Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Comic Sans Like A Boss



I’m having one of those days where either I have too much to say to narrow into a blog-shaped bundle of words or far, far too little. Knowing the way my brain works, it’s actually probably a little bit of both, which makes no sense, I know, but on the other hand, shut your face.
This is day 30 of continuous writing for yours truly. Not too shabby, though part of tonight’s aimlessness is just good old-fashioned exhaustion.

 I am gleaning some interesting insights from this daily writing experiment. One, that whole “I can’t go on/flail” impulse just sort of evaporates if I ignore it long enough. Second, The Magic Spreadsheet is awesome. Third, I really need to work on learning how to stick to a story. I tend to get frustrated and bored when I don’t know what to do next with my story, which invites pissing off for the new story. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Sticking to it makes me anxious as fuck. I guess a part of me is just afraid of showing the world just how very much I don’t know what I’m doing. Today, however, I got the perfect reminder of just how silly that preoccupation is while researching elected officials for my job.

Comic Sans. On an honest-to-tapdancing-christ official government website. Somebody greenlit that.
Somebody with a serious, grown-up government job greenlit that font. On an official website, lest you skipped that part of the last paragraph.  On a page of contact info for elected officials. No shit.
You might be asking yourself right now, who actually gives a fuck?

Well, the correct answer would be “pretty much nobody,” but that’s not the point. The point is that Comic Sans on a website is an iconic amateur move. What Comic Sans was to me at that moment, stuck in my drab little gray cubicle of doom, was a sign. It was a sign that mostly people just sort of pretend to know what they’re doing, with varying degrees of success. But every so often the fa├žade drops just long enough to show the truth of the matter. We’re all making it up as we go along.

I can do that just as well as anyone and in a much better font.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Bookpalooza!


The holiday reading season is now officially over. Who knows what it is about December and January that puts me in the mood to read stacks and stacks of the kind of books that usually feature sassy sorcerers and eldritch monstrosities? Maybe it’s an alignment of the stars. Maybe it’s Jesus. Whatever it is, I know it’s done with the same way I know I’m done with Christmas cookies: I look at a stack of deliciousness and gag a little.

Does that mean I’m done with either cookies or pulp fiction for the year? Hell no. What do I look like? Some sort of Puritan. No. It just means a breather. But before I start tackling something hefty and serious like A Little Life (BTW, if you want to get really depressed, just look at that cover), here's a few highlights of this year's holiday reading extravaganza.

1.Hellblazer: Bloodlines  




Hellblazer is one of those comics I've been aching to see adapted well for years. That it hasn't probably has more to do with the punk rock, radical left sensibilities of its writers than anything else. Thatcher was still in office when some of the comics in this volume were being published, and her specter looms over everything. The demons that Constantine in Bloodlines walk around in Neo-Nazi coats and yuppie suits. They're involved in pressuring little old ladies and illegal arms testing. They are banal--right until the moment that they're not, and it's why I love Garth Ennis so much.

2) Aloha From Hell by Richard Kadrey


 Mmm, Sandman Slim is going to be a regular Christmas read. I can feel it in my bones. Plenty of wisecracking, a lot of bloodshed, wicked cool monsters and a fun mythology that taps Judeo-Christian sources as well as pagan = one very happy Melinda. 

If you haven't read any of the Sandman slim novels, I definitely recommend going to the beginning. Aloha ties up a lot of major plot threads that have been developing over the prior two novels and while Aloha could probably stand alone, it seems like it would be more fun not. Standing alone, that is.


3) Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan


 OK, there are no wizards as such in Mr. Penumbra, unless you count mysterious old book sellers with secret hidden rooms full of encrypted books as wizards, which I totally do, but Mr. Penumbra was still one of my favorite holiday reads. Such a cozy, fun read. Perfect escapism for grumbly cold weather. Also, I need to find a book cult to joint. I want one for reals. Internet, find me one. Pronto.

This list isn't comprehensive, but these three were my most festive happy-making. Hope you enjoy.

As a side note, I am most definitely in the market for expanding the diversity of my sassy sorcerers in the near future, which is to say as soon as I can read this sort of fiction without feeling a bit. If you have suggestions, please do let me know.







Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Broke Gal's Muscle Relaxers




 I managed to throw my back out putting my bra on Saturday morning, which is either a sign of the apocalypse or that I qualify for a medical breast reduction. (Please direct all comments in re. my boobs to the circular file located conveniently by your desk) So most of my plans for the weekend didn't exactly gel. Something about wrapping one's back in heating pads and ingesting fistfuls of Mydol (the broke gal's muscle relaxant) isn't too terribly conducive to getting much in the way of anything done, much less running. I take that back. It's great for getting abstract drool stains one the pillow case. That's about it.
 
So  I spent a chunk of my special wakey time working on a bran-spanken-new D & D campaign (5th edition) for my hooligans. I have been GMing for a good five years now on and off, and most of my stuff has been home brew with a lot of filching from prefab modules. Nothing revolutionary there. I expect that's probably run-of-the mill for most GM's.

This time I got a case of the crazies and started grand-scale world building shenanigans, complete with political conflicts and everything. Just thinking of the level of hurt I'm about to unleash on my players is making me all shivery with anticipation.

I've decided to make this an urban crawl. The premise is that my group are private constables and detectives, sort of along the lines of Pinkertons, in a large city run by a conquering empire. The political model is a satrapy, so we have a lot of potential for large and small scale political conflicts built in on the ground floor.

For the most part, my campaigns have been built along the sword-and-board medieval European model. For the first time, I'm stepping out of that model, and I'm finding it pretty invigorating. Hopefully it works out as well for the group, most of whom tend to enjoy a fairly chaotic play style most of the time. I will be incorporating some Dirty Harry style narrative threads, so hopefully that satisfies the communal need for fuckery. We'll see.

All in all, it almost feels like the weekend wasn't a total waste. Who knows? Maybe I should get idiotic injuries more often. Seems to be good for the old brain juices. Or maybe it was just the fist fulls of Mydol. Meh. Whatever. I'll take it.

Photo Credit


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A Quitting Quitter Who Quits Quitting

Resolutions are pretty much bullshit. I don't think I'm writing anything here that people haven't heard a million times before. They tend to follow the gung ho to complete burnout cycle is the problem. Actually, Inertia is the real problem. It's hard as shit to change the weight of habit, no matter how ultimately self-destructive that habit may be. It takes time and energy and a metric ton of patience and foresight. Things I do not personally poses in spades.

I never was much into the whole New Year's resolution thing for these reasons. Basically, I just don't enjoy wasting cognitive energy on things that are only going to last a month or two. It's not fun. But as I get older and crankier, the idea of a fresh start gets more and more appealing, and that's what the whole New Year's thing is really about, a fresh start.

Ugh. I so didn't want to get suckered in, but there truly are some things I want to get changed.

I'd like to start publishing, for one. I'd like to get healthier, and I would like to be able to finish a 50 mile race. All of these things require discipline and shit. Ugh.

In many ways, a straightforward resolution would be easier. It would. I could burn through a bunch of activities and flail and quit. But that's not going to make me happy. It's not.

I have decided I need to be methodical about all this shit. Take the long view.

In my writing life, it's meant implementing the Magic Spreadsheet. The spreadsheet, if you haven't heard of it, is a great little resource for tracking productivity and incorporating a nice little element of gamification into the writing process. I am trying to make writing a daily habit, like brushing my teeth and not saying what I'm thinking.

Basically, it's the same approach I used to get myself to walk during most of my work lunches. I do well with incremental stuff. Anything that turns into a rut, so I feel that the Magic Spreadsheet will probably do the trick.

As far as the health issue is concerned, right now I'm working on slowly switching to a plant based diet. So far this week, I have mostly succeeded since the first of the year, and I do have to say that my energy levels and mood seem to be getting better already. I guess this is probably the closest thing I've done in the way of a traditional new year's resolution, but it was something I have been talking about for a while now.

Running then? Well, that's probably going to have to wait to start in earnest until the ice gets a little less ankle-breaky. I have seen a few people attempting it with some success, and more power to them, but not a one of them has Buster the idiot pit bull tethered to their wrist, and that does make a bit of a difference.

Saturday we're supposed to get rain, so that's out. If you've ever run with slush in your kicks, you damn well understand why. Sunday may well be workable, though.

Anyway. That's enough resolutioning for now. Wish me luck, y'all.