Archive | February 2012

From Italo Calvino’s “Invisible Cities”

“Also in Raissa, city of sadness, there runs an invisible thread that binds one living being to another for a moment, then unravels, then is stretched again between moving points as it draws new and rapid patterns so that at every second the unhappy city contains a happy city unaware of its own existence.”

My New Fighting Style Is Unbeatable

From the Strangest Thrill-Drama in All History! “Delinquent in Outer Space” at Pappy’s Golden Age Comics Blog.

Last night was the first session of the Vaults of Ur. It went pretty well. A wee party of three set off into the ruins: Aditi the Thief, Kris the Fighter, and Meya the Outlander. They reacted to the weird with appropriate paranoia and killed things. Loot was light, molotov cocktails were fumbled, but they all came back alive even if Aditi had to be carried out.

Fun times.

A Squalid, Sinister Atmosphere, Full of Slime and Decay

Locus Online gave “Shadows Under Hexmouth Street” a recommended review.

“Here is mystery in a squalid, sinister atmosphere, full of slime and decay. Well done dark fantasy.”

They say some other stuff. Click the link to read the rest of it.

I was as they say stoked.

“Shadows Under Hexmouth Street” at Beneath Ceaseless Skies

“Shadows Under Hexmouth Street” is my Joe Mitchell in Lankhmar story (mixed in with bits from my late aughties day job at an architectural preservation company).

Joe Mitchell was a 1940s New Yorker writer. That’s him over there on the left. He specialized in urban pieces about kooks and weirdos. Lankhmar’s a massive fantasy city created by Fritz Leiber. That’s it in the middle as drawn by Mike Mignola, the Hellboy guy. In the early 1970s Leiber published Our Lady of Darkness, there on the right. It wasn’t set in Lankhmar, but it featured a magic system called polisomancy. Polisomancy’s all about capturing urban elementals born from construction materials and was practiced by kooks and weirdos in cities.

My story’s about that.

You can read it or listen to it here.

Hipster: The Inverted Pyramid of Hate

Hipster’s come to be a meaningless insult. It’s become one of those vague words no one has a clear meaning for, but still a desire not to be called. A bit like what happened with the word “sentimental”.


“I freakin’ hate hipsters!” said by 42-year old exurban Ohio resident inside a Starbucks in reference to every 20-to-40 year old living in a metropolitan area.

“I freakin’ hate hipsters!” said by 27-year old Brooklyn resident about everyone who reads home design blogs.

“I freakin’ hate hipsters!” said by 31-year old Seattle resident, and home design blog reader, about home design blog readers that make fun of people who buy Ikea furniture.

Of course you want to shout, “Get that last guy! He’s a hipster!”

But really, he’s just an asshole.

Questionable Complaints

A complaint I hear regularly from expats is that X (where X is some Korean thing like beer or gum) tastes like chemicals.

“Korean beer sucks. It tastes like chemicals. Where can I get good gum? Korean gum tastes like chemicals. Anyone know where I can get shampoo online? Korean shampoo tastes like chemicals.”

(Yeah – I don’t know about that last one either.)

But my question is where the hell are these people coming from and what were they eating there to know so well what chemicals taste like?

World Building

I actually can’t stand hyper-real, “vivid” world-building. Leiber names maybe at most a dozen streets in Lankhmar and describes less than half a dozen neighborhoods — I’d be surprised if he mentions more than four neighborhoods.

However I realize I am in the minority with this opinion and wonder if the clotheshorse swordporn I hate so much might stem from audience overlap with the SCA that values that level of immersion.

Remember Lucas’s Law: The Clone Wars were so much better imagined than seen. The job is to write stuff wide enough for the reader or player to get lost in and shape on their own, than to shape it all for them and suck the life out of it.

(from an email discussion with some friends)

From Morality Play by Barry Unsworth

“Afterward I remembered these things very clearly, with that longing we feel sometimes to recover a state of life that we have lost for ever, though perhaps that we have lost it is all its value.”

For the Record

I still make an ass-kicking omelet.


Sesame leaves.

You can never go wrong with sesame leaves.

That is all.

Some Lem

Google keeps a gallery of all their homepage “doodles” from around the world. I hadn’t seen the Stanislaw Lem one (above). It’s even interactive, which is fun since deskwarming and all. Not that it’s appropriate for today, but we take what we can get in this world.

“The reason, if I can put it this way, is simply because it would be awkward for me to get into my bed of creation wearing heavy boots of realism. Solaris is about love and the mysterious ocean, and that is what is important about it. As to how the protagonist actually got to the planet, I pretend that I do not know.”

– Stanislaw Lem