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.

FOYMO

Let me tell you about one of my little fears.

It’s a little fear, not because it’s small to me. It can be all consuming, to me. But it’s a little fear because it’s a sin that can be measured in dollars and cents.

I sell games. I sell my writing, too, on this blog, here, on patreon and still don’t know why you pay for it but I’m so grateful. But I sell games, and those games are typically made out of cards that are printed and I hand them to people and they give me some money and they go away. Overwhelmingly, our sales are face to face, in conventions, and to people who talk to me and buy the games based on talking to me.

I am scared, so scared, that one day someone is going to come to me, having bought the game, and say ‘Yeah, you know what, this game is really bad, and you wasted my time and money.

Everyone’s so nice. Even the responses we’ve gotten about some of our games that don’t work is it’s too easy for me, or we didn’t use that rule, or he outgrew the game quickly. These are the little cuts, the little things that make me wince because I feel like I did someone wrong. Like I guided them into a bad purchase. And I fear that everyone who bought a game, or who I sent a free copy of the game, is just quietly being polite.

It paralyses me in improving and upgrading our games, too. I want to revise LFG and Burning Daylight and even Middleware, but I feel like doing anything to make the games that are already purchased ‘wrong’ would be a sort of act of violence against those people who trusted me with their money and time. I am ultimately afraid of making my game better so the people who bought the game before hand are left with a version of the game that is missing something.

I have a Fear Of You Missing Out.

But First…

There is a joy in horror.

There’s a truth to it that horror is a space that draws the marginalised. There are a variety of reasons for it, many socioeconomic, many infrastructural, and almost none that actually have anything to do with demonic forces or actual witches, no matter what Alex Jones types want you to think. There’s a not-insubstantial body of people for whom horror in fiction and media directly relates to and catalogues horror in their own lives.

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Not Our Crisper

I’ve been thinking about the crisper in our fridge.

You know, the fridge with a broken light, where, no matter what, for some reason, I keep going and expecting to have the light turn on in the middle of the night. It’s a decent fridge, and I’ve never really had a problem with anything about the fridge does. It’s never occurred to me to fix the light but it’s also never occurred to me to consider whether or not the fridge is, you know, good for my purposes.

The fridge is atmospheric to me. It is passive. It is background storytelling, it is a wall texture in my own personal level 0, my own travel hub. I don’t even think about changing the fridge, or doing things to make the fridge better. I fill it, I empty it, I clean it, it’s a fridge, right?

Well tonight is the first night I realised that for six months, or more, I’ve been loading vegetables in the crisper drawer, and playing tetris with it. That I’ve been fussing and turning and trying to make capsicums fit in this side and the carrots can lay flat on the bottom or they can prop up on the side. Then there’s the two lettuces, and the cabbage, that just sits up there, up on top.

I don’t talk about eating as much as I talk about food prep. It may just be this is one week, where it’s really obvious to me, where hey, I need to fit a lot of vegetables here. But it was enough to make me notice a thing that’s normally functionally invisible to me: My crisper draw is too small. Not so much that I’ll change the fridge. Just… a little bit of a weird thing to notice.

I at no point noticed that in my plans for cooking and preparing food, the thing I’ve been doing is consuming enough vegetables that my storage for them hasn’t been suited to task. It’s strange, it’s a kind of progress. Yet at the same time it was a kind of magic trick played on me, or rather, that moment of noticing this change in my life was itself, that same sensation. Startled.

A magic trick is essentially, constant and perfect control over perception. Controlling your own perception, recognising its boundaries, and sometimes you can change it without even noticing it.

The Coming Week’s Coming Tension

It’s postgraduate week at my uni.

That means this week, I have a really important thing due.

oh heck.

The long and short of it, for reference, is that I’m basically at some point in this week – depending on a schedule – presenting for the uni, proof that I haven’t spent this past year of PhD work just picking my nose. The document involved for this is – as I write this – in iteration four, and each iteration is about the length of a book, and each iteration has been refined individually many times and even completely restarted at least once.

It is a big task. I have to get up in front of people who can say whether or not I get to continue doing this! If I’ve been wasting everyone’s time! I am going to stand before a crowd and be judged.

Anyway so if I’m a bit twitchy this week, that’s why.

Carthage

I have a strange love for losers.

I mean, I make fun of the Confederate flag waving assholes, and it’s worth remembering that that’s good, because they’re losers, and they should always be forced to confront that they’re losers, and they lost because they were bad at winning, and this is just a long aside to dunk on the Confederacy. But not all losers are that kind of loser. Sometimes you lose not because you were wrong, or because you were on the wrong side, or because you’re bad, but you lose because the bad people had more stuff. They had more money and more people and they didn’t even realise they were the bad people, because they were removed from the bad things they did.

I think about the people that lose against empires.

I think about Carthage.

I think about Carthage, and the story of Hannibal, a general who tried audacious things and succeeded. I think about bloody battles in the desert by mercenary armies. I think about the strangeness of a country whose big sin was not really doing enough for military infrastructure and how it was the victim of an empire next door that was. I think about how you can win a dozen fights in a row, but if your enemy can handle losing, and you can’t, then it doesn’t matter.

Carthage is on my mind because while history tells us that Carthage lost, there were a lot of times and places in Hannibal’s campaign that he won. There’s a lot of people who were living their lives and having what they thought of as important conversations about the future of Rome and their campaigns for political office and governorship or whatever, and then Hannibal happened to their territory, and they’re just gone.

Just forgotten.

This is what I’m thinking about, when I’m thinking about this card game I’m making. The different things nobles can do, these little festivals and parties and politics and territorial disputes and fights over who has the best land or best marketplaces, all while quietly aware that you can’t change the future.

That Hannibal is going to happen.

The idea for this game, the idea that I’m working with, is that of a stacked deck. At the start of the game, players get their cards, then the deck gets loaded; you shuffle up and deal out stacks of cards. Into each stack, you shuffle one of a number of cards, then you put those stacks on top of each other. Now you have a deck of events that everyone draws from, to play their cards and live their lives, and then one point, near the end…

Hannibal happens.

Jesus And The Widow’s Mite

Time to time Jesus comes up on the timeline and I watch as people who are generally well-meaning people try to harmonise together the Bible and the oppressive behaviour of Christian hegemony. There’s usually some sort of deference to a Gandhi quote, some sort of next-levelling smugness of well Jesus was great, Christians are bad. Maybe you’ll see something like Jesus was a leftist or Jesus was an ally or a truly amazing take Jesus was more of a trans person and on the one hand I try to file that under ‘fanfiction’ but then people use it to discuss real world political behaviour of a culture that has probably a third of the world’s resources and is using them to kill people.

It’s basically an attempt to make Christians feel ‘not so bad’ about being part of a great big dreadful machine, which is not something I see typically extended to things like heterosexuality or cisgenderness.

It annoys me, personally, because Jesus isn’t a cool guy who’s being mangled by his followers.

Jesus is a total dick and his teachings are full of confused morals and justifications for evil. The only reason people treat him like he’s good is because we treat his story as if he’s meant to be good and interpret his positions that way. There’s a constant decontextualisation of Jesus – that’s what Sermons are for! – that turn his positions into whatever we need them to be, and want to pointedly make sure you don’t relate what he said today to what he said yesterday, because if you do, you might go ‘hang on a second, fuck you Jesus.’

For example, the story of the Widow’s Mite. Now for the purpose of this consideration we’re going to treat Jesus like he existed and did the things that are kind of fundamentally necessary to the Christian narrative of Jesus. He didn’t, and he didn’t, but let’s just pretend for now. Treating this text as a text.

The story, which appears in Mark (the first draft) and Luke (the second last draft), tells of a time when Jesus and his disciples were rubbernecking in the temple and watching people do their weekly donations to the temple’s upkeep. Rich people came in and dumped large amounts of cash, and a poor widow came in and gave a ‘mite’ – one of the smallest currencies they could give. Jesus turns to his disciples and says:

3 And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all:

4 For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.

Then we nod and tap our chins and we move on to the sandwiches and coffee after church.

Now think about this in the context of the fact that Jesus is meant to be the perfect human sacrifice that redeems us our sins. Remember that Jesus is God in this interpretation of the faith, that he talks to and experiences the voice of God, and that he is aware of God’s plan.

When Jesus submitted himself to torture and death, that was a bad weekend out of an infinite life and he knew he was going to survive this. We’re told it’s an important, meaningful sacrifice, it’s meant to be the ultimate sacrifice, but in this case, Jesus is the wealthy, giving a meaningless fraction of his wealth (time), and it wasn’t going to bother him a week later. It was performative, it was literally done so he could show off to people millenia later for whom he had done nothing.

If it costs you nothing, Jesus, what does it mean that you’re giving it up?

Disengage, Distract, Deprogram

Last year, I was asked:

How do I deal with jealousy regarding other people’s happiness? It always feels like everyone around me is happier, more alive, and generally *living* better than I do. I know being the bitter Old Man staring between the blinds at the happy kids on the street isn’t good for me or anyone, but I can’t shake these feelings off.

And taking some time, thinking about it, considering things thoroughly, what I said in answer was:

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Birthday Post

It’s my birthday, when this goes up. Hopefully, I’ll be asleep, but odds are good I own’t be, because it’s a Friday night-morning for me, and who am I kidding, I stay up late and when it’s almost time for a blog post to drop, I go ‘aw, yeah, you know what?’ and it’s fun. It’s fun. We have fun here.

Anyway, it’s my birthday, and that means that hypothetically, it’s a time when you might want to buy me a present, or make me a present. I don’t necessarily think you should. After all, there are charities that deserve your money; I have a Patreon you can be contributing if you want to support my work; and I know a number of you reading this are not in any position to give gifts, and now my mentioning it can be guilt-inducing. Don’t worry about it. This is about something else.

Weirdly, this is about me.

I have a problem I think of as ice cream indecision. It was first codified to me by the work of Rumiko Takahashi, in her manga, Maison Ikkoku. If you haven’t read the series, don’t worry about it, the basic gist is there’s a man in it who has a hard time committing to a decision. It’s told with a metaphor of a scene, where as a little child, his grandmother offers him one of two ice creams. He can have one flavour, or the other. In either case, the ice cream is going to be delicious, it’s not a serious concern: But he spends his time umming and ahhing between the two that it stresses him out and he can’t decide before the two melt.

I think about this scene a lot. More than is healthy.

I’m afraid of spending gift cards. I’m nervous about using gifts. Fox has found one of the most effective ways to get me a gift is to just install it in my life and suddenly I’ll be using it and it’s great and I’m happy about it. Last year, Fox got me a pair of nice knives and a griddle plate for our oven and I’ve used them every single day since and I’m so happy I have them.

There’s a lot of things tied up here. Like, I imagine people browsing wishlists of mine with a wrinkled nose going ‘oh my god, he wants that? What’s wrong with him?’ And this keeps me from doing anything that could be perceived as Horny (For Capitalism) On Main.  I’m afraid of being ungrateful, so I’m nervous of talking about gifts with anything but glowing praise, which means if I wished for something that turns out to later on suck, I’m left feeling I can’t talk about it. And as with many things, I’m afraid of whether or not I deserve gifts, and if it’s  foul arrogance to suggest that hey, someone might want to buy me a thing, maybe?

Anyway, this list took a long time to compile, and part of why was because I didn’t want it to have just one or two things that were very expensive (to me). So here, check out some wishlists of things I think I might want and I don’t know if I want them, and even as I write this I’m trying to argue myself out of it.

All of these companies, in some ways, suck. If you don’t want to buy anything from them, because they suck, that is 100% okay and I support your choices.

But more than any of this… I said I wanted some things. And that I can do that, and feel okay saying it (though I don’t know how okay about it I feel), well, that’s a step! It’s important!

Hey, happy birthday to me.

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.

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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.

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