I wasn’t planning on going online today, but this swag deserves to be shared! Here’s hoping everyone’s having as merry a day as I.



The day’s edits are done. The backups are complete. The stuff I want to read over the next week or so has been dumped onto the iPad. The Batman lava lamp on the desk is switched off, and I’m on freaking holiday!


Birthday Swag!

Not shown: Butter tarts baked for me by Older Daughter, ’cause I ate those mofos.


Workplace Problems

My typing speed is really off this morning.


Achievement Unlocked!

Achievement unlocked! Used-bookstore RPG swag!


Tricks of the Trade

When working on my own fiction, I alternate between states of "This is pretty damn cool" and "I must abandon this, delete every copy of it from every computer and archive in my possession, and pretend it never existed" with alarming rapidity.


Literally Correct

I can totally understand how this will bother many people, and I won't say they're wrong to be bothered. But in the grander scheme of things, has "literally" not simply joined the ranks of other contronyms?

Not up on contranyms? Those are single words that have not just two meanings, but two meanings that are the opposite of each other. Like if "white" meant both "white" and "black" depending on how you referred to it. 

Here's a few more:

Bound — Going somewhere, or prevented from going anywhere

Cleave — To stick together, or to cut apart

Continue — To keep doing something, or to stop doing something

Dollop — A lot, or not a lot

Liege — The person at the top in charge, or the person that the person at the top in charge is in charge of

Overlook — To pay attention to something, or to ignore something

Scan — To read closely, or to read quickly

Splice — To join together, or to split apart

At some point in history, someone probably railed against people saying "My alarm clock went off" because "off" shouldn't be allowed to mean "activated". Yet humanity somehow survived.


No, No — My Left

This is all true, but — one of the core issues of right brain/left brain theory isn't so much about dominance as usability. Because the (nominally less "creative") left brain is the timekeeping and language brain, it's the fallback brain for most modern living, with its relentless need to organize, to hurry up, to get stuff done in the right order, faster, faster, faster, faster.

Learning to play guitar, or painting, or becoming a better writer, is about putting in the necessary right-brain hours of practice, yes — but for many people, it's a very difficult process to get the louder left brain to quiet down long enough to allow the practice. People who get frustrated learning to play guitar or writing or what have you will recognize this symptom — the idea of feeling like you're failing not in relation to the quality of the work or the practice, but because you're not getting better fast enough. That's the left brain talking over the right brain — not dominant, but just louder.


Status Report

Done GenCon. Final report.

1) Indianapolis oftimes smells like raw sewage. This is not mentioned in any of the GenCon promotional materials.

2) Tracking down gaming professionals you've worked to say "Hello" is a great deal easier than tracking down gamers you know, because the gamers are all like, "Well, I'm in four events simultaneously tomorrow morning, and then things start getting busy…"

3) The bourbon chicken at the Chinese place in the mall food court is surprisingly good. (No, I have no idea how bourbon chicken is considered Chinese.)

4) Wifi at the convention center really sucks.

5) I am exhausted.

6) I'll be back.

Two Women Walk Into a Story

The thing is, the Bechdel test isn't just a barometer of the strength of female characters — it's a test of the writer's interest in dealing with female characters in the first place. And though I liked "Pacific Rim" a lot and liked Mako particularly, I'm compelled to ask why she was the only female character in the piece? Why couldn't Raleigh's brother who dies in the opening have been his sister? Why couldn't the Australian father-and-son team have been a father-daughter or mother-son or even mother-daughter team? Why couldn't either of the scientists have been women?

I don't know that any of those changes would have made "Pacific Rim" pass the Bechdel test (because I don't know that any of those hypothetical female characters and Mako would have had a conversation). But I think any of them would created a more interesting foundation of character story, and that's what the Bechdel test is about.


GenCon by Tweet

Day 0

Anyone who wants to find me at GenCon, I'll be the guy who looks like me.

Rental car picked up. 2013 Toyota Matrix with 2300 km on the clock. Mirrored sunglasses on standby.

Bound for Indy.

Denny's in Grand Ledge, WI. To my fine American friends: Fix your freaking highways! Holy crap!

In Indianapolis. Haven't seen any street crime yet. Very disappointed.

Day 1

At GenCon. Security guy to Star Wars cosplayer: "Excuse me sir? I'll have to inspect your blaster."

I saw Michael Stackpole! I was this close!

In person, Ed Greenwood is quite the ribald young man.

Post GenCon. Dinner at the Munchkin Tavern. Saw Steve Jackson and was all like, "Hey, it's Steve Jackson."

Highlight of GenCon day 1: Finding a 24-hour supermarket five minutes from the hotel. Woot!

Day 2

GenCon has events scheduled for 8 in the morning. Have these people never met any gamers? Or are they just expecting people to still be up from their gaming sessions the night before?

8 a.m. healing draught:

The number of people cosplaying Kevin Smith here is astounding.

At GenCon. Actually, no longer at GenCon; at Munchkin Tavern. Food!


Have been drinking with Rob Schwalb. Not for the faint of heart.

Day 3

Getting ready for GenCon. 6:30 in the freaking morning. There's not enough Coke Zero in the world for this.

Have been making a primary mission of saying hi to people I've been working with for 10 years but never met.

Playing Munchkin in the atrium.

Day 4

Played Spycraft. "How much damage will they take from a 1978 Peterbilt?"

There's a secret entrance to the Indiana Convention Center. And I know where it is.

Not My Type

I didn't take my laptop to GenCon, so when I sat down to it just now, I noticed that typing felt really weird. Then I realized that the previous six days is the longest period of not-typing I've experienced in probably the last twenty-five years.


Blackberry Milkshakes

Dreamed i ran into Gabriel Garcia Marquez at a garage sale. He was upset because he had a copy of One Hundred Years of Solitude that he’d been wanting to give to Harlan Ellison, but hadn’t had the chance. I told him i’d take care of it.

But then when i called Ellison to arrange delivery, he remembered the one time that i’d interviewed him and we’d met, and insisted on coming to my house for the weekend.

He brought Timothy Findley with him, and the three of us talked writing and drank blackberry milkshakes all night.