Sunday, September 30, 2012

Bibliophile: Byte to Eat

"Why did you make it all about spoons?"

The man shrugged. "You said 'write what you know.'"

Spoons are funny.

This is Bibliophile.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday Quotations: It Must Be Hard

We are having *all kinds* of technical difficulties today, I'll tell you what. The process of saving a real embedded video with spaced text below it seems to be entirely beyond me today. Let's try again.
 So anyway, this has been my go-to song all week, which is saying something, since my usual go-to songs are taken directly from videogames. I was pointed towards it by a post at, and I would like to direct everyone's attention to the user who claims it's a good song, but that female vocalist has to go. I disagree strongly. What do *you* think?

 Later Days.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Of course, now the phrase "human centipede" has a different meaning.

Every now and then, I think everyone should take a moment to remember that Lana Lang, Superman's crush from Smallville, deliberately turned herself on a regular basis into a human/bug hybrid monstrosity.


And that's why Lois always won.

Later Days.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Bibliophile: End with a Bang

It's 9 degrees out, and feels like 6. There's also supposed to be scattered showers. Do I have any excuses for not going out in weather like this? Oh, right. This is Bibliophile.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Gastronomy Issues

Hypothetical question: if someone were to start a blog about culinary combinations that tasted terrible, which is a better blog name:


In Poor Taste.

Inquiring minds want to know.

Later Days.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday Quotations: Blinkin' Amazing

From Books of Magic, #12.  Almost forgot this one.  I just reread the entire Books of Magic series; it was one of the first series I've read in graphic novel form, so it was a very nostalgic rereading.  I'm glad they're bringing Tim Hunter, and maybe some of his supporting cast, into the DC proper with the Justice League Dark series.
The catch when I was originally reading them was that the library I was borrowing them from had the first volumes of the original series, and the first volumes of the reboot, but missed rather large swathes in between.  So I was rather confused.  Having now read the whole series, I'll admit it all hangs together--even the reboot can be worked into actual continuity, if you squint a bit.  The real problem is that the series' tone and purpose shifts wildly with new writers.  Neil Gaiman created the series, and it was a fairly simple premise: an ordinary British boy is put on a whirlwind tour of the magic side of reality, led by the high profile "good" magic characters of the DC universe.  He has the potential to be more powerful, magic-wise, than any of them, and they ask if he wanted this power.    I won't go so far to say that Timothy Hunter was a MacGuffin for Gaiman to do a DC magical tour, but he is, I think, supposed to be deliberately vague personality-wise, aside from general "wise-ass Brit kid" in order to present him as an Everyman type figure.  (Like Harry Potter, but about a decade earlier.)

You can't really hang an ongoing on that premise, though, so the first writer of the main series, John Ney Reiber, developed a supporting cast.  Tim had a pretty miserable life at that point; sure, he had magical powers, but people were always trying to kill him for them, and his father was a one-armed drunk, still feeling guilty about the car crash that took his arm and his wife's life.  Tim's gloom is counterbalanced by Molly, his next door neighbor, a spunky little Irish girl.  Much of Reiber's run can be classified as a teenage love story, and Molly is portrayed as such a vital character that I was okay with that.  My big problem with the following writers is that they went a little overboard in the overwrought, emo-side of Tim, and they never got Molly quite right; she went from being her own unique character to being Tim's Supporting Cast, role: Girlfriend.

Okay, I felt I needed to rant about that.  Still, the scene above?  Good scene.

Later Days.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

And the band played on. Actually, no, they stopped once the talk started.

I went to a public talk today on Marconi, the Titanic, and early 20th century media, given by Professor Paul Heyer.  My thoughts on that, emergency communications, and media history, after the break.

It happens most frequently with high heels. I don't want to think too much about what that means.

If I'm walking behind someone, I almost always start to unconsciously echo (literally, in this case) the pace of their walking with my own, and if I do manage to notice it, it's always requires a bit of effort to break away.

Later Days.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Book Triad VI: Alien Approaches

So it turns out that I read the prerequisite number of books for this one a while ago; I just forgot to post anything.  Whoopsie. 

This time, we'll be look at:
Porn and Pong by
Steal Across the Sky by  Nancy Kress

Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday Quotations: Higher Prophet

"This means that what will save the world is not spiritual, angelic power (a power that is, in the final analysis, demonic), with which humans produce their works (whether they be technical  or artistic works, works of war or peace), but a more humble and corporeal power, which humans have insofar as they are created beings.  But this also means that the two powers somehow coincide in the prophet, that the custodian of the work of salvation belongs, as far as his being is concerned, to creation." "Creation and Salvation," Nudities, Giorgio Agamben

Later Days.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Game Play: Onward, Captain Man-Pig.

It's been an odd week.  My focus is, as usual, all over the place, as I've been doing some dissertation writing, some editing, but also reading other things (Alan Liu's The Laws of Cool, Christoper A. Paul's Wordplay and the Discourse of Video Games), playing other things (The Binding of Isaac, mostly.  I've really got write something about that one of these days), and doing other things (started my RA-ship, which mostly so far is discussions of organization that edge ever closer to actual organization).  But that doesn't mean I'm neglecting my blog entirely, and so, a post.  It's the second installment of my Game Play series (the first is here), my first hour on Beyond Good and Evil.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Friday, September 7, 2012

Friday Quotation: Phoning the Iron Elves In

"Mountains shouldn't scream, but this one did."
--Chris Evans, A Darkness Forged in Fire
Okay, I'll come clean--I've had four meetings today.  There has not been a lot of time for quotation hunting.  So... you get the opening sentence of the first book I pull off the shelves.  I'll do better next week, promise.

Later Days.

Idiot. Just.... idiot.

I've never been very good at remembering things out of context.  I forget directions, names, faces.  I can watch a TV show for years, and be utterly unable to tell anyone the names of any of its characters if it's not going on right in front of me.  I can do the same with people that I've been around for longer.  I'm forgetful with objects, too.  If I'm okay with keeping track of my keys if I always, always transfer them immediately to my pocket after using them, but if I set them down somewhere--well, they're just gone.  After the third time I did that with a house key, I took to wearing it around my neck on a chain, the way some people do the cross.  And at the risk of sounding blasphemous, I think a part of me hoped that the key around my neck would work as a sort of talisman, warding off future evil bouts of absent-minded forgetfulness.

Yeah, that didn't work very well.

Because another category of things I'm forgetful of is dates.  More specifically, birthdays.  Even more specifically, one birthday in particular.  It's not my brothers'.  Got those locked down.  It's not my father's--I can remember that one by virtue of knowing it lands on the same day as two other people whose birthdays Facebook notifies me of.  And it's not the birthday of the dog of my new roommate whom I've known for less than two weeks, which I know because it's written on our fridge.  Nope.  It's my mom's, it was yesterday, and damn my eyes for being an inconsiderate son, because I forgot again just like I do EVERY.  SINGLE.  YEAR.  Even worse is that my poor memory was double-stacked against me.  My father (you can bet HE always remembers) sent me a text to remind me to call, but because I forgot my phone, unplugged and unpowered all day, I didn't get the message until it was too late.  (Well, almost too late; I was saved by virtue of the time difference between here and Saskatchewan--and my other got a literally eleventh hour phone call wishing her a happy birthday from the worst son ever.)

My mother is a wonderful, caring person (Actually, let's expand on that a little--it's no exaggeration to say that anything I have resembling a moral code comes from the example set by my parents; my mother has taught me  how important it is to stand up for what you believe is right, even if it means standing up against those in power, or speaking for those who have none, just by doing it herself time and again.  I could go on about that at great length, but the main subject here is how stupid I am, not the virtues of my family--otherwise, we'd be here all night), and gracefully forgave me my repeated offense, like she does every year.  Frankly, I don't think I should be let off the hook so easily.  I am a grown-ass man (you can generally tell how grown up someone is by the use of the word "ass").  At my age, people usually have a lot of responsibilities--spouses, children, proper jobs, mortgages, car payments--and they manage.  Me, I can't get a damned "save the date" right.  Not next year, though.  This ain't happening again.  I've set myself up a series of notifications: one from my work email, one from my personal email, one on the blog itself, one on Facebook, and one on my phone. Every one is set to trigger on September 6th of 2013, or the day before. Then we'll see who can and cannot remember a significant annual event.  (Okay, technically I still won't remember it, but I'll have remembered that I won't remember it, and compensated accordingly.)

The worst part is that this is the second time I've forgotten my phone in the last two months, and the second time I nearly missed an important family event, or at least wasn't as much a part of it as I should have been because of that forgetfulness.  I'm sick of doing that.  My roommates, old and new, have their family over frequently, and I often feel a pang of loss when I think of the connection I gave up when I moved here.  It's a connection that is important to me, and I feel that's grown a little more tenuous of late, and that's entirely my fault.  I don't talk to my family enough, and I don't go home enough.  The latter I can't do a lot about--finances and work keeps me away a lot.  But I can do more about the talking.  Admittedly, I really don't like talking on the phone, to anyone.  Part of that's the context thing from earlier--I have a lot of trouble following what people are saying if there isn't a clear sense of place and embodiment to them.  And there's a part of me that dreads nothing more than that static silence when no one can think of anything to say.  (One of the perils of being in game studies is that your life is rather boring to those not interested in games.)  So I let things slide, a bit.  And a bit more.  And so forth.  Okay, fine; it's hard.  It'll get easier, and it's time to make more of an effort. Mom, if you're reading this, I think the best thing that could come out of me forgetting AGAIN is that I use that mistake as a drive to reconnect with with my family.  It's not much of a gift, but I hope you'll accept it anyway.

(Unless everyone else in the family is entirely happy with the current level of communication, and will actually be bothered by my attempts to increase it, in which case, um, I mean well. Sorry.) 

Later Days.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Bibliophile: Priest's Whores, Killer Poems, and Electronic Mind Machines

If you think about it, this blog feature is pretty much the Kim Kardashian of library book searching.

This is Bibliophile.

Where have the Bibliophiles gone?

So here's the answer to a question no one's asked: what happened to the Bibliophile feature?  Well, what happened is that it's fallen victim to repeated bad timing.  I missed one week because it happened the day after our "last party at the old house" party, and I was simply not in a great state for bibliographic functioning.  And I missed the subsequent week because I was working trying to get my stuff together for the move on Tuesday.  Will a post happen today?  ...Maybe.  I do think the posts are valuable, to me if no one else, but they take A LOT of time and effort.  Sundays are rarely entirely days of rest for me, and those extra few hours are valuable.  That said, I've actually made the picks for the next post, so it's just a matter of writing my thoughts.  That's doable.  Maybe.

Later Days.

Deeply Bohring

Niels Bohr once said that the opposite of a profound truth is also a profound truth.  He was talking about quantum mechanics or some similarly impenetrable topic, but I, like many laymen, have decided to appropriate his comment to talk about something decidedly less scholarly.  Here's a set of four profound-ish truths and their opposites; I'm going to use them to anchor the following discussion.

1.  I needed to write this post.
Opposite: I've been dreading writing this post.  

2.  I've moved recently.
Opposite: I've stayed in the same place.

3.  Location doesn't matter to me.
Opposite: Location is central to me.

4.  I'm a solitary person.
Opposite: I'm a social person.

All right; the first two are fairly easy, or at least comparatively easy.  Whenever something big happens me, I feel a need to blog about it, but at the same time, I often avoid blogging about it, because so much has happened that sorting through everything I've felt and experienced leaves me kind of drained.  That's what usually happens in the "trip" related posts--I see so much during the trip that sorting through it all and processing it becomes a task in itself, almost apart from actually living through it the first time.  Actually, the trip comparison is pretty apt; remember that when we get to discussing point 3.  The other factor is that I've grown a lot more self-conscious about doing personal stuff on the blog since I realized just how many people I know and interact with regularly read it.  At the same time, I've always felt that it's an important part of what this blog means to me.  I don't want to wade into what's authentic in autobiography and what's not, but this has never been just an academic blog to me; I've chosen not to compartmentalize my life, and I try to reflect that here.  (Okay, yes, there are some boundaries, but they're flexible, okay?)

So that brings us to point 2: I've moved recently.  I may have mentioned here that my former roommates, the ones I have lived with for two years, and I have gone our separate ways.  In fact, we did so last Tuesday, and I've been living in a new place ever since, with two entirely new, yet unknown roommates.  In a way, I feel like I haven't moved--I'm still in the same city, in the same program (I'll finish someday, Mr. Supervisor, honest I will), still with the same group of friends.  I hung out with them tonight, in fact, and it felt like a very familiar thing; there were the people that I get along with great and admire; the people who I hang out with who, um, aren't very fond of me, but we can still hang out in a crowd, and I still admire them (really--there are very few people I actively dislike; most of them I haven't seen in a decade.  Have I been out of high school for a decade?  My, what a shocking coincidence.  Also, I should probably add that when I was out with said friends, I was drinking.  But you've probably figured that out by now.); and there are people I have hung out with for years, but still don't really know that well.  (And that's unfortunate.  Something should be done to change that.) Anyway, digressions aside, I'm in a new situation, while simultaneously being immersed in my old situation.  There's a comfort in that, but it's the kind of comfort that can hold you in place, if you let it.

Speaking of place, that's a segue of sorts into point 3.  When I say location doesn't matter to me, I mean that.  I'll willing spend hours in my narrow, tiny office.  Two or three years ago, when I went to visit Toronto, I spent most of my time deliberately cooped in a variety of libraries, and enjoying myself immensely.  And the aesthetics of a space don't really matter to me; I could live very happily out of my boxes for the next year, or I could put everything away.  I have whole reams of posters my parents have got me that are still in the original bag they came in.  I take them out every now and then and look at them, because they're pretty, but I've never bothered to put them on my walls.  I mean, what's the point?  I'd just have to take them down again eventually.  The aesthetics of my location aren't really a big issue to me.  And of course, that's true, while also being an utter lie.  If on no other level, changing location means changing routine, it means changing mental space.  It's situations such as this in which I resort to Stiegler and his technics.  Change a person's tool set, and you change the person, and tool set includes the space and place you're familiar with.  It's pretty common for people on a trip to allow themselves indulgences they wouldn't do otherwise, and act in a manner contrary to their common behavior--it's why we say "When in Rome" and "It stays in Vegas."  And when you go on a trip, it's all temporary, so you have the comfort (however false it may be) that whatever you do, you can return to the tool set you left behind when it's over.  Moving means a whole new set of tools.  Maybe you're trading in a hammer for a wrench.  Maybe you're adding a spanner to the belt.  Maybe this metaphor has been stretched to its limit.  The point is, I've noticed a big difference in my mental space.  It's in the little things--I have to remind myself which corridors to turn down to get to my room.  I need to recalculate my jogging routes so that the 5k and 10k reach just the right sweet spots.  I need to mentally think exactly where I live, since I spent three years knowing that exact location, but forgetting it every time since someone always drove me there.  (Long story.)  Space is important.  You have to center yourself literally before you can do it figuratively.

Point 4.  I've lived on my own, and I've lived with other people.  When I'm alone, it's always something of a relief.  To be able to do what you want without worrying overmuch about the context of others--it's freeing.  But it's also restrictive.  Here's a TMI case in point: when I came to the bar tonight, there was one person I recognized, and three or four friends of hers just joining the program that I didn't.  And I could have joined them.  But... it was a very loud, very noisy bar, and the thought of trying to do the whole "getting to know you" smalltalk while bellowing at full volume was exceptionally unappealing to me.  So I waited for some other people to show up.  Am I proud of this?  No.  But I'm not ashamed either, and that's an important point that took me a long time to get to.  Under other circumstances, I would have been happy to do smalltalk with any one of them, or even in a group, but my solitary inclinations made the bar scene intro uncomfortable.  But at the same time, I felt some urge to socialize, so I stuck around.  The ideal conclusion to this story would be that I did get around to talking to the "strangers" and we're all well acquainted.  That didn't happen.  But at least I got some time with the friends I have known for years, and still open to making new friends somewhere along the road.  Anyway, the point of that probably ill-advised anecdote  is that as much as I think I shun company, I also want it, and need it.  And for a long time, my two former roommates have contributed significantly to that.  I could resort to technics to explain it, that the people you are surrounded with are a part of the mental tools as well, but why do that when I can make an emotionally uncomfortable statement instead: I'll miss them.  I miss them.  It's nice to have people around who accept you for who you are.  Not to say that my current roommates don't, or won't; I'm just trying to introduce them to the "who I am" part slowly.  It's like the early stages of dating; on the first date, you mention that you have a goldfish, and then after a few months, you reveal that when you say "you'll be sleeping with fishes," what you actually mean is--it's a Troy McClure reference.  Don't worry about it.  Yesterday, I left my first season of Battlestar Galactica out on the bookshelf; tomorrow, I'll add a few comic books.  And then, when it seems like they've grasped what they're in for, I'll leave a few videogame theory books lying around.

The gamebooks will stay in my room, I think.  Some things are just better left private.

Later Days.