Random Thursday: RPG Fantasies and Random Realities

Random Thursday (ˈrandəm ˈTHərzdā): the day on which Sarah plunks down all the odd bits and pieces she’s been sent by friends or has otherwise stumbled upon this week in an effort to avoid writing a real post, the assembly of which usually ends up taking twice as much time as sitting down and creating actual content.

It’s the fourth day of my new job and I’ve already managed—in front of witnesses—to snap a piece off the bill hopper of a change machine that costs more than both of my kidneys, kick the one power strip that can turn off an entire bank of workstation, and also develop three new blisters, because my work shoes were primarily selected for color and how comfortable they are while I’m sitting down.

I’m holding my own at Camp Nanowrimo, time-wise, mostly because chapter seven needed a thorough overhaul.  Or two.  And a half.

Jane is currently experiencing her first sinus-related migraine aura and spent most of yesterday afternoon batting at the sparkly things tingling across her vision isntead of paying attention in class.

Time for a strategic mental retreat.

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 Archetypes Assemble!

Avengers DnD

This image inspired a lunch discussion at the library about archetypes
and also a working theory
that the popularity and longevity of any story,
irrespective of conveyance,
might be directly porportionate
to the strength of the Archetypes of its characters
(Sherlock Holmes and Watson, anyone?)
as they carry out the stages of the monomyth
as reflected in Campbell’s seven basic plots.

And then I mentioned that the only fault I could find with this image
is that Hawkeye’s label blocks some of his arm muscles.

“Wow,” a colleague said.  “That’s pretty shallow for someone who just said “monomyth” and  “prototypical” with a straight face.”

“Hey,” I said, nailing him with a grape, “don’t disrespect my Archetype.”

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Knitville

Knitting Sim

Warning:  Not a cure for carpal tunnel.

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Parenthood Encapsulated in Fifty Seconds

Good—by which I mean excruciatingly familiar—with or without sound.

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And She’s All Out Of Bubblegum

Cinderella is not a chick

In Jacinta Bunnell and Julie Novak’s coloring book,
all the princesses are self-rescuing
and no one is trapped in anyone else’s pumpkin
(literally or euphemistically)
without fighting back.

Girls are not chicks

Maybe it’s time for a couple of new Archetypes?

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Dragon NerdsOh, no!  An IRS Agent!  My Sports Star charisma has no effect!

Sheldon, you’re a Level Four Accountant—roll the twenty!

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Madness . . . ?

This. Is. INTARSIA!

Okay.  It isn’t.  But still.

Random Thursday: A Random Sequence of Wondrous Nerdity

Random Thursday (ˈrandəm ˈTHərzdā): the day on which Sarah plunks down all the odd bits and pieces she’s been sent by friends or has otherwise stumbled upon this week in an effort to avoid writing a real post, the assembly of which usually ends up taking twice as much time as sitting down and creating actual content.

Health continues dicey in the Wesson household, but there’s still time between coughs, sneezes and epic sprints to the bathroom to laugh, squee, and gasp at some pretty cool stuff.

Tablets and smartphones help, I won’t lie . . .

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I Knew It!

Proof of Gandalf

I’m also willing to consider that the role wears the actors, instead of the other way around.

Because I like giving myself cold chills, apparently.

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Soup Ness Monsters!

I don’t usually feel the urge to hug kitchen tools, but . . .

Loch Ness Ladles

These insanely adorable utensils are available at Animi Causa, but they’re (understandably) on backorder until late February.

Like that’s gonna stop me.

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Does this come with the Mother of All Mimosas?

Game of Scones

‘Cause I’d avoid the Joffrey Wine Spritzer, were I you.

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Fibonacci in Motion

Fibonacci’s Sequence, for those unfamiliar with Spongebob Squarepants’s house, is a string of numbers—or their spatial or physical equivalents—with each digit created by adding the previous two:   1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89 and so on.

Or, in the case of John Edmark’s mathematical sculptures, stunningly beautiful, especially when you take ’em for a spin.

For an added layer of cool, these were created on a 3D printer.  I know.

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I was Just Thinking . . .

Dragon Pumpkin

If Smaug is trapped inside the Cinderella story,
does that mean that somewhere in the Lit’verse
Bilbo Baggins is matching wits against a giant Wicked Stepmother.
hoping she has a heart to hit?
And if so, whom do we blame?
Gandalf?
Sauron?
Misfiring Godmothers?
Unregulated Bibbity-bobbity-boos?
If the Arkenstone turns out to be a glass Manolo Blahnik,
Will all the gold of Erebor
Be enough to pay for Thorin’s therapy
When it fits Thranduil’s perfect foot?

 (Indy?  John?  Did I just . . . poem?)

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 Just say Moo

This video makes me unreasonably happy.

You?

Paper Trail

paper nest

I seem to have developed a latent cleaning compulsion as a response to stress and/or writing avoidance—I’m as surprised as you are—and spent the weekend cleaning and rearranging my desk and going through my overstuffed file cabinet.*

So far, I’ve found research for abandoned and active stories, clippings, half-written first chapters, short stories, shipwrecks, dialogue chunks, outlines, plot bunny droppings, frankendrafts,** essays, extremely questionable poetry, and various other scribbles of a fictional nature.***

Some of the fiction writing dates back to my college days and some is older. There are dot matrix printouts in there, wide-ruled notebook paper written in pencil, floppy disks^ and a lot of adolescent angst.

So, I’ve been hauling this stuff around since I was at least thirteen,^^  keeping it as close as Smaug did Erebor’s net domestic product and defending it with as much sanity as Thorin hoping to uncover a publishable Arkenstone—or a certain protoHobbit searching for his birthday present.

This hoard of mismatched wordsmithing is my work.  It’s my precious.

But, you know . . .

Those drawers are packed so full that they’re useless, and it’s getting to the point that . . .

It might be time to. . .

I mean, it’s possible that some of this stuff isn’t . . .

And it’s not like I really believe I’m ever going to finish that story about the . . .

I don’t even remember writing that scene and it’s just a single loose sheet of paper so there’s no context for it, so there’s no point in . . .

But what if I need it . . .

It’s been more difficult than I thought to pare it all down—it’s painful.

Because I have four drawers (and several cartons and binders) full of clinkers and clunkers

Coal Scuttle

but I can’t help seeing each one as a you-know-what in the rough

Rough_diamond

that might, if I just applied myself, turn into something fantastic.

Diamond Ring

Except that’s not true.

There may be a few diamonds among the dross, but only a few—and as time passes, they tend to disappear.

I’m not the same person I was when I started making stuff up and putting it down. I don’t think the same way, feel the same way, or express myself in the same ways. My imagination may be a tad slower, but it has a lot more raw material to work with.

And these drawers and cartons full of words and thoughts,  ink and flattened fiber pulp were instrumental in that development.  They aren’t failures or wasted potential—but their work here is done and they’re blocking my way.  Literally and literarily.

They’re a collection of dull, abandoned, heavy carapaces from a series of scintillating insects that flew off a long time ago.

And to be honest, some of ‘em need to be shredded before anyone else can get a good look.  Especially the children.

So I’m taking it a folder at a time.   Reading, recognizing, wondering, wincing, saving, shredding.

Acknowledging. Honoring.  Releasing.

I’ve done a desk shelf and two and a half drawer.  So far, my Keeper stack is smaller than my recycling pile.

It still hurts a little to let go, but I think I have the hang of it now.

I’m still planning on sedation, though, when the time comes to tackle my bookshelves . . .

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*Ever see one of those commercials where a pile of folded sweaters approximately the height of Hasheem Thabeet is crammed into a plastic bag and vacuum-sealed down to the width of Giselle Bundchen?  It’s the same principle, except I used wooden drawers and brute force.

**You know—the drafts cobbled together out of typed and handwritten pages, scrap paper, envelopes, post-its, napkins, images, and digital files saved . . . somewhere.

*** Along with ancient and presumably paid bills, medical assessments, paycheck stubs from a job I left twenty years, school papers and deathless art generated by my kids, not to mention my old IQ tests from ages 6 and 11 which were, in my opinion, a tad optimistic.

^The 3½” ones, thank you, so you can keep your age-related technology jokes to yourself. We who were born before the invention of the Internet and entered the workforce when ASCII was king do not appreciate them. Mouse dependent whippersnappers . . .

^^Though some of it had been archived for decades in my childhood home, until it was dumped on passed back to me by Dad during one of my folks’ U-haul-themed Thanksgiving visits.

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Image of the coal scuttle by Lajsikonik is shared under creative commons license via Wikimedia Commons.

 Image of the rough diamond is from the United Stated Geological Survey and is in the public domain.

Image of the diamond ring by TQ Diamonds  is shared under creative commons license via Wikimedia Commons.

Book Review: Twenty-Sided Die

Dice Shaming

 

Brian Prisco gives good nerd.

I figured he would, since the co-worker who  handed me the trade paperback, saying, “My friend’s book finally arrived! Oh, my god you have to read this!” is fearlessly fluent in nearly all species of fandom.

If you can’t trust a woman who carries an R2D2 lunchbox, drives a yellow car detailed with Charlie Brown stripes, is willing to talk about the relative BAMFness and Kinsey placements of Doctors War through Twelve, and has a little, knitted, science blue sweater warming the Zachary Quinto action figure she keeps in her work cubicle, you have no trust in you to give.

Plus, the cover is excellent.20-Sided Die

Twenty-Sided Die is a Kickstarter-funded collection of short stories connected by a group of  small-town misfits who have bonded—more or less—over Dungeons & Dragons campaigns, comic books, summer camp, philosophical conversations about cannibalism and literature (and boobs), bullying in its various forms, and the sheer hell of navigating high school and what may (or may not) come after.

The main characters are distinct and unforgettable—and if one of two aren’t entirely likeable (possibly by choice), they still have our sympathy.  We know these guys, and in many ways, most of us are these guys:

Dobby, the vicious, DM whose main motivations appear to be junk food and unrepentant spite;

Caleb, the fundamentalist paladin whose karma is about to hit his dogma;

Spence, a simmering wizard who is desperate to blow this popsicle stand;

Scotty, a snarky band nerd of a dwarf who would like to graduate without losing too many teeth to a privileged, troll-sized bully; and

Ben, a trailer-trash, Hinton-esque Outsider (please for to note the capital O) with the heart of a ranger.

My favorites among the supporting cast are Dory, a girl whose thermonuclear response to Dobby’s mysogenist insults in “Geek Out”  is worth twice the price of admission, and Mr. Ambler, a former dork turned cool teacher* who is one of the few adult providers of perspective and sanity in remarkably, if realistically, unfair situations.

The stories cover a lot of ground, with varying impact.  Some are clearly meant to be squinted at in WTF delight (“Human Consumption”), some are quietly powerful (“A Steady Hand” and “Grendel”), and others are a sucker punch in the solar plexus (most of the final third of the collection).  The best of them are hilarious, infuriating, heartbreaking, victorious, and tragic—sometimes all at the same time.

One in particular (“Wages of Sin”) is so breathtakingly inappropriate on so many levels and yet so masterfully written with such undeniable truth that it transcends itself and firmly establishes Dobby in my headcanon as chaotic evil personified. I am in awe .

I only had one difficulty in reading Twenty-Sided Die:  about a third of the way through,  I stopped seeing it as a series of  loosely connected stories.  Whether by design or chance or something in my own head,** the stories drew more tightly together, almost gelling into a novel—and a damned good one, too.

This wouldn’t be a problem, except the perspective shift—which again, may be all mine—lent a kind of uneven randomness to the first third, but only (I stress)  in comparison. And since this collection isn’t a novel, and presumably wasn’t meant to be, it naturally didn’t develop quite the way I kept thinking it should.

It’s completely unfair to judge short stories by long fiction standards—especially short stories that hold up on their own individual merits like these do—and the only reason that I’m saying all this is that my  unreasonable expectations are based on my sympathy for and involvement with these characters (even Dobby, which was a shocker, believe me).  I want more from and about them, and for them, too.***

So, I hope Mr. Prisco will forgive me.

And keep acing those charisma checks writing, please.

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*If the general atmosphere didn’t seem more D.C. than Marvel to me, I would suspect Mr. Ambler is actually Agent Phil Coulson in disguise—I’d still like to check his desk drawers for Captain America collectibles.  And Ben strikes me as Clint Barton with better luck—the bow isn’t the only parallel I saw.  I love them both and their conversations were my favorite parts of this collection.

**Possibly helped along by the “Chapter #” heading above the title of each story.  I’m not complaining about it—I don’t know if this was done on purpose or was simply a formatting issue, and I didn’t even consciously notice until I was writing this post—but it might have had a subliminal effect.

***I want Ambler to have his day, man.  I need Ambler to have his day.

 

Random Thursday: Geektastic

Random Thursday (ˈrandəm ˈTHərzdā): the day on which Sarah plunks down all the odd bits and pieces she’s been sent by friends or has otherwise stumbled upon this week in an effort to avoid writing a real post, the assembly of which usually ends up taking twice as much time as sitting down and creating actual content.

I have no explanation for why all this stuff ended up in my Random Thursday Stuff folder.

But I don’t have an apology for it either.

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Outgeeked

May the Force Be WIth you

When it comes to Star Wars, I will trade laser blasts and light speed for the laws of physics every single time.

But I still really need this on  tee-shirt.

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I Love Tolkien Fan Vids—But I mustn’t get into the Hobbit.

And this is why:

I laughed, ya’ll.   I laughed so hard I sprained what small amount of  dignity I have left.

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Hawkeye FTW

Someone found this for me on Geek Universe.

Thank you, someone!

Cutest Team Building Moment EVER

I traced it back to its artist, and lost myself in
Skottie Young’s deviantart playground for an indecent amount of time.

I like his art and I love his sense of humor.

Turns out, Mt. Young’s been drawing for Marvel for more than a decade,
(including some of my favorite issues—I have got to start paying closer attention)

and

(deep breath)

HE DREW THE AMAZING COVER FOR NEIL GAIMAN’S

FORTUNATELY, THE MILK!

Fortunately the Milk(click for a better look)

I haven’t been this fansquee over an artist since Quentin Blake.
And Shel Silverstein.  And James C. Christensen.

(and maybe that Mike Allegra guy)

Seriously, go take a look at Mr. Young’s stuff.

It’s fantastic.

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Fanfic in One Pic

No no no

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The Answer is actually Forty-Three 

But how many of those cartoon theme songs can you identify?

The list is on YouTube, if you want to see what you missed.

If you didn’t miss any of them . . .
Maybe you should step away from the screen for a while?  ‘Cause you’ve been away a long time.

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Don’t Forget!

I issued a Vonnegut Challenge yesterday!

Write a secret poem, tear it up, and send me a pic of the pieces
(or a link or a tweet or a Facebook holler—whatever)

for a chance to win the regular-sized CafePress mug of your choice.

Limericks Mug

You have until tomorrow midnight!