2017-10-16

The Joker

This is a post about Harvey Weinstein, eventually. Just hang in there while I digress for a bit.

I could have killed the Joker. Once, a long time ago.

I posted a new profile picture on Facebook this morning. This picture.


Someone noticed that it seemed a bit darker than my usual profile pic fare and asked if I was okay. This is the answer to that.

I could have killed the Joker.

(Let’s call that a metaphorical statement, just to keep things simple.)

As anyone who’s followed and thought about the comic-book character at a certain level knows, Batman has a problem. His archenemy is the Joker, and the Joker kills people. The Joker hurts people in ways that destroy the ability think about them. But every time Batman and the Joker face off in response to the Joker having hurt people, Batman stops short of the point where he could kill the Joker himself. Sometimes he stops well short. Sometimes he stops with that death a heartbeat away. But he always stops, every time.

If you don’t know it, the profile pic of which I speak isn’t real. It’s part of a dream sequence. Batman has killed the Joker in dreams, and in non-canon alternate reality narratives, and maybe in the movies. But in the real canon, in the real stories, he stops short. Every time.

And because Batman stops, because he allows himself to accept that putting the Joker in a place where he thinks he can’t hurt anyone anymore is good enough, the Joker inevitably escapes back into the world again. The Joker inevitably kills again. And Batman inevitably stops short, again and again, of ending this cycle of pain and madness and death.

I feel like a failure a lot of the time. I know that’s not a big deal, and I know that probably everyone reading this can say the same thing from time to time. It’s all about impostor syndrome, and being at a certain point in one’s life, and feeling the passage of time, and other related shit.

But this morning, a big part of that feeling of failure comes from seeing the unclimbable wall of #MeToo facing me on social media, and knowing that even though #IBelieveYou, and #IStandWithYou, I don’t know if that’s enough. Even though I’ve spent a good chunk of my life trying to be an ally, trying to lead by example, trying to make sure that the women and the marginalized people in my life understood that I understood, and that I cared, and that I would do anything to make things better for them…

I don’t know if it’s ever been enough.

I don’t know if I should have done more.

I don’t know if I’ve been stopping short of what needed to be done.

Anyway.

Once, a long time ago, I could have killed the Joker.

(Let’s still call that a metaphorical statement, just to keep things simple.)

But that once, a long time ago, just like Batman and his inability to make that final, definitive decision, I pushed up to the point closest to that. And I stopped. I told myself it was best if I didn’t let myself go past it. And I did everything I thought I could do short of making that decision.

I did what I could to put the Joker down. I did it well. I left him in a place where I was positive that he could never get out. Positive that he could never hurt anyone, ever again.

But you know this story. So you know that he did. And he did.

Because as long as Batman doesn’t kill the Joker, that story doesn’t ever end.

Anyway.

Harvey Weinstein is clearly a different Joker than my Joker. (Though I have to admit, there’s a disturbing physical resemblance.) And alongside the pain and the heartbreak I feel in response to #MeToo, and the rage I try to quell long enough to let me say #IBelieveYou, all I can fucking think about is the long, endless goddamn line of people who could have killed Weinstein’s Joker. But they didn’t.

Bob Weinstein’s at the top of that list. Sixteen executives at the Weinstein Company who knew, from what I’ve read. Uncounted agents, managers, publicists. The list is too fucking long.

Ben Affleck could have killed the Joker. How’s that for fucking irony?

So in addition to #IBelieveYou, here’s what I’m feeling right now.

If it ever comes down to it, if I ever have the chance again.

#IWillKillTheFuckingJoker.

Not because I think it’ll make me the hero. Not because I can pretend that there won’t be consequences. But because I’m tired of this fucking story.

This story needs to stop.

2017-10-02

Daredevil

So we just had the carpet in the bedrooms replaced with laminate fake hardwood, and it’s produced one particularly unexpected effect.

My least favorite game of an evening is trying to walk through the darkened bedroom (because Colleen usually goes to sleep before I do, so I can’t turn the light on) without stepping on dogs (because the dogs’ favorite place to sleep is right directly in my freaking path, no matter which way I try to go).

But since the new floors went down, I can suddenly tell where the dogs are even in the dark, because can I hear my footsteps like I couldn’t on carpet — and I can hear how the echo of my footsteps changes when I’m about to trod on whatever animal is lying directly in front of me.

I’m like Daredevil. Except just with dogs.

2017-08-26

The Secret

Hey, D&D-playing homophobes! Here’s something I wanted to share with you.

Think about every adventure you ever played in. Think about every NPC your character ever interacted with. Think about the vast majority of those NPCs whose spouse, romantic history, or sexual predilections were never mentioned in the course of the game:

Each and every one of those characters was secretly gay, but we didn’t tell you.

I’m an industry professional, so you know it’s true.

2017-08-14

Slippery Slope

The slippery-slope argument is bullshit.

Saying “If we’re okay with doxxing people at white supremacist rallies, isn’t that the same as doxxing people for any viewpoints we don’t agree with?” is bullshit.

“Why are we okay with people being fired from a job for far-right beliefs when that might lead inevitably to people being fired for any political or religious beliefs?” Bullshit.

Here’s the thing. Free speech gives you the right to say whatever you want. Then the cultural standards and legal system of the country you’re living in determines what happens as a result of you saying whatever you want.

If you go out in public and loudly threaten to kill someone, you’ll get arrested. You’ll be on the news and everyone will learn your name, see your face, and know that you went out in public and threatened to kill someone. If I’m your boss and I get word that you went out in public and threatened to kill someone, I’ll fire your ass in heartbeat. And none of these consequences would surprise anyone.

“But it’s wrong that a person could be arrested and fired from a job for going out in public and loudly threatening to kill someone, because won’t that inevitably lead to people being arrested and fired for going out in public and just talking too loudly?”

No. It won’t. Because the slippery-slope argument is bullshit.

White supremacy is a movement predicated on the threat of killing other people. The appropriate response to that shouldn’t be so difficult to figure out.

2017-07-18

Lower That Blast-Pistol

Okay, I saw the Blade Runner 2049 trailer. Here’s what I think (because I know you’re all dying to hear it):

Hampton Fancher is credited for both story and screenplay on this film. Hampton Fancher was the first screenwriter on the original Blade Runner, whose script was so freaking bad that Philip K. Dick originally disowned the project before shooting even started. Fancher’s original script is, in fact, a complete pile of shit. (You can find it online. Go ahead and read it; I’ll wait.)

In the end, Dick got to read the revised version of the script that David Peoples salvaged, and he liked it. He was very positive about the direction of the film (which departed even more from Fancher’s original as it was constantly retooled during shooting). But in the final interview he ever gave (Dick died five months before Blade Runner was released), this is what he said about Fancher’s script and why he hated it:

“There were good things in Fancher’s screenplay. It’s like the story of the old lady who takes a ring into a jeweler to have the stone reset. And the jeweler scrapes all of the patina of years and years and shines it up, and she says, ‘My God, that was what I loved the ring for — the patina!’ Okay, they had cleaned my book up of all of the subtleties and of the meaning. The meaning was gone. It had become a fight between androids and a bounty hunter.

“I had this vision in my mind then that I would go up there and be introduced to Ridley Scott, and be introduced to Harrison Ford, who’s the lead character, and I’d just be so dazzled I’d be like Mr. Toad seeing the motorcar for the first time. My eyes would be wide as saucers and I’d just be standing there completely mesmerized. Then I would watch a scene being shot. And Harrison Ford would say, ‘Lower that blast-pistol or you’re a dead android!’ And I would just leap across that special effects set like a veritable gazelle and seize him by the throat and start battering him against the wall. They’d have to run in and throw a blanket over me and call the security guards to bring in the Thorazine. And I'd be screaming, ‘You've destroyed my book!’ “

In the Blade Runner 2049 trailer, I’m seeing a whole lot of “Lower that blast-pistol or you’re a dead android!” That’s all I’m saying.

2017-04-26

Don’t Be Afraid

A few people have asked what the text is that was seen peeking into the cowbell post from a few days ago. It’s a quotation that runs along three walls of my office, and which says the following. (Forgive the exclusive use of the male pronoun; the 1970s were a less enlightened time.)



“Don’t be afraid.

“That simple; don’t let them scare you.

“There’s nothing they can do to you. If they kick you out of films, do TV. If they kick you out of TV, write novels. If they won’t buy your novels, sell short stories.

“A writer always writes. That’s what he’s for.

“And if they won’t let you write one kind of thing, if they chop you off at the pockets in the market place, then go to another market place. And if they close off all the bazaars, then by God go and work with your hands till you can write, because the talent is always there.

“But the first time you say, ‘Oh, Christ, they’ll kill me!’ then you’re done.

“Because the chief commodity a writer has to sell is his courage. And if he has none, he is more than a coward. He is a sellout and a fink and a heretic, because writing is a holy chore.”

— Harlan Ellison

Ten Concerts

Here are ten concerts I’ve been to, but thirteen are a lie. See if you can guess which.

The Rolling Stones

The Dave Clark Five

Queen with Freddie Mercury

Dazzler

Queen with Paul Rodgers

Bill Haley and the Comets

Queen with Adam Lambert

Glenn Miller

Vienna Chamber Orchestra

Queen with Freddie Mercury, Paul Rodgers, and Adam Lambert (Man, that was a long show)

Hannah Montana

Kevin Federline

That school dance where Marty McFly played Chuck Berry

2017-04-24

More Cowbell

It became very clear to me that what my office needed was more cowbell.


2017-03-26

Call Us First

This is a point on Highway 1 between Kamloops and Salmon Arm that I’ve been driving past pretty regularly for twelve years now. And each time I do, I am awestruck by the double-barreled irony of a) Putting a billboard for a realty company directly next to an abandoned shack, and b) having “Call Us First” as your slogan and not providing a phone number.


This is alternatively either the saddest sight I’ve ever seen, or a cutting-edge piece of installation art. But even after twelve years, I’m not sure which.

2017-03-19

Observation

Observation: When you’re under doctor’s orders to sit on the couch and do nothing, it’s surprising how much work you can get caught up on.

2017-01-10

Our Time Machines

“We all have our time machines. Some take us back, they're called memories. Some take us forward, they're called dreams.”

— Jeremy Irons

2017-01-06

You Are Welcome Here

For me, the issue of gender and inclusivity in games isn’t always about sexuality or gender issues per se. It’s about acknowledging what your narrative choices say about the world you’re creating, and about the people in that world. And with respect (and in response to some discussions taking place elsewhere), I think people who say, “I would include LGBTQ content in my game if I had those people at my table” are missing a larger point.

In a (stereo)typical FRPG setup, if I say, “The owner of the inn welcomes you, introducing you to his wife where she works behind the bar…”, it says something about the world of my game. It’s probably not intentional, because we create these narrative moments by instinct, and our instincts are honed by our own experience of living in a world where men own things and women work for men. But contrast that to “The owner of the inn welcomes you, introducing you to her husband where he works behind the bar…” Because that says something slightly different — and, in my view, something important — about the world of my game. Just as “The owner of the inn welcomes you, introducing you to his husband where he works behind the bar.…” says something more important still.

The thing I hope that last one says to LGBTQ players is “You are welcome here.” The thing I hope it says to non-LGBTQ players is “This is the world you’re a part of.” Even over and above creating games and game narrative geared toward LGBTQ characters and players (because that’s obviously important), this is big part of what inclusivity means to me.

2017-01-05

Questions

From Facebook, just because.

Why not take a break from negativity* and learn about each other. 

[*Hey, I don’t knock your hobbies, so don’t knock mine, all right?]

1. Who are you named after, if anyone? 

I’m named after/by my maternal grandparents, the Fitzgeralds; and my paternal grandmother, who was dying when I was born, and who when she saw me for the first time, said I looked like a Scott. (The additional context you need for this is that I was adopted on unexpected short notice, so my parents hadn’t spent any of the time thinking about names that most parents do.)

2. Last time you cried? 

Watching The Force Awakens on New Year’s Eve. You know which scene.

3. Do you like your handwriting? 

I’d like it better if I could read it, and if writing didn’t make my hand hurt. So, I guess, ‘No.’

4. What is your favourite lunch? 

One I don’t have to make myself.

6. Do you use sarcasm? 

Never. I mean that sincerely.

7. Do you still have your tonsils? 

Not sure. I had them out when I was three, but sometimes they grow back if you remove them at that age. I haven’t had any reason to find out since then, though.

8. Would you bungee jump? 

Fuck, no.

9. What is your favorite kind of cereal? 

Kellogg’s Mini-Wheats.

10. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? 

Never.

11. Do you think you're strong? 

Emotionally and psychologically, not particularly. Physically, more so than I sometimes want to be (see 13, below).

12. Favorite ice cream? 

Mango.

13. What is the first thing you notice about a person? 

Whether they make eye contact with me, or whether they’re inadvertently intimidated by me because I’m six-foot-three and look like I’m prone to beating people up, which I’m usually not.

14. Football or baseball? 

I don’t know what you’re talking about.

15. What color pants are you wearing? 

Black.

16. Last thing you ate? 

A handful of cashews.

17. What are you listening to? 

A mix of various film soundtracks.

18. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? 

Sky blue.

19. What is your favorite scent? 

The smell of fresh-baked bread.

20. Who was the last person you spoke to on the phone? 

One of my sisters-in-law.

21. What is your favourite sport to watch? 

Again with these questions that don’t make any sense. You’re trying my patience, here.

22. Hair color? 

Brown/grey.

23. Eye color? 

Blue/grey.

24. Favourite foods to eat? 

Chinese, pizza, nachos, black forest cake, baklava. Don’t ever get between me and a plate of baklava. It’ll end badly.

25. Scary movies or happy endings?

Happy endings.

26. Last movie you watched? 

The new Sherlock, if that counts; The Force Awakens if not; Rogue One if The Force Awakens doesn’t count because I already used it to answer number 2, above.

27. What color shirt are you wearing?

Black.

28. Favorite Holiday?

Last summer’s.

29. Beer or wine? Can't I have both? 

Coke Zero. Seriously, I’m just going to make up my own questions next time.

30. Night owl or morning person?

There is no morning. Any time from 10 a.m. to 3 a.m. is “day”; any time between 3 a.m. and 10 a.m. is the middle of the night, and not fit for human activity.

Distant Planets Spin

“It will take months to get my inner world peopled, and the people moving. How else to do it but plunge out of this safe scheduled time-clock wage-check world into my own voids. Distant planets spin: I dream too much of fame, posturing, a novel into print. But with no job, no money worries, why, the black lid should lift. Look at life with humor: easy to say: things open up: know people: horizons extend…"

— Sylvia Plath

2017-01-03

Another Day

Another day; another dream of winning several billion dollars in the lottery, buying Adobe Inc., giving the InDesign programming and development team a well-deserved retirement, piling up every system and archive holding the source code for their program in the center of their empty offices, and then burning the building to the goddamn ground.

I Wish

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

— J.R.R. Tolkien

2017-01-01

Nice Try

Achievement unlocked: Fixed unexpected New Year's Day failure of washing machine.

Nice try, 2017. Nice try.