Small People Game Too!

As many of you probably know, Kingdom Hearts II came out on Tuesday. I really liked Kingdom Hearts, so I was pretty excited to get it. I’ve been playing it for the last two days and generally enjoying myself. But there is one problem. The controller isn’t really designed with me in mind *at all*. I have tiny hands – barely six inches from my wrist to the tip of my middle finger. I can reach only a seven note span on a standard piano keyboard (this drove my high school piano teacher crazy since all the best pieces apparently require you to be able to reach an octive). I can hold the controller, but it’s very hard for me to reach the trigger buttons, the top and inside pad buttons (triangle and square), and the joysticks. In fact, it is physically impossible for me to reach any of the useful buttons at the same time as any of the other useful buttons with the same hand. This is a bit of a problem. It is difficult for me to reach the triangle button, so my hands have to stretch a lot to reach it, and since the game uses it for everything except actually attacking things, my hands start to really hurt after about half an hour of play. Luckilly, so far the game has had lots of cut scenes when I can rest my hand. Cut scenes are not the stuff of good gameplay, though. In fact, they are kind of boring much of the time. They are part of why I have never been able to get through a Final Fantasy game.

I don’t play a lot of console games. And sometimes I’ll think “hm… I wonder why that is?”, since I really like console games much of the time. There are lots of good ones out there (and Michael gets nearly all of them at this point). And then I sit down to play one. And I remember why I don’t play them very often. It hurts to play them! I get hand cramps! And I always have problems because I can’t get to a button when I need it! So why aren’t there more controllers for small people out there? Some are so big that I have to put them on the floor or my lap and use them like a keyboard (and forget about even trying to use the trigger buttons). I even pulled a muscle in my left hand once using a console controller (I think it was a “small” XBox one, but it might have been a GameCube or PS2 controller). It’s not even easy to find out if a controller is small unless I can actually touch it! Why don’t descriptions of controllers include dimensions? I’ve never found a website that sells console controllers that tells you how big they are, but several will give you the dimensions of the boxes they come in. Too bad the box size rarely has that much to do with the controller size.

If anyone knows of any good *small* controllers for consoles (particularly PS2, but I’d like to play games on other systems too and we have all the current major consoles), please let me know! Or if you’ve tried a controller and had any noticable reaction to it’s size (either found it to be little or found it to be big), I’m interested in hearing about it!

And if you work for a company that makes/supplies/has anything to do with a game console parts company, please try and remember that small people want to game too! And usually would be willing to pay real money for controllers that fit them!

Runway Thoughts: Gareth Pugh

Come one, come all! Tonight under the Pixiepalace bigtop we have the fall 2006 runway collection from Gareth Pugh! Sorry for the circus beginning, I just couldn’t resist. You’ll totally understand when you see this collection!

GarethPughOutfit1

This entire collection (which consists of twelve outfits) seemed very clown inspired. Mime make-up and harelequin diamond costumes were everywhere. This is actually one of the more toned down pieces. I love the clown collar in particular on this one.

GarethPughOutfit2

This outfit would be nothing without the hat. I mean, it’s probably almost three feet tall! The leotard helps round out the circus image. I think the designer might have been going for more of a carneval feel, but I think he missed a little bit.

GarethPughOutfit3

This is my favourite outfit. It’s a big walking balloon animal! Haven’t you always wanted to dress up as a balloon animal that can’t remotely be identified (a bunny maybe?)? No? Me neither. But apparently you can buy such an outfit ready to wear (because that was exactly what the world was lacking).

I really wasn’t able to take this collection seriously. It’s funny, go look at it. And it’s short. In fact, that may be my favourite part of the whole thing – it was only twelve outfits long!

Birthdays: March 20

Today is the birthday of two pretty cool people.

The first is Lois Lowry. She has written quite a few books for children, two of which have been awarded the Newbery Medal. My favourite of her books is The Giver which tells the story of a boy living in a “utopian” society who realizes that his community isn’t as wonderful as he (and everyone else) had been lead to believe. It’s a powerful book. I definitely recommend it. Check out Lois Lowry’s website for more information on her, her books and what’s coming soon!

The second person who was born on this date that I want to recognize is Fred Rogers. Mr. Rogers became extremely famous for his PBS children’s show “Mister Roger’s Neighborhood“. I always liked the little models that sat in his kitchen of the puppet people’s houses. He didn’t get them out very often, but you could see them sitting on a shelf in every episode! Mr. Rogers was more than just a television personality, though. He understood children in a way that few people do. His books for kids about dealing with life issues, everything from parents getting divorced and the birth of new siblings to serious illnesses and disabilities, are some of the best on the market. The books explain tough concepts to children in terms they can understand without ever talking down to them. Fred Rogers died on Feb. 27, 2003. He was a wonderful man.

Book: John, Paul, George and Ben


John, Paul, George and Ben
Lane Smith
2006

This is a fun picture book from the illustrator of The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. It tells five stories, one about each of our founding fathers, and then ties them all together at the end. John’s story is about how he likes to write his name REALLY BIG, Paul’s story is about how he liked to ring church bells and they ruined his hearing so that he didn’t know he was shouting all the time, George’s story is about how he levelled his father’s cherry orchard but was forgiven because he was honest about it, Ben’s story is about how he gave advice to everyone and drove them all crazy, and Tom’s story is about how he is annoyingly independent and never does anything the way he is told to do it. And it is all tied together by their various traits all becoming useful for the American Revolution. And all along the way, it’s funny, clever and a little irreverent.

The writing is slightly piecemeal and almost sequential art like, but works wonderfully well for the story. The story is told very matter-of-factly and the speech bubbles are often part of the main text of the story. This makes it feel very dynamic as you move through the book. Each person’s story only occupies a few pages, but you get a good flavour of each character. The unusual format is fun and makes reading it entertaining and rather like reading a graphic novel in picture book form!

The art has the quirky quality that can been seen in all of Smith’s illustrations for Jon Scieszka’s books. They have a relatively unique collage drawing feel that works really well. It definitely enhances the humour of the story. I really enjoyed the way the illustrations directly interacted with the text. The book hinges on the way the two work together, and on this piece Smith got that completely right.

This is a fun and funny book. I highly recommend it, but it’s far better when shared with someone else!

Publisher’s Description
Buy it from Amazon

Runway Thoughts: Giles

Today I’m looking at the collection from British designer Giles Deacon. His collection is rather wild and questionably wearable, but otherwise pretty cool. If nothing else, it was awfully fun to look at!

GilesDress1

Ok, the first thing I thought when I saw this outfit was “Ah! She’s got a Pac-Man ghost on her dress!”. The second thing was “Ah! She’s got a Tribble on her head!”. Once I got over those two things, I managed to actually look at the dress. I’m not wild about the straight, completely not-fitted shape, but for a dress that is all about the graphic on the front, it works. I really can’t explain the hat, but it was way less scary than most of the hats in this collection, even if it does look awfully like a Tribble.

GilesCoat1

I love this coat. It’s got a great sense of movement. It’s a bit overdramatic, but sometimes that is appropriate and fun. I love the volume. I wouldn’t want to wear it as an everyday coat, but it would make a great coat for special occassions!

GilesDress2

This is one of the things that makes the Tribble hat seem normal. The hat seriously looks like sheet metal tacked to the girl’s head. I can’t imagine it being worn. That said, as walking art this outfit is pretty cool. It has sort of a toga mixed with high-tech feel. I like the mix, it’s unusual and cool. But it isn’t that wearable.

GilesDress3

And then we got to the evening gown portion of the show. Each one was completely different, which I really liked. It’s fun to see a show where every single outfit is completely different from every other outfit. A few of the evening gowns were ok, if a little bit like walking art (but, as I said above, that doesn’t really bother me). This one is odd because of the stiffness of the bodice. It’s like it doesn’t require breasts, and in fact, they might just be in the way. It doesn’t look comfortable at all. Some of the other designs were much better. They looked moderately comfortable and very artistic and eye catching.

Overall, I enjoyed this collection. I can’t say that I would buy much of it (that coat was probably the only piece I’d really pay money for), but I enjoyed the specticle of it. I liked seeing a show that was purely walking art (and not zombie girls). The collection wasn’t very wearable overall (where would these hats *not* look out of place?), but it was fun to look at. If you get the chance, go look at the whole thing. Each pieces is crazier than the last and all are interesting to look at. If I could have posted every outfit, I would have!

Book: Curious George Takes a Job

Curious George Takes a Job
H. A. Rey
1947

This is a really cute and very classic Curious George story. George escapes from the zoo (again) and has a good time until he gets hungry. Then he tries to get some food and ends up washing dishes in a restaurant kitchen. The chief is impressed with him and gets him a job washing windows at an apartment building. He is warned not to pay attention to what is going on inside the apartments as he washes the outside of the windows, but in true George fashion, this lasts about five and a half seconds. Wacky adventures ensue, and the story culminates with the Man in the Yellow Hat retrieving George from a hospital and making a movie about him.

This is a classic H. A. Rey book with wonderful pictures and an adorable story. It had me smiling throughout the whole thing. Every page was a work of art in it’s own little way. I loved the scene where George painted a jungle complete with animals out of furniture and the sequential art style page where he finds a bottle of Ether is brilliant. I also liked that the little dachshund that appears in many of Rey’s illustrations makes several appearances in this book too! The story was coherent (often a quality missing in episodic fiction) and adorable. The movie ending was very cute and worked very well to finish the story.

I like this book a lot. It is cute and fun to read. It has everything that a good Curious George story must have – a fun episodic story full of funny consequences, a happy ending, and adorable artwork that perfectly illustrates George’s adventures. I highly recommend this book. It’s great.

Publisher’s Description
Buy it from Amazon


The Official Curious George Website

Runway Thoughts: Jill Sander

Today I’m looking at the collection from Jill Sander, a line that is now being designed by a young Belgian man named Raf Simons. I usually adore Jill Sander coats because they have such wonderful details. I even did a paper doll outfit of one! But this collection is very far from that.

JillSanderSuit1

This collection, like many of the others of the season, started out oppressively black. So much black that it was frequently hard to see what the models were wearing. Not that it mattered that much, since most of them were wearing fairly boring outfits like this one. There just isn’t anything here to grab me. Nothing at all.

JillSanderCoat1

And then we got to the coats. Remember how I said I usually love Jill Sander coats? Well, this collection changed that. I found nothing interesting in these coats. They weren’t flattering, completely lacked any interesting (visable) details, and had nothing to draw the eye. I had to fight to not fall asleep looking at them!

JillSanderDress1

This was the one and only piece in the collection that I found myself really paying much attention to without forcing myself to stare at pictures. I can’t say that I *like* it, but it is interesting. What are those bands under the bust and at the hip? Are they seams? They don’t look like seams. Is the dress more sheer than it appears here and they are solid bands? I don’t know! But I do wonder! If this dress were more fitted to the model, I might actually really like it.

JillSanderDress2

Most of the dresses in the collection were like this. Shapeless and lacking in any interesting details. That’s what really bugged me about this collection. Nothing was attractive and all the cool details I usually like from Jill Sander were completely missing! Why would I wear this? It’s like a black housedress you’d change out of before going out!

I was, obviously, not impressed with this collection. I found it boring and unflattering. And so much black! Would some color really kill us? I usually like Jill Sander, but this collection was pretty awful.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day everybody! I hope your day is lucky and lots of fun!

Book: The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge

The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge
Hildegarde H. Swift
Illustrated by Lynd Ward
1942

This is classic book about a little red lighthouse next to a large gray bridge. The lighthouse is proud of its job, but when it sees how much larger the bridge is and how much brighter the light at the top of it is, the lighthouse begins to doubt that it is necessary any more. One night the man who lights the lighthouse doesn’t arrive on time and the lighthouse thinks that it has been forcibly retired from its job of lighting the way for ships. The man eventually arrives and the importance of the little lighthouse, even in the shadow of the great gray bridge, becomes evident.

The story is moderately complex, but the writing is incredibly simple. At times it almost feels like the author is talking down to her audience with all of her simple explanations and repetition. I found that element of it very frustrating. At the same time, the story really is very good and the book is charming. I couldn’t help but like and sympathise with the little lighthouse. I just felt like the wonderful story could have been better served if there was more respect given to the audience.

The illustrations in this book were great. I loved the understated colours of the watercolour paintings. The duller background colours really allowed the little red lighthouse to shine in the foreground. The sense of scale is incredible with the bridge towering so high over the little lighthouse. The structures and boats all had the barest hint of faces in their features, making them seem realistic and human at the same time. It was a perfect touch for the story, since everything is very realistic in the story, but we still hear the thoughts of the lighthouse and what the bridge has to say.

In general, this was a good book. It is attractive and the story is enjoyable. That said, it didn’t wow me at all. I liked it, but wouldn’t go out of my way to read it again or expose a child to it.

Publisher’s Description
Buy it from Amazon

Runway Thoughts: Paul Smith Women

Today I’m looking at the fall 2006 ready-to-wear collection from Paul Smith Women. This show really underwhelmed me.

PaulSmithWomenOutfit1

This outfit looks like something I could buy at the mall. It’s not *designed* at all. The sweater is cute, but has nothing new about it all. The skirt isn’t even fitted well or anything. It really likes like something I could find at Boston Store! I like the look fine, but I don’t know why I would turn to an expensive brand for it when I could find the pieces in town.

PaulSmithWomenOutfit2

Most of the pieces in this collection lacked any tailoring or even fitting details like darts. They were completely shapeless and baggy. Now, they looked very comfortable, but that isn’t everything. You can be comfortable and flattering at the same time!

PaulSmithWomenDress1

I don’t quite understand this dress. The neckline is so unflattering. It’s like it wants to be a one shoulder dress, but has that extra strap tacked on for the hell of it. And the contrasting shirt underneath doesn’t help at all.

I wasn’t fond of this collection. It felt disjointed, like there wasn’t any cohesion in the design. I just thought it seemed awfully random. Most of the pieces were either things that I could buy at the mall or vastly unflattering. I was very underwhelmed by this collection. Hopefully the next one will be better.

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