Monday, June 08, 2009

Free Programs Worth Checking Out

Are you like me, trying to get some writing done this summer? Scott Rhoades in his article "Great Software that won't cost you dime," The Writer (May 2009), gives the following programs that might help in writing:

  • FreeMind [Windows, Mac OSX, Linux]--a program to help mind-mapping.
  • KeyNote [Windows]--a program that allows you to create one computerized notebook to hold notes, pictures, articles, and Web links.
  • yWriter [Windows]--a great little program created by Simon Haynes that acts as a "word processor for authors." But even more it allows you to plot out your chapters and scenes, make character notes, and keep notes that you need. Easy to use. I've already started and found it a great help. If you write novels or short stories, this is something you want to check out.
  • Stickies [Windows]--several computers back I had this little free program and used it often.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

The Hangover

I knew I was going to enjoy The Hangover when I walked into the theatre hearing the guy parking the cars telling a buddy, "You're going to love that film. I fell out of my seat laughing." Now, I haven't had that experience since I saw Something About Mary for the first time. Although I stayed in my seat, I really enjoyed the film.

Logo's Beautiful People

For me, one of the laugh-out-loud series I'm enjoying this summer is Beautiful People on the Logo channel.

The half-hour show alternates between the present-day life of fey 24 year old Barney's window dresser, Simon Doonen, and his fey childhood as a 13 year old schoolboy growing up in Reading, England, 1997.

Simon introduces his family in an essay for school.

Simon has ambitions to get out of Reading and into the glamorous life he knows should be his. When told he can't leave school to go to drama school, he whines to his parents, "Just because you can't go out and decent jobs, I have to be denied my destiny... I hate my life." He's sure drama is his way to escape. In fact, he can't open his refrigerator at night without belting out "Another Opening, Another Show." He has a truly quirky family who accept him for who he is. "You're not weird; you're different," comforts his mother.

Here are Simon, two friends, and his blind aunt singing and dancing in the street as the kids get ready to try out for Joseph and His Amazing Dream Coat.

Here the director Mr. Bell casts the show while the stage mothers show their colors.

Be prepared to laugh and check out the following:

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Looking for the Sims

I have to admit one of my guilty pleasures when I first retired was playing Sims 2. I enjoyed the creation process of creating settings and actors and then playing out stories with them. It was fun creating my own wallpaper and pictures to use in the houses. I found inspiration from various periods. At left is an example of one my walls with a mural based on the work of Henri Rousseau. At right is a Victorian wall uses a running border of cranes based on the work of Arts and Crafts British artist Walter Crane.

I was surprised at how exhilerating it was to modify a game into a world that I helped create.

Being able to design the house and interiors offers a great opportunity for individual expression. There are a huge amount of furnishings, accessories, wallpaper, and flooring available to the Sims 2 player. Being involved in not just planning of the setting but also the actors--the best kind, ones who don't talk back and do basically what you want them to do--allows for creation of relationships and drama.

Characters and costumes can be fairly standard or highly outlandish. Fantasy characters, such as the mermaid, pirates, knights, satyrs, are available. Sims 2 also is nonjudgmental in terms of the scenarios one can create. Most characters can be gay if desired.

The game revolves around individual households which can consist of one or numerous characters with relationships such as roommates, lovers or family.
I've played the basic Sims 2 and Seasons, which I've enjoyed.

So now, just when I get ready to check out Sims 2: Apartment Life this summer, comes the announcement of a new Sims 3.