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I went to Dexcon this past weekend. It was a lot of fun, and I tried 3+1/2 new games (at least), 2+1/2 at least I really liked (I enjoyed Automobile and would play it again, but economic games are hardly novel to me at this point).

Scoundrels of Skullport: I like Lords of Waterdeep, though it's hardly a serious worker placement game (due to the high variance on the Intrigue and Quest cards, there's a lot of randomness there). But Scoundrels makes it a much better game, IMO -- the new buildings generally give more to everyone, so everyone can do a bit more (which makes extra actions slightly less critical, and also makes the expensive plot quests from the original game more worthwhile overall). It also dilutes the obligatory mandatory quests with more "help everyone" Intrigue cards--and provides more ways to play Intrigue cards than the very limited Waterdeep. (it also provides more ways for people to dig themselves into a very deep hole, but then that's the nature of in-game decisions). The addition of 40 point quests makes quest and resource depth a lot more interesting, overall, and I liked the game a fair bit running on a "wealth" model rather than a "scarcity" one (for various reasons, I ended up spending most of the game with far more Thieves and Warriors than I could use, which was a refreshing change).

Thebes came out in 2007, but was new to me. It uses a lovely time track mechanic (plus a great theme; love the archeology); the same one used in Village, but the game itself is very different, as you run around Europe learning about the old world, lecturing, and picking up extras like shovels, research assistants, and cars, then head for the old world and decide how much time you want to waste spend digging up dirt (and the occasional artifact). Then head back to Europe for more lecturing (if you're lucky), and if you found the good stuff and people are still interested, putting on shows of what you've found. The classic approach seems to be to max out your knowledge, then put in time on a few good digs so you get lots of artifacts, but I managed to more than squeak out a win by doing a lot of lecuring (lectures use trianular numbers, so 6 lectures got me 21 points), developing a really good shovel, and randomly digging for a week or three each at every single site to see what appeared when I pulled 3 or four tiles.

Bora Bora I actually learned back in Feburary, but I liked it then, and just ordered it; it's a worker placement+action economy game (more or less) with some interesting action mechanics, as you can take multiple men and women into your village, but only one type of male action and one type of female action can be used (in addition to your workers) in any given turn.

Also, there's Trajan. Trajan isn't worker placement, exactly -- it's an action economy game where the central mechanic is mancala, as you make moves on your personal mancala circle that determine determine what action you take, move the global time track forward (so a big pit can let you control the pace of the game -- or force you to end the turn when you'd rather let it continue for a while), as well as letting you qualify for bonus tiles.

Finally, there's Andromeda, which I tried out after Lisa's game last Saturday in June). I'd seen this a few times, but never tried it; it's good! It's a meld-making game where you build up material on various planets and use it to try to take stations near those planets by earning a certain number of pulls via a lotery system -- all your pieces pulled get to occupy one of the three stations near the planet, while all opponent's pieces pulled result in them being sent back to earth (so no station for you, but less competition next time). It was really fun, and choosing to save special cards for endgame vs spending them, and making early points vs using melds to develop, all felt like real choices.
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Adam Stewart is running a fictional tournament in his Facebook, where the current round is Indy vs Bond. For understandable reasons, Indy's been getting the worst of it.

Which I think is utterly wrong, but I could hardly sway opinion by just stating it. So instead, I wrote the way I think this would go down.




Despite Bond being a badass heartless combatant, and Indy being a two-fisted archeologist who is -not- a trained assassin, I have to go with Indy here at a walk. It comes down to what kind of story it is. Sure, yeah, Indy would be out of his depth in Bond's world of high stakes gadgets and assassination, but Indy would never be -in- that story.

Instead, it makes much more sense that Bond and Indy have clashed over an artifact which Indy wants for its historical importance, while Bond has been ordered to retrieve it for the British government to use in the Cold War. Naturally, Bond at first gets the upper hand.

"Bond, don't do this," Indy says, hanging precariously off the edge of a cliff. "That belongs in a museum."

"And so it will be," 007 replies, "or at least a copy will be. This is an immense power source, and would be deadly in the wrong hands. You've been a great help; I'm sorry it has to end this way, but I can't have you telling tales." Bond stomps down and breaks the branch Indy is holding on to.

"No, you idiot, you don't understand!" Indy says, but then he's gone.

"Now that that's settled, time to see why this is so important." *The artifact eats him*

Indy pulls himself up from the cliffside where he is fortitously still clinging. "I kept trying to tell him, but he woudln't listen. The artifact was still alive! But I think I can decode a key to keeping it safe for at least a little while if I can just remember ancient Sumerian."
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Every once in a while, Dani Colman's long post about why she doesn't like the reason other people like Frozen comes around. And I keep linking to a long post explaining why she's wrong.

That said, that long post is kinda flawed. For starters, it's really long--and as such, it can be almost as much a slog as the original post.

So I wrote my own.
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I wrote this for Alarums and Excursions a few months ago but it seems appropriate to post it tonight.

The good player asks, "what are the rules and customs at this table?" To them, you must explain how the game works, both that which is written down and the rules of gaming etiquette and give them all the responsibilities they can handle and your game supports.

The simple player asks "what do I do next?" To them, you must explain only that which is necessary to plan their next move and begin roleplaying in earnest—If you confuse them with too many options, they might cease playing and/or think the rules are the game, rather than the platform for the game.

The wicked player asks,"what can I get away with?" By framing the game as a source of loopholes to abuse they subvert the purpose of the game and attempt to hurt everyone else's play in favor of their own fun, and you should teach them their error—or even exile them from the table—as soon as possible.

As for the player too shy to ask questions, you must treat them gently, but try to draw them into the game, asking them "what are you doing now?" and "what would you like to do next?" In so doing, you can allow them to develop into a productive player whether or not they give up their shell..
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I wrote a comment in [personal profile] nancylebov's journal which was pretty substantial, so I'm adjusting it here as a quasi-review. Spoilers be here, be warned! )
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Where to find me at Lunacon (unless it changes), next weekend:

Saturday:
10 AM: Lost in Fanslation (Moderator) (Discussion of where/why/why not/pitfalls, etc of watching anime (and if I have anything to say about it, reading manga) in fan translations).

11 AM: History Repeats: Revisiting Old Skool Games (Tabletop RPG focused--older systems worth playing, older worlds worth revisiting using newer systems)

1 PM: Adapted Songs Circle (this category is so open it hurts, but it'll be pretty easy to follow, at least)

3 PM: If I Ran the Hugos (No smofs here, no sir :)

Should be an interesting day.
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I've been playing D&D Next recently, and every once in a while am struct by the issue of mental vs physical.

The problem, when you get down to it, is the mental dump stat.

Basically? Everyone dumps something mental. Worse, you're penalized for -not- dumping mental stats.

The core problem is that you don't get that much from mental stats, compared to physical.

I mean, all stats in Next are effective defenses, which does help. But the physical stats all provide secondary benefits, (and thus weaknesses if you dump them), while the mental stats never do, so each build point you spend on a mental stat that isn't part of one of your core abilities is something you could spend on a physical stat that would help you more, if not in the way you want your character to act.

Strength is the least bad -- but strength protects you from grappling, and affects your carrying capacity. Of course, it also determines melee to-hit and damage (and thus whether monsters run past you whenever they want), but that's less of an issue given Dex melee weapons.

Con is the uber-stat. No experienced player ever dumps Con unless they're willing to take on extreme risk, since your Con has a massive effect on your hit points, and thus survivability. At least they've acknowleged it by having no skills based on Con. (but I believe that concentration checks are still Con-based if you have to make them)

And Dex is rather superb, as it determines Inititative (which can win or lose combats almost by itself), Armor Class (the defense of defenses), ranged to-hit/damage, and melee to-hit/damage for light melee weapons.

But of the mental stats, only Int has a secondary benefit beyond defenses and skills: bonus languages. Charisma is great if you want to talk to people, and Wis is great if you want perception and to understand people--but every skill is useful, so that's not really that much help.

The biggest problem there isn't, of course, casters; casters are reasonably balanced with big power sources, assuming you're spending lots of points on mental stats and not so many on physical ones (although casters -do- have a strong incentive to push piles of points into physicals rather than the mental ones they're not gaining casting from). But physical types are -really- penalized if they want to be smart, or perceptive, or charismatic, since they're giving up stuff extremely useful for their core competency for what amounts to fringe benefits. And casters end up being one-not mental characters, either smart -or- perceptive, -or- charismatic (or at best two out of three), since if you invest in all three you end up not having enough Dex and Con to survive.

Thinking about it, I think they either need to make the mental stats more valuable (have Charisma provide a bonus to aiding your comerades, and/or a bonus to whatever "helper" cohorts you pick up whether they be familiars, mounts, or 3rd edition-style followers; have Wisdom provide some kind of reaction or something--although the current approach of having Wisdom provide hidden benefits of surprise avoidance, defending against the worst attacks, etc isn't awful, and maybe improving the Int benefits to be any kind of non-skill proficiency, for instance), or make mental stats cheaper (going to a (1/2,1/2, 1/2, 1/2, 1, 2, 2 curve to buy up from the starting stat of 8, perhaps, rather than the current curve of 1,1,1,1,1,2,3), saving casters 3 points, but also making it much cheaper to not dumb mental stats relative to physical ones.

The former possiblity is more complex, but means having a simpler, single stat curve. The latter is simpler, but does mean that mental-focused characters would be a little more well rounded than they are now.

But the current curve shapes the game in ways that I, at least, am not fond of. 3rd edition had similar problems, but at least had hidden benefits (the Leadership feat, particularly) to taking off-stat bonsues. 4th edition at least had different classes favor different stats, so if you wanted to make a high-Wisdom fighter-type you could play an Avenger, etc, plus ways to move your basic attack around for -some- variety. But Next is very thin here, so and it would be nice to not have the system shape the characters so consistently and directly; I'd rather make "do I make my Fighter a better talker? Or more perceptive or smarter?" More of a choice, and not just for counter-optimizers.
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Made berry tiramisu (for the office bake-off) and green tea tiramisu (because I could + a contribution for a pot luck next week). [is a berry tiramisu a berrimisu?]

I've found that there are simple and tasty things I basically only end up cooking when I'm making something more complicated--which end up thereby only being available as by-products.

So in this case, in addition to the two tiramisus, I have a berry compote (used for dipping ladyfingers in, naturally), a pretty tasty green tea (not that I don't ordinarily make tea, but it's still quite tasty), and some modified sabonnne (i.e. the leftover tiramisu filling, a sabonne/whipped cream/mascapone cheese mix) in the fridge. The berry compote, at least, is trivial to make and delicious, and I should really make it sometimes even when I don't have a reason to use it as an ingredient.
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It's been a while since I posted. Just haven't gotten around to it for a while, not that I post often.

Contata is still very happening. Should be a lot of fun, and I look forward to seeing/hearing all our guests.

We've watched a bunch of stuff recently, in our never-ending quest to keep up with pop culture (not to mention the quest to find video content that's fun to exercise to). Falling behind on pop culture makes finding new stuff easier, certainly. Stuff we've watched includes, but isn't limited to the entire first season of Sailor Moon [cheasy, but fun; ironically we watched most of this -after- I played Sailor Moon in a LARP], first three seasons of Phineas and Ferb [WOW], first three seasons of My Little Pony, and the first season and a half of Jackie Chan Adventures [fun; one of the better examples of an active child protag].

I've kept the disc-based Netflix sub up, too, which might explain why we've watched almost the entirety of the first season of Veronica Mars (wow!) and a bunch of movies. The disc this week consisted of the Cat People (orig) and The Curse of the Cat People.

The former I knew the plot of, having seen references to it many times over the years. Newlywed wife avoids physical contact, fearing that she'll turn into a cat, plot escallates, ends tragically. It's very good, and I love a lot of the details, but no real surprises.

The latter, though...first, I'd not heard of it as something separate from "the sequel to The Cat People". Or maybe I just elided, but I don't remember reading it. Second...one of the worst titles ever [if with a fun history]. Third...not really a horror movie, or not mostly a horror movie; this is a -much- better film (IMO) than The Cat People, and has nothing to do with anyone turning into a cat or anything else, nor any curses; instead it has to do with imagination, parental relationships, projection, and ghost of the past. I suppose it's useful to have seen the Cat People before seeing this film in that it helps understand and explain the otherwise -very- troubling behavior from the 7-year old protagonist's father (who is also a protagonist of The Cat People), but I don't think this film even appeals to the same audience.

Another interesting film I saw (this one available on Netflix Streaming) is The Libertine. I mostly expected this to be titilation with a humerous plot -- which is all basically there, but what I didn't expect was how much the movie exposes and attacks the maiden/whore dichotomy, with a protagonist first scandalized not by what her deceased husband had been doing behind her back, but that he never did anything as interesting with her, and with lines like (quoting loosely and from memory) "Why is it that men only call me a whore when refuse them or stop doing something?" It is very much a product of its time, with the most troubling scene what looks to me like a rape that is treated more as rough play by the participants (afterwards), but certainly an interesting movie that addresses issues still very relevant today.
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So, [personal profile] drcpunk and I have been learning to blues dance recently. It's a lot of fun -- an improvisational lead/follow form with an emphasis on weight-shift-by-weight-shift lead and follow, tremendous enabled and allowed creativity, and a really active NYC scene.

Which means, it's time for...

Ten Things I learned (to do and not to do) from learning to dance the blues [where something's in brackets, it's actually -about- the blues]:


  1. Don't do anything extra--unless you want to. [don't assume a basic step; in blues, every weight-shift is lead--anything the follow does on top of them is their choice, not assumed]
  2. Don't just wave your arms around. Whatever you do, throw your whole body into it. [lead/move from the core]
  3. Don't anticipate. What goes in motion stays in motion until stopped, and stays stopped until started again--unless it -chooses- otherwise [particularly the follow].
  4. You pick what you want to follow--but then, follow it. [for leaders, pick the line in the music you want to dance to, and if you don't like where it leads you, switch; for follows, you -can- choose to ignore the lead and do your own thing, but know you're doing it.]
  5. Every relationship is equal, even when it doesn't seem like it all the time. [The follow is an -equal- partner, and is just as responsible to add to and contribute to the dance. I dance -so- much better with a good, and equal partner]
  6. Every action can--and often, should--be met by an equal and nearly opposite reaction. [blues connection, in particular, involves the follow always matching a push by a push, a tug by a tug. And I think this is good style for a lot of dance, actually, as it means there's always something to lead; if I'm completely relaxed, that's not important, but if I'm moving/tensing my arm and my partner's still relaxed, I lead and nothing happens]
  7. You shouldn't just follow a script--you have to express yourself too, or it's not really a conversation.
  8. Pay attention to your space. How you position yourself matters--you want to vary it, but you also want to choose at any given point what you want, where you are.
  9. In fact, pay attention to what you do. Time, tension, and positioning are all things you choose--and they all matter. You want to be choosing them actively, not passively. Do what you want, when you want--not just "any time."
  10. But in the end, live in the moment, and let it flow; don't overthink things!
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Nominations end at midnight tonight!

My nominations:

Best Song:

Sedna
Just beyond
One small boat
Solar flare
Dragon for sale

Best Classic Song:

A Gown too Blue
Storm Dancer
Following in Valentina's Footsteps
Mommy, Can I have a Spaceship
Second-Hand Songs

Best Performer:

Heather Dale
Lady Mondegreen
Sassafrass
Toyboat
Sunny Larsen

Best Writer/Composer:

Ada Palmer
Andrew Ross
Betsy Tinny
Batya Wittenberg
Bob Kanefsky [Bob's only got one! And no other wins!]


Best Fairytale Song:

Little Beard Blue (yeah, I nominated myself. I couldn't help it--most of the brainstorm list wasn't what I consider fairy tale songs, and I was running out of nominees I could think of).
My Fairytale
Po Boys
"There's Always a Bigger Fish"
Miller's Daughter

Best Alien Song:
Queen of Air and Darkness (yes, this -seems- to be a fairy song. But it's actually about aliens just pretending to be fairies!)
Fly Little Bird (as revealed in Discount Armageddon, the Jhorlac (coocoos) are aliens from another dimension).
Alien Salad Abduction
Little Fuzzy Animals
Alien Jellyfish Song
mneme: (Default)

I'm planning on submitting something like the following to the LoneStarCon 3 (the quickly upcoming Worldcon) Business Meeting, as an attempt to create a Hugo that would be a better place for outstanding filk albums and shows, masquerade presentations, fannish videos and amateur movies, etc than where they currently end up being nominated -- Best Related Work or as doomed contenders for Best Dramatic Presentation: Short Form.

So, a few questions:

1. Any suggestions for wording changes?

2. Anyone (who is a Supporting or Attending Member of LoneStarCon 3) interested in co-sponsoring?

3. When I raised the idea earlier this year on the SMOFS lists, one of the cogent requests I didn't have time to look into was for a list of works that would have been valid and worthy contenders for such an award over the last 5 (ish) years. I could probably compose such a list specifically for filk, but given that a filk category failed in the not-too-distant-to-be-remembered past, it's worth having a better populated list if one can.


Short Title: Best Dramatic Presentation (Fan)

Moved, to amend section 3.3 of the WSFS Constitution as follows:

Section 3.3.8: Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form:

Any television program or other production, with a complete running time of 90 minutes or less, in any medium of dramatized science fiction, fantasy or related subjects that has been publicly presented for the first time in its present dramatic form during the previous calendar year, and does not qualify for Best Dramatic Presentation, Fan."

Section 3.3.7: Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form:

Any theatrical feature or other production, with a complete running time of more than 90 minutes, in any medium of dramatized science fiction, fantasy or related subjects that has been publicly presented for the first time in its present dramatic form during the previous calendar year, and does not qualify for Best Dramatic Presentation, Fan.
Add a new section to 3.3 as follows:

Section 3.3.X: Best Dramatic Presentation, Fan: Any single work or collection of dramatic science fiction, fantasy, or related  subjects, in any medium (including audio or musical collections), which is either non-commercial or made by fans primarily for other fans, and that has been publicly presented for the first time in its present dramatic form during the previous calendar year.

Provided that unless this amendment is re-ratified by the 2018 Business Meeting, Section 3.3.X and the changes to 3.3.8 and 3.3.9 shall be repealed, and
Provided that the question of re-ratification shall be automatically placed on the agenda of the 2018 Business Meeting with any constitutional amendments awaiting ratification.
Submitted by: Joshua Kronengold, Lisa Padol
Comments: Filk, and more recently, other geeky music, is a a core part of fandom deserving recognition, but has until now been unable to support a Hugo due to only a few standout albums being produced each year.  In addition, the adoption of the Best Fancast category has highlighted a significant gap in the Hugos -- we now recognize fan audio-visual efforts (which are easier and easier to produce and make available to a wide audience) that appear in a series -- but we have no way to recognize (except for nominating them to non-fan categories) fan dramatic presentations that are, instead, a single work -- such as masquerade presentations, filk albums, free online videos, fannish theatrical productions, and particularly dramatic bits of the Hugo Award ceremony itself.
Creating this award would also encourage the creators of such things to distribute recordings of their efforts, where possible -- which can only serve to benefit all of fandom.
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So, there's been a spate of small batch ice cream brands springing up. On the one hand, these are awesome -- relatively small companies, often making unusual flavors, support the little guy--plus the ice cream is a cut above even the previous top of the heap supermarket ice creams.

On the other hand, they've pushed the price of ice cream way up -- often to $5 and $7 a pint (!). And the biggest advantage they give is making unusual flavors.

So...it occurred to me that it -might-, just might, be time to get my own ice cream maker. A bit of research (actually, I think Amazon may have suggested it when I was looking for an insertion blender, but anyways) indicated that another device I own that hasn't gotten much use recently--our Kitchenaid stand mixer, had a bowl available that would make a perfectly good ice cream maker -- without having to buy another motor (a big pull for both the insertion blender, replacing our previous hand blender but having a massive lot of attachments, particularly a wisk and food processor).

My first attempt, yesterday, was...not so good. I somehow decided to try a relatively healthy recipe, but it involved custard--I've never made custard before--plus I made a bunch of dubious choices along the way (doubling the recipe--without having double all the ingredients, so I made some replacements and it didn't turn into full soft serve in the mixer...the result is a perfectly serviceable chocolate habinero sorbet (definitely dairy); edible, naturally, but aside from the fun flavor combination, not as good as ice cream that hasn't got too-large crystals.

So naturally, I decided to try again (with a different flavor) today -- apple cinnamon.

I made a few changes to my process:

1. I turned the freezer up to 4.5 (out of 5) from 3. The freezer would typically burn ice cream at 5, so I think 5 would be too much, but even at 24 hours, I thought the bowl could use a bit more cold.

2. I used a recipe that didn't involve custard (and isn't even a little bit healthy -- but the point was to make amazing ice cream, not healthy ice cream. Healthy is for portion control). Specifically, this recipe:

http://www.annies-eats.com/2011/07/08/vanilla-bean-ice-cream-two-ways-and-ice-cream-basics/ (quick summary: melt 3/4 cup of sugar and a pinch of salt into a cup of cream, add some flavoring if desired, then add another cup of cream, a cup of whole milk and fridge the result until cool. Then turn into ice cream with an ice cream machine or process of choice).

3. I made about half as much ice cream (eg, I didn't touch the quantities in the recipe at all; I'm guessing I ran out of cold last time as -one- of the several mistakes I made).

The result? Some of the best ice cream I've ever had -- and I've been to Jeni's, the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, and Baitcon. I'll have to see what it's like once it's been in the fridge for a day, but as fresh soft serve it's out of this world.

Changes I made to the above recipe:

1. Obviously, I replaced the vanilla with cinnamon. Instead of adding vanilla bean and extract, I added two teaspoons of cinnamon powder and dropped a cinnamon stick in the heated cream.

2. Looking for advice for creamy ice cream online, I saw one to put a bit of alcohol to prevent it from fully freezing -- so in went 2/3 of a tablespoon of Pyat rum after chilling the batter.

3. The apples. I chopped four Granny Smith apples, with peel, (food processed about an apple's worth and just sliced the rest), then popped the result into the microwave for a minute and fridged it before I started the batter. After the batter had decidedly turned into ice cream (in fact, at this point most of it was apparently clinging to the dasher, I added apple bits and apple mash (what the finely chopped apples had turned into after their visit to the inside of the microwave) until the bowl was nearly full, and let the kitchenaid mix the result (spinning at speed 2, now) for another minute or three.

I'm pretty much having to write to restrain myself from sampling more of the soft serve in the freezer (fortunately, there -is- some stuck to the dasher still, but [personal profile] drcpunk has been making some headway there as well, so I don't have much time).
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I just said I probably wouldn't do a Conterpoint report. Which would be shame, as my Conterpoint was Packed With Things. So this is a small (probably) con report. I will miss things! I will skip things!

Also, it's not actually that short. )
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Had a short dialogue with [livejournal.com profile] gundo on the nature of fandom, coming out of my musing on running a con (did I mention? No, I didn't--yet--but I'm running a con, and it will be -fabulous-) and occasionally having to -un-delegate, which I figured was worthy of wider distribution. "mneme" is, naturally, yours truly.

mneme: I have very mixed feelings towards the hotel/guest liaison positions, as having someone focused on making the hotel/guests happy = good, but having another step in the game of telephone between the rest of the concom and these ever-important externalities = bad

gundo: at a larger con, I believe those are necessary, but the size of the NE cons...

mneme: Indeed. A larger con also has a larger pool to troll for someone with the combination of knowledge and proactiveness you really need for a good liaison. But they also have (potentially, anyway) a lot more guests, and not a presumption that most of the concom already know some or all the guests.

gundo: Well, and at the larger cons the guests aren't part of the larger family, whereas here they are

mneme: Indeed. Well, sometimes they aren't--but filk overall is a much smaller community, and, yes, we pull guests from that community rather than across a (however artificial) "pro" barrier. (something that sf fandom in general also resists, but..it gets complicated).

gundo: Very complicated

mneme: Yes. In general, fandom favors GOHs who are part of the fannish community, if on the pro side. But there are exceptions--and someone who is fan/pro and treated as such in one area is still going to be a superstar in another where they're less well known.

gundo: Well, there are a lot of us who are in the filk community who are pro in some way

mneme: Indeed. The filk community -also- has a pro/fan barrier, although it's even thinner than in literary fandom for a number of reasons. But with the exception of segmented GOH items like the GAFilk "Super Secret Guest", we don't even -think- to pull from outside the community (if often Pro-side people known and known to be within the community ). This is, I think, because Filk defines itself as "within the filk community" -- whereas sf defines itself primarily as "within the dialogue of science fiction" and the literary fandom/convention-going communities is within and appreciative of (as well as in dialogue with) the larger community.

gundo: Right...there's that definition of filk as community, vs filk as style or content

mneme: *nod* It's very telling. And I think a lot of that -is- dialogue. Something is part of a folk tradition if and only if it is in dialogue with other things within that tradition -- just as a work is genre sf only if it is in dialogue with the body of sf works (and when a sf work gets written that is -not- in dialogue with the sf genre, this is often painfully obvious).

gundo: As long as there is ongoing dialogue, then yes, it works

mneme: Indeed. A one-sided "dialogue" can go south, very quickly, particularly when it's perceived differently from both sides.

mneme: Ah, true. And yeah, the whole dysfunctional fannish community thing can be...bad. Some of that is that different people can have really different idea of what a community, well, means.

gundo: Yeah, that's true as well

mneme: Particularly when you're looking at communities built out of geography vs ones based on association and common interests. I mean, one of the reasons that Merav and I are pretty good choices for leadership in the NYC filk community is that we're both in close dialogue the the more global filk community, rather than mostly/primarily in the local area. But that also means we'll have some closer relationships with people across the country than ones with some of those in the local filk community.

Wow

Jun. 4th, 2013 02:20 am
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So, I've long been a fan of Jenna Moran's (formerly Rebecca Borgstrom) fiction and freeform rpg, Nobilis. So naturally, I contributed to her (currently running) kickstarter, Chuubo's Magical Wish Granting Engine. Which is as awesome as a plot-oriented RPG about a boy who makes (often ill advised) wishes can be, and if you're interested in it, you should support it, but that's not what I came here to write about.

No -- instead, one of the backer rewards for Chuubos is an expansion for Nobilis, 3rd edition, on Treasure, called "The Book of Treasure". Treasure is one of the new stats in Nobilis 3rd -- it represents your ability to connect to people -- and to connect to -stuff-; both to have a favorite aunt who is important and helpful in your story, and to have a really nice car, or a magic sword that can cut anything, or a pet cat who follows you everywhere.

So, there are a lot of awesome things about this book. It both expands on every element of Treasure (so far; I'm only 22 pages into a 49 page book), and gives design notes for -why- various things are the way they are in the game -- for instance, it explains that the reason making anchors (connected people and things) is a level 0 miracle is because the designer -wants- people making connections, even if they're not heavily invested in the idea of Treasure.

But the thing that inspired me to post tonight is where it talks about abilities -- particularly Treasure -- that follow an absolute. Being as strong as you need to be. A sword that can cut -anything-. Omni-corrupting artifacts, or hats that shield you from corruption.

In other words, powers that start forum arguments rather than ending them--as people argue whether the Hulk being stronger than anyone beats only Thor being strong enough to lift Molnjir.

What Jenna points out, quite successfully, is that arguments like that -- powers like that -- particularly when they work -- are not arguments about rules. They're metaphors -- and moral arguments that center around the metaphor, not about any particular rule.

The Hulk isn't just "the strongest guy around". He's the superhero that represents the limitless strength of righteous rage. The One Ring isn't just infinitely corrupting (although it is) -- it represents that principle that power itself corrupts without providence and faith in Eru [that is, god]. Superman isn't just as strong as he needs to be (although he is); his is the strength of the pure heart taht acts from unsullied motives.

As such, when two "unlimited" powers clash, what determines what wins (ideally) -- what -should- determine what wins--isn't a number like how many tons the Hulk can lift or who has a bigger stat. Instead, it's the right solution to the moral question posed by their metaphors in the situation. Clark Kent should lose to the limitless power of conquest represented by Apocalypse when his heart is divided and his moral fevor weak -- but win if he's resolved his dilemma and acts from pure motives. The Hulk should defeat many other limitless powers, even that of war, but may prove powerless, in the right situation, against someone representing the power of calm.

This is why, Jenna explains, the rank of a Treasure miracle doesn't determine which one wins; instead, the rank determines the scope of the miracle--how many different things you can do with Treasure--but in a contest between absolutes, what should win is the thing that's won the battle of metaphors.
mneme: (harp)
La Vie en Szechuan, 14 East 33rd Street, New York, NY, 10016

There have been a succession of mediocre resturants in the spot across the street from the Complete Strategist. However, a few months ago, I noticed that the new place appeared to be an authentic Szechuan place--and a fairly popular one, at that. So naturally, being who we are, [personal profile] drcpunk and I resolved to visit La Vie at the next opportunity.

We didn't, of course, do so as soon as we could have, mostly because we'd also wanted to to hit Hot Kitchen (which is also quite good, if more in the Grand Sichuan mode than La Vie is) in person rather than just takeout. But tonight, as it happened, it was on our route home, so off we went.

It was great. Not cheap--but not awful, either (we ordered 3 cold dishes and a tea smoked duck (for $18) and it came to $56 with tip.

First, the menu. It's full of appetizing pictures of authentic food--and from what I saw on our plates and those of the (mostly Chinese) diners around us, totally accurate. This place is certainly paying attention to presentation, but our food, at least, was also delicious.

So, food we got:

The tea smoked duck: Came with three soft buns, and tasted the way tea smoked duck should taste.

Cold dishes ("Appetizers"--hot appetizers are "signature appetisers"):

Sliced beef in chili paste: Lovely and spicy; definitely provided most of the heat in the meal, and very tasty. Unannounced, but welcome by us were some chinese eggplants hidden in the mix.

Chicken in sczechuan pepper sauce: this was served in a spicy and sour green sauce, and tasted very different (but also really good) sauce than the beef in chili paste.

Spring Bamboo shoots in sessame oil: This, like the duck, wasn't spicy, but it had its own tang from the vegitables in the sauce (scallions, maybe garlic) and we had the chili paste confusing our senses. Also really tasty--we love well made bamboo shoot dishes.

Have to go back--the menu is huge, and really varied. Would love to go back with more people so we can get more of a range.
mneme: (Default)
I'm apparently on a fair amount of programming at Lunacon (despite the program not, you know, being up even on the day the con starts; yay organization and new software and non-redundant medum-sized groups).

Stuff I'm on :



150 The Life of a Filker Brundage I Filk Sat 10:00 AM Duration: 01:00
I'm dropping this. 10AM is TOO DAMN EARLY, plus I'm on too much on Saturday as-is.
Food Songs Filk Circle Brundage I Filk Sat 12:00 PM Duration: 01:00
This could be fun! But I'm definately going to need more people showing up, as Amy and I can only trade food songs back and forth for so long.
53 What are "Euro" Games and How Do I Get Involved? Elijah Budd Gaming Sat 1:00 PM Duration: 01:00
This sounds like it will be a blast. Between Perianne, Kevin, and YT, we should have stuff covered and a good vibe; I don't know Tim Rogriguez by name, but with "games" in his email address he should have something to add.
80 Online Fandom Migration Birch Fan Interest Sat 4:00 PM Duration: 01:00

This should be fun; a bunch of us have been on since antideluvian times. That said, we could really use, given the panel description:
More people (on the panel or in the audience) with a wider experience (Deviantart, maybe? Or deeper Google+ experience than I have?).
And we -really- could use someone from the fanfic side of the force, as the panel description talks about that but we don't currently have any panelists who are fanfic writers (I've written some fanfic -filks-, but that's not the same as being part of the online fanfic community). Anyone?
159 Travel Songs Circle Brundage I Filk Sat 7:00 PM Duration: 01:00
Just me and Amy again -- help? There are a lot of great travel songs, though.
163 Ghost Songs Circle Brundage I Filk Sat 10:30 PM Duration: 01:00
Lisa and I are moderating this, and we -can- just sing ghost songs for an hour if we have to. Hopefully, we won't have to. :)

73 EReading Device Petting Zoo Maple Fan Interest Sun 1:00 PM Duration: 01:00
I'm curious as to how this will go. I have a (rooted) color Nook, and can talk about calibre, conversions, and, of course, buying stuff online; it sounds like we have a good variety, but I -might- be motivated to pick up a larger tablet before the con just for funsizes (this would be really silly, but stranger things have been known to happen). We'll see how much this is a talking thing vs a "let peopel try stuff out" thing.


So, who's making Lunacon? And...anyone up to helping out for the online communities panel (talk to Kate Nepveu if you are willing to be -included- on the panel, as she's moderating it).
mneme: (harp)
Tzolk'in: Wow. Took over 3 hours, but really fun game (supposedly, in two previous games the game only took 2 hours; probably down further with more experience, but definitely schedule at least 3 hours for a first game.

And, a relatively casual playthrough/review of the game follows )

And so that I justify the terrible title, I'll note that while I'm skipping all the fun things happening this weekend (ok, most of them -- not doing Flea, not doing Wicked, not going to Boskone (no room at the inn, or I might have talked Lisa into heading up to Boston again), not doing a Regency tea dance on Sunday, etc), we're heading up to Dreamation on next Friday (and I've been upping my Soul Calibur V game to not embarass myself there then; after months not playing the game), and I expect I'll be busy playing D&D and board games and Soul and maybe even some indie RPGS.

And then the weekend after, two Larps I had a part in writing will be run by a team headed by [livejournal.com profile] crash_mccormick, so we've been handling player queries and filling drops and finishing some stuff on both games (mostly Jamais Vue, which we're doing more work on; Electric Labyrinth, also known as "The game Josh was lead writer on rather than just brainstorming, mechanicing, editing, and doing rewrite jobs with"; also known as "The Girl Genius Game" had a full production run and a minor rewrite done for Anonycon, where it didn't run, so we're just reusing that kit for the Intercon run). Jamais Vue has had more runs -- but that only means we know more of the problems with the (otherwise excellent) game and therefore get to try to fix some of the issues. However, [personal profile] drcpunk and I won't be involved in the runtime of this (however much we are involved in casting and handling emails and writing and mechanics-redesigning and production). Because instead, we will be going to Consonance, where Merav Hoffman will be Interfilk Guest (and we've been gracefully allowed to help her out on some songs during her concert; I'll be lending some harp; Lisa will be lending her voice and comic timing).

Which means, in addition to my semi-seriously training for a semi-serious fighting game tournament, I'm also working on a larp and a half, and rehearsing for a concert that's more serious (guest slot, not program participant slot) than the other concerts we've been part of.

And yet...it's -still- been a far less stressful last few weeks than last year, when we were trying to -write-/produce two first run LARPs to be run on the same weekend, and I was trying to train for the Soul Calibur tournament. (Electric Labyrinth and A Vue to a Kill).

Labcattery

Jan. 9th, 2013 04:51 pm
mneme: (brony)
I posted some ideas for fixing what I see as the one big flaw in the Gumshoe system here: http://labcats.livejournal.com/61895.html

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Joshua Kronengold

July 2014

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