Killing Time...

... waiting to escape from Draenor.  What to do, what to do?

Make a million gold, of course.

Technically, that's my second million.  My first million went towards buying two years worth of game time and upgrading all my heirloom items to max level.

For those curious about methodology: six max-level alts, each will a full garrison (five with a full shipyard).  Each garrison includes an Inn (for treasure missions), a Salvage Yard (for extra loot from running garrison missions), a Trading Post (for turning garrison resources into crafting materials), and two profession buildings (typically the character's main profession, plus an enchanting building).

Oh, and the Menagerie, because pet upgrade stones.

The routine: Complete garrison and shipyard missions.  Send followers out on new garrison and shipyard missions.  Collect garrison resources.  Exchange resources for crafting materials.  Visit profession buildings to turn crafting materials into high-level materials or items plus sorcerous elements.  Visit Salvage Yard to see what my followers brought back from their garrison missions.  Vendor anything that had an auction price of less than 500 gold.  Exchange any excess Primal Spirits for Savage Blood.  Do the daily pet battle(s) and then put any leftover salvage items, crafted items, sorcerous elements, Temporal Crystals, and Savage Blood up on the auction house.

Overall, it takes about an hour a day, and each alt pulls in around 2000 gold a day (some more, some less), mostly from garrison and shipyard missions.

I've got a few more things to spend gold on; I'd like to bank another year of game time, for instance, and maybe buy some of the more expensive mounts and pets.  Honestly, though? At this point, I'm just doing it because I enjoy making the numbers go up.

Oh, and so I can blow it all on new neat stuff when Legion finally hits, of course!

Star Wars VII (Spoliers)

Oh, my... the feels.

If you haven't seen it, and you are a Star Wars fan of a certain age (i.e., between the ages of 8 and 80), you will like it.

To answer your question... It a great movie?

No; however... It is a good movie.

A really good movie.

Are their plot holes?  Yeah.  Do they matter?  Not really.  You most likely won't notice them until after you leave the theater, at least.

Yes, you get to see Luke.

Yes, the Big Bad is revealed, and pretty early, actually.

The hero is not who you think it is.  Even if you think you're parsing everything correctly, you'll still wonder.

You'll ask yourself why Chewie took that bet.

You'll appreciate the humor, which flows from the characters and their personalities, not from some bolted-on comic relief character.

You'll wonder at the lack of exposition, and then realize that real people don't do data dumps to make things easier for a viewer, and get a thrill when you think you've finally pieced together all the little bits of information and finally think you understand.

You'll wonder if you're right, or just thinking what the writers want you to think... And you'll decide that it doesn't matter, really.  Because even if you're wrong, it will be exciting to discover what's really going on.

You'll understand what he meant when he said "Anything."

You'll think "Wow, this is kind of like the first Star Wars movie", and you'll be right, but in a way that makes you wonder.

It passes the Bechdel test, not that that really matters, because it isn't contrived - it makes sense, and flows from the story.

You will be left wondering what exactly happened over the past 40 plus years, and hit the closing credits wanting to see the next one NOW, damnit!

And one of these statements is a lie.

You'll have to see the movie to find out which one, though.

Go.  See.  Cheer.


Oh, yeah.  If you're a man of a certain age, at a certain position in life, it absolutely will suddenly get a bit dusty in the theater towards the end.

It's worth it.

To J. J. and the writers, and everyone involved... good job, folks.

Thank you for making this not suck.

The Expanse: Dulcinea

Walter Jon Williams has a few things to say about the new SyFy series, "The Expanse":
I was in Santa Fe last week for the premiere of the first two episodes, which I saw in an actual theater, with popcorn and free booze and TV stars and GRRM and all the goodies you get with a premiere.  And the experience was a double helping of Complete Awesome.  The Expanse is the science fiction series that I, and probably you, have long been waiting for.
For one thing, this series doesn’t condescend to its viewers.  When characters speak in Belter patois, there’s no translator hovering by, there aren’t even subtitles, you just have to go with the scene, and either you get it or you don’t.  You get the political background or you don’t.  You get how the space ships work or you don’t.  The story just happens, it doesn’t stop to give infodumps to the viewers who can’t keep up.  Experienced SF readers should have no problem with any of this.
Honestly? I agree. I watched the first episode of "The Expanse" last week, and... I am hopeful.

Which is saying something, really. This is SyFy we're talking about, after all.

Here's the thing: I've read the series this is based on, and the important thing to remember as you see the spaceships swooping around? This is hard (ish) SF that is primarily character driven. In other words, perfectly suited for a TV series. The world, the politics, the science are all excellent backdrops for the (terrifyingly interesting) lives of the characters.

Assuming they get the characterization right, of course. Keep in mind that in the first episode, we've met a corrupt and cynical Belter detective (Miller), an Earth spacer seemingly allergic to authority and responsibility (Holden), and a UN official condoning torture (Arvarsala). In coming episodes, we will almost certainly meet an amoral sociopath with a history of criminal violence; a genius with a dark history of mass murder; and a political leader who is known as "The Butcher" for his past war crimes.

Note well: these are the good guys. One of the themes of the books are the search for truth as a path to redemption... and the idea that figuring out what they truth is can be hard, if not downright impossible, when nobody is really as good - or as bad - as they seem . The truth of things is often hidden, and sometimes well intentioned people can make horrible choices for what seems like all the right reasons: Loyalty. Honesty. Truth. Justice.

From the looks of it, they're making a good effort with the characters. Establishing the characters will come slowly, though. Part of the limitation that they're working with are the novels themselves. From what I could see in the first episode, they are keeping to the plot of the books fairly tightly.Which is normally a good thing, but...

That's a big but, right there.

The first novel has what are essentially two major plot lines that eventually converge. In the series, they show what appears to be four plot lines, as they seem to be trying to set things up for later and introduce some major characters that don't show up until later on in the books. Which is ok - TV serials are a different medium, after all. There would have to be some adaptations.

It does mean that if you haven't read the books, the first episode can be confusing. Who's that girl on the Scopuli? What's with the blue stuff flying around in the engine room? Who is this Miller guy? Why are you flip flopping between him and the crew on a tramp ice freighter? What's the deal with the Indian woman on earth? Why does everyone on Ceres seem so angry?

Trust me. Stick with it. It all comes together... maybe not quickly, but it will; and in much the same way that four different chunks of uranium might be brought together enthusiastically, the plot lines will give a very satisfying bang when they finally converge. In fact, depending on how closely they adhere to the novels, Marvin the Martian's catchphrase may be quite rightly invoked.

The first episode is online.  Watch it, keep with it. I think - I hope - that it will be as good as it looks.

Fingers crossed.