I get the urge to write - which is good, because of my current gig. Deadlines help that, but they're not solely responsible for the need to write; they're a part of a gestalt impulse, combined with a kind of... bubbling up, a simmer coming toa boil, maybe, of research and reading. Ideas that I knew, somehow, connected to each other slowly making their connections tacit where they had been explicit. It sounds like I'm a passive actor, here, but this is only part of the process, understand. This is my brain making connections and turning my work, which looked (and occasionally felt) like drudgery, makework, solipsistic copying and recopying of the same ideas in slightly different permutations which could, in many circumstances, simply be understood as a kind of cognitive degredation - the fuzz around the edges of a copied copied image in purple ink.

If  you're of a certain age, you probably get what I'm getting at.


I have these borrowed books sitting around, that I've read. Having unreturned books languishing in my house bothers me in a specific kind of way - it's not a problem in itself, but it's the irritation of a task almost complete. Hakim Bey's Millennium and T.A.Z - which give every indication of being at least observed by Gibson in the interum between The Bridge trilogy and Blue Ant. Bey himself, aka, Peter L. Wilson, previously of Columbia University, overtly had read Gibson and others... so, a feedback loop. Cohen and Rutsky's Consumption in an Age of Information, Barolovich and Lazarus's Marxism, Modernity and Postcolonial Studies (again), and Grebovich & Merrick's Beyond the Cyborg on the subject of the great Donna Haraway, who I clearly need to read more of... there's no shortage of people to read, ever. The firehose never stops flowing, now.

I read something, then I have to process it - which often comes in the form of re-reading. I rarely take notes the first time, so mentally processing it often looks suspiciously like physically processing. I don't like the mental image of extracting passages from the text, because that doesn't feel like what I'm doing. I read it and re-read it to provide context for it - the passage itself and the subsequent notes are a kind of filling in. You can't really take from a text, though you can say it and mean it colloquially. But, like data piracy, nothing is ever removed. Only something gained - often created in as close to a pure form as our technology allows for at this juncture - thought-forms and magnetic 1's and 0's. 
atolnon: (Default)
( Mar. 5th, 2014 02:58 pm)
Doing any work besides what needs to be done around here is still difficult, but I was checking my notes against my reading of Pattern Recognition and started to compile some writing that demonstrated something I'd suspected but hadn't really gotten around to putting my finger on yet. I was reading an interview from the Paris Review, I think, and Gibson stated that he doesn't really plan his novels out in advance. He's also a guy who gets asked a lot of the same questions, over and over again, and has done a good number of interviews - especially in the last ten or fifteen years. He never really seems to get tired of answering the same questions, but over time, his answers change in subtle ways; I think that because he's asked the same questions so often, he's had a lot of time to think about them. So, when I see an interview with a similar question answered with a similar answer, it's easy to conflate it was a previous interview he's done. Specifically, he ends up talking a lot about the nature of the cyberpunk designation, marketing, the future, dystopian fiction and the nature of dystopia, and the nature of technology and its uses.

What I see in his writing - especially in the Blue Ant novels - is that the stuff he says in the interviews personally is often mirrored in what his characters say. He'll quote characters and characters will occasionally come dangerously close to simply quoting him. While I'm a firm believer in the concept of death of the author, in terms of overt themes, I think the stuff that Gibson says specifically are good indicators of themes in his books, and that those themes are intentional. I mean, intentional in that Gibson is often writing a book about dealing with certain themes where the plot is just an overt mechanism to display those themes at its most realized and almost something of an afterthought in others. 
I realized something today regarding why I feel that a lot of my personal journal entries both for here and on paper are so dull. That is, I sit down and feel like I want to write something and end up feeling like I need to write everything, and I end up with something nebulous that really doesn't convey anything at all. I usually hit some surface thoughts, feel unsatisfied, and usually delete the entry. Sometimes I leave it just so there's something there. That's the process for just about everything I write.

My life is, actually, pretty dull most of the time. I mean, on the surface and at a distance. Close up, it's pocked with lots of grooves and irregularities. Details. Those are what makes it different and interesting. I'm worried about sharing those details with people because I'm concerned that you'll be bored, that you'll find my life uninteresting, but the stuff I'm putting up is already not interesting compared to what I could be posting. There's also the concern of over-sharing. That's clearly a different issue altogether, but as long as I'm on the subject, I'm largely concerned about being mocked or having my experiences disregarded. On the other hand, I'm about as irrelevant to others as I've ever been since maybe ever with some important exceptions, so I'd say that I don't have much to lose on that subject, but in my experience there's always something new.

Man, very mopey! I just mean that this isn't exactly anonymous, here. I can't just mouth off and not expect a certain amount of fallout, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't try to elaborate on stuff in my life because it might not be interesting to everyone.

I've been trying to write more, lately. It's not easy to do. I've never been a great fiction writer, but it's nice to shake the dust off a little. The first thing I wrote in a long time was basically fan fiction porn. Like, that's not my first choice. I did it on a dare, uh, by request. I'm editing it now. I re-read it and I was sitting there shaking my head going, "This is not my best work.", and it's not because it's pretty far out of my writing experience. I didn't feel like I was embarrassed about sex, but I ended up being embarrassed about writing about sex. After I realized that, I thought it was funny. I didn't take it as seriously. I'm editing it because I have a certain amount of pride in creating a finished work, even if nobody is really going to see it but, after a while, I don't know if I'll care. It'll just be like, "Yeah, I wrote this at one point. It was kind of a strange way, at the time, of breaking out of my writing funk but I promised I'd do it so I just wrote it."

I mentioned I was writing some poetry, I think. This is also pretty tough. I used to write a fair amount of mediocre poetry that didn't make it out of notebooks except for classes. I'd write on a prompt and tuck the piece away, and a lot of it just vanished. I didn't intentionally delete it. It's probably out there somewhere. Poetry is short. I suspect that it's short because it's fairly close to music and I suspect that's why the rules for some types of poetry become fairly elaborate; because you're creating a structure for reading something aloud and you're not writing it according to sheet music but you do have iambic pentameter (for example), and that creates its own sound. You can break the rules if you want to. Nobody can stop you, really. I'm going back to a lot of the rules though because I've forgotten a lot of poetry forms I used to know.

I've given myself some unusual challenges to follow, and I've discovered that writing poetry can be really easy, and that's usually not all that meaningful to you, or it can be difficult because you're mining your life for something interesting to write about that's going to make an impact in a very short space. You try to find all these words that create the reaction in others that you experienced in your own life, so you're sitting somewhere reliving the same moment over and over again trying to find the right word, and sometimes trying to fit that experience into a very arbitrary box so your life experience is both moving and appealing. I don't even really know if people still find poetry important to their daily life, but it's a personal excercise. I think it's very possible that nobody will ever read something I've written for fun or that I will never be published, but for me writing is something that I did and I want it to be something that I do. Writing has always been a part of who I am, so at this point I'm trying to dictate which part of me it will be.
I found myself with some spare time, today. Like, not all that much, but some! In any event, instead of doing NaNo like I was supposed to, I went and clarified in print what my 'Exalted Alternate 3rd Edition' would probably look like.  

I'm just going to post the tl;dr version right now, because I remember how huge those other posts got and what I wrote earlier today was two thousand words. 

Martial Arts : 
Not technically Charms. Neither is Sorcery, actually. They're internalized Essence works, sort of proto-Charms, formed by great workings at the beginning of the high first age. Martial Arts are learned by taking Merits, and the Merits form what would look like a Charm Tree if you wrote them out. This version attempts to explain why different Exalts and even mortals get to make use of martial arts abilities. The minimum ability for many of these is going to be Brawl. 

Abilities : 
I want to drop Occult, Thrown, Craft, Linguistics, possibly Integrity, and possibly Awareness. Of course, if I can figure a good way to keep one of those (probably Awareness, but maybe Integrity) then the breakdown for castes and aspects is made easier. Occult gets lumped in with Lore, and turned into a Merit : Occultist as a pre-req for the Merit : Sorcerer or Necromancer. Linguistics is turned into a bevy of Merits, as is Craft. Integrity and Awareness Charms are shunted into other Charm Trees. I'd turn MA into Brawl. So there. 

Crafts : 
Basic crafts are elemental, and many of their Charms are shunted into Lore. Most Craft Charms suck, anyway. I had some good names for some of the advanced ones, though. 
Merit : Magitechnologist, Merit : Genesis Engineer, Merit : Vitriolic, Merit : Fate Spooler, and Merit : Geologist seemed pretty catchy. 
Advanced Merits will often have other Abilities or Merits as a pre-req. Basic Merits will probably have minimum Attributes. Like, Geologist has Craft Earth, Magitechnologist has Craft Air or Fire, and Genesis Engineer might have Lore, Medicine, and Merit: Occultist or Merit: Craft Wood. Vitriolic may not have much of a pre-requisite, but I bet learning it is still real interesting. 

I bet crafting magical materials probably gets a merit, too. Or not! I don't know, yet. 

Attributes : 
I figure we just switch to NWoD and turn Appearance into a Merit. Dropping Appearance from the roster of abilities probably helps the social combat problem. 

Backgrounds : 
Most of these just become Merits. They do the same thing, and otherwise we just have two generally similar setups competing for design space. Resources, Contacts, Striking Looks, the whole shabang. Some of these are likely to become 'dumping ground' Merits for when you're not sure what to do with your Merit points. Artifact, Striking Looks, and Resources are popular. 

If you want to see the comprehensive write-up and larger reasoning for this stuff, just say so and I'll make it available. Brent, you already have access, so don't bother. It's in Google Drive like it usually is. Mind the typos, I did it in WordPad and didn't clean it up. 
atolnon: (Default)
( Nov. 9th, 2012 03:10 pm)
I was tired when I first started counting and writing, and then there was abject stupidity, so my first two days were totally miscounted. Iost election night and the day after due to helping someone move i.e. kicking someone out of my house pretty much (We're on good terms! But they're permanently moving on to a new place.) so I'm only up to 5700 as of 3 PM, November 9th. It's not great! But it's coming along. 

Like I said earlier, though, that's what I'm up to. I can usually get 1k with a little over 30 minutes of writing, so putting a little more time in ought to do the trick, I think. 

I also forgot to log in and log words on the NaNo sight. All that boring shit is probably getting done today.

Also, doing some writing for the game, some additional apps, whatever. And things are looking okay for getting a job soon, but that's not very interesting. I just feel kind of good about it. 
So! I know I'm been a little absent lately again. What a shame! I was doing pretty well, too. Hey, you know how it is, sometimes you've got something you want to say and sometimes you don't, really. We've been keeping busy, especially Kay, but myself as well. Got a few things that might spell some kind of employment, we've had house guests for a prolonged period of time again because we're helping them move to the area and they need kind of a home base in the city. And I'd been doing Can Town St. Louis and prepping for NaNo, which is actually what I'm doing tonight. (I'm on a break.)

Anyone else doing it this year? Got any strategies?

I was observing a conversation (taking place online) the other day between Kay and some other chump on Plurk (which is a little like Twitter + Facebook, I guess) who was asserting that Tolkien and, indeed, most fantasy can't be considered literature because it doesn't meet the right criteria. And that we needed to respect her authority on this matter because she's in college for an English degree and she's spent an entire semester learning about this. 

Be still, my beating heart. 

That's pretty much like me sitting at a bar and having a nice pint of something and overhearing someone announce in no uncertain terms that my parentage is up for debate and that I likely wear last season's women's underwear.* I pretty much spent the rest of that morning pacing back and forth, ranting aloud. The person in question brought up issues of Tolkien not being suitable for the literary canon along with Hunger Games and Harry Potter, and then going over their criteria. 

I looked it up. Said chump deleted the thread, but here they were : 

1) Commentary on society at large or events at the time/in the past 2) Contributes to a literary movement IE. Romanticism, Realism, so on. 3) Significant impact on society at large

Personally, I think the whole thing is bunk. Canon is something that, afaict, allows cultural experts to dictate what someone needs to read in order to be considered cultured, ie, part of the educated mono-culture which has been in decline since it was discovered that subaltern groups can read and write.** Canon's just a tool like any other, really, just like genres are. Canon, the term 'literature', and genres are just things we use to help us talk about writing, and we shouldn't let them control us. I see people frequently forget that, though, and act like these things are divinely received wisdom. Whoops. You've got it backwards, friends. 

Even through those criteria, almost anything that you see written still falls under those criteria though, depending on how you want to interpret it. Hunger Games? Commentary. Contributes to a literary movement? Children's lit? A genre? Dystopian fiction? Too broad. I feel like she should have taken better notes, but this is what she gave us to work with. Significant impact on society at large! That's my favorite. Oh my. To say that Tolkien hasn't had an impact on society at large is laughable. But! Even terribly written work can do that. Don't make that a criteria for literature unless you want to let 50 Shades of Gray and Twilight in, since those are big in the White Person Accepted Media Sphere while other, terrifically written books by subaltern groups that have great impact on the readers and members of their attendant cultures, sub- and counter-cultures are neglected! 

The truth is, though, that words are literature. Anything written to have an effect is literature just like anything created to have an effect on people falls under the larger subheading of art. The terms and distinctions we make serve only to provide ways to meaningfully discuss the larger fields under certain headings. Using the terms like they've been used in the past to break away large parts of work from the collective and call them not worth studying loses us too much and disregards the efforts of too many trying to be heard, in my opinion, to be a moral act. 

* Is black not in anymore? It's difficult to keep up, these days. 
** After the Fact Trigger Warning : Snark.

I actually don't have all that long to type here, since we've got to get to a mechanic for Katie's car and then I gotta help with a food drive at a local convention. I'll have the evening free, but I'll probably forget by then, so I'm just going to post now, instead.

First, the link.

Second, why I'm posting the link.
That's the blog that I was working on a while ago and the resulting posts never materialized. There are good reasons for that, I assure you, but there's no ignoring the fact that I said I was gonna be doing a thing and then never actually got around to it. 

I'm extremely rusty on anything approaching academic writing, so once I had started, I had to go back and keep coming back to it, trying to figure out why what I had written wasn't quite right. Even now, I'm not really sure it's where it needs to be - in my opinion, it's probably reached the point where I'd be comfortable calling it a rough draft, but it's also a post made to Blogger (and, incidentally, Tumblr) and nobody is really going to comment on it, though I imagine I'll get at least a few people who bothered to read it. 

The premise is that genre writing is rarely taken seriously, and I feel that one of the hurdles of cyberpunk as a genre is that it's somewhat pigeonholed as universally dystopian literature, and that reading with that label stuck on it kind of flattens the world and makes critical reading that much more difficult. 

It's obviously not the only thing I'm going to write, either about cyberpunk or on media as a whole, but at least now that's off my desk and I can go on to work on the next thing. 
For a writer to feel guilty about taking the time to write is certain death. Or, it is if you allow it to get to you. That's my problem on a daily basis, no matter what else I'm doing, there's something else I should be doing instead. I don't have a regular job so, qed, I am wasting space. 

Last night, before our Burning Wheel game by Skype, I said that I had recently realized that I have large sections of my day with UNDEFINED stamped on them in big letters, which isn't to say that I don't attempt to put them to use, but I don't have anything I'm required to slot into them. I could, if I were so disposed, take the painstaking effort I've already bent to the service of various WoD gaming and attempt to formulate a pitch.

Today, I got a text message from Katie saying that everyone had been called into a meeting with the staff at the dental office. Little puts the chill of fear into your heart quite like an unscheduled, mass office meeting. This morning, we were looking over our finances and, while things will be fine, this upcoming week things are going to be a little tight. We both know that we can't afford to be a no-income household even for another month. I've been looking for work, but I've been more selective in my searching. It's been invaluable, recently, to have someone who's home all day with us having to handle problems with plumbing, vet appointments, helping our neighbor with her pets, and our bio-hazard of a crawlspace, so Katie hasn't exactly been clamoring for me to find work immediately. Since much of the immediate troubles are over, my UNDEFINED sections of my days have been growing, and my guilt regarding writing as an investment of my time had been lessening.  

The terror of the idea of suddenly being without the income that had just started to become reliable kind of barreled me right the fuck over. Writing this is mostly kind of giving shape to that fear and letting myself try to formulate a game plan and allow me to continue writing. 

For the time being, I'm going to stay focused and finish what I'm currently working on, and then I'm going to pick my next one. 
atolnon: (Default)
( Jun. 4th, 2012 03:43 pm)
I have a stack of notebooks on my desk, one book, several uncounted note cards, and 9 tabs in my browser baring the name of one William Gibson as I look for a very specific quote that I never seem to have added to my every increasing list of notes on the man and the subject of dystopian cyberpunk. 

Having re-read old notes and accidently stumbled upon ever newer things that should have been there in the first place, I took a look at what was currently in progress vis a vis my blog and realized that the post is going to take longer then I thought it probably would. My state of affairs is bordering on the ridiculous, but it's a situation I take seriously, so it needs to be remedied. 

In the mean time, let me assure you that my presence here is not mandatory. I genuinely kind of want to talk to you. I am aware that I am freeloading, but there is also time for this kind of business - especially when this kind of business frames my struggles with an amusing feeling of purpose. 

Did you know I specifically cleaned my desk so that I could mess it up with literature notes? It's true. That is a long way of saying, "Obviously, I am a nerd."

The quote I was looking for was when Gibson said that his writings were not really intended to by dystopian, but what I did find came close. The interview was with Scientific American*, and he was asked, "Your fiction has depicted wide class gulfs in which "lowlifes" co-exist with the rich and feudallike corporations that concentrate mind-boggling amounts of wealth... do you think that this disparity will continue to greater extremes as they develop further, and could they potentially restructure the current social order somehow?"

The printed answer, "I depict those socioeconomic gulfs because they exist and because most of the imagined futures I grew up with tended not to depict them. Migration to cities is now so powerful, so universal, that people will create cities, of sorts, simply through migration—cities that literally consist mainly of the people who inhabit them on a given day." is similar to what I assumed the reason had been, or what I remember saying, I forget which is which. Basically that this wide gulf already exists, and when you write it, it looks like a dystopia. 

What I'm writing doesn't hinge on that, but it's certainly part of it. There are lots of times, because Gibson repeats himself, where he says that most fiction, and especially his fiction, is about when it was written. 1984 is about 1948, The Sprawl trilogy is about the 80's, and The Bridge trilogy is about the 90's - regardless of original intentions. This is all in the writing, by the way, so you'll see it again with proper sourcing. If you want to ask about the relevance of cyberpunk, the thing to remember is that it almost can't help being social commentary no matter what the tropes are. Perhaps especially because of the tropes, but probably not.

I really had to take a break and write on this because my writing of this isn't done yet and I wanted to have something up, at the very least. We're still fucking around trying to get a 'yes' or 'no' out of the insurance company about the crawlspace, and when one's as good as another, it's time to fuck off and just find another way of dealing with it since there's very little chance that it's going to be over the deductible in the first place. I also know that I slipped the whole 'I'm getting married.' in kind of under the radar, like some kind of shitty test to see if you're paying attention. There's so much ridiculous shit going around at the moment that something simultaneously good and fun a year away seems akin to fiction and, even if it's on the level, is probably happening either to or for somebody else. 

Like I said before, I'm not sure on the details, so I guess you're likely to know whenever we do for sure if you're the type of person to whom these details are or become relevant and generally speaking, you know who you are. 

I've gotten some sympathetic comments on my last entry, and I'd like to thank everyone for thinking about me as well as letting you all know that I really am ok. The situation is complicated, but I really think that eventually it's going to open things up for us to a better standard of living. 35k isn't a fortune, but it's more then we were living on before when it was just me who had been able to pull in money, so technically speaking, right at the moment, our prospects are actually brighter then they were before. 

So there's that. 

The other bit is that I've been thinking of writing up a different blog that's more essay-focused on media material. My thinking behind this stems from a few different aspects, not the least of which is that the formatting on Livejournal doesn't really facilitate regular, searchable essays. When I started my journal here for the second time, I already had a different journal that I used and this one, LJ being the unofficial Cam journal-ling hotspot that it is/was, was where I came to jot down whatever stuff I was thinking in a casual way regarding LARPing, WoD, and whichever. I dropped Xanga when my friends stopped posting over there, but that never happened here, so LJ once again became my default online journal. 

I could argue that the journal has facilitated one aspect of what I wanted for quite a while. As a place to talk casually about stuff that's going on in my life and what I'm interested at the moment, it does just fine. For everything else, I'm not as enthusiastic. I mean, sure, it allows text to be posted to it, but I can't say that I don't notice a difference between, say, Eddy Webb's website and when he posts the same stuff to LJ. I'm glad he brings the material here to read, but it's hosted on the main site to begin with, and that makes a difference both in the mindset (to me) when writing and in the reading. It narrows the focus. 

There's a certain amount of hubris in the idea that I can start a blog and anyone anywhere will care about what I have to say there. I've read a lot of excellent work on other peoples blogs even as the blog itself very nearly languished for lack of traffic. I wouldn't be surprised at all if that were to happen to me but blogging, like journalling, is an act of love. I write because I care, and for a long time I assumed that the format wouldn't or shouldn't matter to me. That it should or shouldn't is subjective, but that it does is objective. What I'm hoping is that creating a second space to write (and I'll be copying the text of whatever I write to here as well) will help me improve and increase the volume if my writing.

Anyway, I'm not going anywhere and the amount of posting certainly won't decrease (as if it could reasonably decrease any more then it has), so this really didn't need to be as long as it's become. So very melodramatic. I'll see you when I've finished some of the work and I've got something else to say. I just watched Katie finish Mass Effect 3, so if you want to see fish shot in a barrel, I'm sure you'll have your chance. 
I've not been chatty because I've just moved in proper like, which means the both of us are exceptionally busy making room, doing cleaning, and trying to find how we're going to be in this situation. On top of that, there's the whole NaNo thing. You know what I'm talking about.

The midnight transition from October to November 1st is really the only time when you can really double up on your word count for a day and I hit my 1660 around 1:00 AM with some of the worst fucking prose of my life. Or at least, that's what it seems. It doesn't even have the wit and polish of my typical first draft, but there's nothing to be done about it. Because I'd like to see if I can actually hit the word count and produce a novel - no matter how awful - it stays. I understand immediately, then, why December is the unofficial national editing month.

I'll probably post something about Exalted and role-playing tomorrow. Maybe even today, because I've had gaming on the brain lately. Our Sidereal game is getting close to wrapping up, and my guess is that I'll ramble on about it for a while, delete everything I've written and post something snappy about what I've learned. After a while, I just think, "Man, fuck it. I'm pretty sure I could write a short book on what I've learned not to do at this point. It can be painful to learn your lessons inversely, but I guess that's what they call 'experience'.
I've been almost unreasonably irritated with my journal writing lately. There's nothing quite like sitting down for half an hour, banging out a few pretty well considered paragraphs and then coming back and thinking, "Well, this is all a bit shit, isn't it?" It's just short of enraging. I've lost count of the entries I've tried and failed to produce.

Man, whatever.

I'm actually up to kind of a lot, but I don't really know what to say about it. Video games. Role-playing. There's really nothing new going on here and I don't have an opinion that hasn't been voiced by maybe everyone who's engaged in these activities ever. That's not a lot of incentive.

As I've posted then deleted two things in as many hours, though, I feel like I need to have something up.
"Jesus, man. Think! These fine people deserve content!"

There's got to be something. Of course there is.

I'm what you might call a genre writer. At least I am some of the time. And while my fiction could use a little beefing up, I've spent a lot of time actually researching it. Cyberpunk, I mean. To me, it feels like a dead genre - the nails in the coffin being, perhaps, William Gibson's latest novels. He retains much of the inherent sensibilities and tendencies of his previous novels, but things like VR, cybernetic implants, and first-world war zones seem to have lost their edge. Not for the reasons some would guess though, but because they're basically already here, and they've arrived without much fanfare at all.

Yeah. Well. It kind of seems strange to make a big fuss about it these days. To write a cyberpunk novel now is simply to write a thriller that's up to date on technological trends. Say hello to Gibson's new trilogy.

The problem with cyberpunk isn't that you can't write a story with a combination of near future technology coupled with social commentary, but that the ascetic which is the other half of the story doesn't resonate in the same way anymore. The future is here, and as it always is for those that live it, it's surprisingly banal. We've had a long time to come to terms with our corporate overlords.

I mean, I think you can still write something and call it cyberpunk, but it's a send up to a previous time. I'm open to recanting this opinion. I'm in the middle of researching it.
atolnon: (Default)
( Dec. 8th, 2010 12:50 pm)
I was talking to Vi online at work, and mentioned that I had been discussing.... something or other that I wrote on this blog - Persona or BioShock or something, when she mentioned that she really didn't like my writing style because it was too dry. I know I'm pretty TLDR, and I've got my hits and misses, but I'm not really sure what to make of that. If you've got an opinion or a criticism that immediately comes to mind, would you mind dropping in and telling me what you think? Positive or negative. I write here so I don't get, like, wicked rusty when it comes to putting text on pages, but I'm always trying to improve my readability.

In the last day or so, I've just been kind of pissed off at BioShock. Part of this is my fault, because I've beaten it before and thought, "Oh, well, I'll set it to Hard." So now I'm pretty late in the game, and things have gotten flat out ridiculous. Suddenly there are crowds of enemies that regular ammunition doesn't even seem to hurt. Like, I unload four shotgun shells and 6 pistol bullets on a splicer I've already lit on fire with a top tier magic thingy, and the asshole has the temerity to waste me anyhow.  Sometimes the bastards get me as I'm literally re-spawning.

Now, some people online have commented that there's really no penalty for death because you just come back in one of the Vita-Tubes. Forget that crap. I'm not an expert gamer, I guess, but I've been playing since I'm pretty wee, and I feel like if I can't kill a crazy hobo armed with a pipe wrench with three well-placed grenades and he can wail on me with two swipes and I'd rather take on the signature big-bads, the Big Daddies because they, at least, drop some reasonable rewards off their still-warm metallic corpses*. I feel like this is bullshit. More ranting inevitably to come.

Oh, hey, so some tractor trailer accidenly mowed so poor motorist down on 270, the lifeline that connects Illinois to St. Louis, and while jack-knifing, ended up jumping the concrete divider and actually closed down 4 lanes of highway traffic going both directions and then caught fire. Everyone going west, and probably also east, were redirected down the 2-lane route 3, which was down to one for construction, and probably not designed to handle 8 AM work traffic for the most heavily traveled route in the area. 2 hours late to work, as soon as I got in, I saw the email asking if people wanted to go home because the phone lines were pretty dead.

So tempted. But it does kinda spit in the face of driving for two and a half hours to get to work in the first place.

My initial entry actually mentioned that "sometimes, you wake up and you've got a bad premonition. Like, sometimes the back of your throat is scratchy, your car's frosted worse then a cheap wedding cake, and something's on fire. Well, two out of three, I guess." Make that three out of three. You can blame this one on me, everyone. 

* Typical reward for killing a splicer in the late game - candy bar, 5 dollars, 2 bullets. Cost? 3 first aid kits, 4 shotgun shells, 3 crossbow bolts, and 13 machine gun bullets.
Plenty of stuff to talk about these days. I skip the politics because everything I wrote sounded kind of sanctimonious, but it boils down to not being terribly surprised that the Democrats took a bit of a beating in the 2010. Yada yada political discourse, but really, in 2008, everyone was pissed and angry about the economy. They said that they didn't care how the economy was fixed, as long as it was, but that came with two large, unspoken caveats - 1, people feel that not everything is fixed, so everything is terrible and 2, when people said that they didn't care, what they meant is that they were not paying all that much attention. Because not everything is fixed, the problem is obviously the leftist agenda or something, not the fact that problems take time to fix.

Liberals really wanted to believe that the whole country had seen what we consider to be the errors of their ways, or something. Which, if it was gonna happen, isn't going to occur in these two years. Similarly, the GOP is claiming to be speaking the will of the American people. Seriously, everyone, that's about as true as saying the whole country has turned liberal. Surprisingly, it's not that simple. In fact, it turns out that there's a huge swath of political ideologies out there ranging from outright insane to very reasonable. I know. Weird.

So, that's it. My revised political rant. Tired of the media playing this and everything in the direction that it is being played. Media, baby, please. We are trying to have a civilization here.

Um, I am pretty sure I had something else going on in my life.

I'm gonna do this NaNo thing, and probably going to fail because I have a lot going on at the moment. I will go ahead and give it a shot, though, and if you count the total number of words I blog, maybe I'll come out on top. Does that mean I should blog less and spend that time writing. Maybe. Maybe. Or maybe I'll just frigging compile these entries and say it's a compendium. Victory.

I'm stuck in Persona, right at the last boss. I had kind of bungled the final approach and my groups Personas have weaknesses which the boss exploits pretty reliable (or just Mental Charges and busts out Megidolaon like it's made outta Spell Points). I have a character which summoned Satan himself to boss around like a chump and I am being taken out by the Goddess of Difficult Morning Driving (aka fog, which is probably metaphorical or whatever).

This is somewhat frustrating.

I hate grinding. I feel that time grinding takes away from the pacing of the game, and the final fight against the boss should be a kind of dramatic, fast-paced endeavor slightly different then the attrition-oriented meat-grinder that embodies walking through countless hallways and double-checking enemy weaknesses. However, I am not a proud man. My new plan is to walk around easier areas and just build up a ton of cash and use it to summon and re-summon Personas until I have something approaching ridiculous levels, a ton of mundane items, and something approaching an optimal spell list. If I am above cheating in a game, it is only barely.
My Minecraft client was updated, and on startup I couldn't get it to load so I had to delete the .dll and restart. Because I was far too lazy to save my saved games, I lost them and restarted. On beginning again, I decided I'd play on Iron Man mode, but being blown up by a Creeper 20 minutes in made me reconsider.

I started a second world. That's for Iron Man. Since I get reckless when I get bored and bored when I'm not doing something every second, I expect to delete World 2 pretty constantly. The new World 1 is even more impressive then the last one, but very dangerous. Large outcroppings coat the grass underneath them in shadows deep enough to spawn zombies and skeletons in the middle of the day. It's fun to play in.

Persona 4 is almost wrapped up, but I'm under leveled near the end. The game's got something of a reputation for being a grind fest, and I inevitably abuse the push system to blow through most of the game's dungeons, forcing me to power level for a bit near the end. Checking guides always tells me that I should have been able to easily max out my Social Links with time to spare, so I feel like I missed something kind of obvious, since I've got a lot of loose ends in my stories. Like other Personas, I'll probably vow to come back to it later, and leave it sit for an extra long time. Persona 3, I'm looking at you. To be fair, they are huge games and I've got game's I've never even opened sitting in my to-play roster.  

I want to wrap up Persona 4 and give games a rest for a while. I've been doing some writing I'm really happy with. I say something like that a lot, and never post anything. If I can change that, I will. Most times, I write something and shelve it, then come back to it later, but never think to post it at that point. My last essay didn't get great reviews from readers (it was pretty mediocre), so I'm a little hesitant to share.
atolnon: (Default)
( Aug. 7th, 2010 12:45 pm)
I had been terribly unhappy with my writing, recently, in that not much of what I perceived to be important was getting done and there was a lot of dross mixed in with what I did actually produce. I looked over my body of fiction work and poetry, which is rather sparse at the moment because a lot of it's been lost either intentionally or by chance and thought pretty poorly of the whole scenario.

Someone asked me at a party what I like to do, and I said, "I'm one of those guys that says he's a writer, but produces nothing, really." which got kind of a chuckle, but it's not a remark that's well received by some people when one's attempting to be honest. In that particular crowd, it may have hit far too close to home, but I swear that I do know people who write - occasionally somewhat prolifically, even.

Yesterday, I was saving old journal entries in case servers went down or they're taken down, because I'm a bit of a stickler for saving my work. In the course of those events, I had an opportunity to read what I had written, and actually was a bit pleased with myself. Some of the entries were really very good, and fairly engaging. Suddenly, I realized that my writing had become more precise, more evocative, and more enjoyable as time went on. "Does journalling count as writing?" I asked myself. " I am, after all, writing for an audience, even if it's a small one."

I do produce entries and essays, I suppose. I write games and run them. These are not forms of expression traditionally recognized as a writers trade until, I would expect, one is published. When the writing is between covers, one becomes an author and a journal becomes a memoir. If nothing else, it heartens me as I turn back towards writing fiction. 
atolnon: (Default)
( Feb. 10th, 2010 02:40 pm)
Yesterday went pretty well. I'm trying to narrow my academic focus a bit, and I'm trying to get an appointment with a professor whose classes I really got a lot out of a few years ago. He was also my adviser at the time, so he's probably the best one to talk to. I haven't gotten a response yet, though.
I finally wrote my Abyssal ficlet, which was really short, but I was finally happy with it. It sounds like I'm running my Changeling game for two groups instead of just one, and that's going to be really intense, so I'm nervous about that. The entirety of the second group seems to have accounts and post here, so hey there. When Viski said she'd found people to play, I mentioned that they set a high bar so I guess we'll see how I do.

I've had a lot of discussions about Exalted lately with my roommate and ST. He generally does a good job as ST, but I think my preoccupation with rules frustrates him and I can't convince him of mechanical problems of any book he looks at. There's literally almost no swaying him there. It's a huge frustration for a guy like me, who spends a lot of time with mechanics since Brantai and I spent a long time hashing out mechanical systems with a eye towards theme, balance, and playability. I'm nowhere close to perfect, but if I had to, I could build a resume based on work I've done, and I'm bummed that I get kind of blown off. It's not like I'm making these issues up. It's typically dismissed as just the opinion of people on the internet, so I just have to let it go.

My uncle sent me a manuscript to work on and today is likewise a great day to get into the details of the first Changeling game, so that's in the cards. Thursday is Abyssals (which is a lot of fun, my complaining aside), and Friday I need to be out of the house. I've drafted Viski and another friend to help me keep the time occupied, but that means that tonight is the last day before Saturday I have to get any meaningful work accomplished.

Lately I've purchsed two shirts, and I'm wondering what people think :
www.akumuink.com/product.php is one, it'll take a while to come in. I like the idea of this group, but this is the only shirt I found that wasn't too busy.
www.topatoco.com/merchant.mvc is the other, left over from the days of MacHall. I love the art on some of the merchandise, but you can tell that Ian is an artist first and doesn't really have a lot of experience with clothing design, since a lot of the art is just something kind of cool on a t-shirt. This is still something I've wanted for a while though, and it's the last chance coupled with my dramatically approaching need for new clothing.

I need a look that diverges from just t-shirts and jackets, but it's coming slowly.
atolnon: (Default)
( Nov. 15th, 2009 10:33 pm)
There are two things I've been thinking of lately, and I'm not done with either of them. Both involve a pretty substantial investment of time, but I'm not sure how prepared I really am for discussing them. On the other hand, I want to, so I guess it's gonna happen anyhow.

I've been watching Supernatural lately because I've got the first season on loan. I guess I'm on episode 8? So far, the best episode really has been the pilot and the series hasn't really caught my interest. I thought I would be the target audience for this kind of thing, and so far, I don't feel that's really been the case. Basically, I haven't really found it really frightening. I don't know if I'm supposed to. The jury is still out. Episode 10 is Asylum, and I'm really looking forward to that one. I'll let you know how I feel about it, and when I get a few more episodes in, I'll give a more detailed opinion.

The other thing I want to come back to is Kingdom Hearts 2, if only because when I've brought it up in passing to others, I've found people to be deeply enthusiastic about it, to the point that I feel I've underestimated this games popularity.

When a friend asked my opinion, I was hesitant to give it. I felt compelled to give several qualifiers. I've enjoyed it so far, it feels well-produced and put together, there's nothing wrong with what it does. And what it does is basically to create a stand-in for a youth, Sora, whose story plays like a Mary Sue. He's naive and trusting, he's energetic, and he's fundamentally good natured. When I use the term 'Mary Sue', I mean it in what's basically the most precise way possible: as the protagonist of a video game, he's a stand in for the author (or player), he's loved and invited in to the inner circle of a group of people with a pre-existing narrative, he gets his abilities or power from an external plot device, he rapidly becomes more powerful then established canon characters, and (spoilers) in the first game he 'dies' to facilitate saving another character/s (/spoilers).

So, I know you can argue that both ways, and I'm not condemning the game by any means. I've read fan fiction, and cast no stigma on it. I've got some written up, somewhere around here, but I can't find it at the moment. Basically, it just has that type of narrative. And it's supposed to. It's a cross-genre mash up with an external character inserted into a non-canon narrative. (And becomes its own canon, at this point. But KH Cloud isn't FFVII Cloud, and can't be.) In fact, for a major game project to cleave so close to the tropes found in fan fiction is pretty impressive, which is why this is a game that continues to fascinate me. But I haven't gotten to the ending yet. And I guess next time I want to come back and talk about my writing project and Baroque, but I've got a lot of ground to cover.

I wrote, like, two pages yesterday. That sounds super lame, but it's the most non-journal stuff I've been able to write in quite a while. Maybe it makes more sense now when I say this project is like rehabilitation to me.
I don't know if I've commented on this in the past, but my, um, my... hmm. I forget what it's called. Oh! My attention span is basically shot to hell after so many years of working on phones. I'm basically been conditioned to expect my stimuli to be brought to my attention in a pretty invasive way or else, for the most part, I do things that only require very shallow attention because I expect to be constantly goaded by something. That's a complaint for another time, but it's strongly influenced my writing, which looks like many pages of broken up paragraphs, all tangentially related, but very few of them strung together into a cohesive narrative. I can't seem to relate two thoughts to each other, but I keep writing them down. The story actually is progressing in a direction, but if you took what I've written and plotted it out, it would actually appear to be about three or four narratives at the same time. Some are news articles or commentary on philosophies related to the characters and plot, while others are simply snapshots of what characters are doing.

I'm hoping to patch it together into something cohesive when I'm done. I've written before now, and the natural flow of my writing in the past is totally different from how my mind attempts to patch narratives together now. It's a little frustrating. It's like I'm attempting to glean a deeper understanding by collecting everything found on the surface and trying to use those things to infer as to what lies deeper. Like flotsam of a sunken ship; we can no longer see what sunk it, but we can investigate the wreckage.


atolnon: (Default)


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