|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|
June 13, 2003
Finishing this installment of Chatterhell, just starting ithas been an incredibly frustrating experience. Every time I've hoped to have a few minutes to sit down and write, something has happened to stop me. In the meantime, more and more topics build up on my list, and I end up having so much to write that it's hard not to feel totally snowed underwhich makes it hard to start in the first place.
The only way to deal with it is to damn the torpedoes and just dig in. Toss as many backed-up topics aside, because there's just no way to do them justice and actually finish the issue. I'll stay up all night if I have to.
One example of a topic that's going to be tossed is my backI've been laid up for about a week now with extreme back pain, was out of work for two days, and am still very uncomfortable. But I saw the doctor and it's a pulled muscle, not a slipped disc, so that's okay. No more to say about that.
Funny thing, though. Just when my back was starting to feel a little better, I got strep throat. It's pretty much non-stop for me, I must say.
I'd better start out by repeating that the privacy of my readers is really important to mein fact, it's inviolate. I don't know who you are, unless you write to me and sign your name. So don't worry.
But I do like to check out referrals to the site to see how people are finding the site, who's linking to it, and what they say about it. It's frustrating, though; often I can't find the source of a link. The vast majority of visitors come in without a referral; that may partly be a problem with the log software (Urchin), I suppose, and in other cases people may be typing in the URL. Also, I've noticed that in some cases the visitors aren't actually hitting a complete page; I suspect that instead someone is using one of my images, which is a little annoying but no big deal (as long as the traffic doesn't get excessive).
Lately I've noticed a number of mysterious referrals that I can't figure out. A German board apparently about the actor who plays Legolas is leaching one of my images (I don't know which one). The mysterious www.nysalor.net is referring quite a few people to the site, but no matter where or when I try I can NEVER reach nysalor.net! It always times out.
There were a lot of referrals from LiveJournal about a month ago, many of them from Germans, but I could never find the links or images.
And there are a bunch of others. A good number appear to be German, though some are Japanese and Finnish. All mysteries to me.
I've signed up the site for some new places to vote: The Top RPG 100 and the Top Fantasy 25. There are links to both i the Vote section. Fair warning: these sites do have pop-ups (but only one each). You can vote on each of those two sites once every six hours. If the site gets in the top ten on either one, a banner is displayed (it's number four on both right now). I had to whip up a banner pretty quickly; here it is. What do you think? Please note that while the background of the banner LOOKS like the background of the site, it's actually reduced in size. I screwed up and used a GIF for the banner. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to be possible to change banner locations. It's a bit blurry, but not bad. I'll make a JPG version if I ever need a banner again, though. I've put it on a black background so you can see what it looks like on the sites:
RuneQuest & Roleplaying!
Oh, the site is also still being listed by the RPG Gateway. I'm not happy with the behavior of some of their editors, but if the site is going to be listed anyway I'd rather it be at the top. If you feel like wasting a minute or two, a vote of "5" would be much appreciated. PLEASE don't vote for it more than once a day there!
There's a 14-foot lilac bush in our back yard, about ten feet from our back door. The blooms were unbelievably abundant this year, and for a month the back yard and porch smelled like heaven. The flowers have wilted now, but here are some photos I took a few weeks ago.
In this full view you can also see, from left to right, the edge of one of our sheds, my Weber grill (covered, on the patio that we made out of fieldstones we found in the yard), a little grill table, a Winnie-the-Pooh weathervane, our fence and the back corner of our neighbors' house (they're really nice, Sebastian loves to watch them play ball in the back yard). The blue object in the right front corner is Teri's gas grill, also covered. You can't see our house, but the back door was about six feet to the right of my right shoulder when I snapped this picture.
Here's a close-up of the lilacs. They weren't quite in full bloom at this point, as you can see, but were still lovely.
Here's some more of the back yardbasically a turn 90 degrees left from the first photo, with my back towards the back of the house. Teri has done a lot of work since then, incidentally; things have been neatened up a lot, and there's a lot more grass on the ground. It's much prettier than it looks in the photo. The yard is perhaps 50 or 60 feet (15-18m) long, and almost that wide, at a guess. From left to right, the photo shows Sebastian's plastic playset (a gift from Teri's father), an old picnic table that we really need to replace before too long (it's starting to crumble), a swingset and slide, and a four-person covered swing that Teri and her mother refinished last year.
Sebastian recently started climbing up all of the ladders in the photos above and going down all of the slides in the yard, which is pretty impressive considering that the tallest one is almost twice his height. He has also figured out how to open the latch to one of the gates (the back yard is completely fenced in), as Teri discovered a few weeks ago. He made a dash for the street while she was doing some yardwork, but turned and ended up playing on the front steps of the house, thank goodness.
A month ago Teri and her mother had to take him to the hospital for yet another lead test, which requires a painful blood drawing for my poor little baby. As soon as he realized where he was he started getting very upset and saying "All done now" "Bye-bye" and "Go home!". It breaks my heart that he has to go through that! Fortunately the latest results showed only a tiny, insignificant increase in his lead levels (though I don't consider ANY amount insignificant).
He's become obsessed with the Wiggles, a truly awful show from New Zealand that's shown on the Disney channel. I'm a bit of an Anglophile, but this show contains all the worst of British culture: the most annoying cutesy-wutesyness that drives me right out of my gourd. We're trying to wean the boy off of the show, at least somewhat. One funny thing, though: a few days ago he started doing a dance he saw on the show, waving his arms up and down in opposition to each other (is that the Frug?). Really cute.
He's continuing to develop language skills at an amazing rate, and is now learning modifiers such as "big", as well as "like"as in "no like big dog", accompanied by vigorous headshaking.
A couple of weeks ago I walked into the house after work and was totally floored. Teri's mother had bought him a set of Superman pajamas, complete with cape! He looked so cute, standing there in his costume, that I totally broke up laughing. For the rest of the evening he was "SuperBaby". I haven't managed to get a decent photo of him in the outfit yet, but once I do I'll post it here. With the face blanked out, of course.
Recently Teri and her mother had to take him to the doctor (because of my strep throat). He fell asleep in the car, stayed asleep while they brought him into the officeand woke up when the doctor started to examine him. He was so upset to wake up in the scariest place in the world that he threw up. All. Over. Everybody.
That's my boy.
I'm getting 6080 spams per day now, and have to delete email with ruthless ferocity and quickness. I worry that I may miss genuine emails as a result. So until I work out some better way, please include [PRQ] in the subject of your email and I'll be sure to catch it and save it from the virtual shredder. Although I'll still try to catch all personal email.
The free counter service that I used on the main page will no longer be free at the end of the month (originally it was going to be at the end of April, but they seem to have pushed it back by a monthI wonder why ), so I'll punt the counter at that time. I get better stats from my host anyway (although they've been screwed up for the past week), and I've heard that it's gauche to use visible counters these days, anyway. As of today (6/11/2003) the counter claims that there have been 67,328 visitors since 12/07/1999, but I'm pretty sure that's not accurate.
I've done a bit of housekeeping on the links, and while I was at it I found links to two great stories online.
"The Smell of A Rat" is my all-time favorite RuneQuest short story (and in my book one of early RQ's strengths was the outstanding writing it inspiredfar superior to that of any other system). Alan LaVergne wrote at least one more Zero story, but I can't find it onlineand although it may be in my collection, I have no idea where (there are still 30+ large unopened boxes in my basement). I've searched a bit for Alan online, but haven't found him. He doesn't seem to be associated with the site. That web site also has some other interesting stuff, although I haven't had a chance to check it out too thoroughly.
"Inflexible Logic" by Russell Maloney is not a RuneQuest or game-related story at all. But it's a classic of science fiction, and it's that rarest of items: a mathematical story. It made a big impression on me when I first read it. Very memorable indeed. It deals with the old concept that in RQ Gloranthan terms might be expressed as "Chaos contains all possibility".
Kev's Website has the best RuneQuest III character generator I've seen so far. Incredibly flexible. It would be more fun to test it if I actually had people to play with, though.
Bored? Looking for something fun online? alt.humor.best-of-usenet is always good for a laugh. I used to send quite a few things there.
I've punted the link to the CompleteRPG site, since the owner has basically abandoned it.
In many ways I have somewhat Victorian sensibilities. At the same time, my sense of humor can be pretty dark and twisted. There are some great pieces that I read when I was younger that really stuck with me, many of them from the glory years of the National Lampoon. One of them was "Babar and His Enemies". I was reminded of it recently and did a web search. To my amazement there's NOTHING online about this classic of sick humor.
It's probably a good thing that I don't have that issue of NL (I think I read it at my friend Steve's house), because I'd be awfully tempted to scan it and post it without authorization. But here's what I remember. The art was flawless; a great imitation of the look of the original Babar books. Wait, is there anyone out there who doesn't know the Babar books? I hope not, but just in case: The Babar books by Jean De Brunhoff and his wife are classic books for children. The De Brunhoff's were French, incidentally, but the books have been translated into many languages. Anyway, Babar was an orphaned elephant who was the pet of the Old Lady, who had a suit and hat made for him. Eventually he went back to Elephant Land in Africa, made friends with Cornelius (a wrinkled old elephant drawn with wavery outlines) and Zephyr, a mischievous monkey, and became the King. He married Celeste the Elephant, who became his queen, and they had several children (baby elephants, that is, not human children for dinnersee, I'm getting sick already ).
Note that I last saw this about 20 years ago, and that I don't have eidetic memory. Mistakes are possible. Inevitable, in fact.
Text: "There is great sadness in Elephant Land, for the Old Lady is dead. King Babar has ordered that everyone must feel sorry, three times a day, on their knees."
Illustration: The Old Lady lying in a Lenin or Mao-style glass coffin outdoors. Monkeys surround her at a distance on their knees; behind each is a cute elephant-soldier in a red coat and tall black fur hat, pointing rifles at the back of their heads.
[There were several frames here which I've forgotten, but basically Zephyr the monkey refuses to cooperate, and leads a monkey rebellion. Zephyr is drawn with a red Che Gueverra beret, Pancho Villa ammo belts, and a gun.]
Text: "Zephyr the monkey is very naughty! He refuses to be sad, and he hurt Old Caligula while he was playing with one of his friends."
Illustration: Old Caligula (aka Cornelius) is in bed with a monkey hooker who is wearing bright red lipstick and (I think) a yellow wig. Zephyr and his band of guerilla monkeys are in the doorway; Zephyr is firing a bazooka at old Caligula, whose arms are thrown up in surprise as he dies.
[There was a lot more that I can't remember. Eventually Zephyr and the monkeys overthrow King Babar and Queen Celeste, who try to escape in a balloon with their family and some bags of gold bullion. But the monkeys shoot them down.]
Text: "What is this? Those silly monkeys have put King Babar and Queen Celeste on meat hooks! Now the children will be sold to the zoo."
Illustration: King Babar and Queen Celeste on, yes, meat hooks. With the classic X's over their eyes, as I recall. The baby elephants are being marched away into a truck by gun-waving monkeys. A scene of general celebration. The End.
Incidentally, I loved the old Babar books when I was little. And I plan to pick some up soon for Sebastian.
I was going to write a review of an incredibly obscure but really cool old TV movie called "Shadow On The Land", in which the Hitler phenomenon takes place in near-future America rather than 1920's-30's Germany; at the time it was science fiction, but current events are making it look like a remarkable case of prophecy. Its depiction of American-flavored fascism was really striking and well done. Unfortunately it's totally unobtainable, and it's almost never shown. Gene Hackman and John Forsyth starred, incidentally. I haven't seen it since I was a teenager.
But I don't have time for that, so instead I'm reprinting an article I wrote as Quasit in October 2001, five weeks after 9/11. It, too, seems amazingly prophetic now, I'm sorry to say. It originally appeared in the Democratic Underground. Incidentally, Sebastian was 15 days old on the day that it was written.
Letter to My Future Self
October 19, 2001
Dear Quasit of 2011:
Greetings from October 19, 2001! A momentous time in history, I'm afraid. I see a lot of horrible things beginning now, and I just wanted to remind you of a few things that America used to have in 2001:
1. You used to have a right to some privacy. For example, I can write my political opinions as "Quasit" without too much chance of being tracked by the government. It seems likely that you won't have that freedom. I only hope you're not in jail now for lèse majesté.
2. We used to have years, sometimes decades of peace between wars! But of course right at this moment we're marching towards the start of the Never-ending War at a breakneck pace. Speaking of which, I hope that you and your family are well. In your day, I fear, every Moslem boy and girl is raised with One Big Dream: to die taking out as many Devil Americans as possible.
3. Speaking of the war: I'm sure the media has forgotten all about this, but it wasn't necessary. There were many nonmilitary approaches that could have been tried first, but Bush Jr. and the cadre of right-wing puppetmasters and religious whackos who control him went straight to a massive military operation as their first choice. Of course they screwed it up by bombing innocent civilians and got us into a war with the entire faith of Islam, sparking the Great Jihad which no doubt still rages in your day. Or WAS it a screw-up? It certainly worked out well for them!
4. You may not remember, but the Bill of Right was originally the Bill of RightSthere used to be a First Amendment, as well as a Third through Tenth!
5. And there wasn't always a Secret Police. The Department of the "Homeland" was not set up by the Founding Fathers, no matter what the history books now say. The Internal Security Office (or whatever it's called in your day) was created by Bush, Inc., using their war on Islam as an excuse. In 2001 you didn't have to worry about Internal Security officers kicking in your door in the middle of the night and "disappearing" you.
6. Along the same lines, it used to be permitted to criticize corporationsno lie! You could put up a "McDonald's Sucks!" site, for example, and although you might be threatened, you technically had the legal right to complain. That was before the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the many other bills which followed it, of course.
7. You know, the web used to be fairly free of censorship. And it was reasonably priced. Big buildings called "Public Libraries" even used to offer free Internet access to the poor. Crazy days, huh?
8. It used to be that there wasn't a draft. I know you must be worried; your son is now almost 10 years old, and in a few years (how few, I don't know) you'll have to worry about getting that letter from your friendly local draft board. I'm assuming that you're not fantastically wealthy, and have no strong ties to the Republican Party apparatus, of course. Maybe you should think about developing one or the other, hmm? But it's probably too late.
9. Did you know that there was a time when the media was honest, and tried to live up to a true standard of journalistic integrity? You probably don't even remember that phrase, I bet. It has been quite a while since there was much of a free media, but I do remember a time when they weren't all whores. Of course, that was back when they weren't all owned by the same megacorporation, too.
10. There used to be other computer companies than Microsoft.
11. You used to be able to walk around and breathe the air and drink the water from your tap without risking serious damage to your health. Ah, the sacrifices we made for Infinite Justice!
12. There was once a man named Bill Clinton who was President of the United States (and no, "Bill Clinton" is not just an alternate spelling of "the Devil", no matter what the dictionary says). And back then we had a strong and healthy national economy! Really. There was still some suffering, but unemployment was below 5%. The deficit was falling, and there was even a surplus! Hard to believe, I know...
13. I'm sure that the media and history books no longer record this in your world of 2011, and you had better not repeat this to anyone else, but George W. Bush was not elected by the first totally unanimous vote in the history of the United States. In fact, he didn't even receive MOST of the votes cast. In fact, the election was stolen for him by a gang of GOP thugs and a corrupt Supreme Court! Of course, the recount which would have proved this was dropped a decade ago by our comically-named "free press".
14. "Senior Citizen" was not always synonymous with "desperate poverty". You see, we had a couple of programs called Social Security and Medicare. But the pResident assured us that the money for those programs was critically needed by the military...
15. You didn't always have to carry your National Identification Card. In fact, they don't even exist as of 2001yet. I only hope your "card" isn't surgically implanted in your rump right now, allowing Internal Security to monitor you day and night.
16. You used to be able to travel and even fly in airplanes without much fear, except maybe of heights. And you were allowed to travel pretty much as you wishedyou didn't have to get permission from local Republican Party apparatchiks.
17. Finally, you didn't have to fear your government. Speaking of which, you'd better burn this and forget it all, quick!
Until next time!
[email protected] Copyright 2003 by Peter Maranci. Revised: June 30, 2003. version 1.1