Thursday, January 31, 2008

My first real honest-to-goodness professional writing credit

Three years ago, the Cylons tried to murder the human race.

But we would not die.

Three years ago, the Cylons destroyed our colonies.

But we did not divide.

Three years ago, the Cylons swore to hunt us down and kill us all.

But they have been unable to make good on their pledge.

Humanity is proving very difficult to eradicate.

In this never-ending battle between humanity and Cylon, we are all warriors. Our struggle for survival demands constant wariness, constant preparation for the worst, a constant and unflagging spirit in the face of all alarms and disasters. If we have learned anything from the Cylons, it is this:

(Click on the link or you're a dirty toaster lover and traitor to your species)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

WNW: The Gothpel

It may not be readily apparent, but Christianity can be incredibly goth. After all:
  1. Its chief symbol is an instrument of torture.
  2. The Sacrament of Communion is ritualized, symbolic Theophagy.
  3. Priests and Nuns wear black and white. That is old school goth, baby.
  4. Speaking of colors, look at the colors of the church year: Dark Blue. Red. Purple. Black.
  5. In fact, the entire season of Lent is one big ol' goth party. It starts with people wearing ash on their foreheads and ends with the death of God.
  6. The entire first half of the Book of Revelations is basically about all the cool people being feared, misunderstood and oppressed by The Man because of their religion, followed by persecution and death. But that's okay, because not long after that, all those people in power die hideously, and are tormented forever.
  7. This is the religion that invented self-flagellation... because cutting is for poseurs.
Seriously, if there isn't a "Goths for Christ" movement, someone should start one. You can practically perform the Mass to E Nomine's Das Testament already.

Now playing: E Nomine - Vater Unser
via FoxyTunes

Monday, January 28, 2008

Random Album Meme

From Jeff's Gameblog:

The first article title on the page is the name of your band.
The last four words of the very last quote is the title of your album.
The third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.
04. Use your graphics program of choice to throw them together, and post the result as a comment in this post. Also, pass it along in your own journal because it's more amusing that way.

Here is mine:

Cultural Relativism is a socially-conscious neo-prog rock band, and has been described by critics as "what you'd get if Rush wrote the music and Devo wrote the lyrics."

Other Things Than Money (2002) is in fact their third album, and is a response to the generally held belief that once a band reaches a certain level of popularity, they start caring about their money more than their music. In typical fashion, the band subverts this notion by making an entire album about other people's money. All proceeds from Other Things Than Money will be donated to the Jubilee USA network, a non-governmental organization dedicated to eradicating or absolving odious debt owed to first-world nations by developing countries.

The album's lead song "Man with the Mammon Touch" is a scathing indictment against Donald Trump. Other tracks are screeds against such plutocratic icons as Alan Greenspan, the World Bank/ International Monetary Fund, and the "economic warfare" policies of the G8 nations. Enron's "terrible troika" of Kenneth Lay, Andrew Fastow, and Jeffrey Skilling are the targets of the album's closing song, "End-Run/Enron/End Up In Jail".

Their previous albums, 1998's More Claret Than Clarity and 2000's How to Lie Well denounced the hypocrisy inherent in the war on drugs and the impending Presidential election, respectively. Their 4th album, scheduled for late 2004, is tentatively titled I'm From the Government and I'm Here to Help, and is believed to be a critique of U.S. foreign and domestic policy.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

WNW: The REAL Killing Joke

Alan Moore?

A ripoff hack.

Monty Python invented it first!

(I've been watching too many WW2 newsreels.)

Friday, January 18, 2008

I think I've been possessed by Troy Hickman...

... because I have been inventing super heroes based on terrible, horrible puns.

Bad Touché: A leering fencer who likes to make inappropriate comments and invade personal space. Sort of like Pepe Le Pew, but sleazier. And with one of those "Hi I'm a sex offender" little mustaches. He frequently battles...

My Farad Lady: A cockney lass who gained electrical powers as a result of an experiment by a mad Professor of Electrical Engineering in London. Her battle cry is "Ohm a good girl, I ohm!"

Hat Trick: A dapper English gent in a top hat and tux, who has modernized the traditional art of yeomanry by bringing it into the 21st century, eh wot? His diabolical arch-nemesis is...

Earl Grey Death: A dour, portly fellow who was born in India when it was still an English colony. He gained powers of invisibility "tendrils of strangulating darkness" from drinking a tea whose leaves were grown in a grove sacred to a thugee cult. After each victim, he performs the teabag emote, wherein he steeps a cup of tea (Earl Grey, hot) over their head.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

RAC: What I'm currently working on

Blog posts may be sporadic for a while; in addition to my daily tasks I am now working on an assignment for Quantum Mechanix that is due next Wednesday.

It is a backgrounder -- which is to say, "A summary of pertinent information and facts about the subject at hand, provided to the media especially when dealing with a complex issue" -- about the Battlestar Galactica Propaganda Poster Set.

In order to give it that patented Erin Palette Kick in the Junk, I'm researching old World War 2 newsreels to get a feel for the cadence and structure of the words.

So remember: Buy Posters, or the Cylons Win!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Return of Reader Mail

Why are you posting filler, Palette?

Fuck off and die, you elitist asshole.

How was your holiday season?

My Christmas was good. Very good. Shockingly good, in fact, considering that it was the first time in several years both of my siblings were present. Now I can get along with either my brother or my sister, but not both at the same time, for the simple reason that they are much older than I (7 and 10 years, respectively) but there is only a 3 year gap between them. Thus, when they are together, they usually team up against me. I'm pretty sure it's not intentional, but that's just the way it is. And if they're not ganging up on me, they're doing it to my mom (but not my father, aka The Colonel, who Brooks No Shit).

New Years' Eve, however, was a completely different matter. I went to my room at 10 pm to avoid the yelling and fighting, and stayed there until 2008.

What happened to your Khaotica posts? Weren't there some weeks left?

I was planning on extending Khaotica up through New Years' Day, but things got pretty crazy pretty quick in my life (see siblings arrival, above), so I decided to take my own advice and drink a large dose of Chill the Fuck Out.

Now that I've had time to think about it, the notion of giving weekly assignments -- i.e., imposing order -- for a holiday season devoted to enjoying chaos has the stink of Greyface all over it. Of course, I could also be guilty of over-analysis (don't forget, analysis has the word anal in it). So I guess I'll let the concept of Khaotica ferment and bubble in my brain for the next year. Maybe Eris will grant me enlightenment. Maybe she won't give a damn. Goddess likes to fuck with my mind like that.

How's your writing-as-career thing coming?

Slowly, I'm afraid. Far too slowly.

Quantum Mechanix had a good Christmas, I am told (if you bought something from them, THANK YOU!), so hopefully they will have more assignments for me soon.

Project Perseus has undergone a bit of a sea change. The original premise is dead, gone, and buried, due mostly to creative differences I had with my co-author (but we're still good friends.) But I like the name enough that I'm appending it to my newest project, which has less certainty of being published but is filled with far more awesome. No, I'm not ready to divulge details yet.

Heliumpunk is not forgotten, either; it's simply reached a stage where I, as a writer, am not yet skilled enough to pull it off convincingly. I continue to work on it a little each day, either through research or character development or what-have-you, but Project Perseus is getting far more clock cycles devoted to it. Heliumpunk is looking to be my second novel.

How many PCs did you kill in your L5R game last week?

Last week? None. By design. This week, however...

Short version without context for those who care: The PCs are at Winter Court in Crab lands. They are all Emerald Magistrates, so when someone in the castle is brutally murdered by what appears to be Maho, it's their duty to investigate, find the culprit, and punish the guilty. Of course, this being a castle within 100 yards of the Shadowlands, things are never straightforward. In fact, there are many contradictory clues and red herrings. The PCs, of course, insist on following up on every lead and entertaining increasingly ludicrous possibilities. Then, when called before Hida Kisada to report what they find, they make the mistake of waffling, disagreeing amongst themselves, and generally appearing incompetent.

Hint: When the Great Bear asks you a question, you answer. You don't start with "Well, we're really not sure..."

So Kisada has the most likely suspect brought before him, clubs him like a steer, and beheads him in front of the PCs, despite it being pretty obvious that said suspect has been framed. They are then told that if the just-executed man wasn't the guilty party and more maho deaths continue, it's their own damn fault for having let the Shadowlands mislead them. (Moral of the story: Confusion is a weapon of the Shadowlands. Good samurai do not succumb to confusion.)

In situations like this, a typical samurai would request permission for seppuku to atone for such failure. (There's more to the story, of course; they also failed to protect the bride-to-be of a Clan daimyo from the Taint, etc etc.) This being the land of the Crab, of course, ritual suicide is considered wasteful. Thus, they have three options:
  1. Be assigned to the very tip of the sharp end on the Great Kaui Wall, where their deaths might actually slow down an Oni for a few seconds.
  2. Be made Ronin. Fortunately for them, the Crab are having a Twenty Goblin Winter. So all they have to do is go into the Shadowlands poorly armed and armored (remember, with the exception of your daisho, your armor and weapons belong to your daimyo) and kill 20 goblins each for them to be accepted back into the Clan.
  3. Or they can go on a ridiculously difficult quest -- bordering on the suicidal, in fact -- deep into the Shadowlands to retrieve a lost ancestral relic of the Crab that could tip the balance in the Thousand-Year War. This, of course, is the adventure I have prepared for them.
I feel I should note for the record that I'm not deliberately trying to slaughter the party; I do in fact want them to live. But I have a strong anti-stupidity stance, and the moment they cross into Hell On Earth, the dice fall where they may.

Ridiculous question intended to elicit twitters of mirth.

Snarky non sequitur response that enables me to end this post in a sarcastic fashion.

Friday, January 11, 2008

No post today

... I'm busy preparing for tomorrow's game of L5R, which has been on hiatus since November.

I'm sending them to Winter Court, which means that for the next 3 months of game time, they will be stuck in a castle as lots of politics unfold around them. This is a source of amusement for me, as the party consists of the following:
  1. One Crab bushi, whose idea of interaction is either getting drunk on sake, hitting things with an iron-shod club until they break, or sleeping;
  2. One Crab shugenja, who smells of formaldehyde and even less wholesome things, and gets a particular gleam in her eye when discussing vivisection;
  3. One Scorpion bushi, who has the skills to be well-rounded and effective in any situation, but who invariably rolls incredibly poorly;
  4. One Scorpion shugenja, who thinks of himself as an evil genius when he's about as predictable as a Bond villain;
  5. And one Wasp bushi, who typically acts without thinking and encourages the rest of the party into foolish behavior while admonishing them to "man up".
I'm going to send them to Crab lands, where they can spend time in the presence of the Hida Kisada, the "Great Bear" and leader of the Crab, who started killing when he was six years old.

If they perform as I predict, they will fuck up horribly in court, and will ask (or be assigned) to duty on the Great Wall. You know, the single barrier that stands between the Empire and the Shadowlands (aka Hell On Earth).

At least one of them is going to be Very Stupid (tm). And I will mercilessly slaughter that PC, because the Shadowlands do not fuck around. If they are smart, the players will realize this for the object lesson that it is.

And if they are dumb, I will kill them all.


Thursday, January 10, 2008


(Author's note: This has nothing to do with Illithids, from Dungeons & Dragons. It is instead a combination of the words "ill", meaning bad, and "lith", meaning rock. "Illithic" = "Bad Stone".)

Ever wonder why there are so many haunted castles and so few haunted log cabins? Why caves are scarier than forests? Why "monsters" are more likely to lurk in basements instead of attics?

It's because of all that stone.

No, seriously. Bear with me a moment and I'll prove I'm not on crack.

What would you say if I told you that there was a kind of stone that produced electricity when put under mechanical pressure? You'd call me crazy, right? That's the piezoelectric effect, bitches, and not only is it 100% provable it's also the basis for modern technologies involving transformers, sensors, motors, and clocks. Even zanier, the reverse is also true: apply an electric current to that rock and it will change shape, deforming up to 0.1% of its original dimensions. What's more, it's not just one type of rock that has piezoelectric qualities. There are several of them, and the largest group -- Quartz -- just happens to be the second most common mineral in the Earth's crust.

The human brain produces electricity, and transmits measurable electrical signals at different frequencies. This has also been scientifically proven, and is the basis for the Electroencephalograph, aka the EEG machine.

Those of you who see where this is going may nod knowingly and mock those who don't.

So that brings us to illithics -- bad rocks. Or, to be more technical, crystalline lattices which deform under psychic energy.

Odd, isn't it, how so many historically haunted locales have bloody histories attached to them? Perhaps not. I submit to you that these sites are strewn with -- or in the case of castles, may consist entirely of -- these piezopsychic rocks. They deform under the intense psychic energy that is produced when tragedy and bloodshed occur, distributing the load across their structures. Then, years or centuries later, as mechanical stresses are applied to them -- perhaps through renovation (how many hauntings begin with the new owners starting construction?), or perhaps through the simple repetitive stress of people living there -- the illithics compress, and discharge their stored psychic energy, usually to the detriment of those present.

Castles, of course, are the classic definition, with the entire structure serving as a piezopsychic lattice, but they are not the sole examples. Haunted caves, the monster in the basement under the stairs, old abandoned rock quarries... all have one element in common: they are surrounded by lots and lots of rock.

I admit I cannot prove any of this. But it makes a neat theory. And consider the following: If no one is there to be scared, is a house truly haunted? Or does it require a person to be there, to act as recipient of the psychic energy, for a haunting to take place?

Sure, it may be all in your head. That's where psychic energy originates.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

WNW: Interviewing Leather

Goddammit, Other People, stop writing stuff that I want to write!

Especially when you're so fucking good at it.

As an aside, when I begin my career in costumed supervillany, I totally want Eric Burns to write my dialogue:
“Good. Now. Since this is a warning — let me give you that official warning, which I’ll be certain to send along to the Guild rep too.” She looked at each of them slowly. “If you ever, ever break my orders again… as God as my witness I will devote whatever time I have out of jail to making your lives living Hells. I will break your knees. I will beat up your wives and kids. I will make fun of your mothers and kill your fucking pets in front of your eyes. My wrath will be as extensive as it will be disproportionate, because I have no. Fucking. Sense. Of perspective. Do you idiots hear me?

Read the whole series. You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Go Ask Eris

Sometimes my family asks me, "Erin, you talk about writing this blog but you never let us know where it is or what it's about. Why is that?" and I reply, "I'm taking a shower, dammit! Can't I get any privacy when I'm in the bathroom?" In the civilized world, going into the bathroom is cause for, oh I don't know, a pause in the daily interrogation that is family life. But at Chez Palette, it simply means one must talk that much louder so as to be heard through the door and over the sound of flushing toilets.

However, they do ask a valid question, and the answer is wickedly simple: if they knew the kind of shit I talked about, I'd never ever hear the end of it. But by keeping the details to myself, I am free to talk all kinds of smack about my metrosexual brother and crazy cat-lady sister. Not to mention that business with the shaved goat. Mostly, though, it's for my own sanity. If I had to defend every assertion I made on this blog, I'd snap like a wheat thin and then there'd be delicious multi-grain carnage all over the place.

Case in point: Eris. You see, my sister is one of those nigh-fanatical Christians who wields church doctrine like a bludgeoning weapon, and I really don't feel like having to justify to her why I am apparently involved in some kind of "heathen-pagan witchcraft cult thing".

(Fun fact: certain radical Protestant sects, who will remain nameless, are fond of describing anything they don't care to understand as witchcraft. It doesn't even have to be occultic; I was once told, in complete earnestness, that "rebelling against God's will is witchcraft." It's rather a blanket term, much like sin. Oh, wait, it's exactly like sin, it just sounds punchier. So if they don't get it, if it doesn't fit neatly into doctrine, it must be sinful and therefore evil and occult.)

Sorry, I seem to have spilled a little digression on you. Beg your pardon. Where was I? Right, Eris. Essentially, I started praying to Eris because quite frankly I got tired of being ignored.

I'm pretty sure this is the point where both the Christians and the Atheists go "Awww" in disappointment, the former because I've turned away from the One True Way and the latter because I've failed to be swayed by the rational and taken a joke religion as literal truth.

As I'm fond of saying to my family: Get used to disappointment.

When I was very little, a family friend asked me the typical adult-to-small-child question, What do you want to be when you grow up? My response was incredibly straightforward: I want to be an Erin!

I want to be an Erin when I grow up.

Isn't that a great answer? I love it. Such a wonderful sense of nonconformist self-identity I had back then, and I've tried my best to hang on to it. Which is why it baffles me so that it takes people by surprise when I demonstrate that I'm my own person. Look, just because I'm inherently conservative in a lot of things doesn't mean that I fall into lockstep with Traditional Republican Values. I can be both a goth and a conservative (we tend toward the Victorian end of the fashion spectrum). I can like guns and frilly dresses. I can believe in God and pray to Eris.

But why, Erin? Why pray to a goddess you don't believe exists?

Because I got tired of being ignored or told "no" whenever I prayed to God.

No, really, it's that simple. Let's say that every day, you ask me out on a date, and every day, I say "no" or ignore you entirely. How long will it take before you give up? Granted, it may take years for more of you stubborn folks, but I guarantee that eventually you'd all stop trying, either because you realized that I wouldn't change my answer or because you found someone better.

Now, I'm just too inherently mystical/spiritual/ooky to stop believing in higher powers altogether, so the Atheist road isn't for me. (And honestly -- no offense to you guys, but I feel you ultra-rational folks miss out on a lot of the really cool and artistic parts of the human soul.) And I'm sure it's an artifact of my cultural upbringing, but even though I'm convinced God really doesn't care about me I can't really bring myself to believe in other religions.

So I find a third option, and pray to something nonexistent. This fulfills my need for spirituality and keeps me from disappointment, because I bloody well know Eris won't answer my prayers. She doesn't answer, she doesn't care, she doesn't even exist! See, problem solved.

Then why are you into Discordianism in the first place, if you know Eris isn't real?

Because not existing isn't a barrier for worthy emulation. Santa Claus isn't real either, but people pretend to be him at Christmastime, and isn't the holiday a better time for it? Superman isn't real, but embodies all that good and decent about humanity. If you were to live your life according to "What Superman Would Do," you'd be a sterling example of humanity.

I like Eris because she keeps me from getting too serious about this ridiculous game we call life. I like Discordianism because it helps me keep my OCD tendencies in check. I like its philosophy because it is absurd the way life is absurd, and it's really the only worldview that has helped me cope with modern life.

What Would Eris Do?

She'd be an Erin when she grew up, that's what she'd do.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Lt. Helen Troy, Raptor Gunship Pilot

In High School they called her "The face that barfed a thousand lips." That is, until the ringleader found a live rattlesnake in his locker one day. After that, they all called her "Snake." She seemed to prefer it.

She also seemed to prefer being left alone. Not liking to talk much, she perfected what she called her "killing stare," a withering gaze delivered by her large, pale green eyes. She had few friends, choosing to spend her time deep in books or with her pet snakes. When pressed, she simply said "At least they don't lie to me and pretend not to be poisonous."

She wasn't an ugly girl growing up, not by any means; she simply wasn't pretty. That was mostly due to her refusal to wear makeup of any kind, and her insistence upon wearing her hair tightly pulled back and braided into submission. This, combined with those large and expressive eyes, gave her face the unpleasant illusion of skin being stretched taut across her skull.

She wasn't sure if being named after a famously beautiful woman was her parents' idea of wishful thinking or a cruel joke. What she did know, however, was that she refused to take any shit about it. Her father beat the hell out of her for the rattlesnake incident, of course (even though the school could prove nothing), but she didn't care. For once she had been on the giving side of venom, and found she enjoyed it.

She developed a slightly cruel, almost sadistic sense of humor after that. People leave alone that which they fear. She studied psychology, learned to read people, to deduce what they feared. A poisonous word here, a killing glance there, and a reputation as a girl crazy enough to play with serpents all but guaranteed her freedom from reprisals.

She could have had a career as a psychologist, but instead chose to join the Colonial Forces. When asked by the recruiting officer why she wanted to join, she simply stated "I want a job where I can kill people and not go to jail for it." She had the qualities of an assassin: cold, patient, methodical. The rush of power she felt when observing a target from a distance was addictive; putting a round through it made her feel like a god.

If she'd been stronger or tougher -- i.e., a man -- she'd have been made a Marine sniper. But she was perceptive, and fast, and best of all smart. She was pegged for Officer Candidate School and Flight Training. Most of the nuggets there wanted to be Viper jocks; she wanted to be a Raptor pilot because "no one expects them to be trouble, and their missile pods carry one hell of a sting."

She stung a lot. A more than capable recon pilot, her true strength lay in ambush. She could lie in wait for hours on counter-piracy operations, floating silently in space on minimal power while waiting for her prey to take the bait and attack the slow-moving, unarmed freighter. She permitted herself a wicked grin before unleashing her full complement of Javelin missiles.

She was "The face that smashed a thousand ships."

Callsign: Medusa.

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