So I've been watching Castle Rock with a friend and... I think it might actually be better than its source material. Stephen King has always been frustrating for me because I love his ability to create a sense of dread, but he doesn't seem to trust his own subtlety. 1/
Like, in his setups, he'll lay out these haunting, lovely--and deeply chilling--threads, but then seem to get uncomfortable with the ambiguity and bring in the substance like a sledgehammer. 2/
Even mediated through Kubrick, who obv wasn't afraid of subtlety or subtext or ambiguity, Jack Torrance is WAY scarier at the beginning of the Shining, without a supernatural explanation for his menace toward his wife and child, than he is in full-on "Here's Johnny!" mode. 3/
Okay, so I know that ghosts are probably just low-frequency sounds messing with our brains (gizmodo.com/some-ghosts-ma…) but honestly the stories I find most unsettling are the ones where no one's terrified--it's just WEIRD.
Like the time I maybe saw a ghost. I grew up in a lovely house that my parents bought from the old woman who'd lived there for like the last 70 years. Her father had been the architect that designed the house, and she didn't really want to move out, but she needed more care.
She accepted my parents' offer, even though it was lower than some of the others, because she wanted a family to have the house and liked us. So we got the place, and moved in.
So I'm perusing the Judaica section at a bookstore and there's a teenage girl--shaved head, nose piercing--sitting crosslegged on the floor reading a book. We both browse in companionable silence for a while. There's a copy of Levinas's "Otherwise than Being," so I sit with it.
It's mostly a way to procrastinate about narrowing my giant-ass pile of like 951 books down to something manageable, an operation that always involves a lot of anguish and sacrifice.
She looks over & asks what I'm reading. I tell her and try to sum up Levinas in an approachable way, which, good luck--the dude's the philosopher the world needs right now but he's HARD WORK to parse so it isn't going to happen. She hasn't read Buber so I suggest she start there.
UPDATE: My mom is planning to rent a diff house in Vacationland for Thanksgiving and wants me to come. Airfare's spendy, so I might not, but this place has a library and billiards room BUT NO VISIBLE DUCKS so IF I go, I am bringing a duck for my cat-nephew. I need you to vote.
I have researched wooden/resin ducks on Amazon, and narrowed it down to three candidates, one of which I will bring and place somewhere challenging but not impossible for my cat-nephew to reach. Here are the contestants:
So, if I end up going, which duck should I obtain and bring so the cat can touch the duck?
I may have told this story already but I'm drinking my tea and musing on caffeine and other psychoactive products we consume regularly and so here's a story about my cat.
I was at a garden shop and noticed "lemon catnip" and was like whaaaaa? Most cats don't like citrus, so breeding a citrusy varietal of catnip seemed counterproductive. On the other hand, catnip has medicinal uses for humans, so maybe it was for that?
But in any case, I just sort of reflexively... bought it. I brought it home, and had other stuff to do before I could pot it, so I left it sitting on my balcony in its little plastic store pot. My cat wandered out and stuck her face in it.
Speaking of the dog, I may have slipped up and introduced a term into my mother's vocabulary that I'm worried she's going to start using without fully grokking what it means and that was a fuckup on my part... hang on, let me backup and explain.
So, I grew up with cats. We were very much not a dog family. My family liked quiet pets, and I think my parents thought raising kids with animals who were very clear about setting and enforcing boundaries was a valuable lesson.
But when I was in college, and immediately after when I moved back in with my family while looking for my first job, my mom decided she loved dogs.
One of my favorite things about cats is how they set goals for themselves and then engage in sheer bloody-minded stubbornness but because they're cats it's also sneaky and circuitous, but like, not COMPETENT.
When I was in Vacationland with my parents at the house they rent there every year, my sister brought her cat with her to his Country Estate.
And in the central room of the house is this old stone fireplace with, y'know, the stones sort of sticking out of the cement they're embedded in. And on either side of the fireplace, about 8 inches below the ceiling, was a small, shallow shelf.
I keep seeing this quote going around. It's a great quote! But it's not actually from the Talmud. It's something a bit more complicated, and quite lovely, and credit should go where credit is due. (Thread.)
So first off, the text it's referencing is from Pirkei Avot, which is part of the Mishnah, a collection of Jewish legal discussions, stories, etc. The Talmud is commentary on the Mishnah, essentially.
Pirkei Avot is a collection of wisdom from the rabbis whose debates and stories form the Mishnah, and it's where a lot of the famous quotes about Jewish ethical principles come from.
Anyway, ArenaNet's continued refusal to condemn the increase in harassment they've subjected numerous women in the industry to is pretty telling.
I know that it's hard for companies to find the spine to take controversial moral stands, but you'd think "hey, stop threatening to rape and kill female devs, their families, and their pets" would be, y'know, low-hanging fruit everyone could get behind.
And my understanding is that their internal response to this has been to institute more restrictive social media policies (e.g. employees aren't allowed to complain about work at all on their personal accounts) but NOT to institute any additional protections for those who comply.
So, given that my former employer poured blood in the water to attract the sharks and then threw me in (and basically did the same to game devs, collectively, especially female/NB ones), I'm changing how I do Twitter.
I've turned off notifications for anyone I don't follow. Given that my notifications are mostly how I interact with Twitter, if I don't follow you, I'm not likely to see your responses. If you're someone I know, you can find other means to contact me.
Or, to put it more clearly for the trolls: have fun screaming into the void, kids.
Hi, everyone. I've got a thing to say and then I'm going back off Twitter for a bit because I've had a vacation planned for a while and I intend to take it to the fullest.
You can respond if you want, but I've got any notifications from people I don't follow muted, and I'm not going to check responses. If you're a legit industry/press person and want to get in contact, we have mutual networks through which you can do that.
Here's the thing you should be noting if you're a game dev:
Since I spent all kinds of time saying it on a Reddit AMA, and I haven't talked about actual game dev on Twitter in a while, here's a thread about writing for the PC character in an MMO.
The dirty secret is I'm not sure if it's possible to make an MMORPG (or CRPG) character compelling, because people have different expectations about what that character will be, as opposed to a pre-designed character in a single-player game.
People booting up Bioshock know they're playing Jack. People starting Dishonored know they're playing Corvo. People beginning Tomb Raider know they're playing Lara Croft. So in those games, you have more wiggle room to make the protagonist an actual character.
when you realize that the acute stress events of the past 5 years have raised your baseline stress level to like 90% of what you can tolerate before your body freaks out
this news brought to you by a stressful last week and the skin on my face drying out, inflaming & falling off
and yes, before anyone chimes in with it, I am aware that yoga and meditation are a thing, and I am already doing them
I do yoga & meditation, I have lowered my caffeine intake, I exercise, I take my vitamins, etc. etc. etc. I also have a therapist, and basically two rabbis at this point, and supportive friends & communities
I'm going to talk about a parable that I think is relevant right now.
It's from the New Testament. So, while I'm pretty emphatically Not Christian, I think Jesus was an excellent storyteller, especially within his cultural context. He told great parables. There are problems with how people tend to hear them today, however.
I've heard a lot of sermons--I used to be a professional wedding musician, and I went to church with my dad sometimes as a kid--and it's frustrating to hear parables told and talked about like they're Aesop's fables.
A lot of these principles add up to essentially an economic version of the rubber-band mechanic common in game design. If you're winning a racing game, the game will reduce your top speed. If you're last, it'll increase it. It keeps the gap between players from growing too large.
Racing games, where the stakes are low because it's a GAME, still do their best to prevent anyone from being left behind, or getting so far ahead that there's no one else even near them. Why on earth do we care less about it when it comes to having basic needs met?
And if your answer is that you think you SHOULD be able to amass wealth so far beyond what others have that you're not even in the same territory that they are, that you can't even see them, maybe consider why you'd want that.
Okay, I retweeted a bunch of stuff about the companies profiting off separating immigrant children from their parents and it was chaotic, so let me put it in a context thread.
First: various groups have been working to determine which companies are involved in separating children from their parents and keeping them in detention centers. They've made progress (from publicly available information).
In addition to objecting, we need to be demanding answers to some questions. One of the most pressing ones is:
WHERE ARE THE GIRLS?
We've seen parents being detained. We've seen facilities where little boys are being kept. Where are the girls?
Overheard an older lady saying she doesn't feel like she should have to give charity to poor people who aren't working for it, and thought "wtf does how you FEEL have to do with it?"
It's time to rethink conceptualizing caring for the poor as "charity." (Thread.)
I think about this one a LOT, especially every time I hear the conservative talking points about how we don't need government "entitlement" programs because caring for the poor should be the business of churches and private charities.
I think about this one a LOT because it's a good example of how language frames how we think. And the words "charity" and "caring" are a problem, here.
There are a pair of articles in the Forward which aren't set up as a two-part story, but they form one, and it's concerning. The concerning stuff, strangely, is treated as context rather than the story.
And this is another area where I feel like Jewish traditions have wisdom for *everyone* to draw from. You get to take a break. You get to pace yourself. You fix the world six days a week, if you can, and on the seventh, you rest and remember to notice what is good in the world.
It is so important to take that break and rest, let the world rest from your efforts, and remember that for all the harm that people are doing, the world is still as bursting with goodness as summer fruit.
(At least) one day a week, take time to remember both what we're fighting FOR rather than against, and that we lose when we despair, when we let the fact that hate exists rob us of our ability to feel joy.
I've been thinking a lot about falls from grace, embarrassment, being called out/taking criticism, and social rituals and have some thoughts that have finally coalesced.
Bear with me (or mute the thread if you don't want it clogging up your feed, because it's going to be long and we're doing detours through a bit of neuroscience, sociology, Leviticus, and Depeche Mode).
So there are two conversations that I've been hearing a lot, generally offline, in my circles. 1) why don't people just APOLOGIZE when they screw up? and 2) we've got to find healthier ways to deal with people screwing up.
Okay, so here's the other thread. I'm going to talk about a thing that's harmful, and why it's harmful, and how it can be fixed. I'm not interested in discussing the character of the people involved. You want to do that, there are plenty of those discussions going on elsewhere.
And I'm not saying those discussions are invalid. I *am* saying that they're a related but separate issue from the one I'm talking about, and I'm not interested in having this discussion get sidelined into one of them.
You're perfectly within your rights not to like those ground rules. But my thread, my space, my ground rules.
The most important thing that happened to me this week was the indignation of male colleagues at a sexist asshat shitting on the women they work with. Let me explain what they did and why it was so important.
Women who work in games get shit on all the time. We have a lot of dudes pre-assume that we're not real devs, that we don't have decision-making power, that we were "diversity hires." And most companies expect us to suck it up and not offend customers by protesting that treatment
ArenaNet posted a picture of a bunch of women* who work there for International Women's Day. A Twitter rando decided to make a crack about how it must be the cleaning staff.
So a rabbi I know came back from LA pretty jazzed about a Jewish addiction treatment facility there called Beit T'shuvah and so we talked about their approach and that got me curious about non-AA approaches to dealing with addiction which, my friends, was FASCINATING.
So, like, everything I know about AA is more or less from the West Wing. I'm fortunate in that no one in my immediate family has dealt with substance abuse issues, and as far as I know, none of my close friends are alcoholics. So, my knowledge is pop culture knowledge.
oops hang on gotta deal with cooking dinner--will be back to tell you about this rabbit hole in a few