Archive for November, 2006

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Drinking Newcastle and Eating Cold Chinese Food

November 30, 2006

At long (long) last, I’m back from Reykjavik, Boston, Los Angeles (actually, Anaheim and Burbank), San Francisco, El Dorado Hills and Bodie, California. Along the way, I walked through a blizzard, suffered some kind of debilitating muscle thing in my gut, hung out for a bit with Wil Wheaton, learned that 75% of my family still uses dial-up (’cause, I guess, they’re Quakers or something), saw the Scrubs hospital, saw porn (i.e. pr0n) star Sunny Lane at a karaoke event, visited a ghost town, met some wolves and got robbed on the streets of San Francisco.

All of these things are true. Some of these will be written about in the future. But tonight there’s no time for that, ’cause I’m busy doing work-type work and enjoying a trip back into literal poetic nostalgia with my new copy of former-Poet Laureate Billy Collins’ The Apple That Astonished Paris.

To wit:

“The fox you lug over your shoulder
in a dark sack
has cut a hole with a knife
and escaped.

The sudden lightness makes you think
you are stronger
as you walk back to your small cottage
through a forest that covers the world.”
–“Hunger,” by Billy Collins

What’s surprising about this book, ten years after I read it in Mr. Brown’s class in high school, is how mediocre it is. It is gloriously fallible. The seams in these poems are visible. You can hear some of these poems stutter and hum. Even Billy Collins wasn’t always as good as he is now. As a writer who still reflexively calls himself “a wannabe writer,” let me say what a fucking relief it is to catch one of the greats stumble through a joke.

It’s the time of year, I think. The leaves aren’t just on the ground, they’re dead on the ground, half-rotten like corpses undiscovered in the woods. Bare branches splay across the sky like spilled ink. Leaves fall past the window like a tablecloth dragged off the top of the house. It makes me think of looking out a classroom window in Illinois, when the polish had just come off a new school year, and ignoring a teacher in favor of daydreaming about that night’s game of Vampire: The Masquerade. That was a long time ago, and it feels weird to think that I’ve been hear long enough to have a long time ago. So I buy new copies of old books that I’ve liked — The Apple That Astonished Paris and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Stories — and I drink Newcastle and I eat my cold Chinese food.

My wife’s grandfather, Ray, died tonight.

Noise: “Earth Died Screaming,” Tom Waits

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White Wolf: The Merger

November 16, 2006

So, you’ve heard by now. We joined our company with the brilliant blokes who make EVE Online. This is a Good Thing. They’re great people, talented, drunk and funny. Everything we like. We’re eager for the future, so let’s get on with it. Back to work for me.

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Reykjavik to Los Angeles

November 15, 2006

Yesterday I was in Reykjavik. I’m in LA now, which is the antidote for Reykjavik in the same way that a bullet is the antidote for healthy skin.

Flew from Iceland to Boston, Boston to Atlanta, Atlanta to LA. On the way in, of course I listened to Steve Martin’s “Hissy Fit,” from Pure Drivel, put on my iPod for just this purpose.

… he recalls a SoHo gallery owner, sniffling and wheezing, saying, “I was just in LA, and got a raging cold in that 90-degree heat,” not recognizing in this unscientific pronouncement that if LA were an ethnic group, the comment would be a slur.

Now we’re on to Gen Con SoCal, so it’s all seminars and game sessions for me and my cold. God willing, I’ll be back in Reykjavik in the spring. I loved the hell out of it. Walkable but diverse, gorgeous natural stuff right there, modern but with old-fashioned touches, hip without being a jerk about it. Great city.

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Soups I’ve Eaten On This Trip

November 10, 2006

Since Monday, I’ve either been outside the US or on my way out. Since then, I’ve eaten three different soups, all orange-colored and delicious:

Pumpkin Soup?: This first one was described to someone next to me in the cafeteria-type place where I ate it as being a “pumpkin soup.” Then he took some white substance that was thicker and stiffer than sour cream and spooned it from a small plastic tub into his soup. He had an accent when he named the soup so, assuming he knew more than I did, I scooped some of the cream-stuff into my thin orange soup, too. I still don’t know what it was, but it came apart in clumpsat the bottom of the bowl. I didn’t eat the stuff, but I didn’t exactly eat around it either. The soup was good, I thought, but in hindsight it was the least remarkable of the three I’ve had.

Ginger Carrot Soup: This was the soup of the day at the bistro I ate at last night. It smelled terrific and tasted better. Tiny, delicate cubes of carrot sat hidden at the bottom of this thin, opaque and yellow-orange soup. It was so good, I skipped dessert.

Carrot Cumin Soup: So apparently the second-most popular soups here, after orange-colored soups, are orange-colored soups with carrot in them. Fine, then. If this is what carrot soups are like, they’re popular with me, too. I’m eating this soup right now, typing in a foreign cafe on a WiFi connection with my arms bent around a deep crock of oily, opaque soup in a nest of soft slices of bread. Outside, the hail is coming down so hard that it crunched between my teeth and rolled in through the door when I came inside and the sun is hidden behind wet fast-moving clouds so thick that the air between the buildings has become as gray as the buildings themselves. Inside it is warm and my computer is on and I have hot soup and chai, my iPod on and my fingers typing. So things are good.

Were my wife here, things would be perfect.

Noise: Seamus Heaney, Beowulf

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Advances, None Miraculous

November 5, 2006

A few things from this very busy week:

1. On Friday, McSweeney’s Online published my newest Review of New Food, and I didn’t notice until this morning. When you get to the page, read through the three or four it takes to get to mine. They’re all good ones.

2. I’ve got Boot Camp working for real now. So real, in fact, that I’m playing EVE Online on my MacBook Pro now. It runs great and requires just the bare minimum of contact between me and Windows, which I can hardly stand anymore. (Seriously, Internet Explorer stopped working while trying to load the first website I visited after MSN, and that site was Google.)

3. This coming week, I’ll be out of town (out of the country, actually) and away from my desk every day leading up to Gen Con SoCal, where I’ll be appearing every day of the show. You’ll want to pay attention there, because I’ll be announcing at least one new White Wolf project and taking questions on other groundbreaking White Wolf news, as I’m able. I’ll have more about my pre-Gen Con trip as the week goes on. Until then, bear with me as I struggle to answer email and all that.

4. Thankfully, I was able to finish the second season of Deadwood before I leave town. (The title, above, comes from the show, of course.) I’m always at least a year behind on that show, thanks to HBO’s DVD-release schedule. This season struck me as savvier, but also softer, and I mean both of those in good ways. Everything felt tighter this time, a little more premeditated and a little richer in characterizations, whereas the first season was broader. In my memory, it added two new characters in every episode, and I’m surprised how many of them ended up being either important or simply much-used during this season.

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iTunes in Japanese

November 2, 2006

As of right now, the iTunes store seems to have been replaced with its Japanese counterpart. Everything I click on takes me to Japanese words, manga-style audiobooks, octopus-themed cover art and Maroon 5 CDs. Anybody got any idea how this happens?

Update: Everything works, though. There’s some great stuff in there, but I wonder if it’ll interact weirdly with my bank account if I try and buy some Japanese electronica with US dollars.

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Financial Disclosure

November 2, 2006

Spent a bunch of money today on clothes, ’cause I’ve got some important first impressions to make in the coming weeks. Next step: Figure out what the hell to do about my hair. Oh, and if I didn’t mention it, this is the most interested blog entry you’ve ever read. Ever.