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It occurred to me today that I have a burnt circuit. I do not care what people on the outside think about the things I love.
This is partially from Magic’s recent #crackgate, wherein a douche went around photographing fat people’s ass-cracks at a Magic tournament, and partially from fandom’s reaction to Jonathan Ross being rejected as the Hugo nominee. Both precipitated hand-flutterings from people – “Man, this makes us look bad to Those People.” Those People, of course, are the millions of folks not really invested in the Hugo or Magic or whatever, to whom this ugly introduction may make us look bad.
I don’t give a shit about Those People.
And maybe that’s not fair. But I got bullied a lot by people who looked like Those People, and at some point a switch cut off: I really don’t care what Those People think, ever. My hobbies were always weird, like walking lead figurines around a pencilled dungeon and pretending to be a wizard, and so I gave up on the concept of legitimacy.
I love what I love. People may think it’s funny – will think it’s funny, in fact. They may paint me as an asocial nerd, or some fat dude with an asscrack, or whatever, as they have since I was twelve. And I spent a lot of time trying to convince people that “No, my crazy hobby isn’t that way!” before shrugging and moving on.
Because the truth is, what I do is a little weird. And if you’re not inclined to like it, well, it’s pretty easy to make fun of. And if you want to do that…
…fuck it. Do it. I mean, it’d be nice if the entire world thought of Magic players as well-groomed smart guys going on adventures (for many of them are!), or science fiction fandom as a vanguard of approaching world culture, but… it’s not necessary to me. I’ve given up seeking approval from random groups of people – many of whom are just looking for an excuse to laugh at strangers anyway.
Which is not to say I don’t worry about being inviting. If Magic’s full of mouth-breathing douches who constantly make jokes about women and gays, well, I’m concerned, because if someone wants to play Magic I think they should feel welcomed here. I’ll work to muffle those dorks best I can. And if some idiot is walking around with a camera at a tournament with the specific intent of mocking people there, then that makes the people at the tournament feel bad, and so fuck him, kick that douche out, he’s hurting my people.
But in general, I don’t care if we’re presenting a good or a bad image to the world at large. I’m a man of ridiculous endeavors – polyamory seems bizarre to people, science fiction seems bizarre to people, Magic seems bizarre to people, and hell, even my love of fireplay is pretty damned weird. I’m not going to spend a lot of time as an ambassador to the mainland from the Archipelago Of Marginal Pastimes, pressing the flesh and trying to convince them that this is a perfectly lovely thing to do.
No. Either you get it instinctively. Or you’re open-minded enough that you try it and love it. If you’re the sort of person who’s going to slot me into a pre-fitted box, I’m not going to spend time engaging with you, I’m going to walk in and out of the goddamned box at will to show you that it’s a mime’s construction made of thin air and intent.
Some of my hobbies have gone mainstream – hey, I can play Dragon Age on my XBox and have that be perfectly okay for a middle-aged man, mostly! – and that’s great. But I don’t think that happened because videogames made a conscious effort to dress up nice and be cool – videogames stayed videogames, and eventually enough people played them that force of sheer numbers bowled them over into the “mostly acceptable” column.
Maybe that’ll happen with Magic. Maybe it won’t.
Either way, I’ll still be playing.
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.This entry has also been posted at http://theferrett.dreamwidth.org/386870.h
While hunting for an agent, I would occasionally ponder just how ludicrous this whole “traditional publishing” thing was.
“Selling a book isn’t your first major milestone,” I told Gini. “So you’d think that ‘getting an agent’ would be your first major milestone, but no! It isn’t! ‘Having an agent ask to look at your book’ is. And think about that! There’s sad authors who go whole careers without even having an agent ask to look at their work.
“Only in this business, man,” I muttered. “Only in this business is getting someone to read the first three chapters of your book considered to be a major triumph.”
But it is, really. Authors speak in hushed tones of “the partial” – and, God willing, “She asked for the full manuscript.” Now, this is usually code for “The agent will spend four months pondering it, only to tell you very kindly that it’s not for them,” but that’s not the point. The point is that getting someone to look at your book means that you’ve escalated your game to a certain level! Lots of people don’t get that far.
Sad? True. The two go together, like peanut butter and chocolate.
So when I got the contract in the mail announcing that Evan Gregory of the Ethan Ellenberg Agency had indeed signed me as his client, thus vaulting me to the next step of the trad-pub game, I couldn’t have been happier. Actually, that’s a lie. As y’all know, I’d been in a depressive slump, so while I was super-happy, I also approached the happiness like a distrustful stray cat, waiting for a boot to be chucked at me. Even today, I keep re-reading those emails with a wary eye, as though on further examination they might turn out to be from some helpful Nigerian prince who will help me transfer his fortune into my bank account.
But dudes. Done deal. And now Evan begins the haul of schlepping my books about to publishers, which means God willing I will have news for you at some point. This stuff takes weeks, months, years. And even more luck.
And I schmeared this news all over Twitter yesterday, but that felt too ephemeral. I know some day I’ll want to look through my archives so I can ask, “When did I first get an agent?” And here will be this blog post, telling me. Reassuring me that shit actually happened.
As a first step, it’s a pretty darned good one.
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.This entry has also been posted at http://theferrett.dreamwidth.org/386763.h
An Heir to Thorns and Steel is a serialized fantasy novel updating once a week for free on Tuesdays, and again on Thursdays and Saturdays if tips reach $15 and $20, respectively. Single reviews of existing stories posted to Amazon count for $5 toward the tip total.
Blood Ladders, Book 1
"Morgan!" Amhric said. I did not see so much as sense the mellow warmth of him over me, for my vision had grown spotted and strange. "Fetch water." Thick fabric ripped near me in long, regular strips, the sounds confident and quick. I heard a distant female voice, garbled and sweet, and in response: "No... ah. The drake is... taking care of that for us." Another melody line, wistful. The king said softly, "If you must."
Then his hands lit on the locus of the fire and cruelty in my side and I thought to brace myself for what he did but his touch, oh God! Was like the goodness of an autumn sun, of the first breath in morning after a refreshing sleep, like a lullaby. I wept as he tended me, and it was not for pain.
"Brother mine," he said after an eternity of his ministrations that lasted only for a single squeeze of my heart. "Are you with me again?"
I licked my lips and found I could speak, though everything ached. "That was not... one of the smarter things I've done."
"On the contrary, Prince of Elves," he said, "you did very well indeed."
"What... happened to... him? We have to... burn him, something!"
"Sssh," Amhric said, touching my shoulder to keep me from a vain attempt to rise. "That particular scout won't trouble us again."
"Don't... see a fire...."
"The drake ate him," Kelu said from near my feet.
My eyes widened.
"A loyal beast," Amhric said, his voice gentle. "When the scout demonstrated that he was unquestionably your enemy, it defended you."
My gorge rose. With difficulty I reined in my nausea and said, "I'm glad we managed to dispatch him, somehow." I looked with exhaustion toward the king but my eyes had not cleared enough to see him. "You don't fight, do you."
"I haven't learned either," I said. "My body has never been healthy enough for that kind of exercise."
"I imagine not," Amhric said, swabbing the blood from my back.
Something in his manner... "But you, it's not about never having learned, is it."
"No," he said. "I can't."
"Can't is a strong word," I said. "Are you using it precisely?"
"The king-gifts make it impossible for me to destroy anyone," he said. "The ability to balance the magics of a nation would be tyrannical if I could also kill with it."
"But without magic...?"
"I can't," he said. "Not with my hands and not with my magic."
"And that's why you ended up in the hands of Suleris," I said. "You let them take you."
"Yes," he said.
Appalled, I exclaimed, "Then you are defenseless! Anyone's to destroy! I can't imagine that the removal of your capacity for even the barest of self-defense is in the best interests of your nation... or else any citizen with the smallest of complaints could incapacitate the government by attacking you! It makes no sense!"
"The king," he said quietly, "was not meant to rule alone."
"A queen?" I asked. And then it struck me. "Me. You were missing me. I'm your sword."
"Yes," he said.
"God!" I said with a bitter, disbelieving laugh. "Me? I am your defense? With this wreck of a body? I can barely lift a staff!"
"You seemed to do very well indeed just now," Amhric said, voice still quiet.
"Only because my cannibalistic mount decided it was in need of a meal," I said.
"Do you think a warrior always fights hand-to-hand with every enemy?" Amhric asked. "Sometimes you must command others to fight for you."
"This was not a war," I said. "This was a single scout armed with a bow and a dirk that I am now sure was the length of a polearm."
"And your loyalty commanded an army of one," Amhric said. "Who saved us from another turn in Suleris's breeding compound."
"God," I said again. "This is insane. It makes no sense, no sense at all. What kind of government would charge the heir to power with the safety of the current ruler? It is an invitation to regicide!"
"Tell me," Amhric said. "In a dichotomy of responsibility where one individual sits on a rock in a desert island, barely eating, barely breathing, doing nothing but assessing and recalibrating the flow of magic across the world... and the other sits on a throne in a palace, surrounded in light and laughter and people, making critical decisions and dictating laws that shape society... where do you believe the true power lies?"
"I... I don't know," I said. "I have so little knowledge of magic and what a society is like that relies on it."
"But the latter life sounds more appealing, yes?"
"To most," I said. And then quietly, "But not to you."
"No," he said. "And that is why the king-gifts rose in me."
"So that I have the prince-gifts, does this make me a lover of power, parties and the trappings of a monarchy?" I asked, arch.
"No," he said. "Only that you are suited to the defense of what you believe rightful."
I closed my eyes and struggled for breath; where the elf had impaled me I felt only a numb restriction that made it difficult to expand my ribs, but that restriction was nothing, nothing compared to the desperation I felt at the thought of having sole responsibility for the safety of the man sitting at my side, holding rags stained with my blood in his small and gentle hands. I thought of Chester's sword, taken from me with such contempt by that roadside inn. I had not been worthy of it; I could not have used it to defend myself from my attackers then. And yet the fate of a kingdom depended on my ability to become a warrior.
I turned my face just enough to look up at him. "Is it solely because of my absence that you have not been crowned?"
He shook his head, copper hair gathering the star-gleam in every strand like beads. "It has been long and long again since our people have been led by a king. Not since we were exiled from human lands and human arms. And the king of elves cannot rule without consent of his people, to make the pact work. We have become besotted with unfettered power and forgotten our responsibilities. There is a council that will support no king... and a people divided over whether to allow a monarchy to return after the disaster of the last. There was a reason Amoret was able to sell me to my enemies... because I inherited them with the blood-gifts."
"Did you say--" I heaved myself onto an elbow, reaching for his arm to steady myself. "Did you say Amoret? Amoret is your betrothed?"
"Was, yes," he said, bemused.
"Amoret with the yellow hair and blue eyes?" I asked.
"God!" I said. "Why--her--you were engaged to her?"
He watched the emotions traveling my face and from them divined I knew not what. "It seemed like a good idea to our parents," he said.
I could hardly imagine two people more poorly suited to one another, but that mattered less to me than, "Why was she searching for me?"
He hesitated. "Looking for you?"
"She's been sending genets out for..." I glanced at Kelu. "How long now?"
"Ten years," Kelu said.
"Ten years she's been hunting the human mainland for me," I said. "Why? Because I'm your brother and thus might have the prince-gifts?"
"It's possible," he said. "I didn't know you lived, and even had you lived you might not have had the gifts. They do not always follow bloodlines."
"Master," Almond whispered at my elbow.
I looked down at her, found her quivering with terror to have interrupted us. I did not have the strength to touch her face, so I put all my gentleness into my voice. "Yes, Almond?"
"The lady wanted a baby."
"She... what?" I asked.
"She wanted a baby," Almond whispered. "And the royal-gifts are powerful."
I looked then at my brother, who said, "She's right. With our gifts come virility."
Everything in me grew still. "In this world where children are impossibly rare and a woman can become famous and powerful merely for having one, you refused her?"
"Yes," he said slowly. And then, eyes closed. "I took a vow."
"Of what?" I exclaimed. "Celibacy?"
"It is part of the path of the king-reclusive," he said. "It heightens our ability to handle the energies of the world."
"What in the name of hell is so important about handling the energies of the world that you would make an everlasting enemy of a woman--admittedly a hag of a woman, but a powerful one nonetheless--your mortal foe?" I said.
"Because if the energies of the world are out of balance," Amhric said, honey-yellow eyes meeting mine, "then the demons come."
...oh yes. That.
Meanwhile, we are only $5 (or one review) away from a Saturday bonus too! We are on fire this week!
Conduits are sort of the general purpose "thing" to either go wrong or to have to fix on a spaceship. You could replace an entire spaceship combat hit location table with the following:
It'd be just as effective. Or for bonus points add the following:
Den of Geek point out why we shouldn't dismiss the many achievements of Angel's first season.post a comment
A few months back I had to do a two-hour road trip with A&D regular Susan Sons, aka HedgeMage, who is an interesting and estimable person in almost all ways except that she actually … likes … country music.
I tried to be stoic when stupid syrupy goo began pouring out of the car radio, but I didn’t do a good enough job of hiding my discomfort to prevent her from noticing within three minutes flat. “If I leave this on,” she observed accurately to the 11-year-old in the back seat, “Eric is going to go insane.”
Since said 11-year more or less required music to prevent him from becoming hideously bored and restive, all three of us were caught between two fires. Susan, ever the pragmatist, went looking through her repertoire for pieces I would find relatively inoffensive.
After a while this turned into a sort of calibration exercise – she’d put something on, assay my reaction to see where in the range it fell between mere spasmodic twitching and piteous pleas to make it stop, and try to figure what the actual drive-Eric-insane factors in the piece were.
After a while a curious and interesting pattern emerged…
I already knew of having some preferences in this domain. I dislike anything with steel guitars in it; conversely, I am less repelled by and can sometimes even enjoy subgenres like bluegrass, fiddle music and Texas swing that are centered on other instruments. I find old-style country, closer to its Irish traditional roots, far easier to take than the modern Nashville sound. Blues influence also helps.
But it turns out that most of these preferences are strongly correlated with one very simple binary-valued property, something Susan had the domain knowledge to identify consciously after a sufficient sample but I did not.
It turns out that what I hate above all else about country music is singers with faked accents.
I had no idea, but there’s a lot of this going around, apparently. The rules of the modern country idiom require performers who don’t naturally speak with a thick Southern-rural accent to affect one when they sing. The breakthrough moment when we figured out that this was what was making me want to chew my own leg off to escape it was when she cued up a song by some guy named Clint Black who really natively has that accent. We discovered that even though he plays the modern Nashville sound, the result only makes me feel mildly uncomfortable, as opposed to tortured.
The first interesting thing about this is that I was completely unaware that I had been reacting to the fake/nonfake distinction. But once we recognized it, the entire pattern of my subgenre preferences made sense. Duh, of course I’d have had less unpleasant experiences with styles that are less vocal-centered. And, in general, the longer ago a piece of country music was recorded, the more likely that the singers’ accents were genuine.
I think it is even quite likely that I acquired a conditioned dislike of steel guitars precisely because they are strongly co-morbid with fake accents.
It is not news that there is something distinctly unusual about the way I acquire and process language phonology: recently, for example, I wrote about having absorbed the phonology of German even though I don’t speak it, and I have previously noted the fact that I pick up speech accents very quickly on immersion (sometimes without intending to).
But this only raises more questions that belong under the “brains are weird” category. One group: what in the heck is my recognition algorithm for “fake accent”? How did I learn one? Why did I learn one? What in the hell does my unconscious mind find useful about this?
A second is: how reliable is it? We think, from Susan’s sample of a couple dozeb tracks, that it’s pretty robust, at least relative to her knowledge about singer idiolects. But in a controlled experiment in which I was trying to spot fakes, how much better would I do than chance? What would my rates of false negatives and false positives be? The question is trickier than it might appear; conscious attempts to run the fake-accent recognizer might interfere with it.
The third, and in some ways the most interesting: How did my fake-accent recognizer get tangled up with my response to music? They do communicate (nobody doubts that people with good pitch discrimination have an advantage in acquiring tonal languages) but they’re different brain subsystems; the organ of Broca doesn’t do music.
Does anyone in my audience know of research that might bear on these questions?post a comment
* (0:29) Grab a copy of Fear the Boot’s anthology, Sojourn!
* (4:23) Player secrets. As we’re introducing the topic, Wayne throws out the idea of different angles — regarding the same secret — being divided among the players.
* (7:19) John’s Wasabi Theory of player secrets. The problems that player-character secrets can cause within a group, if misused.
* (11:06) Using secrets to draw in other characters instead of excluding them.
* (12:42) Why Dan blames the GM.
* (18:27) Putting some pressure on the other players.
* (22:36) When character secrets work well, even as the core of a game.
* (31:44) Whether the players all knowing the secret helps when their respective characters don’t know.
Hosts: Chad, Chris, Dan, John, Waynepost a comment
During the presentations, in addition to Munchkin, I'll also cover our non-Munchkin plans for 2014 (some of which you may have seen teased at BoardGameGeek a few weeks ago).
And then on Wednesday, March 19 at 6 pm, join me; our Director of Sales, Ross Jepson; and our Events Director, Kali Dugan, for gaming during the GAMA Games Night. I fully expect we'll play Castellan and Zombie Dice (including the upcoming expansion, Zombie Dice 3), and I plan to pull out Mars Attacks – The Dice Game for a round or two. I would bring Hipster Dice along . . . but you've probably never heard of it.
I hope we see you in Vegas next week!
– Phil Reed
Warehouse 23 News: Chivalry Is Alive!
In the new Once Upon A Time: Knightly Tales.
Inspired by valorous tales of the knights of old and their ladies.
Available at Warehouse 23. post a comment
1: That the power does not go out in the ice storm forecast for tonight.
EW has a promo video for the upcoming musical, which begins previews on March 29 and opens on April 22.post a comment
Congrats to the couple!post a comment
post a comment
Writing Excuses 9.10: Engaging Characters
Last night's episode got a 2.1/7 in the 18-49 demo.post a comment
He's finally made it to the Whedonverse.
Adrian played Jim Profit in David Greenwalt's 'Profit'. Joss said back in 2004:
The quirky series from creator, Bryan Fuller (as if there was only one) premiered on Fox 10 years ago today!post a comment
This'll be out on the 26th of this month.post a comment