Youtube: A Hobby How-To

youtube

When jumping into a new hobby, I rarely have much experience in the field. Instead of diving right into heavy research and background, I usually head to Youtube for a nice introduction. There are channels and playlists pertaining to just about any hobby or recreational activity around. This in itself quickly became a new hobby, and I’d like to share a few channels that have been great learning tools for their respective hobbies.

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My 3 Favorite Web Comics

 

cyanide & happiness

I’ve always loved comic books and the larger graphic novels, but recently, I simply haven’t had the time to sit down, read, and follow the plot lines. Instead, I’ve discovered some great web comics. The great thing about these is I can pop online, read a few frames, and leave it be until next time. A great deal of web comics (such as the Cyanide & Happiness comic featured above) don’t have a linear plot and are a simply one page of comic relief. For today, I’d like to take you though my three favorites I have come across.

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Bone: An Odyssey in Hilarity

 

Welcome to the world of Bone. It’s a beautiful, magical world filled with creatures of all kind, including these odd, little creatures known as bones. This story follows three of them: Fone, Phoney, and Smiley Bone.

Fone Bone

Meet Fone Bone. He’s definitely the leader of the three, and he always does his best to take care of his two cousins. With a good heart and a strong will, albeit coupled with innocence and gullibility, Fone makes a great protagonist.

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New in Gaming: For Honor

On February 9th, Ubisoft released the beta version of For Honor, an action fighting game made for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows. The full version was released February 14th, and is a third-person, melee game. Upon starting the game, players select one of three medieval era-based factions to join: the knights, vikings, or samurai. While this doesn’t directly affect gameplay or restrict character choice, it is one of the main components of the multiplayer system.

Currently, there are twelve playable characters, four per faction, and each has their own unique fighting style. The four characters within each faction belong to one of four classes: the Vanguards, the Assassins, the Heavies, or the Hybrids. Assassins are quick and work well in duels, while the Heavies use much slower, but stronger, attacks. The Vanguard lies somewhere between the two, as they are the most well-balanced class. Hybrids, on the other hand, contain elements of the other three classes. These characters have some of the most unique and complex play styles in the game.

The storyline of For Honor takes the player through each of the factions, giving them a chance to use each of the characters. The story also contains numerous unlocks and chances to gain steel, the main in-game currency, and Scavenger Crates, which are used to obtain new gear. While the story is enjoyable, the main emphasis here is on multiplayer. There are five different game modes, each with the option of Player vs Player or Player vs AI. Most modes are played in rounds, best of five. Duel is simply a 1-on-1 fight. Brawl is 2v2, with each player starting in a duel scenario. From here, there are three modes for 4v4: Dominion, Elimination, and Skirmish. These 4v4 modes are the only ones that incorporate the gear equipped and the character’s four abilities. Each ability is unlocked as you gain renown points for completing objectives. Elimination is a 4v4 adaptation of the Brawl mode and the last mode using rounds. Skirmish and Dominion use a point-based system. In Skirmish, points are acquired by killing enemies, and the players can respawn when defeated. Dominion, as the central game-mode, contains elements of skirmish but also uses a king-of-the-hill playstyle. There are three areas on the map that can be controlled to gain points, in addition to those gained from slaying enemy players.

The biggest draw in For Honor is the combat system. Dubbed the “Art of Battle”, it completely alters the melee-battle experience. When entering combat, a held button put the character in guard mode. While in this, a three-sided shield appears on the screen. This shows the direction the player is currently guarding (up, left, or right). Directional markers also appear when the opponent is attacking, again, in their selected direction. On top of this, there is a light attack, as well as a heavy, a guard break ability, a feint-dodge, dodge-roll, as well as character-specific combos and abilities.

All in all, For Honor is an enjoyable experience. The battle system puts a completely new spin on melee combat, and it remains versatile via character choice. Each character plays different from the next, so playing, and eventually mastering, different characters keeps the game fresh and full of possibilities.

The Dark Tower series: spaghetti-western meets Lord of the Rings

The Dark Tower Series by Stephen King

The word ‘gunslinger’ used to mean something. It brought hope to the people and fear to criminals. These gunslingers were trained from a young age to become peacekeepers, one way or another. They were emissaries from the capital city, Gilead, to maintain balance in In-World and Mid-World, but that was long ago. Something is wrong in the world. In all worlds. An evil has infected the dark tower, the heart of the universe, which lies at the nexus of all space and time. It has been a long journey for the gunslinger, and it is a seemingly endless one. Even so, the gunslinger will go on.

“The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.”

This first line immediately sets the tone for King’s incredible series. Even he calls it his magnum opus, and for good reason. The 7 book series was written over the course of 22 years, and it was given an 8th installment (placed between the 4th and 5th books) in 2012. This series also contains bits and pieces from many of his other works, as well as a few books by other well-known authors.

The Dark Tower series was an experience I have not had with Stephen King’s books before. It doesn’t contain much by way of horror, as many of his other famous works do, but, instead, King’s gift for suspense takes a different approach, still keeping the reader just as immersed and glued to the page as ever.

Kind of Blue: A New Shade of Jazz

Blues. Bebop. Swing, ragtime, blue-note, scat, big band, improv, boogie-woogie, syncopation, groove, dixieland, dissonance, funk. All of these refer to a vase range of music known as jazz. Although jazz is not as prominent in our society today, its development paved the way for much of the music we currently enjoy, and just as rock and roll had pioneers like Elvis and The Beetles, jazz too had its champions. Now let’s start by taking a peek at jazz in the 1940’s.

As jazz has been around for around 40 years, it has had time to develop and evolve into bebop. This fast-paced, wild form of jazz is a new step away from the previous dance-music style. Without these restrictions, the musicians were able to experiment and thrive. Complex rhythms, dissonant harmonies, and intense improvised soloing are just a few of bebop’s new features.

Of course, with this new world of possibilities come musicians trying to push its limits. This brings us to the bebop legend, Charlie Parker. You want to hear what bebop was all about? Go check out Charlie Parker. But our story goes a bit further.

(Seriously, look him up sometime. He is phenomenal.)

It’s 1945, and a young trumpet player named Miles Davis arrives in New York. He goes on to play with Parker for a few years. After awhile, bebop eventually runs out of steam, leaving Miles looking for what to do next. Later in the 1950’s, and  after the death of Parker, Davis’ friend, George Russell, comes to him with the answer. He alters the rhythmic and harmonic constructs that have been dominant thus far to his will. From Russell’s new concepts, the album Kind of Blue is born. The album had a laid-back, smooth feel unlike any before it. This was the biggest game-changer yet for the genre, and it took the world by storm. Even today, Rolling Stone magazine has Kind of Blue at 12 in its list of the top 500 greatest albums of all time.

Thank you for taking this brief little tour of jazz in the 40’s and 50’s. Just remember, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Kind of Blue. Look them up, listen, enjoy.

The Time Quintet: An Introduction to the Works of Madeleine L’Engle

The Time Quintet refers to a science fiction series by Madeleine L’Engle. The journey began in 1962 with A Wrinkle in Time;  a novel that immediately thrusts us into the torn lives of the Murry family. Their suffering stems from their missing (scientist) father, who vanished while working on a project. Our story primarily follows Meg, age 13, and her child prodigy brother, Charles Wallace, age 5. A thunderstorm keeps the family from sleep, and they end up in the kitchen with their mother, also a scientist, and the twins, Sandy and Dennys, age 10. Their rather strange neighbor Mrs. Whatsit comes by and mentions that ‘there is such a thing as a tesseract’. This sparks Meg’s curiosity, and she finds this ‘tesseract’ is related to the project her father was working on before he vanished. From here, Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O’Keefe, a classmate of Meg, go to inquire about the term with Mrs. Whatsit at her home. Once there, they meet Mrs. Who and Mrs Which, the rest of Mrs. Whatsit’s strange trio, who promise to help the children rescue their father.

Here’s where the science fiction starts to kick in: the “Mrs. W’s”, as the children call them, reveal themselves to be powerful, supernatural beings, as they transport the children to a planet full of Centaur-like creatures, called Uriel. Their method of travel, as they explain, is the previously mentioned tesseract. Further, the tesseract is described as a form of fifth-dimensional travel; instead of traveling the distance from point A to point B, they simply fold the fabric of space and time to bring point A and B together. They also tell the children of a great evil “Dark Thing” that is spreading its vast shadow through the universe. The truth of their father’s disappearance is tangled up somewhere in this darkness; and so begins their incredible journey.

The children encounter many amazing and terrible thing as they search for their father, and their adventure continues long after. The series continues with A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, and, the first book following Polly O’Keefe, the eldest daughter of Meg and Calvin, An Acceptable Time. Polly O’Keefe continues the saga with A House Like a Lotus, Dragons in the Waters, and The Arm of the Starfish.

In my opinion, this series was a fantastic journey I will likely take again in the near future. I will say, the first time I read it, as a kid, I found it to have a rather dry start, but as I progressed, I became enthralled, pumping through each book as soon as I found it. All in all, a great read for anyone who enjoys their science fiction with a few extra drops of weird. For those who would rather just watch the movie, Disney released a television film of A Wrinkle in Time in 2003, but it received terrible reviews, as the quality was subpar. Disney does have a new film adaptation of the book in progress, set to release in 2018.