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Friday, June 3, 2016

The results of my intensive fandom research reveal...

Illya Kuryakin is a kangaroo. 



My friend Laura who lived in Australia told me how kangaroos lie on their sides in what looks like a provocative manner.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

If I were a youTuber...

Hello, Blogosphere!

If I were a whippersnapper youTuber, I would ask questions such as:


Q: Can you put your foot up to your ear? 
(Show your work.)

Me: Just barely.

Q: What kind of creature would you be if you were in a Bosch painting?

Me: bink said, when I asked last night, that I'd be a giant eyeball with little legs & feet, like those cute clay footed bowls from ancient Egypt.

bink wins!
That's exactly how I feel after a month of 13-hour days among the quick, the clever, and the quirky––that is, fans online––like a giant receptor with limited mobility.

I have started to think and even talk in such terms, influenced by smart & zippy youTubers such as Dan Howell [they're not all smart!]:


This is a good overview of Internet fandom.

Meanwhile, I've joined Facebook after a 3-year hiatus (friend me there! Please!) because my brain is temporarily unavailable to blog, being busy sorting out the deluge of FEELS and ideas.

It provides nice, low-level contact with people I (mostly) know, so I don't feel lonely (yay!), and you don't have to think or process much to post or read posts on FB, which is welcome.

Boy, is FB is s-l-o-w. 
It seems like while I was gone, everyone lost their gee-whizz enthusiasm for posting photos of their meals, which, frankly, I miss. I was never one to complain about selfies and vacation photos.
Now it's less personal, and more links to articles about politics and animal rescue.
Still, material incoming at a slow trot is just what my overwhelmed brain can handle, and I'm liking, though not loving, it.

I am liking––and loving!––the fandom stuff too. Massive multiplayer creativity at work. It's great. Ugly in spots, but honestly, mostly great.


 I hope to take some breaks to write here--it's good to come down to Earth.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Gamer Me


I played my first video games yesterday ^ at a friend of bink's house, who very kindly showed me the ropes (for my fandom research and for mild curiosity's sake.)

I played some Mario (platform video game--the characters run and jump around platforms); some 3D Zelda (action-adventure game); and a little bit of a FPS (first person shooter) Zombie game.

First thing I did: Walked Mario off a cliff and died.

Second thing I did: Kept Mario healthy long enough to almost get him to the next level, but then died, thus having to start all over again.

PAY OFF: Instantly understood the kid in the documentary Web Junkie who tried to throw himself out the window when his dad forced him to quit playing just when he was about to level up, thus forcing the kid to lose 4 hours of play and to start all over.

Also, playing confirmed that I have not sought out and played video games previously because my brain doesn't have the required pleasure receptor:
me playing video games is like someone who doesn't a sense of smell eating food. Why bother?

What does really interest me about games is their designers and design:
I had no idea, for instance, that Mario & Co. have shadows, and these shadows move pretty authentically with the characters.

That intrigues me---people sitting around working out how a gameworld can feel acceptably real.

What is "real enough"? 

I was impressed that when I tried to do something that isn't part of the gameplay--make Mario climb a wall--the game gave me some realistic feedback.

I felt I was in some kind of contact with the people who designed that feature of the game:
"Hi," person who thought someone might try to climb this wall. "I did try it, and I appreciate you designing the puffs of dirt that arose!"

So, that was kind of fun, but only for a few minutes. I'm really glad I did it--at least I get the lingo a little better now.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Prince

Though I live in what was his town, I have nothing of importance to say about Prince's death, other than the obvious (sad, too young) and that someone should vid his excellent song "Little Red Corvette" to Captain Kirk:
"I guess I should have known, /By the way you parked your car sideways, / That it wouldn't last."
But my downstairs neighbor, Jenise, went to the same high school as Prince. She, a teacher, wrote this wonderful open letter to her colleagues --she poses such a great question here.

Tiger News

"Teacher writes about former classmate, Prince"


snip20160424_1.png
Prince, 1973 Central High School yearbook


Dear Fellow Educators,

I would like to share some thoughts about Prince that are relevant to us as educators, as I went to school with him and although I did not know him personally, I remember him.

As a kid, Prince was short, shy and not remarkable looking. He wasn't as popular a basketball player as his half-brother.

But he loved music, and he pursued it relentlessly (sometimes skipping class to do it).

Today is a perfect opportunity for us and our students to take another look at that person at school that we have been underestimating.  
Look left, look right and look within and ask ourselves,
  How awesome would it be if this person found something they really loved to do, worked at it, and shared it with others? 
You don't have to  be world famous to have impact.

Love, work, share, be proud of who you are and where you are from:  these are Prince's legacies.

Oh, and the music...

Thanks for listening,
Jenise 

_________________

This is a new mural about 1 mile from my house:


Via southwestjournal.com/news/2016/04/tributes-pour-in-for-prince/

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Movie Round-Up

I'm always inspired by Orange Crate Art's movie reviews to write my own. 
Here are a few of the movies I've seen recently:
  
1. Batman vs. Superman (2016)

I've been wanting to research typical male fandoms, which I'm not very familiar with, and this fit the bill:
bink and I were among the few women in the theater, and the only women who were not there with a man.

I was mostly bored [things blow up, many things] or disturbed [why do these DC comix movies seem to advocate for fascism?],
 but I did like three scenes very much:

1. Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor eats jolly rancher candies ---I like cherry best too! 
I always like Eisenberg---he vibrates at a wavelength that communicates (to me, anyway) that he's a super-anxious person who's being heroic really surprisingly well. 
I find this cheering.

2. Clark Kent brings home groceries.
 So darling! 
He comes home with a brown-paper grocery bag with a bunch of flowers peeking out the top, before he and Lois Lane (Amy Adams, another actor I always like) reenact the bathtub scene from Bull Durham.

 Fans (and academics who study fans) say one motivation for writing fanfiction is to fill in the missing scene. 
This is the missing scene I want:
Clark Kent does Lois Lane's laundry.

(Oh, my shameful fantasies.) Maybe I should write it. 

3. Wonder Woman shows up. 

Batman: Is she with you?
Superman: I thought she was with you.


She's with herself. 

2. Web Junkie (2013, US-Israeli, dir. Hilla Medalia and Shosh Shlam)

China has declared Internet addiction a mental disorder, 
and this interesting documentary is about the boot-camp/prison–style camps in China that deprogram Internet-addicted teens
--the sort of kids who play video games until they die.

The film reveals a chicken-or-the-egg conundrum:
The teens go online because they're lonely, one boy says, and they find other lonely people there.
And they're lonely party because they're all only-children, due to China's one-child policy.


Loneliness and bordeom and stress. We've got plenty of that in the West too.

3.  52 Tuesdays (2013, Australia, dir. Sophie Hyde)

 Trailer
A sixteen year old girl whose mother is transitioning from female-to-male films herself over a year.

I found this painful to watch because the parent's needs [to become his authentic self] overwhelm the needs of the child [to have a stable parent], which reminded me very much of my mother and me.
This felt very real. Being a parent is a sacrifice, but what if the price is too high?
What are you going to do? It happens...

To me, the gender-transition story was beside the point--it could have been anything the parent needed that took him away from being able to care for the child. But of course it's very topical, and reviewers do say it's a good, honest story on that front.

4. What's Up Doc? (1972, dir. Peter Bogdanovich)

A tribute to the screwball classic Bringing Up Baby. I saw WUD when it came out, and then not again until it played at a local theater as part of a 1970s comedies series a few weeks ago. 
What a pleasure!
Madeleine Kahn [below] is perfection! I'd forgotten how beautiful Ryan O'Neal is--and not bad at comedy at all. Even Barbra Streisand is likeable, which as some reviewer said, takes some doing. 
Recommended.

5. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2016)

I already wrote about seeing this the first time. I'd enjoyed it just fine. 
I went again somewhat reluctantly, mostly to keep friends company and because it's playing at my favorite $3-tickets, second-run theater, the Riverview, which is decorated 50s-style because it was never redecorated in the intervening years.
Certain movies benefit from being seen in a theater full of families laughing, clapping, and spilling sticky drinks, and this was one of them.

Funny thing: I liked the movie much better the second time. I don't expect that from an action movie, where knowing what happens ruins the suspense. 

In this case, knowing what happens allowed me to relax and enjoy the young hero, Rey, without worrying under my breath that the filmmakers were going to compromise her heroism with her sex (or gender or sexuality). 
They don't. 
She never has to get rescued, she never becomes a sex object, or even an object of romance. She could be played by a male actor and it would make no difference, like Ripley in Alien.

And I loved BB8 even more than before, having time to notice how much personality, pluck, and humor this metal ball conveys. A very clever, very pleasing creation.

BB8 is my secret identity.
Rey and BB8

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

"Start small and be ready to fail."

I love this advice on starting to make games---I'd say it goes for a hole lotta things (like, it fits new humans coming into the world):

"Start small and be ready to fail."


From kotaku.com.au/2013/01/a-beginners-guide-to-making-your-first-video-game


Does Designing a Game Help with Drug Withdrawal?

I don't know, but I got a chance to help a friend try it out today.
[Results are still pending.]

My friend bink was upset today---she was weeping and weeping and couldn't figure out why.
bink did not look like this, no not at all:


The only thing that had changed in her life, up close and personal–like, was that she'd just tapered off 20 days of the steroid prednisone. 
Could that be it?

She looked it up, and yes: 
her depression and anxiety are classic withdrawal symptoms.
bink looked more like this:

[Hutch (above, left) going through withdrawal in that episode when bad guys force him to get addicted to heroin, and Starsky has to spend half the episode holding him in bed while he goes through withdrawal, because… why, again?

I guess because this is what the 1970s viewing audience wanted to see cops doing--cuddling in bed? And so one of them had to get addicted to heroin first? 
Thankgod for fanfiction: we can just skip the heroin.]

Anyway, yes, the symptoms are so classic that I don't know why the doctor didn't warn her, so she wouldn't wonder if she was losing her mind.

She asked if we could hang out since she was feeling so wiped.
I invited her to join me at the coffee shop where I was "working". (Reading about bronies, actually. [Naturally I feel a kinship with any fandom in which wearing stuffed ponies on your head is encouraged.] Research, yes, but I don't need to do more research at this time, I need to write an outline.)

"Let's make a Twine," I said. Because when your cortisol is out of whack, you want to stress yourself further, right? by trying to learn a new computer skill.

I mentioned Twine here a while ago---it's a free online tool you use to make stories--the stories branch off, depending on which link the player clicks on.

I'd heard they are easy to make---require no programming---and indeed, it turns out they are easy, if you've had enough sleep and your chemistry isn't going ka-blooey. 

1. Just go here: Twine
2. Choose "Use it online"
3. Click on the green "story", and start writing a story in the box grid that pops up. 
4. To make any bit of the text into a live link (that will take the reader to the next page), just put [[double brackets around it]].

And that's it! 
Oh-you have to save it somewhere that hosts HTML (not Blogger), so I made a free neocities website.

The hard part is writing the story itself, 
and hormone imbalances from drug withdrawal does add a level of challenge to clear thinking. 

BUT. We made one! It's called Beebo Bops.
We took turns writing each "passage" [block of text] as we went along:
bink wrote one and I wrote the next. 

 You can see it here [thanks, Art Sparker, for checking the link!]: 
 frextwines.neocities.org/Beebo%20Bops.html

It's lumpy and nonsensical, but it was a lot of fun to make. Much more fun to make than to read, I expect. I want to make more.

This is what it looks like in editing:


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Fandom Saves Hamilton!

I am delighted that fan love for the hip-hop Alexander Hamilton has saved his image on the $10 bill. At least in part. There was also a push to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20, and you've probably seen that today (April 20), the US Treasury is announcing that Harriet Tubman will indeed replace Jackson.  
Great choice!
Barbara Ortiz Howard, left, and Susan Ades Stone, the women behind Women on 20s, an organization pushing for a woman on the $20 bill, stand before art by Belgian Yann Guitton.
Not that I care about Hamilton per se. But Andrew Jackson was the person who should have been replaced all along, slave owner*, Indian Remover, and murderer (or "duellist") that he was.

Except... wait. Literally, wait. 
It won't happen until 2030? Fourteen more years? Really?
_____________________

RIGHT > > >

Lin-Manuel Miranda at a rehearsal of his play Hamilton
an "audacious hip-hop retelling of the life of the nation’s first Treasury secretary. "

Now it's won a Pulitzer Prize!
________________________________________
* Twelve presidents owned slaves at some point during their lives--including, of course, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
Obviously history is full of twisty stuff like that:
nobody's perfect. (Some of the presidents freed their slaves before they even became presidents.)

I just want to see some imperfect women represented too!

Cathedral Comix

I'm intrigued with what modern media fandom shares with popular culture of the past, like religious culture as expressed by regular folks (not professionals, like theologians). 
Not that popular religion is all in the past, not at all! [1] 
But it has a lot of competition that it didn't used to have.

Umberto Eco called medieval cathedrals "a sort of permanent and unchangeable TV program." [2]
I might say that makes them a comic book, not a TV, or, since that might sound insulting to some people, a graphic novel in stone.


Like this action image, below:
An angel wakes one of the three magi, pointing to the Christmas star over Bethlehem, on the cathedral at Autun, France, by 12th century sculptor Gislebertus ["like Thelonious Monk with a chisel", says Russell Hoban]. Look at how the angel gently touches the magi's finger, who wakes up while the others stay asleep. 
"Hey," I can hear the angel whisper. "Hey. Look."
image via Science Musings
 ______________________
[1]  Example of contemporary popular expression of faith, from the NYT, February 5, 2016,
"In Rome, a Grand Welcome for 2 Long-Deceased Saints":
Pope Francis has always championed the ways that some Catholics, including large numbers of poor people, sometimes express their Catholic faith through “popular devotions.” And venerating relics — objects or even bone fragments believed to come from saints — is deeply ingrained in Catholic tradition.


But there is an undeniable showbiz quality to their arrival in Rome. The two saints were Capuchin friars who died in the 20th century, but it is Padre Pio who is still a major Catholic rock star, with a global following that has grown since his death in 1968. Earlier in the week, Italian news channels dispatched reporters to southern Italy, where Padre Pio’s remains are kept inside a modern sanctuary, so that they could broadcast live shots as the corpse began its journey toward Rome.
_________________
[2] Umberto Eco quote found on BLDGBLOG ["building blog"] post:
 "A Medieval Cathedral Was a Sort of Permanent and Unchangeable TV Program"
"I’ve always loved Umberto Eco’s observation, from a text he delivered for the opening of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina [3] back in 2003, that 'a medieval cathedral was a sort of permanent and unchangeable TV program that was supposed to tell people everything indispensable for their everyday life, as well as for their eternal salvation.'

"The carved statuary, the stone ornament, the careful placement of scenes: it was all part of an edited visual narrative that you could return to again and again, like a 3-dimensional comic book or a collection of film stills in the center of your city, a body of symbolic storylines and characters given architectural form."
"At the time of these cathedrals’ construction, Eco explained, 'manuscripts were reserved to a restricted elite of literate persons, and the only thing to teach the masses about the stories of the Bible, the life of Christ and of the Saints, the moral principles, even the deeds of national history or the most elementary notions of geography and natural sciences (the nature of unknown peoples and the virtues of herbs or stones), was provided by the images of a cathedral.'Then, the sentence I quote above: 
'A medieval cathedral was a sort of permanent and unchangeable TV program that was supposed to tell people everything indispensable for their everyday life, as well as for their eternal salvation.'
_____________
[3] Side note, re Library of Alexandria:
 NPR article about how demonstrators spontaneously formed a human cordon to protect the Library of Alexandria during political unrest in Egypt in 2011.

The head of the library said, 
"What happened was pure magic. People from within the demonstrations broke out of the demonstrations and simply linked hands, and they said 'This is our library. Don't touch it.'"

Photo from Assoc. of Science-Technology Centers

Sunday, April 17, 2016

QUEST: Write a Book without Turning to Sludge

Welcome to my 

Write a Book without Turning to Sludge Life Quest!

I've been thinking about how to write another book without slipping into the Slough of Inactivity like I always have before.
When I was young, I thought the isolation of writing a book sounded romantic, but it's really not. Or not for me, anyway.

I sort of dread the months of working alone,
s  l  o  w  l  y  turning into Jabba-the-Hutt pudding, socially, emotionally, and especially physically.

And yet I want to write it, just better than I have before, leaving the pudding part out.

I  got the idea to frame it as a Quest from the book SuperBetter: A Revolutionary Approach to Getting Stronger, Happier, Braver, and More Resilient — Powered by the Science of Games
(2015) by game designer Jane McGonigal, which I found researching digital game fandoms.

She developed the game when she suffered a severe concussion that left her bedridden and suicidal in 2009. She thought, "I am either going to kill myself or I'm going to turn this into a game."
So she designed this recovery or real-life challenge game.

[McGonigal's 2012 TED Talk on SuperBetter]  

Like in other role-playing games, you...

1. Adopt a Secret Identity [design your avatar]

2. Recruit Allies [ask friends (real or imaginary) for help playing the game]

3. Battle the Bad Guys [whatever is holding you back, hurting you]

4. Activate the Power Ups [any tiny thing that makes you feel stronger or happier, even if that's just, say, brushing your teeth]

 I was reading the book in a coffee shop with Marz a couple mornings ago, and I immediately turned to her and asked her to make me a prize for starting my game.

She sent me this Secret Weapon:
"10 seconds of Starsky playing basketball in his own special way–quite like a baby rhino!"
(Do you recognize the music?**)



video


Wanna play?
__________________________________________


*Note: Wow, do reviewers at the NYT and the New Yorker ever sneer at SuperBetter. They reminded me of why I stopped subscribing to them years ago.

The NYT says, "McGonigal developed her ideas ­after suffering a concussion that left her with lingering headaches and suicidal thoughts."
Hm. 
Yeah, it's a self-help book and includes exclamation marks. You can sneer, but no one who suffers migraines would call them "lingering headaches", and her "suicidal thoughts" meant she wanted to die.  

** The music is from Bruce Springsteen's "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out" (in concert, 1978) -- a good Power Up song!
[Here's the whole concert.]

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Rey's Boots

I am informed by my fangirl barista that Rey, the hero of the new Star Wars (The Force Awakens), wears vegetarian boots from this cool ethical shoe company Po-Zu.*
These are the style Rey wears, Piper V, dark brown:


* From Po-Zu's About Us:
"All our materials come from naturally renewable sources and are responsibly harvested. They contain no pesticides, bleaches or toxic dyes and are locally sourced wherever possible. We use organic cotton in our shoes and all our leather is chromium-free.*"

Monday, April 11, 2016

Fandom Round-Up: "Us" (Free, how?)

1. Us (2007) by lim is a video (fanvid) by a fan about fandom, set to the song by Regina Spektor [here, 2006]. She includes clips from dozens of fandoms--I don't recognize them all.

I love this vid! It makes me teary, the way it represents the love and work creators bring to their work, whether they're fan artists or writers or not. (A crucial difference: fanwork is made with no expectation or even possibility (due to legal restrictions) of earning money for it.)

Also, lim is an amazing editor; her work illustrates how central editing is to moviemaking. Raw footage is like bricks and mortar--what are you going to make with the material?
Her production notes are here. And here is an article about Us on the fan wiki Fanlore.

"We're living in a den of thieves
Rummaging for answers in the pages..."




2. Us got a lot of academic attention (as well as fanlove), including being in "An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube"
by Michael Wesch, a professor of Cultural Anthropology at Kansas State University.         WEBSITE: mediatedcultures.net
 
Michael Wesch Uploaded on Jul 26, 2008--presented at the Library of Congress, June 23rd 2008. "This was tons of fun to present. I decided to forgo the PowerPoint and instead worked with students to prepare over 40 minutes of video for the 55 minute presentation. This is the result:"



3. Gratis vs Libre

Fanwork gets into the convoluted legal realms of copyright and fair use [links to brief definition at Stanford U]:
who has the legal right under what circumstances to use what material? I do not enjoy thinking about legal stuff, but it's important so I'm trying to get a handle on it. 

RIGHT: From lim's production notes >>>

I do like vocabulary though, you know, and here's a fun quirk that turns up, reading about this stuff:
Like free speech, they wanted it to have an expansive meaning that could be open to interpretation. - See more at: http://fairuse.stanford.edu/overview/fair-use/what-is-fair-use/#sthash.y2aU1yDJ.dpu
"Free" can mean two things: no cost (gratis) and no limitations (libre). 

"Free software is a matter of liberty, not price."
"Think free," the [free software] movement's founder Richard Stallman puts it, "as in free speech, not free beer."   —Wired, 9/1/2006

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Fandom Round-Up: In the Sandbox (The Guild, Gamer Barbie, Gamergate)

  Researching fandom is basically researching the culture of my life and times. I'm ingesting so much wonderful, horrifying, intriguing stuff, I want to ponder and write something thoughtful (also brilliant) about it all, right away.
But instead I feel like I'm pouring too much  paint into a spin-art machine, which will spew out a splattering of sludge.

It might help if I turned the machine on regularly and at least spun off some of the paint, even if it's not perfectly calibrated...

I mean, it might help if I'd blog more often, even just a series of dump posts... 

I'm going to try to do that more often here.

So... Last night I read You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) (2015) by Felicia Day––gamer, actor, creator of the web series The Guild * [episodes here on youTube, also on Netflix] about a group of gamers, and she also plays a sometimes-recurring character, Charlie, on Supernatural, and today I see that Day retweeted this: from Nicole Gary, Jan 28, 2016:

That Game Developer Barbie is a real thing
Due out this summer, 2016.

Is this Barbie a response to GamerGate, the hateful and terrifying [yet so boring] outpouring of male toxic slime against women [gamers]?
Maybe sorta: "Computer Engineer Barbie Gets a Rewrite".

Day wrote a Tumblr post––"The Only Thing I Have to Say About GamerGate"––in which she explains that she hadn't spoken up earlier because she was afraid of harassment:
"I know this entry will probably draw contempt from people in the Gamer Gate movement. Something to scorn, something to rile them up against me and everything I’ve ever made. Especially, and most hurtfully, to mock my vulnerability."
And her post, thoughtful, funny, and brave as it was, appealing to gamers' shared love of gaming, did draw that response.
You can read in her book about the awful, awful responses (e.g., guys sent registered mail to her home saying "I know where you live" etc. You won't see this if you go the the original post I link to above.)

I knew about gamergate, but reading about Day's experience made me despair of the wisdom of writing anything about fandom that might encourage young people to get online and play.

And yet. Day's point was:
"Don’t let other people drive you away from gaming. 
Games are beautiful, they are creative, they are worlds to immerse yourself in. They are art. And they are worth fighting for, even if the atmosphere is ugly right now."


Today I came across a heartening post by writer John Scalzi, whose novel about Star Trek background characters, Redshirts [i09 review], I had enjoyed:
"Why I'm Glad I'm Male" [boldface mine]:

"I’ll just come right out and say it: being male is easy. Being male, white, educated, able-bodied, well-off and attracted to women? Shit, man. Easier still. It’s perfect for me, you know, because I’m lazy. All these unearned credits and passes and wave-offs from ridiculous shit are perfect for someone like me. Why would I want to be anything else? Anything else is work.

This is all, obviously, horribly unfair in my favor. I am not opposed to — indeed, actively encourage and work toward — things becoming less negatively unfair for everyone else. Unfortunately, this idea makes many people of my kind twitchy, I suppose because they assume that making things less unfair for everyone else means that things get worse for them. The idea that everyone having the same rights and privileges isn’t a zero-sum game where someone has to lose apparently doesn’t compute. It makes me sad that a class of people who have so many advantages can still be in aggregate that completely stupid."
More than his post, I enjoyed his moderation of his comments.
I don't know much about this, but there's gotta be a way for sites to better handle "completely stupid" and dangerous twitchiness, like Scalzi does well. (Of course it's his private site, but still---he's inspiring.)

It's under discussion, for instance, here: 
 "What Twitter Must Do" [to halt harassment], Slate, Jan 2016.

I wish I could but of course I can't represent fandom as a Utopia; any misguided hopes (yes, of mine) that the Internet would make us better people were delusional from the start. 
But it doesn't make us worse people. 
It gives us space to play, and to play, you sometimes have to use your vorpal blade.

I take heart from Day's Tumblr post:
"So to myself and to everyone else who operates out of love not vengeance: Don’t abandon games. Don’t cross the street. Gaming needs you. To create, to play, to connect. 

To represent."

Also [merch for anti-bullying campaign]:
 _____________________

* On a fun note, from The Guild: "Do You Want to Date My Avatar?" 
[you know, "avatar" = character a gamer plays in a video game]

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Proud of My Town

I'm not in love, but I like Minneapolis pretty much, for sure. 
We've got lakes right in the city with parkland and walking paths, and the Mississippi River, and Prince, and a legacy of Scandinavian-style social justice that survives in stuff like affordable health insurance plans for low-income folks like me (thankyou socialists!).

And now we've got the country's first vegan, meatless butcher shop, the Herbivorous Butcher, where bink just took me. It's even getting international coverage, such as in my favorite easy-but-smart newspaper, the Guardian:
theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/jan/29/the-herbivorous-butcher-minneapolis-minnesota-vegan-meats

 As you can see from the article's photo^, it looks just like an old-fashioned butcher shop, but all the meats are plant-based.
Lots of spiced options--like Italian sausages--- which makes sense
because the plant ingredients don't have much flavor on their own.

I sampled the sliced "Cuban pork" deli meat, and it was really good, so I bought 1/3rd pound.
 It's expensive, but in line with organic meat:

$16/pound, and just one thin slice will make a great sandwich, with
cheese and tomato and lettuce---sort of like a BLT--so it's good value that way.

The Cuban pork ingredients are:
wheat gluten, water, apple juice, soy sauce, sunflower oil, liquid smoke, nutritional yeast, spice, lime juice, garlic, salt, red wine vinegar, agar agar, chili powder, and cumin.

I'm not strictly vegetarian, much less vegan (I'm sorry, there's no non-milk ice cream that's worth the name), 

but if there are good non-animal options available, I'm very happy to take them.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Fandom Round-Up: Write Your Own Text-Based Game

A-ha! Here is a kind of digital "game" (of sorts) I could imagine creating myself: text- & hyperlink based, interactive fiction.
(You can make them more complex graphically too.)
 
The player reads bits of text and clicks on options [kiss the "boy" or "girl"] that move the story forward and affect its outcome.
It's "game as conversation."

"…a lot of this stuff is coming from people who grew up with games and are saying, “I want to make things now.” 
--Meritt Kopas [links to interview with Kopas, editor of Videogames For Humans, about Twine games]
 
You can make them for free, easily––insofar as there's no computer programming involved, you still have to conceive of, design and write them in a way anyone would want to interact with––
on open-source software, Twine.

Twines can be like youTube videos about other people's pets––or a writer can make them pretty intriguing, like Conversations with My Mother [links to the short, free game] by Merritt Kopas
you play the mom writing an e-mail to their trans kid:

Kopas, a trans woman, talks about this and other text-based games here: "Trans Women and the New Hypertext".

Fandom Round-Up: Clean the Mutant Kitchen

I am having so much fun researching fandom: so much wacky and wonderful (and awful too) creative and inventive work out there.
I love that we humans never leave well-enough alone (much less not-well–enough).
 
Digital games are my area of weakness because I neither know nor care much about games in general.  
But I do care about gamers and their culture, which is much more interactive than I expected. Of course. Humans are pesky little monkeys who climb into and change everything, including computer programs. 

So, today I'm looking at [ohgod, so much new vocabulary]... looking at patches*, "hacks and mods" [modifications] gamers make to games:
such as creating new "skins" to wrap around the 3D–looking characters that come with the game, so you can change their gender, race, clothes, species, whatever.

Sometimes the whole game is changed--like this modified setting of shoot-em-up in a space station to a clean-up in a kitchen gone mad. I think I might even enjoy playing it (for a few minutes).
This, below, is all from Mutation.fem: Patches.



Bio-Tek Kitchen Patch
by Josephine Starrs and Leon Cmielowski
(starrs@sysx.apana.org.au, leon@autonomous.org)
Platform: MAC
Download: sysx.org/leon/mirror/biotek [this link is broken, but I'll leave it here]

The artists' official game description reads:
 "Players clean up the filthy kitchen laboratory of a home biotech enthusiast using weapons such as dish cloths and egg flippers. The player is attacked by nasty mutant vegetables which are the product of genetic nouvelle cuisine, and learns throughout the game of a world wide corporate conspiracy to take over the entire food chain." 
Although the gender of the protagonist in this patch may not be exactly female, the artillery of egg flippers, dish towels and other kitchen implements, point towards a particularly feminine rage. The player embarks on a violent rampage through a strikingly domestic kitchen maze setting. 
In Bio-Tek Kitchen the convulusion of male and female signifiers is unsettling and disturbingly funny.
__________

From the GLOSSARY at Mutation.fem 
www.opensorcery.net/mutation 

Patch -- any alteration to an existing game ranging from a fix-it of a simple bug to new graphics, architecture and sounds. Usually in order to view a patch or add-on, an official version of the game must be purchased.(Add-ons will not work with shareware demos of games.)

16 min out of 250 hrs of Watergate Hearings

This is what my father did the entire summer of 1973: watched the Senate Watergate hearings.
(He was a professor of political science and, as usual, had the summer off teaching.)
Could one call this a bizarre sort of political fandom???

I remember coming in and out of the house, and he was always sitting there on the couch, watching our black-and-white TV in the darkened living room. (Darkened for coolness, and also so he could see the screen better.)

"The Watergate hearings began on May 17, 1973. Public Television aired all 250 hours of testimony that summer. Here are some of the highlights. Video edited by Justin Scuiletti":


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Fandom Round-Up: Collaborative Video Game

 We the Giants [links to review] is an experimental gameplay project designed by Dutch student Peter Groenewed in 2009: 
the object of play is to climb as close to the star as you can and then sacrifice your piece to create a step for future players. You can only play once. Some players work to obstruct it, but eventually "collective wisdom" wins.

It's fun to watch the patterns of the sessions:


I learned about this game reading The Rise of the Videogame Zinesters: How Freaks, Normals, Amateurs, Artists, Dreamers, Dropouts, Queers, Housewives, and People Like You Are Taking Back an Art Form
(2012) by Anna Anthropy.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

I don't even know what to title this.

I blogged last week about how hard it is to write sex scenes without being unintentionally ridiculous (and the target of intentional ridiculousness is maybe even harder to hit). 

I would never mock bad fan fiction, springing as it does from the pure hearts but poor fiction-writing skills of writers like me.
But published novels, that's another thing.

I just came across this scene in a Published Book that made me crow with delight at the… the "freshness", shall we say, of its metaphors.
This is the passage; the speaker is a young man having sex with a young woman [A]:

"For most people, sex was an end in itself. For me, it was a vehicle. The perfect vehicle. A slow-burning rocket headed toward the white well of infinity, with flames hot enough to torch my memories and acceleration strong enough to life me off a barren blasted earth and point me toward the possibility of paradise. The longer the journey, the longer the flames burned, the better it was. If I could have made it last forever, if I could go and never come back, if I could be incinerated, that would be best. 

At some point, [A] fell away from me like a spent booster rocket.  …We were tangled up together in my bed, panting into each other's faces like a pair of cheetahs at the end of a kill sprint…"

Oh, myyyy. Nothing like that post-lift–off cheetah breath.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Victoria Wood's Parody of "Brief Encounter"

I am reminded that I posted about Brief Encounter six years ago (with the Nichols & May parody)--it's one of my favorite movies. You can both sigh over it sincerely and laugh out loud at parodies of it.
I'd only found this parody by Victoria Wood (from 2007?) the other day. 



(Professional parodies are a lot like fanworks…)