Category: Diary

These are entries that just give some account of my day to day life or emotional state.

This Exists: B.O.B.

I said I’d say something about this and I never did, and this sucks and it’s in my head and now I’m going to share it with you. For as there are good things in this world, there are dark and miserable reflections, and with Christian Replacement Media on my mind, let us speak now of some of its worst examples.

In the late 90s there was a ska boom. Ska music got on the radio. There was also the peak era of South Park, as a generation of teenagers tried to convince their parents that they didn’t care about your opinions, dude and they liked edgy, powerful, dangerous media like this thing about children talking to poop.

Two media trends, two chances to capitalise and milk money out of other Christians? Well, of course it was time for the Christian Replacement Media machine to get involved and get involved hard.

“What,” you may be asking, “the fuck was that.”

That, my friend is the evil mirror to Five Iron Frenzy. It is the fundamentalist-enough Christian alternative to South Park’s visual aesthetic branding and opposition point to the radio’s sinful Mighty Mighty Bosstones. It is a musical Waluigi, an entity created entirely in opposition to values rather than expression of values. It is ash. In as much as art can be, it is sin.

By the way, boy, the people on the Mexican border really had a problem that they weren’t getting enough Americans telling them about Jesus. Mexico’s a country with a real problem with Christianity, right? Let’s set aside the Anti-Catholic and patronising probably-Racism of Mission Trip To Mexico and instead examine what I feel is probably their worst song, Homeschool Girl.

Public school is full of drug addicts, boring, and lies to you. But Homeschool girl, well, she’s super great.

Augh I’m listening to it again.

And

just

so

fucking angry.

It literally exhorts how good she is at preparing him stuff! It holds up how smart she is by how many grades she is ahead except because she’s homeschooled that doesn’t mean anything, since the person telling you that isn’t a fucking teacher! This is literally propoganda for a lifestyle that I know’s inflicted tremendous harm on people!

Sometimes you can think about the impact of a piece of art in terms of what it made seem normal, what it impacted, who it really influenced. And I am sadly certain that there are people, right now, homeschooling their kids, who are doing it in part because when they were young teens, they heard this song and it helped to form what they thought of as ‘normal.’

Hmm, let’s see, other countries, homeschooling with some overtones of sexism, what about –

Oh yeah, Abstinence!

Fucking hell this fucking group of fucking dickheads.

Okay okay, not going to talk about the lyrics or message of this media – the pain of having had sex? the fuck, you’re doing it very wrong – but I’m going to talk about how boring this ska music is. It’s very competently arranged, but very poorly mixed, and if you listen to all this stuff in a row you’ll be struck by how all BOB songs more or less sound the same.

All their album is up on Youtube, if you give a shit to go listen to it. I think their least obnoxious track is I Saw Pastor Dancing, which is just intensely cringey.

Oh and if you’re curious: Yes. I owned this album. And I owned it instead of owning All The Hype Money Can Buy.

Bubble-ical Discipline

Did I really choose that title? Is that what we’re going with? Mmh, well, okay.

If you’ve spent any time on the internet delving through the Youtube archives of people telling you about things you’d never heard of that suck, chances are good you’ve run into the ouvre of Christian Replacement media I was raised in. you’ve seen attempts to make Christian musicals, you’ve seen the Christian animations, and you’ve probably even come across the Christian superhero stories. Which suck.

You’ll see this kind of media absolutely everywhere but only once you puncture into the social space of the Christian media sphere. There’s an actual suggestion when you’re inside it that you should buy this stuff and wear the branding because it’s a good way to get people to notice you, it’s a starter of conversations and it makes sure people recognise that you’re Christian, Not Ashamed, in your pursuit of the attention of the heathens, moving about in their space and being a better person than them. That is absolutely not what happens. What happens is you go to a youth camp and see everyone wearing the same general genre of t-shirt showing off Christian bands, Christian branding, Christian media franchises and that’s all. And some of it is pretty lazy – I mean, seriously, Jesus  Reese’s is as far as that idea got.

There’s a lot of this stuff, and I know I’ve spoken in the past about the absolutely awful band Bunch Of Believers – wait, I haven’t? I haven’t subjected you, my readers and friends to that particular flavour of garbage? Well, heck, I’m going to have to work on that. Anyway, the point is, this stuff exists and it’s almost always derivative and it’s extremely weak in its execution. Often anything that calls for a thoughtful interpretation or even something where there’s a clear, useful connection to existing media, it’s not taken. Heck, it’s sometimes missed so widely you can be left wondering if the people in question are trying at all.

Which they’re not.

Know why this stuff is all garbage?

There are two basic reasons that the Christian Replacement Media is low quality. The first is it’s an industry; it wants to churn out things with as little effort as possible to scoop up as much purchasing power as it possibly can from the networked church system of industries, and it wants to do that as cost-effectively as possible. People aren’t buying clever or good, they’re buying in-group markers. The other reason, though, and it’s the reason that makes so many of those tv shows and the like look so bad is because they’re often aiming for an audience that has no idea about quality. They’re not dealing with audiences who have seen and tried a lot of things – they’re dealing with some audiences who have only really experienced the Christian media landscape, people who are dismissing non-Christian media out of hand, and people who are trying to insulate their family – usually children – from the harmful influence of Things That Exist.

These things exist to suck because they literally do not want you to have anything better to compare them to.

Learning to Share

Let me tell you something that’s just the dopest hecking poop.

Today, Fox and I got talking as we had lunch, offhandedly, about Scythe. Specifically, about a random component of Scythe. Then the discussion was about how messy the box might have to be to need that, then suddenly we’re discussing the problems we see with Scythe – not with playing it, but with being cautious about even wanting to design a game like that.

Then suddenly we were chewing on the problem, as we chewed on our sandwiches. One idea – what about units with stacks of tokens on them, attacking them flipped tokens, what if you had to move pieces by hand, what about dice rollers, what about dice rolling work pools? What about –

I came home, I sat down, and took notes and detailed out some ideas and checked the progress and release on some games, and then realised I had four or five really good ideas I could use for games, for other games, for ideas that could be the basis of games in general.

Find someone you can talk to about games. Find a few someones. Find people where you’re not going to be thinking I can’t share this idea with them or they’ll steal it. Let go of that. Find a place to talk about games where you’re not defending your ideas, where you’re not going to have a reddit-style well actually argument. Find a way to share ideas, and you’ll find it fosters and creates and nourishes you and helps you make, and it makes you happy.

Setting Your Own Goals

I’m job searching right now, working on finding some work leading up to the new year. It sucks, trust me. Today – when I wrote this, not when this goes up – I did a bunch of things.

  • I did a preliminary rulebook for Sector 86
  • I contacted a number of businesses about job opportunities (five)
  • I cleaned up the house
  • I brought in the laundry
  • I wrote three articles for the blog (which is why this is so far ahead!)
  • I developd a schedule for posting MTG stuff to my blog
  • I had lunch
  • I walked the dog
  • I gave the dog his worming tablet
  • I made a slow-cooked dinner for Fox
  • I updated my blog’s opening presentation, which is like, a resume element
  • I set up a twitter for a new podcast that’s coming
  • Tried to do more work on my PhD submission

And despite all that, I’m sitting here, at six pm, fizzing quietly, and wondering to myself… have I done enough today?

I’m not feeling great these days. I’m riddled with anxiety and I’m stressed and I’m feeling unproductive. But when I sit down and write out a list of things I did today, it always is that I ‘waste’ a lot of time doing things.

It’s hard.

You have to get into the habit of determining what your goals are. You have to be able to set yourself limits and say today I’m done with this.

Roads Unbent

I grew up – okay, let me start that again.

I lived, from the age of four to the age of fourteen, in a suburb of New South Wales called Engadine. Engadine is where I learned how money works, how to read, what a library was, how to talk to a doctor, about family restaurants and VHS tapes and watched the Beta cases slowly disappear off the shelves. It’s the place I walked with my mother as she went to a business to pick up an actual physical paycheque and hand it into an actual physical bank. It’s the place I tried a paper route.

To say I ‘grew up’ there is a misnomer, though. Because in Engadine, I was in an environment that deliberately sought to stifle what I learned of the world, watching a small number of years left in the world tick down. But Engadine is still a big part of my life, and time to time, we pass through it on the way to Sydney, from where I live now.

Engadine has a KFC and a McDonalds on the highway, meaning that on a long con drive out of Sydney, it’s a place to refuel and restock, and also, crucially, a place where you’re not going to get caught up in a brutal Sydney snarl of traffic if you stop for a while and sit down.

Dad used to say Engadine had a lot of flat ground – it was just all vertical. The terrain of Engadine is all hills, homes perching on uneven backyards, with the biggest flat areas being the football pitch, the mall, and the public pools, which sat across from the school I went to. We would cross the road and do sport on the big field, or in the public facilities to play hockey.

I really do love the public works part of Engadine, in hindsight. There were so many things that were available to me that I didn’t know, or didn’t appreciate. There was a walkway to the Train Station that went under the road, so as a child, I could safely make my way to the station without having to go up a huge number of stairs or some other way cross six lanes of highway.

When we revisit Engadine, though, the thing that blows my mind is how little it changes. Storefronts have changed – different businesses have come and gone and I’m sure nobody there remembers me, nobody remembers what I did or who I was, some nondescript little church kid with a bowl haircut reading Pratchett novels in the foyer. But the shape of Engadine is the same.

I think a lot of this is because of the roads. Engadine’s roads are all… pretty much the same? The big Woolworths is probably a Coles now, the NeoLife offices aren’t there any more (because the bastard who ran them is dead), but the businesses and the people have to follow the shape of the roads, the roads that are laid out on the land as best they can be.

I remember when I lived there I was genuinely confused as to how there were any other places in the world. How would you get there? The first time dad drove us out onto the highway and I saw that that little road I thought went nowhere in fact went everywhere, it blew my tiny mind.

But Engadine is still Engadine. It is older and it is different and it is dressed differently, but it is still a place named for the people who we took it from, wearing on its roads the scars of a culture that should never forget what we did.


This blog post and subject was suggested, as above, by @Garlicbug on Twitter. If you’d like to suggest stuff you’d like to see me write about, please, do contact me!

Belies

I’m fascinated by lies.

I’m fascinated by the lies we tell ourselves, and I’m fascinated by the lies we tell one another. I’m fascinated by the stories we tell one another which we know aren’t true, but we admit that up front and what we say is a shared lie. I’m fascinated by the lies we tell ourselves in huge swathes that only some of us believe. I’m fascinated by lies with data and lies without data. And I’m even more fascinated by the tools and systems we have that enable us to affirm truth in this billowing spectrum of nonsense and fluff.

I don’t hold it against the liars. I’m one of them. I lie to myself (I can handle this, that won’t be so bad, I don’t care that she thinks that about me). I lie to you (I am certain that the Tiberan empire does not exist) and I even lie to my mother (I’m fine!)!

Rough Days Happen

Yesterday was rough.

Yesterday, we did Day 1 of 2 at LFG. At that event, I did some win-and-plays of my games; I spoke to a lot of people; I crewed a booth, I worked hard, and then, at the end of it all, we checked our newly made sales sheet and found we’d sold… one unit.

It was a real demoraliser – I’d spoken throughout the day with people about funding and advancing my projects and getting into the next step of game development and becoming a professional or a consultant. Overwhelmingly, money and the future were on my mind. It was as if at times the sign of my coming doom that, yeah, one sale.

All day.

It hurt. I came home in a funk and had a hard time sleeping.

Then, today, we got up, we went in, we rolled with it, and we sold a lot more. We made up for it, and we came out ahead and we made contacts and hopefully, we’ll be able to move on. We made table costs, we made a little more, and we came out of it with tools and opportunities and, I hope, fans.

I understand it’s a little embarassing or shameful to talk about your sales or your successes or your failures. I’m not sure why; it seems that that works best to ensure nobody has a good idea of if they’re doing well or not. More than that though I think it’s important I share with you, if you’re reading this, that I have bad days. Sometimes I’m up to two anxious.

Sometimes, I feel, it’s very important to share a simple truth: There are rough days. And even they don’t get less rough because the next day is Good Enough.

Avoiding A

The a key on my keyboard is a little bit hinkey right now. It depresses fine for a few minutes or so, then it starts to sit, sunk down and lower in its space. What this means, what this does, is small. It’s almost imperceptable.

But it, holy fuck, it’s annoying. It’s annoying because I’m so used to the experience of typing on this keyboard that that single thing being wrong, that tiny little error, a glitch of the brain, a missing step that I somehow don’t fall over, just itches at the edge of my consciousness.

It’s so irritating.

Deadpool Reaction: Frozen Cokes

Yesterday I watched Deadpool, which is to say, I went to a movie theatre, which surprised me as much as anyone else. It was a decent, fun movie, and I think I may have some more thoughts on pulling it apart, but you know what really stood out to me?

The movie theatre wanted to charge 740% of the bloody price of a frozen coke down at McDonalds!