I realized the moment I fell into the fissure that the Book would not be destroyed as I had planned. It continued falling into that starry expanse, of which I had only a fleeting glimpse. I have tried to speculate where it might have landed, but I must admit that such conjecture is futile. Still, questions about whose hands might one day hold my Myst book are unsettling to me. I know my apprehensions might never be allayed, and so I close, realizing that perhaps the ending has not yet been written. -- Atrus

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Reflections

I'm a firm believer in "meditation" quiet or otherwise, and by otherwise I mean having ambient music that helps put you in the zone.  Lucky for me I have a playlist of every Myst soundtrack there is that allows me to check off the ambient music box on the meditation necessities list.

I love incense.  I drink Moroccan mint tea from a legit porcelain Gaiwan teacup.  Together with the Impressionist and Pre-Raphaelite paintings, African masks, East Asian and Indian figurines, Egyptian textiles, and Persian-style carpets, my apartment looks like a 1920s Orientalist threw up on it.  These are all useful in my meditation practice.  Sometimes I will sit in silence for a while or spend time writing in my journal.  However you do it, it's beneficial to your well being.  I've heard people say they don't like this because it makes them think.  I can't really understand what that means.  I suppose some people are uncomfortable with being a philosopher for awhile.  One can become anxious sitting in silence and that's why meditation takes practice.  

I remember when my sister was helping me paint my apartment when I lived in Illinois and I had ambient music on after we listened to her more pumped up music.  After about 20 minutes the two of us were working in complete silence.  I was used to this, but after a couple hours she finally broke the silence and said she liked the music because it made her go inside her head and think about stuff which ended up being calming.  She's someone who gets anxious rather easily, so this was good.

Anyway...I've written all that for a reason. I was just meditating not too long ago, updating my journal which I hadn't written in since May.  And while listening to the Myst soundtracks and wandering around in my head, a few things came to my mind that I thought I would share, if for no other reason than to think about them "out loud" so to speak.

There are two tattoos I've been planning to get for a couple years now, but financially they always have been on the bottom of the priorities list.  The first is the feather symbol of the goddess Ma'at, because what Ma'at represents not only aligned with concepts I'd been thinking about since I was 13, but also because the first time I learned about Ma'at is what made me go into Egyptology.  Thus, a very simple, albeit powerful symbol.

Second, the Moiety dagger!  In a simple form, nothing with shading or anything like that.  I told a friend who had a lot of tattoos that are special to her about my choices.  And surprisingly enough she attempted to discourage me from getting the Moiety dagger.  She believed that since it was from a computer game that somehow in my old age I'd come to regret it.  I was shocked because this was coming from someone who has a lot of bizarre tattoos that, though they don't make sense to me, they have significance to her.  She did not care to know what the dagger meant to me, only that it meant nothing to her.  In fact she hates every time I bring up Myst.  Only recently did I discover that she had tried to play Myst but didn't understand what the objective was since it doesn't tell you and so she didn't continue it.  Maybe there's resentment there or something, I don't know.

So I'd like to explain!  You've often read that I first played Riven in the summer of 1998, after my brother got it for my sisters and me for Christmas.  You have read that the screenshot of the Riven village (which is one of poster prints Cyan was selling) is particularly special to me because it's the first image I saw when I walked into the office to see what my sister was playing, and it was a marvel to me.  Hell, I still remember the excitement of inserting the all magical Disc 5.  I was enamoured of this game.  It's an icon of my youth!  And the icon of Riven, of course, is the Moiety dagger, a symbol of resistance against despotism--something I think Americans are coming to understand today...  It's a symbol of empowerment!

To go on, Riven led to me finding a niche--yes, I was that awkward 13 year old who didn't know how to use the Internet.  Ha!  Good times.  I sure was a moron sometimes.  Not much has changed, though, hardy har har!  I met new people, learned all kinds of stuff, and had fun in a positive way.  I eventually found all the novels and games and started a collection--we all need something to be invested in and passionate about outside of daily life, right?

And then Uru came out.  I refer now to the Uru of 2007.

Let's go on another tangent, since I'm good at that.  Apparently I am a good conversationalist.  I learned this through being forced to converse with strangers who for some reason decide they want to tell me their life story.  On a flight home from Ireland I had an 8-hour conversation with a woman from Pennsylvania.  Eight hours!  I've had complete strangers walk with me across Central Park--tourists who decided to make me their tour guide.  Recently a woman from France had me sit with her on our long subway ride so I could make sure she got off at the right stop, and we chatted the whole way.  On a flight from Sohag to Cairo, a Coptic priest originally from Heliopolis and then California chatted with me for that whole hour.  My fellow team members didn't have chatty neighbors, and at that time I wasn't happy about having one myself because we'd just finished a long brutal season in 115 degree weather.  Those are just a few incidents.  So you'd think I'd be able to jump into conversations easily online, especially in a Myst game, but you'd be wrong!

Freaking Ahnonay forced me to talk to someone and get help, and I was in no way pleased with it.  Still when I go into Ae'gura I'm standoffish because I'm just so awkward!!! (Meeting Rand Miller was proof enough of that haha!)

In 2007 I was having enormous problems with basically every person in my life, facing a great deal of disrespect in my home, a fall out with a friend who took the whole girl crew with her, and a lack of friends in college.  Basically I had no one to talk to.  The home situation was the worst.  When I was there and not doing homework I would go on MOUL.  At first I was pissed about having to talk to someone to complete Ahnonay, but in the end I was grateful beyond words.

The guy who helped me, "Loshem", ended up being so cool and we would talk for HOURS, until 3:00am sometimes, and about everything you could imagine!  He is so smart and I found this so admirable.  Shit, he was teaching me about Physics and the 10th dimension!  We talked in MySpace (remember MySpace???!!!  Hahahahahahahaha!).  We're still friends on Facebook almost 10 years later.  And there was a lady I met also, "Echo", with whom I also talked for hours.  We had a particularly long discussion in Teledahn's office at the top of the mushroom.  Damn, I still love Teledahn!  She and I even exchanged phone numbers and talked on the phone--this is a BIG deal for me, as I utterly despise talking in the phone.  We also gossiped about this crazy lady who would follow certain people around and make up wild stories about scandalous things in the game.  I will withhold her name.  And I spent lots of time in the Guild of Greeters neighborhood dancing on top of the waterfall.

At a time when I had no one, I had Myst.

And for me, the Moiety dagger symbolizes all of that.  It reminds me of finding strength in friendship and unity, and that even at your worst times you can find someone or something that will leave an indelible mark, and in the most unexpected places, under the most unexpected circumstances.  And that is why I want this inscribed on my body, to see it every day and think about these positive ideas.  In this world today, I think we can all stand to find something positive to believe in.

To tie up loose ends...  I was also thinking, on a less emotional level, of getting a tat of my name written in D'ni, because why would anyone NOT do that?

Second, to comment upon the strangers who choose me to talk to among a crowd of many worthy candidates, I actually enjoy it.  They probably needed somebody at that moment.  I hope I helped.  And what kind of conversation do I have?  I always ask them questions about themselves.  People like to talk about themselves, and this is a good thing--within measure.

Would I regret a Moiety dagger tattoo in my old age?  I can say with certainty I won't.


Sunday, July 3, 2016

Pre-Game Myst Obsession

There comes a time when, before a new Cyan game is released, fans go into a Myst state of mind.  We re-nerd hardcore in order to prepare for the coming glory.  These are probably the best times of ones life.

Fans do any number of things to prepare: buy a new computer, glue oneself to every online channel for updates and teasers, replay all the games pretending it is the first time playing it, show off one's Myst collection.  I fall into these categories.

With Obduction I have avoided updates and teasers and screenshots as much as possible because I want everything to be sparkling new to my eyes.  I want to be filled with surprise and wonder, such as when I saw Riven for the first time, and Myst III.  Everything about Obduction is new: new characters, new plot, new types of worlds.  I don't want to know what it is beforehand.  With Myst it wasn't a problem to have some spoilers because you knew the gist of the games and you knew the characters and their histories.  But Obduction is new in every way possible, and I'd like to keep it that way.

As for a new computer...well I'm not sure about that yet because not everyone's finances could cover that.  I'll see in September, which means I probably won't play the game right away, even though ITCOMESOUTJULY26OHMYGOD!!!  This gives me plenty of time to replay the Myst games!  I'm excluding Uru here.

At the end of May/early June I was visiting friends and family in the Chicago area.  The majority of my Myst collection is stored at my mother's house because it was among the stuff that wouldn't fit into my tiny apartment in New York.  So when I was back there I pulled out all of my Myst things to bask in their glory.  Yes, there was hugging and caressing of books and game boxes and the like.  The only things missing from the stuff in my collection are my Myst III poster which featured the control room tusk in J'nanin and a t-shirt featuring a squee.  These had gotten ruined when I was 19/20.  I hate myself for it.  Briana, how could you?!

Myst fans love to share their collections.  And we love to see others' collections also.  We have solidarity!  It gives you a chance to see what's out there, see the cool stuff people make, and see what you should add to your Amazon need list.  Having to pack my Myst stuff away again before I flew back to New York was heart breaking.  Naturally, I took a picture!  And back in New York, I took a picture of the stuff I have here, too!  And I'm going to share with you my fabulous, fabulous collection!


One of my cats, Topaz, is photo bombing.  Rawr!  I've got several versions of the games, strategy guides, paperback editions of the novels, Atrus and Saavedro action figures (which I think my sister iota got for me), Myst comic book (only one), Myst puzzle, squee figurine, From Myst to Riven, and the D'ni grammar book (ha!). 


Then, of course, are the amazing prints that Cyan released relatively recently.  I don't have frames for them yet, so these are hanging just for the picture.


D'ni map, lithograph from Myst V, soundtracks, hardcover first editions of novels (The Book of Atrus is signed by Rand Miller.  Remember that time I met him and I geeked out so hard and was shaking because I was so nervous and had no idea what words were coming out of my mouth?), Myst journal from fifth edition game, Myst IV Euro edition with playing cards, and some non-official books, including my neato journal I use as a notebook (green cover).  We Myst fans do like to have everyday life things that look like they came from Myst.  Hahahahaha!!!  We're a crazy group.

Those hardcover books and journals take their place on a small shelf on my desk where a bunch of other journals are.  These other journals are my notebooks with all my notes for the books I'm writing.  Thus this is a very important shelf, and my friends know it.  Once a friend visited and saw the Myst books right in there with my sacred notebooks and she said, "Wow, you really do love Myst because you gave the books a place of honor."  That always makes me laugh--because it is true!


The only mousepad I will ever use!  It came with the poster and t-shirt that I had discarded.  At least something made it!

Now, with Obduction, there are goodies that some people get in order to start a collection, depending on how much you donated in the Kickstarter.  I splurged and donated just enough to be able to get all the cool material things.  Probably shouldn't have paid so much, but hey, who needs electricity, amirite?

I am very excited to get the stuff!  I actually forgot what all I'm getting, but it's stuff!  I know there's a poster, art books, boxed game, and let's not forget the t-shirt, which I model here:


Front


Back

It's times like these that I wish I had Myst friends here with me so that we could have a Myst/Obduction party marathon.  I mean, how amazing would that be?

Anyway, I hope you all are having fun preparing in your own way for the latest Cyan masterpiece!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Why We Need Archaeology: A Young Scholar's Perspective

This essay was inspired by a conversation I had with an Egyptologist who verbalized the problem that plagues the field of Egyptology and archaeology in general.  In our current era, the humanities fields have more and more been deemed irrelevant in the United States, especially targeting archaeological fields.  This growing disdain affected me directly as an undergraduate.  I was a Classics major, and as the years passed the Classics Department was ever more marginalized to the point where we initiated a campaign, which was unfortunately unsuccessful, to generate interest in a Classical education and show the “powers that be” that Classics is just as relevant as, say, engineering.  Our arguments fell on deaf ears, Classical Greek courses were abolished, and the department suffered alone on an island that was sinking fast in the sea of science studies.  Meanwhile, a large banner was erected around the administrative tower which housed all the humanities departments, and on it was boldly advertised, “World Class University.”  I don’t need to explain the irony.  But this is just one example of hundreds of instances around the country where similar decimation of the humanities is being enforced.
            Now I rewind to childhood.  One of the first questions I ask my undergraduate students is, “Who wanted to be an Egyptologist when they were a kid?”  A wave of hands shoot into the air.  Then I ask, “How many still want to be an Egyptologist?”  Not one hand is raised.  What happened between the ages of seven through eighteen?  I didn’t want to be an Egyptologist when I was a child—that wasn’t until college.  I always liked TV shows about archaeology, but I never wanted to be an archaeologist.  I wanted to be several other things: veterinarian, ballerina, opera singer, farmer, paleontologist, writer, and even a nun.  Clearly I had many ambitious plans for my life. It was my sister who wanted to be the Egyptologist.  She didn’t pursue this in adulthood, though.  She did, however, invent a lot of fun games that centered on ancient Egypt, one of which I hijacked for a project in sixth grade.  To summarize, our make-believe went thus: we entered a labyrinthine pyramid (our backyard) that was full of booby traps and all great treasure.  We came upon a very special blue stone (a bluish-gray stone in the dirt, a dime a dozen) and when picked up it awakened a very terrible mummy.  Our escape from the mummy led us through many traps, including a crocodile pit (our picnic table).  In the end we always managed to escape.
           I witnessed children’s fascination with ancient Egypt when I worked as a library assistant in the children’s department of a public library.  Annually, sixth graders are assigned a project on ancient Egypt, just as I had been at that age.  This is pretty much the only school project they enjoy.  Also at the library, I put together a series of programs where I taught “tweens” about various ancient civilizations, cleverly titled Ancient Civilizations.  It began as a project for my Honors College and as a result of its success, I won an award, was recognized in the AIA Chicago Society newsletter, appeared a few times on the local radio station, and expanded the series from six ancient civilizations to thirteen over the span of a few years.  But the age window was short—interest began around nine years old and ended at thirteen.  Where did the interest go?
            I should amend my age window because interest does persist through media such as Ancient Aliens (a topic that excites my brother) and other like TV shows, and entertaining movies with erroneous information.  In fact, often, when an archaeologist tells someone what his/her profession is, they often are met with, “Like Indiana Jones?”  I have a friend who equates me with Evy from The Mummy because I am an Egyptologist and once worked in a library.  I am not offended by this, though.  Who wouldn’t want to be associated with Harrison Ford or Rachel Weisz?
            On the subway I sometimes read books on ancient Egypt, it being my career and all, and three times I have been engaged in a conversation with a stranger on the topic.  Once, when I was preparing for my hieroglyphs exam a woman asked me what language I was reading.  I told her and she did not respond, only looked at me with pity.  Another time I was carrying a model of a pyramid a student made for me, and a man who noticed this began to explain to me slaves built the pyramids.  This has, of course, already been discredited by reputable scholars.  Another man who saw me reading a book on temples explained to me that the Giza pyramids were basically musical instruments, evidenced in their inscriptions (the Giza pyramids have no inscriptions).  I can’t really remember how he said they functioned as musical instruments.  It did, however, remind me of an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series where captain Kirk finds himself within a musical pyramid and loses his memory.  I asked the man where he heard this information and though he could not remember the person’s name it was someone with a Ph.D.  I listened patiently and did not correct him because I did not want to humiliate him in front of the other passengers who were listening rapturously.  In fact, in spite of his misinformation, I was pleased that someone was so passionate about the subject that they were eager to share this with a total stranger.
            The majority of adult interest in ancient history and archaeology is founded on sensationalism.  Even tourism is based on sensationalism; it’s encouraged.  People hear about the potential of finding treasure—and it is this that generates enthusiasm among “lay persons”.  But archaeology is not treasure hunting. 
            A painfully bad movie called The Pyramid was released in 2014.  It was about archaeologists who found a three-sided “pyramid” belonging to Akhenaten (ugh! They stopped building pyramids well before his reign).  In the substructure of this pyramid was—can you guess?—a labyrinth, as well as an evil Anubis who could be controlled by skeletal cats that somehow managed to thrive without oxygen for thousands of years.  Also, one of the archaeologists, who seems to have earned her Ph.D. by the age of 22, was running around in a tank top and short shorts.  A female archaeologist would never wear this in Egypt; it’s extremely insensitive to their culture.  Normally for such movies I laugh and move on, but I found this one to be so disastrous and even detrimental to the serious field of Egyptology that I found myself on a movie message board contributing facts.  Some movies about ancient Egypt (e.g., Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark, Stargate, The Mummy) are, debatably, great and make wrong look right without trying to convince the audience that they are accurate.  Some educational TV shows do excellent work, being together informative and entertaining (e.g., Pharaohs of the Sun, Building the Great Pyramid, Mysteries of the Bible). Others, however, fail on all levels.  This is a problem, because not everyone can tell the difference.
            Returning to the buried desire of a career in archaeology and people like the woman on the subway who look on scholars with pity, endeavors to enter archaeological fields are discouraged.  Generally, all humanities fields are discouraged—remember my undergraduate university.  Case in point, when my sister announced that she was changing her major from astronomy to theater, my father, a clinical engineer, was mortified.  His goal for my siblings and me was to see us all enter scientific fields.  He passed away before I entered college, and sometimes I find myself wondering how horrified he would have been to learn I was pursuing Egyptology.  Even in college students are discouraged from entering the field.  In undergrad, upon my mentioning I wanted to study Egyptology, a professor said, “You know there are no jobs, right?”  I understand she was warning me about the unfortunate reality, but isn’t is disturbing that the field is so marginalized that its own scholars are advising students to run for the hills, far away from intended goals?  I’m the kind of person who couldn’t bear not to try to achieve my dreams.  And besides, becoming a farmer was probably more far-fetched than becoming an Egyptologist.
            So why does archaeology matter, other than to encourage more accurate movies and TV programs?  In one of my Ph.D. admissions interviews I offered my own definition of archaeology: the study of our own perpetuity.  Exactly what does that mean?  The human race is obsessed with living forever.  An increasingly longer average life span is considered an accomplishment.  People are concerned with their legacy and carrying on the family name.  This is achieved through various arts, like novels and music; or businesses where the family name is displayed in giant letters on corporate buildings.  Desire for fame is also a desire for immortality.  The more people who know and remember who you are, the longer you live on after death.  Headstones in cemeteries mark where the deceased are laid to rest so that one’s progeny may remember their forbears, to say nothing of keeping the ashes of a loved one.  Time capsules are buried in hopes of being recovered 100 years hence so that we may learn about the people who put them there—in fact, recently a time capsule from the 1700s was recovered by archaeologists and threw the country into a tizzy.  Records of various samples of the human race were shot into space in order that any extra terrestrial that intercepts them may learn about us.  These are all modern and conscious actions that bespeak the obsession with immortality.  It is archaeology that hasn’t happened yet.
            Ought we be surprised that men and women of the ancient past had the same intentions and desires?  Read the Iliad and the Odyssey and other Classical literature.  Observe the magnificent Egyptian tombs, like the pyramids, that stand today.  These were built of stone to endure so that their occupants could be remembered, and endure they have.  We naturally ask why are these structures here?  Anyone who asks that question is doing archaeology.  You don’t need just a trowel and a brush to be an archaeologist—you need curiosity about the human race.  I have heard people say, “One thousand years from now, I wonder what people will think when they dig us up.”  We cannot answer this question without archaeology.  And it indicates that we feel it would be important for people in the future to understand us today.  Therefore, is not understanding the people of the past important for us today? 
            Humanity is not to be found in treasure; that is but a tiny relic of the past that would be irrelevant without its context.  For an archaeologist, the true treasure is to be found in the “mundane”, in the extant foundations that remain from ancient buildings.  Or take Pompeii—this is a treasure trove of ancient society which fascinates because we find remarkable parallels to our society today.  The site of Amarna is most useful, archaeologically speaking, not only because the “heretic” Akhenaten and beautiful Nefertiti lived there, but because it is a rare example of a surviving ancient Egyptian city.  The ultimate treasure for an archaeologist is surviving texts, which means we need people who can read dead languages.  The innate human curiosity makes us ask like insistent children, “What does it say?  What does it say?”  How can we know without archaeology?
            Lastly, could part of our fear of the earth being obliterated by an errant asteroid stem from fear of not being remembered?  With our species erased, who will rediscover us?  What was it all for?
            Thus, we need archaeology today because we need archaeology hundreds, perhaps thousands of years from now.  We count on our descendants to be curious about us, and this curiosity will have them asking, “Who were these people and why were they important?”  Those who marginalize and deride the profession of archaeology marginalize and deride themselves.  We need entrepreneurs, doctors, medical researchers, astronauts, biologists, but also artists, historians, linguists, and yes, archaeologists, who are the ones who ensure each person’s relevance in the future.

© Briana C. Jackson

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

I'm Still Alive!

Well happy new year!  It's been a while!  But I haven't forgotten.

Things got crazy and they still are.  I studied for and passed my comp exams (phew), I taught a winter semester at another New York City college (mega phew): it was a 3-week course, 4 meetings a week, 3 hours a day.  Add to that the cold and getting up early, it was, needless to say, exhausting!

And though "we" are still waiting to hear back from Cairo, I'll be heading to Egypt for 6 weeks, and in Chicago for about 2 weeks.  We have to go by what we call "Egyptian time," which is identical to "Irish time" where deadlines are a formality and everything is laid back.  Don't rush tomorrow; it will get here when it arrives.

I remember once I was in the area of Luxor we call the Tombs of the Nobles where a man was trying to sell me this souvenir wrapped in newspaper which his wife supposedly made (she didn't).  I told him I'll come back tomorrow because I didn't have any money.  This was, of course, a lie.  I had about 50 Egyptian pounds in my pocket and I was not going to return tomorrow.  He told me that I shouldn't put things off until tomorrow because I don't know what will happen tomorrow and I should enjoy the day.  He kept pressing me, lowering the price he was asking for it until I caved.  I'm such a target, you have no idea.  I have a guilt complex that is part and parcel of being Catholic and an honest streak akin to that of a Vulcan.  I can't haggle to save my life -- I need to watch Life of Brian to take lessons in that.  I tell you truly that scene in Life of Brian is accurate.  These guys want to haggle!

Oh gosh, then there was that time I rode the camel.  My friend and I were totally swindled.  I know this is a blog dedicated to Myst, but I'm just so pumped to record these stories.  So the camel story.  I had a few "must dos" when I went to Egypt in 2013.  One was to hug a Hathor column at Deir el-Bahri.  Check.  Two was to take the mountain road just like an ancient Egyptian from Deir el-Medina to the Valley of the Kings.  Check.  Three was to ride a camel to the Giza pyramids.  Check.  And dear me was it an adventure.

The silly teenaged boy (nice kid) who took advantage of the fact I clung to him for dear life aside, it was pretty comical.  My friend and I had one day to spend in Cairo before our flight the next morning.  So to get in as much sight seeing as possible we hired a taxi for 500 Egyptian pounds (another ripoff I heard later).  He took us to Saqqara, Islamic Cairo, Coptic Cairo, and of course to Giza.  At the various sites he told us that if anyone tries to give us a tour to say la (no) and imshee (go away, which is really rude).  I already knew these words, but it was kind of him to give a heads up.  I told him I wanted to ride a camel and my friend wanted to ride a horse.  He told us he knew a guy.  He drives us to some off-the-map street and leads us to a couple of dudes who bring us into their shop.  This shop was for selling glass perfume bottles, really beautiful ones.  But they led us further in behind a curtain and had us sit and gave us crappy Turkish coffee (which they called Egyptian coffee because they knew it wasn't good stuff).  Then another guy comes in with various poster boards and proceeds to give us a poster presentation of the quality camel (which they called Egyptian helicopters) and horse packages they offer.  By this time I am laughing hysterically because this is just so insane.  Meanwhile my friend is trying to talk them down from 300 pounds and manages to get them to 150, which is still absurdly high, as I discovered later.

Once the price was settled they brought us back outside where lo and behold my disgruntled camel was waiting for me.  I'd never ridden one before, so this was going to be interesting.  Now, if you've ever been to the zoo or perhaps a Renaissance Faire where they offer camel rides, you will observe that people have to climb a set of stairs to ascend to the camel's back (now that is hilarious!).  Nope, not in my situation.  My camel friend was sitting on the ground, so I had to get on this thing legit, you know.  I sit on the saddle and suddenly this guy gets up.  I tell you I lost the seconds between when I got on the saddle to the moment when the camel was standing upright, because that is terrifying the first time!  Think of it this way: do you remember those animal things on the playground, like a horse or somesuch where you sit on its saddle and the whole contraption is attached to a spring so that you rock back and forth?  One of these guys:
Remember how you rocked a little too hard?  Well, imagine doing that and rising up 6-7 feet into the sky.  That's the best way I can describe it.  Oh, and you can't walk properly for a while afterwards either haha!  So then what happened is the camel tripped.  I think I held my breath the entire time it took to get to Giza.  But it rocked nonetheless.

The horses they used are something else.  They are generally old horses that don't do very well on rocky or paved surfaces, and they walk sideways.


Anyway, iota and I have taken a hiatus from Uru at least until after I return from Egypt (that is, of course, if Cairo gives us the green light in time!).  I also hope eventually (maybe September) to get internet again in my apartment.  As well as a new computer not only as a gift to me for my 30th birthday, but also to have the latest stuff for Obduction!  I just REALLY hope they don't deliver anything while I am out of the country, which will be through April.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Update and Stuck in Ahnonay

Finally I am taking a moment to catch up, so this will be a long post!  Intermissions will be offered.  Well, not really.  That would be up to you.

I've been MIA for a number of reasons, namely Life, and worse things such as my [neighbor's] internet disappeared.  Either they moved, or they caught on to me, but at any rate I don't have it.  So I ended up having to go to Starbucks to play Uru with iota.  That was interesting.

First things first, this past weekend was the MYSTerium convention near Boston.  I had originally planned to go and I was all set, but it turned out that I couldn't go after all, which was a bummer.  Because of my lack of internet at home, I wasn't able to catch any of the live feed, so I haven't anything to report on that front -- Cyan was supposed to have a demo prepared concerning Obduction or somesuch, so you should go hunt that down when you can.

While on the subject of Obduction, the t-shirts have arrived!  I should have ordered a smaller size because mine is too big, but it will suffice as an excavation shirt when I return to Egypt in the winter, insh'Allah.  You will notice that on the shirt back there is a list of cities and dates.  On Facebook several people are throwing around theories as to what this could mean, and I think the ARG thread has awoken on the forums.  I really haven't the time or interest in the ARG thing...I'd much rather play the actual game, you know?  Here are two pictures of the shirt design:
Obduction t-shirt front

Obduction t-shirt back
While some believe this has to do with the ARG, I believe this has to do with the actual game, and will make much more sense after we get the game and play and/or finish it.

Apart from Obduction, a funny thing happened.  I wanted to play solitaire with a real deck of cards like we used to do in the old days before phone apps.  I remembered that the European edition of Myst IV: Revelation came with a little deck of cards, so I took them out and began shuffling.  The deck seemed a little small, especially after I set up the game.  I had only a few cards left over.  I thought I had done something wrong, and then I thought that I was missing cards and that there was supposed to be another box, but there wasn't!  All the suits begin at 7, and there is only one Joker.  Then, I finally read the game box and it shows that it comes with 32 cards.  32 cards?!  What I am I supposed to do with 32 cards?  That's quite literally not playing with a full deck.
The deck of cards that comes with the European edition of Myst IV: Revelation
I did some research and apparently some European card games require only the above cards.  That is so confusing.  Why?  And why begin at 7?  I was determined for a while to start collecting a deck of cards from the streets of New York because I always find random playing cards all over the place, but since then I have decided I'm not really all that invested in such a project.  But seriously, Europe, what?

Anyway, back to Uru!  iota and I haven't been able to play very consistently because of my internet problem and Life.  Our last session was two Saturdays ago when I went to Starbucks in Midtown.  It was kind of awkward because I had an audience of two.  Skyping proved to be an issue as well, so we returned to typing our conversation which generally wasn't about Uru at all, ha!  Gossip, as usual.  Along with an extended conversation about the hideous trend young ladies and even grown women follow: what I call denim underwear.  Shorts so short that it reveals a considerable portion of the butt cheek.  This to me is pretty gross and indecent and women should have more respect for themselves than that, but I guess I am a prude?

Well that was off-topic!

We left off with Ahnonay, and as I promised iota, it is difficult and confusing.  I last left you with iota's first go through Ahnonay 1-3, but we have explored a lot more since then.  The next challenge was figuring out how to get the Shell Cloths to work for us.  I had forgotten where #3 was located, but I surmised it was somewhere where it appeared in Ahnonay #2.  I suggested that we use the "bookmark" in the Book on Relto and see if the cloth will be there, or if we will link into an expanse of nothing.  But I was right!  Hooray!
iota finds Shell Cloth #3 in Ahnonay 3
We completed our tour of the Ahnonays, so now what?  Well, we had to figure out why these Shell Cloths appeared on the same rock.  I suggested we change the time to Ahnonay 1 and link back via the bookmark.
iota finds her way inside the water current control room in Ahnonay 1

iota outside the water current control room
And then we found ourselves inside the water current control room.  It didn't take her long to figure out what the room was for, and she quickly managed to turn off the current, but not without exploring where the ladders led -- which is in fact to nowhere.
The lookout ladders in the water current control room in Ahnonay 1
She wasn't sure what to do after this, so I nudged her toward checking out the distant "buildings" now that she has complete swim control.  Happily she chose the correct one the first time, which is an easy choice because of that crack in the wall which you don't realize is a crack until you get there.
iota discovers the distant "buildings" are not real
I was expecting some stunned exhortations when she discovered that the distant "buildings" were fakes, but to my disappointment she seemed entirely underwhelmed.  Man, I remember when I first discovered it I was freaking out.  I thought I was going to explore something substantial, but they were fakes!  It made me begin to doubt the reality of everything there.  But this time around we just carried on into the "sewers".  Maybe my presence is distracting.
iota and Baladria swimming into the "sewer" of Ahnonay 1
Of course, there is not much to explore in this area apart from finding more cloths and a door that doesn't open, and on one occasion so far finding a Relto Page, and another one that is as yet inaccessible.  We visited all three Ahnonay sewers and got stuck again.

My memory fails me at this point, and I know that, of course, the last Shell Cloth is beyond that door.  I also know that a person is required on the Ahnonay islands (iota likes to call Ahnonay 3 the Moon) in order to get that door open.  At this point, the tables have turned and I am trying to figure it out for myself as much as iota is trying to figure it out for herself.  For a moment she was confused about all the linking and where everything is, so I drew a rudimentary schematic in order to assist so that maybe we could figure this thing out together.

I went to the Moon of Ahnonay 3 so that I could change it to Ahnonay 1.  I told her to pull the door handle in the sewer after I linked to see what it would do.  It made a loud noise as it had not done before, but the door did not open.  When I returned to Ahnonay I saw that the door reverted the link back to Ahnonay 3 instead of progressing it to Ahnonay 1!  Hmmm, ok.

iota finds Cloth #5
I then thought perhaps we should have the sewer in one instance and the island in another.  So I turned it to Ahnonay 1 and while I was still on the island, iota pulled the door handle.  Again it made the loud noise that normally one hears upon linking out.  So then I decided that what we should do was not link out with the Ahnonay book, but go back to Relto and link back that way, but this did not do what I was expecting.  So now we remain in Ahnonay 2, scratching our heads.
iota wearing "real time" clothes (she was wearing a yellow shirt in reality haha!)
In an effort to try to figure things out, I got my own Ahnonay situated so that I have all 6 Cloths and both Relto Pages, leaving me in the same stage as iota (though she doesn't have that second Relto Page yet).  This didn't really help me at all, but I've got this issue simmering on the back burner at the moment, along with the mole poblano it took me 5 hours to make.
iota enters Ahnonay Cathedral
While we wonder away at that, in other news, it will be my birthday this coming Saturday.  Happy Birthday, me!  My last year of my 20s.  Thank God!  Let me out of this decade!  I can't understand why anyone would want to cling on to their 20s -- I'm so over the supposed "finding yourself" phase.  I've got to work on deciding where I will vacation for my 30th.  I am sticking to doing something within the States, since I believe it is important to travel your own country.  Hawaii, maybe.  Not for the beach, I'm not a beach person, but for hikes in the tropics and across volcanic ground.  Originally I had planned to go to Kenya, but that's simply not going to be feasible.  Though I do have that trip planned already for when I DO go.

This birthday, though, I am going to have a pleasant little me day.  Going to a movie with some popcorn and cherry Coke (my favorite pop!), getting some sushi and a little cake and some ice cream.  I had gotten myself an awesome birthday gift, too.  Check it out: is this not brilliant?

Ciao for the now!