Category: Diary

Don’t expect too many of these. These entries are where I am both trying to document my emotional and mental state in a way that’s useful or meaningful to others. It’s not enough to record what I’m at, I’m trying to record them in ways that’s worth sharing, to make clear the struggles that can come as a part of the work of creative endeavours and research. It matters to me that you can identify me as a person, not just as a dispenser of advice – and that means occasionally, sharing about how I’m doing.

Bujo Module – Year Task Spread

Wow, yesterday was a bit much wasn’t it? Let’s wind it down a touch. Here, let me show you my Bullet Journal.

Hey!

That’s not weird!

Hey, I still use my Bullet Journal to track things. Fox got me a lovely new Bujo for Christmas last year, and I’ve been using the dot-grid system very aggressively to do things it’s harder to do on lined paper.

One module that I’ve seen and wanted to try out was a year long planner. If you had something you want to do every day or every week, or a tracker for a long-term pattern, then this is a great system for it.

The funny thing about Bullet Journal modules like this is I tend to just need to look at them and then they kind of explain what they’re for. This one’s for managing this blog, and since this picture has work done up until April, you might guess this was – well, recently. But it’s not, this was done in the first half of March.

If you want a closer look, click on it, it should open up in a new browser window for ya.

Broken Fridge Light

The light in our fridge doesn’t work.

It hasn’t worked, literally ever. Our fridge was second hand, and it is great, and I am so glad to have it. It has a good energy rating. It has been a reliable, workable, completely great fridge. And it has never, not ever, had a working light.

Tonight, I got up, as I could not sleep, and I wandered out to the kitchen to have a drink of milk.

I opened the fridge, and looked inside, squinting, thinking, oh. the light’s broken.

I have this thought about once a month.

I am so used to the idea that fridges have lights in them despite having had a fridge without a light for over FIVE YEARS, I am still somehow completely expecting the light to work when I open the door. Human brains are weird.

Why Does Christian Media Suck Ass?

One of the most dangerous things to fundamentalism is a desire to be good.

This post was in part spurred by relistening to the absolutely dreadful Camp Kookawacka Woods by Patch the Pirate, a subject so dreadful I feel a bit like I should do a rewatch podcast just so I can impress upon people just how utterly yikesy the whole franchise is at its core. Listening to it, though, with Fox, I had to let her know that some of the songs (that were performed pretty well) were hymns, and some of the songs were based on old campfire songs, and some of the songs were rip-offs of pop songs, and how the whole thing was just so cheap and hacky.

This is a pattern.

If you’ve ever gone looking for what I call Christian Replacement Media, you might have noticed that it’s kind of bad? Not necessarily remarkably bad, no glorious-trainwreck The Room style hubristic excess, it’s just that the best of these movies tends to crest a Pretty Alright level. Probably the best Christian Media Escapee band is Five Iron Frenzy, which is to say that the entire right-wing music machine was able to produce a single good ska band of leftists, which considering the number of times they’re rolling that dice is not a great average. The movies, the branding, the graphic design, almost everything you see in the Christian Replacement Sphere is a slightly shit version of whatever it’s replicating.

Oh, they’re often expensive. Yet even the things that are expensive in this space tend to be gaudy, or overpaid for. When it comes to art and media these stories are almost always just slightly inferior, confusingly weak versions of things that aren’t actually that hard to get right. There are bestselling Christian authors whose work crests the quality of maybe a decent fanfiction.

This is weird though! It’s not like being in the Christian cultural space asks you to be bad. Assuming a random selection of the Christian media space is an equally random selection of the culture of the world, you have to assume that a certain percentage of them are just going to pick up decent artists.

What gives?

I have a theory.

No, wait, I have a hypothesis.

The hypothesis is built out of my experience, and the experience of a few ex-fundie friends. We’ve talked about it, about the things that pulled us away from the faith, and how those things that pulled us off the path were not the fun, excellent temptations we were warned against, but inevitably, a drive to be good at something. I didn’t learn my eschatology and biblical foundational theory because I wanted to prove it wrong. I learned it, because I wanted to be able to prove it right. Nonbelievers would come at me with arguments, I was told, and so I wanted to understand those arguments so I could show how they were wrong. One of my friends wanted to do excellent work rendering graphics for their church, and so they wanted to study how graphics worked and how to convince people with the icon rendered in front of them. Another was driven by a desire to Make Computers Work.

None of us set out to fall.

The basic idea is this: To be good at something requires context and practice. Gaining either of these things inevitably exposes you to the ways in which fundamentalist church spaces fail.

It’s not that church seeks out awful artists. It’s that the modern American church is a sorting algorithm that wants to throw out the good artists in the name of keeping the people who are content to be average at things. Oh, they may want the numinous and the excellent, but if you ask a preacher to choose between a ‘faithful’ artist vs a ‘troubled’ one, they’re going to plomp for the pious one every time.

Plus, the faithful don’t tend to charge what they’re worth.

Smoochin’ Algorithm Blues

This isn’t the kind of thing I wanted to do for Smooch Month, but I figure it’d be just a kind of lie if I wasn’t willing to admit it. Finding stuff to Story Pile for Smooch Month has been really hard.

Normally when I approach a topic it’s easy enough to start because I want to talk about things I find interesting. That means I have things already in mind for interest. If I wanted to talk about overrated RPGs, for example, I’d think ‘are there any games I think are bad but are critically acclaimed, oh, TWEWY, FFT and Undertale and that’s most of a month’s content done right there, no problem.’ When it comes to Smooch month though, I explicitly wanted to get out of my comfort zone.

Part of why is because I don’t watch a lot of smoochy media, because it mostly makes me unhappy, or reminds me of being unhappy. There was a time in my life, I, no joke, seriously sat on the verge of tears because of an anime opening theme subtitle, and the series it was from was DearS, which, if you don’t know it, good. It’s bad. Don’t watch it. It’s real real bad. Avoid it. Anyway, the point is, the times in my life when ‘romantic’ media hit me the hardest were some supremely messed up times, and that meant I responded to some dreadful garbage, movies that today I think of as actively bad, things that spoke to a person I’m not any more, and am supremely grateful that I’m not.

That meant that I’m both starting pretty fresh and, since ‘boy grouses about genre he doesn’t like’ is supremely dull, I wanted to take the chance to watch some Smooch Media that I could both talk about and maybe connect people to their new favourite thing but also broaden my tastes and horizons.

First I asked friends. I got some good suggestions, but not things I could use – Australian Netflix and Stan, after all. I wanted to avoid anything that needed shipping to make it good – so the Tangled series was right out, even though I like it a lot. I wanted to avoid movies that treated their audience like they were stupid, which meant a lot of rom-coms I knew were gone (Sarah Michelle Gellar has starred in some bunk). I also didn’t want to just watch action movies that had a romance in them, because it felt like cheating. No. This was about Smooch Media! That’s when I started looking at lists online, google searching ‘good romantic movies,’ and, well, that’s when I ran into the maw of the algorithm.

Did you know Kristen Stewart’s done a Tragic Lesbians Movie About Theatre? I did. It’s called Clouds of Sils Maria. Not going to talk about it here, it’s depressing as hell and is really more about the transient nature of fame and the disposable vision of women. How about Snow White And the Huntsman? Well, that’s an action film, and it’s really bad too, which is maddening because how hard can it be to make Snow White not garbage? Also didn’t write about Blue is the Warmest Colour because it’s really steamy and gay and that makes me really uncomfortable and exploitative. I read all of My Dragon Girlfriend, too which is also super steamy and gay, and that made me feel even more intrusive because it wasn’t a multimillion dollar international production. Mixed in amongst all these movies and series, though, there were all these things that the Algorithm thought I’d like, things like thrillers and horror movies and suspense movies which were all masquerading as Smooch movies, with the general message of Maybe Don’t.

This subject has been really hard to cover! And part of that is that when you ask the internet about ‘romantic media’ you get ten thousand answers that aren’t very helpful.

To Own With Your Eyes

One of the things patriarchy teaches men is that they own, in a way, what they look at. It also teaches non-men that that they are, in part, owned by being looked at.

Simple little lesson. Simple little idea. Advertising to men often just shows them things and the natural intuition is that they’re entitled to it. Women are shown things with an explanation for what’s wrong with them and why they need to get them.

This idea is part of why there’s not really a structural comparison between the male gaze and female gaze. The thing is, The Male Gaze is the default structure, an observable trend that comes about not because a bunch of dudes looked at a textbook for Male Gaziness, but because men, given control and means to, did things, and afterwards, people observing that work were able to find a really clear, consistant pattern.

It was a byproduct of giving guiding control of a medium to mostly a single gender for generations. And it grew in part out of that same starting mindset: The idea that you were entitled to the things you looked at.

In the Bible there’s this passage:

27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

This passage has been used heavily to talk about the dangers of lust as an action. It’s one of the times the Bible weighs in about whether sins are things you do to people or objects, or if they can happen in your mind. Which, well, the Bible is pretty clear, yes, they can. If you think it, you did it, and adultery isn’t just about bodies and grinding, it’s also about the mere capacity to want it.

Which makes a kind of sense, if looking at something is an action of power.

It makes sense if you own the things you look at.

Cancon 2019 – Aftermath!

Okay, that’s CanCon over!

The short story is we went to Cancon this weekend, and there, we sold games and bookmarks and postcards and other neat things and we stayed in a nice dorm with our friend, and we all had a Pretty Good Weekend and came home. We ate some pizza, we played some games, we talked to people and we had a bunch of fun. Then we came home.

Continue reading

The Origin of ‘Talen Lee’

Okay so here’s the sequence of events. This is a story I shared on my CuriousCat a while back, but that site is kind of a pain in the butt to search through if you’re not directly checking. Consider this more archiving.

When I got onto the internet, I bounced around trying to find places to be, mostly Christian Network places and Christian IRC channels and Local Christian websites (augh). Eventually, I found through newsgroups, the alt.fan.eddings group dedicated to the fantasy novels of David Eddings. I had read some David Eddings because a friend in church had already vetted it and thought I might like it.

Anyway, in the Eddings fangroup, almost everyone, except gilmae, had handles based on the characters from the books, and when I arrived and hung out there, I didn’t have ‘a name’ yet. Also, this was back when you didn’t release your real name or real information on the internet, a thing I was … stunningly responsible about, now I think about it? Wow, hang on that’s weird. Anyway, point is, to fit in, the group discussed, in newsgroup posts, what my handle should be.

All they knew about me was that I was fourteen, and they… weren’t, and the only Eddings character who existed who was both male and young was ‘Talen,’ a thief who in the first books was like, ten, and in the second was fourteen. He was also often referred to as ‘Boy’ and they liked that. Anyway, so that’s where Talen came from, and it wasn’t usually taken anywhere on the internet, so I used it as I went around.

Eventually I hit on places where it was taken, particularly the Wizards of the Coast forums, where I needed something to add to the name to make it usable, but also where I really, really didn’t want to be that dickhole with numbers after his name, or something that would date it immediately like MewTwoCrusher (sorry MewTwoCrusher, I didn’t realise how long-term important Pokemon would be), and I wound up smacking on the surname ‘Mist.’ I’d like to say there was some story behind that but I really think it was just… kinda cool. I want to say this relates to a period in an #animorphs channel on the Chee Database, but I’m not sure and it may relate to a grand project to re-fanfic the entirety of Final Fantasy 6 (yes really).

Anyway, fasterforward to another forum, another shakeup, and I’ve been dating this stack of hairy trolls named Fox Lee for about two years, and this time, rather than ‘Talen Mist’ I used ‘Talen Lee’ instead. She’d recently asked me to marry her (we wouldn’t for another few years), and I thought it was, because it was something that mattered to me, worth making into part of my identity, because… I’m a huge dork and I didn’t expect to ever break up with Fox, which okay, turns out to have been a safe bet.

Anyway, at that point I had ‘Talen Lee’ and it is mostly never taken anywhere. But even more interesting is that it flies under ‘real name detector’ because it’s just real enough. It is an Asian name, which I am occasionally selfconscious about?

So there you go. That’s your lot. My name is shaped by my past, in a way the name I was given never was.

Preferences As Weakness

If someone is using your preferences to attack you, then they’re just being an asshole. If they’re using media you like as a way to belittle and hurt people in general, they’re being an asshole. If they’re pursuing you to make you answer for something you like, they’re being an asshole. Continue reading

Failing (Early, Often, Paradoxically)

I normally sit down to write something for this blog after I’ve gotten my day’s PhD work done. Today, that work was almost entirely smothered under work for marking, because marking is important, and when I do try and write without some burning need already in place, I tend to survey three things:

  • My incoming directory
  • My twitter feed
  • My bullet journal

Today, all three of those things are blank, because my day has gone away in a cloud of trying to mark a lot of students’ work in a timely, respectful fashion while still organising all the normal operations of the day like feeding and walking the dog. It’s been a rough one, and that means I haven’t actually done one of the things I’m finding I enjoy, and that’s readings.

One of the books I just finished reading is Jesper Juul’s the Art of Failure, which I’m sure I’ve mentioned elsewhere in the blog by this time. It’s a really neat book, pretty short and breezy and doesn’t require a lot of specialised knowledge. Juul is pretty good at that. You could probably knock it over in an afternoon if you weren’t taking notes on everything.

In it, Juul talks about the paradox of games. He suggests that games are things we fail at, usually, and we don’t seek out failure, but we do seek out games, despite the fact we’ll fail at them. By contrast, the students I’m dealing with are examining the design side of things with the principle of fail early, fail often.

I see the word ‘fail’ a lot.

Juul’s position is interesting, as I sit up late and muse on it, because it presents a very binary view not just of human experience, but of human consciousness. That is, that humans are a single perspective agent, which has singular motivations and good, clean judgment. Some parts of us don’t believe we’ll fail. Some parts of us want to fail, to get falsifiable information. Some parts of us want to fail because we’re curious. Some parts of us are constantly redefining failure as we play.

This isn’t really addressing Juul. It’s more musing on what the book doesn’t do.

And not doing something is not the same thing as failing.

Just like how today, I didn’t read any books for my PhD. That doesn’t mean I failed my PhD today. I hope.

Setting Limits

You know how these things are kind of strands out of time? Because I write so far in advance, nothing I write is actually timely to my personal experience.

Anyway, I’ve been sick for the past three days. Three days ago, I was so sick I did nothing really all day. At night, I put out a draft, did a bit of a glance over of some of my research material. The next day as I recovered, I tried to do a bunch of contributions to my students’ work, and that was all I had in me. The next day, the Friday, I had to go do a presentation to a group of students, which I did, as best I could, and now I’m writing that now, which is now a month ago.

I didn’t get any other work done, not really. I didn’t do anything fascinating or clever. I didn’t hit my normal goal of 2 drafts or schedules a day. I didn’t record or edit podcasts or video, didn’t really generate anything on my current projects, like the Clout box, I didn’t work on my little ship game or the Pipesman conspiracy and I feel

so bad about that.

And right now as I write this, I am bundling up those feelings and just trying to throw them away. Because it’s okay to not be able to create. It’s okay to have times when the urge isn’t there, because you’re in too much pain, or your head is full of goop. It’s okay.

And I need to be okay with that.


I wrote this a few months ago. The day it goes up, today, I am recovering from another cold.

Damnit, this isn’t supposed to be timely.

Dream Journal: Tent Revival

I had a weird nightmare last night –

I say last night, based entirely on when I’m writing this. You know I load this blog ahead of time so it’s no secret that I’m not writing this literally right now. I actually really like the distance it gives me when I write about something emotionally entangling. With the knowledge I’ve written about it, I can talk about it dispassionately, but nobody I know is going to react to this text now when I’m raw about it, and nobody’s going to read my blog like tea-leaves trying to work out my mood or whether or not I’m okay.

Anyway, it was a really weird nightmare because all I can really remember is the end. I was at a revival church meeting with my parents. Big white tents, sunny day, and like, there were tubs of soda drinks, and bags of chips and lots of things that normally make me happy – indulgent things, the kind of free food nobody checks up on you about or tut-tuts about you having too much.

Then the organ started to play and everyone filed to sit down… and I realised I didn’t have any paper or pen.

And that was… strange. It was deeply strange to wake up, with the lurching feeling of horror from that. Every time I went to church I took notepaper along, ostensibly to ‘take notes’ but realistically speaking it was to draw things, write things, or just play in paper space while I listened. Really, the main discipline of church was being taught how to sit quietly and not cause a fuss – you don’t actually learn much. Sermons are often really basic, really bad demonstrations of ideas or points, they’re much more about setting a tone and a style, and part of that means they have to be boring because if they were fun or exciting or interesting or easy it’s not ‘serious’ enough.

To be caught without paper and pen means staring down this boring demonstration of information by someone who is interpreting a book and if you’ve read the book as well you know what they’re leaving out. It means you’re going to be bored and angry and you will be so for eleven billion hours.

 

Comic-Gong Wrapup

Today, I was bustling my hump at Comic-Gong. This is a local fandom convention, and the first year that Fox and I felt, with our finances as they are, that we could get a pair of tables.

The day starts at nine and ends at four. It really starts at seven, and really, really, starts at midnight the night before when you have to start making cuts of what you get made. And then you get three hours of sleep because you push yourself all night to try and get things made.

It’s a rough night. It’s a rough night because when you’re the smallest of producers, when you’re not a proper business yet, and your entire stockpile is just a set of small card boxes, you’re left with this weird paranoia for everything. Should I stock this? what if it doesn’t move and I wasted the space? Should I not stock that? What if someone comes by and there’s exactly one person who really wants it? What if someone was holding out for this one thing?

Still!

There’s a chance that you were one of the people I spoke to today. In which case: Hi! I’m super glad you’ve taken some time checking this out. I make games, I talk about games, and I believe in your ability to make games.

I hope you enjoy what you find here!

You can check out the pages for our games at the main Invincible Ink website!

Talen’s Birthday!

It’s my birthday today! This doesn’t mean much.

I worry about my age, a lot. I keep seeing people my age doing more and being more successful, because they started earlier, or they had better support growing up, and I know those years I lost to restarting my life were more deleritous than I want to think about.

I do however, think right now, in my life, I’m doing a lot of things I want to do for my sake. I’m enjoying what I do, and I’m doing it for people who value me. I am able to put up boundaries between myself and people I dislike and do not trust, and I am able to build those connections with people who matter to me. I have seen my sister more now in this past four months, I feel, than I had in the previous four years. I have spoken to my parents, I have confronted my emotional problems, and I am doing what I can to take care of myself.

This time last year I did a rundown of every game I’d made on my birthday. This year, this would be a woefully unwieldy list. Maybe the urge will seize me as this day grows nearer. Maybe I’ll get a bright idea. Or maybe I’ll just keep on going and enjoy myself as best I can with this day where I will be going to a classroom, talking to students, hearing them talk about games, caring about games, and watching them learn and uncover ideas of how humans interact with things, what they engage with, what matters to them, and how they can show me that through games.

That’s pretty cool.

Sodom Me, So Do You

The story of the city of Sodom is barely worth recapping, but in case you’ve never heard it, basically there was this place that God didn’t like that was basically named Doomedsville, and the only good people who lived there were shown in one incident how they were too good to live there, before God told them the town was hecked and they left. I’m glossing over some plot points, but it’s honestly not important, because what’s really remarkable about this story is what it’s about.

See, right now, if you ask people, it’s about the sexual immorality of the city, the way that the people of Sodom used to stick their hoo-hahs into butt-holes and that’s why it was a sign of what a problem things could be. That’s why God hates gay marriage.

Except those people, these days, are also opposed by people, equally certain of their familiarity with the religious texts of the now, who want to assert to you that, in fact, the sin of Sodom was their failure to show the messengers proper comfort: That the story of Sodom was a place that failed to respect people enough, and right, and therefore, God loves gay marriage.

This is not, in any way new.

Back during the 1930s, the city of Sodom was a story about a failure of the people to care for their travellers and interlopers, brought up as an example of people who weren’t in the proper spirit of Christian Charity. In the 1940s and 1920s, Sodom and Gomorrah were known to be about the vile practice of race-mixing. In the 1890s, Kelogg was certain that Sodom and Gomorrah were a story about the foulness of indulgent humanity who ate fancy food.

Now this is no secret to anyone familiar with Christian movements: Everything in the story is just a justification for today’s latest problem, and nobody wants to read any further than the destruction of the city for their metaphor.

The Fear of the White Slave

The stories we tell, and how we tell them, shape our worldview. This isn’t ‘media programs you,’ not a satanic panic fear-of-the-demons-in-your-media, but something slower, more grinding, more insidious. There’s an acretion of the world around you as you pass over it, little bits of the everyday. Making everyone’s clothes show ads, we thought, would be about making sure you were always showing off the #brand. Turns out that it mostly just meant people saw ads on clothes as normal and not worth noticing any more.

It’s hard to turn that kind of ubiquity into money in a pragmatic one-on-one sense. It’s difficult to monetise a brand if the main job monetising it is to be everywhere all at once, you need a certain scale for that to have an impact. You need to be Pepsi, for example. What you can do with it, though, is reinforce an idea of what’s normal, and thousands of sources doing it all the time can do a lot to shape that idea of normal.

It’s Marketing Whiteness.

CW, gunna talk about slavery and fundamentalism and whiteness and dismiss the historicity of the Bible, which just gets some people up in a dander.

Continue reading

An Open Letter To The Mother Of That Screaming Kid On The Bus:

I had to try to remember to write this. I even noticed when I’d forgotten about the whole thing. I got off the bus, noticed the lights, ran to it, crossed the street and headed into the food court, where I thought, hang on, what was I thinking about? It took me a moment of concentration. Then out into the produce aisle at Aldi, I thought more about it and tried to remember what I was planning to write about – then remembered it. I had to work at it, I had to try.

I don’t remember what it was they chucked. I don’t remember your shirt, but I remember it had something written on it. I don’t remember if you had glasses or not. I’m writing this after trying to commit this moment to memory to write this piece. It’s going to go into a scheduler and it’ll get put up in maybe a week, maybe a month, depending on if anything bumps it, whatever. By the time this goes up, I will not remember you or your kid or the baby or any of it. It is a comforting amnesia, a thing that our brains do, pushing unpleasant things out of the way where we don’t need to deal with them.

I need to you to understand that: Because I need you to understand how I looked.

I know I looked uncomfortable. I know the screaming kid made me uncomfortable. I know that’s how I react to that sound. Your kid was screaming, and I mean screaming, I think, or maybe it wasn’t that bad, it’s hard to remember now, but the thing is, there was a screaming baby. Or small kid. Jeeze, this is hard to remember.

I know that sound makes me deeply uncomfortable. Me, I have a bad reaction to that screaming, and I know my problem solving for that tends towards aggression – I tend to shout at little kids or get mad at them when they behave badly, and I know there’s a part of my brain that thinks ‘hitting a kid will shut them up,’ and I don’t like struggling with that feeling. It’s just this little subroutine going on in my brain, over and over. Either way, I know I didn’t look happy. I know you and I made eye contact – that I sure remember.

And I remember feeling guilty, because I knew, in that moment, you almost certainly thought I was thinking you’re a bad parent, because that’s what I know people think and say and mutter to one another about people with screaming kids.

I just wanted to say : It was a fraction of my day. It was barely a moment. It didn’t matter. And I hate that I know this minor incident, this nothing event led to a person like you, doing a hard job and trying to decipher the behaviour of a small and loud bundle of person, thinking a person like me – multiple people like me – were mad at you. I don’t know about anyone else, but I knew in that moment that I was going to forget about this. That it was okay. That the screaming of a child wasn’t going to impose on my life for a long time, just annoy me for a minute.

I get it.

I wish it was easier on everyone, but it’s hard on me for a small amount of time.

2018 Going Forward!

Let’s mark out some clear, distinct, achievable goals.

  • One completed game design a month.
  • One t-shirt design a month.
  • Daily blog posts, with weekly entries for:
    • a Magic The Gathering article
    • a Game Pile article
    • a Story Pile article
  • A video a month

That seems doable to me. What makes this complicated, though is that I’m also going to be doing a PhD. So… that might transform my workload. We’ll have to see.

So why do I bring this up? Well, first, laying it out like this is a good way to make sure I have a plan. I’ve found making something of what I do accountable is important. The other thing is, I’m going to spend January looking into launching a Patreon, which will be about:

  • work-in-progress stuff on game designs
  • group sales of games where if I can get 20~ people interested, I’ll send out bulk copies of games without postage
  • voting and contributions directly on future game content
  • raising money to hire artists!

There. That’s it. Stated. A plan.

I can’t necessarily weasel out of this easily. Weasily? We’ll see.

The 2017 Self-Examination Roundup

Here’s a one-part diary, one-part itinerary, one-part aspirational documentation of what I did this past year as best I can explain it and we’ll see how well we go as we go with it. This wrapup is at least in part to look at what I did, but also to try and get a handle on my own feeling of yawning lack of accomplishment. If you didn’t do a lot this year and you get overwhelmed by lists, please don’t read this because it might make you upset. On the other hand if you want a wrapup of the kind of things I do and try to do… well, hey, checkit out.

Continue reading

Decemberween: Sav Ferguson

Yes, Christmas is passed, but that doesn’t mean we’re done with Decemberween. C’mon. Decemberween is a spirit, Decemberween lasts all the way to July.

Also, one thing this exercise has shown me is how few people I like and respect keep good online portfolios or presences. How many of us treat our twitter page like it’s our dang home page? That’s weird. Anyway, SAV FERGUSON!

Sav is a game developer, writer, radio presenter, and – albeit I believe amateurly – philosopher, who I met I think three times before finally, at GaymerX AUS 2017, we finally had a moment where I could finally remember who the hell I was talking to, because my memory is garbage.

A few weeks later, a Event in Games happened, and it hit close to my knuckles – and I angrily spat about how the people talking about it had no idea about the experience, because it was something I lived, and nobody I knew was talking about it from that perspective…

And Sav popped up and said ‘yeah, I know what I’m talking about.’

And then we talked about it and dissected the discourse going on around us.

Now I want you to understand how hard that particular exchange is for guys. Because I had just effectively challenged him – heck to you, you don’t know what you’re talking about – and he very legitimately shot back, saying that actually yes I hecking do. We could have just clashed against each other and stopped – but Sav’s more mature than that, and we were able to find our common ground and talk about a deeply troubling thing. I was impressed, genuinely so, especially in the middle of a time when everyone around both of us was shouting about a thing that upset us.

The most recent game release from Sav is That Boy Is A Monstr, a game about being queer and dating on a website. Check it out.

Decemberween: Fox

Awww, yeah, yeah, yeah. Duh.

Of course I’m going to spend some time this month talking about Fox.

Fox Lee, my partner, is an artist, designer, writer and web developer. She manages our websites, writes ad copy, edits rulebooks and creates entire games on her own. Fox has made a free otome game, which is great, and I recommend you go try it.

This year, we released a game called Cafe Romantica, and I want to underscore of this 120-card, big card game, I did so little of the total product it is dizzying. Fox did the art, the backgrounds, the card faces, the wording structure and wrote the rulebook – even up to the night before the game launched.

Fox is great. Fox works hard, Fox holds work to a high standard, and Fox is often sharply contrasted with my positions – where I’ll work hard to get a product finished, she’ll hold things back to make sure they get done right. I love Fox, and you should check out her great work so you can send us money for how great she is.

Obviously I had to put this one up here, today, on Christmas Eve – because Fox sharing her life with me is the greatest gift I’ve ever received.

Decemberween: 0xabad1dea

As with Rachel and Clay before them, I once more turn to point to someone I know, and love, and care about, who hasn’t had a fair shake.

Melissa Elliott, two ls, two ts, is one of those people who, if the 17th century wasn’t just the most awful, would have been one of those academic thinker types we sit around now wondering where they find the time. She’s done infosec research, drawn comics, built a twitter brand, built videogame AI, done some work on videogames, reverse engineered some things, won a My Little Pwnie award for her work in information security –

er, specifically for writing a silly song –

and she’s written a gaslamp fantasy novel, which is part of a series, as well as a web series I’ve spoken about on the blog before.

Now, none of these are raging successes, by the standards we use to determine success. This is in part because none of us grew up in cultures that value artistic expression, and I know that moreso of Melissa’s upbringing because she and I shared a particular horrorshow that was American Fundamentalism. This is not an experience and a place that, let me tell you, does much to encourage the creative efforts of young women.

I am grateful this year that Melissa has been part of it – the whole way. I feel like a walking firework alongside her, where she needs some degree of quiet, some emotional space, and I, with my big loud idiot elbows smack into spaces that can distress her without even trying – but despite it, she still shares with me what she makes, and what she wants, and what she’s interested in, and that means a lot to me.

Incidentally, she hates card games, and that’s okay – because when I share what I do with my friends, I don’t do it because I want them to feel obligated they should like them.

Decemberween: Can I Pet Your Dog?

The mighty Maximum Fun podcasting network may host the entire McElempire, with both MBMBAM and their related shows of which there are roughly a fifty hojillion fold (and I like that, that’s cool), but there is one show I found from an ad in My Brother, My Brother and Me, and it’s Can I Pet Your Dog.

Can I Pet Your Dog is almost impressively nothing. It is a short podcast of two people talking about their dogs (in early episodes, they did not both have dogs). They are not exceptionally or exquisitely funny. I mean, they’re funny, but it’s not uproarious comedy; I don’t find myself quoting it or recommending it (except here, I guess).

Can I Pet Your Dog is, however, inoffensive, sweet, and comforting. It is funny without reminding me of gross comedians; it does not feel I’m about to stray into realms of vile jokes or random political stuff about this person or that person and how dare they. It is, when I do find the time to sit down and tune in, a balm of comforting, simple, pleasures of owning a dog.

Decemberween: Clay!

It shouldn’t be a surprise that I’m fond of someone I record a podcast with. To counter the claims of nepotism, I want it known that I love Clay despite him routinely making fun of me for being related to a ventriloquist.

Now, Clay’s situation is such I feel reluctant telling anyone how great he is. I don’t feel comfortable waving my arms in the air and shouting about the glory of this wonderful friend, this thoughtful man who has had to learn twice as much as I did in half the time with worse handicaps.

As Rachel, Clay is someone who makes me sure the world would be better if people like them just had the freedom to make things, to tell stories, to care about the things they care about and not deal with malarkey like the right change for the drier and washer.

Three years ago I was told it was important for men to foster stable, emotionally mature relationships so they didn’t rely on women to take care of them. I tried that, I joke, then it turns out they were all girls. Despite all that, standing out from that, there’s Clay – who has had his own path through life from similar spaces as me, making him one of the few people I know who can get a lot of the things I normally need to spend so long explaining.

Decemberween: Ex Manus Studios!

This year has been our most active convention-going year. We have gone to almost a convention every two months – and every time, this year, we have done it with the company of Pendix, of Ex Manus Studios.

Now obviously I like Pendix. We’ve been friends for years, almost since high school. But it isn’t just that Pendix is reliable, and kind, and thoughtful – gee, I like a lot of people with those traits. What I want to highlight here is that Pendix is a person who craves to create.

If you sit around Pendix, idly, if there’s a table on hand and there’s just free time, he will have plastescine in his hand, and he will be sculpting. There’s a drive, an energy, a want to create going on there and I really admire and respect that. I work with fast media, I can see the results of what I do, and yet at the same time I can save almost everything I do. Pendix works in a medium that is slow and at times impermanent. If something goes wrong, the entire thing has to be destroyed.

It might just be that the man is patient beyond the measures of saints. I mean, he’s put up with me for years.

There is however, a lesson from him I want to impart: Wanting to create is enough reason to create. Pendix spent a lot of time practicing his craft before he started making models he could sell – I mean, like a decade of just hobby practice, doing things to see if he could do them. Your hobbies grow, and help you grow. They give you skills. And if you want to make things, you can just make them. Maybe one day they’ll take you places, but it’s okay if they never do.

It’s enough to love, for now, the doing of the act itself.