Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Here's somewhere you can find me...

General Orders No. 9 will be showing in Atlanta in about three weeks.  I plan to be there.  You should too.

 I keep watching the trailer over and over again, entranced.  "One last trip down the rabbit hole before it’s paved over."

Monday, July 25, 2011

Information you may not have

Especially if you are a TV journalist, apparently.

Definition of terrorism:  Violence carried out primarily to make a political point or for political ends including intimidation

Examples of terrorists:

The right-wing anti-Muslim conservative who blew up the Prime Minister's offices in Oslo
The man who shot Dr. George Tiller, along with all of the other anti-choice murderers
The KKK members who blew up the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL in 1963
Eric Rudolph, ie the Centennial Park Bomber who also bombed two abortion clinics and a lesbian bar
Ted Kaczynski, aka the Unabomber
Timothy McVeigh

All of these individuals, except for the Norwegian, were native-born Americans.

Not examples of terrorists:

Muslims raising money and applying for permits to build a mosque
People who are standing around minding their own business who kinda look Middle Eastern
99.99999% of airplane passengers
My cat

I'm so glad I could clear this up for you.  You're welcome.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Catherynne Valente was Guest of Honor at Mythcon...

...and proceeded to say some wise and marvelous things about fantasy and our medieval souls:  Dragon Bad, Sword Pretty.

Friday, July 15, 2011

National Wildlife Photo Contest

My sweetie is, among his other manifold talents, a photographer.  He has entered the National Wildlife Federation's photography contest, with these amazing images.  Go vote for them so he can win and buy more photography gear! ('cause you know that's where it all goes...)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Writing like a writey thing

Since I started tracking my submissions in March of 2009, I have sent out one hundred and twenty-five poems, stories, and paper proposals (some are the same piece more than once, of course).  I've gotten thirteen acceptances.

...Make that fifteen. Right Hand Pointing accepted my poems "Water" and "Why Kindred Spirits Worry Me" for their Issue #44. 

When the issue goes live, I'll post the link.  Per their website, they produce about six issues a year so it will be a little while.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Friday, July 8, 2011

High Weird With Jesus

I've been waiting to hear back from several publications and a job; today instead I got mail from these folks.

They are, by all accounts, Evangelical mail fraud, complete with fake "testimonies" and a groovy "prayer rug" Jesus who OPENS HIS EYES AS YOU LOOK AT HIM. (He really does!)*

I cannot adequately express how delighted I am with this. I was the kind of child who was very knowledgeable about parapsychology and cryptozoology, and when I was in high school, I had a copy of High Weirdness by Mail by Ivan Stang...a veritable cornucopia of crazy shit I thought was cool. Some of it was more respectable than the rest: I joined the L5 Society as a teenager, and later (after L5 merged with the National Space Institute) the National Space Society . For many years I had an NSS t-shirt. But while I took some of it more seriously than others, I adored all the weirdness equally, from Loompanics to the Erisian Liberation Front. Some people, when presented with the degree of creativity, resilience and occasional confabulation with which human beings face the irreducible problems of existence, the amount of wild-ass inventiveness and sheer effort they put in, feel pity, contempt, or despair. I think it's awesome. Whatever floats your boat down the river of life, buddy.

I discovered, in the process of writing this, that there's now High Weirdness by Web. It is a sad shadow of the print book, since the snarky entries were half the glory; also I don't find the whole SubGenius schtick as funny as I used to....something to do with my ex-husband. But it serves to remind me of things I haven't thought about in a while, along with some new ones I had yet to discover. For example, there's Factsheet5, which reviewed the 'zine** I was Graphics Editor of back in the day. I also used to talk to Kerry Thornley while hanging out in the square in Little Five Points in the 80s. I bought a signed copy of the Principia Discordia from him for $5. The book was last seen at a meeting with my oldest niece, some doughnuts and a plushie Cthulhu, and has subsequently disappeared.

Anyway, so now I have this paper Jesus eye-opening "prayer rug." I think I am going to send it back to them and see what happens.

*It's an optical illusion created by the way the image is drawn. Someone put serious effort into that.
** Planetary Previews Magazine. Many's the tale of madcap adventure I could tell.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Viking women got more respect than gamer girls

The other day the creative director of LucasArts, one Clint Hocking, made the point that if the gaming industry wants to be sustainable, they need more women. His chosen metaphor of Viking raiders unfortunately suggests a "Mars Needs Women" sort of mentality...which, ya know, could be part of the problem. Not that I think he's wrong about it.

Most of those who have responded with articles seem to agree with him, though many of the comments are predictably defensive, boneheaded, and hostile. Even the better comments demonstrate a certain degree of detachment from reality. At least one commenter claims that the problem isn't that there aren't more women in gaming development NOW, it's that women haven't "grown up" with gaming and (therefore) you need to appeal to the young kids coming up now in order to get results some time in the safely distant future. Aside from the fact that he is flat wrong about that (which I will get to in a minute), this is the kind of thinking that produces Barbie doll games and pink game controllers. I am not impressed.

Free Clue #1: Most geeky women are well-educated and well-read, and consequently highly likely to be feminists of some stripe. We are not interested in putting up with your boy's club crap.

Free Clue #2: Painting it pink will not help. That is because...and listen closely to this one, I am about to tell you a Female Type Human Secret...not all girls like pink. While you adjust to this shocking revelation, I further assert that putting a pink bow on it and calling it quits reveals that you have the mentality of an eight year old and the marketing sense of the Underpants Gnomes. "Lady gamers," forsooth.

Hocking is careful not to make the assertion that there is a vast untapped market of women gamers out there, but actually I think there might be. I base this on my own personal experience, plus my circle of acquaintance. I know a whole lot of very geeky women. I mean seriously geeky women; among them programmers, Georgia Tech and MIT graduates, LARPers, inveterate Monty Python quoters, and humanities PhDs. Some of them are gamers; some of them are not.

I personally grew up in the age of arcade games, and my favorite game was Galaga. I started reading science fiction when I was eleven, and my consumption of DAW paperbacks was prodigious. I've also played practically every RPG ever invented, including both Cyberpunk and Shadowrun. I used to have D&D in the pink box. I have committed LARPing. You'd think that when console games, MMO's and all the rest came along, I would have been a shoo-in. I tried; I used to play Civilization when it first came out.* Then I got bored.

And there you have it. Despite the fact that I have been heavily steeped in geek culture almost from infancy, and regularly play RPG's still, I do not play any form of MMO or console game. That is because they bore the snot out of me.

Basically, they take the things that I like least about RPG's....fight fight loot, fight fight loot...and strip away or gloss over the things I find most interesting....character creation, character development, social interaction, improvisation, and storytelling. MMO might as well stand for "Monomaniacal Munchkins Only." Based on a highly scientific survey which I conducted via the respected research methodology of asking my Facebook friends, many nerdy women agree with me. What those women like most about the games they do play are the social, storytelling aspects, and they are often frustrated by the limitations of what they are presented with. For what they can't get from MMOs and the like, they play text-based RPG's, as do I. Those are to my knowledge completely player-run. To tap that market, you'd have to offer the players something tailored to their tastes and needs which they can't already do themselves.

I occasionally get interested in the idea of working in the gaming industry, on the premise that I have something new to offer them in the way of ideas and approaches. I have an MFA in Creative Writing, am a fiction writer, and actually have professional training in educational role-playing games. Again, you'd think I'd be ideal. I've even got cultural street cred. I don't have many of the technical skills, but I'm not a complete dunce in that area plus, you know, gaming already has plenty of people who do that.** However, every single job description I've ever read for a writer or developer, even the fuzzier ones for which I don't need a lot of technical skills, includes something to the effect of, "must be a passionate gamer and familiar with all recent developments." That is, before it's even possible for me to offer a new perspective to a culture which alienates me to its own detriment, I would have to be completely immersed in that culture. In other words, in order to even qualify, I would have to not be the kind of person they presumably want to attract. I gently suggest that this might point to where the problem lies.

I don't know what else to say about that, really. Maybe someone in the gaming industry will read this and take what I've said to heart. Or maybe they'll decide the way to fix their Viking problem is to add some cute kittens.

*I tried again much, much more recently than that. Still bored.
** "Find someone just like me, only with tits" is not actually a diversity strategy.