15 Jun 2013
As a writer, I knew that storytelling was an isolated affair that involved ruthlessly stealing ideas from friends, family, and anyone else that happened upon my path, but Dungeons & Dragons is the antithesis of such selfishness and best understood as a method of crafting a communal narrative. Just as the limitations of genre, form, and style bind written stories, so too are there rules in D&D that confine what is possible, but role-playing removes the absolute authorial control that comes with solitary storytelling.
Take a look glance at the brief piece I wrote for Dave Morris’ “resource for the thoughtful improvisor”. It is just a few thoughts tracing a path through my history as a storyteller and while you are there you may as well read a few other pieces – I particularly enjoyed Ryan Miller’s “Loving Your Mistakes”.
11 Jun 2013
It’s too early to tell whether iTunes Radio will be a hit or miss, but surely Fanboys and hipsters alike will be raving about the service soon as it’s available for listeners to try out. We’ll soon find out one way or another.
In an otherwise well written and interesting article, Mellisa ends with this nonsense. I have never read SiliconAngle before, but their claim of focusing on “where computer science intersects [with] social science” is undermined when their writers decide to throw casual insults instead of thoughtfully concluding their articles.
I do not, necessarily, take umbrage with the terms “Fanboy”1 or “hipster”2 as descriptors, but the stereotype of the raving Apple fan is tired and insulting. Not to mention that we are well beyond Apple products being primarily utilized by a vocal minority. My mother might try out Apple Radio before I have a chance to. The product is interesting and it is going to be available in the wild in a few months. And it is more likely that Mellisa and the other tech journalists are going to be declaring it a hit or miss long before us “Fanboys and hipsters” have an opportunity to try it out.
Except, of course, as gendered terminology. That is as good a reason as any for us to stop using it. And, while on the topic, why do people insist on capitalizing “fanboy” – particularly when writing about Apple?↩
I have not read his work, but I have been told that Mark Greif has done some interesting work with the notion of the hipster. At some point, I will read his New York Magazine piece that includes the line, “It would be too limited, however, to understand the contemporary hipster as simply someone concerned with a priori knowledge as a means of social dominance”. Knowledge bombs everywhere.↩
01 Jun 2013
In between surviving multiple point-blank-range assassination attempts and a failed kidnapping in which he emerged alive from the burning wreckage of a battleship his own air force had just bombed, Pibulsongkram decided that Thailand needed noodles.
The history of a food dish told as a government propaganda story. “Freedom Fries” is amateur hour compared to Pad Thai – in both the complexity of the meal and the narrative. It seems fitting that a snack as basic as deep fried potatoes would hardly serve up as interesting a story as the preparation of the Saen Chan noodle. Even the names of the ingredients are more worthy of a grand tale.
31 May 2013
The beauty of the Web is that it belongs to you, and me, and to each of us, individually. What are other people doing on the Internet? Who the hell cares? I’ll just find people who like doing what I’m doing and talk to them.
I first came to the Internet to escape what was popular in favor of my own interests. Now I eschew the Internet as a variation on that theme. This sounds a bit like the groupie that hates that their favorite band has “gone mainstream”, but you will have to trust that I am not lamenting the bygone pre-digital era. It is just that I used to believe that the Internet was a space where people could retreat from the tyranny of the majority opinion – “here’s to the crazy ones” and all that.
There might not be a point to this rambling. If people want to engage in the popular who am I to delegitimize it? Nor am I entirely certain that I am on the right side with my thoughts on the current state of the web. Maybe Facebook is what we should be doing with the Internet.
I sure hope not though.
13 May 2013
That’s it—that’s what soda really is. The problem for Coke and Pepsi isn’t that SodaStream cuts into sales. It’s that SodaStream demystifies soda. Coke and Pepsi have spent a century teaching us to have feelings about our sodas. SodaStream shows us what those feelings are really made of.
I don’t know much about that. What I do know is that I am rather taken by the ability to craft my own flavors of soda. Homemade vanilla coke? Yes please. More importantly, I am all in favor of demystifying the commercial world in favor of individual choice. Consumers of the world, unite! We have nothing to lose but our chains.
26 Feb 2013
Recently, The Onion tweeted a joke about nine year old actor Quvenzhané Wallis and many people found it to be offensive. I have already written about the difference between harm and offense, so I do not intend on rehashing those thoughts. People are going to be offended by it, particularly because of the words chosen – and who they were aimed towards – and that ship has already long sailed. But was The Onion doing something other than maliciously attacking a child? Avery Edison tries to answer that question:
The only logical-but-absurd extension of this horror show (and that’s the heart of satire: taking a concept and stretching it to almost-breaking point) is to, for no reason, call a small child the worst thing you possibly could.
Satire can be just as difficult to pull off as it can be to understand, so it often misses the mark. This is particularly the case when children are involved. Avery does a good job of navigating the nuances of the original intent. This does nothing to salvage the joke itself, as there has already been an apology and explaining humour always kills it, but if you had intended on demonizing and hating The Onion forever, Avery provides a well-thought argument for perceiving them as something other than monsters.
21 Feb 2013
It would seem that concerns about Manny Malhotra are pressing on my thoughts tonight. This is another excellent piece about the unfortunate situation he is in, by Patrick Johnston for Canucks Army:
In a different universe, this doesn’t happen.
The puck never hits him in the eye; he doesn’t need major surgery to save his eye; there doesn’t have to be a major comeback. No decision is ever forced about his elite-level usefulness by the pressures of a salary cap.
21 Feb 2013
In the case of Malhotra, it’s not a matter of being unable to play, but of being at risk for further injury. The danger of a blindside hit to the head is heightened for Malhotra simply because he now has a larger blindside to deal with. Malhotra felt that he could manage the risk and continue playing, but Canucks management, after reviewing video, were not convinced. They pulled the plug on his season, not Malhotra.
A reminder that, so often, our lives are not solely directed by our own actions and intentions. We are not the masters of our fates.
21 Feb 2013
The second important event was that the meme transcended an important boundary when someone (finally?) posted a clip of a washing machine “doing” the Harlem Shake … As far as things go on the internet, it was essentially perfect, effectively dialing the meme to whatever degree is always necessary for it to tilt from absurdity to eventual complete and total meaninglessness.
Even amidst the endless papers and books that I am reading for grad school, I still caught the Harlem Shake meme. It is, as far as ridiculous aspects of Internet culture go, pretty spectacular (particularly the video Colin mentions), but the rumblings I heard about “racial concerns” of the meme had me frustrated and wanting to articulate those frustrations. Instead of doing it myself, I had the pleasure of reading Colin clearly explain the self-referential McLuhan-esque nature of meme-culture: “the point of the meme is only the meme itself”.
12 Jan 2013
Colonization is not a completed historical fact from which all must simply move on; it is a deliberate, daily violence continuing this moment and anyone promoting that Indigenous peoples are ignorant not to accept this violence as legitimate is at worst, racist; at best, living in a dream palace.
A keen and thoughtful collection of thoughts on Idle No More. Aaron has expertly navigated the topic and his words are certainly worth reading; he is well-versed in the difficult task of respecting complexity. My words do not do his justice, so I suggest reading his for yourself.