Party or Play: 30POV has you covered
It’s my Party and I’ll be Pretentious if I Want Toby EmmyEm
About a month ago “Let’s Bring Back” by Lesley M. M. Blume was brought to my attention by a brilliant editor. The book cover describes its contents as “an encyclopedia of forgotten-yet-delightful, chic, useful, curious, and otherwise commendable things from times gone by”, which is a pretty accurate. The book is set up as somewhat of a reference, however, I read it straight through.
While this book offers up what many would describe as pretentious, one can’t deny that there are a plethora of great ideas for renewal into the mainstream. It also presents quite a bit of history and fun facts. Much of the book touches on etiquette and proper behavior in social situations (sometimes the improper being the proper route to take). However, do not confuse this with Emily Post (or the Amy Vanderbilt book I used to use to prop up a file cabinet). There are merely suggestions that we re-enter some extinct graces into our routines. For example, greeting someone with good morning, good afternoon, good evening, etc. and sending hand-written thank you cards: who doesn’t love mail?. Blume also suggests many fun ways of fancying things up, like wearing elegant dresses to special occasions and using driving gloves. My personal favorite of her requests is that we bring back naps. Yes. Please. Naps. It’s the reason that God invented afternoons.
Within the 251 pages are some very clever ideas for entertaining. For example, the garden party. Years ago I attempted to renew the garden party but it ended up as a group of people sitting on the front balcony, drinking Miller High Life surrounded by impatiens rather than nibbling on cucumber sandwiches surrounded by animal-shaped bushes. Sigh. The text includes many recipes for these grand parties, several of which are taken from the archives of the White House, none of which are overwhelming or terribly challenging. The Girl Scouts of America will most certainly be losing some business this next year now that I have their original cookie recipe.
Along with the suggestions, there are many biographical entries. From Yogi Bera to Charles Frederick Worth, the people chosen contributed something to style, be it fashion, wit, or talent. Several of which I had no clue of and found quite inspiring.
This whimsical book made me feel a bit like I was getting lessons from “the fun aunt” over afternoon tea and cookies. It was a pleasure and a delight to read it. Quite honestly, the author won me over with her declaration that this “skinny pants” reign must come to an end. Suggesting we all switch over to caftans, however, does not get my vote. Maybe I’ll come up with something new after putting on cold cream and snuggling in under my bed curtains. (Oh, alright. It’s a fort made of old sheets.)
Let us Gather and Slay Things
by Susan Jane Bigelow
For a lot of reasons, I drifted away from video games, once a constant obsession, for a while last year. I decided I’d ease myself back in with something both new and familiar, “Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies” from Square Enix for the handheld Nintendo DS.
I’ve played games like this for years, including the original Dragon Quest game (then called Dragon Warrior here in the USA) for the NES back in the 1980s. The very basic idea is that your little character wanders around the world killing stuff until he/she gets strong enough to go more places, kill bigger things and advance the story. It’s surprisingly engrossing, if you’re the sort of RPG (role-playing game)-loving nerd that I am. “Dragon Quest IX” is one of the better iterations of this kind of game I’ve played in recent years.
The best thing about this game are the customization features which allow the player to create an entire party of adventurers. I got to name, choose the gender of, and create a look for my main character—and then do the same for the other three people in the party. This means I ended up with a crew of purple-haired young women with swords to head around the world with, accomplishing things. The story that gives the adventure some context is pretty forgettable, sadly. There’s something about an angel and gathering fruit? I’m sure there’s an Ultimate Evil lurking in here somewhere, too. Oh well, it probably makes more sense in Japan, which iswhere the game originated.
Plus, thanks to the customization mentioned above, “Dragon Quest IX” has no developed characters to play as or follow, which means that the game needs to rely on fun gameplay and an interesting world to hold the player’s interest. This it has, fortunately. The game’s world is large and varied, with lots to explore and discover, and fighting is quick and fun. Anyone who has played old-school RPGs is probably familiar with battles that require going through an extensive menu of commands every time an action needs to be taken. This game takes a cue from the gambit system in “Final Fantasy XII” and allows players to tell the rest of the party to fight a certain way, instead of giving specific commands. I leave it on “fight wisely” and am usually satisfied with what my little computerized pals do.
There is a whole system that lets players get together and play with friends who also happen to have a Nintendo DS, a copy of Dragon Quest IX, and are in the same room with you. You could build a party at a party! You can also learn and do all kinds of neat moves to amuse your friends, which reminds me of some of the massively multiplayer online games I’ve played in the past. I haven’t tried any of this, however, so I can’t report on whether it works.
This game has eaten a significant amount of my life over the past month. I find it charming and engrossing, with lots to do, a huge world to explore, and the ability to create, develop and dress up my own party of adventurers (there are pretty dresses available—for them to wear in combat!) to keep me busy. If you like fantasy RPGs and have a Nintendo DS, give it a shot.