Previously, in Trip's Life...

31 July 2004 - Saturday

Hah! Finally, I have gotten up on my own, before other people were ready to game! Also, Harold and his Chris arrived by noon, so we were able to get a timely start on...

Amazon Quartet of Justice VIIIa: "On the Road to Rati! Arms of Fire!"

The three countries that Princess Lisbet has prepared letters for are Karral, a once-great nation turned to wasteland by the previous Avalon war and now a desert of nomads; Rati, a populous coastal nation; and the Pelagos, a group of islands a few day's sailing from Rati. After staring at the map, the Amazons decide to visit Rati first, and then take ship to the Pelagos.

Conditions everywhere are worsening as the ancient darkness encroaches on the world, but bandits and wolves are still nothing to the Amazon Quartet. Soon, they arrive in the capital city and main port of Rati, Vikjor. Vikjor is being terrorized by a huge fire-breathing monster that rises from the sea at night, destroys ships and waterfront buildings, and disappears again, which Our Heroines immediately recognize as an opportunity to gain the gratitude of the local rulers.

The Amazons arrange a meeting with Lisbet's contact, Lady Karavala (who turns out to also be a captain in the city guard) and she gets them an appointment to see King Retsirrab and Queen Jacquilynne. The Quartet wait all night in hopes that the monster will show up to be defeated before their audience, but no such luck.

The king and queen of Rati gladly accept help against the monster, but are not entirely committed to joining the fight for Avalon: they must defend their own country first, especially against the perfidious Pelagians, who are probably responsible for the monster to begin with. Still, it's the right thing to do, so Our Heroines lay their ambush as soon as night falls.

Gabrielle magically befuddles the tentacular monster as soon as it rises, preventing it from escaping. This seems like a good idea up until it takes wing to attack the archers who thought they were safe in their rooftop positions well inland. The Amazons are also unprepared for this, and their plan of raining death upon the half-dragon giant squid from afar is utterly ruined. Gabrielle is squashed to death as a result, and everyone is badly wounded. Amaryllis escapes its grasp just before it can finish her off, and is able to use lightning bolts to bring it down, but not before it kills several of the archers as well.

Fortunately, Gabrielle is send back from the Lands of the Sun in time to give everyone at the victory celebration a proper appreciation of the Quartet's accomplishment.

Popular opinion in Rati is strongly against Pelagos, but the more moderate prime minister, Barr, agrees to be an ambassador to Pelagos. Captain Evo, whose ship was rescued from the monster in the nick of time, is heading in that direction, so Barr and the Amazons set sail.

A few days out, the ship is assaulted in the night by nagas. The nagas, even with their pet elasmosaur, can't beat the Amazons, but they have enough magic to retreat beneath the waves and prepare another attack each time they're driven off. Over the course of the night, several sailors are bitten, and the Amazons are not unscratched, but eventually the elasmosaur and most of the nagas are slain, and the rest retreat.

* * *

Harold and his Chris wanted to get home not too late, so we stopped there and scuttled back to Mountain View.

Mmm, Shriekback.

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30 July 2004 - Friday

Still doomed at work. I get to escape tomorrow for AQoJ, but must be at work on Sunday. Bah. :(

* * *

Even though I picked on Marith a lot, we departed for Roseville in fairly good order and arrived without anyone actually dying.

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29 July 2004 - Thursday

Blargh. Yet more database and PeopleSoft wankery today. However, progress was made, which may be enough to satisfy the customer.

At 18:45 I wanted my client manager to let me know if we'd leapt through all the hoops he thought necessary to prevent a recurrence of the Dreadful Database Incident, but he wasn't anywhere to be found, not even on the cell network. Neither was the other guy coordinating this mess, so I went home.

Because Marith is the Best Sister Ever, she gave me a ride to Lee's the instant I got home, ten minutes before they closed, and I was able to pick up several comics. I don't know what, if anything, I missed from yesterday, but there were no gaps on the shelves and it was a light week, so probably I don't have to hate my work too much.

After comics, we went grocery shopping, but Trader Joe's didn't have the chicken strips that go so well with marsala or lemon-dill sauce! I hope they are just temporarily out of stock, not discontinued like the peanutbutter-filled cheese pretzels (which I shouldn't eat anyway).

By the time I got home, I had only an hour to watch some Magic Knights Rayearth II, add stuff to my GreenCine queue, and eat dinner, so there was no WW update. Sorry.

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28 July 2004 - Wednesday

ARGH! Stupid STUPID database creatures!

No Hounds of Balazar for me. No new comics for me. No dinner for me. In fact, not even sleep for me, since the train didn't come until I should have been going to bed.

Now I am full of hate and loathing. The only time I haven't been doing anything since last Thursday was part of Monday afternoon, and if this shit happens again tomorrow, the next flop time I'll get is Sunday morning, after returning from another trip out of town.

ARGH.

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27 July 2004 - Tuesday

Apparently nothing was done about the horrible script during my absence. This is not too surprising, since all companies are horribly understaffed.

Anyway, what they would have had to do is make Windows not suck, and that's probably a bit much to ask.

* * *

Bah, had to skip Millbrae because Windows still sucks.

* * *

Bryant has written a superhero RPG in only 24 hours, because he is just that cool.

* * *

I did not previously understand that Invader Zim is a work of twisted genius. Now I regret my earlier blindness to the truth.

Eeehehehehehehe!

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26 July 2004 - Monday

I will go back and fill in day-by-day reports of Writer's Weekend as I get time (hard to do it at work, since I need to have my notes and the conference schedule spread out around me), but here is the brief summary of what I've learned:

  • All writers hate synopses.
  • All books have to be plotted out. This can happen before or after the first draft, mentally or in a spreadsheet or on thousands of multicolored index cards, but it's not really optional.
  • Beyond 1" margins, 12-point type, and double spacing, every editor/agent has unique and peculiar views on submissions/query letters.
  • I'm still not good with people, not even crazed geeky people.
  • How to control pacing. (Too long to fit in a brief summary, and you probably either already know, or don't care.)
  • Agents, if they're any good, have strong personal preferences about what sort of manuscripts they'll represent, so it is important to do research when seeking one.
  • Hot writer babes are all scary, married, or both.
  • Editors, if they're any good, have strong personal preferences about what sort of manuscripts they'll acquire, so see above.
  • Acknowledgement pages in books similar to the one you're writing are good places to look for names of agents and editors to begin researching.
  • I instinctively distrust women I find attractive.
  • The magic code in a query letter for non-exclusive submission is "I would be delighted to send you a copy of my manuscript". This won't necessarily make the editor happy, but at least it'll be out in the open.
  • Process servers lead wacky lives.
  • The standard size for SF/F books has declined from 29561295615 words to 28561295615 words, so I'm not as doomed as I might be.
  • Flying to Seattle gets me eaten by whales approximately 0% of the time.

* * *

Home again, home again, jiggity splut!

For no readily apparent reason, my return flight went through Reno, which added a half hour in the air and most of an hour on the ground, but it was uneventful. I read.

Stay (Nicola Griffith) is good, but pretty emotionally brutal. One expects no less, I suppose.

I don't know why the manga version of Banner of the Stars has extra gratuitous Admiral Spoor cheesecake, but I'm not complaining.

* * *

Since I got home at 14:30ish, I had no excuse to not go over to the Bertanis' and pick up my SHINY NEW POWERBOOK! And admire the lack of gaming, but we had plenty of conversation, so it was a perfectly good evening.

Tomorrow evening is Whisman Station Anime, and the next night is Hounds of Balazar, so I guess I will get to actually set up my Powerbook Thursday. Fortunately I don't suffer from must-play-with-new-toy-immediately disease; this is one form of gratification I can delay pretty easily.

When the final component (AirPort base station) arrives, I must dinner the Bertanis for being all discounty and package-receivey and generally superior.

I think I'll name it "spore".

Shiny new Powerbook! by Bruce (Tue Jul 27 09:43:15 2004)

w00t! Congrats on the new computer! I'm jealous.

Scary hot write babes. Hrm. So what kinda scary? :)

Re: Shiny new Powerbook! by Trip (Tue Jul 27 10:49:48 2004)

Muahahahahaha!

The scariest one was very East Coast and rabid, so maybe you'd be okay with her. Plus, you don't write.

Scary hot writer babes... by jesshartley (Wed Jul 28 08:14:08 2004)

Were I more masochistic, I'd ask exactly what catagory I fell into, but I'll settle for saying that, if we did meet at Orycon years ago, I'm sorry not to have kept up that acquaintance, because it was a great pleasure to meet you this weekend. :)

Re: Scary hot writer babes... by Trip (Wed Jul 28 09:10:06 2004)

I thought you were married. Did I misunderstand?

Years ago, I had no taste, so I probably wouldn't have appreciated you anyway. But I got better!:)

eaten by whales by kit (Wed Jul 28 09:43:00 2004)

I was practically certain that you would not be eaten by whales! And how glad I am that this is true!

Re: eaten by whales by Trip (Wed Jul 28 10:51:14 2004)

Kit is prescient!

How to Control Pacing by mony (Wed Jul 28 14:20:18 2004)

I don't know /and/ I care! :)

Re: How to Control Pacing by Trip (Wed Jul 28 14:23:24 2004)

Then when I get to the appropriate day, I will summarize my notes!

Scary hot writer babes by jesshartley (Wed Aug 11 11:38:25 2004)

Well, yes, yes I am, actually. I guess one out of three is close enough. :)

Grin

Make a comment!

25 July 2004 - Sunday

This being the last day of the conference, there was extra milling around, but I did attend two talks.

Julianne Goodman spoke extensively on pacing. I took many notes.

  • Pacing can be controlled by sentence structure, word choice, and verb tense
  • Slow pacing for emphasis
    • After a dramatic scene, for recuperation
    • To expand emotional impact ("slo-mo")
    • To show a shift in time or space
  • Too much narration => slow pacing
  • Too little narration => action overload
  • For slow pacing, use
    • long, flowing sentences
    • verbs with soft sounds
    • sensory detail in descriptions
    • layered detail
    • long blocks of narrative (infodump or flashback)
  • Intersperse infodump/flashback with explanation of importance to characters and emotional impact
  • For fast pacing, use
    • short paragraphs
    • dialogue (including nonverbal)
    • omit adjectives/adverbs (should have been established already)
    • shorter sentences
    • hard crisp verbs
    • no wasted words (helper verbs, "that")
    • sentence fragments
  • "I don't have enough to say" == pacing anxiety
  • Premise is not the same as plot; that your premise can be described in a couple of sentences doesn't mean you can't write a whole novel

She also suggested hiliting narrative, action, and dialogue in different colors so that you can step back and see the proportions of each in various parts of your book.

* * *

Sometime between that talk and the next one, I overheard Marci Barrett Nice (the hot writer babe who I instinctively distrust (why yes, she is blonde, why do you ask?)) and Corey Young ragging on lame submissions to the contest (in general, not specifically). I had to ask. They were very polite, but SMS was clearly burned into their neurons. They escaped the conversation quickly, and I can't blame them.

* * *

The final content of the conference was Marci, allegedly speaking on future history but mostly speaking on historical history. She recommended a lot of sources for research (things omitted from letters, newspaper ads, cookbooks, how physical artifacts from the time were perceived at the time, backgrounds of portraits, who could afford to have portraits, etc), but probably the most useful thing she said was "The characters think their world is normal". (Sorry, Ralph 124C 41+.)

* * *

I attended the 2004-post-mortem/2005-planning meeting, although I had nothing to say. Soula made intelligent and useful suggestions, because she is that cool. Various people volunteered for various things, but I wasn't one of them.

SPLUT!

* * *

Kit, Ted, Sarah Avery, some nigh-bald girl (hey, she's almost a decade younger than me) named Cal and some other people went over to the IHOP for food and blather, then returned to the hotel to lie about on the couches in the lobby. People left, one by one, for their flights.

Later in the afternoon, Kit, Ted, and I went to the mall. Dr Ola, having nothing better to do, joined us, and we got to hear about her exciting childhood and her mutant child and her superpowers that only manifest at night. (Not so reassuring when going down a steep STEEP hill while the sun was still several degrees above the horizon!) We had vague notions of seeing Spiderman II, but they never materialized. Instead we wandered the mall, looked in stores, and otherwise failed to use our brains. (I bought a couple of volumes of manga I was missing, and some jar-opening pads (apparently thin pieces of textured rubber are only sold in high-end kitchen supply stores, buh)).

Becoming hungry, we fell ravenously upon the food court, and I sucked out Kit's brain for use in plotting Serendipity. (It was yummmy!)

Kit and Ted had to go to bed early, because their plane left the ground at 6:00 the next morning, so nothing else exciting happened.

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24 July 2004 - Saturday

Today I did not oversleep.

The morning started off with Rebecca York on building suspense. She had a handout with 24 tips which I should probably not reproduce here, but I like #2: "Make sure the first scene starts with a dead horse in the living room".

Since there was a handout, the only note I made myself was "If you don't know which character done it until the end, you won't telegraph it. So don't decide until the end, then go back and put in the appropriate clues."

* * *

Jessica Faust, agent, was not as cool as her name, but I'm not sure anyone could be. Regardless, she had much advice for submitting to agents, which I duly compared and contrasted with that of Russell Davis.

  • Send your agent/agency as much material as they'll accept
  • Query letters same as Russell, except Jessica thought 3-5 sentences was enough for the pitch (which should not be a synopsis)
  • Workshop your query letter with people who haven't read the book
  • A common error in first person writing is not describing the protagonist. (I must be a freak, because I worked description in easily in my first-person novel but failed in my third-person novel.)
  • Accept that your precious title will get changed.
  • An contract with an agent should have an easy exit clause and no time commitment.
  • In an editor/agent one-on-one (there were many such at WW)
    • Keep your initial pitch to 3-5 sentences
    • Let the editor/agent lead the interview
    • Ask lots of questions, even ones not directly relevent to your book
  • If you send your book to every publisher you can find before giving in and getting an agent, the agent may not be able to help you; just having an agent isn't going to change the editor's answer if you resubmit.

* * *

Then, Huge Scary Agent Evan Fogelman, who explained that an agent provides three services to a writer:

  • Editorial contacts
    • There are fewer than 250 editors with power to spend money on books.
    • Publishing programs (eg, Tor's "paranormal romance" line) come and go
  • Business management
    • Royalty rate depends on authorial clout and book type (and usually is some percentage on the first X thousand books, slightly higher for the next Y thousand, and then a bit more for anything beyond Z thousand) .
    • A higher advance translates directly to more promotion of the book.
    • Earning out your advance is irrelevent to the publisher's profit.
    • Performance bonuses according to copies shipped are becoming more common.
  • Career Development
      Well-known agents will get requests from editors, which they may know just the writer to fill.

(Hm. Those notes could probably have been better. Oh well.)

Evan also gave the method for getting a list of agents you can submit to without wasting either your or their time. It works like this:

  1. Get the membership list of the Association of Authors' Representatives
  2. Check with Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (or Romance Writers of America or whatever your genre is) to find which of those are currently active in the appropriate field
  3. Find some books that are similar to what you write and look in the dedications/acknowledgements to filter that list even more
  4. Ask other writers or whatever contacts you have in the industry for recommendations of people on the filtered list

Obviously these steps can be performed out of order, but they seem pretty reasonable to me.

Evan's view of a query letter was pretty similar to others, although he recommends using the three paragraphs of blurb on challenge and protagonist, outline/synopsis, and then how the two interact. Oh, and he seemed to favor sending just a query letter, not a manuscript, to an agent.

* * *

I'm sorry, did I say Evan Fogelman was scary? No, he's just big and kind of unstoppable-looking. Anna Genoese is scary. Cute, in a somewhat stereotypical young-New-York-scary-chick way, but definitely scary.

(She was especially rabid about the very idea of simultaneous submissions; gee, you think Tor is touchy about having lost out on books because they take longer to deal with submissions than any two other publishers put together?)

Her advice on how to gain entry to the publishing world was pretty standard (meet editors at cons, send in a query letter and synopsis, get a good agent, or just write a book so awesome its mere existence causes editors to involuntarily gravitate toward you), but she did explain the badge code for editors at cons:

  • Badge visible: OK to approach this person and strike up conversation, in your fumbling not-as-cool-as-them way
  • Badge on, but concealed: do not speak to this person except in emergencies
  • No badge: do not talk to this person, full stop

Now I know! Er, not that I was likely to try to talk an editor under any circumstances.

* * *

I was at the talk C E Murphy and Sarah Palmero gave on writing partners, but I don't have any notes, so presumably I just heckled them.

No, wait, I remember they said they work by writing alternate chapters, and having the person who didn't write a chapter edit it. This apparently leads to a very uniform style throughout the book. Oh, and they told the story of Kit's beautifully-described twelve-page snowstorm, which shrank with each editing pass until it was a single sentence. They both agreed this made the book better, but Kit was still quite sad about the loss of her snowstorm.

* * *

The only note I have from the plotting panel is "character words", which think means Jim Butcher's technique of having certain words that only appear in conjunction with a certain character (eg, in the Dresden books, only Harry Dresden is "tall"). I am unable to articulate why this seems like a good idea, but it does.

* * *

While dinner was being set up, Sarah Avery (who I saw more of than this, since she hung out with the Kit/Jess Axis) gave a talk on Bulding & Sustaining a Successful Writing Group. Since the group of grad students she formed to work on dissertations together had a success rate of 80%, compared to 25% for the field overall, I give her opinion some weight. She also has a handout, but I can summarize briefly:

  • Decide what the purpose of your group is and make sure everyone is clear on it:
    • Skill-centered groups exist for the members to practice writing - this is a very common type of writing group, so there are lots of resources available
    • Project-centered groups have high turn-over since members typically leave upon finishing their individual projects. These work best if all members are of roughly comparable skill.
    • Goal-centered groups focus more on "apply seat to chair" than on craft. Committing to a goal before others, regardless of the actual goal, is motivatory.
  • Be disciplined in separating socializing time from writing group time
  • Be specific in critiques: broad judgements of quality trigger the dishonesty/discourtesy dilemma
  • If an unsavory task comes up, specifically assign it to someone, or it won't get done.
  • Rotate unsavory assignments, so the person who volunteers for everything no one else will do doesn't burn out
  • Every so often, devote an entire meeting to review of how the group is working and whether the rules work. This cannot be left for scraps of time before or after meetings.
  • "Put Operant Conditioning to Work for You!" - maximize positive reinforcement for having meetings, minimize negative reinforcement. (EG, don't meet at someone's house, because then that person has to clean up afterwards. Do meet someplace with ice cream.)

(Is it just me, or do these rules sound more broadly applicable...?)

Sarah also strongly recommended Making a Literary Life: Advice for Writers and Other Dreamers by Carolyn See, which apparently got her to write 325 000 words in 14 months. I fear it.

* * *

Because I try to not suck, I helped set up pseudo-fancy stuff for the "Flowers of the Night Court Masque Supper". Sadly, I was not able to wear the mask they gave me, because I have spectacles, but I did wear the beads, and sat in the back corner with Soula and Emily and other non-dressed-up people. I think the food was vaguely Middle-Eastern or Eastern-Med.

Many baskets of stuff (each containing several books by one of the attending authors plus random Implements of Literature such as fancy pens and chocolate) were raffled off. I didn't win any, but that's okay, since I need neither romance novels nor chocolate. Soula and Emily were both winners, and appeared happy.

* * *

I'm not sure what happened after that. More milling around and conversing and such, I expect.

simultaneous submission by kit (Fri Aug 27 09:19:56 2004)

(She was especially rabid about the very idea of simultaneous submissions; gee, you think Tor is touchy about having lost out on books because they take longer to deal with submissions than any two other publishers put together?)

Heh.

Rules for Groups by Dave (Fri Aug 27 11:53:57 2004)

Yes, I immediately started thinking of how to apply them to out Sunday gaming group.

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23 July 2004 - Friday

Big lazy blob that I am, I slept in through the first two talks, which were both police procedure/law (ie, intended for modern mystery writers). Not being a modern mystery writer, I will probably survive, but who knows what I might have learned? And apparently the Seattle cop who gave the very first talk was cute.

The first talk I made it to was by Russell Davis, who apparently has filled most of the roles in the publication chain and now runs his own publishing company (at which he is also editor and agent). He talked for two hours, so I'm not going to put down everything he said, but some pieces of advice that stuck:

  • In his opinion, real word counts (as given by wc or Word or whatever) should be used instead of the "whatever fits on one hardcopy page is 250 words". I'm all for this meme spreading, but so far I think he's the only one who has it.
  • Also in his opinion, simultaneous submissions are okay, so long as you tell the editors/agents to whom you are submitting that they aren't getting an exclusive look, and properly inform them all if one buys your book. Again, I approve but Russell seems to be deviant in this respect. (Probably because he has been a writer, which I suspect most editors haven't.)
  • Check writers guidelines for the house you're submitting to at least every six months, because they change. Ditto editors and departments. Addressing a submission to the previous occupant of an editorial position is okay for a couple of months, but after that is a serious faux pas.
  • AVOID IN YOUR SUBMISSION:
    • Blatant violation of the guidelines
    • Errors in query/cover letter and first ten pages of manuscript
    • Bribery (editor will happily keep your bribe and deduct points for style)
    • Weird photos of yourself, weird anecdotes, or any other kind of weird shit
  • A cover letter (for a solicited manuscript) is pure business - don't include a sales pitch.
  • Sales pitches go in query letters (for unsolicited manuscripts). Russell's opinion is that a query letter should have:
    • Title, genre, word count to nearest 100
    • Three paragraphs containing beginning/middle/end of story. On no account omit the end, because that pisses off the editor.
    • Directly relevent biographical information, such as having had a job like the protagonists's; no "Charter Member of East Squidville Writer Mafia" crap
    • Mention of having met the editor, if you have
    • Major contest wins, real (not vanity) publications, etc
  • Adverbs bad (count as showing, not telling)
  • Wait a few weeks after completing a first draft before you try revising it.
  • Don't take a work in progress to a crit group.
  • To put on a reader hat for revising, write out a check for $26.95 (the average price of a hardback book) before you start reading. Put a post-it flag at every point that the book fails to keep you immersed.
  • First-person novels are harder to sell, since first-person can limit immersion. Third-person omniscient is somewhat better, but it can be hard to direct the reader's sympathies. Best is third-person limited, sticking to one point of view per scene, and maybe 2-3 at most for the whole book.
  • Foreshadowing is best done in revision.
  • Epublishing can be good and profitable, but be sure you don't sign an exclusive deal, or at least that you can yoink your book if you get a better deal. (Ellora's Cave was specifically recommended as a nonsuckful epublisher.)
  • Get competent advice about contracts!
  • Freelance editors, ghostwriters, etc: Just Don't. (Money should flow towards author.)

In closing, he offered this joke: "Editors are writers who couldn't. Agents are writers who wouldn't. Reviewers are writers who shouldn't."

* * *

I think Rebecca York's keynote speech was interesting, but I don't seem to have much in the way of notes, except that she asked people to rank in order of importance to them, "best writing", "avoiding stress", "recognition", "money". I think I decided on avoiding stress, then writing, then recognition, and money last. Obviously I am not a Real Writer.

For some reason, my notes for this include the aside "Enter the Moon: werewolf martial arts!"

* * *

I'm not sure what happened Friday afternoon. There are panels listed, but I don't have any notes, so perhaps I just eddied aimlessly around in Kit's wake.

Oh, wait, there was the "design a fantasy species based on a real species" thing. I did not stand up and describe my creation (isn't voice obsolete?), but as I recall, I evolved the ruffed lemur into a VERY LOUD species in which females dominated by sheer vocal ferocity and groups of females owned all real estate and businesses; males attached themselves to groups of females, but were never really part of the group.

The other creations were of similar quality, although perhaps more trite.

* * *

Just before dinner was "Ask Dr Ola" which also ended up being pretty mystery-oriented (although not as modern, since human physiology hasn't changed much over the period of interest to most writers).

Dr Ola (Olivia Gates is her real name) is quite a character. She's skinny and has breasts, wears tall platform shoes and tight glittery clothes, is in fact a medical doctor as well as a published romance author, lives in Egypt, and apparently never sleeps. Later we found out about her secret identity, but I'll save that story for chronological order.

* * *

Jim "Longshot" Butcher was delayed by the perfidy of the air travel system, but eventually arrived to give his keynote speech. He has a fine line in self-deprecating humor, and his upcoming (November?) fantasy series is based on a dare involving lost Roman legions and Pokémon, so that was all good.

* * *

Bob Hoyden and Ron Belec gave a presentation on the excitement of a process server's life, which mostly consisted of anecdotes, but was entertaining. It seems clear you have to have the right sort of personality to get into that line of work.

* * *

Finally, Jacqueline Carey gave her keynote speech, which was mostly about persistence. Pretty much everyone else who talked about what's necessary to become a writer said, "What Jacqueline said".

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22 July 2004 - Thursday

Augh! Augh! Wake! Wake! Pack! Pack!

Bah. Chrisber called while I was in the shower to let me know my Powerbook has arrived, but there is no way I can get it before he and Christy are both gone to work, never mind do anything with it before flying away.

* * *

Marith and I went to the Original Pancake House, where I ate eggs and sausage and also pancakes, and then to Book Buyers, where I found exactly the book I was looking for. Hopefully these are good omens.

Then Marith drove me to the airport, because she is the Best Sister Ever.

* * *

I got to the airport two hours ahead of time, as we are supposed to do in this era of Republican-propaganda-masquerading-as-security, but apparently middle-aged white guys, no matter how rumpled and dim-looking, don't match the target profile. Luckily, I have many books.

* * *

This hotel has the slowest elevator ever.

* * *

When I walked into the basement where the conference events are being held, about five people yelled "TRIP!", which was pretty gratifying! Kit and Ted and Emily and Sarah were all there to yell, and so was Jess, who I think I met briefly at Orycon some years back.

This hotel is not big enough for the 65 of us.

* * *

Apparently I was correct, or at least justified, in thinking that the contest judges were all female. The conference is at least 80% female, and at least a couple of the handful of males present are here mostly to accompany their writer wives. Certainly all the organizer people are female.

* * *

Apparently the conference is feeding us two meals a day (the hotel has free breakfast) for the whole weekend, thus removing any need to go outside ever.

* * *

There was only one talk tonight, since the conference didn't even officially start until dinner at 18:00, and there was a great deal of milling about and socializing, but already I have derived utility from Writer's Weekend!

Apparently all writers hate synopses, so some guy invented what he calls the Snowflake Method of plotting out a book ahead of time, which naturally produces synopses of various lengths as a side effect. I particularly like the description of a novel as "three disasters and an ending".

(Curiously, this fractal method is one that I sometimes use to write perl scripts. I have no idea if this will correlate at all with being able to use it for writing fiction.)

It is not coincidental that SMS both is a lousy book and cannot be reduced to one short sentence.

* * *

I appear to be taking notes. I wonder how this will work, considering that I sucked at note-taking in college and haven't done any since. On the other tentacle, just writing things down helps stamp them into my neurons, even if I never look at the paper again, so I guess it can't hurt.

* * *

Bleah, hotel bed. Not like my carefully arranged parasite-nest.

Make a comment!

21 July 2004 - Wednesday

Nothing works. I am in the hell of Windows. (Although there are also non-Windows things that don't work.) Tomorrow I leave for Seattle.

This is not good.

* * *

The Hell of Windows has not been resolved, but everything else works. (I am somewhat disappointed in the script that is supposed to do error checking for every possible error but failed when a disk was full. Sheesh.

Reporting on the lack of functionality took until about three minutes after I should have fled trainwards, so I wimped out and took the free shuttle instead of running. Lazy parasite!

* * *

I should be packing, but instead I'm watching Magic Knights Rayearth II. I'm thinking about packing, at least.

Make a comment!

20 July 2004 - Tuesday

How exciting! Tomorrow the one remaining guy who knows what's going with this will be starting his vacation!

I think I have sucked out enough of his brain, but I'm sure tomorrow will prove me wrong.

* * *

Now we have really, truly, finally finished .hack//SIGN. We also inadvertantly watched about 2/3 of a random bonus episode that apparently spoils the first game massively. None of us could figure out why it was included.

Next week: Invader Zim!

Make a comment!

19 July 2004 - Monday

Three more days to get this stuff working before I go to Seattle. Meep.

* * *

Okay, this would work a lot better if everyone in the company leapt to obey my every whim, instead of just being reasonably helpful.

* * *

Marith begged to come watch anime in my apartment, which is apparently about 2953612935 degrees cooler than her apartment, so we admired the on-going doom of Kenshin. More doom for everyone!

nicest parasite! by Marith (Wed Jul 21 10:30:51 2004)

With the provably coolest apartment!

Make a comment!

18 July 2004 - Sunday

We didn't know ahead of time that it was going to be the last session of Home Front, but after fighting zombie Nazi dinosaurs and getting to use the line "like shooting Nazis in a barrel", there wasn't really anything more to look forward to. So, we decided to switch to SF and exploring the alien worlds beyond ancient teleportation devices. It will be interesting trying to do an exploration campaign with rotating GMs, but we are clever people, right?

However, one disadvantage of a modern setting is that it causes Jeremy to flame incessantly about politics. Hopefully it will be okay once we move from backstory into actual alien encounters.

* * *

Well, okay, if I were actually clever, I wouldn't have gone for all-I-could-eat sushi after being stuffed with gaming munchies all afternoon. Oof.

politcs by Jeremy (Tue Jul 20 09:51:31 2004)

Sorry, I just can't suspend my disbelief that President Carter would keep a stargate for the U.S.'s private use. On the other hand, possibly the USAF took it over and kicked out the U.N. after the highly unfortunate end of the peace talks Carter mediated between warring galactic factions?

Re: politcs by Trip (Tue Jul 20 12:12:50 2004)

If you have time to object to my slandering you, you have time to contribute to the Wiki!

wiki? by Bryant (Sun Jul 25 21:12:16 2004)

I demand a URL.

Re: wiki? by Trip (Tue Jul 27 08:54:06 2004)

I won't post the URL here, because then Adam would have to make the wiki not world-writeable.

Make a comment!

17 July 2004 - Saturday

I slept in and slept in and then lay around for a while, it being a weekend and all. While lying around, though, I read Fish Whistle, a book of essays and radio commentary bits by Daniel Pinkwater. It was strange to see how many of the random weird bits from his books are swiped from reality. But then, I don't think Pinkwater's reality is much like anyone else's reality. Thank goodness.

* * *

Yum, Chef Chu's lunch! I lost the fortune slip, but it was something forgettable about talent.

* * *

I meant to do something this afternoon, but instead I ended up reading Iron Sunrise by Charles Stross. It wasn't quite as good as Singularity Sky; not enough new cool weird stuff. Still pretty good, though.

Then I watched the last three episodes of the first season of Magic Knights Rayearth. Having already read the manga, I knew what was coming, but it was still very tragic. :(

* * *

D&D and hamburgers!

We defeated the oozing mound, but the only clue we found in it was what looked like the holy symbol of the cult we defeated before, so it was off to the big city to get Alazaïs consecrated as a paladin of Sune. Not being into girls, she got assigned to find a "lost" mirror. Because I am very stupid, she spent a lot of time crawling around in sewers and not finding the ring. At least she got to sleep with her boss.

Alazais by Ken (Mon Jul 19 17:15:08 2004)

The crawling around in the sewers was so not a "very stupid" option. That would have been the going around intimidating / beating random semi-important NPCs that didn't happen. I was actually worried it might, due to my very KoDT-esque highschool gaming.

But you successfully avoided the "poison the high priest of friendly order to lower his will save so you can curse him so you can drag the info out of him" trap I so _carefully_ laid. Drat! Foiled again!

I'm off to wax my moustache now.

Re: Alazaïs by Trip (Mon Jul 19 18:54:58 2004)

It was a very cunning trap! But I have foiled you!

Well, at least until I need a plan B.

My gaming has led me to believe that semi-important NPCs will be higher than 6th level, and have friends of much higher level, so going around beating them up was never an option. Unless Lord Ethan likes that sort of thing, I guess.

Make a comment!

16 July 2004 - Friday

It appears that the deadline for this thing at work is next Friday. That would be fine, except that Thursday and Friday I'll be in Seattle, so the deadline is really Wednesday, which is less fine. Probably doable, but less fine. At least I have neither Paradise Mislaid nor Hounds of Balazar this week.

* * *

Nothing overwhelmingly good at Gamescape. Maybe I just need to fire up the browser and buy all indie RPGs ever. Well, once I get my Powerbook, so I can print them all out.

* * *

Yay more Azumanga Daioh! I still like Sakaki best.

Make a comment!

15 July 2004 - Thursday

I appear to have lost the ability to write descriptive paragraphs. Bah.

* * *

Through Chrisber, I have managed to finally order a Powerbook, and even for cheaper than I would have gotten it otherwise!

Now, all power will be mine! Muahahahahahahahaha!

* * *

Hm. Perhaps that export/import thing can be avoided altogether. If so, that means I'm nearly done.

But my brain is very tired.

* * *

Eeep! Marith has less hair!

* * *

I tried watching some anime, in hopes of reducing the huge to-be-watched pile, but after only two episodes I was having trouble staying awake, so I retreated to my parasite nest and finished rerereading Negima! and went to SLEEP.

Sleep is good.

the article above by byron (Sat Jul 17 23:54:49 2004)

Powerbooks are good.

Marith has less hair?

Just wanted to say hello, and see if the old Netcom gang is still around.

(Damn, that was too verbose. But after nine years a simple "BUH!?!?!?!" just won't cut it. Know what I mean?)

Re: the article above by Trip (Mon Jul 19 08:33:22 2004)

Aiee! Netcom flashbacks!

Marith still has the same number of individual hairs, they're just not as long.

I think "BUH!?!?!?!" still works pretty well.

Byron! by mony (Tue Jul 20 05:07:39 2004)

Byron! Hi!

-- Tara, shamelessly hijacking Trip's journal to say hi. :)

Make a comment!

14 July 2004 - Wednesday

I was doing a bit of research that involved reading about some mythic Greeks, and all I could think was, "When I get a time machine, I'm taking Ayse back to the time of the Titans so she can start running IMPACT classes for all those nymphs and minor goddesses".

* * *

Judging by my encounter with the floor-to-ceiling window next to the locked door, I am not any smarter than a bird. I doubt this comes as much of a surprise to anyone.

* * *

Yay new disc of Azumanga Daioh! Otherwise, not a terribly exciting week for comics.

We have much anime to watch. I wonder if anything else is scheduled for this Saturday? I probably knew before my external brain lobotomized itself.

* * *

This fortnight's Hounds of Balazar session was pretty much one big fight scene: twenty Balazarings and a dozen dogs vs three dark trolls and a couple dozen trollkin. We triumphed with only NPC fatalities, but it was a near thing. I thought Dobromil didn't get to contribute much at the time, but actually if he and Jerak hadn't kept one of the trolls and most of the elite trollkin busy trying to hit them, things would have gone much worse.

I had been feeling frustrated because Dobromil has to blow two phases at the beginning of a fight in order to be useful, and he's only Spd 3, but upon further consideration I see that this is just a result of the way Runequest favors the offense. If we were the default PC group of crazed Orlanthi hunting down Chaos, we'd be fine, because we would be the ones able to buff before the fight.

It would be wrong and counter-RQ of me to try to swap Ironfang II (20 points) for +½d6 HKA and two levels in OCV with dog attacks (16 points) and Shimmer II (20 points) for two levels in DCV with dog attacks (10 points), wouldn't it?

* * *

Still haven't read the detailed comments on SMS from the third judge. My stomach is all stressy. (Or else it's complaining that I don't feed it right.)

Yeah!! by liralen (Wed Jul 14 12:08:25 2004)

Me, too. They really could have benefitted from the instruction and maybe some of those heros/gods would have behaved a damned sight differently after getting a couple of kicks to the head.

Watching anime! by Ayse (Thu Jul 15 13:16:33 2004)

I am under the impression that this weekend is so far free from plans! So perhaps there should be intensive anime-ing.

Re: Watching anime! by Trip (Thu Jul 15 13:41:24 2004)

Perhaps there should! It turns out that Sunday day is Home Front, but that leaves all of Saturday as well as Friday and Sunday evenings for anime and AoJ&A!

This is a Friday with Ken, right? So we should not watch Cat! Cat! Cat! Blonde!, but we can watch Inu Yasha! And RoD TV! And especially Azumanga Daioh!!

Cat! Cat! Cat! Blonde! by Ayse (with Ken's help!) (Thu Jul 15 20:05:30 2004)

Ken is now singing the "Cat! Cat! Cat! Blonde!" Fifth.

Re: Cat! Cat! Cat! Blonde! by Trip (Fri Jul 16 08:14:37 2004)

Soon, his brain will be ours!

Make a comment!

13 July 2004 - Tuesday

For no apparent reason, the guy who's in charge of this project sits in the middle of a huge wasteland of empty cubes, next to the one other non-empty cube. But, he told me what I needed to know for this next bit. Possibly more than I needed to know, but that's better than not enough.

Codingu codingu la la la.

* * *

Norm agrees with me that the Asimov's form rejection letter is just Lame. Hah.

It is probably wrong of me to think that people who have an easier time rejecting others than dealing with being rejected themselves are fundamentally selfish and evil.

* * *

On the train back from Millbrae, I finshed Gardens of the Moon, the first book of Steve Erikson's "Malazan Book of the Fallen" series, which is being pimped as this decade's equivalent of the D&D feel to it in that it seemed like gods and mortals1 were written up using the same system. However, I got the impression that it was intentional, not a failure on the author's part to imagine deities.

I did not have any particular trouble keeping the many proper nouns straight, which definitely gets Erikson bonus points. Plus, three hundred thousand years of history!

I'll probably pick up the second one in hardcover too2, to find out more about the magic system if nothing else.

1: Using the term loosely.

2: Regular paycheck good!

* * *

Tonight we finished both Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobash and the main part of .hack//sign. I wonder what I should be encouraging Ray to show next.

Maybe Noir, since Gretchen liked it, and she's picky, so probably random people who are not me will like it.

* * *

As nearly as I can judge from MapQuest:

  • Parasitelair <-> San Antonio Caltrain Station: 1.0km
  • San Carlos Caltrain Station <-> Corio: 2.1km
  • Millbrae Caltrain Station <-> Norm's office: 0.8km
  • Mountain View Caltrain Station <-> Ray's apartment: 1.8km
  • Parasitelair <-> Ray's Apartment: 4.6km

So, today I have walked 13.2 kilometers. That would explain why my feets hurt.

* * *

Ah hah! The third judge didn't fail to provide feedback; it was just sent separately. In fact, she provided a multipage letter of commentary, as well as margin notes on the manuscript. I will read through it all later, but on first glance it appears reasonably positive. She did harsh on my synopsis, but I knew it sucked, and it looks like she provided details of how it sucked, so perhaps I will be able l33ten my synopsis skills.

Now, I sleep.

Make a comment!

12 July 2004 - Monday

Filehandles confuse me. Apparently one can put a string in a scalar and then use it as a filehandle, which makes no sense to me, but turns out to be convenient because I needed to keep a whole bunch of filehandles distinct, and they each happened to be associated with a unique combination of strings.

Unfortunately, I now need the Corio people to enlighten me about this export/import business. Blargh.

* * *

I have received a thick package informing me that I did not come anywhere near a Real Writer's score in the Writer's Weekend contest. Only two of the three copies of the manuscript returned, one with 48/100 and the other with 89/100. The third judge gave me 71 but no comments, for an average of 69, second to worst in the SFF section (and just below median over all sections).

I'm not actually surprised, but it is sort of depressing to have the extent of one's incompetence, inattention to detail (if I hadn't boofed on the manuscript format, I would probably have tied with the next person up), and general suckage quantified.

I am too embarrassed to look at the detailed comments/margin notes just now. Maybe later.

* * *

I'm still a hugely lame GM, but we made many bad jokes while pretending to play Paradise Mislaid, and that's what gaming's all about, right?

...Oh. Oh well.

* * *

Before hiding in my parasitenest, I flipped through the returned manuscripts. The judge who gave me a 48 pointed out all the errors she found, but otherwise didn't comment. I guess the 2/5 and 3/5 I got for most categories express the judgement "You are not a good writer" with sufficient eloquence.

The one who gave me an 89 made more marginal comments, and even included a one-page letter of comment, which was mostly pretty positive. I did only get an 89, so there were problems for her to point out, but she seemed to think they were exceptions in an otherwise worthy piece, which was reassuring.

It's too bad I didn't get any comments from the third judge, the one who gave me a 71.

I wonder why I am assuming all the judges were female?

Filehandles by Jeremy (Tue Jul 13 12:31:05 2004)

I used to understand this. Um....

You can't refer directly to a filehandle, just use/refer to a glob in appropriate context. So, if you use a string in a context in which a filehandle (or code reference I think? or possibly other types) is expected, Perl tries to interpret it as the name of a glob containing a filehandle. If that works, you're golden.

I think. I may be missing something. Fer sher you can put filehandle (glob) references into an array or (the values of) a hash, and keep track of them that way.

The purpose of gaming by Jeremy (Tue Jul 13 12:34:38 2004)

Bad jokes are what I always thought gaming was about. Seems to have worked for me so far. On the other hand, I have empirical evidence that it's not what GMing is all about, which is a damn shame if you ask me.

Re: Filehandles by Trip (Tue Jul 13 12:57:51 2004)

I bet my strings are being used as symbolic references, yah. But I wasn't sure how else to generate a new filehandle to take the reference of on each pass through the loop. I suspect Adam was right when he said "use FileHandle;", although the section on FileHandle in the dromedary book says practically all its functionality is "available more efficiently through basic, unadorned Perl calls".

Re: The purpose of gaming by Trip (Tue Jul 13 12:59:33 2004)

Clearly you should be playing in Paradise Mislaid! (What, like you were going to spend 19:00 to 22:00 on alternate Mondays sleeping or something?)

Make a comment!

11 July 2004 - Sunday

I hope Amazon appreciates all the money I'm giving them.

* * *

Yay salmon! With lemon-dill sauce!

And yay gaming! There was an extensive waffling phase about levelling, but now everyone except the bard is multi-classed, so we all suck about equally. Well, except Alazaïs sucks extra (hush, you!) because she can't get the supernatural abilities of a paladin of Sune until she goes and gets consecrated at an actual temple by actual priests. (Cue scene from beginning of XXXenophile #10.)

In the aftermath of the thrush episode, we went and talked to confusing forest spirits, or something. They may have been as confused by us as we were by them, but in any event they pulled up stakes and left (human skulls and all). This probably means we'll encounter them later, but hopefully we'll be better able to deal with them by then.

Then we continued our tour of the area, and of course found more trouble. The alleged village full of undead turned out to be full of ex-undead (redead?), but as we were looking for tracks, a pool full of rotting vegetation attacked Father William. Roll credits.

Make a comment!

10 July 2004 - Saturday

This morning, I lolled about in bed reading The Darkness That Comes Before, which may be fantasy product but is not extruded. Drop-forged, maybe. Anyway, it has suitably creepy magical villains, magic which is not explained to death, and a setting that I finally recognized as derived from the Byzantine empire. I'm only half done, but so far so good. (Er, unless you're looking for sympathetic characters.)

* * *

I have a hotel reservation! I cannot escape Writer's Weekend now!

* * *

My only real contribution to setup for Chrisber & Christy's anniversary reception was fetching some knives and a cutting board, but apparently they were greatly appreciated by the people who had to slice vegetables, so I don't feel too lame.

It was a pretty good party! Christy fulfilled her bridal (kinda) obligation of being lovely, and there were many other spiffily-dressed people, but I did not feel horribly underdressed. (This may say more about me than about the party.) There was food! There was 80s music! There were hot babes (all married, but what can you do?)!

The nametags with descriptive phrases were an inspired touch: there was always an excuse to read someone's tag, thus covering for lamers who couldn't recognize people.

Kael was there; he's not dead but is married. Gwack! Louie is also married, but I think I knew that. Fortunately(?) neither of them is spawning yet.

Brad and Gretchen, who I almost never see, were both there, so I got to hear about RPGA. I envy Brad's plentiful gaming! Even if it is tactical D&D.

Wow, there are a lot of kids in the Horde.

* * *

Eventually things started down-winding, so I went with Ayse and Ken to the Sicilian-smoothie shop and we met up with Brad and Gretchen. By amazing coincidence, Ambar was also there, so much conversation was engaged in.

* * *

When we returned to Ayse & Ken's place, there was some discussion of what (if anything) to watch, but Ken bribed Marith with brownies and used his voting bloc to push through Yes Minister. The horror, the horror!

Hot Babes by Not A Hot Babe! (Mon Jul 12 17:12:51 2004)

I don't count as a hot babe! I am crushed! Crushed, I say! I'm /exotic/! I'm /imported/! :) -- mony

Re: Hot Babes by Trip (Mon Jul 12 17:56:46 2004)

I praised you in yesterday's entry! I didn't want you to get a swelled head!

Praise by mony (Tue Jul 13 14:57:06 2004)

Hee! What if I promise to use anti-hystamines? :) histamines? whatever. :)

Re: Praise by Trip (Tue Jul 13 15:04:43 2004)

Then I would have to amend that to

There were hot babes (all married, resident in inconveniently-distant places, or both, but what can you do?)!

wouldn't I?

re: Praise by mony (Wed Jul 14 14:37:59 2004)

Hee! Have I mentioned that you are silly and make me giggle insanely? :)

Re: Praise by Trip (Wed Jul 14 15:06:59 2004)

Just a parasite!

Make a comment!

9 July 2004 - Friday

Now that was like sleep! This morning I am almost functional, which is good, because I may need to completely redo my stuff at work to accomodate the non-unixness of this stupid software.

* * *

Of course, being stuck in an over-warm cubicle immediately resomnolizes me, but oh well. Clearly I will just have to consume lots of ice-cold Diet Dr Pepper.

* * *

Chef Chu's put us down for 18:30 instead of 18, but it all turned out okay, and there was much admiration of the mony! She looks good; I guess being a straight-A student agrees with her!

After Chinese food, there was ice cream and more mony, yay! Eventually we all had to go to our homes and sleep, though, so we could go to the Chrisber & Christy wedding aniversary reception tomorrow.

* * *

Tried to do something with hotel reservation, but when I called I got the well-meaning but incompetent night-shift person, who was unable to be of use to me. I will have to try again.

Make a comment!

8 July 2004 - Thursday

Argh. I went to bed at almost a reasonable time, but then woke up an hour early, so that even though I went right back to sleep I was in exactly the wrong part of my sleep cycle when the alarm went off. Argh.

(It would be "ARGH!", but I'm too sleepy for exclamation marks, never mind all-caps.)

* * *

I have vacation time and air travel arranged for Writer's Weekend (two weeks! augh!), but now the hotel seems to have eaten my reservation. I will have to grill them again when I am at home and have my confirmation number.

Maybe I should just be training up to live without sleep for weeks at a time. It's not like it could damage my sanity, right?

* * *

After flailing uselessly at this stupid software, I finally escalated to one of my client managers and got someone who a) knows how the stupid software works, b) is on this side of the planet, and c) is booked for fewer than 26 hours of work per day. Now I know what the stupid sofware should look like when it is working properly, which is more than I knew before.

Why yes, an unwillingness to bother people is one of the numerous gaping flaws in my character.

* * *

It is not surprising that I got a rejection letter from Asimov's. (Two! TWO rejection letters! Ahahahaha!), but I can't help thinking that if a form letter begins "We can't be specific about why we rejected your story...", it should not then go on to say, "...but probably it's either because you had a lame idea or because you can't write worth beans."

But never mind that. It's time to find a new market to submit to. Any suggestions?

* * *

If I were even only 99% stupid, I would have gone to bed at 21:00 (or even earlier), but I have a new disc of Ai Yori Aoshi Enishi and was greedy in watching it, and then Marith came over to get me to check over her resume (just as though I were able to remember the last time I got a job due to my qualifications), so it was actually after 22:00 by the time I finally fell over. Not too long after, though, and there was a mighty TUD.

* * *

ARGH! Forgot to call the hotel and attempt to straighten out my reservation!

Make a comment!

7 July 2004 - Wednesday

I think my brain is still at home, hiding under my pillow, but I'm going to claim I didn't make any progress at work because PeopleSoft sucks the PMW. Yah. That's my story.

* * *

No new comics today, because there was a holiday within living memory and the comics-packers have a union (or something), but GreenCine came through for me, and I was able to spend the evening watching the last disc of Neo Ranga. It was in fact an ending, while still leaving room for a sequel should they ever get funding.

I'm sure that wasn't really Azathoth.

Why are none of my characters as cool as Yuuhi?

The source of cool by Carl (Fri Jul 9 23:07:56 2004)

Do they need two older sisters? Their own personal god? A burning thirst for justice? Err, vengeance?

Umm, frilly lingerie gifts?

Re: The source of cool by Trip (Sun Jul 11 22:20:06 2004)

Nah, if it was that easy, I would have done it already. Although it would be kind of cool to have a character with her own personal god.

Make a comment!

6 July 2004 - Tuesday

Blargh, getting up sucks.

* * *

Testingu, testingu, la la la.

* * *

You'd think having gotten up at 6:00 and then walked quickly for several miles over the course of the day would make it easy to fall asleep before midnight. But you would be WRONG.

Make a comment!

5 July 2004 - Monday

Yay holiday!

I spent my extra day off eating the Ginormous Salad of Doom at Fresh Choice, playing KoL (I'm pretty sure moving an item between alts by selling it at the flea market for more than the last price there isn't cheating), and watching more Kenshin. The old doom wasn't enough, so they introduced a new character, who has HUGE DOOM suspended over her head by a tiny thin thread.

But we did get to see Kenshin triumph through careful application of the cube-square law!

* * *

Chris brought up the interesting issue of HPL High's interactions with the "real world", which is interesting because I haven't figured out what to do with it. The ground is too fertile for comedy to be neglected, but on the other tentacle, most people not knowing what the universe is really like is a major aspect of Lovecraftian fiction, and shouldn't be omitted from a parody (and is the basis for my redefinition of the term "Lovecraft Country"). Also, it ties into what Neel Krishnaswami was talking about in the 20'x20' Room, which he called the crucible: constraints to force the protagonists and antagonists to interact. Put another way, what fun is it if you can call the police on a shoggoth who tries to eat you?

I think this boils down to wanting the real world to be available to the GM as a source of traum proble plot elements, while not wanting it to be available to PCs as a source of solutions, or in other words, wanting it to affect Lovecraft Country except when it would help the PCs. Since the typical PC, upon receiving a lemon, will plant all the seeds, sift the nearby landfill for pieces of copper and zinc, wait for the orchard to mature, turn the lemon crop into an array of batteries for a home-made railgun, and perform an extremely hostile takeover of the International Lemonade Corporation, this is somwhat difficult.

But whatever I decide, the quote "The most merciful thing in the universe is the inability of the human mind to correlate all of its contents" will have to be used.

Make a comment!

4 July 2004 - Sunday

Ideal day for the White House to be struck by a meteor!

* * *

There was some extremely vague plan to go up to Berkeley to watch the fireworks from Whatsit Rock, but nothing ever materialized. I spent the afternoon watching anime and the evening reading and listening to people in the adjoining apartment complex blow things up.

Argh, now I must wait months and weeks and years for the next Thomas Harlan book!

thomas harlan? by kit (Tue Jul 6 09:53:15 2004)

What series? It must be better than the one I gave up 50 or 70 pages into...

Re: thomas harlan? by Trip (Tue Jul 6 10:13:51 2004)

This is the second of the Space Aztecs books. They gave a title for the third, but no teaser, so I'm guessing it's still a year or more away.

Re: thomas harlan? by Jim (Tue Jul 6 17:01:19 2004)

Maybe you can bribe Mel for a proofreader copy...

Re: thomas harlan? by Trip (Wed Jul 7 08:25:11 2004)

Ooh, fiendish! I don't suppose taking hostages and issuing demands would work?

I should have Marith talk to Mel about proofreading, since I know she was thinking about that as a way to get money while going through school.

Re: thomas harlan? by kit (Wed Jul 7 10:07:17 2004)

Oh yah! Space Aztecs! I remember now!

Re: thomas harlan? by Trip (Wed Jul 7 10:23:33 2004)

Space Aztecs still make me want to die in a pit, 'cause SMS isn't that exotic. Bah.

Make a comment!

3 July 2004 - Saturday

Doubly thwarted! I tried to buy some of the same drawstring shorts that I have now and like, but the store is gone! Then I tried to increase my debit card limit enough to buy a Powerbook, but there was no bank manager! Bah!

I did eat yummy Thai lunch, though, and then I went to see Spiderman II. It was pretty good! There was a little too much of the mask-taking-off, but otherwise it was a fine comic-book movie. It even had the "you don't need powers to be heroic" theme that the best comics have. (And I really liked the tentacles' motivation.)

* * *

Marith and I started watching the second collection of Rurouni Kenshin tonight. Oh, there is so very very much doom ahead for the main characters.

Make a comment!

2 July 2004 - Friday

Whee, testing. Some of it works, which is more than I had feared, if not as much as I had hoped for.

Make a comment!

1 July 2004 - Thursday

It's amazing what a difference shoes that are soft inside and more or less the same shape as my feet make.

* * *

Hm, apparently I was supposed to be working with some guy named Atul on testing the thing all day today. I wish Ravi had sent me email about this before skipping the country.

* * *

Today I thought, "Maybe Lovecraft Country needs a good conflict. "Seadog Tuxedo" has the struggle between proud penguin pirates and sun-worshipping shaman-wizards, Dead Inside has the quest to regain one's soul, and so forth. Of course there are perfectly good games that don't have a built-in conflict (or dramatic tension or whatever you want to call it), but they're usually not as specific in character type as LC.

I briefly thought, "Maybe I'm just trying to avoid putting actual creativity into this thing," but no, actually, I think the problem really is that I don't know what LC is about. I know that it's either rugose or squamous, I have some ideas about the placement of tentacles and eyestalks, but I don't know why it wants to destroy the world.

Of course there are all sorts of White-Wolf-esque possibilities about the internal conflict between humanity and monstrosity, the war between humans and monsters for control of reality, and the difficulty of finding black eyeliner that won't run when splattered with blood, but those are only unintentionally funny.

Designing games is hard, let's watch anime.

* * *

I spent too long reading manga and playing KoL, so I only had time to watch ¾ of the disc of Kaleido Star. It is still amusing, but I'm not sure it's amusing enough to be worth spending my precious few anime-watching hours on. Well, I don't have to decide until disc 3 comes out.

Cth'onflict by Carl (Fri Jul 2 18:48:45 2004)

Have you read Zelazny's One Night in Lonesome October? How about Openers vs. Closers as a conflict for Lovecraft Country? And it may just be too much recent Freaks & Geeks (now out on DVD yay!) that makes me want to link the Homecoming King & Queen in somehow.

Joan of Arcadia if she were inspired by Nyarlathotep instead of God?

If Kaleido Star doesn't enthrall, I note that R.o.D. TV series volume 1 and Gad Guard volume 1 are now out on DVD, although you may no longer trust me if you've discovered the terrible truth at the end of Neo Ranga. But I never claimed it would be otherwise!

Re: Cth'onflict by Trip (Fri Jul 2 19:31:28 2004)

Yah, I was thinking Openers vs Closers, but it seems too... cosmic. Not humorous enough. But perhaps that's just an implementation detail.

I don't have the last disc of Neo Ranga yet, but it seems clear there will be some horrible revelation, and that I will hold it against you even though you didn't warn me.

I have ROD TV but am waiting for other people to be able to watch it with me. Allegedly GreenCine will send me Gad Guard one of these days.

L.C. by Ken (Fri Jul 2 20:27:40 2004)

Clearly, the struggle is between the upper and lower classmen. Perhaps conspiring for control of the homecoming dance theme!

Re: L.C. by Trip (Sat Jul 3 14:40:27 2004)

Hm. You two have bracketed one idea I was considering, which is inter-school rivalary. SCOOS already has Whateley Prep and Obadiah Marsh High, who aren't exactly Openers, but certainly enjoy the profits of trafficking with the Mythos. Opposing them wouldn't be saving the world every week (twice at midterms and finals) but it would definitely be a good thing. Hm.

Humorous Doom by Marith (Sat Jul 3 16:47:44 2004)

School rivalry was my thought, yeah. "The school with the most sacrifices to take to the regional tournament gets a special rune carved into the bottom of their swimming pool!"

"So, uh, how do we get sacrifices without killing people?"

"Does the cheerleading squad count? We could lure them to do a 'special display' at the opening ceremony..."

"What about the Stoner family? They don't need to breathe anyway. Maybe we could bribe them to lie really still..."

And I like the idea of at least one Joan of R'leyh character. Maybe as a special mcguffin players can buy for themselves (Divine Infernal Arcane Guidance, or as a wacky airheaded NPC. "She says Nyarlthotep wants us to what? Are you sure she's not testing our gullibility?"

Xellos, the Mysterious Art Teacher.

Re: Humorous Doom by Trip (Sun Jul 4 13:26:09 2004)

I wasn't thinking of having some sort of overarching authority to provide a harmless framework for competition, just natural enmity between teenagers. Well, and maybe a requirement for every PC to have a connection of some sort with an NPC from another school.

Prophecies and revelations are very important, sure!

You want to put Xellos in everything.

Xellos by marith (Sun Jul 4 16:38:13 2004)

Do not!

Things not improved by Xellos: Cheese Fondue Nuns With Guns Any game where I'm a player and not a GM

Conflict by Bryant (Thu Jul 8 11:09:50 2004)

Hmmmmm.

Does all this talk of inter-school conflict tie into Neel's other brilliant comment about sports as a way to sublimate lethal conflict?

Re: Conflict by Trip (Thu Jul 8 11:18:12 2004)

Possibly! Certainly using more brilliant Neel comments is better, but I'm not sure it would be properly Cthluhoid without actual blood and death. Not death of the PCs, of course, but if they're all part-monster, that can be easily dealt with.

I suppose making human sacrifice a sport of its own is a natural extension of the current craze for eXtreme Reality Inter-Ad Filler Product...

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