Monthly Archives: October 2010

Darkened Heart Discussion for November

31 October 2010

The monthly Darkened Heart discussions will stay at the top of the page. New posts appear below this post. (more…)

More photoblogging.

29 October 2010

Thoughts on Spellwright

29 October 2010

I finished reading Spellwright during my weekend trip to Vermont back in April. The book was a very fast read for me, which means it only took me twice as long to finish it as it would a normal person.

Normally, I hardly notice the delay. It just comes with the territory. People like me read slower…

I’m shying around the issue. Dyslexics like me. Dyslexics like me take longer to read a book than a normal person. I love books, but I’m slow to pick up new ones because they’re such an investment of time. With a really good book, I hardly notice. I noticed it this time though. I noticed it a lot.

Spellwright is a fantasy-adventure with some decent world building and good writing. Not necessarily a deep book, but definitely a fun one.

Unless you’re me, or someone like me. If you’ve dealt with dyslexia, then you’ll find Spellwright a bit deeper than you’d like. Why? Spellwright is a an adventure novel about our scrambled brains. Cloaked in a story of international intrigue and magical aptitude is a deeper tale of a very smart person — One who can’t string two sentences together without screwing at least one of them up.

Nicodemus Weal is a Cacographer, a wizard burdened with an inability to spell in a world where spelling is literal. Magical language is very unforgiving to the wizards who use it. All but the simplest spells die in Nicodemus’s hands. Yet this marginally functional wizard must confront a massive mess of international intrigue. He’s forced to defend himself and his mentor from accusations ranging from murder to high-treason and blasphemy.

Spellwright isn’t without a few problems. Author-self-insertion being one of them, along with a few world building gripes here and there, and my own personal dislike of magic built around glowy floaty runes (I blame MMO’s for that bad impression). Most of that is nitpicking though, if I had to name one real gripe with the book, it’s the complete wish-fulfillment plot of the protagonist not being a true Cacographer (he was cursed).

I whine and complain, but honestly I really loved Spellwright. In the end, I can sum up my feelings with one sentence: I wish I could’ve read it as a child.

This book evoked a lot of bitter memories in the midst of its entertaining plots. I rather imagine it’s a similar effect to A Wizard of Earthsea for People of Color. The revelation isn’t nearly as important or profound for a white guy with dyslexia, but I can better understand the impact now. Spellwright reaches back through the years to my impressionable youth, and tells a younger version of myself that I am not alone; There are others like me, and they can be heroes.

I spent the end of April on a train

22 October 2010

In April, a good friend of mine from High-school got married, thus knocking off one more obstacle in my brilliant master plan to become a withered old spinster. If I can get two or three more old friends married off, I’ll be all set; a lone unmarried bachelor amidst an army of newlyweds. That’s step one (Step three is always profit).

To celebrate my ascendancy (or her marriage, whatever) I needed to take a trip to Vermont. I decided (at the suggestion of my brilliant sister) to take Amtrak instead of flying. While on the trip, I took the time to log my observations. Here they are, in no particular order:

  • Embarking was scary mundane. There was only one bit of freaky security; a TSA cop with a sub-machine gun and a board looking big-black-dog, a Labrador? Looked kinda Labradorean.
  • No scanners, no metal detectors, no bag searches. I almost thought I was in the wrong place.
  • The ride out of Union Station in DC was a bit rougher than I expected, like riding near the couplers on a Metro car (I favor the mid-car wheel wells for a smoother commute). Makes things slightly shaky, motion-sickness could be a problem. I haven’t been motion sick in years. I wonder if I could sleep on a train. It doesn’t seem likely with this much rattling.
  • Seats, even in coach, are decently roomy. I would’ve had plenty of legroom save for my bag shoved against my shins. Better than an airplane, though not as nice as a car, or first class.
  • I am such a sodding pack-rat, incidentally. I wish I could pack lighter, at least half the crap I brought got used or dropped off during the trip, but I still wish I could manage a smaller travel profile. I need to learn to let some of this crap go. I’m learning, but it’s slow progress.
  • Mild headache from a combination of sun, hauling bags, lack of sleep, dehydration, and lack of caffeine. I brought portable tea-making supplies with me, but I suspect I’ll not be using them until the longer branch of the trip. For those who’ve wondered why I ever buy mana potions, this right here, this is why.
  • I should’ve brought a bottle of water with me. Dunno why I didn’t. Not only am I a pack-rat, but I’m an ineffective pack-rat.
  • I brought two books, one I’m reading, one I’ve read, but if I get board, I have the whole internet waiting for me.
  • Trains are like planes I can stand up in. That makes me happier than it should.
  • No weird continuous thrumming in my bones from the vibration of a jet engine… I’ve traded it for constant mild turbulence! Whee!
  • I’ve heard that watching the world outside a train window is beautiful. Thus far, I’ve seen some beautiful ditches, graffiti, trash piles, and shelled out neighborhoods (Actually, the graffiti really was beautiful).
  • How many Penn stations are there? This is getting a little silly. Penn station, Baltimore, Delaware, New Jersey… It’s like the train’s not really moving, just going in a big loop. They change around the platform while we’re out so we don’t notice when we get back.
  • Just passed a wifi node labeled “Funkadelic” in nyc, available for all of 5 seconds, locked with wep. It leaves me oddly curious about its owner.
  • I picked business class for part of my trip. Business class is train-talk for first class, which is odd because it didn’t cost all that much. I thought I might want the sleeper configuration (the chairs turn into beds). I think this is the most room I’ve ever had while in motion from one place to another.
  • Business class passengers all get free copies of the New York Times. Judging by my fellow passengers, this is very important to them.
  • The train emptied out at Albany. There’s four other passengers, and the crew. It’s odd. Even late night flights usually have a decent number of people aboard. I feel like I slept through closing, and I’m in an empty business. The noncommittal lit-but-dark lighting helps the effect. I feel like one of Eric Burns’ characters, newly transferred out of psychopomp station.
  • 9:18, it’s now too dark to see outside. Nearing the end of my trip. Internet? I no can has. At least Clockwork Cabaret is cached and transmitting.
  • I foolishly assumed I could rent a car when I got to Vermont. Fat chance. The businesses were all shuttered. I wound up hauling my pack-ratted bags to the motel on foot. The trip looked shorter on google maps, but I was clearly fooling myself. Uncertainty didn’t help either, so it was quite a relief to haul myself in front of the night desk at the incredibly ratty hotel where we were all staying. Nice enough employees, but it needed new carpet more than I need social skills.
  • I collapsed into the dubiously clean bed, uncertain of my choice of sleeping space, but quite certain of something else: I’ve got to take the train more.

This is awesome – a better dickwolves response

20 October 2010

So, you might have heard that some folks are angry about Penny Arcade’s Dickwolves shirt. I ranted about it at length a little while ago. Speaking up on these kinds of issues is important, but let’s be honest here, my response isn’t particularly helpful. It’s a rant. I draw a tiny bit of attention to the issue, but really that’s all.

Kirbybits came up with a much better response, a counter-tshirt. It’s awesome:

A phoenix rising from the ashes of embarrasing levels of fail.

It works on so many different levels. In my initial rant on this issue, I tried (sometimes succeeded, but mostly just tried) to explain how the Dickwolves shirt makes women feel unwelcome at cons. Kirbybits’ shirt works a perfect mirror effect. It makes people wearing the Dickwolves shirt feel uncomfortable, and it does so by being funny.

Dammit, why didn’t I think of that?

Darkened Heart Discussion for October

18 October 2010

The monthly Darkened Heart discussions will stay at the top of the page. New posts appear below this post.

Just one photo this week.

15 October 2010

I picked up a prop pistol from a seller on ebay for fairly cheap. Dirt cheap when you consider that it’s actual metal and wood, not resin or plastic.

The firing mechanism is horrid, the whole thing will need some hefty modifications before it’ll make a decent Darkened Heart prop, but hey, not a bad start: #

Darkened Heart Discussion. Oct 10th, 13th, and 15th

11 October 2010

I have to admit, I’m rather surprised that I almost forgot about these bottles. They’re rather the point of Lee’s box. If you’re wondering why I didn’t list the labels or put them in the transcript, it’s because each bottle will be showing up individually in the next thee posts. So there’s plenty of time to get into the details.

I thought posting on M-W-F would be a lot harder than a weekly schedule, but I’m finding the opposite to be true. Sure, it’s more work, but it also makes the storytelling a LOT easier. I can present a prop, describe it, then get into the actual consequences of the discovery. Lab results, intern crazy time. S’good stuff.

Photoblogging without annoying the crap out of everyone.

8 October 2010

This is a work in progress, so please bear with me while I work out the details. I’ve set up a wordpress plugin called Twitter Tools to aggregate tweets here on Sunkenlibrary. After mucking about in the settings for a bit, I’ve set it to post a once-per-week aggregation. My various twitter one liners aren’t particularly witty, but I’ve managed to set twitter up for photoblogging. By aggregating the tweets here, I’ll be able to keep anyone interested up to date on my weekly project progress.

I’ll go through these posts and prune out the bits no one cares about, which should leave a decently reliable snapshot of what I’ve been up to in a given week. I know that automation tends to annoy people, but I have to be honest: Either I automate part of this process, or I’ll never update reliably.

  • – Sunset on my walk home. I took the photo to test weather I could automate the uploading and sharing of photos. The process worked decently well.
  • – My boss received an award. The award was an naked overweight golden man. Some folks in the office weren’t completely pleased having it on the break-room table, so they fixed it.
  • – I’m sewing a new wallet for myself. For a very long time, I’ve worn a renascence fair pouch on my belt to carry all my technology, tools, ID, etc. That pouch is still good, but I want a more utilitarian/steampunk option available. In classic mad inventor fashion, that means making one. Incedentally, do you have any idea how hard it is to find this kind of bandoleer style carrying solution? It’s everywhere in geek media, but no one makes them. Seriously, look around. Boba Fet wears this sort of thing on his belt. So does Batman. Chewbacca’s shoulder bandoleer, or the various pouches worn by sodding everyone in starwars, for that matter. But there flat out aren’t commercial knock offs available. The best you can do is lurk on eBay until something remotely similar pops up and then cease the bid like a rabid wolf. Or you can sew one. That works too.
  • – This is a photo from my daily commute. It’s not normally quite this bad, but there’d been a downed train on the line, so the platform filled up with about 20 minutes of commuters.

In unrelated news:

  • – Battlestar Twilight. Flat out fantastic bit of subversive counter marketing.
  • – This is a fantastic trailer for Deus Ex: Human Revolution. It’s quite pretty, even if CG trailers have little bearing on the actual game. Deus Ex was a really great game, way ahead of it’s time. The sequel, Deus Ex 2, was… well… disappointing. Human Revolution is being handled by a new team following on a lengthy eight year gap. The trailer makes me think that they “get” the tone of the series, and I hope it’ll be a great game, but there will be no way to tell until the actual product gets released.

Darkened Heart discussion, October 4th, 6th, and 8th.

4 October 2010

Looks like Darkened Heart updated correctly, this begins two weeks of Monday-Wednesday-Friday updates. You can expect a fresh incentive behind the vote. That updated smoothly as well, going live at midnight Pacific. I really need to figure out how to change the incentive schedule to Eastern time, ah well.

In other news, I’ve nearly finished converting the site from Comicpress 2.8 to a child theme for Comicpress 2.9. This is good because, in the future, I won’t need to perform dramatic restructuring every time Comicpress updates. I can stay current while still providing pretty pictures. Go me.