Week 3 of Hermit Life + Game Review: To the Moon

Reading: Before Watchmen – Ozymandias/Crimson Corsair
Listening: Owsey & Resotone – Broke My Promise & Stared to the Sea; Klingande – Jubel
Watching: Elementary, Parks & Recreation, Korra, eagerly awaiting the Twelfth Doctor…

I’m in my third week of writing life!

I’ve written about 15,000 words of a first draft—some of it I’m happy with, some of it I know I’ll need to rewrite later. I’m also revelling in my newfound freedom with all the joy and abandon of a pig in a bog. I’ve been watching stuff, reading stuff, studying stuff and, when my introverted side is entirely sated, crawling out of my hole to achieve social connection.

hot star chicken

Over the weekend, I tried fancy pizza and gelato in Fitzroy. I explored the fowl wonders of Melbourne (my friend organised a city-roaming, chicken-eating adventure) and devoured chicken cooked in Taiwanese, Chinese and Korean fashions. I also played too much soccer, after chugging Nurofen last week and luring myself into a false sense of recovery. After unusual amounts of physical activity on Sunday, and a game on Monday, my ankle is killing me, but not as much as the fact that I have so much time to play, but my body isn’t physically allowing me to do so :(

So today I am resigned to being a couch potato. Whilst I am sedentary, I thought I’d do a quick review of the indie adventure point-and-click game, To the Moon. This game came highly commended to me several months ago by my dear friend Frank. I’m not at all a gamer, so bear in mind that I have zero qualification or authority to write this review. That being said, it’s a lovely, short introduction to the gaming world for a non-gamer, or for anyone who likes a good story.

To the Moon was designed by Kan “Reives” Gao and released in November 2011. It’ s a simple, 2D point-and-click role playing game that tells the story of an old man named Johnny who, on his deathbed, contacts Sigmund Corp, an agency that has the technology to implant artificial memories in a person’s mind. Johnny has an inexplicable wish to go to the moon, and two doctors arrive at his house to delve back into his memories and fulfil Johnny’s wish. As they explore Johnny’s past, an intriguing story emerges surround his late wife, River, and Johnny’s childhood.

Playing To the Moon is really more like reading an animated novel or watching an interactive movie than playing a game. I didn’t really feel like I had become a gamer through this four-hour experience! The story is sweet, clever, poignant and had a good amount of unpredictability. I appreciated how every character had a personality, especially the Drs Eva Rosalene and Neil Watts, who had some hilariously entertaining dialogue between them.

Although the graphics are pretty basic, they are cute and also pleasantly eerie at different points in the story. The gameplay, I have to say, was frustrating and slow at some points. Wandering around multiple scenes to collect various hidden ‘mementos’ became repetitive and frustrating, particularly as I just wanted to find out what happened next in the story.

I guess that goes to show that although the story is a little soppy, it definitely did fascinate me, perplex me and leave me wanting to play more every time we took a break. The thing that really completes this game is the beautiful, evocative soundtrack. The threads of For River that float through the game really highlight, to me, the tenderness of the tale and the attention to detail.

A clever, emotional story with an interesting science-fiction premise that can be played through in about four hours.


Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy


What can I say about this movie? Rotten Tomatoes has already given it a 92% rating, and who can argue with that cinematic authority of spoiled vegetables? If you’re looking for a big, fun adventure in space, then get yourself a ticket to the 10th instalment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, stat.

I must admit I’ve been waiting for this movie for months. A ragtag ensemble of interstellar heroes, somewhat scruffier and edgier-looking than the clean-cut Avengers in their capes and spandex, reluctantly banding together to defend the galaxy to the classic tunes of Blue Swede’s Hooked On A Feeling…what more could one desire?

Guardians of the Galaxy tells the story of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), a kid who gets abducted from Earth in 1988 by a gang of space pirates called the Ravagers and ends up becoming a carefree, womanising, wandering thief. After stealing a very important orb that attracts the attention of bad guys Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) and Thanos (Josh Brolin), a very big dude with a very big jaw who sits in a very big floating chair, Quill falls in with several other misfits: a green-skinned lethal assassin and daughter of Thanos, Gamora (sci-fi screen queen Zoe Saldana); a genetically engineered super-smart raccoon named Rocket (Bradley Cooper); Rocket’s devoted sidekick, Groot the living tree (Vin Diesel); and Drax the Destroyer, a tattooed muscleman hell-bent on revenge (Dave Bautista). Karen Gillan also plays a key role as Nebula, sibling rival of Gamora, a bald and blue-skinned fighting machine.

Guardians manages to pull off a perfectly wonderful mash-up of rock classics and science fiction which, along with the grungy-looking interior of Quill’s spaceship, and the futuristic but gritty technology, gives the movie a great sense of nostalgia and realism. It’s a rollicking, fast-paced adventure that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

There’s nothing much new or unpredictable about the story of Guardians. Frequent jokes tease mildly at heroic stereotypes but the plot ultimately doesn’t stray far from the sugary, upbeat staple of big budget productions. The highlight of the movie is almost certainly the delightful prison break scene. The visual effects, fight scenes and fantastical locations with grungy place names are also commendable. The final battle and resolution, though, fall a little flat.

What makes the movie worthwhile are the characters. Quill, also known as Star-Lord (mainly to himself), is a planet-hopping, rascally scoundrel of the Han Solo type, but more quick-witted than he seems. Gamora, unfortunately allotted the role of the “token girl” in the team, holds her own as a character with an intriguing past. The irritating, cynical and hilarious Rocket is also surprisingly poignant. Drax definitely had the best one-liners and impressive pan-faced delivery. And Groot—well, everyone falls in love with Groot: wholeheartedly sweet and innocent whilst being able to smash a dozen men against a wall with one twisty arm. Each of them have hints of a fascinating backstory.

My only quibble with sci-fi blockbusters is the relative sparseness of female characterisation. Gamora fills the shoes of the Strong Female Character well, but apart from her, the only women are Nebula, Nova Prime, Quill’s sickly mum and the bed-haired girl in a T-shirt whose name Quill couldn’t remember.

Nevertheless: lots of laughs, lots of action, and a feel-good romp through the galaxy. Worth a trip to the cinema.

Winter is coming.

It’s the last few weeks before the Big Exams and the heat is on. Also, the heaters are on as med students huddle in common rooms, hospital libraries and the dark recesses of their own bedrooms in scholarly preparation. It doesn’t help that the temperature is shedding numbers and my fingers start to chill just typing on this keyboard.

Normally, I make it taboo for myself to write about medicine here, since this blog is supposed to be an escape from the world of physiology, pharmacology and lessons on how to be nice to patients. But, as the hard work of the past year comes to a point of culmination in the next month, I feel like my life is being absorbed in my studies. Almost like I am being absorbed.

The amount of learning demanded of us is ridiculous. Stress levels are high; students roam the corridors like zombies. I’m trying not to let it all rub off on me, but some days the combined feelings of expectation, competition and dread can be overwhelming. Yawning my face off while making the long drive from Rowville to Epping, and back from Epping to Rowville, only to come home to the loving embrace of my books…it’s no fun.

My philosophy to survive the next few weeks is to eat well, exercise, get enough sleep, and perhaps most importantly, slack off from time to time. ‘Cause I know I’m the type of person who sometimes demands too much from herself, even when it’s uncalled for. After all, it’s only medicine. It’s not life. Not mine, anyway =)

As I am a little girl inside, one of my escape mechanisms is to crawl off into an imaginary world. This weekend past, the imaginary world was…*drumroll*…WESTEROS!!!

Yes, that is Boromir. And yes, this is the TV series adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series. I finally checked out episodes one and two on the weekend after recommendations from both Kat and Jez. The reviews are right. It is a 9.5/10, and it does have a lot of boobs and gore…usually not in the same scenes.

I’ve never really seen epic fantasy done in a TV series format before (well, apart from Merlin, but I don’t know if that counts…) and to be honest I never expected this adaptation to work so well. The big budget is evident: the buildings, costumes, armour, scenery, everything…it’s all done in such detail that it’s effortlessly believable. I love the ratty black cloaks of the Night Watch. The helmet shaped like a leering lion. The hemlines of the woollen gowns stained with mud.

Each episode feels like a movie. It’s Lord of the Rings, but grittier. Instead of orcs, there’s the freaky White Walkers of the north. Instead of your bearded, axe-wielding dwarves, you have the cunning, whoring midget Tyrion Lannister. Instead of gypsies, you have the half-savage Dothraki tribe, who eat horse hearts and slay each other at weddings. The King isn’t benevolent. The good guys might not win. In fact, who are the good guys?

If you want to watch Game of Thrones you’ll need to keep your head around multiple characters and concurrent storylines, which might be easier if you’ve read the books, or have someone awesome sitting next to you to answer all your questions. (Me! Meee!)

After thoroughly enjoying the first two episodes, I got to wondering aloud about why it is that all humans crave adventure. It seems to be built into our physiology. Though we claim that we are creatures of habit, we tire of monotony and dream of our own personal epics. Whether you are a housewife who dreams of being 20 years younger and swept off your feet by a “perfect, ice-cold vampire” or a kid who puts on a stretchy Spidey suit, we are all mesmerised by the thought of being a part of something bigger. Of being a hero to someone else. Of changing the world, and maybe leaving a small legacy.

Maybe it’s a pointer to the fact that we were designed for more than just our physical, self-driven lives. Or maybe it’s an evolutionary twist designed to keep us striving for greater achievements. It’s up to you to decide.