Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014 Resolutions

There are three things I want to do in 2014. They all somehow relate back here to this blog, as I'll be trying to use it more frequently to explain it. First, I want to embrace my inner nerd. In doing that, I have an alliterative theme for my three resolutions.

1. Pictures -- Take More
A relatively easy one, ever since I left college I've slacked on taking pictures. If you go to my early blogging days and my immediately after work Facebook posts, you see lots of pictures. Of random things. The layout of my apartment, the walk to work. At some point, I just stopped. Time to start again. Starting in January, expect to see more random photos. Hopefully, not just random geese.

2. Publish a Fiction Story
Over the past two years, I've written a lot. I mean a LOT. Now to get to the unfun, brass tacks part of being a fiction writer: Refining that crap into something publishable, then publishing it. I'm going to try and work with "The Church Behind the Gate" as I feel it is the most Matt of my stories, excluding sword and sorcery, a genre which I have neglected writing because, well, I wanted to stretch my writing muscles. I imagine after I get this published, I'll go back to my fantasy roots.

3. Prototype a Board Game
I have a lot of ideas for board games, some are simple (like the counting game and tic-tac-toe variants found on the blog. The three big ideas I have are a time travel game, a worker placement game to train monsters like in Pokemon, and a modular card game to create units based on babies with psychic powers. In January, I'll probably revisit each of these ideas and outline the general game flow I see with each to try and get a feel for which one to start.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013

It is that time of year again. I'm reposting something I repost almost every Christmas. Merry Christmas, see you next year!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Lie of the Year

Politics below the fold. Don't click if you don't want politics.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Things My Phone Has Learned

That "Sidenote" is a word.

That "jetpack" is a word.

That 'awesome" always follows "Stay."

I don't know what it says when my textual idiosyncrasies are so easily co-opted by machines.

Friday, November 29, 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013: Complete

While some of you are out Black Friday shopping, some of us are getting non-Christmas related things done. Some of us, for example, have finished our 2013 NaNoWriMo story. This also seems like a prime opportunity to update my Matt's Fiction table of contents. Please let me know if any of the fiction links do not work. Consider this your chance to catch up on some of the worst Matt Fiction available on the Web.

Completed Drafts:

"Emergent Problems" -- NaNoWriMo 2013 Story
In the not too distant future, a private conglomerate, with government and military backing, has launched the Drake, a pioneer class research and exploration vessel set to access deep space. A series of problems plague the Drake's launch, and the crew, both aboard and back on Earth, must find and stop the problems before they doom the ship.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Mid-Week Nerdy Links


Post-MAVEN, I'm looking for things to be nerdy over until Sept. 2014 or so. Some nerdy links.

Writing Theory: Remember when we found a home for Fergie? That would not make a good screenplay.

Education: Man says lectures don't work; proceeds to lecture us.

Medical Technology: Sadly, the Federation considers holographic doctors artists, not people.

Driverless Cars: Once my driverless car learns to flip people off, it will pass the Turing test.

Mythology: The Royal Guardsmen have a version too.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The X-Files Today Tweets -- 1

Could the X-Files have been successful made even about 10 years after its debut? The first episode came out in 1993. By 2002, digital cameras were being included on cell phones. Imagine how the X-Files would work if Mulder and Scully could snap a few pics during their investigations. Imagine their Tweets.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

So: Cyborg Roaches Are a Thing

6,000 words into NaNoWriMo. What a failure I am so far.

Anyway, here's this thing about cockroaches that, since the BBC is talking about it, I'm assuming is true. The ethics of this are intriguing. On the one hand, if we were doing this to an animal like, say, a mouse or a dog, it would pretty clearly immediately register to me as "cruel." You can't freeze Fido and peel open his skull so you can see if you can make him bark on command.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Random Quotes

Still working on what I want to write for NaNoWriMo. Here are some random quotes from old drafts of in progress works that I have to try and get me into the writing mood.

Friday, October 25, 2013

"Bare feet were never meant for pavement."

Bare feet were never meant for pavement. Right now, if Jack found a man who had no feet, it wouldn't put his life in perspective. He would see if the man still had shoes he could part with. Or at least, socks. He had relegated the voices to their discussion about the cat, and what it meant. He wanted to focus on what he was supposed to be doing.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

"Being late should be a sin."

Being late should be a sin, Bruno thought between bites. Some things just were not done, even in the underworld, and making a man wait on his pay check was criminal, even among criminals. If you ask someone to bump someone else off, the delivery boy better be Johnny on-the-spot with the money. Bruno had explained after the last late payment that it was unwise to anger people who killed for a living. Not with words; he found words lacked a lasting impact.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

"They called him Bruno."

They called him Bruno. Not because it was his name, he didn't think anyone was really named Bruno. They called him that because anyone who called him by his real name got messed up. His parents, he concluded at a young age, hated him. It was the only reason to have such a terrible name. That's one of the many reasons they were always fighting. Him, money and the other women.

Friday, October 11, 2013

"The truth was, no one could really tell..."

The truth was, no one could really tell you which city it was. It didn't matter to the inhabitants, and it barely mattered to Jack and the Voices, as he was coming to think of them. A sort of doo-wop band straight out of a psychology textbook. The aristocrat didn't like this analogy, and the angry voice outright said he'd only agree to it if he got to be lead guitar. The other two were much more amenable.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

"It wasn't always like this."

It wasn't always like this. He was pretty sure of that. Normally, at least, he didn't wake up in alleys listening to familiar voices in his own head. The cryptic message was still there, staring back at his, apparently, nearsighted eyes. The voices started a sort of dull murmur, so he hushed them by reading it again. He read it a third time on autopilot, while he tried to turn the rest of his brain to remembering anything before now.

Monday, October 7, 2013

"Each blink brought things into better view."

Finally, I have a plot. Not sure how long this story can go, but it started as an adventure game plot I had. The idea being that you were a -- wait! That would be spoilers. Let it be said though that the scene is fairly similar to how I envisioned it in the game, with the hero waking up in an alley. Anyway, plot below. Above the fold is the official Table of Contents for this story. I feel like it never would make a good adventure game because too much of the plot was internal and a lot of back tracking to see things in a new light after you gain new information. It had potential, but it also was too dark. Look at how the story opens! It doesn't lend itself to the somewhat campy, humorous tenor of the adventure games of old.

1. "Each blink brought things into better view."
2. "It wasn't always like this."
3. "The truth was, no one could really tell..."
4. "They called him Bruno."
5. "Being late should be a sin."
6. "Bare feet were never meant for pavement."
---

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Blatant Politics 2

Very soon I'll have a real fiction writing project to keep me busy. Until then, I've been thinking about the rise of the fractious nature of American politics. Specifically: Why have both sides ratcheted up the nonsensical, aggressive talk? It's simple.

Demagoguery works; talk radio, the political left, the Twitterverse, etc. Why does it work? It is a bit different for both sides, but it comes down to this: Emotions motivate people, and anger is easy to instill.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Blatant Politics

Skip if you don't want shutdown talk. Instead, go here, for fun!

You were warned.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Simple Three-Step Process

After today, I really think that we all, as a people, need to select for compromise in our politicians more aggressively than we do. Sort of try and evolve it into them, like scientists with micro-organisms. But, here's the thing, we already have a set of politicians that are willing to compromise. I have said since the ACA debacle that cost the Democrats the House that if they had had a politician like Steny Hoyer instead of Nancy Pelosi, they'd have gotten what they wanted and kept the House.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sullivan!

Sullivan would like to join this man's website.

"Actually, I already just post to Matt's Facebook & Twitter."

Stories From Job Applications

"[COMPANY NAME REDACTED] is a Washington, D.C.–based strategic communications firm, helps visionary leaders and organizations achieve ambitious goals that benefit people and the planet."

I saw this in a job listing for an editor, and I thought: Yep. An editor is exactly what you need. Have I ever told anyone about the one job that I applied for that, when they asked for writing samples, in addition to some I had, I also sent a re-worked copy of their job posting with tracked changes fixing all of their typos, mistakes and rhetorical flourishes, effectively cutting their three-page posting to a concise, one-page?

Spoiler: They did not call me back.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Monday, September 23, 2013

Cool Technology

A Von Neumann probe built by Epson [note: not really by Epson.]

Robohelicopters which, if the previous post wasn't about a space printing, would be the coolest thing you'd read today.

I also got my hand on the Mars trilogy, which is filling a sci fi gap I've had in my reading recently, since I've been focused so much on reading about real science on decision-making and heuristics. Consider this a day to tell me about cool technology and/or science fiction.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

National Book Festival

Some photos from the book festival today. After a speaker in the history tent, I ended up speaking with a middle-aged man with politics that are different than mine

"Republicans are never willing to cut defense."

Followed, a few minutes later with, "Why won't Republicans let us end the sequester? DoD needs money!"

When pressed, he said that the sequester cuts didn't count. Why? Because Republicans would end them if they could. It is the sort of beautiful political blindness that you would expect not to find within D.C., but, there it is. I also have no doubt if I lived in an area that was red, I'd find more examples of this from the right. But, right now, free blog content is free blog content

Pictures below the fold.

Friday, September 20, 2013

One Step Toward Internet Famous

Comment on Althouse, quoted at Instapundit. One step closer to Internet famous. Honestly though, it would behoove all politicians to really, really think carefully about using the state to hound other politicians without good cause. Because, worms turn.

EDIT: Note that I'm also stating that conspiracy theories are bad in that comment, but that it is going to be harder to stomp them out.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Three Quick Things

National Book Festival.

Dual Destinies release date confirmed.

New Metro Map.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Creating a Backdoor

So, here's a legal question for you, that will help determine how you see the Internet. Read the article and now, decide: Is what the FBI did fair game? Whoa, wait. Don't click more or read below without reading the Wired article, or you're just not going to grok the rest of this. You should probably Google grok too if you don't know what that means, but that's just because I like to use that word frequently.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Strange Dreams

Last night, I dreamed I was some sort of mystery zoo wrangler. This included recapturing a platypus [with wings] as large as a mid-sized sedan, a winged Komodo dragon that could camouflage itself and one escaped, suicidal giant [in which I mean, eight-foot tall] panda.

The thing that sticks out to me the most? "A suicidal panda? That makes sense; they are the Charlie Browns of the animal kingdom." I don't know who or what said that in my dream, but it was such an insight into the mind of the panda, I wanted to share.

Psychoanalyze at your own peril.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Cheerio

I wanted to write something parodying this whole Syria mess before the president's Tuesday address to the nation. But, reality beat me to the punch.

Honestly, no one knows what the right answer is. But, whatever we're going to hear tomorrow, we should have heard weeks ago, if not as soon as the red line was accidentally drawn.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

To Add or Not To Add, That is the Question

Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The 'twerks' and 'selfies' of outrageous Oxford,
Or to take pen against these buzzworthies,
And by unliking end them: to squee, to say
"Whatevs!" And to tweet to say we must end
The 'LOLs,' and the shocks of a thousand 'OMGs'
That English is heir to?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Candy Stores

If the White House candy store is open, does that mean tours have resumed?

NANOWRIMO is in November. The blog is slow as I prep for that.

And play Final Fantasy 14.

... and World of Warcraft.

Look people, I'm just weak.

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Director Never Made Casting Calls in Character Again

"LF young, petite cross-dressing female to fly on command, kidnap darling children, sing."

-- It's Labor Day, what were you expecting?

Friday, August 30, 2013

Pandas

In trying to avoid the more depressing and/or offensive news stories (Syria/Private Schooling Your Kids Makes You Evil), instead, read this. Which, were pandas not cute and cuddly, may not have caused such vociferous disagreement or been published at all. But, at least it gives me an excuse to link this.

More substantive posting will return once I have a new writing project.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Random People, Random Places: Manicures

Overheard on the way home from work: "Mom, can I get my nails done too? I want Wolverine nails."

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

League of Legends Account Information

If you play LoL, check your spam/promotions filter in GMail/your inferior mail service for an important email from them. The future, I think, is going to involve pretty much every gaming account system to require the equivalent of the WoW authenticator.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Christian Nation: The Most Subversive Book in America

So, Ace of Spades has been having a lot of fun knocking around the new book Christian Nation. The book, which apparently reads like a lefty treatise on the horrors of the right, is actually, quite possibly, one of the most subversive books against the current president. However, to get such a thing published, it was required to be disguised, a la Animal Farm. Only, instead of casting pigs and donkeys, the author decided to cast as his villains someone that the target audience already villified.

Let's take some of my thoughts in turn.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Lucy Gets Changed

I like how this ends things. If I re-wrote it, I might try to end it differently. Maybe there's a better way to end it (I think there is.) My spoileriffic thoughts are at the end. Table of contents here.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Peter Gets Comeuppance

Did you really think Sam's ploy would work? Table of contents here. I really like some of Sam's analogies/metaphors/what-have-yous at the start. This doesn't give people the come-uppance that everyone wanted Peter to get, I think, since Sam ducks out before it happens. But, then again, Sam has no real desire to get in the middle of this, so I think it makes sense.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Sam Gets Emily

I've been doing a few things in my time not writing. First, I've been playing Bastion. So far, I see why people liked it when it came out -- what, five years ago? Yeah. I'm behind. I also finished the series of Cheers and started Wings, because it is by some of the same people. I feel like Wings got the short end of the stick; I think it is nearly as good as Cheers, so kind of a shame it never really picked up. Oh well, Table of Contents here.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Sam Gets Honest

My favorite punchline is a retroactive callback within the same couple of pages. It's sort of like one of those joke set ups where someone is going to go talk to someone that makes them nervous. The other characters all suggest different things they could say, but then the character rejects their ideas and supplies a much wittier or smarter comment. Then, when they approach the character, nerves take over, and they spit out something stupid that had been suggested previously. Only, this time, you hear the stupid comment first ("Your hair looks nice,") before getting the call-back to the reason it is especially funny. Also: Any chance to reference Ghostbusters makes the section better. Table of Contents here.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Lucy Gets an Unexpected Surprise

This is another scene that I think works better if it were physical. The constant rocking, nudging and tossing around of Jon is really a great moment for physical comedy. The last bit, which I'll hold off describing, is really more of a physical/visual scene than a written one. Oh well. Table of Contents here.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Lucy Gets Serious

I have a new term of comedy writing art: Flexible Protagonist Personality Syndrome. In a cast, you tend to have a few primary protagonists (Sam Malone/Diane/Rebecca in Cheers.) Each character has a few things that are written in stone (Malone is a chivalrous pervert, Diane is small name big ego, Rebecca is a gold digger,) so on, so forth. But, within those spheres, we have a lot of wiggle room. Probably the biggest example of this is with Frasier in "Cheers" and Frasier in "Frasier." It is kind of hard to imagine the Frasier in "Frasier" and the Frasier in "Cheers" as the same person; the guy who on-the-fly turned Charles Dickens into a sort of modern day hard boiled crime story for his bar buddies is not really the same guy who throws those lavish dinner parties. But, those are at the extremes. For most of both shows runs, you can find a sort elastic personality that fits the characters that wouldn't be acceptable in a more serious drama.

This flex is because comedy requires some give and take from the audience; Woody (or Coach for the early seasons), for example, is essentially a living cartoon character. But, Woody especially, swings from being one of Sam's biggest boosters in his skirt chasing ways, to being a fairly conservative sort of guy when it comes to sex and marriage.  In a long-running series like Cheers, this can show character growth (the Sam we see at the end is not in anyway the same Sam who hires Diane in episode 1,) so it is often forgivable. In a shorter piece, like this story below (Table of Contents here), it is distracting. Hopefully, I've done a decent job of keeping our protagonists' personalities from flexing too much, or stretching too far, for the sake of a joke.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sam Gets a Clue

See if you can catch what Christine says that is bothering Sam. I feel like this is a good place to tag off to Lucy. I was tempted to instead actually have this scene be Lucy sending the text messages to Sam from her perspective while shooting down Christine and Kenny's wacky plans. Then, I realized that those sort of plans are funnier from an outside perspective. Also, if we did it that way, we'd need to sit through the same jokes a second time for Sam to hear them. Which seemed clunky, and unlike every other instance in this writing project where things have been clunky, I went ahead and excised that entire section and just have us have Sam walk in in the middle. I feel this helps the pacing, which is dragging. Table of Contents here, fiction below the link.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

RPG Maker Game Update

Actually playing and trying to break my own game in RPG Maker is really flexing problem solving skills I had long since let atrophy. It gives me a new sense of respect for the QA big games have to go through to get published. Think, in a fairly minimalistic sprite-based RPG, in the first two real rooms of the dungeon, I had nearly half-a-dozen game breaking bugs (using a certain skill causes a crash, saving/loading breaks event scripts, door won't reopen, etc., etc.) Imagine how much more complicated bug shooting, say, Eden Prime or the Human Noble's origin story must have been.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Sam Gets the Rules

Kenny and Sam come up with wacky plans more frequently than Lucy. Hence, they do a lot more thinking about theirs, which is why their questions for Lucy are important. Table of contents here.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

RPG Maker: Scanning Enemies Without Scripting

So, for the past three hours, I have been trying to get a Scan/Libra type skill to work in RPG Maker VX Ace WITHOUT using scripting. I tried a bunch of triggers with events, variables and switches. All of these led to dead ends. Then, I realized something. I can use things for things that they are not meant to be used for.

So, I created a status effect called "Scanned," and my scan-type abilities will inflict this status effect. Then, for each battle, I've created an event for each enemy that triggers at the end of any turn where the enemy is afflicted with scanned by using the "When the end of turn" condition and the "Conditional Branch" option. The event causes a text window to appear and cleanses the enemy of scanned. The text window can have the necessary text written in like a normal event. It won't give you the dynamic HP, TP, MP, currently inflicted states, etc., but it will work for weaknesses and biography type information. You could, theoretically, set INTERNAL conditional branches to say things like "The monster is currently poisoned!," but I felt that was going too far.

Now, this works for me, since I want the numbers to be fairly hidden. Plus, this means I can write things like: "The monster is easily knocked off-balance and takes time to recover after large attacks." Or: "The enemy will respond harshly to attempts to heal." to help players figure out strategies BEFORE they wipe the first time.

Some warnings: Scanned needs to last 2 turns, otherwise RPG Maker clears the effect BEFORE checking if an event should happen. You need to make sure that each event only gets checked for once per turn, otherwise it will constantly fire off if you set it to moment. I have no idea how this work around works if you're using an Active Time Battle System.

... This is how I spent the last three or four hours of my night. What's worst? It probably isn't even the best solution to the problem.

---

Edit: What this ALSO means is that you can have enemies scan specific player characters to trigger events. So, you could have an enemy "lock on" to a player, and then have the conditional event text read: "The sniper is aiming at Jim! Protect him!" Then, have the next turn, have the enemy do something to targets afflicted with Scanned [provided you make sure the enemy's event did not clear scanned on the PC]. So, now Scanned is pulling double duty. All without scripting.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Lucy Gets Cold Feet

In which Christine makes a dirty joke, Lucy doesn't get it, and we all laugh.

... We all laugh.

Table of Contents.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

RPG Maker Combat System

Before I go any further with making items/characters/skills, I need to sit down and decide combat numbers. On the one hand, I like how the HP/damage scales through Ch.1 (at the end, your tank has around 1.3k HP and his base attack does around 120~, while your damage dealer has around 750 HP and does around 160~, but can reliably do special attacks that pump that 300~.)

That feels like very Final Fantasy numbers. The problem is that it gets unwieldy FAST. So, what's the other possibility? Make the numbers much smaller, removing the multipliers. At the base, a regular attack is your Attack Value * 4 resisted by an enemy defense value * 2 [with a +/- 20.]

What I'm tempted to do is retweak the numbers to get rid of the multiplication. So, instead, your tank would have around 130 HP by the end of chapter 1, the damage dealer would have around 75. The difference in their basic attacks would be 12 to 16, with the damage dealer being able to put out about 30 damage with a special, with the boss going from having nearly 1500 HP to having about 150. Nothing changes except the scope of the numbers, but it would make it easier for me to balance in my head.

So, here's my question for RPG Players: Do you prefer the large abstract numbers of Final Fantasy/Star Ocean titles, or the smaller, more easy to understand numbers of a more tactical game like Fire Emblem?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Lucy Gets Second Thoughts ... Again

A relatively short section. Table of contents here.

There are now two major projects I am working on. One is the slow conclusion to the Lucy and Sam story, of which I have an update below. The second is the RPG I am making with RPG Maker. My initial goal is to use the in-built sprites/icons/etc. as place holders. Once I get far enough in I know that at least the first couple of chapters are a thing, I'll try and draft a sprite artist to help make things work. So! Project Update:

1. Lucy and Sam story: Probably about 20-30 more pages to finish.
2. Dreaming Path: First floor of the dungeon, first two PCs, and part of dungeon floor 2 complete.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Dreaming Path

Ever since I played the early Final Fantasy games, I've wanted to make an RPG. The biggest thing standing in my way has always been a complete and total lack of technical skill in coding, programming and art. Enter, RPG Maker.

In this image, Arthur, our first character, uses a spell.

As you can see, RPG Maker has solved a lot of these problems for me. Finding a script from their Wiki to make the party's sprites appear in combat, we currently have a fairly solid system for an old-school, turn-based J-RPG. But, we really want to try and make things different than other games. The first thing you'll notice is that the title implies that dreams are going to be a powerful theme.

That's true, in more ways than one. Right now, I've only finished the first floor of the starter dungeon. It is a bit surreal, a bit silly, and fairly simple. The enemies there are basic starter monsters. They just attack you. As you're all alone, though, you'll need to guide Arthur to safety. The first dungeon will take you from level 1 to 7.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Banana Strawberry Vanilla Pie

Try this at home kids. I subbed in graham crackers for vanilla wafers. But... I think the crust did not turn out proper at all for me. I think it is going to be more... strawberry banana crumb pie than actual pie. We'll see what happens tomorrow when it is done chilling. I always thought pies were supposed to be easy, but that stupid crust was a pain.

Pictures below, they're fairly self-explanatory. There'll be no pictures of the whipped cream because, well, I'm not doing that till tomorrow morning.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Lucy Gets Historical

So, how many of you are doing this Sharknado thing? This section solely exists to let Kenny and Christine have another scene together. This scene exists for no other reason than that. Table of contents here.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Lucy Gets Flustered.

Back to Lucy. This section is for some callbacks, to have Lucy insult Mr. Dawes, and to show some mild level of growth and not growth in Lucy. I like it, but, I tend to like a lot of what I write, even when, objectively, I know it should be called crap. Table of contents here. If I ever fix the table of contents page, I think I would redo everything into the X gets Y format.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Random People, Random Places: Or Why Matt Can't Have New Friends

Random Woman Walking to Safeway: "I think I hear a baby goat."

Matt: "I thought I heard one too, but let's not kid ourselves."

She didn't think it was funny. There was a baby goat though; more reasons I should always carry my camera. The baby goat was safely in control of Fairfax park people, so no worries about it.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Sam Gets a Deal

I received a blog hit through the search "algebra is an ordeal." So, there's that. This is just a quick set up to help remind us of a few things, let Mr. Dawes interact with the cast for a bit, and to set things up for when everything will start spiraling out of control. There aren't really any more dominoes to set up, I think, so now we can get to the execution part, which I'm sure will be bungled. Ultimately, you know things are going to end poorly, since two wacky plans are about to implode on each other. The table of contents is here. I also like Kenny's idea of a business proposal.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Jon Gets Bad Advice

For folks who don't want to read about The Walking Dead, here is this section. We get to see something rather amusing, for me. Lucy's constant harping and nagging was actually working. Jon was really thinking about just letting it all go. Then, Sam and Kenny with their incomplete understanding of the situation come along and screw it up. They mean well, but you know how that goes. This is also another section that lets Kenny just be a little weird for the sack of being weird. Table of contents here.

Walking Dead: 400 Days Review & Annoyance

Spoilers below the fold, but first: For a $5.00 DLC on Steam, this was well worth the investment. It isn't very "gamey," sort of like the original five episodes. It is much more narrative in scope. Because of the shorter vignette structure, as opposed to a more cohesive story, it lets us have wildly divergent choices where we're left to imagine the outcome that brings our five characters from the end of their snapshot (if you've played the game, you caught the pun, I hope), to the epilogue.

I'm actually a fan of this style of game, and while a lot of people say you don't get a feel for the characters, I think they're just not paying attention. Vince is a protective leader-type; we're not sure WHAT he was helping his brother with that lead to his story, but throughout his story, no matter what choices you take, he comes across as a can-do leader that both of his companions come to trust.

The other characters are a bit more divergent in their growth, but that is based solely on your final decision. To get into to much detail there is spoilerific, so be warned.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Sam and Kenny get Cherry Cokes

I like this section because Sam and Kenny get to just be Sam and Kenny for a bit. Kenny is something of a chivalrous pervert, which is fun to write. Sam's focus is also a nice contrast to Kenny's broader goals. It's a much different dynamic than Lucy and Christine. Kenny is more the oddball silly one, sort of like Lucy's ramblings and saying crazy things, while also being the trouble maker and instigator like Christine. Sam is the more level-headed, even-keeled one, like Christine, while being more like Lucy in his execution. Thus far, someone could probably write an interesting thesis on gender views by comparing the qualities demonstrated by our leads, but I'm not really fond of gendering my writing.

Anyway, table of contents here.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Walking Dead: 400 Days Release Date; Sam Tells the Truth

Staggered releases are great for story-focused games because we all know how no one ever burns through a game in a night and posts spoilers EVERYWHERE.

Anyway; table of contents here. Story below the fold. The initial punchline was going to be: "I hate herbivores; they are the hippies of the animal kingdom." Then, I realized that Susan probably gives off a pro-hippie vibe through the rest of her character. The line about dancing and heels, however, felt a bit more in tune with who she was, while still having an amicable closing point for the two.

If you forget who Susan is, what Frontiers is, well, uh, just read from the start? Really, at  this point, if you haven't read all the sections, just do it. The writing is hit or miss, and some sections drag and are bad, but a lot of the story now will be self-referential, so, you need that background information.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

A Quick Overview Before the Conclusion

And, here we go. You may need a refresher, so here is our cast of characters. Lucy and Sam are our two principals. Kenny and Christine are their more laid back, comedic foils and best friends. Christine is dating Peter, who has a son that Sam and Kenny saved from an allergic reaction when Peter dumped Junior off at their bowling alley. That's when Sam and Kenny learned Peter is married, a fact hidden from Lucy and Christine. Lucy works at the Olive Garden, where Sam used to work until their boss Annette fired him for his bungling. Fiona also works at the Olive Garden; she is currently dating Mortimer, Sam's mechanic. Peter is trying to help Sam and Kenny make a deal to expand Kenny's bowling alley into a franchise with the investor Mr. Dawes. Susan is a reporter for Frontiers, who accidentally came to the misconception that Sam and Kenny are gay, due to Peter's initial misunderstanding. Jon is Lucy's jerk of a boss who she has been butting heads with for most of the story. So, that should cover everything going into a charity ball to raise money for breast cancer research; Jon has been picked to be a local speaker since his wife was a local TV personality on a kid's show who was a victim of breast cancer. That's the quick overview; for more details, there's the Table of Contents here.

Need a specific refresher of who Rigatoni was and how Kenny and Lucy met? Click here.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Lucy Does Something Nice

It took me some time to re-review the backlog of the story to make sure that Lucy really didn't know that Peter was married. I know, for certain, we've made it clear Christine didn't know, but I was afraid in one of my less disciplined sections, I'd had Sam mention it to Lucy. My cursory re-read of all the sections mentioning Peter's name assuages me that, no, Lucy is blissfully unaware that her friend's boyfriend is secretly married. If I somehow missed a section where Lucy found out, consider that retconned. Lucy should have no knowledge of Peter's philandering ways. This might, I think, be one of the only times I've preemptively retconned something I've written via commenting, instead of simple recursive editing.

Which is important: If she knew, the last part of this section becomes incredibly cruel, as opposed to a sweet gesture from Lucy to her friend, that we ironically know is going to blow up in her face. Either or, the section is below! The table of contents is here.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Lucy Springs into Action

Some time over the last few days, we've broken over 20,000 hits on the blog. So, milestone? Honestly, I think I would be perfectly happy just writing dialogue between Sam and Kenny and Lucy and Christine for the rest of the story and ignoring the plot. This bit is fun, and I really like it. It gets a little of the plot through, and it helps us see the inner workings of Lucy's mind and plot. We also get to start seeing her have misgivings about her revenge plot, though it seems like she really wants to go through with it. And, yes. I believe this might be the only conversation on the Internet that tries to conflate Jiminy Cricket with the devil. As always, here is your table of contents.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Sam and Mortimer

Your cool thing from the Internet. The table of contents is here. This section wraps up Sam's confusion over Rusty/Mortimer, but leaves him confused. It's so terribly weak that I kind of wanted to not post it, then I realized I'd been hacking it for days. I really, honestly, think this story started so strong, and it is going to finish weak. I hate that about my writing. Time to close out our morning with Sam, deal with Lucy's afternoon, and then jump back to Sam for the start of the night.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Random People, Random Places: My Neighbor

So, I just spent five minutes knocking on my neighbor's door. Just knocking. Waiting. Hearing them moving around inside. Then knocking again. Listening to their dog bark. Waiting. Then knocking.

Finally he swung open the door and looked like he was ready to punch me.

"Excuse me, you left your keys in the door."

"Oh. Alright then."

When he closed the door, do you know how tempted I was to knock before I ran away?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Another Mild Misunderstanding


This is just a reminder about what Sam thinks about Peter, while bringing up the entire conflict for Sam: He wants to be honest with Susan, but there's all sorts of complications with that. First and foremost, he's got people who believe in him as a sort of hero, even though part of it is a lie. Also, getting a business loan would be pretty awesome. If I ever re-edit, this is another section that might get completely excised, since it doesn't really do anything plot-wise, but it helps me reorient myself in the process. Anyway, here's the Table of Contents.

As a side note, I've been getting up early and walking to the Metro. I might get to see the deer again, so I'm bringing my camera. For now, here's an aquarium rabbit.

It lives in an aquarium.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Intermediate Post

Not at home, but I'm able to post a single quick post on Lucy and Sam. I'll just copy and paste it into the main file when I have my computer back, since I forgot to synch up my Google Drive version for the last month or so. Or ever, to be totally honest. Here's the Table of Contents.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Over Aggression Throws Games

You're going to lose games in MOBAs. It just happens. You might have a great KDA; you may just lose the first team fight when respawn timers are high enough that the random group of 5 that has been raging at each other can shut up for 40 seconds to push your base. You may "lose" the game when a three man gank bottom goes bad because the enemy Sona just hit six when a minion died near her and she ults you to turn the gank around. Whatever, some of that is out of your control.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Random People Random Places: Dirty Old Lady

Today at the Subway, when asked if she would like anything on her sandwich, the dirty old lady said: "No thank you dear; I like my sandwiches like I like my men. Cheap, a foot long and naked."

Most awkward time waiting for a sandwich ever.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Matt Plays League of Legends

I play League of Legends, which you know from past posts. One thing I want to do is get better at LoL and MOBAs in general, especially with Smite and Dungeon Defenders 2 happening. So, one thing I thought that might help me get better, is to make some MOBA match reports. Before that, full disclosure, I play ranked because there's less racism and trolling than in normals. I may not be good enough for ranked, as my Bronze 1 division attests, but it is a more pleasant experience all around.

So, from here-on-in, I'm going to try and keep updates on my League of Legends play (and later, Smite and Dungeon Defenders 2.)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Sam and Tuxedos

Table of contents. Another short piece that I don't really like, but needed to be done because Sam needs to get a nice tuxedo. I just have two more boring plot sections before we can finally get to the ending. I'll be happy when this is over because, frankly, I'm not a fan of writing the ending of this.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Really Honest to God Return to Lucy and Sam

Do you know how hard it is to write conclusions to comedy? Maybe. It is really hard for me; I still have a few more scenes to go through before the party, but I can't ever figure out just how to do it. I meant to have a whole lot written this week, but I just finished this bridge scene to my satisfaction. Anyway, the table of contents is here. Comedy is hard because if it falls flat, it really falls flat. Drama is easy; just write the phrase "the puppy died," and BAM! instant drama. What can you do to get comedy? Probably something with monkeys.

I like this scene because it is just Lucy and Christine being themselves. Sort of the calm before the storm. But it is so painfully short. Oh well, maybe I just need to ramp up the writing again.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Random People, Random Places: Creepy Eyeball

Little Girl, while pointing a squeeze ball painted like an eyeball at me: Creepy eyeball!

Her mom: Leave the man alone.

Little Girl: Creepy eyeball.

Me: Yes. Yes it is.

Little Girl: Creepy eyeball.

Her mom: I'm so sorry.

Me: It's alright.

Little Girl: The creepy eyeball is crying. (Here, she squeezes it and it oozes water.)

Me: Yes. Yes it is.

Little Girl: It is crying tears... of TOY.

Her mom and I both break out laughing at this point.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Caramel Apple Brownies


As always, told in pictures! Recipe from here. I added marshmallows and substituted cinnamon sugar butter for plain butter.

Everything you need (Plus Cake!)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Upcoming Fiction

The Lucy and Sam story will wrap up May 31. I'm going to spend most of my nights this week and this weekend preparing for exactly what is going to happen and working it out. Consider this your chance to get caught up, since starting Monday, I expect a post a day for it.

Afterwards, I'll start on the short to lead in to the end of June RP event. In addition, my goal is still to self-publish one of my shorts by the end of year. Currently, I'm still deciding which one, but I'll obviously shamelessly self-promote once I do so.

As for my minimum of a page a day of fiction, Lucy and Sam's story takes up 98 pages in Word. The Shadowrun Short takes up 32 pages, for a total of 130 pages. That's probably a little shy, but if we include a few one-offs that I quietly killed and the Dear Sullivan letters, we're probably fairly close. I don't think I'll hit the magic number this year like I did last, but the quality of what I'm writing is much, much higher. I think I like that trade off.

For a list of completed drafts, with working titles see below:

  • "Across the Gap: The Story of Dana Littleton" -- The soft sci-fi story
  • "The Coming Flood" -- The high fantasy horror story 
  • "In the Land of Giants" -- The Mouse Story
  • "Old School Methods" -- The Shadowrun Short
  • "The Church Behind the Gate" -- The story of Him Robertson
  • "An Unusual Deduction" -- The Parskins detective short
  • "A Night Off the Streets" -- The attempt at a zombie short
Now I just need a nifty title for the Lucy and Sam story.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

End of June Role Playing Event

In June, I am going to run a Call of Cthulhu one-shot. There is a crew of 11 people that the players can elect to choose from. The transport plane housed 13 people (plus the pilot for 14); only 11 remain. While the lead-in short will give the characters some traits and the like, they'll be flexible Pre-Genned PCs, meaning that the only thing definitively set is their profession and last name.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Return to Sam and Lucy

Here's an icky bridge section. It is icky because, well, it paints a picture of Lucy that, if I were not trying to stick to a certain amount of output of pages, I wouldn't have kept. If I ever do a massive edit for publication, this section will either move earlier, to help show how she grows, or be cut entirely. The point is that it does help us see how she is passive, proud and in some ways difficult. It is a good section, but it feels weird coming at the end when she is supposed to be growing into an active, forceful person.

Oh well. Table of Contents here.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Shadowrun Short Part 10

All of a sudden, joking about having the IRS audit your political enemies isn't as funny, is it? Oh well. Back to Shadowrunning.

Part 1 starts here; Part 2 starts here. You can find Part 3 there; Part4 here. Part 5! Part 6 was available here. For Part 7, click! The next part was Part 8. Part 9 is here. If this gets too long, I might need a second Table of Contents.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Shadowrun Part 9

Part 1 starts here; Part 2 starts here. You can find Part 3 there; Part4 here. Part 5! Part 6 was available here. For Part 7, click! The next part was Part 8. If this gets too long, I might need a second Table of Contents.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Shadowrun Part 8

Part 1 starts here; Part 2 starts here. You can find Part 3 there; Part4 here. Part 5! Part 6 was available here. For Part 7, click! If this gets too long, I might need a second Table of Contents.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Shadowrun Short: Part 7

Part 1 starts here; Part 2 starts here. You can find Part 3 there; Part4 here. Part 5! Part 6 was available here. If this gets too long, I might need a second Table of Contents.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Shadowrun Short Part 6

Part 1 starts here; Part 2 starts here. You can find Part 3 there; Part4 here. Part 5! If this gets too long, I might need a second Table of Contents. Just a reminder this is about my Shadowrun character. Now with Blog Tags! I think the Secret of Mana shout out is the best. (Not as good as the planned Shadowrun for the SNES shout out in the last parts.)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Part 5: In Which the Theme Develops

Part 1 starts here; Part 2 starts here. You can find Part 3 there; Part4 here. If this gets too long, I might need a second Table of Contents. Just a reminder this is about my Shadowrun character. It's like an origin story, but with words.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Shadowrun Character Part 4

Part 1 starts here; Part 2 starts here. You can find Part 3 there. If this gets too long, I might need a second Table of Contents. Side note: Someone needs to teach Wikipedia about Venn diagrams. Just a reminder: Roscoe Sumter is my Shadowrun character for an upcoming campaign. Now: The the adventure!

Monday, April 29, 2013

I Had a Good First Draft, Then I Had to Try Again

No references today. The table of contents are here. Ok, references, for those of you who don't know much about women's fashion or plays.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Shadowrun Story Part 3

Part 1 starts here; Part 2 starts here. If this gets too long, I might need a second Table of Contents.

* * *

Thursday, April 25, 2013

I Have Not Called This Story Off

Reference here. Table of contents here. I'm not happy with how this ended. I think the only way to really do this would be physically, with Sam and Tanya tossing tomatoes, potatoes and knives to each other, slicing things as they tapped. But, that's not something I can make happen in text cleanly. So, instead, you get this.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Shadowrun Short: Part 2

Lucy and Sam take another unexpected break to bring you the next section for the Shadowrun short. Section 1 of the Shadowrun Character's short story can be found at the link.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sam Does Television

I want a dog to commute with me. I would call him Colonel, and we would solve crime. Fiction below the fold; not much to say except it is the natural conclusion to Sam's skills combined with making television. Here's the table of contents; I'm surprised I'm getting as much out of this as I am, to be honest. I though this would just be a single gag, then transition to the end of the fiasco and hear it described. But, actually watching as Sam and Tanya do the show turns out to be amusing enough for me to write that I'll subject you all to it. Also: Some major errors were missed in the last Sam section; it has been updated to read more smoothly.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Shadowrun Character

So, I'm making a Shadowrun Character, and I don't really know much about him. I've been instructed he is a cop, which means that he needs to have the SINner negative quality. I wanted to try and stay away from a cowboy cop type, so I decided to go with a slightly different archetype. He's got a softer touch with people; he's gregarious and a little free with money. This also comes through in the fact that he's a team player, but a bit old fashioned seeming.

To help play that up, we're making him look physically older by giving him a beard. We're also going to make him seem that way by giving him some anachronisms, like having a pet dog and Animal Empathy. To help keep him from becoming too tech savvy, we've weighed him down with three ranks in Gremlins and Simsense Vertigo. His other positive qualities are Toughness (a nice, generic trait that is always helpful and will help solidify his role as the old, well, tough guy, in the group) and a Home Ground in a neighborhood he normally patrols.

I've yet to assign him any other stats, skills, gear, resources or contacts, but I'm starting to get an idea for how those should work.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Random People, Random Places: Kids at Dinner

I was out at dinner one night when I didn't feel like cooking. That is a regular night. Anyway, there was a kid with her parents at one of the tables. While I was reading, the dad left the table for something. The kid said:

"Mommy, can I tell you a secret?"

"What is it?"

"I love you best, but don't tell daddy."

I have no idea what the mother thought; but either or, eventually the dad came back. Sometime later, the mom disappeared, and the kid repeated the act.

"Daddy, can I tell you a secret?"

"What is it?"

"I love you best, but don't tell mommy."

It's just interesting the sorts of things you'll overhear while you're out and about on your own.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

An Observation on League of Legends

No matter what role I'm playing, inevitably, during the mid-game, I say something like this: "We really need to start staying together and not venturing into the unwarded parts of the jungle. You see, when you see the support or ADC standing next to some bushes, it is an ambush. They are all there. Do not run in one at a time to the death bush."

Yet, even in the games we win, inevitably, people will run into the death bush. There is no amount of pinging or /team that will fix this. This is one reason that voice chat is good.

Also, kudos to League of Legends. I've now played for about a week straight without anyone being racist. I feel like the proud manager at a dangerous factory turning over the sign: "8 Days Without a Racist Remark."

From what I remember of Heroes of Newerth, you were lucky to go 8 minutes without it. If the Dungeon Defenders 2 MOBA has a community that isn't filled with racists, I would hop there in a heart beat.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Return to Fiction

I wrote this while waiting for buses; in general, a pretty meh piece. But, it gave Tanya something to do and helped bring us back to Sam. An... effective-ish transition, I guess. Table of Contents here.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Chewy Chocolate Cherry Cookies Are the Ones that I Want

I made this. The only change is that I added a spoonful of cherry preserves to make the cookies a bit softer, though they still seemed a bit crisper, but having not tried one yet, they may still be chewy. That and mine came out in weird shapes. We started with this song from Grease and ended with this song from the Steve Miller Band. Thanks Pandora!

At some point, I'll need to decide I need more than a whisk for these jobs. Either or, total of 28 cookies made.

Here's what you need (and vanilla extract.)

Cherry Blossom Parade Photos: 2013

Hooray for parades!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

No Fiction Today

Instead, this. Brought to you by "Stuck on the Metro Without Something to Read."

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Cooking: April 10, Chicken Stir Fry, Sans Rice/Pasta

Cooking enough food for three or four days for about $20.00 is known as Good Economics. I was listening to Pandora while I cooked, and started with this song and ended with this song. I am what you might call eclectic. I have no shame; I will also admit this played.

As always, this is told in captions.

Start with vegetables, sauce, cheese, spices, chicken.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Random People, Random Places: Staples and Zelda

Today at Staples, while I'm wearing my Zelda Symphony search, the salesman said: "Man, ask yourself what Zelda would do." while trying to up-sell me. "He'd probably buy everything and stick it in his magic pouch."

Can anyone tell us why he didn't get the extra sale?

Come on, let's not always see the same hands.

Cherry Blossoms and Play Acting

This weekend is the Cherry Blossom Parade. This weekend I'll be at the parade and doing some baking. Will we see unexpected cats again?

Will this cat be there again?

I kind of like this little section with Lucy; I find it nice to get around to humanizing her a bit and getting her to talk without being silly. It's just a nice little scene between our two leads that shows a much different dynamic than back on page four or five. Anyway, Table of Contents here, fiction below the fold.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Gerunds: They Exist. Also, Socks.

Over at the New York Times there's an opinion on taking verbs as nouns. I don't see why there's any discussion on whether this is right or wrong. "What is the ask?" and "This year's spend is excessive" are patently wrong. The first is clunky and a non-functional question (without context; in context, much like an imperative statement, there is probably an understood subject doing the asking.) In the second, spend has been conjugated incorrectly. The fact the author never mentions gerunds also bothers me. What's worse, "do you have a solve" is again using the wrong word. The speaker should choose "solution," but is either unfamiliar with English (a non-native speaker, for example), or lazy.

Words mean things. Also, from the What Could Go Wrong? file.

Anyway, today's fiction feels like filler until the end, but I liked the intro thoughts from Lucy. I also really like this because, while being sympathetic, Lucy has had a lot more moments of coming across as being not nice compared to Sam. Sam's flaws tend to flow from being short-sighted and having his priorities mixed up, while Lucy seems to be a bit more reserved, flighty and in some ways too proud for her own good. I think this is a good section for her.

Hopefully now that life is back to a normal rhythm, fiction blogging will be back to speed. Table of Contents here.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Lucy and Rules

We're back to regular blogging now that the apartment is set up, PAX is over and I'm on a regular work schedule again. It was not an oversight that Sullivan did not fill in for me; he has stuff and things to do.

In some ways, I feel more closely associated with Lucy than Sam, despite Lucy being a woman. Lucy's thoughts on rules here is something very much like I would say (technically, did say.) I specifically hated the variant rules for checkers growing up. I don't just mean I disliked them, I mean I hated them with a passion.

Anyway, bonus points if you know what quote Lucy is bastardizing. Fiction below the fold, table of contents here.

---

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Thoughts and Things

First, I'm re-reading some of the last sections of the Lucy and Sam story before I start writing more, so that I remember where I am. Besides my fiction a day, I want to start branching this blog out more, or more accurately, returning to its roots. Namely: I want to start featuring games, gaming and history more and my writing less. Whether that means I need a sub-blog just for fiction or not, I don't know. But, that's where it is.

In that vein, I am going to start reaching out to some of the game developers that I saw at PAX and seeing if they want to start talking about their games with me. I don't care too much about the design and mechanics part of the games, though I like them. I want to focus more on the fiction and world-building parts, because remember these couple of posts?

I also feel that this place should be a bit of a refuge from the craziness of the Real World, and so, as of this post, I'm declaring this blog a Politics Free Zone. This place is meant to be friendly, warm and game-tastic. To help promote that, I am once again promoting MAGI, our informal gaming group.

This Saturday is International Table Top Day. A lot of folks are still beat from PAX, but I'll be playing Pixel Tactics and maybe some other things. So, expect a review of at least Pixel Tactics this weekend. Tomorrow, we're back to fiction, but remember: Play some games this Saturday.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

PAX Overview and Haul

Total list below the picture; apologies for late blogging. Blame Verizon. Also, next year, more photos. For more photos, and a few of Cheers, click here. I also think I need to finally get a better camera sometime this year.

My favorite costume. Hooray Chrono Trigger. Boo Chrono Cross.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Puppets Have Tea.

Initially, Sam was supposed to think about Sherlock Holmes. Then, I realized, that didn't really fit what we know about Sam. It took a bit of rewriting once I got back from the parade, but I think the Monk (and cute blonde) reference feels more Sam. This bit also helps bring Peter back into Sam's story as opposed to just being the strange man in Lucy's apartment. Also: Puppets have tea.

Have a Happy St. Patrick's Day, and remember, I'll be in Boston this weekend. Table of contents here. This is a short section to make up for yesterday's six page marathon.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Not a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment

This section is great; it is one that I have worked off and on for a week or so, trying to get happy with it. I took my last draft outside hour today and rewrote it by hand, then brought it back to retype. All in all, the time I put into these pages was overwhelming, but I hope that the payoff is worth it.

Right now, it works really well with all the background you have on the characters, but it wouldn't take too much to change it to a stand alone piece. We get to see a very soft side of Sam and  a wacky plan. The only real issue is this makes no sense and comes from left field. It is not quite this (see here for real examples), but it doesn't really fit. If I do a major edit, I might rework it and move it earlier to make Sam more sympathetic earlier and give Kenny more action early.

Kenny and Sam are a bit vulgar, so, language warning. Table of contents here, fiction below.

Friday, March 15, 2013

They Really Exist. CNN Wrote About Them.

This is a little bit slow, and we needed the view point shift to see Lucy, tired and scheming, from another view point. This also reminds us that Sam thinks Mortimer is Rusty, Lucy's non-existent fake boyfriend. Through a small failure in communication, Sam has leaped to an even more ridiculous conclusion. But, that's OK. Because, hey, he means well. And, it is apparently a real thing. In a Sitcom, he would've needed to have Kenny with him to share his misunderstanding, since voice overs are hammy and lame. But, in a narrative, he can just ask himself.

Anyway, fiction below the fold. Poor Sam; just as he's trying to be a respectable, honest individual, he comes to this horrendous misunderstanding. Anyway, table of contents here. Expect extremely interrupted blogging after this weekend, as I'll be moving and in Boston for PAX. By the way, if you live around D.C., there's a parade on Sunday; hopefully nothing will be too high this time.

* * *

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Lucy and Laundry

I was going to tell people that the new pope could be a breath of fresh air. Then I learned he only had one lung. Now, I -want to say that all the time.- Either or, today is Pi Day. If I weren't packing, I would have made a pie. But I am, so I didn't.

Anyway, the laundry discussion is another early one I had worked out between Christine and Lucy. It really should have appeared sooner, because like the one about movies, it helps define their characters. I actually feel bad burying it so late in the story because I think making Lucy miserable is funny in the way that making any protagonist miserable is funny. Luckily, by dropping it in here, we get some actual humor wedged in after a rather boring scene about waffles.

I also like Peter's "I'm just trying to figure out the rules!" and utter confusion about Lucy's particular quirks and women's clothing. Either way, fiction is below. The table of contents is here.

* * *

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The NYT Doesn't Get Why We're Bicameral

Althouse posted this story: "Frances E. Lee, a political scientist at the University of Maryland, said the problem was as real as the solution elusive, adding that she and other scholars have tried without success to find a contemporary reason to exempt the Senate from the usual rules of granting citizens an equal voice in their government."

You can tell this is top shelf journalism because some are saying things, while others are saying other things. As for being the least democratic legislature, it's almost like no one remembers the House of Lords still exists. I also note that all the methods suggested to balance the power, particularly the suggested fix for the Electoral College, essentially would completely neuter small states. This whine is a political power play unfounded in the recognition that we're not a pure democracy, and frankly, pure democracies are scary things.

Then again, I'm not a political scientist. Alas, if only there were some papers somewhere, that some people might have written -- perhaps contemporaneously -- that explained all of this. But, I suppose that the reasoning behind the establishment of the Senate is a mystery shrouded in myths forever and ever, amen.

---

PS: This is known as "working as intended;" this is a "feature not a bug;" it is "baked into the cake."

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

It's Because She Bends the Truth

For a woman who routinely states that she doesn't go in for comfort food and hates treats because she doesn't want to have to exercise, Lucy really seems to know her junk food. This scene is really just to give Lucy a little victory and because I wanted to drag out the day a bit more. It's a pretty slow section, and it doesn't really add much except as breather space before we get into the last day and then the main event.

As always, fiction is below the fold, and the table of contents is here. Expect erratic posting until April as moving and PAX happen. Here's your reminder: Are you going to PAX? If you are and want to try and meet for a game of something, let me know.

* * *

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Random People, Random Places: Lucy and Roger

I used to write free hand, then come back to my desk and type it up. It nearly tripled the time to write things, but I was much happier with my end product. So, now that the weather is nice, I'll start doing that again. Today's fiction was written outside first, then posted here. One thing I do like about this method is, besides higher quality (and being outside) we get more written per session, since during the typing up, we can layer in some better jokes and bridges. It works best for comedy where getting the bon mot to make something funny, while keeping characterization consistent, is hard.

For example, the initial hand written draft has Roger being a bit more dirty old man than was comfortable for what little characterization he has had, which I would have hated if I posted it that way. He's still a bit dirty on the edit and re-write, but it is in a way that feels more right for him, without losing the general thrust of the conversation.

Sadly, I do think this might be Roger's last scene (it currently is in my current timeline), but I like him. He also serves to help show Lucy in her comfort zone; she's never quite in it with the other people, so she's almost a different person in her scenes with him, which initially was a chance to show her potential in becoming more assertive and confident, but which isn't as important now that we can see her taking a stand against Jon (in an aggressive way) and with Christine (in a playful, friendly way.) Poor, plot redundant Roger.

Random People, Random Places

During my walk today, I decided it had been a year or so, so it was time to replace my worn out shoes. I only keep two pairs (a pair of sneakers and a pair of work shoes; well, and a pair of Red Cross flip-flops, but flip-flops aren't shoes.) While there, the woman at the check out desk tried to get me to sign up for some sort of shoe-rewards program. I politely declined. When pressed for a reason, I gave one.

"No thank you; I buy new shoes maybe once a year."

"You should buy more shoes."

"No thank you."

"See you next year," she said. It was a very friendly business transaction. Fiction below the fold, table of contents here.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Why Aren't Matt and Sullivan Blogging?

Because of Carrot Cake: The Bakening.

Start with various white powders and things...

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Sam Learns the Power of Lies

I spent way too much time on this section. I don't like it, but I think it is important. Sam's growth is finally actually challenged with something bigger than just not checking out a pretty girl. Here he is shown Frontier magazine, and his pride is at stake. But, instead of setting everything straight (see what I did there?), he passes on it to let the good story come to its conclusion.

All in all, I really like the concept of this piece, but the execution is weak. It is long and didactic; it explains why Heather was working at the Olive Garden had a rich "estate." It weaves in little things like that that you may have forgotten. Even the punchline is a call back to Sam's interview with Susan (which I hoped to prime in your mind by directly quoting from it earlier in the section.)

For example, do you remember this is the second time someone referenced lying to Hitler as an example of how lies can be good? In fact, have you noticed some of the odd parallels in Lucy and Sam's thinking (and did you initially think that those were accidental Matt-isms as opposed to a deliberate attempt to show that they could get along if they tried?) Bonus points for each other one you find. Points are redeemable for nothing, except possibly a blogging stuffed cat.

The last hidden piece is that Annette comes off sympathetically here. She went out of her way to go to bat for Sam, she just thought she'd failed. Oh well. Table of contents here; fiction below

Hubris: Thinking People Read Your Blog


A little editor humor that came at my expense. for those of you snowed in:

Editor 1: Matt, do you know what hubris means?

Me: Yes [explanation here.]

Editor 2: Ok, fine. But would you use it in every day conversation?

Me: Yes. It's got a very specific meaning that there aren't any good synonyms for. Not even really pride is a perfect fit.

Editor 1: See? It's a perfectly normal word.

Editor 2: Wait, Matt: Would a -normal person- use it in every day conversation?

Me: Ah, well, no. Probably not.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Dear Sullivan, 5

"I'm Sullivan!"

Matt said something about "blog called on account of snow and work." This is because Matt does not love you readers. I do. I think he likes snow more than you. I don't. You should revolt against him, for he is The Man. I am The Cat. Not The Cat in The Hat, just The Cat. I don't wear hats because my ears go up and they are uncomfortable. Besides, I have fur to keep me warm. I don't need hats.

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Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Rental Con

First: On the elevator I met a dog. The dog had an owner, but the dog licked my hand and said hello. The owner did too, but, the point is there was an awesome dog. Wait, to clarify: The owner said hello. The owner did not lick my hand. That would've been the most awkward elevator ride ever. She did say she would kiss me to death; that is, the owner said the dog would kiss me to death. You know what, let's move on to the actual point of this post, because unclear syntax is making this weird.

Dear Sullivan, 4

"I'm Sullivan!"

So, Matt is apparently taking "The weekend off blogging." This sounds to me like him being a lazy human. I have a busy weekend filled with naps, chasing feathery things on string and pouncing on sunbeams. I cannot be picking up the slack here. But, I am a "team player," so I've decided to be kind enough to help him out. To do so, I've gone into the mailbag to answer some questions. You are all some crazy cats. Now, to do something just to piss my human off. Like finally add that CATMANCE tag I've been talking about.

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Friday, March 1, 2013

Epigrams and Fiction

Today, Dr. Kernighan gave a lecture on the changing face of programming. I'll admit to being so radically out of my element while covering this that I admit to only getting a brief idea of what he was talking about. Even the "Epigrams in Programming" he referenced, when I looked them up, seemed like things that, if I knew what they meant, would have been enlightening. Except for this one: "Don't have good ideas if you aren't willing to be responsible for them." I know what that means; I told someone at work a few months ago that "suggesting is volunteering." So, see, there's wisdom even in things you don't understand said by people you don't know. I also like "Editing is a rewording activity."

Expect low blogging this weekend. For now, enjoy the fiction below and the table of contents elsewhere.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Sam Keeps Growing Up; Fire Emblem Hates You

Sam's growth arc has him changing a lot more than Lucy's. Whereas Lucy becomes a stronger person and harder to bully and push around, Sam is becoming a genuinely good man who doesn't just have the potential for good things. We knew he had that potential, but now he's going out and seeking things to make him a better person. Like ironing his own clothes; I hate ironing clothes.

Table of contents is here, fiction is below the fold. This weekend expect limited to no posting, but everything should be back to normal by next week.

I've been playing Fire Emblem Awakening; I recommend it. Playing it on casual doesn't really give you the real taste of what the game is. Playing it on less than hard disguises the game's rank ambivalence towards your happiness. You want your happy ending? Earn the damn happy ending. The joy of making digital people talk to each other and save the world is your reward; your punishment is the suffering you, the player, must go through. It's like the entire game is Purgatory, with the promise that your reward is waiting if you'll just suffer a little bit more.

Well, that's actually nothing like Purgatory. But I'm not a religious scholar, so bad religious analogies will have to do.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I Think Only Susan Has a Surname

Here is the payoff for the Frontiers references earlier. Now, there's some artistic license here because I don't know what their distribution method is, and I don't really go to bars. I imagine, though, bars are a lot like coffee places (which I also rarely go to) that have reading material scattered about for people to read. If this is not how bars operate, then I apologize for my lack of knowledge in the ways of bars.

Now, before you get to the fiction, Wolf Trap released their 2013 schedule. Well, they may have released it earlier, but they sent it to me in an email today. So, here are some things that people who read this blog might like, because they are things I like:
  1. Video Games, Live
  2. Bugs Bunny at the Symphony
  3. Lord of the Rings
  4. Huey Lewis and the News
  5. The Mikado (Sullivan's choice for something I should go to)
  6. Gordon Lightfoot
Also, one thing I won't go to, but that people seem to love: Sing-a-long Sound of Music. Fiction is below, table of contents is here.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Lucy Grows a Spine

Oddly enough, most people, I think, would feel somewhat satisfied if Lucy finished her growth arc here. She's speaking her mind and taking charge. This is the moment of highest success for her. From here on in, wacky hijinks ensue to make her revenge less fulfilling than simply telling off Jon directly. She's not particularly witty here, and her sarcasm isn't thick. It's just simple, direct assertiveness bordering on aggression. It's what she's wanted since she talked about the revenge novels she read after naming her imaginary boyfriend Rusty (see how what seemed like a throw-away trait wraps back neatly into her growth arc?)

In addition, at the end of March, I'll be in Boston for PAX. If you are going to be there for that, let me know, and we can meet up. Unless you are an axe murderer. Or, actually, any kind of murderer. Just, no murder, OK?

Fiction below the fold, table of contents here.