Playpen

Welcome to the Playpen, our space for ferrety banter and whimsical snippets of things that aren't quite long enough for articles (although they might be) but that caught your eye anyway.

at 05:07 on 08-11-2018, Raymond H
What Ferretbrain means to me:

I first ran into Ferretbrain in High School. This was my senior year, and I followed a TV Tropes link to Whistle Down the Wind. It was really entertaining and engaging analytically, so when I had the free time, I would click a random article and read it. I enjoyed them all, but the one that really sticks out is, surprise, that Conan article that drew so much controversy. And I remember it because it made me really angry. Like, I really loved the Conan stories growing up, and even though I’d laughed my ass off at Ferretbrainers eviscerating books I’d never read, having it done to something I had read, and which I cared very deeply for, got me pretty cheesed off.

It wasn’t until I forced myself to sit down and re-read those stories that I’d loved so much as a kid, that I saw how Arthur’s diagnosis wasn’t as far off as I’d liked to have imagined. I had to confront this big, ugly elephant in the room of my childhood memories, and that wasn’t easy. But the thing is, I still love Conan. I even still enjoy the original Howard stories, even if there are major elements of them which outright horrify me now. Having encountered my own black moods like Howard now, having to force myself to stand up for what I want, even if it’s scary, I appreciate those stories now even more than I did as a kid.

Conan, to me, is the ultimate rejection of Lovecraftian nihilism. Even after he loses everything, time and time again, even as he faces down eldritch horrors from other worlds, even as the world keeps beating him down again and again and again, Conan keeps fighting and living and enjoying all that this world has to offer. There have been times in my life when I have wanted to give up, well and truly give everything up. But even if the black moods in my life will continue, I will be like Conan. I will keep fighting. I can never go back to loving Howard’s stories like I did as a child. Honestly though, I don’t really want to, not with all the…everything that mars those stories so. But even as so much of my enjoyment has been lost, that which remains remains stronger and brighter than the simple, uncritical love of Conan the awesome mccooldude.

That’s what Ferretbrain means to me. Taking these works that we love and really sifting through their worth, really forcing us to examine why we like or dislike them, and enriching our total experiences as a result. I know I didn’t really contribute much to this site, in the long run of things. But I was honored to be part of something I’d been a fan of for so long, and I had a blast the whole way through. So thanks everyone. Really, thank you.
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at 05:07 on 08-11-2018, Raymond H
Replying to Robinson, because you deserve a response:

Reminds me of the controversy around Star Trek: Into Darkness when they recast Khan Noonien Singh as Benedict Cumberbatch. I remember the article "Star Trek: Into Whiteness" talking about how important the original Khan was to fans of color because, basically, even though he was a villain, he was an awesome villain.
Yeah, I vaguely remember that article, and I definitely remember being pissed off about Khan in that movie (although honestly, the casting was one of my smaller complaints). It makes me curious though, if the character of Zahhak has ever been reappropriated by an Arabic author or idolized despite him being the product of anti-Arab sentiment (It’s almost like Ferdowsi was mad at the Arabs for colonizing his country or something).

Wow, it's always kinda surreal to come across a discussion of a relatively obscure book or film on this site and go, "Hey, I recognize that! I watched/ read it."
Welcome to every day for me on Ferretbrain. 😊 I know I’d thought about getting a blog back in HS, but never went through with it, simply because there are so many things that I like. I mean, I doubt many people enjoy Kimagure Orange Road, Nick Carter: Master Detective, Rafael Sabatini, Poul Anderson, The Shahnameh, Kwaidan, Bionicle, AND Ghibli movies. But Ferretbrain showed me that a blog can be about whatever the hell you want it to be, consistency or themes be damned. And for every “Hey!” moment, there’s been a “Huh?” moment where I’ve discovered something new that I hadn’t known before. It’s really awesome, I think.

*snorts* Really? I should've guessed.
Hahah. Actually it was from those boys in Middle School that I first learned it. I think you know the ones. I didn’t pay much attention when I heard it from them though, since they were also boasting about their sexual exploits at 12 in terms I found overly braggadocious at that age and which I recognize now couldn’t have possibly come from someone who actually knew how sex worked. House was simply the first responsible(?) adult who let me know.

Is that meant to dispute my central thesis, or just a tangent? Because I see it working much better the second way, and I'm going to answer it as such. If I misread, please help me out.
I threw in that disclaimer to cover my ass because my knowledge of warfare is limited, especially outside of the traditional Western canon. I've done a bit of research on Indigenous peoples in the Americas, and allegedly, most nations practiced a mode of warfare which - though still awful - didn't entail the level of atrocity we see in Western warfare. I've also come across a smattering of other references to different types of warfare out there, so I'm not making a blanket statement about all forms of human warfare worldwide and through all of human history.

My apologies for not being clearer. I meant that statement more as a tangent than a disputation, though I did wish to halt the conversation from entering what I perceived to be the dangerous ground of Orwellian nationalism. It is important to acknowledge the excesses and brutalities of Western civilization. However, I think all too often when this acknowledgement is done, it is simultaneously used to sweep under the rug the excesses and brutalities of non-Western civilizations, which I believe to be a dangerous line of thinking. To put it in terms that I think you will appreciate as a fellow American, I don’t think fighting against slavery or Jim Crow should make people believe that racism simply never existed north of the Mason-Dixon Line.
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at 05:01 on 08-11-2018, Raymond H
Update:
Well, the good news is I’m not dead. And I finally got wi-fi back up, which is a relief, because apparently the whole commenting-on-my-phone thing didn’t really work out. Even with the internet back up though, these past months have simply been too busy for me to really check up on Ferretbrain. I’ve been getting my visa and medical insurance back, teaching and lesson-planning at my schools, and writing by butt off to finish my novel, the final draft of which is nearing completion. Living in the city is way more hectic and expensive than the countryside, and yet at the same time I feel more satisfied than I was back there. I still remember the fear. I still remember the feeling of hopelessness and despair that marked my last few months here. But the black moods have subsided, and I know what it is to feel happy again.
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at 03:31 on 08-11-2018, Ichneumon
There is a certain bittersweet irony to the fact that on the same day that Ferretbrain’s closure was announced, the very thing that compelled me to start commenting on and ideally write for this site became extremely relevant again.

To explain: At the time, at the urging of my partner at the time, I was playing Undertale, which at the time was significantly less of a Thing than it became not too long after, and upon reading Dan H’s “Games Are Not Art”, I became quite frustrated with the gulf between my own experiences with the potential for “entertainment software” to tell a moving story—in other games but particularly in that one, where the narrative and mechanics are so intimately wedded—and the rather pat and somewhat reductionist viewpoint I felt that the article expressed. Already having been a reader of the site for some time at that point, I decided to take the bull by the horns and pitch an article on the subject to Arthur.

Alas, I never wrote this article, or any other, for this august site, and now I never will.

But then, a Hallowe’en surprise: The developer of that selfsame game releases the first chapter in something which is and is not a sequel to that game, an... *uncanny* little release, heavily reliant on intertextuality for its full effect despite appearing entirely self-contained. And suddenly the wheels begin turning anew. I have no idea where I might publish my mitherings on this particular subject, but... well, I’ll figure something out.
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at 14:54 on 06-11-2018, Arthur B
Is it OK if I add a link to your RPG blog to the blogroll, in case people haven't seen it already?
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at 14:21 on 06-11-2018, Shim
The RPG blog is all I have - I don't consider it dead, but work commitments + repeated minor illness over the last year or so have comprehensively kicked my arse and not left me time for RPG musing. I keep a vague eye on some Ferrets' blogs. As I haven't done any general Ferret-y stuff for years I don't think it's especially worth me setting anything up now.
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at 00:33 on 02-11-2018, Daniel F
Fair enough. That's all anyone can reasonably ask for. :)
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at 11:22 on 01-11-2018, Arthur B
(In fact, I have now made a good faith attempt to contact all contributors who've submitted articles to the site - apart from the very few who are banned - to let them know about the shutdown. Some e-mails bounced, but eh, nothing I can do about that.)
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at 10:32 on 01-11-2018, Arthur B
That's the function of the Ferret Blogroll - giving contributors and commenters a chance to list their stuff if people want to follow that.

It is down to individuals as to whether they want to actually post their stuff. I am going to reach out to all former contributors to let them know the shutdown's happening and let them know it's an option, but I'm not going to strongarm people into contributing to the Blogroll if they don't want to.
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at 03:09 on 01-11-2018, Daniel F
Oh dear, this is rather disappointing. It was nice having a central site to visit and occasionally link to.

What about some of the other contributors, out of curiosity? Dan and Kyra haven't been around since 2013, sadly. Shim still has his sporadically-updated RPG blog. Are there any others to follow?
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at 20:41 on 31-10-2018, Bill
I'm gonna miss y'all.
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at 00:01 on 31-10-2018, Arthur B
As promised, the big surprise.
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at 17:40 on 30-10-2018, Arthur B
Stay tuned, gang: for tomorrow's article I have the biggest shocker yet. It'll go live just after midnight my time tonight.
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at 05:30 on 03-10-2018, Robinson L
Oh yeah, it is October. You know, I remembered about the yearly blackout a couple weeks ago, then forgot all about it again. Good to know we should be spared this year.

And hey, I just realized I'm actually working on a sorta horror-themed article at the moment. Maybe I can clean it up and get it submission-ready in time to join the month's roster ...
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at 17:24 on 02-10-2018, Arthur B
In that case I'll bring some more paranormal-related stories further up the queue. :D
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at 17:01 on 02-10-2018, Ronan Wills
I was *just thinking* the other day that I wanted to read more about UFOlogy and urban legends. As soon as the leaves turn crunchy, I get an itch for that sort of thing.
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at 17:59 on 01-10-2018, Arthur B
October's here which means it's time to get spoopy! Web hosting and DNS are paid up fully so we should be safe from outages. This year I'm going to mix it up a bit by weaving in some articles relating to urban legends, UFOlogy, and other horror stories presented as horror fact...
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at 01:38 on 17-09-2018, Raymond H
Alright! I've successfully moved into my new apartment! Which... uh... means I don't have wi-fi (at least for my computer). I can still access this site on my phone, so I'll still be able to comment and stuff. But I'm not sure if typing a whole article on my phone is feasible (or watching GLOW, though it sounds awesome). Sorry! (^_^);;
Until I get wi-fi installed, I guess it's radio silence for now.
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at 22:00 on 10-09-2018, Robinson L
Well, that does sound hopeful. Best of luck!

(Weird, though, that apparently the Japanese legal code ranks grown adults selling sexual favors as a crime comparably serious to trafficking minors.)

By the way, I've been meaning to mention, in terms of wrestling resources: I've heard good things about GLOW ("Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling") on Netflix. Haven't checked it out myself, but I seem to remember hearing it's a good entry point for people who aren't already familiar with wrestling. Granted, I understand time and bandwith constraints are a factor for you right now, but it might be worth making a note for future reference.
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at 05:57 on 09-09-2018, Raymond H
Thanks. I've been doing some reading on Immigration policy and consulting friends. Even if my application for extension is denied, I have the right to a hearing, where I can make my case and potentially overturn the denial. However, the only cases I've found where this even became an issue involved changes of visa status during processing (i.e., people who got married while their visa was being extended, so they needed to change the visa to a spousal one), and the only cases that were denied after the hearing involved serious criminal charges (such as child trafficking or prostitution). I, meanwhile, am only seeking to extend the visa which I already have, and to extend it by a single year. I've already signed a contract, which I've physically shown Immigration and which they've photocopied, and I don't have a criminal record or history of deportation. I haven't worked any jobs outside my visa status, and the only thing that I've done which would hiccup the process is change companies during the extension process. However, there's a procedure for that exact situation, the paperwork to which I've filled out and sent back to Immigration. I didn't fill it out in the exact, official time-table that they have, but from friends' experiences the bureaucracy here cares less about deadlines and more about the necessary paperwork (with all the good and bad that implies). It'll be a while before I know the results (this is the busiest time of year for visas), but the chances of my being denied are low enough that I think I can move into my own apartment (and get medical insurance!).
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at 22:36 on 03-09-2018, Robinson L
I tell ya, if it's not one thing it's another. Oy vey.

*sigh*, so true.

I guess national borders and immigration controls screw people over pretty much everywhere; some places more so than others.

Good luck with it all.
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at 13:09 on 01-09-2018, Raymond H
Thanks. There's still the matter of my visa, which is currently being reviewed by Immigration and may or may not be renewed. As my company has so eloquently put it, there's no good reason for them to say no, but they haven't actually said yes yet, and if they do say no, then I have to leave the country by October 15th or be deported. Because of this I'm holding off on moving into my own apartment, but until I do that I can't get a new address on my Foreign Residence Card, which means I can't get medical insurance. Also, my paychecks come in the month after, but rent at the apartment I want is due the month before, so even if I move by mid-September, which I hope to do, I'll have to pinch my pennies so hard they'll turn to hay. I tell ya, if it's not one thing it's another. Oy vey.

On the other hand, it's because of all this that I've remembered the genuine fear and anguish I felt during my brief week of homelessness. I'd forgotten that fear. I had such an amazing life in Kazo that I'd forgotten just how afraid I once was. But now I remember, and even as I swear to appreciate a stable life once it someday finds me again, I know that I will never be able to live up to that promise. Not really.

Also once I move in to my apartment I won't have wi-fi, unless my friend's extends across the whole complex. So... uh... maybe I won't even be able to post anything in October. So don't worry about the radio dramas. Still, if that's the case, it means my visa went through, I was able to move in, and I got insurance, so... yeah. :)
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at 18:00 on 28-08-2018, Robinson L
Congratulations on your new position, Raymond. Also on finishing your draft. You're right that there's still a lot of work still to do on the novel, but completing a draft is still a really big deal. Well done. Look forward to having you participate more once things settle down for you a bit more.


Raymond: wait, I'm still lost. Why would I perceive you enduring all the hardships you've faced as a negative thing?

Okay, let me see if I can break it down and make some manner of sense of all this. When I said

Robinson: My intention there was to correct, not to retaliate, and I'm sorry if I came across as aggressive.

I wasn't referring to my initial comment (henceforth, C1), but the follow-up (C2), specifically:

Robinson: Er, actually, I meant that as a word of encouragement for you to keep up the writing

And the reason why, in the comment I'm going to refer to as C3, I said I didn't mean to

Robinson: retaliate, and I'm sorry if I came across as aggressive.

Was in reference to your reply to C2, in which you said:

Raymond: I hope nothing I said came across as insulting or demeaning.

Which rather gave me the impression that I'd come across as aggravated and insulted in C2. So I thought maybe I'd said something in C2 that sounded unintentionally nasty or hostile, which would explain how I could've given that impression.

In conclusion:

Raymond: Evidently this is one of the problems with purely text-based forms of communication.

Couldn't have put it better myself.


Huzzah! Another radio fan! Perhaps we should make my plan for October a group effort.

Er, I don't know about that. Horror's never been my genre, so I didn't associate it much back when I was a major radio buff - and like I said, that turned out to be a phase that I came out of back in my late teens. I might be able to come up with one or two horror radio dramas I've really enjoyed if I think hard enough, but I might not.

Concerning George Guidall, I didn't know who he was until I googled him, and the first two results say he's won the Audie award thrice and he's labeled the "King of Audio-Books" by the New York Times.

Given what I know of his narration work, that sounds plausible.
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at 04:19 on 24-08-2018, Raymond H
I got a job. I will be an elementary school ALT in Chiyoda for RCS. Oh God, I feel entirely drained, and there's still so much left to do. My July paycheck ended up being several hundred dollars less than what I'd planned, so moving into my own apartment will basically leave me with only 10,000 yen to my name until my first paycheck on October 31st. Friends and family have promised to pitch in and loan me some money to last me through the next two months, but even if the hardest part is over there's still so much left to do. Even so I'm so unbelievably happy that I was able to find a new job, and I also completed the first draft of my novel! There's still all the editing and polishing that needs to be done, but it's finally done! I guess that basically sums up everything in my life right now. The hardest part is over, but there's still so much more in store for me. I know I can survive it, but I just hope I don't end up like Dunkey and his descent. I wish this news made me able to go back to my regular posting, but it looks like the business and stress won't actually die down just yet. But I'm alive. I'm still alive. Oh god, I'm still alive!

Arthur, thank you so much for that list. Again, I don't know how much spare time I'll have, but this list really helps.

Robinson... wait, I'm still lost. Why would I perceive you enduring all the hardships you've faced as a negative thing? Evidently this is one of the problems with purely text-based forms of communication.
Huzzah! Another radio fan! Perhaps we should make my plan for October a group effort. I was hoping to post a link to a good horror radio drama every day of October, with a little explanation/review detailing why I chose it, but unfortunately, especially in light of recent events, I've only been able to find 21 dramas that I think are worthwhile.
Concerning George Guidall, I didn't know who he was until I googled him, and the first two results say he's won the Audie award thrice and he's labeled the "King of Audio-Books" by the New York Times. Granted it's become hip to shit on the NYT these days, but still.
Also, much thanks to you for your own advice on wrestling things. Again, not much time, but this helps.

So, I'm gonna submit my Sekigahara article, and then try to address everyone in the comments section. I don't know if I'll be able to get a full-blown article on all the movies I watched this summer out before September, but even if it's just for one movie, I'll get another article up before the month is out. I think that's all on my end.
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