Games for BlackBerry

I’ve never been what you’d call a “gamer”, unless you count board games. I love Monopoly and Clue, especially, as well as Life, Risk, and Stratego.

Recently, a friend introduced me to two games I’d never heard of before that are fabulous: Red November, and a card game called Guillotine. I am also dedicated to Warhammer 40K. The only roleplaying success in my experience has been with Vampire: The Masquerade L.A.R.P.

For computer games, I like Dungeon Keeper, 7th Guest, and Myst (though I hate the puzzles in the last two; just let me roam around in the scenery, thank you). I do own a mystery game of the Titanic, but all I’ve ever done with it is enjoy the walk-throughs.

My one true computer game obsession, though, (and I’m darn good at it) is Dune 2000, and I refuse to own a computer that will not run it.

I possess a wonderful game called Spieluhr (it’s a game the band Rammstein had made) and I’ve only finished it once, but I enjoy letting it kick my booty while trying to best it a second time! I also like Jezzball, Ski, and that grand dame time-waster, Mahjong (for which I developed a secondary obsession years ago).

Along came a little device called a BlackBerry. Mine came with a game called Brick Breaker, which is very fun. I’ve only gotten as high as level 10 once, but someday….

For more than a year now, I haven’t bothered to acquire any other BB games because they offer nothing I care to play – until I found bplay.com. They have a Mahjong just for BBs! I went and grabbed it (pretty cheap at $4.99) and it is awesome, with animated graphics, special effects, and all. Yeah, the screen is a tad small for Mahjong, but it’s not too bad. Thus far, I get a kick out of the falling leaves, snow, and flying butterflies per background theme. I suppose they’re designed to be a distraction, but I just find them charming.

So what’s the point of all this? You guessed it – it’s another “Reasons I love my BlackBerry” post. Seriously, this is the best thing I’ve ever spent money on in my life. It beats the computer, the iPod, and even the car. Just plain bliss – and now, bliss includes Mahjong!

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My latest obsession: BlackBerry themes

I had to stop in at the local Verizon Wireless store and have them upgrade the software on my phone (which they did for free, awesome) before I could successfully download and install themes.

Warning: These things are like potato chips or tattoos – you can’t install just one. And they are free! Seriously, does it get any better? A theme for every occasion, mood, holiday, or event! They aren’t even eating up much space at all on the phone. Ah, bliss! 

Just let me add one plea to those amazing souls who make these themes: Please make the icons on the home screen customizable. No matter how much I love a theme, if the home screen icons are static (and they aren’t the “right” icons) I delete the theme and keep hunting. Awesome animation tricks on these icons is not enough to sway me, either. For the record, these are the important home screen icons, in this order: Messages, Address Book, Browser, Call Log, Media, and Calendar. If you have more spots than that, Memopad and Tasks are next. Also, we need more Halloween themes (without Hello Kitty). Haunted house images are best, with icons that look like Jack O’ Lanterns. And thanks across the board for creating these wonderful things. It feels like Christmas morning when I find a really amazing one! 

For the uninitiated (to either BlackBerry phones or themes for them), let me first extend my condolences and urge you to take the plunge. They don’t call them “Crackberries” for nothing. Yes, any addiction can get ugly, but aside from sore thumbs and less sleep, this one’s pretty easy to live with.

To explain the theme obsession, think back to when you were a kid with your favorite toy. For the girls, it was probably Barbie, but why did we like Barbie? For the clothes. For the boys, how about those Matchbox cars? You wanted more than one, right? Yeah, that’s it – now you understand. No one wants to wear the same outfit every day, and neither should your phone.   

Alas, with most things that bring bliss, there’s a downside, as I mentioned briefly earlier. My BB has rendered me sleep-deprived by infecting me with Theme Obsession Acquisition Disorder (TOAD) combined with “Smart Phone Thumb Syndrome”. Factor in my OCPD (which kicks in hyper folder organizing compulsions) and you have someone who should have gone to sleep at 11 pm scrolling and clicking away past midnight, no matter how aching her thumb pads and joints are. On the other hand, I now have seriously kick-butt themes and a newly “pimped out” phone! This device is bucking for the “Best Thing I Ever Spent Money On” award…. I’m considering being buried with it.

Hey, if they can do knee and hip replacements, can thumbs be far off?

A new name, new look, and a genius new webmaster!

I’ve been changing things up around here, and soon I will have a revamped (and vastly improved) website as well. How can this be? For my new webmaster is the Kwisatz Haderach! Ahem. No, that’s not his name, but yes, he’s a genius with amazing graphic art talents and computing powers.

In addition to this blog, we also now have a forum titled “Fiends Club”. It’s a social network over on Ning.com. When the new website is completed, these elements will all be linked there in one way or another. For now, you can find Fiends Club here:  http://fiends-club.ning.com/

The eventual goal is to have the website’s emails revamped, too. When that happens, they will be changed to “info@auntiemaim.com”, “zine@auntiemaim.com”, and so on. After the new emails are set up, I will announce it here.

So we have our work cut out for us, but it’ll be great when it’s done. For now, I’m just going to sit and stare at the awesome new blog name/banner for a bit…. (I have to say, I had fun whipping up the photo on the fly, too. Aren’t my new canopic jars beautiful?)

Huge thanks, Webmaster! And I promise not to call you the “Kwisatz Haderach” in public … much.

October Cometh!

It’s the story of my life, folks: every year, since about the age of fourteen, when July/August rolls around, I begin to ritually ignore some important stuff (such as my birthday in September) because I am preparing for October. Why, you ask? Halloween has been the main reason, from the start. Then when I turned sixteen, the Texas Renaissance Festival was added to the mix, and finally, more recently, the blow-out “end of the season” convention, Spooky Empire (formerly known as Screamfest).

The Texas Renaissance Festival (TRF) is a massive eight weekends event. It is largely (for me) an excuse to dress up in costumes. Sort of an extension of Halloween all month long that also leaks into November. It’s also a family reunion, since my large extended family consists of all of my wonderful “Rennie” friends. We come from all over Texas, and Texas is BIG, so TRF is often the only time we see each other. We all camp, too, so for a smattering of weekends a year we’re all neighbors; add in the drum circle jams, chainmail fashion shows, and sampling of homemade liquid goodies, and it shapes up to be not a bad sort of family reunion at all.

I used to try to attend every single one, back when there were only six of them. This year, I may only get to four of them. Spooky Empire will take up the weekend of October 17 – 19, and the Zombie Walk in Houston and the big Ellington Field Airshow will take up October 25 & 26 (any excuse to dress up like zombie is not to be missed, and I never miss an opportunity to walk through a C5 or gawk at WW2 warbirds, either).

Some of those weekends not at TRF will have to be reserved for working on my other projects; namely, the zine, Arrhythmic Souls, and the radio show, Fiends Radio with Auntie Maim. Oh, and sleep. Sleep helps.

I still love to go trick or treating now and then, too, when I have kids around to make it look legit. My friends in the Heights have their twins, who are five now, and when I attend their Halloween party, we go around the block with the wee ones. I have to switch out my serious costumes for that, though, as the wee ones would faint if I showed up in the outfits I wear to conventions or a Zombie Walk. For their sakes, I usually go in my pirate costume, which, thanks to the shops at TRF, has gotten pretty cool these days.

For this year’s Zombie Walks (now that I’ll be involved in two of them, Orlando & Houston) I’m stealing my vampire bride idea and turning her into “zombie bride”. The dress can pull double duty later once I get new vamp custom fangs made and new perscription vamp contacts again (my current vamp contacts are about ten years old, and make me a blind vampire). I also acquired a new dress (no more need to take an hour suiting up into the corsetry of the former) and I will be destroying it over the next few weeks in preparation for Spooky Empire. (For the curious, you find a wedding dress in a resale shop to make it a more affordable costume. I found my new one on sale and it ended up costing me $21.95). It is also HEAVY, so I will be suffering for my art, as usual; nothing new there!

Needless to say, October is my busiest month, seconded by November. It’s frantic, balls-to-the-wall insanity to get it all ready and then get it all done, but I love every hectic minute of it. Viva October!

From DVR to DVD-R … conquered, sort of.

I’m sort of a late-bloomer with the whole DVR thing, but I’m getting there. The actual recording process is conquered, but now I’ve gotten a VCR/DVD player that will burn DVDs (early birthday present) and I’m learning how to take the DVR shows and put them onto discs. Heck, just setting up the machine and making it work with my whole entertainment system, cable, etc was a feat in itself. I think I do have it all sussed out, I’ve even discovered how to take the commercials out (I don’t have TIVO) so all I have to do now is finish up a disc, finalize it, and then see if it all worked right by moving it to another machine and seeing if it will play.

The only thing I wish is that you could “grab” certain things in the DVR list of recordings and move them over to burn onto the disc like you do on a computer without having to sit through all the stuff to put it on a disc. If it will do that, I haven’t found it yet. As usual, the “instructions” are more lacking than helpful. Mostly, I jump in, fly blind, and push buttons until I figure out what works!

Dogs D'Amour – Collection Complete!

I have been a Dogs D’Amour fan for over twenty years, and now, thanks to the beauty of internet shopping around the world, I have finally completed my collection on CDs. This does not mean that I now own everything that Tyla ever set his hand or head to – it means I have what I love most: the music I missed (on cassette tapes that squeak from over-use or won’t play at all. The crown jewel in this collection is the single to “Empty World”, track 4: “Heading for the Target of Insanity”. This is the one I thought I’d never get on CD, the one I missed the most. Oddly enough, it’s not even a tune, it’s a first rate “Tyla Babble”. I love hearing him talk, in that disjointed poetic manner, with a jumble of words that are either nonsense or genius, or both at once. Half the time, I have no clue what he’s talking about, but it never matters. I consider it poetry, and poetry doesn’t necessarily have to make sense – it just has to resonate within.