Summer Story

let's get out of here, he said. you and me. let's just go.

i smiled (maybe laughed, even) but i didn't reply. what do you say when a life-changing possibility presents itself like that? if you were in a movie, you'd flutter your eyelashes and say something smart and sweet. where to?

anywhere, he'd say. anywhere we want.

this being the crushing dullness of reality, i said nothing of the sort. it was a joke, anyhow. and, admittedly, i was caught off guard in a major sort of way. hey man, what's going on?

you're awesome, you know that? i love that you just get out there and like, do your thing.


i got hung up on that. it's a word that all at once thrills and calms.

it was dusk and getting darker by the minute, but on a summer night in southern california, you don't need a jacket. so there we stood in the middle of the plaza, t-shirts and skirts.

you keep on making the music and i'll keep on rocking, i said. clever, i thought. don't be cutesy, don't be a girl. be 'awesome' and casual and keep your cool. people like that in a conversation buddy.

rock on, he said. hi-fived me, and excused himself to a new group who had just walked over.

back up here. *record scratches* that was it?

well next time, you say. next time you'll look up with a glint in your eye and say let's do it. and it wouldn't be some carefree conversation starter.

would you be missed? probably. it'd be fifteen minutes, twenty tops, before one of you got a phone call or text.

maybe you'd only make it to the parking lot before the excitement of leaving it all and just going for it got lost in the fumbling of car keys.



i don't really know what kind of line to end this story with. a message about romance? about taking chances? overanalysis of friendly chats?

it's about summer. it's about time, and choices, and connections and letting things in to fill up your life and give you a little something to dream about. that's how you start.

Firefox 3 and the Mac (Second, er... Third Chances)

I've never particularly liked using Firefox on a Mac. To be honest, I really only use it for the DownThemAll! extension, which is a perfectly silly reason. Maybe it's because I've been too lazy to import my Safari bookmarks. Most likely it's because I've never gotten comfortable with the graphical user interface - even themes designed to look like the metal/brushed metal/unified metal "Mac style" didn't seem quite right.

So when I read that Firefox 3 was going to have 'native' skins for each operating system, I thought "Hey, maybe I'll give it another chance. Maybe it's changed. Maybe it'll keep its promises this time. Maybe I won't get my heart broken... again."

It's just not meant to be. Here's a look at the navigation bars in Firefox and Safari (this area being where interface differs the most - in-line forms, submit buttons, and other features on webpages aren't too much of a concern).

Tab bar in Firefox 3 [Mac]

Tab bar in Safari 3 [Mac]

Part of the problem seems stem from the fact that I'm still running 10.4 instead of 10.5 - there's a distinct color difference where the Firefox navigation bar meets the Mac window bar. Leopard isn't that old. There are plenty of Mac users out there that haven't upgraded yet. I don't know if the solution necessarily means separate skins for each Mac OS, but it means less familiarity - even if it's a somewhat tiny detail.

The other part is something that Alexis at Design vs Art talked about this morning: the treatment of tabs.

The tab metaphor works with browsers (and in other areas as well) because everyone knows the physical implementation - the file folder. We know what it means and how it works - the label on the tab of a file folder shows us what's inside, and when we access that tab, we reveal its content. It's simple enough and it works easily in design.

What Alexis noticed was that in the Mac OS 'native' FF3, tabs aren't attached to their windows, but rather, they are attached to the bookmark/navigation bar. This breaks the metaphor. It's no longer intuitive that a 'tab' in a browser works the same way as a tab on a physical file folder.

Here's the thing, though. Safari has upside-down tabs as well. They too 'belong' to the navigation/bookmark bar instead of the appropriate content. And while there has been some discussion of the issue, it's certainly never been a point of contention for me. I've never opened up Safari and thought to myself, "You know what. I love Safari, but these goddamn upside down tabs drive me bonkers. I sure hope it's fixed in Safari 4."

Upper: Firefox tab closeup. Lower: Safari tab closeup.

Which is not to say that's true for Firefox 3. The issue here with the tabs is way more noticeable because there's more depth to them. The bookmarks bar is 'puffy' and there's actually a shadow cast on all the inactive tabs. In addition, the Firefox tabs are distinct from one another - there's 3 pixels in between each tab, as well as between the tab and a few pixels between the bottom of the tab and the top of the webpage area. Safari's tabs sit right against each other, and there's a smaller gap between the tab bar and the webpage.

It's just a few pixels, but the attention that Firefox's tabs draw to their... um... 'tabbiness' by casting shadows and distinct separation makes it all the more jarring that tabs are actually attached to the top bar instead of the content it's referring to.

Firefox 3 isn't ugly. But those few small details are inconsistent enough with the carefully tuned Mac UI that it still feels 'wrong' to use it. Maybe I'm just picky, but I don't know if I can really get used to Firefox on a Mac.

What's this mean? It means that for now, for me, Firefox is still my secondary browser, fired up only when I come across some service that doesn't support Safari, or to test out sites with the Web Developer plugin. Like (some?) relationships, it's never completely over. I'm not going to just let it go - but at the same time, Firefox doesn't add enough to my life that I need to make it a central part of my browsing habits.

Interview with Jason Priestly

DSC_0072.jpgStopped by the Mario Kart launch party at Rockefeller Plaza today and snagged an interview with 90210's Jason Priestly!

Are there red and blue shells in real race car driving?
[Laughs] Uh, not really. Not so much. There's not a real comparison between the two, but Mario Kart is a lot of fun and that's really what it's for. The whole point of video games is to have fun, it's about having fun with your friends. And the Wii, I've found, is more fun for a lot of people than any other gaming platform.

[Link] Interview: Jason Priestly on Mario Kart Wii
[Link] Flickr: Mario Kart Wii Launch Party (with Chace Crawford, too!)

Interview: "Fatal1ty" -- Model, Athlete, Nerd?

One of my first writing assignments at AOL Games was an interview with pro gamer, Johnathan 'Fatal1ty' Wendel (yes, that's a numeral one). I got his digits, gave him a call on his cell - he was in the middle of playing some shooter with a bunch of friends. Really staunchly against the image of a 'nerd' - touchy subject? Calls himself an athlete... hrm.

Anyway, the interview went alright, he was a pretty cool guy. Ended up not winning the 'Quake 4' tournament that year. Oops?

The article is no longer online, so I've posted the full piece here.

"Fatal1ty" -- Model, Athlete, Nerd? (May 2005)
We talk to pro-gamer and media darling Johnathan "Fatal1ty" Wendel about setting an example, the gaming revolution and abstaining from the 9-to-5 job.

Johnathan Wendel, better known as ‘Fatal1ty,’ does what every kid really wants to do when they grow up. He plays video games and gets paid to do it. He's won over $500,000 by winning gaming competitions, practices eight to ten hours a day (right now for the upcoming Lanwar tournament) and – as he often points out -- still finds time to play tennis. Does this make him an athlete? Or some kind of super nerd? We ask him to fill in the blanks.

Who knew that playing video games would turn you into a role model? Crazy, huh?
Growing up, I always wanted to be competitive at whatever I was doing, but also be a good role model. When I grew up, I had my role models, too, like André Agassi and Michael Jordan -- anyone who was a hard worker and very competitive. But I understand that when you get to this high level, there’s this big responsibility that I have to be, and I want to be, a good role model for other people.

Continue reading "Interview: "Fatal1ty" -- Model, Athlete, Nerd?" »

Interview: The Man Behind Lara, Toby Gard

Updated links to new GameDaily URLs. // Sept. 17, 2007

As part of our coverage for Tomb Raider: Anniversary, we managed to secure an interview with Toby Gard, the original creator of the game's leading lady, Lara Croft. Phone interview, but still interesting. My boss assigned this piece to me roughly an hour before the interview was scheduled to take place - needless to say I was a bit frazzled. Thank god for Wikipedia. That thing is a lifesaver.

I was talking to my boyfriend as I did research for the article. He quipped that Gard was probably a pervert - Lara Croft is ubiquitous for her curvaceous body*. Heck, she was played by Angelina Jolie in the film adaptations.

Toby turned out to be a really down-to-earth guy who was staunchly against the 'sexy' image that the production company wanted her to have - he cited that as one of the reasons he actually stopped working on the Tomb Raider franchise for a while (I asked him about it in the interview). All in all, I got some pretty solid quotes out of him - and the chance to speak to Lara's creator was damn cool.

How do you think Lara will adapt to new generations of gamers?

Well in the first game, literally I was thinking about someone who was really almost psychopathic, really dangerous. But her goals were modern. Tomb Raider is about exploring history, and history is always something that you see people interested in, or at least I hope would stay relevant. As long as we retain that myth and that uncovering then I think people will stay interested.

And as long as she continues to age well.
Ha, ha. That's the great thing about [her] isn't it? You don't have to worry about that.

*We shamelessly ran another feature for the Tomb Raider tie-in, a quiz called How Well Do You Know Lara's Assets?", in which our readers were asked to match an screenshot of Lara's beautiful bosom to the Tomb Raider game it appeared in. Did I mention that I wrote the raunchy question and answer set for that? (blush)

Interview: Fred Willard’s Hot for Brains

Updated links to new GameDaily URLs. // Sept. 17, 2007

This one was actually really fun - it's one of the few interviews for GameDaily that I got to conduct in person as opposed to over the phone. When my boss first told me that I was interviewing Fred Willard, I recognized the name but couldn't match it with a face. Naturally, I Wikipedia-ed him. Turns out I knew him as the wacky father-in-law of Ray's brother, Robert, on 'Everybody Loves Raymond.'

I got to the hotel and was escorted upstairs to his penthouse suite. I introduced myself, we sat down and chatted a bit about the game (he was trying to beat a minigame as I walked in - the lead 'graph in the interview isn't a lie... :) ) before I started the recorder. He was a superb interview - very easy to talk to, funny, talkative, cute in that 'I'm old and I don't know much about video games but they're great!' way. Definitely an entertaining experience.

Was video game voicing a lifelong dream?
It’s a lot of fun; it’s the kind of thing I love to do, to put your voice on something. In this, it makes you sound very intelligent. I’m the head of this Hot Brain institute, so people will think, “Gee, Fred Willard, they must have gotten him because he’s so smart!”

Interview: Showdown with Young Jeezy

Updated links to new GameDaily URLs. // Sept. 17, 2007

I talked with rapper Young Jeezy over the phone about the PS3/360 fighting game, Def Jam Icon. The interview was... brief, to say the least. I had a hard time getting him to elaborate on his answers. Still fun, though. My boyfriend, a fan, was jealous.

So what do you think of the final product?
For the most part, it turned out good, but it was like, people wouldn't know that it takes that much time for the voiceovers and all the other shit.