Archive for August, 2007


Gamer Weirdness: Example #91

August 30, 2007

When you’re able to back up and see gaming discussions from afar, you have a chance to appreciate their magnificent weirdness. Here is a statement from RPGnet’s forums that would probably be alarming in your regular life:

“I will always downplay cannibalism…”

This reminds me: When our good friend Oscar came to work for the company, he sat down to play in a long-running D&D campaign with some of our coworkers. He didn’t know much about the game. During the first session, one of the players, in a panicked moment when the threat against their characters became clear, said this:

“Oh no! That means we’re probably being watched by beholder-kin on the near-ethereal plane!”

Yeah, what the fuck does that mean, right? This kind of immersion in the utterly crazy is part of what’s great about RPGs, isn’t it? At the moment that statement was made, all but one person at the table were intellectually involved in the fictional story and fantasy world that they were able to take in that idea with a sense of actual menace and excitement. “If we are being watched by beholder-kin in the near-ethereal plane, we’d better come up with a plan before they blast us with their magic eye-rays!”

But for Oscar, this was alien speech coming out of the ordinary mouths of his co-workers, not their characters. Take one step back, and it all gets weird.

To me, those people who can’t take steps forward and back — who can’t appreciate the oddity of the game as ludicrous, or who fancy themselves too cool to enjoy their own imaginations — are the ones missing out.


The Zen of Miss South Carolina

August 29, 2007

CNN used the phrase “Internet Sensation” to describe the much-linked-to clip of Miss South Carolina, Lauren Caitlin Upton, responding to a pageant question. I suppose this is accurate. Most Internet Sensations are about celebrating stupidity and pretending to be ironic about it. Certainly Miss Upton is an Internet darling, for now.

You’ve heard of this already, no doubt. Because I have a blog, I am obligated to write about this Internet sensation. Those are the rules.

Rather than give you another YouTube link, I’m offering you a transcript.1 Miss Upton was asked why a fifth of Americans are unable to locate the US on a map of the world. This was her response:

“I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uhmmm, some people out there in our nation don’t have maps and uh, I believe that our, I, education like such as uh, South Africa, and uh, the Iraq, everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should, uhhh, our education over here in the US should help the US, uh, should help South Africa, it should help the Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future, for us.”

I recognize a lot of the words, but…

Here’s the thing, though. I think this is brilliant. This is a moment of clarity, a petty epiphany. She has become like unto a zen koan. Upon being asked the question, she became the question. And the answer.

Meditate on that, grasshopper.


Two Pretty Movie Things

August 24, 2007

Two especially well designed things have come out of Hollywood and lodged behind my eyes like little glass splinters this week. The first is the trailer for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. The film looks absolutely gorgeous, from compositions to colors to textures. And I expect that I will not like the title of any other film this year as much as I like this one.

The second is the poster for the new film by Tony Gilroy (who wrote those Bourne movies I like so much). Like we did on the poster for Syriana, we see that the star power of George Clooney is so great, and his ego so easy-going, that you can blur and obscure his face and still be affected by him. If this were a book called The Truth Can Be Adjusted, I’d buy it:


How It Feels #32

August 23, 2007

Jordan: What if you did tank tonight? What are you afraid would happen?

Matt: Strangers wouldn’t like me, friends wouldn’t like me, the network wouldn’t like me, the press wouldn’t like me, women in general wouldn’t like me, and Harriet wouldn’t like me.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip


Part Brick, Part Big Hole

August 15, 2007

So, it turns out that my external, back-up hard drive, rather than being an external, back-up hard drive, is actually just a hole in which I have been tossing important information and lots of money in iTunes TV shows for the last year or so. A hole in a tomb in a plastic brick with a white flashing light on it.


When I’m Away

August 13, 2007

I’m concerned now that, when I’m out of town at Gen Con, my wife will throw a bat mitzvah for the dog.


Why I Am A Bad Employee

August 6, 2007

I am at least three of the people at this table.