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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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.


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.