Archive for June, 2006

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Last-Minute Things

June 28, 2006

In something like five hours I’ll leave for the airport and be on why way to the Origins game convention again. As always, it’s in Columbus, OH (“The Arch City”). I’ll have more to say about Columbus in the coming days, I’m sure, ’cause I never blog as much as I do when I travel. Look here and on the Atlanta Metroblog for that stuff, where I compare my return to Midwestern cities after two summers in the South. Like you care.

Anyway, here are some things:

  • This is ridiculous. Sure, this stuff has been done for decades. The disco remix of the Close Encounters of the Third Kind music is glorious kitsch. The remix of James Horner’s music for Search for Spock is silliness. This remix of Klaus Badelt’s mediocre score to Curse of the Black Pearl is absurd. In 20 years, it’ll be silly. In 30 years, if we find that digital music ages as well as records and CDs do through vintage record stores, then it’ll be kitsch. But in the meantime, it must suffer through its own dumbness. I, thank heavens, must not.
  • I love my Epson Stylus Photo RX620, but it drinks ink like I drink Strongbow. Whis is to say, a lot.
  • One reason I got the MacBook Pro is because it can run Windows. But now I have to spend money on a copy of Windows, and I’ve never done that before, because spending money directly on Windows is bullshit. I don’t want Windows. I want to play Eve Online and Call of Duty 2. I don’t want Windows. But what’re you gonna do?
  • I’ve made an exclusive LJ post on the livejournal taking advantage of the LJ user tag for the first time. Call it exercise for name-dropping and roving face time at Origins.
  • On Sunday, I felt like crap. On Monday, I woke up late after having my day sabotaged by a power outage and subsequent internet outage. Feeling irrationally defeated, I went to sleep on Monday afternoon and did not wake up in any meaningful way until almost 5pm… on Tuesday. Still tired. It’s like my brain’s steeped in a clinical alcohol-smelling knock-out drug that drips down my brainstem into my guts and soaks my bones like they were driftwood. Good times.
  • Go to Brian’s livejournal, click on the George Washington link, and know glee. Fair warning, it is crass, over-the-top filth. It is also hilarious and magnificent.
  • iTunes is the absolute worst about cataloging their soundtracks section. Stuff I know is in there somewhere by artists I know are listed in there somewhere is impossible to find once it drops off the main page. This horribly under-attended soundtrack section helps make iTunes feel more like a real record store, though.
  • Added: Vegetarian apparel? Also nuts.

Now, then. To get my shit in order and get my ass to the airport.

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No Such Movie Called The Reservoir Dogs Exists, Fucker

June 25, 2006

Do not add a “the” into a movie’s title under any circumstances, save for one: You want to be exactly sure why I think you’re a ridiculous schemp so you choose the form that the destructor will take — that of a ranting pedantic spaz. (Many Zuuls will know what it is to be nit-picked by an obnoxious geek that day, I can tell you.)

Other titles that suggest you’re an idiot:

The Fight Club
The Braveheart
The Robocop
The Gladiator
The Ghost Dog
The Dark City
The One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
The From Hell

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Links, Comma, Hyper

June 25, 2006

Yeah, I’ve known for a long time that brown links on an off-white background are a crap idea. The primary virtue of those brown links is that they are not, at least, bile green, which is what I get when I try greens for the links. I like the subdued palette in the rest of the page (it makes me think of Road to Perdition), but I still have no good fix for the hyperlink situation it creates.

How many links have you missed out on because you couldn’t tell them apart from regular black text? As John Connor says in Terminator 2, “Uh, all of them, I think.” So I’m tinkering now with a solution I’m seeing on more and more CSS-driven blogs, with the dotted lines and the hover-over solids and the what not. It’s awfully cluttered looking, though, isn’t it? Especially over in that sidebar. Ugh.

Anyway, I put it to you. If you say nothing, I’ll know that you either a) don’t care, or, b) don’t care and weren’t clicking the links anyway.

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A Post for Rollergirl Fans/Lit Geeks

June 22, 2006

As a quick antacid for that last thing, I offer you this list of Rollergirl-style names for literature majors from McSweeney’s online. I’m partial to The Brothers Tearhisarmsoff and the simple but charming Maul Flanders, myself.

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What Kind of Day Has It Been?

June 22, 2006

Don’t want bitter, defeatist, self-indulgant snark? Skip this one, then.

Aaron Sorkin ended the first seasons of each of his first two television series with episode titles that ask the same question: What kind of day has it been?

Aaron Sorkin is a writer. Warren Ellis just recently quoted Sorkin’s introduction to the first West Wing script book, in which Sorkin describes a white piece of paper saying this to him: “You may have fooled some of the people some of the time but those days are over, giftless.” In the sentence before paper talks to him, in the same introduction, Sorkin wrote, “I love writing but hate starting.” Amen, brother.

On the wall of my writing space at home is a bent little 3×5 card, held up with a tab of withered scotch tape, and written on that card in black magic marker is this: Writers write.

My cell phone plays the Fischerspooner song “Emerge” instead of ringing. (Unless it’s my wife calling, in which case it plays “Shiny”, by the Decemberists.) The big repeating part of “Emerge” — the part that gets stuck in my head — is the bit where the guy says, “You don’t need to/emerge from nothing./You don’t need/to tear away.” Well, that’s bullshit.

Today, if we include last night after midnight, was a day of little hits. “What part of ‘due on Tuesday’ did you not understand?” said one email. “People think you’re a slacking, know-nothing schmuck who should’ve posted that thing to the forums a million years ago,” implies another email. “You don’t know how to read,” I learn from another. Construction guys working in the neighborhood knocked the power out on me a few times, and the internet was slow to come back on. About 20% of the emails I’ve been sending of late have been vanishing into the ether, it seems.

Tomorrow night I’m supposed to run a session of Vampire for some friends of a friend of mine, who are in from out of town and interested in giving our game a try while they’re here. (Understanding, of course, that by “friends” I mean “impressive people met through industry channels” and by “friend” I mean “also my boss,” so that by “giving our game a try” I mean “should leave impressed not only with our game but with me and, by extension, my boss.”) Sitting in on this game will probably be one or more of the owners of the company, for whom I’ve yet to run a game. So I spend a fair portion of the day fretting a bit about just what to run and how, and making notes and plans so that I can run something a little more tight, a little more prepared, than I usually do.

In the end, I settle on the idea that, since I’ll probably meet the out-of-town guests at the office first, I’ll make some of the final decisions about the game (like, say, the most tangibly important part: making characters for everyone to play) after I meet them, so I can tailor the experience to what it seems like they might want. Good deal.

Around midnight, while I’m back at my desk tinkering with a manuscript in front of that “writer’s write” sign, I think I can hear my cell phone singing through the sound of the dishwasher. “…need to tear away,” it sings. Phone calls at 12:19 a.m. are usually meaningful, so I dash in just in time to miss a call from my buddy who’s friends are coming to town. I try to call him back, but while his cell rings and rings, my email program in the other room makes the submarine ping that means “somebody else wants to shit on you before the day’s over.” The email that comes tied to the brick says we have to change a meeting at the office from Friday to Thursday. So I’ll spend all day tomorrow in a meeting instead of meeting folks and getting a bit of informed prep time for the game tomorrow night.

“Come in early tomorrow!” says the email at midnight.

“Stay up until 5 a.m. again with a graduated cylinder of foaming acid in your throat tonight and try to get your game ready for tomorrow, then,” says my traitorous, idiot brain. “That way you can be a spacey, rambling cretin at your meeting tomorrow. Plus, you can yawn while other people are talking so you’ll pretty nicely come off as a jerk.”

“Listen, brain–” I start to say.

“Also, you’re dumb,” says my brain.

Is that the best my brain can come up with? Yes. Because I’m, if you recall, dumb. “Oh! And: Fuckheimer,” it adds.

Nice, brain.

So now I’m sitting in my writing space trying to create an impressive and immersive gameplay experience for me to perform live tomorrow night, while trying to rally the part of my brain that’s being overcome by sleepiness. It rolls over the wrinkled horizon of my brain, between flesh and skull, like a thick brown smog. Except I’m not even working on the game, am I? I’m writing self-indulgent nonsense provoked by the double-agent, Tyler Durden wannabe in my head that says by writing all this down I’ll “make room in my head for new ideas.”

Yeah, ’cause that’s how that works, you turncoat encephalon fuck.

In the time it’s taken me to type this, I’ve had to stop a half-dozen times, mute iTunes and turn my ear towards the kitchen. The sound of the dishwasher swooshing keeps sounding like it has a far-off ring-tone quality voice mixed in it, singing, “You don’t need to/emerge from nothing.”

Noise: RJD2, “The Horror”

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Grammar Geek: Italics, Titles and Name-Dropping

June 19, 2006

Here’s something that makes my brain itch: When do you start the italics (or the all-capital letters, if you’re writing an email to my brother, are my brother writing an email to me or are otherwise writing an email, I guess) when you write about a movie’s script, box-office take or something similar?

Tonight’s procrastinatory plunge was started by this statement, which I read on John August’s blog:

“There’s more such goodness in the original version of THE MATRIX script.”

My eyes stumble over this. It makes my brain cringe. Why? Because I’m the pedantic heir to a line of picky grammarians. Also, ’cause it doesn’t look like it sounds to my mind’s ear, if that makes any sense. Let’s see if it does.

If we presume the structure of that sentence would be the same for any movie title, then we’d end up with this awkward thing:

“There’s more such goodness in the original version of FIGHT CLUB script.”

Ick. Naturally, when we say things like this, we toss a “the” in there as a definite article, to indicate a specific script, which “FIGHT CLUB” or “THE MATRIX” vitally, adjectivally describe (“… the script of THE MATRIX”). (E.g.:

“There’s more such goodness in the original version of the FIGHT CLUB script.”

It’s easy to see, though, why Elver of Estonia (the author of our sample sentence) chose to omit the definite article in his sentence — or, rather, why he chose to omit one of the definite articles in his sentence. This sounds terrible:

“There’s more such goodness in the original version of the THE MATRIX script.”

It just doesn’t sound right when the appears twice in a row, and it reads funny, too.

So what do you do? Do you cut the definite article (“the”) out of the sentence or the title? In my head, I cut it out of the title and consider it an abbreviation. It’s better to shorten a title into a reference (“The Matrix” becomes just “Matrix“) than to abandon the articles of your own sentence, isn’t it? I mean, the words in Elver’s sentence are exactly right to my ear, but not to my eye. His definite article shouldn’t be capitalized (or italicized). That “the” belongs to his sentence, not to the title. The sentence should look like this, to my eye:

“There’s more such goodness in the original version of the MATRIX script.”

That feels better. To me, at least.

What do you think? You’re a writer. What do you do when you write about movies and the things they adjectivally modify? To what extent (if any, you relaxed, casual make-it-look-easy writer-types) do you even think about it?

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Good Idea at the Time #41

June 18, 2006

On Friday, which the wife and I took off to celebrate her birthday, I also began a weekend more or less free of email. Due to the way I work, I basically never get a real day off, ’cause I’m always either working on something (either under salary or for the freelance money that sometimes makes birthday presents possible — but not, uh, this year) or I’m fretting about not working. The kindling for my ever-burning fires of fret* is the steady supply of email that comes in at all hours of the day, giving me something new to worry about.

So, this weekend I took a break from email. For two days, I just didn’t check my email. Whew. Felt great.

Until today. So now I’ve spent a bunch of Sunday working as usual, planning out the week, trudging through writing that I was hoping I’d enjoy when I thought I could get to it later, etc. This is all made less enjoyable by losing part of my week’s lunch money playing cards last night. (In my defense, it’s been a while since I lost outright in a cash game.)

Anyway, file “Email Vacation” under the heading Bad Idea.

*(I submit Ever-Burning Fires of Fret as a free album title, up for grabs for whoever wants it.)