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Where You Can Find Me Aug. 10th, 2010 @ 02:42 pm
Because I still get name-checked on LJ now and again, it occurs to me that I should update this page with some current links, so you know where to find me if you come here from elsewhere in LJ and think to yourself, "Why hasn't this coot updated his LJ since 2007?" So, you can find me at wordstudio.net, where my personal blog resides. You can also find me at my tumblelog, through which you can ask me questions. Perhaps best of all, you can find me at Gameplaywright, where I publish blog posts and books alongside the phenomenal and generous Jeff Tidball.

Please do come by to say hello at any of these sites. The reason they exist is so that you will read them. Thanks for coming by!

Help with LJ Syndication? Dec. 3rd, 2007 @ 01:20 pm
It's occurred to me that my LJ syndication probably doesn't work any more. The gracious and generous Canuck, Ian Watson, was kind enough to set up LJ syndication for me back in the day, so I don't know how to do it myself. Anyone know how best to syndicate my blog at thegist.wordstudio.net for LJ readers?
Current Music: NIN, "The Great Destroyer (Modwheelmood)"

Parting with Books Apr. 17th, 2007 @ 12:18 am
Books are oxygen. I need them to live. It's hard for me to just give them up.

That said, there just isn't room in the house or the office (or the car, or in the attic, or under the house) for the ten or twelve crates of gaming books I've collected over the years. As part of the inevitable course of the game designer, I have reached that point where my collection outmatches my time or likelihood to use it. So I'm selling it off a slew at a time.

Okay, to be fair, my wife is selling it off. She's the eBay expert. But don't think this was her idea. Rather, we need the money and the space and I need to cut back on my petty, pathetic, desperate materialism. The things you own end up [t0taly pwning!!!1!] you, or something.

(My apologies to the creators of any of this stuff, many of whom are friends of mine. I understand that it's not menschy of me to go selling this stuff under your nose, but money don't come from nowhere.)

Some of this stuff is in good shape. Some of it really very not. And if nothing here catches your fancy, stay tuned for lots more stuff.

Get yourself something nice.
Current Music: David Holmes, "7/29/07 The Day Of"

The Gist's RSS Feed Jan. 4th, 2007 @ 12:40 am
Thanks to people who know LJ much, much better than I do (etherlad), you can now get a reliable RSS feed from my new, regular blog delivered to the LJ interface you know and love. That address: thegist_willh.

I have no idea if I'll get comments posted to that feed or not. I don't know how anything works. Update: Another person who is smarter than I (adamjury) tells me that the comments on the new site feed (which obviously won't be seen here, but I'll also forget to go check them manually) won't stick around for long, so if you want me to see them, you should comment here or on my site.

And please do. I need it. I needs the comments. Without comments, I feel forlorn and no good.

Likewise, I apologize for all the images that seem wonky in that feed. They look better on my site because I've moved to an 85% reliance on CSS over HTML, so most of the important instructions those images and links are supposed to get go unissued if Captain Styletag isn't around.

Hopefully we'll see each other around. My goal for 2007: Post substance. You've been warned.
Current Music: "Death is the Road to Awe," Clint Mansell

Change of Venue Jan. 1st, 2007 @ 04:35 pm
Update your bookmarks, boys and girls, 'cause this page is on the move. For the visible future I will be keeping my blog (now with a pun-free title) at WordPress.com. Find it here:


You'll find a new RSS feed there, too, for those of you who are into such things. Want to know why I'm switching (or experimenting with switching)? I'll write about it over on the new blog.

Special LJ FYI: I'll try to continue cross-posting over here now and again, but this LJ has never been the real focus of my attention anyway, so don't count on it. Instead, I invite you to visit me over at the WordPress blog or to make use of the new feed.
Current Music: "Sons & Daughters," The Decemberists
Other entries
» Free Books Are Blessed.
When free books are read aloud by John Hodgman, also for free, they are double-blessed. How it slipped by me, I don't know (I blame my lack of internet access for the past three days), but apparently John Hodgman's excellent audiobook version of Areas of My Expertise is now free at the iTunes store. If you finish this sentence without clicking over there and beginning to download your own free copy, then you are a slimy fuckwit without a dram of sense and we have nothing left to say to each other.

Aw, who am I kidding? It's Christmas Eve. I'll spot you this one. Just get the free book, you.
» One-Minute Update
This is how much I can tell you in one minute of typing*:

I had to drop my MacBook off to get a fan replaced, my parents are in town for Christmas and to pick up this black lab we've been holding for them, and I've finally been to the Atlanta History Center in Buckhead. This is all from the last two days. In an amazing twist, the Apple store got my machine back to me the very next day (today), so here I am finally typing again. And here's I'll be this week, playing catch-up at my desk at home while everyone else is off on holiday vacation. I think of it as my little elf's-like workshop. Now, if --

Time's up.

* While being distracted by an episode of Homicide.
» Confessions
I confess...
  • I cannot spell the word definitely without checking a dictionary. I don't know why.

  • I don't know what a tablespoon looks like. Whenever a recipe calls for ingredients in a number of tablespoons, I eyeball it. I am often wrong.

  • I fall back on the phrase, "I'm from the Midwest, and we..." about 630% more often than I should. This is just since I moved to Atlanta. I learned this behavior from my wife, though, who described several of my "personality quirks" (e.g., guilt) as being "Midwestern."

  • I bought every damn episode of The Night Stalker on iTunes.

  • I've never seen Wall Street and I've only seen the end of Fatal Attraction. I grew up in the 1980s, so of course I know basically what happens in these movies, with the insider training and the boiled rabbits, but in my head Michael Douglas goes pretty much straight from Romancing the Stone to Basic Instinct. (By the way, was his character in Black Rain really named Nick Conklin?)

  • A lot of that stuff I said I was going to do? I never got around to it.

» Homicide: All of It
At last. Look what I got for Christmas: The complete series set of Homicide: Life on the Street. For the last few years, every season set of the show had been priced to torment at $70-80. I owned only one set, the first one, and longed for the rest. All told, I would've spent more than $400 collecting the whole set, and I'd still miss out on everything in this one -- not just the $150 price tag.

This isn't just a cheesy cardboard box with the previously issues season sets in it. This is a clever sliding box built to work like a filing cabinet, with the tabs and a metal handle and everything. Each season has been repackaged into a plastic case (instead of the perfectly fine ultra-thin cases in the previous sets) with the boxed-set text on it. Episode synopses are on those little cardboard tabs that separate the seasons into sets.

Best of all, this set's got a bonus disc with Homicide: The Movie (the bittersweet two-hour send-off for the show) and all three Law & Order crossover episodes, which aren't on your individual season sets. Waiting for these sets is sometimes unbearable -- I couldn't have held out for the pretty fabulous West Wing set that's out now -- but sometimes it's worth it.

Homicide hit me like an electrical charge. Like a bolt from heaven, it activated something in my head and guts. I caught up with the show when Lifetime was airing repeats in late-night, after discovering it in what must've been the fourth season on NBC. I watched it in the basement and wrote for hours afterward. It was nectar squeezed from the brains of actors and writers and directors and oozed out of my television.

After Neuromancer, David Simon's seminal Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets is probably the book I've read the most. I saw Homicide and immediately started brainstorming and writing my vanity RPG dream-project, Jovan, which I've been cultivating, pitching, redesigning and dreaming about for, egads, ten years now. It'll probably never see the light of day. But I can watch any episode of Homicide I damn well please and enjoy the next best thing to completing a dream project -- dreaming about it.

If you like this show, get this set. If you didn't like Homicide, I don't know what's wrong with you.
» Robbed, While I Was in Fields
I would have only a couple of hours in San Francisco. For a long time, it's been one of my favorite American cities. I can find plenty to do with a couple of hours in San Francisco, but this time I wanted to hunt down a couple of bookstores that I know princeofcairo has recommended in the past. So I give him a call on my cell in Sacramento and he tells me where to go: Fields Book Store.

(By the way, Ken: Acorn closed down in October.)

The drive to San Francisco takes more than a couple of hours. Traffic is bad going into the city. It's Saturday night. The night after Black Friday. We're approaching six o'clock at night, the store's closing hour. We're not going to make it.

So I pull out the cell phone and see if modern technology can save us. I remember the URL of the Fields website, so maybe I can see if they have holiday hours or something. But the internet's beats are weak on my phone. The site loads like shit. Technology fails.

So I make half a dozen calls trying to get the 411 operators on my service to get me the phone number for Fields. They can even send the data to me as a text message, it turns out, so I can keep it around. Technology succeeds.

So I call Fields and ask if he can stay open a few minutes, 'cause I'm in from out of town and would really like to spend some money in his shop before I fly back across the continent. He says, "I'll be shelving books tonight anyway, so I can stay open considerably longer than a few minutes." I want to kiss him over the phone, but we just met. I thank him, hang up the phone, and report victory to the wife and the mother-in-law, who are with me on this trip.

Then the fuel light comes on. We're approaching the toll bridge into San Francisco, where traffic never dies. My mother-in-law says it'll be fine. Twenty minutes go by. We reach the toll plaza, and the nice bloke in the convertible ahead of us seems to have paid our toll. Nice. "People," we say, "turn out to be all right."

The ladies drop me off on Polk Street to look for Fields while they drive off to get gas. With Fields' information in a text message on my cell phone, finding it is easy. It's a bright, clean store -- an ideal example of the small store-front bookseller. I already love this place. Heading in, I thank the wonderful man who stayed open for me and toss a little credit at The Hite for recommending it.

"Oh, is that Prince of Cairo?" the man asks. I say yes. He nods with understanding, as all do who have watched The Hite buy books. I fear I may have made a promise by association to buy more than I am really able.

I'm focusing on Christian/pagan conflicts, Gnosticism, Roman Christianity and, of course, vampires on this trip. Unfortunately, I seem to have all the good vampire books on the shelf in the Mythical Beasts section. (This makes me proud and giddy -- my library is coming along.)

The missus and the mother-in-law show up a little bit later, having fueled and parked the car, and I get the suspicious look of a wife who sees too much money about to be spent. I have a stack of books that I'll never be able to fit into our luggage, not with the 50lb. weight restriction on the bags. "We can ship them to you," the Fields Man says.[1] So we do that.

Afterwards, we head across the street for some pretty good Indian food. After the chicken tikka marsala Jeff got at Gen Con SoCal, I'd been craving it. Meanwhile, some dudes are jamming a crowbar into the passenger-side back window of my mother-in-law's car.

I'm washing my hands in the Indian-restaurant bathroom, listening to the sounds of kitchens and accents coming from the air shaft through the open window. They're bending back the crowbar, trying to pry a rubber-edged window from its place.

I'm thinking how much I miss this kind of city, with people living so close to each other, with windows sharing the same sound-swallowing air shaft, like an aural blender. They're glancing over their shoulders at the people walking through the orange gloom at the nearby intersection.

I'm drying my hands, feeling wistful. They're cussing as the safety glass of the windows gives way in its rubber grip and the hook of the crowbar smashes little tinted pebbles into the car and onto the street -- so much for subtlety.

I'm flicking the light switch and shutting the bathroom door. They're grabbing my worn-once backpack out of the car and hauling ass.

I eat chicken tikka marsala, I eat jasmine rice, I drink ice water. They eat the macaroons my mother-in-law put in the bag for me to eat on the plane. I pay the check. They put on my jacket. We head back to the car, hoping I won't be late for my flight. They dump out the books and CDs I bought in Berkley and the DVDs my brother gave me in LA. We reach the car and find its window smashed into a hole, black glass spattered across the sidewalk. They pick out The Maltese Falcon, drop in the tray of their DVD player, and sit down on the couch with macaroons and weed.

"Your camera was in there," my mother-in-law says, voice breaking. We both look at my wife. The camera pans. She's clutching the camera bag to her chest. The camera is inside.

Assuming the insurance covers the busted window, I'm the only one who actually lost out in the robbery. It could've been worse: my luggage was in there, but probably too big to be pulled through the window in a hurry. So I lost some things I'd bought or been gifted during the previous eight days of travel, but I was buying books when it happened, so maybe I'd just reached some kind of ceiling on the amount of stuff I'm allowed to come home with and the cosmos was balancing it out. Whatever.

Here's what I got at Fields, because I know you're curious:

The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age by Frances Yates. I should've bought this book years ago.

Egil's Saga, from the Penguin Classics series. I've been buying sagas and eddas a lot in the last couple of months. I'm way behind in reading them, though.

The Last Pagan by Adrian Murdoch. Most of my reading on Rome, prior to this year, has been about the Republic and the Empire prior to about AD 200. (My interest tends to jump ahead to the Dark Ages once Hadrian dies in AD 138.) This seems like a nice way for me to catch up on the period without losing some personal focus. Plus, the pagan/Christian conflict in here is just what I'm after.

The Secret Commonwealth by Robert Kirk. From the back cover: A facsimile of the 1933 edition of The Secret Commonwealth which was first published in 1815 - a classic, magical text written by Robert Kirk in 1691, discussing the hidden realms of Elves, Faunes and Fairies. Lots of new editions appear to be available now, but I didn't know that when I bought this one. Still, I'm quite happy with it. From the prologue by Alan Richardson: "In 1692 Robert Kirk of Aberfoyle stepped bodily into another dimension. He has been heard and sensed many times since, and continues to pass on his wisdoms."

The Rise of Modern Mythology, 1680-1860 by Burton Feldman and Robert D. Richardson, Jr. This is some kind of textbook or something. It's terribly dry, but also a pretty solid survey, filled with quotes and citations that I'll use to find other books in the future. Used, this thing was a cheap impulse buy.

The Cults of the Roman Empire by Robert Turcan. An obviously essential resource.

Malleus Maleficarum edited by Montague Summers. This is a 1970 hardcover reprint (not the Dover edition) of the 1928 edition of Rev. Summers' translation and analysis of the infamous text. This is also the first copy of The Witch Hammer I've ever actually owned. It's in awfully good shape, and I do enjoy the careful lunacy of Montague Summers.

Gnosis: The Nature & History of Gnosticism by Kurt Rudolph. Another survey book. I picked this one up mostly for its one-step-removed voice. This is a less a book of Gnosticism and more a book about it, including the history of its rediscovery.

The Gnostic Scriptures by Bentley Layton. A new, annotated translation of the essential text.

God Against the Gods by Jonathan Kirsch. I took this one with me on the plane and, while it raises some good questions, a lot of the material in here seems either obvious or biased, depending. Maybe Kirsch's assumed audience and I just travel in very different circles, but he seems to think the reader will assume that paganism is still widely reviled or regarded as a malevolent faith. My experience has been that average folk regard paganism as being either harmlessly crazy or vaguely scandalous, but that most people don't care or know enough about paganism to hate it with the zeal Kirsch seems to suppose. Still, I keep reading. Ask me later how this one is.

1. Brother, can they. I bought the books on Saturday. They shipped Monday and arrived less than a week later via media mail for less than $7 shipping. They came nestled in bubble wrap, with each book individually wrapped in crisp brown paper. Very classy.
» Do I Need It? It's My Arm!
Expect more titles that set up posts like this to be non sequiturs. I keep getting little quotes and things stuck in my head, so I'm going to put 'em to work for me. That should make them think twice about coming round and getting caught inside my head like a bird in the house.

(The title itself, it turns out, can't be a non sequitur, because it's the title. Nothing precedes it, so it can't follow at all, logically or otherwise. Aren't you glad you asked.)

This is one of those posts where I drop a bunch of links on you and then go eat home-made chili. It's got sweet potatoes in it. It's good.
  • These things happen in threes. Film score artists Basil Poledouris (The Hunt for Red October, Conan the Barbarian, Starship Troopers) and Shirley Walker (Batman the Animated Series, numerous work with Danny Elfman over the years) both died recently. Until the, uh, third shoe drops, I'll be worried. But you can go on with your life, 'cause you don't care about the composers of film scores.

  • Every produced episode of Smith, the Ray Liotta and Virginia Madsen TV show about a professional thief and his suspicious wife, are now available on iTunes. This is something I love about iTunes: the chance to catch the remainders of shows given less than half a chance. If you can find them. As part of the weird (I mean lousy) iTunes organization process, the show appears under TV shows>Smith>Smith. So good luck finding it under any menu that doesn't offer as Smith as a category once it drifts off the main TV page. If you buy all seven episodes, though, you get a booklet with the synopses for the five plotted, but unfilmed, episodes. Let me know how they are, 'cause I never even knew when this show was on -- I saw exactly zero spots for it.

  • Paul Tevis (the Elvis Mitchell of gaming) has some nice things to say about The Requiem Chronicler's Guide, one of my favorites of the Vampire books I've worked on to date. Hear for yourself in episode #79 of his excellent (though perhaps too long?) podcast, "Have Games, Will Travel".

  • John Oliver, one of the newer correspondants on The Daily Show is rapidly becoming one of my favorite comedians ever to appear on that show. It's hard for me to be sure, though, 'cause it's all Jo(h)ns over there, from Stewart to Hodgman and beyond, and I can't really keep them all straight. Just as long as it's not that Dan Bacchanal -- his name is trying too hard and he seems to have no way to connect with the young people besides pot jokes. Whatever, dude.

  • Moleskine journals are great. You know that. But I just found about the cahiers, and I love them, too, now. Recommended.

  • Steve Martin wrote, "the stupid can't write but, boy, can they act." Lindsay Lohan, I guess, can act. If you haven't read what she wrote (on her Blackberry) about the death of Robert Altman, you should. It's genuine and raw and heartfelt and, all jokes aside, I can respect that. It's also sophomoric, nonsensical dross. Besides showing a startling lack of English comprehension for someone of her age (also, her income), whose job requires her to read and communicate for a living, it seems blindly self-involved for a euology. Seriously, it's bad. I understand that this was shot from the hip (so to speak), but part of writing is thinking before you put your writing in front of people. Yet, despite that, I've still spent this time writing about Lindsay Lohan, so what the fuck do I know?

  • You should be reading the blog at TVGuide.com about The Unit. That Regina Taylor sure can write. Her love of Mamet is soaked in there like blood in a sponge.

  • We got a new mattress. This is the first time I've ever had a mattress that wasn't somebody else's first. (The one we've been on since we moved down here was in a friend's house when he moved in. I try not to think about it. Mattresses are expensive.) Tonight, I sleep on a new (hand-made!) mattress for the first time. Hopefully, unlike every other night I've ever spent in this house, it won't take me 12 hours to get 6 hours of sleep.

» Comics Haul for November
Skip town for a month and, when you get back, you owe the comic shop a lot of money. Today I went, collected my books, and payed somebody's rent, I'll bet. Here's what I got:

Zombies vs. Robots #1: From "The Eisner Award Losing Team!" of Chris Ryall and Ashley Wood comes this thing I'd never heard of but bought because I looked at it and, then, couldn't not buy it.

Nextwave #9 and #10: Alas, Craig Grant and I totally called it and Nextwave turns out to be too good to continue. Fortunately, it's ending for all the right reasons. Unfortunately, it hasn't started being awful, so this is going to be painful break-up.

Loveless #12 and #13: I'd venture to guess that I read about half the issues of this, even though I subscribe. (I need to hit a minimum number of titles or I don't get my discount at Criminal.) Still, I go through every issue for the look of it and like what I see.

Conan#34: The Sons of Bel: Cary Nord, Dave Stewart, Tony Harris, Jim Clark and JD Mettler all together? Swoon.

Conan #33: Dogs of the Hills: Holy fucking awesome! Did Conan just cut that dude in half, length-wise, right on the fucking cover?!

Daredevil #90 & #91: Is this still good? I thought it was, with it's new International Man Without Fear But Of Mystery style, but I realize that I have pretty much no recollection of what was going on in the last two issues. These two covers remind me that Paris, France is involved, somehow, and that Daredevil is fighting a matador. An actual matador.

Ex Machina #24: I can't read an issue of Ex Machina. I have to read two, three or four of them at a time. So I get them, save them up, and then read a bunch of them at once while I'm backing up files or something. Unfortunately, this is the first issue of a new build-up for me, so it'll be at least another month before I reach critical Ex Machina mass again.

Fear Agent #8: Mostly, I get this to fill out my subscription list. I like the way it looks but I'm not sure I've ever actually read a whole issue. Need a sci-fi fix, though, so.

Marvel Civil War #5: Did I read #4 yet? What the hell happened with Thor?

Mouse Guard: Midnight's Dawn: The writing on this book is often stilted, but I look forward to every issue. The only thing it is more than sweetly drawn is brilliantly imagined. This issue is especially lovely. Go get it.

Talent #4: I am quite sure that I haven't seen an issue of this since #1, which I liked just fine but thought should've played in an hour on television. My subscriptions are all fucked up.

Fell #1: I'm pretty sure I never actually bought this one, and I know I'm missing a couple of other early issues. Did #7 come out while I was away and I missed it? If so, I'll set a puppy on fire unless you turn over #7 right away.
» Drinking Newcastle and Eating Cold Chinese Food
At long (long) last, I'm back from Reykjavik, Boston, Los Angeles (actually, Anaheim and Burbank), San Francisco, El Dorado Hills and Bodie, California. Along the way, I walked through a blizzard, suffered some kind of debilitating muscle thing in my gut, hung out for a bit with Wil Wheaton, learned that 75% of my family still uses dial-up ('cause, I guess, they're Quakers or something), saw the Scrubs hospital, saw porn (i.e. pr0n) star Sunny Lane at a karaoke event, visited a ghost town, met some wolves and got robbed on the streets of San Francisco.

All of these things are true. Some of these will be written about in the future. But tonight there's no time for that, 'cause I'm busy doing work-type work and enjoying a trip back into literal poetic nostalgia with my new copy of former-Poet Laureate Billy Collins' The Apple That Astonished Paris.

To wit:
"The fox you lug over your shoulder
in a dark sack
has cut a hole with a knife
and escaped.

The sudden lightness makes you think
you are stronger
as you walk back to your small cottage
through a forest that covers the world."
--"Hunger," by Billy Collins
What's surprising about this book, ten years after I read it in Mr. Brown's class in high school, is how mediocre it is. It is gloriously fallible. The seams in these poems are visible. You can hear some of these poems stutter and hum. Even Billy Collins wasn't always as good as he is now. As a writer who still reflexively calls himself "a wannabe writer," let me say what a fucking relief it is to catch one of the greats stumble through a joke.

It's the time of year, I think. The leaves aren't just on the ground, they're dead on the ground, half-rotten like corpses undiscovered in the woods. Bare branches splay across the sky like spilled ink. Leaves fall past the window like a tablecloth dragged off the top of the house. It makes me think of looking out a classroom window in Illinois, when the polish had just come off a new school year, and ignoring a teacher in favor of daydreaming about that night's game of Vampire: The Masquerade. That was a long time ago, and it feels weird to think that I've been hear long enough to have a long time ago. So I buy new copies of old books that I've liked -- The Apple That Astonished Paris and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Stories -- and I drink Newcastle and I eat my cold Chinese food.

My wife's grandfather, Ray, died tonight.

» Reykjavik to LA
Yesterday I was in Reykjavik. I'm in LA now, which is the antidote for Reykjavik in the same way that a bullet is the antidote for healthy skin.

Flew from Iceland to Boston, Boston to Atlanta, Atlanta to LA. On the way in, of course I listened to Steve Martin's "Hissy Fit," from Pure Drivel, put on my iPod for just this purpose. Now we're on to Gen Con SoCal, so it's all seminars and game sessions for me and my cold.

God willing, I'll be back in Reykjavik in the spring. I loved the hell out of it. Walkable but diverse, gorgeous natural stuff right there, modern but with old-fashioned touches, hip without being a jerk about it. Great city.
» White Wolf's gladiatorial match

Just because.
» Soups I've Eaten On This Trip (So Far)
Since Monday, I've either been outside the US or on my way out. Since then, I've eaten three different soups, all orange-colored and delicious:

Pumpkin Soup?: This first one was described to someone next to me in the cafeteria-type place where I ate it as being a "pumpkin soup." Then he took some white substance that was thicker and stiffer than sour cream and spooned it from a small plastic tub into his soup. He had an accent when he named the soup so, assuming he knew more than I did, I scooped some of the cream-stuff into my thin orange soup, too. I still don't know what it was, but it came apart in clumpsat the bottom of the bowl. I didn't eat the stuff, but I didn't exactly eat around it either. The soup was good, I thought, but in hindsight it was the least remarkable of the three I've had.

Ginger Carrot Soup: This was the soup of the day at the bistro I ate at last night. It smelled terrific and tasted better. Tiny, delicate cubes of carrot sat hidden at the bottom of this thin, opaque and yellow-orange soup. It was so good, I skipped dessert.

Carrot Cumin Soup: So apparently the second-most popular soups here, after orange-colored soups, are orange-colored soups with carrot in them. Fine, then. If this is what carrot soups are like, they're popular with me, too. I'm eating this soup right now, typing in a foreign cafe on a WiFi connection with my arms bent around a deep crock of oily, opaque soup in a nest of soft slices of bread. Outside, the hail is coming down so hard that it crunched between my teeth and rolled in through the door when I came inside and the sun is hidden behind wet fast-moving clouds so thick that the air between the buildings has become as gray as the buildings themselves. Inside it is warm and my computer is on and I have hot soup and chai, my iPod on and my fingers typing. So things are good.

Were my wife here, things would be perfect.
» Advances, None Miraculous
A few things from this very busy week:

1. On Friday, McSweeney's Online published my newest Review of New Food, and I didn't notice until this morning. When you get to the page, read through the three or four it takes to get to mine. They're all good ones.

2. I've got Boot Camp working for real now. So real, in fact, that I'm playing EVE Online on my MacBook Pro now. It runs great and requires just the bare minimum of contact between me and Windows, which I can hardly stand anymore. (Seriously, Internet Explorer stopped working while trying to load the first website I visited after MSN, and that site was Google.)

3. This coming week, I'll be out of town (out of the country, actually) and away from my desk every day leading up to Gen Con SoCal, where I'll be appearing every day of the show. You'll want to pay attention there, because I'll be announcing at least one new White Wolf project and taking questions on other groundbreaking White Wolf news, as I'm able. I'll have more about my pre-Gen Con trip as the week goes on. Until then, bear with me as I struggle to answer email and all that.

4. Thankfully, I was able to finish the second season of Deadwood before I leave town. (The title, above, comes from the show, of course.) I'm always at least a year behind on that show, thanks to HBO's DVD-release schedule. This season struck me as savvier, but also softer, and I mean both of those in good ways. Everything felt tighter this time, a little more premeditated and a little richer in characterizations, whereas the first season was broader. In my memory, it added two new characters in every episode, and I'm surprised how many of them ended up being either important or simply much-used during this season.
» iTunes in Japanese
As of right now, the iTunes store seems to have been replaced with its Japanese counterpart. Everything I click on takes me to Japanese words, manga-style audiobooks, octopus-themed cover art and Maroon 5 CDs. Anybody got any idea how this happens?
» Three Things That Weren't Related When I Sat Down to Write About Them, But It Turns Out They Are
Re: Lost
I'm telling you, the Desmond currently on the show is from the bloody future, brother. He is not having visions.

Re: The Sixth Sense
The Sixth Sense is fucking bullshit, and I'll tell you why: Nobody in the whole damn movie has a sixth sense. The little kid has a form of the second sight, but that is not a sixth sense. Here's the key statement that reveals Shyamalan doesn't know what he's talking about: "I see dead people." Sight is one of the five senses, you daft schmuck. You sense things we can't, but you do it using one of the same five senses we have. I mean, shit.

In Other News...
I think I may write a story about a guy who can smell the future.
» Six-Word Stories
You've seen this one doing the rounds on the internet. Tell a story in six words. Apparently it got started by this thing in Wired. (I haven't read the newest issue yet.) Over lunch, I decided to play:

"Marry me. ...Jane?" "I heard you."
"I'm innocent, lover." He believed her.
"Plea?" "No." "Plea." "Fuck you." "Beg."
He looked at her like that.
They're here. They're invisible. I'm sure.
Help me move this body, Andy.
Sorry to say, but, you died.
Asshole, don't mean nothing by it.
Suffer, weep, lament. Pursue, kill, regret.

This one's for you, Internet:
OMG, Betty, WTF? Weak, noob, ROFLMAO.

Special Geek Movie Edition:
There are snakes on this plane.
I see dead people, but shhh.
Marla, say my name. Tyler Durden!
You can dream, Newt. Also, die.
Get away from her, you bitch!
Rosebud? What the fuck is that?
All worlds are yours, except Europa.
Two men enter, one man leaves.
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