.)

Bug surprised me and took me to see Day Watch Friday night! I've been anxiously awaiting this movie after seeing Night Watch over a year ago.

Day Watch is the 2nd installment of a trilogy based on the immensely popular horror-fantasy Russian series written by Sergei Lukyanenko. The movies are based on Lukyanenko's books; however, Day Watch is a movie-sequel to Night Watch, not a translation of the novel-sequel, "Day Watch."

I was introduced to the trilogy when Night Watch had a limited release run over a year ago and was quite impressed, so I decided to check out the books. "Night Watch" was released here, translated in English, a few months after the movie's release. I was able to purchase "Day Watch" in April 2007. Day Watch had already played in theaters in Russia when Night Watch ran here in the US. NY and LA premiered Day Watch on June 1st. Friday night (July 6th) was the premier in Cleveland.

As for a quick and dirty gist of the books and movies, there is a sect of different people who have lived amongst us for centuries known as "Others." They have powers of various levels, be it vampiric, shapeshifting, telekinetic, etc. and are able to travel in different planes that are parallel to ours depending on their level.

During medieval times, a truce was struck between Gessar and Zabulon after much bloodshed, during the last war...which brings us to present day, where the Day Watch are the Dark Others, based in a posh office building, who monitor the Light Others for any transgressions that would be considered breaking the truce. The Night Watch are the Light Others, based in an electrical plant and play powerhouse employees, and monitor the Dark Others. The Inquisition is the neutral body that governs the judicial and executive process of any crime, especially crimes against humans.

Gessar and Zabulon are the leaders of the Night Watch and Day Watch, respectively. The movies and books lead you through the inner workings of the two Watches, the chess moves and back alley deals on each side.

The thread that mingles throughout is the relationship between the main character, Anton; his love interest, Sveta, a future Great Other; and his son (movies only), Yegor, as they are manipulated as pawns by both sides.

The books and the movies diverge quite a bit, but both are very exciting and colorfully written, if you are into horror-fantasy. Of course, I prefer the books much more, but the movies present themselves so playfully down to the stylistic subtitles that it makes me tingle, much like enjoying a guilty pleasure. Consider me an addict. I can't wait until my next dose of Twilight or Dusk Watch - in print and film!

- Cassaendra

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Sig Sig Sputnik

In addition to consuming gobs of time in game -- Hey, it a great way to save a lot of money! We never went out! -- I often spent oodles of time making sigs for my characters in EQ (Cassaendra) and WoW (Vetiver and Lycaena) to display on my guild forum posts.

The sig above is one of my first sigs, created in October 2003. It doesn't seem like I devoted THAT much time to its creation, but each pixel was placed by hand with a single mouse-click, which took me 8-9 straight hours to complete. The base dolls (above and below) were created by Angychan.

Caught meditating, November 2003

This doll probably took 10 hours to complete. Yes, I [still] can't shade.

Contemplating in Tranquility, near the entrance of the Plane of Fire, May 2004

Taeranel Tours, August 2004

Guild Hall, March 2005

This took longer to create than I expected. I finally settled with this screenshot in our guild hall, having cast Protection of Seasons (+72 resistance to fire and cold to the entire group) at least 30 times, taking no less than 75 screenshots, for a passable screen capture of the spell effect being cast.

I also changed my sigs by seasons.

Icicle Glass, August 2004

I was *trying* to cool off in the summertime with an image of a pool. Of course, I used this in the winter also. :)

Greenleaf, August 2004

I used this for a briefly in the summer, but used it in the spring as well since it seemed more appropriate.

Fall Leaves, October 2004

Blue Fir, December 2004

Flake, January 2005

Still Blossoms, May 2005

Sunflower, June 2005

World of Warcraft
WoW was a fun game! I'll probably be back once the finances stablize! :P Vetiver and Lycaena's sigs.

Vetiver plant in the background, February 2006

Bullwinkle, February 2006

The joke with Bullwinkle and the bomb was that my Tier 2 helm, when worn, was a helm with moose antlers attached. I've also "helped" wipe out our raid once in Molten Core and once in Black Wing Lair. I was "the bomb" and didn't move out quickly enough - both times being the first time I stepped foot in those instances. Oopsie! :)

Cow Penguin, March 2007

After I retired from high-end raiding due to severe burn-out, I joined Bulletproof Penguins. Along with Blue Forge Fire, a Cleveland area led guild, I grew to appreciate once more the fun in raiding. The image of the cow-penguin was taken from a static image displayed at a Japanese website, Penguins Mill, and then a GIF was created of the spinning cow -> penguin x 10 rotations with matching background. If you're curious to see the rotation, you may either click the screen refresh button or click on the image. :)

Redscript, July 2006

- Cassaendra

Memories, light the corners of my mind...

...pixelated color memories of the games we played.

Szelaedan(Sicklybug) & Cassaendra, Team Taeranel, the early years
EverQuest, summer 2000

From text-based MUDs -- GodWars, loosely based on White Wolf's vampire, werewolf, demon, mage clans -- and Realms of Despair, and other CircleMUDs to MMORPGs, EverQuest, Star Wars Galaxies, and World of Warcraft, we've clocked in hours, to some a lifetime, playing games online.

The past couple of weeks, I've grown nostalgic...trying to piece together what it is that I miss and what it was that drove me away.

Bug, as Szelaedan, was a half-elf ranger and I was a wood-elf druid. Bug started playing EQ in early spring 2000 and I started some time that summer.

The required teamwork, intricacy, and precision of having 72 people, later 56?, coordinated to do EXACTLY what they are supposed to, when they need to, standing in place and moving together precisely, where one person's misstep could wipe hours of work, leading to a sometimes agonizing recovery for another attempt (or several0 was exciting! Having a clean reputation and skill were key to getting in to a guild or group. Likewise, one became blacklisted server-wide from being guilded or grouped for a bad reputation.

The best team of druids to walk the face of Erollisi Marr! least the funnest! Plane of Air, 2003

I would get an adrenalin rush when a highly contested mob or zone was up and we raced other guilds to not only get there first, but to successfully mobilize and take it down.

Our guild, Crimson Eternity, had people on during all hours of the day, since we had players between Japan, Afghanistan, Germany, UK, US/Hawaii, Australia, and NZ. You could even talk to someone one-on-one or in a group channel across different servers! :) Fun stuff!

Me transformed into a high elf! RAWR!

Being an officer in one of the top guilds on the server that raided 3-6 days per week, occasionally until 3-4 a.m. on a worknight, and then battling staffing issues for ~3 months on what seemed like a sinking ship (due to the launch of EverQuest II and World of Warcraft that had, in one way or another, stolen 2/3 of our player base and officer corps) was exhausting. Due to a merger, the guild stabilized. Bug and I retired after 5 years of playing the game.

Star Wars Galaxies
Bug and I began playing this game at launch, June 2003, on Lowca. I played SWG part-time while I was not on EQ, where Szel played this game exclusively until the combat upgrade in early 2005 that destroyed the game, coming back to raid in EQ for a few months in between.

Szel was an over-achieving Bothan (imagine Joe Camel) master bounty hunter. I was an under-achieving Zabrak combat medic who loved to shop shop shop! and spend all of Szel's money. He also played Yslossk, a Trandoshan master Teras Kasi artist, who later ascended to Jedi, and Talfa, a Zabrak master physician. Cassaendra later became a merchant. In the game, you could remove all your professions and restart as anything else.

At home, August 2003

The game was very cool for me because of the amount of detail one could control creating the character, race, height, breadth, weight, flesh tone, eyes (shape, depth, slant, size, color), lips (shape, fullness, angle, color), nose/chin/forehead (width, height), hair (style, color, ornament), etc. The color palette was often a smooth gradient, not a sparse offering of colored boxes. I don't think it was possible, unless the base character was chosen, to accidentally have an identical character across all of its servers.

One could shop from numerous racks of clothes, from combat to casual to formal, in any imaginable color. Jewelry, paintings, pets, different types of homes, anything and everything could be bought. It was lucrative to be an architect, chef, mixologist (really!), tailor, or creature handler. There was even room for a 'middle man' to do well for himself by harvesting unique resources around the planets.

Szel's krayt dragon raid, April 2004

A bounty hunter is able to hunt Jedi. A comfortable life could be made being a weaponsmith, armorer, or a specialist in short, medium, or long-ranged weapons, pikes, and so forth...well, not so much a pikeman. Dancers and musicians were really cool! So were image artists, who could change every physical feature, with the exception of your race and sex.

Corellia, before we moved to our town in Tatooine, fall 2004

Bug seems to always do extremely well financially, regardless of which game we play. He studies the market, invests his time and/or money in odd things, and then sells high when the general populous learns of its existence, supply is low, and the demand is high; almost always making 10-100x profit! We packed up our homes on Corellia and moved to Tatooine, where his house was a town hall and his favorite acquisitions were prominently displayed. He also had several homes on different planets and vending machines to sell treasures and resources.

Jump to Lightspeed was Bug's favorite expansion. Space combat missions and being able to travel on your own ship! Wow!! He had ace pilots for each faction - Szel(privateer), Talfa(imperial), and Yslossk(rebel).

Sightseeing at the Lake Retreat, Naboo, fall 2004

When Bug met Han Solo, Princess Leia, and Jabba the Hut I was excited! It was easy to become immersed as you flew or rode to places you recognized from the movies, like going to the Lake Retreat where Anakin and Padme stayed, Mos Eisley, Mos Espa, Jabba's Palace, ...! The sights and sounds were so familiar, down to the MSE (mouse) droid that you saw randomly or could purchase and augment as a "pet." Even the music was familiar.

The poop hit the fan when the combat upgrade came about in March 2005. What had been promised since launch was not given. The game was, in fact, further reduced and simplified and there was no balance. Items that were worth millions were now rubbish, and vice versa. It was quite frustrating and the final straw, so we canceled all of our accounts with Sony Online Entertainment - EQ, EQII, SWG.

World of Warcraft
Bug began playing WoW in spring 2005. I began playing a few weeks to a month afterwards. Having stepped down as an officer in EQ and after the guild had stablized, it was time for me to check out life as the other woman.

Azshara, one of my favorite scenic areas

We started as Alliance characters on Burning Blade, a pvp server (Cassaendra, night elf druid; Bug created a dwarven hunter). I got fed up with the gank-fest, so we moved to Bloodhoof, where we started Alliance characters again (Cassaendra, night elf druid & Bug created a dwarven hunter).

We were asked to move to the Horde side by our old guildmates in EQ. We joined up with them in a guild called Ghost Force. At the time, they were the #2 guild on the server, Horde-side. It meant very little to me at the time, being level 0...the birth of Vetiver, a tauren druid who would be versed in the restorative arts and master herbalism and alchemy, and Vandren (Bug), a hard-nosed undead shadow priest with a hanging jawbone, who would melt your face if you looked at him wrong.

Setting up to raid Onyxia, November 2005
Prior to learning about custom user interfaces(UI) :)

Tired of the societal 'unfairness' imposed upon priests, especially raiding priests, to only be able to acquire healing gear versus damage gear, Bug created MadCapsule, an intimidating orc (enhancement) shaman...but yet another class that could cast a heal.

FlexBar was our favorite UI. The game was never really the same after the UI became unusable toward the end of 2006, near the onset of the game's first expansion. It devastated Bug as a shaman, thus the birth of SicklyBug, the undead pirate rogue!

As a druid, I could shapeshift into a cat (rogue), bear (warrior), caster (heal/damage spells), tree (heal only), and bird (flight-form). travel form, using a very clean FlexBar UI! cat form caster form with MadCapsule, while we were in Boonedock Saints, spring 2006

Blizzard must have learned from EQ's mistakes. Most people hated being forced to search for groups for hours to complete anything on EQ. In WoW, one could reach the maximum level not having grouped with anyone at all. Of course, it was frequently evident when you group with someone like that - they display very little to no common sense or courtesy, and at times, any feeling of consequence for one's actions. EQ bred discipline.

Lycaena, my undead shadow priest, and Sicklybug - YAR!

Lycaena on horseback in Winterspring, January 2007

Mitzi, my blood elf mage-baby, January 2007

I miss the challenge and camaraderie! We've had a lot of fun spending anywhere between 5 - 20 hours a day with people (not pixels) working together as a tight-knit team. A handful of those people we cherish and consider them, in real life, our friends. We would never have played any of these games for as long as we have were it not for our friends. One of these days, I hope we'll be able to meet them all vis-à-vis!

- Cassaendra

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