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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Well, then.

And with that, I have finished Chapter 2 of Curse/Or. I have now written over 8,000 words and the end is nowhere in sight. In fact, we've just barely left the beginning.

I don't know if I should leap in elation or weep in despair.

And so the question I ask you, dear reader, is this: Do you want to read more?

Whatever you answer, I'm going to write more of the damn thing. I've done this much work on it, and I'm going to see it through. But I get the feeling that most of my readers don't really care for it. Perhaps I should return to writing scathing essays wherein I insult entire countries with polysyllabic character aspersions.

Or I could just type "wang" a lot. Wang wang wang. There's money to be made in dick jokes, I hear.

I know the decision is ultimately up to me, but I want to hear your opinions on the matter, because I am an attention whore and desire praise.

So I ask you: are you prepared to have this novel become the main focus of this blog?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Curse/Or: Infodump

"Wow." Teresa's feral grin widened. "That's amazing. Do you charge more for the professional-grade bullshit, or did I get the kidnap discount? Because the last time someone failed to convince me as utterly as that, she was trying to make me her prison bitch."

Behind the thick lenses of his glasses, Yarrow blinked, as if he was fighting back tears. The sudden realization that he was yet another awkward kid she'd been bullying slapped her hard across the face like a drunken husband. Tommy would be about his age, she thought ashamedly. Oh God, Tommy…

Cheeks burning with shame, she directed her attention to her food and busied herself with cutting the sausage links into increasingly small chunks. She could still feel eyes on her.

Across the table, Esther audibly sipped her coffee.

"It's not bullshit," Yarrow protested. His voice was softer now, stripped of a lot of its arrogance, but if his feelings had been hurt he was hiding it well. "It's a quantum state identifier that uses coin faces as random number generators to determine the best possible course of action at any given moment. Of course, with it being quantum, the actions of the observer affect the outcome, so I suppose if you think it's bullshit then it might be, but that's only because you don't understand the thousands of years of Chinese thought that have gone into the I Ching and how it relates to modern 8-bit software architecture…"

His lecture was interrupted by another, louder, slurp of coffee from Esther.

"All right, all right," he conceded. "I'll skip the pleasantries so that Fulcrum doesn't choke herself." From the corner of her eye, Teresa could see him tapping away at his phone. "Your name is Teresa Reyes. Arrested in 1988 for murder. You pled guilty, and were given a 30 year sentence at Frontera Women's' Prison. Paroled after 20 years because the prison closed due to an inmate health scandal. All of this is public record."

He pulled a pair of chopsticks out of his pocket and began to eat his omelet with them, skillfully separating the eggy mass with downward pressure. "Prison records are much more interesting," he continued. "While in prison, you acquired the nickname of 'The Camel,' ostensibly because within a very short time you managed to control the entire cigarette market within the prison. This is because all of the other suppliers inside Frontera amazingly, coincidentally, died or were relocated due to cancer-related illness. Even more amazingly, even though cigarettes were outlawed in California prisons in 2005, you somehow managed to keep the supply flowing. And the ironic part of all this is that while you could have turned this into a massive criminal empire, you didn't. Instead, you chose to smoke the proceeds in what the prison psychologist felt was the slowest, most painful suicide method possible. Between this, and your willingness to share your smokes with the guards, you were essentially left alone."

"What these records don't say – what they can't say, because they can't possibly know – is that you are the source of the health problems within the prison. You, Teresa Reyes, a.k.a. Camel, are cancer's first and possibly only Typhoid Mary. And since medical science says cancer can't possibly work like that," he concluded, "the only reasonable explanation is that you've somehow found a way to tap into the inherently magical paradox of smoking to become the world's first Cancer Mage." He popped a bit of omelet into his mouth, smiling smugly.

"You," Teresa accused, making little stabbing motions toward him with a sausage-laden fork, "are the craziest motherfucker I've seen. And that's saying something, considering where I’ve been." She shoved the food into her mouth and chewed savagely, attempting to cover her mounting fear with an outward show of aggression.

"But okay. Let's just assume, for shits and giggles, that I buy all this. If I'm Miss Cancer 2009 or whatever, what do you want from me? You want I should give cancer to someone for you? And more importantly, why should I do what you want?"

A long sigh escaped Yarrow's lips. "My plan is subtle and complex," he explained with exaggerated precision, as if he were speaking to a child. "But the why of it is very simple, Ms. Reyes. You see, this restaurant is in Nevada. By crossing state lines, you've already violated the terms of your parole."

"Fucker!" Teresa spat, lunging across the table, fist cocked to punch Yarrow in the nose.

"Stop," commanded Esther.

"ROFFLE," said the young girl in cat ears and dressed all in pink as she tossed a plush toy cat onto Yarrow's plate before ducking underneath their table.

Then the cat exploded, and everything was spotlights and jet engines.


END CHAPTER TWO

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Theban Mapping Project

This is quite possibly the coolest thing I've seen in a long time.

I've always been a sucker for floorplans. I guess it's because I like to imagine myself in them, exploring each room. Even before First Person Shooters existed, I've been doing the FP part of map exploration in my head and yes, I go nuts if there's an incomplete map on my online game.

But this... oh, wow. Not only do you get detailed maps of 60+ Egyptian tombs, you get them in scaleable, zoomable, damn-near interactive views. Isometric, top-down, and various side perspectives are cool enough, but wait until you hear this:

On the maps & plans page you can use a line-drawing tool to measure distance and angle between two points.

If you GM any kind of fantasy game you will crap yourself over this kind of resource. What's shocking to me is that this place has apparently been around since 2003 and it's the first I've ever heard of it.

(Special thanks to Chgowiz's Old Guy RPG Blog, without whom I'd have never found this. I've been quietly lurking on his blog for a bit, but now he's earned my open readership.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

WNW: Grace Park Answers Your BSG Questions

Yeah, yeah, this is about a week past its due date. Sue me. It was either this, or the Wall-E/Watchmen mashup.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Atlas LOLed

Sometimes an idea leaps unbidden into my mind. Sometimes it is perfect and fully-formed, like Aphrodite rising from the sea.

Sometimes it is utterly batshit crazy.

Today is one of those days, because just now, I had this startling revelation:

LOLcats are the new Objectivists.

The evidence for my case is staggeringly simple. First I will list the Objectivist Axioms, and their classical examples, and then I will list the modern LOLcat example thereof.
  1. Axiom of Existence: To be aware is to be aware of something. I can haz cheezburger?
  2. Axiom of Identity: A is A. Longcat is long.
  3. Axiom of Consciousness: Consciousness... is not a passive state, but an active process that consists of... differentiation and integration. I'm in your X, Y'ing your Z.
I could go on, but I think the evidence speaks for itself. Feel free to argue amongst yourselves. It could even be said that LOLcats are a truer, purer form of Objectivism than even Objectivists can attain.

Oh, and before anyone thinks to argue about the Invisible Sandwich et al., let me point out the Primacy of Existence,i.e. "Real is better than imaginary," and the indisputable LOLcat belief that a visible and therefore real cheeseburger is better than an invisible and therefore imaginary one, because if imaginary cheeseburgers were just as good then LOLcats everywhere would not be asking "I can haz cheezburger?"; they would instead be NOM'ing on their invisible ones.

As you can see, my mind travels in dark and fearsome places. One day it might be eaten by a grue.


PS: IM IN UR BRAIN BREAKIN UR PAIR A DIMES

Friday, March 20, 2009

<_< >_> <_<

Oh shit, I have a blog.

Um... okay. Sorry about that, gang. And preemptive sorries to my Twitter crowd, as well. The past few weeks have been...

Ok, first there was the time change, which fucked me up good and proper. Then my birthday was on the 11th, and there was more or less a week-long debauch as various friends took me out to dinner and/or Watchmen and/or mini golf and/or drinking, and then for a while my allergies proceeded to mug me in a dark alley and kick me to the curb.

And next thing I knew, it was St. Patrick's Day, and... well....

Let's just say I've had a 2-week hangover, shall we? Yes.

HOWEVER! I have some great news. Well, great for me, and good for those of you who play City of Heroes, and probably pretty indifferent to the rest of y'all.

Issue 14 hit open Beta this Tuesday. This is important because i14 is called Architect, and features a highly robust edito for creating custom missions which you can then publish for public consumption. If you are so inclined, you can even create custom enemies within this custom mission for people to fight.

So you guys can probably figure out what I've been doing since Tuesday.

Arc #7147, aka "Plastic Pistol Peril", is up for testing on the Test Server. I think I've got the wrinkles all ironed out and when i14 goes live, it should be damn near perfect (and hopefully with a much lower arc number.) So if you're so inclined, head on over to Test Server and give it a try.

Because Pohsyb did. (For those who don't play CoH or read the forums, he's a Developer.) He read it. And he liked it.

And he gave it five fucking stars!!!

A quote:
"I liked how you used the game lore, the all-friendly mission was neat, they sure love donuts... even the police drones."
So yes. It's official. I rawk. \m/ ^_^ \m/

And I must give a big "THANK YOU" shout-out to my homie Troy Hickman, who plugged me so nicely on the CoH forums (unf unf unf) and without whom I wouldn't have gotten noticed like this.

Friday, March 13, 2009

C/O: Yarrow's Coins

A closer look at the coins Yarrow uses:

Curse/Or: Epic

"Did you fall in?" asked The Nose as she arrived at their table. "We were about to send in a search party and – holy crap, what happened in there?" His tone rose from condescending to alarmed as he noticed her flushed face and trembling gait.

"Took an epic shit," she said dismissively, dropping into her seat at the table opposite Esther and Yarrow. Her freshly magicked lighter was in her left front pocket, heavy as a loaded gun and warm as a newborn where it rode against her leg. And in a way, it was a gun; she’d expended a hell of a lot of energy to create it, but it was a lighter that would never run out of fuel, never fail to start a fire, never blow out in the wind or the rain. She knew this as surely as a mother knew her own child, and Teresa had birthed it though no less pain and blood. It would need to be named, she realized, but for now she was content to let it nestle in the crook of her groin. It was her sleeping baby, her magical shank, her literal smoking gun. She felt empowered, arrogant, unbeatable, like a bully that had cornered a new victim in the shower.

"So here's how it is," she declared with predatory glee. "I appreciate the lift out of the rain, so I'll just forget about how you've basically abducted me." She fixed Esther with her hardest, coldest glare before turning to regard Yarrow. "But you have until I finish eating to convince me to buy whatever shit you're selling, because after that I am gone."

Pulling the straw from her glass of orange juice, she placed it between her back teeth and chewed. It felt a bit like one of those old-style cigarette holders, like FDR and the Penguin used. If Esther smoked, she'd use a holder, she idly mused. Old fashioned and classy. Nose would probably use an electronic bong or something.

"Selling something?" The man looked offended, his blinking almost audible. He was still frantically shaking with the coins in his right hand. It still looked masturbatory. "I assure you, I'm not trying to sell you anything. It's more of a… proposition of sorts."

Teresa's straw made a spitting sound as she blew air at him through its mangled tip.

"Not that kind of proposition," he quickly amended, shifting awkwardly at her sudden toothy grin. "A professional arrangement. A business deal. A… way for you to use your… unique talents… in exchange for items of inherent and informational value."

She turned her attention to Esther. "Does he ever make any fucking sense?"

"Eventually," said the old woman as she methodically added cream and sugar to her coffee. "You just have to let him talk around it enough and eventually you'll find the shape of it. This boy, you ask him what time it is, he'll build you a clock."

"Fulcrum, I'm sitting right here," he whined.

"Yes, you are," she said, patting his hand. Gone was the unflinching Iron Lady; now she was a doting Grandmother, tending to a young and difficult child. "Now remember what we talked about? You don't do so well with other people. Go to your numbers, Yarrow."

He nodded, tossing onto the tablecloth the coins that had been rattling in his right hand. They didn't look like any money Teresa had ever seen before, bronzed and with a square hole through the center. He pulled a rectangle of chrome and glossy black plastic from the pocket of his hoodie, fingers flying across its flat surface.

Teresa quirked an eyebrow suspiciously. She’d seen cell phones on television, but never in real life, and worried that it might be his version of her lighter. Coldness rose from the pit of her stomach at the thought of having lost her advantage.

"One of those newfangled computer iPhone things," Esther explained. "He uses it to calculate his numbers."

Again with the numbers. Teresa didn’t like where this was headed. "What do you mean?" she asked, her left hand drifting into her lap. She was ready to grab the lighter, use it if necessary. She wondered if she could turn it into a flamethrower if she pumped enough magical power through it.

"You'll see." She gave Teresa a knowing wink and sipped her coffee.

Yarrow picked up the coins, shook, threw them again. There was almost something elegant about the process, archaic and analog, his long dexterous fingers handling the coins with all the ease of a practiced craps shooter, and then tapping – no, sliding his fingertips along the smooth surface of the computer phone, each movement accompanied by a discrete click from the phone's speaker. It wasn't so much a calculator as it was an electronic abacus, simultaneously cutting edge and antiquated.

He repeated the process in silence four more times, only noticing that the waitress had brought his food when he was unable to cast his coins because of the plate in front of him. Esther obligingly moved it out of his way, holding it until he had picked up and pocketed the coins.

The phone gonged softly. "Youthful Folly," he intoned, reading from the screen, "has success. It is not I who seek the young fool; the young fool seeks me. At the first oracle I inform him." He blinked twice, staring at the screen. "Well, then. That certainly helped." His tone suggested otherwise.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Watchfriends

This seems to be making the rounds today.

On the slim chance you haven't seen it yet, I present to you: "The Watchmen, Saturday Morning Cartoon Style".

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Curse/Or: Living in Hangover City

"Christ," Teresa said jovially, "I look like complete shit." A blood vessel had burst within her right eye, staining the sclera just beneath the pupil a vicious scarlet, and she was examining it in the ladies' room mirror. She laughed hoarsely. "Utter dogshit."

The cold water from the faucet stung her eyes as she splashed it onto her face with trembling hands, her breath coming in short, ragged gasps. Her pulse was hammering in her head, and if she thought about it too long, that itch on the back of her throat made her want to vomit.

She'd just performed the most potent magical act of her life, and it felt like two hours of rough sex. She could barely stand, let alone walk.

She was utterly wrecked.

She felt wonderful.

God damn, she thought with an idiot grin, I'm high.

There was a brief moment upon exiting the restroom when she contemplated making a run for it. The front door was ten feet away, and between her and their table was one of those games where, if you were very careful and fed it enough money, a crane would drop and just barely miss the stuffed animal you were aiming for. It was currently blinking and dinging as a young girl, dressed in entirely too much pink to be healthy, pumped quarter after quarter into it. She was wearing a headband that sported fuzzy animal ears and seemed obsessed with retrieving a plush kitten.

Teresa knew she could be out of the restaurant and across the street before Old Lady and The Nose could react, and away from this entirely too hinky scenario. But it was, in point of fact, precisely that hinkiness which intrigued her. She couldn’t conjure up any reasonable explanation why a twenty-something dork and a retiree grandmother would need a forty year old ex-con, so whatever explanation they gave would be entertaining enough to justify the inconvenience of a forced detour.

Plus, breakfast. Free breakfast. With real bacon.

“Fuck, why not,” she muttered, shrugging. “And if I get bored, I can always break his nose later.”

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Arrrrgh

This is why I sometimes hate myself.

I spent all of last week trying to figure out how to write what I envisioned for the next scene in Curse/Or.

Finally, tonight, I have this:
"Christ," Teresa said jovially, "I look like complete shit." A blood vessel had burst within her right eye, staining the sclera just beneath the pupil a vicious scarlet, and she examined it in the ladies' room mirror. She laughed hoarsely. "Utter dogshit."

The cold water stung her eyes as she splashed it onto her face with trembling hands, breath coming in short, ragged gasps. Her pulse was hammering in her head, and if she thought about it too long, that itch on the back of throat made her want to vomit.

She'd just performed the most potent magical act of her life, and it felt like two hours of rough sex. She could barely stand, let alone walk.

She was utterly wrecked.

She felt wonderful.

God damn, she thought with an idiot grin, I'm high.
So, okay, yeah, that's pretty good. I like how that sounds, what it evokes, and it gives me something to build upon as I develop the scene.

But god damn, did it really need to take me nine days to come up with this?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Many thanks, but...

First off, let me say a big "THANK YOU!" to the three people who replied to my more-fucked-up-than-usual Sunday post. I like knowing that the crap I write is read by people, and the fact that you cared enough to leave a comment warms me.

But...

I have no way of talking with you folks.

Salem -- dude, I'm sorry about pretending you were killed by the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile last year. Still, you managed to get your revenge on me for falling off the face of the planet for nine months, so we'll call it even. But you don't show up on chat any more, and I don't have your phone number, and these kinds of conversations just aren't suited for email at all.

David -- no offense, man, but I have no fucking clue who you are. No last name, and no visible blogger profile. I couldn't contact you privately if I wanted to, and since I don't know who you are, I don't much want to. I suspect you're Dave of "Dave and Freddie," but unless you reply I'll never know.

And if you ARE Dave, then dude, you owe me like a dozen call backs.

Trollsmyth -- actually, you never volunteered yourself as a dumping ground for my angst, which tells me you're a pretty smart cookie. Compassionate enough to give me words of encouragement when I needed them, but not so foolish as to get stuck in my emotional mire. Kudos to you, sir.

Thanks to each of you for replying, and if you first two are serious about helping out, you know how to contact me.

NOTE: I'm aware that at times my tone comes off as snarky when it's not intended. In an effort to be absolutely 100% clear about such things, let me stress that there was no sarcasm anywhere in this post.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

And now, your moment of 'Phen

Stephen Crane, that is:
A man said to the universe:
"Sir, I exist!"
"However," replied the universe
"The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation."
-- from War Is Kind (1899)

Baby steps

I'm writing this down right now before I think too much about it and chicken out.

I've been wrestling with some Big Issues lately, and I've come to the conclusion (perhaps erroneous, perhaps not) that I am a gigantic coward and that I live my life in fear.

There are Things (one big Thing surrounded by lesser Things) which I really need to tell people. Some of these people are friends. Some of these people are family.

But I can't, because I'm afraid.

Afraid of being mocked.

Afraid of being treated differently.

Afraid of being disowned.

Afraid of people (figuratively) slapping their foreheads and going "Oh, that explains EVERYTHING" and then analyzing every moment of my life, looking for places to say "See, this is why you failed at X" when really, no, the answer is never that simple.

I wish I had the courage to be who I really want to be.

I wish I had the courage to say it here. I post under an assumed name, and am read by people who don't know me from Adam and will likely never meet me, and yet, I'm too scared to be completely honest with you.

This sucks. I'm tired of living in fear, but I don't have the courage to change it.

I can't force myself to write it down, but I can at least say this much, and post it before I come to my senses and delete it.

Baby steps.

The Fine Print


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