February 16, 2018
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I flew across the country today and experienced three random encounters:
- Saw an older lady on the bus with this almost zen-like look of beaming contentment. I broke in remarking on how beautiful a day it was. (It was dark and rainy, natch.) This developed into a wide-ranging conversation covering what we especially liked about each of the Northwest, Alaska, and the South. We consoled each over on having to do without coleslaw and butterbeans. When she mentioned she was from Texas, I remarked that only people from the South really grasp how to have a talk. When we changed buses, I went out of my way to mention to her how much I’d enjoyed meeting her. (To not do so would have been tacky, of course.)
- Guy next to me on the plane turns out to be a Microsoft developer. He tried to feel me out on how much I might despise the company when I said positive things about particular open source tools. I misread this, thinking he wouldn’t care for any flak on this point. But when I later mentioned which Microsoft products I currently get paid to use… he went cold on me. It’s like I suddenly became persona non grata to him. Later I noticed he was a musician and we had a fair discussion about jazz and so forth, but he never made eye contact or even any sort of facial expression. There is evidently a fair scene for that sort of thing in Seattle, but I could never get the emotional energy up to go check it out. The preponderance of people of his sort in the area would defeat the purpose of going out in the first place.
- Getting closer to my old stomping grounds, I expected my luck to change. It didn’t. A thirty-something woman sits next to me and I give out the minimal amount of pleasantries, but she turns out to be a scientist. A physicist delving into materials science. She really wants to talk about that, so I ask her a few questions. At some point I remark that it really is unfortunate how physics turned out during the twentieth century. “The more strange and counter-intuitive results would seem to undercut the very philosophy and mindset that gave rise to science in the first place,” I said. “Honestly, the entire enterprise has been all downhill ever since Newton.” She looks back at me and says, “you mean you prefer science when it was white and male.” Needless to say, this was the worst repartee I’ve ever witnessed in my life. All you can really say in response to something like that is, “well I nevah!”
One thing I will say about such pronounced regional and cultural differences is that we really have not been well served by filtering the bulk of our culture through two or three urban centers. American science fiction and fantasy from before 1940 has a much greater range of tone, style, accent, and feel because of its greater amount of regional diversity. And the people that created it had much more in common with the sort of people I enjoy spending time with.
February 15, 2018
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First off, don’t teach your kids to play D&D.
But if you do… at least teach them to play correctly. And I mean every jot and tittle: d4 thieves, 3d6 in order, clerics with no spells at first level, player characters with a single hit point, magic-users with a single spell, elves that never make it to second level, morale checks, monster reactions, henchmen and hirelings. ALL OF IT! As Moldvay intended.
Demented genius E. Reagan Wright follows up his bombshell post with a tour de force of correct gamethink:
There are plenty of reasons to teach your kid D&D. The table is a place where you can teach them about risk and reward. You can let them roam freely in the game world in a way you can’t at a D&D convention (without fear of some creeper making passes at them). You can even sprinkle a little cultural roots into their life by using folklore tales like Baba Yaga or Little People or Firbolgs or Odin into the game. Logistical planning, knowing when to fight and when to run, learning how to save your GP for plate mail, all of these are skills that will serve them in good stead later in life.
But you can’t impart these valuable life lessons if you play D&D the way Kevin Makice suggests. Play an OSR game, and play it straight, and you won’t have to fear your kids growing up to waste their life writing free D&D articles or joining some death cult like Antifa. Metaphorically speaking, that vapid teen girl Mike Mearls will always be out there checking texts on quiet suburban roads, but at least your kids will have some thin veneer of protection between their mushy little heads and the hot, steamy blacktop.
That’s the way I roll, and my wives’ boyfriends’ kids are turning out pretty good.
I am reliably informed that 2018 is going to be just plain lit.
But this is only the beginning!
February 14, 2018
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This is a must watch video about the latest travesty perpetuated by (wait for it…) games journalists.
Remarkable how short a time it took to go from the repudiation of the Antebellum South to basically the unpersoning of practically everyone that was an adult during the seventies. It’s impressive, and a natural corollary to the “don’t read anything before 1980” mentality that dates back to… oh… at least to 1974.
February 13, 2018
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Via Spencer Hart, we have a rare look into how the fine folks at Kirkus Review react to classic red-blooded, all-American adventure fiction:
This is typical pulp magazine stuff in book form. It is a story of Cro-Magnon man, packed with violence, suspense, brutality, horror and incredible speed. It certainly keeps you reading. But plot, dialogue and characters show amazing disregard for even the little knowledge we have of prehistoric life. The author thinks nothing of introducing a sent of Roman palace and social life into the midst of this prehistoric jungle, or a twentieth century love motif like “”He could not help but compare that fine, healthy well-rounded figure with the pallid, artificial women of his acquaintance!”” But the major outrage of the book — and it is outrageous — is the positively lustful “”love interest””. If this is a book intended for young people, and the jacket suggests it is, then the numerous “”hot”” passages are utterly unsuitable. That is putting it mildly. This is certainly something new in juvenile writing and highly offensive. The author evidently thinks he is creating another Tarsan series, for he ends with a promise of more to come. I devoutly hope someone will stop him before an outraged public opinion steps in to bar the sale of such a book for the young.
Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?
February 12, 2018
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Watching the excitement surrounding Jordan Peterson’s common sense advice, I wonder sometimes how we could have gotten to this point.
Part of the answer to that is buried in the science fiction and fantasy paperbacks that were released in the sixties and seventies. But it’s also in the deep tracks that came out during the same period.