Friday, September 30, 2011

Dues EX: Human Revolution - YES!

It's been FOREVER since I've played a First Person Shooter game of any kind. A lot of it had to do with spending my time on MMOs, but also because a lot of the newer games make the character movements and screens in such a way that, frankly, make me so dizzy I want to hurl. (Missed out on SPACE, Borderlands, FEAR - Waaaaahhhh) Hubby doesn't have this problem, so it's all good for him. (Bah humbug!)

I played the original Dues Ex years ago, so when he told me they had a prequel called Dues Ex: Human Revolution, I hoped I might actually have a shot at playing it. And YES! No super wobbly graphics! I can PLAY THIS! Woot!

Premise: Adam Jensen, security chief at Sarif Industries, is massively injured when he tries to stop an infiltration of the science labs at the company. He finds the perpetrators only to be overcome, as one of them exibits greater than human abilities. Jensen is the sole survivor to the incursion, but is in critical condition. Sarif puts his men to save him and gets him augmented with cyber limbs. Six months later, he calls Jensen back into active duty as hostilities once more escalate. Jensen wants answers and is now more than equiped to get them.

Babbling: Started the game about a few weeks ago and have been had a BLAST! (Finished it this past weekend in between attending Fencon! Priorities people! Priorities! Heh heh)

The elements I loved about the original are present in the prequel. I couldn't be more ecstatic. Loads of world info you can choose to read through ebook readers and newspapers left around in the game world, even emails in computers. Nice solid story content. Fun characters. (Totally love the voice work by Elias Toufexis for Jensen!) Side missions add a nice compliment to the story and world as a whole. Love that I've been able to guess at several elements because I am reading what I find, am talking to the civilians around me, and doing these side quests. They serve to enrich the whole experience. And some of the rewards of these side quests give (aside from the xp!) are nice indeed!

I super love that sneaking around is more condusive than just shooting at everything (brought back all my fond memories of Thief!). There are hidden passages all over the place, but there are also some that take you nowhere. So it ups the exploration aspects a bit, I think. And sometimes there are goodies to be found at these dead ends as well. (WARNING: Sewers are not nice. Always try the front door first. Might save yourself some agony. lol)

There's a fun running joke I've been having a blast with. Jensen keeps asking people how they got his frequency as he keeps getting calls on his implants from all over the place. lol. Poor guy never does get a straight answer on that one from anyone. Hee!

Very nice graphics and videos. The two tierd city in Asia is amazing as you fly in. Pretty spectacular and kind of creepy as you look up at it in different areas during game play. And of course there's all sorts of moral issues to consider with all the awesome tech and changes going on in the world's societies, even as some things never change-greed, power hunger, back stabbing, etc.

Totally loving my Q key. The subdue augment ability ROCKS! Especially when you can increase the augment to subdue two peeps at once-great sequences on the take downs too. Oh yeah! And the Typhon weapons system is the BOMB! Just the cool graphic is worth it. Heh heh. Enjoying many of the other skills you can pick up along the way as well. Hacking is cool! And you have to think too, suckers are sneaky in some of the software hacking setups-if you don't pay attention you won't get past it.

All will come together in the Artic Sea (as I predicted - bwahahahaha). Bwahahahahaha! Also heard there will be even more content coming in October with Dues Ex Missing Link. Booyah!

A definite Thumbs UP!



1) Big Bawny Dude: Red barrels are your friends. Throw them at the guy. Also, there are two rooms with goodies at the northeast and southwest corners. Better yet, on the NE room, if you jump on the boxes and hide against the wall with the entrance, no matter how many grenades he throws, you'll take no damage. Good place to take a breather. Do not try to grapple with this dude! Shoot from afar.

2) Lady: She can turn invisible. Your best bet is to have previously gotten the Typhoon system (which ROCKS!) and do two immediate attacks with it. Took her down easy!

Cheat - Avoid changing your chip. Won't say anything more. I did it, and it makes 3rd boss harder, but hubby avoided it, so had full powers.(I knew it was a bad idea, I just didn't know if the consequences of not doing it would be bad. Hubby said aside from some glitches here and there, it did not affect him.)

3) Leader of the Trio: Also can turn invisible. But he tends to jump over the central room divider. Just run around and hide behind the columns to the center and wait for him to come over. Take a few shots, run the other way, lie in wait again. (If you shoot too much, grenades will blow you up. Machine gun did the trick.) If you don't change your chip, you can just Typhoon his ass! Heh heh.

Have fun!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Needed: Expert on Poisons, Current Church Laws, and Exotic Sports Cars

I frequently need experts.

Thanks to lots of reading and some weird hobbies, I already know all kinds of things about ghosts and the paranormal, sign language, palm reading, medical terminology, Tae Kwon Do, and the Beatles. Not all of this is terribly helpful when I need to know something about the horsepower of a Maserati, whether or not a suicide victim can be buried on hallowed ground, or how to poison someone and leave no trace.

Oh, I know there's stuff all over the Internet. I know I can Google just about anything I want to research. But most of what I find becomes repetitive and very frequently, does not go as deep into the subject as I need it to go. Besides, if I Google something like "How can I poison Great-Uncle Mort without leaving a trace of it in his body tissues?" don't you think someone might come knocking on my door?

Over the years I have "collected" an ER doc, a pharmacist, deputy US Marshall (now retired), several artists, instructors in Western Martial Arts (read: swords, armor, poleaxes, and other shiny things) and a foreign-car mechanic as experts whom I can go to with the occasional odd question. Much to their credit, none of them so much as blinks or twitches when I ask something like "If someone gets shot by a Glock at close range in the side of the body, will they just slide to the ground or will they get thrown across the room?" or "If a person was gifted with a 1992 Ferrari that needed massive engine work and some new paint, how much would that likely cost these days?" I even asked someone, when working on Saving Jake, what kind of injury a character could sustain that would kill him in about 10 to 15 minutes but still leave him able to have a last short conversation with the person that finds him. Try explaining why you need to know something like that to the average person!

I often wished that writers I know and pal around with could start a reference listing of real live experts that we could all access when we needed to know something off-the-wall or totally inappropriate in ordinary dinner conversation. Like what kind of prescription med has adverse reactions that could make a child appear to be possessed. Or at least, psychotic and violent.

Anybody else dealing with this sort of research issue???

Monday, September 26, 2011

Preteen Girls, Horses, and Aliens

Preteen Girls, Horses and Aliens

In the mid fifties, I was a preteen girl at Brookside Elementary School, and I was in love with Rod Gillespie and horses. The closest I ever got to dating Rod was sending him anonymous Valentine cards and standing wistfully outside his house. If I had been ten years older, they would probably have called that harassment.
The closest I got to horses was riding one each weekend for a few weeks and reading books about them. You’ll notice that Rod’s name isn’t in the title, so we’ll drop him at this point, the way I used to wish he’d drop--the sweet & beautiful--Leslie and move right along to those horse books.
Diana Fields, Mary Schneider and I used to read every book involving horses in the library. Our favorites were the Walter Farley “Black Stallion” books, written in the 50's and still being reprinted today. Some of you may have heard of them. Farley seemed to share our love of all things equine, but his true focus was on the Sport of Kings. And, since he wrote about horseracing, we dutifully read about horseracing. I can still describe how best to weight the saddle of a horse entered in a handicap race, how Arabian horses have one less pair of ribs that other horses, and I know a little about the hoof disease, thrush. In fact, I think several toes on my right foot are suffering from it.
Well, Farley gave the Black Stallion a good run for his money, if you’ll excuse the expression. Then, evidently having grown bored with the horse or his humans, he began a new series about The Island Stallion. Actually, I think he must have grown tired of the humans, since The Island Stallion was really the Black Stallion, now a red bay and stuck on an island. Otherwise, it was pretty much the same horse --- the fastest in the world and partially feral just to make things exciting.
So, when is she going to get to young adult science fiction? Real soon now.
In the first Island Stallion book, Farley had a vacationing family discover an island no one knew about or, at least no one felt worth investigating. It appeared to be nothing but sheer impenetrable cliffs on the exterior which gave the impression that the whole island was nothing but one giant boulder stuck out in the middle of the ocean. The adults found traces of landings hundreds of years before possibly by pirates or explorers.
In the meantime, their son found a way through the rocks to the interior of the island and discovered a small herd of feral horses, the descendents of those that the sailors had left behind.
After a book or two stuck on the island, Farley evidently couldn’t resist getting that red stallion into a race. There was just one problem. How? No one knew about the horses, and the family--now studying the artifacts left behind--didn’t have a big enough boat to transport a horse. Poor WF was in a severe writer’s bind, one of his own making.
At last, he came up with the obvious solution.
Yes, aliens. (See. I told you we’d get to YA SF real soon.)
It’s been a few decades since I read any Walter Farley books, so the aliens’ reason for landing on a tiny island kind of escapes me. Actually, it probably escaped Farley at the time. In any case, the aliens agreed to help the boy transport The Island Stallion off of his island, and even went so far as to plunk the boy and the horse down at a race track which (conveniently) was about to have a match race between the two best horses in the world. As in all the Farley books, the horse wins after overcoming nearly insurmountable difficulties. The boy and his horse return to the island and the aliens are neither seen nor heard of again, not even in future books.
That last plot point was a terrible shame from my point of view. Suddenly, between one chapter of a book and the next, I was enamored with aliens and space travel rather than horses. Specifically, what was it that did it? That old, but ever new, Sensawonda thingy. In a third rate book from an author who used aliens strictly as deus ex machina?
Let me explain. It was the aliens’ ship that did it. The only thing I really remember about the aliens themselves is that they had crystal clear eyes. A problem, if you think about it, both from an anatomical and visual image point of view.
But that ship! Wow! First, it was invisible. There was something about it that made it invisible to humans. Maybe you needed crystal clear eyes to see invisible ships. In any case, it saved Farley a lot of trouble trying to describe an alien setting.
More importantly, the ship was alive! Well, parts of it were alive. There were visible wall panels which appeared to be constantly altering tapestries. The tapestries altered their appearance when they were affected by the emotions of the inhabitants of the ship. Yet, they weren’t really creatures. They were just part of the ship. This was my very first experience with the concept of biogenetic engineering, and I just ate it up.

I got my friends, Diana and Mary, to read the book. That wasn’t hard, since we were all so into horses. And, somehow, the book or myself got them hooked on the idea of space travel and visiting aliens, too.
We started a club, just the three of us. We had two main activities. The first was something that, years later, might have been called role-playing. We took turns being the pilots of freight spaceships and the representatives of Solar System planets and we bargained for dock space and traded commodities. This sounds a lot more sophisticated than it actually was. However, we –did- discover G7, a planet in the Solar System that no one else knew existed but us. (G7, coincidentally, was also the name of the "secret ingredient" in Gleem toothpaste.)
That was the first activity. The other was more faanish or at least more imaginative and creative. We used to imagine what visiting aliens would make of mid-twentieth century culture and technology. Yes. Mary, Diana and I would sit around and muse what someone from another world would make of American Bandstand or meatloaf. (That's meatloaf, not Meatloaf.)
Eventually, we branched out into discussion of time travel, since it was more fun having our imaginary and presumably uneducated “guests” marveling at the things in our day-to-day life. Westerns were very popular at that time, and they had horses, so we often envisioned the reaction of people from the 1870’s to 1890's to the mind-boggling tech of 1950’s America. ( Oh yes, all of our guests were male and handsome. Come on! We were girls just reaching puberty. What did you expect?)
I moved away from Brookside not long after this, and lost contact with both my friends. But the habit of trying to envision reactions of historical figures--and characters in books--to common twentieth century human activities remained with me. Generally I don’t discuss this little hobby with others. I tried once to explain what the three of us used to do for fun, once I reached high school, only to have a couple of smarta$$ boys ask me how George Washington was doing today. Sigh. They just didn’t get it.
The other habit I developed as a result of reading The Island Stallion, I also learned to keep to myself. The habit of reading science fiction. I came a cropper on this pastime while I was still in junior high. Sorry, if I've mentioned it here before.
Not long after reading Farley’s book, I started looking for books with aliens in the school library. I found a few but they were hardly classics of the genre since they were written for children. YA SF is far different from what it was back then. Actually, most everything YA is vastly different.
But I persevered in my search, doing better when the family went to the public library in Wilmington. There, I found Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Martian Chronicles and Something Wicked This Way Comes. I gulped down Poul Anderson’s Time Patrol books whole. It was like they were made for me! I admit I even tried to write my own Time Patrol stories, but I only wrote down the first chapter. Many more chapters buzzed around in my head, complete with intrigue and death-defying adventures, boys and girls in love but circumstances causing them to think the other had betrayed them, etc.

Finally, I discovered Nevil Shute’s On the Beach and An Old Captivity. And that’s when I got into serious trouble. We had a list of approved books from which to choose when reading for English book reports. On the Beach was definitely not on the list so, when I got up and gave my report on a book describing the apocalyptic end of the Earth, my teacher was not amused. Queen Victoria herself would have been more amused. The next thing I knew my report was reported to my parents. I was in even more trouble than when an earlier teacher told them that I wrote left-handed!
That stifled and squelched me for a while. I did my book reports on (yawn) approved books from the English reading list. I dutifully checked out historical novels from the public library. Of course, I envisioned what the characters from the past would make of twentieth century America, when the government time-travel laboratory in which I worked brought them to my time and town where I would act as both host and researcher.
But you can’t keep an SF or fantasy-lover down. I had Aunt Dorothy to thank for that. When she came from from Baltimore, she used to bring huge boxes of paperbacks with her. Aunt Dorothy loved a good detective story and so did my dad. She also loved the occasional SF book and horror. So, while my dad was gathering up all of the Gardners and Queens, I’d poke around and make off with Ace Doubles like One in Three Hundred and The Transposed Man. Then Dad and I would battle over who got to read the Alfred Hitchcock short story collections first.
There’s always a way to find some speculative fiction to read and let your imagination roam free, no matter who tries to prevent it.
Ask George. He knew how to deal with oppression.

Sherry Thompson, once researcher-host to Wyatt Earp but, alas, never to George. ;-P

Thursday, September 22, 2011

2 experiences - Reading to Grandchildren

Sydney is eight and loves to read. Among her favorite stories and ones called Fancy Nancy. Her school required her to read to someone for 15 minutes every night. She is a very obedient child and would read longer. When she was reading to me at the story's end are a list ofwords. One was select, a fancy word for pick. We went on to talk about other words that could be used for pick. Choose was the first one. Then I told her she opted for the book. She loved that word and that was the first thing she said to her parents when they arrived to pick her up. The other night she didn't want to read the book from the school lobrary so we picked up The Henge Betrayed -- Flight and she read from that. When she encountered a word she didn't know she stopped and we discussed what it meant. I will definitely encourage this child's love of words and perhaps foster a writer.

Now we come to her younger brother and sister. The pair are also from China and are learning the language word by word. Reading to them is interesting and challenging to help them gain language. We have read the same books now five times. What I've seen is now when we come to the pictures they can tell me what the animals or places are. They are also learning how to count and their alphabet letters with the books I've chosen.

Last night at a talk about books I met a woman who has a number of grandchildren from the ages of four to eighteen and they all read She was upset because the older children would rather read their books on the computer rather than hold them and feel the paper. We talked about this for a time and hopefully I convinced her the reading was more important than the medium. That's what I've discovered. Reading counts more than the medium.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

From My Window Window

Looking out my third floor window when I was a kid was like peering down at some Felini-esque circus on acid. No surrealist painter could ever reach the heights of bizarreness that I witnessed.  Nor can the deftest poet match the subtleties of wonder, strange pleasures and absurdities that existed in East Harlem during my peak years of impressionability.  I can’t say anyone else ever looked twice, but for me it was better than cartoons and impacted me more than anything I ever saw on TV. It was Heaven and Hell rolled in a wad of Bazooka bubble gum. With comic.
            I lived in a two bedroom walk up on 118th street between First and Pleasant Avenue in East Harlem, New York City. With two parents, four sisters, a dog and a gaggle of imaginary friends in my head, sometimes I needed to peer out to wider and more open spaces. Inevitably I would discover even more characters to add to the pantheon of my wackadoo six year old imagination.
            Boobie Coolie. Door Locker.  Charlie Ding Ding. Bar Beasley. The Red Headed Hunchback. Babaif Zoom. Rhyming Ralph. Window Window.  To this day they seem interchangeable. The apostles of Pleasant. Related. Some imaginary. Some very real. All unique. And strangely, all very normal. It is not until I reflect back do I get the vibes of oddness.
 Bar Beasly was the chimney of a building across the yards. My sister still argues it was the TV antenna. Trust me, Donna, it was the chimney. I know what my own frigging friend looked like. Door Locker was- well – a door across the street and was neighbors with Window Window. Babaif Zoom’s origin is vague- although he did live on the Ferris wheel in Palisades Amusement park. I recall a little figure my sister made from colorful wire and a ghost of a memory tells me that was the original Babaif. Maybe.
            By far, the most interesting characters were the real ones my imagination could never create but only ponder. Boobie Coolie made model cars and, I understand, quite adeptly. I have never seen one of the finished trophies of his hobby but often he would point to parked cars on Pleasant Avenue and announce “I made that car last week.” I imagined great secret rooms – like showrooms for Stewart Little, where thousands of plastic vehicles were on display. I have seen not a one.
He to this day wears his hair in a pompadour with Elvis-like sideburns. In the summer you can see him in his Hawaiian shirts and powder blue polyester shorts with matching paten leather shoes and thick framed, matching sunglasses. He seems to have imagined himself a veteran of East Harlem- a victim of misunderstanding. A sad loner. A soldier of a war of mockery. He may be right.  When riding on the First Avenue bus with him on various occasions, he would cry out “Hit the Beach!” as we came closer to our neighborhood.
Charlie Ding Ding strutted down the street like Foghorn Leghorn complete with a thinning plume of hair that bobbed with each heavy step like a rooster’s comb. Baggy shorts and a ginnieT-shirt were his typical costume – he was a victim of the heroin days in East Harlem. The story was that he still had a bullet lodged in his head. I remember this lump on the right side of his skull but whether or not it was a slug fired in anger I have no clue. Myth and reality and its effects on memory is a tricky thing.   His mother used to run a candy store on Pleasant Avenue and was our next door neighbor when we moved.
This atmosphere of eccentrics, lost souls, misfits and sociopaths profoundly affected me and inevitably my writing that began when I was five years old.     
When you grew up in Harlem, especially in the 1970s as I did, you saw things from your window the folks of Pahrump probably have not.  An exploding car, a riot, numerous bullet ridden and stabbed bodies, James Caan, the snot lady, fireworks (that would embarrass the Grucci’s), a sniper, Al Pacino, my Aunt Dee Dee, a live turkey, flare guns, dynamite, rockets, junkies, block parties, UFOs (Parhumpians probably have me here), lemonade stands and piles of clean laundry that were minutes earlier neatly piled on my mother’s dresser.
            A window is a like a video camera that gets wired and filtered through your own software of wants and perceptions.  A window is not just the square architectural feature on your building. It’s portable. It floats in front of our heads like a cartoon bubble of an arcade game avatar and is with us every step me take in life.  Every time we trip or jump a pothole.  Everything we watch, witness and gawk at is recorded and filed away. My own personal secretary was not a frigid court stenographer, however. He’s more like an old Irish beer maker, tale-telling in a pub. Or a psychedelic journeyman keeping a diary amongst the Elves. It’s how great mythologies are born. Hyper memorized truths. Colorized a touch. Romanticized some. The cream of the memory rising to the top like a good head and the darker bits settling on the bottom of the glass to be dealt with (or ignored) later.
            I collect minutia the way some people collect episodes of old TV shows. I am a habitual reminiscer.  There was a lot to collect in my old neighborhood and being blessed (or cursed) with an imagination that never stopped, it was all good stuff to trip on. 
            East Harlem, in the 70s, was a mix of blue collar Italians and Puerto Ricans (as the neighborhood took a downturn many of the Italians turned chicken-shit and moved to the white bread suburbs. Most regretted it later.) The Washburn wire factory that sat along the FDR drive employed much of the neighborhood. I think the first word I learned to read was W-A-S-H-B-U-R-N, whose giant sign spanned a walkway a block away at the end of 118th street between Pleasant and the Drive.  I was fascinated by its huge, yellow brick smokestack and dreamed of one day climbing it. I never did and to my sadness it was demolished in the 80s.
            Like any neighborhood of any major city where the economics are on the low end of the spectrum, there was a constant criminal element. Whether it was the Italian heroin dealers of the 60s and 70s or the Hispanic crack dealers of the 80s, that shadow of potential violence always hung over the neighborhood like the chance of showers on a hot August afternoon. The impact of that is tremendous, especially on kids. It effected where you walked (and didn’t). It honed and sharpened that human instinct for danger. A shout would often be ignored- but a certain kind of shout – a certain pitch of the human voice- meant trouble and your ears would perk up, your eyes widen and you would twist your body so you could run for cover at a moments notice. Firecrackers were firecrackers. Random. Spastic. Bada babababab badaba!. Gun shots were cold and regular. A nasty heartbeat, BAM. BAM. BAM. The latter had one message- get the hell inside! I heard that warning all too often.
            Most humor in my neighborhood was black humor. Again, it is the nature of that combination of violence and finance. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. A guy that flips off his bike and gets hit by a car is tragic. A guy that lands on his ass and survives is hysterically funny. It is all about that fine line of between death and survival. If you were lucky enough to escape the Reaper you can glance back at the shrouded bastard and laugh.
            If we are products of our surroundings, it’s no wonder I am a misfit amongst misfits. Imagination is surely a double bladed sword. Story telling ability is a steady date with paranoia. They love to slow dance.  Was my imagination created or nurtured by the orgy of characters I was born into? Whatever the answer, the mark on my psyche is indelible. And for that I must be grateful.   

Monday, September 19, 2011

New book, new cover

Some people get excited about new fall fashions. Writers get excited about new book covers.

Check out the stunning new cover for my upcoming new release PFC Liberty Stryker


Natalie Collins
, my editor/publisher at Sisterhood Publications really outdid herself with this one.

For me it’s crunch time. I’m working feverishly on the final edits for PFC Liberty Stryker. We want to make the Kindle edition available before the holidays. I hear you, Christine Norris. There are not enough hours in the day. I need to clone myself.

Here's the blurb:
Liberty Stryker joined the army to avenge her dad’s death on 9-11 but it’s nothing like she expected. Operation Iraqi Freedom takes her on a harrowing journey north with a mysterious Arab through bomb devastation, hot zones, and RPG attacks. A different kind of horror awaits Libby in Baghdad. Her past and present, and why it’s all gone wrong, blow up in her face. Prepare for an alternate reality. PFC Liberty Stryker is unlike anything you’ve every experienced.
Curious? Read this advance review by blogger, Calista Cates-Stanturf:
"War is not what it seems” and PFC Liberty Stryker is beginning to take it personally.Suspend all rational thought of what should be and what you knew – “war is not what it seems”. Just ask PFC Liberty Stryker. Her father perished on 911 in the smoking rubble of the Pentagon. Now enlisted in the US Army to fight the War on Terrorism, PFC Liberty Stryker's world is turned upside down. As a POW smack dab in the midst of war torn Iraq, Libby witnesses the annihilation of the Iraqi people and American soldiers caught between war machines. It all ends in a series of twists and turns you and Libby never saw coming.

Author Peggy Tibbetts takes you on one young soldier’s journey from her homeland to a war torn country trying to survive the terror that once was and the unknown horrors that have become the fabric of daily life. A nation where she discovers all she has known until now is based on the half truths and lies of smoke and mirrors. PFC Liberty Stryker is a story of intrigue expertly woven to pull you in from the opening words and doesn’t let you go until you read the words, “The End.”

So compelling I read it twice and still couldn’t put it down.
Coming soon: PFC Liberty Stryker by Peggy Tibbetts

Peggy Tibbetts

Letters to Juniper now available in ebook & paperback @ Amazon

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