I’d like to talk with you again.
I’m sorry I’ve been so silent. The job search became a real grind. And then I found a job! And then it disappeared. And then I found another job! And that went away too. The last one was intended as a temp position to start with, but I was told later that they might make it an ongoing thing. I didn’t know until the day before my last day that it wasn’t going to last.
And with winter comes new and interesting colds and flus and other ickyness. I’m still recovering from a new strain of Martian Death Plague, Mongolian Lung-Butter Curse, or whatever you like to call one of the bajillion (at last count) variations of the common cold. The mountain of used tissues intimidates me even now.
I lost my job at Yahoo a year ago today (as I realize what day it is after looking at my computer’s clock). It’s hard to believe that I’ve felt so adrift for a year. Sure, I’ve kept myself busy with Convolution and working on various freelance projects for Machine Age Productions, 6d6, and Terra/Sol Games. It helps fill the time, which is great. It doesn’t help fill the bank account, though, and in the words of Chuck Wendig, “Shakespeare gots to get paid, son.”
I have a long list of recruiters to go through, and a lot of work ahead of me to get myself to any sort of stability. I have to keep myself motivated, since no one else is going to do it for me. That’s the hardest part, really.
Updating here may help a bit. I may not have much to say, but I’ll at least say something, if only for my own encouragement. I’m not in a great place right now. I know this. But the only one who can really fix it is me.
Still, I won’t turn down a helping hand, if it’s out there.
I’m not dead, promise! I’m just finally getting my bearings after Convolution.
In short, it was a blast. I’ve been working this one out for the past year and a half, and that was waaaaaaaaaaaaaay more time than I needed, but just enough time to get myself excessively freaked out. I’ve already thought of things I want to do for next year, but I really shouldn’t be doing that until, like, February. Volunteering for cons is an addiction, I tell you. Don’t ever start, or you’ll never be able to stop.
Meeting Steve Jackson was a delight. He was gracious and friendly throughout, and very helpful with heavily contested rules calls during the charity Munchkin tournament. We raised $120 for Reading for the Future from that tournament, and the prizes flew fast and furious. No one walked away empty-handed; I even got Munchkin boosters for helping out!
I also managed (somehow) to put together a live-action Angry Birds setup, complete with a king pig filled with candy. I made the first pig-ñata joke as I was building it, just to get that out of the way. It was inevitable.
In my previous experience with gaming rooms at non-gaming cons, they primarily served as a place for people to kill time between panels or hang out. When I worked BayCon, the gaming room was considered successful because there were people there at all hours. At Convolution, I took a different tack; I wanted people to come to the gaming room because there were cool things going on that they wanted to attend. I lucked out, especially with Steve Jackson as a guest of honor. Still, a lot of people who ran demos had ample opportunity to talk up their game. Every gaming participant who brought the game they designed got a chance to show their game off, and the congoers tried their games out. I even had one attendee who brought his own board game prototype from home on the last day when he saw how well demos were going on Saturday. Despite the early shutdown of the gaming room, he still had people checking out his game, playing it, and having a good time. One of the best bits of feedback I got was from someone who had never been in a roleplaying game before, but she tried out Ashton Saylor’s Vigilante: Dark Justice, which Ashton was kind enough to run on Saturday afternoon. She had a wonderful time, and it sounds like she’ll be trying more roleplaying games in the future. This has only cemented the idea in my mind that Ashton is an awesome guy and I should hang out with him more.
In all, I scheduled 23 different gaming events. About 16 or 17 of them actually happened. One was canceled due to lack of product support from the game company (which may have just been a communications or logistics issue between the demo guy and the company). One was just moving some of the gaming room activities out of the gaming room to make sure the LARP had the full space to themselves. I almost don’t want to count that as a cancellation, because it meant there was more fun shit to do elsewhere in the con and I didn’t need to run anything late-night.
The other five were scrapped due to lack of interest/signups. A big part of that involved event listings never made it into the pocket program or onto the website, so people didn’t really know it was going on. We did try to push them through social media, and when one of the GMs posted her playset design notes, I immediately shared it to get the word out. Still, to most congoers (at least in this area), if it’s not in a printed program, it doesn’t exist. In post-con feedback, people cried, “WHY did I not know about X event! It wasn’t in the program! I would have gone to that!” Sadly, emails got missed, and I’ll be setting a deadline for gaming events even earlier in the year so that doesn’t happen again.
One was a bit shaky due to a number of signups that was deemed insufficient to the game organizer. Mind, I had been promoting the event like mad since we got it into the program. I hadn’t heard a peep from the organizer about whether or not they promoted their own event. When I asked at con, they admitted they didn’t promote it as much as they probably should have.
So! Lesson for folks running games at cons: talk up your events. Yes, the con’s gonna do some of that too, but if you want to make for damn sure your event is full, you gotta pimp it yourself as well. It also gets people to the con itself, and while they may come for your event, they’ll stay for the other awesomeness the con has to offer. This means the con organizers will like you even more and ask for you to come back next year.
Really, this counts for anything else you do that’s going to be in the public eye. If you’re designing a game, putting on a convention, working in a play, talk it up! Show people bits you’re working on. Show previews of the art. Talk about what you’re trying to accomplish when you put the game out there. And if someone wants you to work on their project, talk up their project too. It shows them that you’re excited about it, even if you don’t get a chance to work on it, and expands the reach of their message. That message may be “Hey, we have a cool thing that you can buy! Buy our cool thing!” It’s still a message.
Speaking of cool things you should buy, Farewell to Foie Gras is out! If you want some simple recipes to try out at home that’s tied to an awesome game, check it out. A cookbook as a setting guide works amazingly well, especially with the various traditions around the real world surrounding food. Brian worked his ass off to get these recipes right, and worked even harder to make me happy with the rewrites. I did the layout on this as well, which gave me a crash course in InDesign. Weeee! And now I’ll be doing some additional layout work for other projects down the road.
Another cool thing out and about is the 6d6 Kickstarter. The game system has been out and about for a while, and it’s fairly popular around UK gaming cons. It’s getting a facelift for a new edition and going into print. As of this writing, it’s surpassed its first stretch goal, which expands the budget for art and layout. This is a great project to back to celebrate Kickstarter being available in the UK. I’ve talked to Chris Tregenza about helping out with this one, and while nothing’s set in stone until after the Kickstarter wraps, I still wanna see this one succeed.
And now, back to the
salt mines Internet.
I’m in the midst of finishing a lot of things.
- The Six Guns Lasers Kickstarter is coming to an end in 28 hours, and if you like it and want me to get work, chip in! This will be the first project I work on with Terra/Sol Games, and if it doesn’t get funded, the project won’t happen. So, um, yeah. Give me work!
- Farewell to Foie Gras has just gotten released, written by resident foodie, Six Guns Lasers backer, and all-around awesome person Brian Vo. The link here helps us get a couple extra pennies when you pick up a copy. And if you like more of his work, check out his blogs A Cook and A Geek and Cast Iron Therapy.
- While on the train this morning, I just finished the second half of the chainmail waist cincher I’ve been picking at for the past few months. Chainmail’s a great way to combat carpal tunnel, as it requires your wrists to move in different ways than typing. Like a doofus, I didn’t bring the other half with me to just complete it. Mind, the bloody thing is pretty heavy. If it was in steel, it would be triple the weight. Of course, there will be pictures. Oh yes, there will be pictures. Likely on Google+.
- Convolution is less than a month away, and I’m in the process of finalizing scheduled events (playtests, one-shot RPGs, and tournaments, oh my! The deadline to submit a gaming event is Monday, so I can get everything scheduled. If the weather dries out here, I’ll be assembling the pieces for the final round of the live-action Angry Birds tournament. Cardboard, papier-mache, paint, surgical tubing, PVC pipes and couplings, and a test run. Definitely a test run to make sure all the equipment works.
Of course, with all these endings, there are new beginnings.
- Now I can finally give Amaranthology the full attention it deserves. With any luck, I should have all of the first-round edits done in a week or two, as long as my life doesn’t go sideways. I have some of it already done, since I picked at it when there wasn’t anything to work on for Farewell to Fear or Farewell to Foie Gras.
- Farewell to Foie Gras modules! Over the course of editing Farewell to Foie Gras, I got inspired by Brian Vo’s writing to give. The folks at Machine Age Productions just released the Chef character class for Farewell to Fear, so why not give the Chef fun things to do?
- I’ve been asked to work on another project for Terra/Sol, but I can’t talk about it just yet. When I can talk about it, though, you best believe that I will not shut up about it!
- I’ve hit up Daniel Copulsky, who’s currently running a Kickstarter for Consent Porn: Collected Erotica Featuring Consent. I’ve offered my editing and proofreading services, and once this project gets off the ground, they’ll need writers. He’s put up this Kickstarter to make sure he can find (and pay) the talent he needs to make this collection as awesome as possible. The concept of consent in an erotic context is important to me on several levels. While I’ll spare you the details of my own personal tastes here, the aspects of eroticism this collection seeks to celebrate are integral to my own personal experiences.
So, um, yeah. That’s what I’m up to! Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
Recently, a friend of mine commented that she felt particularly shallow because she loves fashion. She felt that following trends and wanting to deviate from the witty-T-shirt-and-jeans standard somehow ruined her geek cred.
Luckily, this exchange took place over the Internet, so the spit-take of Diet Coke only hit my laptop screen instead of her fabulous purple corduroy military-style jacket (that I covet so very, very much). However, the very idea that one is less of a geek for enjoying things others might consider shallow, like fashion or makeup or celebrity gossip, is downright poisonous. I thought most of the geek community was incensed at elitist definitions of geekdom, and that anyone who wanted to identify as a geek was welcome.
(And let’s not even talk about gender associations with activities and topics that people consider “shallow.” That is another rant for another day.)
Fashion is not shallow. Far from it, in fact. The amalgamation of knowledge one needs to create a single fitted garment or to fully understand how their clothes are made is staggering, and that’s just looking at the process from one design idea to a finished sample garment. I’m not even looking at the manufacturing process.
Constructing a garment incorporates a lot of aspects of math and science: geometry for calculating fabric yardage, chemistry for creating new and interesting textile fibers (or improving old standards like cotton), and physics and engineering to ensure a design that looks great will withstand the rigors of everyday wear. Recently, I made a bag for a friend of mine, and was able to pinpoint exactly where the most stress would be, and where I’d have to reinforce the stitching later. Sure enough, he reported that my prediction was spot on. That wasn’t shoddy workmanship; that was physics at work. I’ll be repairing the bag regardless.
There’s plenty of room in fashion for the history geek, too. I’ve had several of my history geek friends look at shots from a modern fashion show and point out details that have been part of sartorial history since man first decided to not walk around naked. This doesn’t even cover discussions of what we’d be wearing if certain sumptuary laws had held firm.
In lots of cases, fashion and geek culture go hand in hand. Back in April of this year, Square Enix put some of the Final Fantasy XIII-2 characters in Prada to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the game, and Prada’s fall/winter 2012 menswear line took a lot of hints from the popularity of steampunk and went late-1800s with their aesthetic. Jean-Paul Gaultier’s costume design for The Fifth Element made the far future look fabulous, and it still looks good today as opposed to looking hokey, like so many other retro sci-fi costumes (I’m looking at you, old-school Battlestar Galactica).
There’s also this horrible myth that geeks simply aren’t fashion-forward. Fuck. That. Fuck that, I say. There is no good reason why dressing well and being geeky should be mutually exclusive. None. And it doesn’t take a lot of money, either, since you don’t have to buy a whole new wardrobe every six months (and don’t let anyone tell you different). Trends go through cycles, so a particular pant style that flatters you could easily come back into fashion. There’s a reason that there are so many trends every fashion season: because not every trend works for everyone. Pick one or two that work well for you, and go with it. Pick styles that flatter your body type and colors that flatter your skin tone, and don’t try to force yourself into something you don’t like or doesn’t look good on you for the sake of being “on trend.”
And don’t be afraid to get creative with it! The “high fashion” versions of the Avengers and My Little Pony costumes that have been making the rounds make me giggle with girlish glee. Mixing geekdom and fashion is awesome, and just another way of flying your geek flag high. (And yes, Fashionably Geek is going on my blogroll. Oh yes.)
So go ahead. Rock that color-blocked top that may or may not intentionally resemble a Starfleet uniform (ST: TNG, of course, though the classic female uniform dresses have potential…). Pair up your favorite little black dress with TARDIS blue pumps and a matching handbag (but is it bigger on the inside?). And brown coats are always in; just use a lighter shade of brown in the spring.
Just… don’t do it all at once? Some might consider mixing those fandoms (and those colors!) tacky.
So my initial plan was to make a post about the recently-wrapped Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, and how it’s perfectly okay for geeks to like fashion and beauty and things that some might consider shallow. However, that will have to wait.
You see, I read something today that scared me. I read this. And it made me weep for the potential future of my country.
This is not the only place you’ll see this article listed. The information and the quote in this article have spread like wildfire over the Internet. Anyone who has been on a commercial flight knows that an airplane cabin is pressurized. The flight attendants mention it during the safety procedures on every flight, regardless of airline. There’s not enough oxygen in the atmosphere at the elevation that most commercial flights reach. On top of that, more oxygen would have simply fed the flames further. Do they simply not cover this in private jets? Surely Romney must have flown first class or coach at some point in his life.
Romney’s tenuous grip on a scientific concept that has become remarkably commonplace frightens me. I am genuinely terrified of what kind of impact he would have in office. Most of his publicized gaffes have just made me roll my eyes, but this level of ignorance is just… chilling. It makes me physically ill.
Now, I’m pretty damn liberal in a lot of areas. I believe in marriage equality. I believe in helping those who are in a rough spot and can’t help themselves. If it weren’t for Obamacare, I would have no health insurance whatsoever right now. I’m fortunate enough to be healthy, but if something happened to me today or tomorrow, I’d be fucked if Obamacare wasn’t around. Policies for immigration and establishing citizenship are fucked and need serious reform. Women have the right to choose for themselves whether or not to have an abortion. The electoral college is fucked and needs to go. Religious freedom doesn’t just apply to Christianity’s many denominations, but all religions. Tax revenue pays for the services we take for granted, and if taxes need to be raised to keep those things going, so be it.
However, in some ways, I’m conservative. Don’t spend more money than you make. Undocumented immigrants should GTFO, if only for their own safety. (This one is a sore spot for me, since my ex-fiance’s mom had ten undocumented border-hoppers crammed into her tiny-ass garage, just so she could pay them less than minimum wage to work for her construction company). Abortion should not be used as birth control. When problematic, offensive products come out, let the free market decide whether or not that product will sell. Freedom of speech needs to hold firm, and those who hold offensive viewpoints have the right to express them. They also have the right to deal with any consequences from their opinions.
It’s freedom of speech that allows people like you and me to go and research the pros and cons of the issues. Ignorance will kill you. If you think your vote doesn’t count, you’re letting people who don’t share your values or who don’t understand the issues make decisions for you. That’s lazy, dangerous, and against the very ideas that founded the United States to begin with.
So get off your ass and get involved in making the policies that shape your life. Seriously. And you can do it in four easy steps.
Register to vote. If you live in California like I do, you can register to vote electronically. Regulations and deadlines vary from state to state, but if you’re not registered, get thine ass to Google and look up regulations for your state. You can also check out Rock The Vote, but you’ll want to keep Google handy for the next step, which is…
Research the candidates and issues. Look at the candidates’ platform. Ensure that they’ll look out for the best interests of the vast majority of the people, regardless of age, race, creed, gender identity, sexual preference, medical condition, income, or percentage of lolcats posted to Facebook. Even if none of the candidates available fit your criteria perfectly, pick the one that is the closest fit. Look at local measures on the ballot and weigh both sides of the argument for their implementation. Make an informed decision. Make a list to take with you to the polls, if you need to.
Go vote in the upcoming election. There’s a lot at stake in any election, from the smallest local election on a law that may never see the light of day once it’s in practice, to the presidential election coming up in a little over a month. Any time someone takes a public office, they’re supposed to be looking out for your best interests. Any time a new law is proposed, it’s supposed to be to improve things for everyone.
If you are eligible to vote in your state, do not let anyone or anything stop you from getting to the polls. Get what you need to vote, whether it’s a voter ID card, a comically-sized fish, a blowjob from a hooker in the alley behind the polling place, a human sacrifice, or whatever. And do it. Get into that booth and fill out that form. Poke at that touch screen. Then make sure your vote goes in the box/registry/whatever that will be officially counted when the polls close. Reward yourself when you’re done.
Then, when the elections are over, keep up with what’s going on with legislators. Contact your local politicians, so they know how you feel about the issues that matter to you. Encourage others to do the same, so that the elected officials have the best picture possible about what their people think.
Yes, there are a lot of problems with the electoral process. Diebold touch-screen voting machines are laughably easy to hack. Hole-punched voting cards and “hanging chads” plagued the 2000 elections. However, the worst problem is low voter turnout. The old phrase goes, “If you don’t vote, you can’t bitch,” and dear sweet baby Jesus fuck is it true.
So please. Vote. I can’t control who you vote for, but I know I will not be voting for Romney.
I’ve been trying to attack this post for the past few weeks, gathering all my thoughts on various events together. The first couple of times I attempted this, I broke down into tears. The amount of people I met that I’d only interacted with before on Google+ or Twitter was overwhelming, and I met even more people along the way that I wish I’d known sooner. I’m going to just ramble about it and hope something coherent comes out.
I’m kicking myself harder than I probably should right now.
In my very first blog post, I promised to update two or three times a week. With recent real-life events and gearing up for GenCon, I haven’t been able to maintain that. On a deep, personal level, this bothers me deeply. When I make a commitment or promise to meet a certain deadline, I treat that deadline or commitment like gospel. I usually do meet those deadlines or commitments. When I can’t, I consider that a hurtful blow to my own integrity. When real life events conspire to prevent me from making a commitment, it drives me up a tree, especially if the turn of events could have been prevented.
If other folks can’t make a commitment due to other things in their lives taking priority, I consider myself relatively understanding. But when I make a commitment to a certain time frame, I hold myself to it strictly, even when the people I made the commitment to say it’s no big deal if I’m not right on time.
However, after looking at all of the things I’ve been up to, and suddenly I feel a lot better about not posting as often as I initially estimated.
Here’s what I’ve been up to: Continue reading
Preface: This article was written for Literary+ and appeared there on July 30th. With any luck, this will become a series of posts on how gaming can improve writing. Considering most tabletop gaming is collaborative storytelling, it only makes sense to apply concepts of gaming to writing when the standard wisdom of writing isn’t quite enough to see you through.
Have you ever read halfway through your manuscript and discovered that the dashing beloved heroine has somehow become a man from a completely different ethnicity or background? While most haven’t experienced such an extreme shift in their characters, sometimes a writer can lose track of smaller details, which can lead to gaps in continuity that break the reader’s suspension of disbelief. To ease this issue, I go to my geek roots: role-playing games.
Yeah, I liked the title of the default WordPress first post. It works.
So I’ve decided to try this whole blogging thing in earnest. I haven’t done anything like this since I had my LiveJournal account back in high school/college. Once Facebook hit, I had somewhere else to put all the short, nifty things I’d seen else-Web, and pretty much abandoned my old LJ. Now that I’m actually trying to write more, blogging seemed like a good way to actually get to that.
I’m going to ramble. A lot. I might not even edit these very closely, either, aside from typos. I’m going to try to update fairly regularly, say, three times a week. I’m also going through some Google Plus and Facebook posts as well to see if there’s anything of worth that would be better suited to a blogging environment.
While I can’t promise deep, thoughtful posts every time, I’ll endeavor to at least be entertaining.