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Monday, March 31, 2008

First Gary, now this

All right, here goes. Please forgive me if I don't make much sense right now, I'm still trying to get my head around this.

Apparently, Salem was involved in a fatal car accident at about 10:30 this morning. Obviously they wont know for sure until they do an autopsy but right now the think it might have been alchohol realted.

I hate to say it, but that makes total sense. He'd been in a bad place recently, having gotten a divorce and having to live in some guy's garage. I know he missed his daughter terribly. I alos know he hated his hjob and was uner a lot of stress.

And then there's this post.

I really, really hope it was an accident and not deliberate. I remember talking to him not long ago and he said, "Blimey I'd hate my last night to be walking around with a clipboard asking the same bloody questions to management I always do.."

REgardless, it looks like his last night was spent with friends. There are worse things, I guess.

Sláinte, my friend.

Oh God

Requiescat in Pace

Salem MacGourley

1980 - 2008




Details later, as they develop and after I've stopped crying hysterically.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Things Which Piss Me Off

1. Overuse of the word "Cyber"

The prefix "cyber-" does not mean everything computerized, or electronic, or internet. In fact, it's not even a proper prefix. It's merely the truncated version of "cybernetic", which is based off the Greek word kybernetikos and means "helmsman". Cybernetics, which first appeared in 1948, is the study of how computers operate and the comparison thereof to the human nervous system. Therefore, it's really only applicable to tack the cyber- prefix on to words dealing with programming or the integration of machinery with the human body.

Cybersex simply isn't, unless you're fucking your computer. And if you're one of those reprobates who uses the term "cyberspace," I will hunt you down and beat you to death with a dictionary. In addition to not being cyber, it certainly isn't "space" -- a term which requires dimension and volume in order to apply. The internet is quite specifically a non-space, since it doesn't exist anywhere except as an abstraction supported by infrastructure. In fact, it could be considered the anti-space, since by chatting in real time with someone on the other side of the world it has effectively removed the barriers of distance between my buddy and myself.


2. Oversaturation of Pink

Don't get me wrong -- I love pink. It is a fun, flirty, cheerful color. What bothers me about pink is that so many artists and designers seem to think that the only shade of pink is Hot Pink. The worst offender is a particular hue I call "Eyebleed," and you can find it in the Barbie aisle of any toy store. I don't know about you folks, but this color actually makes my eyes hurt, and has been known to give me a headache. If you ask me, I think the doll aisle needs a de-neoning.

And use some different colors while you're at it! Just because something is aimed at girls doesn't mean it has to be pink. There are plenty of other fun, attractive, feminine colors out there: Lavender, Aqua, Coral, Jade...


3. The "Toilet Seat Must Be Left Down" jihad

Back when I was living up in D.C., I knew an awesome guy who had several female friends. These friends were frequently over at his place, because he was neat in a geeky kind of way and he kept a clean house. And, as women are likely to do, when we were over there we'd use his bathroom.

But there was one rule we had to follow when we used his toilet: when we were done, we had to put the toilet seat up. If we didn't, we got a (mild) lecture about consideration.

At this point, I imagine there are several women who are shaking their heads right about now. But you know what? He was right. It was his bathroom in his apartment, and he called the shots.

So the whole "Oh he's so inconsiderate, he doesn't put the seat down" thing just bugs me now, because every time I hear it I can imagine the guy thinking "Dammit, I have to pee and I have to lift the freaking seat again." At this point, I'm inclined to think that the natural state of the toilet seat really needs to be based upon the majority gender that uses it. I am so over this argument.

Want to end the argument? Install a urinal in the bathroom. Men can pee there, women can pee on the toilet, problem solved. Bathroom equality for everyone!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

I LIVE! (sorta)

Cripes, I'm behind on this.

I'm going to blame the allergy medication I've been on recently (Pseudovent) by saying that the side effects of taking it made me think I was coming down with a bladder infection, kidney stone, or both. Let me further add that it's nearly impossible to write anything coherent when I'm running to the bathroom every 15 minutes and leave it at that.

Yikes.

However, do not fret! Yesterday I found the time to write another column for I Attack the Darkness, and I am sure that its 1,000+ words will ease your burning need (you really should get that looked at, by the way) for all Palette Polemic.

Also, below this post you will find a late-breaking Wednesday Night Wackiness. Go thither, and enjoy.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

In Memoriam: Arthur C. Clarke


Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or ever eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

— John Gillespie Magee, Jr

Monday, March 17, 2008

My World Is Rocked

I am utterly gobsmacked.

Today, I sent this email to Jason Dobson, my editor and Grand High Poobah over at Another Castle:
Hey Jason,

I've gotten a few requests to review 4th edition D&D. Any chance you can snag me a review copy? (Not even sure that review copies have been released yet, but I do know that 4th ed games are being run at conventions.)

He replied (emphasis added by me):
Hey, cool news!

First, heard back from Wizards on D&D. Turns out they are fans of the site and in particular your writing as well, so kudos! They are getting together numbers on when 4th edition stuffs can be sent over, and are bumping us to the top of the list. Also, where are you located? They are gonna be doing tours at some cities and wanna know if they can count on you being on hand for one of these tours of the new rules and what they have coming up.

I'll keep you posted once I know more :)
Fans?

Of my writing?

This is me, running around like a little girl, screaming at the top of my lungs in excitement and disbelief.


But surely this is a mistake, right? He's pulling my leg, or the WotC rep is being polite. So I pull him up on chat, just to make sure.
Me: So, straight up: they actually said they were fans of my work? Not like they were being polite or whatever, they actually read and enjoyed it?

Jason: Yeah, she knew the site, said she was a fan and liked your writing, and even assumed you would be the one by name who would be handling it.
SWEET BUTTERY ERIN.

They know me by name.

I'm.... I'mma go lie down now... my world is rocked so hard I can't stand up....

Happy St. Paddy's Day

Ah, Flogging Molly... Irish drinking songs meet punk rock. Gotta love it.



Right, then. I'm off to the pub. Have a happy and safe St. Patrick's Day, and remember:

Drink first, fight later, else you'll spill your beer.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Apotheosis Now!

From the Diary of Erin Palette, newly incarnate Goddess of Chaos:

Friday, 14 March
Feeling v. excited about new divinity status.

Rained all day today. Decided I didn't like rain and chose to change it. Went outside and commanded rain to stop falling.

Succeeded only in giving myself killer headache. Ouch. Have decided rain is not in my Goddess portfolio. Stupid rain.

Have decided that rain is Zeus' way of keeping me down. Goth side of me is heartened by this act of patriarchal theocratic oppression.

Have further decided that headaches are part of Goddess portfolio, specifically the giving thereof: If I give headaches to other people maybe mine will go away. Suddenly Eris' bitchiness makes total sense.

Am heartened by this revelation. To celebrate, I go to bed early.


Saturday, 15 March (Ides of March)
Headache gone. Wonder to whom I gave it. Maybe Zeus? Rain is gone today.

Caught up on last 2 weeks of Jericho. V. sad Bonnie killed by Goetz. Stupid Ravenwood.

Wonder if Jake and Major Beck will ever confess forbidden love for each other. Probably never. Hawkins will kill Beck if he tries anything.

Wonder who is prettier, Skeet Ulrich or Esai Morales. Skeet has brooding, stubble-y emo look down pat, but Esai has that razor-sharp, "I iron my underwear" STRAC thing going. Both v. sexy.

Joyously partook of hot dogs without buns for lunch. Should have done this on Friday, but was distracted by Goddess duties. Besides, Ides of March more Discordian anyway, because 1 x 5=5, and Caesar was a Greyface.

Briefly ponder how big a racket this Goddess thing can be. Wonder if I can get sympathetic Discordians to send me $5 tithe on a regular basis.

Decide it would be easier to herd a tub full of wet cats than get Discordians to do anything.

Briefly wonder where to get tubful of cats to test herding hypothesis. Abandon idea when it starts looking like actual work.

Finally get around to making Bad Touché for City of Villains. Am pleased with how skeezy he looks, yet still wish for a floppy hat with a feather. Made do with beret instead.



Still no progress re: life-changing change. Will have to try harder tomorrow.



(Apologies to Cassandra Claire for cribbing her format)



----------------
Now playing: VNV Nation - The Solitary EP - 05 - Freude (schlachtfeld version by Wumpscut)
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Hail Erin!

I am the source of all my problems.

This realization came to me as I was driving home from my birthday party. I won't bore you with the hows and whys of it, because this was a satori, a sudden case of "Oh, I get it now" driven into my brain at a time when I was so tired that all of my usual self-loving, rationalizing walls of bullshit were nonfunctional.

I have only myself to blame for the situation I'm in.

It's that simple. It really is that simple. Sure, crap happens that I have no control over, but how I react to it is completely under my control.

And I have utterly botched it.

The reason my life sucks right now? Because I'm not motivated enough to change it.

It's ugly 'cuz it's true, folks. I'd rather whine about unfair life is than, you know, get off my ever-spreading ass and change my current situation.

Because that would require work.

And somewhere along the line, probably as a kid, I got it in my head that Smart people don't have to work to succeed. And I skated along, just getting by on talent, when if I had busted my ass I could have really made something of myself at this point.

I have failed myself on an unfathomable level.

Because I allowed myself to get comfortable.

Because I settled for what was attainable instead of what I wanted.

Because it was easier to just give up and go with the flow, instead of struggling to swim upstream.

And now, looking back upon the desolation that is my life, all I can see is that for thirty-five years I have been doing nothing but taking up space.

Fuck this.

Fuck ALL of this.

And that's exactly what I'll do.

What I need, you see, is a good old Life Fuck-Up. I need my world to be uprooted, turned upside down, burnt to the ground and then scattered to the four winds (with the earth salted for good measure) because I can't be allowed to be comfortable any longer.

I need to be really uncomfortable so that I'm motivated to improve my life.

I'm about to do something really massively unwise, people, and I invite you all to sit and enjoy the trainwreck that my life is about to become.

Some of you are my friends, and are no doubt worried that I'm going to do something drastic and stupid like a suicide attempt. Well, you're half-right; it'll definitely be drastic. Only hindsight will determine whether or not it was stupid.

If you're truly worried about me, you know how to get in touch with me. I freely admit that when I get on these self-destructive kicks I lose all sense of perspective, and try to (metaphorically) burn down the house when really all I need to do is get out more often.

I concede that I am about to be highly irrational about something. You can't talk me out of it, BUT maybe you can steer me in the right direction. Yes, this is in all likelihood a plea for attention, but that doesn't invalidate the premise that I need a sudden, irreversible life change.

Besides, I don't quite know what it is I'm gonna do just yet. I haven't yet ramped up to full-on manic psychosis yet. Right now I'm just pacing the halls, muttering darkly about radical change while amped on sugar and caffeine and generally making John Forbes Nash look stable in comparison. But when I decide on exactly how I'm gonna self-destruct, look out.

I mean, the last time I went on a bender, I pissed off an entire country.

Hail Eris.

No -- wait a minute.

Fuck Eris.

This is the most Discordian thing I've ever done. I'm internalizing the ethos, embodying all that simultaneously creative and destructive about Chaos. I am changing my life, whatever it costs me, and I have no backup plan (because that would make me comfortable).

I am become Chaos. I am its avatar, its incarnation. Other Discordians can be POEE Priests, or Episkoposes, or even =POPES=. But I'll go one step further (because anything worth doing is worth over-doing, right?):

I am Eris, immaculately deceived and clothed in flesh. Which is why the bitch never answered my prayers in the first place. It all makes sense now.

Hail me?

Hail yes!

Hail Erin.


----------------
Now playing: Bow Ever Down - Self Destruct
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Today is my birthday

I am now 35 years old.

Please note that from this point onward, I have stopped aging. I will be 35 next year, and the year after that, and the year after that.

I haven't felt very well these past couple of days. Between my allergies and the time change, I was completely wiped yesterday... my body could have handled one, but not both. Hence my not posting on Monday.

I will be gong out with friends this evening. I hope to have a better post for you later, but it's entirely possible that tonight I will consume far too much alcohol and pass out on a friend's couch. It's equally possible I may wake up tomorrow in Tijuana, married to some guy I've never met. Anyway, barring those circumstances, I will try to have a tasty blog post for you this evening.

All I ask from you, my dear readers, is that you wish me a happy birthday and find some way to express the sentiment that you're happy I was born.

Cheers!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Nothing of substance today

I gave you folks 1600 words on how to fix Gambit yesterday. That's three times my normal blog size, and it puts me dangerously close to being as longwinded as Plok.

Nope, today I'm going to veg out and get caught up on TV. I still haven't seen this week's Jericho, and I need to rectify that Right Freaking Now.

Also... please comment on yesterday's post. I spent most of the week working on it. A little feedback would be welcome.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

"Everyone can relax... Gambit is RETCONNED!"

It just so happens to be Gambit Week over at Conditional Axe, which is ironic because I have a record of Jeff saying how much he hates the character. Here, let me quote you it:
Jeff (11:14:41 AM): Let me ask you a question.
Erin (11:14:49 AM): Lay it on me, baby.
Jeff (11:15:30 AM): I think I'm going to have Gambit Week next week, because it's kind of bugging me how much Gambit sucks to the point where I want to blog about it.
Erin (11:15:46 AM): And your question is?
Jeff (11:15:53 AM): So, my question is what would you do to make Gambit not suck, working from the principle that there are no bad characters?
What I would do is no less than a total retcon of the character. Given the sheer amount of bad ideas, baggage, history and histrionics that have been foisted upon the character since his appearance, I think that to salvage a truly workable Gambit you need to do two things: reduce him to his core element and savagely burn the rest.

Gambit has been the victim of chronic mishandling since pretty much day one, and I think the main reason for this is because the writers tried to stack too much into one character: He's a thief AND a martial artist AND a cajun AND a mutant AND he wears spandex AND a trenchcoat AND throws explody cards AND uses a quarterstaff AND AND AND AND AND it's ridiculous. It's sort of like being a Space Pirate Amazon Ninja Catgirl -- while hilarious when used for comedic effect, attempting to build a serious character upon this house of cards* can only result in mockery.

Plus, he has a stupid costume.

So forget all of that crap. Wipe it from continuity, let us reduce Gambit to his core element and,  as Jeff says, rebuild him from there. And what is the core of Gambit's character?

He's scum.

He is a criminal, a thief, a conman and a traitor. He's the skeevy friend you'd never trust with your car keys or your girlfriend, but you could drop him in the desert and within 24 hours he'd find booze, gambling, and strippers.

And from this concept, we begin.


Mutant Power
Gambit has a very narrow and very specific power: he doesn't lose games. It's rather like the Scarlet Witch's original power -- he manipulates probability to achieve a very specific "I Win" field. Maybe it's paired with low-grade telekinesis and/or empathy, or whatever, but to paraphrase Joey Q, "It's a mutant power, it just works." Now the schtick here is that this power is ONLY good for games where randomness plays a factor; he couldn't use his power to win a wrestling match, say, because random probability doesn't factor into how well you can suplex an opponent. But if it has that random factor, he can play it and win it, even if he's never played the game before.

Personality
Now, if you could win any game you played and you were even the slightest bit unethical, you'd probably try to get rich hustling pool and playing high-stakes poker games. But if you won all the time, you'd get a reputation right quick, either as a cheat or as "that guy who needs to get killed so that the rest of us can win some money", so to survive he had to become quick-witted, a smooth talker, a bit of a fighter and an even better run-and-hider.

In fact, this whole Remy LeBeau identity? A complete fabrication. He's about as cajun as Eminim is black. "Le beau" means "the beautiful one," for crying out loud. Nope, Gambit's real name is Robert Lord, and he actually had a very boring childhood growing up in semi-rural Illinois. Anne Rice's Lestat character was popular in movies and novels at the time he adopted the identity, so his persona (which, after living for about 15 years, is now habit) was crafted to give him an aura of mystery and perhaps a slightly voodoo air.

Dead Mans' Hand
Speaking of the occult, this is where I answer the question, "But how does the mutant ability to win at cards secure this guy a place on the premiere mutant superhero team?" And I say, between gales of riotous laughter, that this is the same team that had Jubilee as a member. But this is a valid question nonetheless, because the entire point of this exercise is to remove le suck from the character, n'est-ce pas?

So let us take a moment to assess what we have: a thief, a liar, a cheat; gambling; the flavor, but not the substance, of New Orleans; and a whiff of the occult. Tell me, how could Mephisto not get involved in all this?

I know, I know; Mephisto is probably over-exposed right now, but bear with me, because this is worth it.

Gambit's entire character is based upon vice, and while he is certainly guilty of the sins of Greed, Envy, and Lust, it should be obvious by this point that vanity -- i.e., Pride -- is his defining characteristic. Yes, he is a thief, but more than that he is a professional thief, stealing not because he wants something, but because he can. Because, if he can take it from you, he deserves it and you don't. This is entitlement -- the belief that he and his desires are more important than anyone else.

Vanity -- the Devil's favorite sin.

Now, I see at least three ways this can logically play out within the setting. The first is the most simplistic: The Devil Comes Down to Nawlins, as it were, to challenge this upstart to a game of poker to see which of them really is the better player. The second (my personal favorite) is that one of Gambit's victims/jilted lovers either knows voodoo, or goes to a mambo to have a curse put on him -- something like, "I want him to know what loss and betrayal are like." The third is a bit heavyhanded with symbolism, but has a Faustian edge to it: Gambit himself summons the devil, just so that he can brag about beating Jack Scratch in the highest-stakes game of poker ever.

Regardless of which option is used, they all end the same way, with Gambit winning. In return for having wagered his soul; he gets all sorts of useful things: a body men would kill to have, increased charisma, the ability to see through all lies and deceptions... and the power to throw a little Hellfire around, in the guise of "charging objects with kinetic energy."

But you see, there's kind of a problem with accepting gifts from the Devil: they're tainted. Sure, he can see in the dark and know when someone is lying... but his eyes are now black with red irises. He can have basically any woman he wants... but it doesn't satisfy any more. He can make things explode...

... but each time, a little bit of his soul is burnt away. Using his powers becomes a Fool's Gambit, but he can stop whenever he wants, and as long as he repents before dying, it'll all be okay, right? Right?

Costume
He doesn't wear one. Gambit is, first and foremost, a thief and a conman. A good con job hinges on the victim not knowing that anything is amiss, and a thief doesn't want to stand out at all. No, Gambit dresses is whatever is considered normal for the area, which for most of the western world consists of jeans, a t-shirt, and some kind of work boot.

About the only concession made to concealing his identity would be gloves and something to obscure the face (maybe a bandanna or a disposable dust mask), both of which look innocuous, are easily put on and removed, and blend in with the rest of the garbage if they need to be ditched. And of course, sunglasses to hide his eyes when he's in "secret ID"; it isn't at all unusual for card players to wear shades during a poker game, so as to make it harder to read their expressions.

He still favors throwing energized playing cards as weapons, of course. But that stupid staff is gone. He can beat the crap out of someone with a pool cue, though, if it's really important to you.

Application
How would one use this new Gambit? Put simply, he is the inverse of Nightcrawler. Instead of a demonic-looking swashbuckler with a noble soul, Gambit is a devilishly handsome rat bastard who would betray his own mother if it got him something he wanted. Nightcrawler knows the value of teamwork; Gambit's definition of teamwork is letting someone else get hit instead of him. Nightcrawler has faith, and Gambit has... well, Gambit worships himself.

Why would the X-Men want him on a team, then? The irony of the situation is that even though you can't trust him, he is perfectly suited for espionage and counter-espionage. "Use a thief to catch a thief," as it were... just make sure you can see his hands at all time. You can't trust him, but you can count on his selfishness, and so long as it's profitable for him to be on your side, then you will win. And you will keep winning... until he sells you out.

He's at home on the razor's edge of failure, the heartbeat between coin flips where success and failure coexist. When most people would be paralyzed with indecision -- or worse, forced to choose between two evils -- Gambit is your man. He will call your bluff. He will shoot your hostage. He will do whatever it takes to succeed because, damn it all, Gambit never loses.

Just make sure you and he are on the same side.  


 * Sorry, couldn't resist.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

WNW: Separated at Birth?

Am I just crazy, or does Dominic Monaghan...



... look a HELL of a lot like Heinrich Himmler?


I'm not trying to cast aspersions on Mr. Monaghan or call him a Nazi or anything. I'm just saying.... those eyes, those ears, that pointy chin.... if I was making a WWII movie, I know who I'd cast to play Himmler.

That Dominic Monaghan speaks fluent German and was born in Berlin doesn't hurt, either.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

d1000

From my friend En-Babel:
I am proposing to all my friends that we take part in a "Thousand Dice Salute" tonight:

Tonight (and every year on this night), at precisely 9pm, we all must stop what we are doing, find a single die (preferably a d20, but other acceptable) and all roll our die in honor of Gary.

Drinking afterward is encouraged.

Spread the word to those who might want to participate.

Since I know I'll forget to do it at 9, I'm doing it now.

*clatter*

I rolled a seven.

Holy Shit.

Gary Gygax, dead today at 69.

I..... I need some time to process this.

Why I didn't post yesterday

I wasn't feeling well. I won't go into specifics, but I'll let JD and Turk explain it for me:

The Fine Print


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial- No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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