South Park Self

how entrancing it is to wander through a garden of bright images

Another of those upsy, downsy weeks. On the downside, I've been fighting off a sinus infection, with its inevitable tandem partner of a glandular resurgence, since about Sunday. (I am now entirely unable to prevent myself from picturing Sinus and Glands on a bicycle made for two. I blame Supernatural). On the upside, this means I've been off work since Tuesday, on instructions from my nice doctor, and it's been really very nice to simply bum around at home - I've clearly needed the rest.

On the downside, the antibiotics she prescribed taste bloody 'orrible, and cause me to make that cat-encountering-weird-smell face twice daily, to the amusement of all beholders. On the upside, there haven't actually been any beholders. (I am now entirely unable to prevent myself from picturing self, lurgi-ridden, surrounded by Beholders peering over my shoulder with those giant bulbous eyes. I blame D&D).

On the downside, the pile of plaintive student complaints has been gently accumulating all week, which means that Monday will be a bit torrid. However, on the extremely upside, I may even forgive my Cherished Institution the work it throws at me, as it has also decided to throw me Money for purposes of maddened conference travel. The dual-fairy-tale-conference Great Belgium/England Trek for August/September is a go! I am very happy: if they hadn't funded me I would have had to withdraw my accepted papers and cancel the whole shindig, which would have been sad.

Also on the extremely upside, I have been applying balm to my wounded post-Mass-Effect-3-lousy-ending sorrows by playing Kingdoms of Amalur all week. Amalur combines the quest/crafting/happy wandering ethos of Skyrim with a combat interface straight out of Dragon Age 2 (lots of leaping around and fancy moves, with kick-butt spells), except that it's single-character. The visual aesthetic, with a rather attractive, slightly cartoon feel and a serious tendency to cute (the little warbles and gurgles made by brownies as they innocently poddle about, just before they snarl viciously and attack you, are utterly adorable) and shiny (lots of glowy stuff, bright, clear colours and pretty flowers) is straight out of Zelda, circa Windwaker or so. The combination is making me very happy, although I am perfectly willing to admit that I am easily charmed at the moment owing to shortage of brain. And, no, I still haven't forgiven ME3. Bastards.

Final, utter upside: two days of weekend still to go. I may yet survive this.
  • Current Mood: sleepy sleepy, improving
What are your planned dates? Any firm plans yet? I ask because I'll be in UK and BE at some point in August and September, and if possible it would be pleasant to intersect.
My dates are utterly dictated by the conferences, spanning those dates plus the two and a half weeks in the middle. Belgium is 20th and 21st August, Kingston is 6th-8th September. I propose to spend the week after Belgium in the Lake District with my mother, and then a few days in London before Kingston. Indeed, I hope we intersect.
Great news on the conference funding! Is it Kingston on Thames, Kingston on Hull, or Kingston, Jamaica? We too hope to see you in London.
Alas, it is not to be. I'm Londoning in the early 20s of August, Brusseling at the very end of AUgust and start of September. Then it's off to move house some as-yet-undefined time later.

Kingston is rather pleasant, as is (reputedly) the Lake District. And Belgiumn is excellent.
Belgium: be aware that you can get substantially-discounted train tickets for day-tripping at weekends, but you need to know this and ask for it.

And finally, FWIW, If you're paying for the Belgium-to-UK trip yourself, be aware that the Eurostar is not just a very pleasant way to travel, it can also be cheaper than flying if booked sufficiently in advance.
Yeah, going into? under? through? the Chunnel on Eurostar is fun. The slightly more expensive business class is nice, you get a meal and better legroom. The journey is Brussels is a mere 2 hours from London, and far less painful than flying. Also, the new St Pancras station (with the world's longest champagne bar, apparently) is quite impressive.

And I couldn't get into Amalur, the cartoony art style just kicks out my suspension of disbelief, whereas Skyrim feels so real, for values of real that include fire-breathing dragons and being able to change the weather with a shout :)
I do love the Skyrim aesthetic, and its fineness of texture and muted colours, and I had problems with Amalur at first for precisely those reasons. But really it's just another mindset, and one with absolutely its own charm - the faerie feel is nicely done, with details reminiscent of Brian Froud and his ilk, and the gameplay is very similar to Skyrim's and just as satisfying. Also, alchemy is logical, you can experiment based on probable interactions rather than random ones. My Evil Landlord is horrified by this detail, however :>. I also love the Amalur soundtrack, a lot of it sounds like Tchaikovsky ballet music.