Chatter #54: December 17, 2001

12/14/2001 — I started the Chatter section on July 27, 2000 when I noticed that the rest of my site was sometimes getting cluttered with lots of text. I'm a talkative guy, after all! So now I talk about my life here, instead of all over the place. Originally this was one huge section, but in December of 2001 it simply became too large to remain as one page, and I broke it into dated sections, as you can see. —>PM


New Look!

How do you like the new look of Chatter? The old chatter.htm file was getting too big for FrontPage Express, so I was faced with the prospect of splitting it in two yet again. But several people have said that the page is too big to read conveniently, and I certainly don't want to eliminate non-broadband readers! I've also been told that the bottom-to-top order of the entries was confusing, and to tell the truth, I could see why. So during a rare burst of energy I re-designed the section and split up the whole thing into individual entries by date. The original two giant sections have been retained for convenience in searching (and because I'm a sentimentalist), but new entries will only go in as separate pages. It just makes more sense. What do you think?

I suspect that this new format will result in fewer one-paragraph entries, since I'd feel silly making a whole new page and index entry for just a little bit of material. It's also a bit more work for me, but I think it's manageable.

I also suspect that I'll be doing something like this for "Pete's Non-Game Favorites" one of these days...break it up into separate pages for comic books, movies, music and such. If I ever find the time, of course.

I wish I could have more new ROLEPLAYING material to put up, but since I haven't run a game for years and haven't even played for months, I'm pretty much out of luck. I hope this situation doesn't last! The one thing I've got is new material for the Chaos Project. I just need to transcribe the material from my digital stick recorder and post it...

Naked Diablo Progress

I've been a bit re-hooked on Diablo lately, although it's hard to find any time to play—unless I stay up way too late, of course, and too much of that will kill me (probably literally; since I'm commuting for 3 - 4 hours a day, lack of sleep is definitely a hazard to my life). I've been playing Bob, a Naked Mage (NM). I'd mentioned a while ago that I was considering turning Hamburger Helper into a naked mage, but was persuaded that it would be more valid and interesting to start a new NM and stay pure from the beginning. Which was true.

It's much more of a challenge to play a mage with no armor, weapons, or other possessions! But at the same time, it's much safer. When you have nothing there's nothing for PKs to take from you, and nothing for you to lose. Bob is level 23 already, although he has yet to kill Diablo even once; I just can't get enough continuous playing time to make it through the four levels of Hell. Someday, I hope...

The Boy

JSM is doing quite well. He still has crying jags (which sometimes last for hours), but he often smiles, almost giggles, and is very responsible. Teri got him to say "coo" yesterday after only a few minutes of trying! He seems to be very intelligent, although that might just be parental pride.

He's drinking a fair amount of juice lately, and it doesn't seem to be disagreeing with him. It's good to be able to give him juice for a snack between meals, because sometimes he gets hungry very quickly! He's been growing fast, though, so the hunger is understandable.

His hair is still red, by the way, although they say that a child resembles his father for the first two years in order to trick him into staying and providing for the family. After that, the baby can supposedly change appearance almost completely. I don't know if I believe this, actually, and I can't say I care for the sound of it. Evolutionary deception...

Cranky Book Review: Harry Potter

Teri has been urging me to read the Harry Potter books, and although I tend to resist fads and trends I finally gave in a couple of days ago and read the first book.

First, I have to say that I find it irritating that Americans are so poorly educated that the title had to be changed from "HP & the Philosopher's Stone" to "HP and the Sorcerer's Stone". I cannot heap enough shame on ALL who share responsibility for the horrifying decline in literacy in this country. We have become a nation of ignorant yokels, in large part I suspect because children cannot vote.

Second: why the heck is this book so popular? I don't get it. There's nothing new here at all: no plot point, no element that has not been covered in other works of fantasy or science fiction. The arrangement of the various plot elements isn't particularly well done or novel. And the writing, while competent, is certainly nothing special. It's not especially gripping, nor beautiful, nor exciting. If anything, I found myself afflicted with a mild annoyance at the stupidity of the title character. Once again, much of the book exists only because the characters lack basic common sense. Ooh, the world might be destroyed? Why not TELL SOMEONE ABOUT IT, then? Idiots. How are we supposed to respect or identify with a main character who needlessly risks the world and everyone in it because he has some sort of mental defect?

And it's not even as if the mental defect is made use of, or even acknowledged! There's no moral here—not that there has to be one—but there isn't even much point (although the Mirror of Erised wasn't bad—on the other hand, please tell me that I'm not the only one who decoded that writing instantly). I'll read the sequels, because I'm a voracious reader and I'll read ANYTHING, but at this point my hopes aren't high. The book was acceptable, don't get me wrong; a tolerable read. But it's nothing compared to tens of thousands of books which are far less celebrated. Examples: Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain. Lewis's Narnia books, for all of his propagandistic tendencies. The Wind In The Willows. The Portmanteau Book. How To Eat Fried Worms. The Adventures of Phunsi. Black & Blue Magic. The Forgotten Beasts of Eld. Kim. The Forgotten Door. And I can come up with dozens more just from memory!

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So what do you think?

[email protected] Copyright 2001 by Peter Maranci. Revised: December 27, 2001. version 1.0