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 15:11 on 20-04-2012, Jamie Johnston
Has anyone linked to HP Lovecraft answers your relationship questions yet? Sorry can't scroll back through playpen to check: my only internet at the moment is phone-based.
at 11:45 on 20-04-2012, Wardog
Oh wow, this explains everything :)
at 10:08 on 20-04-2012, Wardog
I ... somebody said sorry on the internet. I'm kind of astonished. Short story short: The Oatmeal releases sexist comic, perpetuating usual awfulness about female gamers, gets flack, tries to explain why sexist comic is okay really, seems to genuinely realise it isn't and ... apologises. Like. Wow.
at 06:01 on 20-04-2012, Alasdair Czyrnyj
The following is the purest distillation of everything I love about The A. V.Club.

Internet snark at its most sublime.
at 22:54 on 19-04-2012, Wardog
Quite frankly, it's enough that he's capable of doing anything that's asked of him...

God, bring on the future where every household can have a Michael Fassbender.
at 20:50 on 19-04-2012, Alasdair Czyrnyj
That was me who mentioned it, Bjoren. Thanks for the warning.

In related news, I'm over halfway through The Bloody Red Baron and I'm not really grooving to it the way I did with Anno Dracula. Part of it is that the plot and setting aren't really coming together sharp enough to keep me excited, and part of it is the fact that I've already seen most of the tricks Newman is using before in the first book. On reflection, AD was a quintessential "just go with this setup, okay?" type of novel, and that's a type of novel that doesn't lend itself well to expansion and sequels.

I'm also feeling like Newman's holding back a bit. I just finished a part where we've caught up to flying ace Albert Ball (real person) who, thanks to being caught in a plane crash in No Man's Land and having vampiric regenerative powers, has become something resembling an ambulatory steer carcass with a flight suit half-melted into it. It was gross, but it didn't hit the level of true horror of seeing something so horribly mutilated yet still alive, something I feel could have only been done by going (forgive the pun) completely over the top with the description. Come to think of it, overblown description isn't always a bad thing; as Houellebecq pointed out, it's one of the ways Lovecraft's stories get their primal power.

I'm also feeling a bit unhappy about Newman's treatment of the Germans (and most everyone from Middle/Eastern Europe) in the AD books. There was quite a bit of sneering and pointing out of the Ruritanianess of the vampires in the first book, but I vaguely rationalized it by arguing such sentiments were a logical development of his worldbuilding (Dracula brought all his cronies from Darkest Wallachia when he became Lord Protector, so naturally there'd be a lot of Eastern European vampires in positions of power for British people to resent) and also by unhappily accepting that such sentiments would be an integral problem of Newman's premise, as the desire to reference fictional vampires would naturally result in a lot of characters being borrowed from works written at the same time as Dracula (a time of anti-Semitic and slavophobic sentiment in Britain) and from works inspired by Dracula (which just brings the same problem back up again). Now in TBRB, we've got Dracula running Germany in WWI, so now we've got the anti-German sentiments of WWI stories thrown into the mix (as well as a curious lack of discussion or sympathy for the Germans as they endure the weird and terrible things Dracula is doing to their society in the manner we saw for the British in AD), and I'm not really liking it. I don't think I'm really arguing against this out of a Minority Warrior position; I'm just tired of Germany and Eastern Europe being used as a continual punching bag.

I'm still liking it better than Scott Westerfeld's books, though.
at 19:56 on 19-04-2012, Wardog
Y'know what I don't understand? Why are nobody sending CD Projekt Red cupcakes for being AWESOME? I've just embarked upon my enhanced edition Witcher 2 playthrough (the one where I try not to side with Iorveth *sadface*), which incidentally was free to download, alongside my random backup copy which they gave me, and it's just so great. I'd forgotten how much I loved this game. CUPCAKES WHERE THEY ARE DUE DAMMIT.
at 17:33 on 19-04-2012, Bjoern
I don't know who it was, but someone here mentioned Stableford's Empire of Fear and since I was in a vampire mood, I decided to check it out...

If you haven't done so yet: Don't. Seriously: Don't. What bland, boring, bloodless piece of turgid prose. Dialogues full of 'thous' and 'thees'. Long, rambling tracts on scientific matters as seen in the 17th century. A plot that moves at a pace that is beyond glacial. Any good idea (and there are a few) is buried under page upon page of sheer, unadultarated dreariness. The "riveting" blurb surely means that reading the book is like having rivets shot into your face.

The entire book gives me a good idea how Kim Stanley Robinson would tackle a vampire novel. I can't bring myself to read more than ten to twenty pages at a time and then I need to read another book to avoid a case of terminal tedium.

As far as 'scientific' vampire stories are concerned, I'll stick with Richard Matheson's I Am Legend.
at 11:02 on 19-04-2012, Rami
Shimmin, Adrienne: the article thing is a good idea, I'll put one up. My awful markup is unfortunately already a matter of public record, no sense trying to hide it now ;-)
at 23:41 on 18-04-2012, Adrienne
Shimmin: Totally makes sense. Sorry, I'm possibly bad at UNDERSTANDING sense today, I'm in the middle of a crazy end-of-project-argh-we're-running-out-of-hours-for-debugging thing.
at 23:14 on 18-04-2012, Shim
Ah, sorry, I'm bad at making sense.

Rami was suggesting taking the discussion offline, so I thought that one option to keep things collaborative but avoid filling the Playpen would be for him or Kyra to start an "article" about the revamp in general. "Ferretbrain is having a revamp!" You know, like newspapers have guff about their New Shiny Format! only less insufferable. Then people like you with suggestions or ideas could comment on it, other people could lurk or ignore as they like, and for a bonus there's an easily-accessible set of revamping-thoughts gathered in one handy place.

So what I meant last post was, Rami or Kyra would be the best person to write a quick article about what they're doing, because they're doing it. I could do it, but would have no idea what to write. You may not have article-making privilege yet so you probs can't. Does that make any more sense..? *hopeful worried face*

But of course if Rami prefers to wash his dirty tags in private that's his privilege :)
at 22:54 on 18-04-2012, Adrienne
Actually I'm the one Rami was just saying should email him outside of the Playpen, to complain about his HTML. :)
at 22:46 on 18-04-2012, Shim
Oh, I was actually aiming that one at Rami or Kyra, since they're the ones working on the revamp. I'd do it myself but I wouldn't have the faintest what to write about it.
at 22:35 on 18-04-2012, Adrienne
Shimmin, I'd be down for that but I have no idea how to actually do the article thing around here. :) I'm not even a contributor yet. But if someone fills me in/adds me to a list/whatever, I'm totally happy to have that happen!
at 22:01 on 18-04-2012, Shim
If you want to talk technical, perhaps we should take this off the Playpen where people are doubtless bored of it?

Slightly random, but you could always start an "article" about the revamp and then people could chip in, if that seemed good to you.
at 20:28 on 18-04-2012, Rami
Adrienne: Please do! Even though it had a revamp a mere five years ago, lots of it dates back to Original Ferretbrain (2006)...

If you want to talk technical, perhaps we should take this off the Playpen where people are doubtless bored of it? Drop an email to webmaster@fb and we can get a conversation going!
at 20:10 on 18-04-2012, James D
I should watch that too, I pooped out somewhere in the second season just because I wasn't interested in non-Lynch Twin Peaks and the ending to the whole Laura Palmer thing was just so satisfying that I didn't want to spoil it for myself. I love the whole ambiguity of the Twin Peaks 'mythos' and trying to codify it or explain too much really deflates a lot of the appeal. But if the final episode is a good'un, I'll check it out.
at 20:00 on 18-04-2012, Arthur B
(It's a great final episode though, because it's basically David Lynch coming back to the series after a long break, tutting at the mess his understudies have made of the series, and fixing it by burning everything to the ground.)
at 19:57 on 18-04-2012, Arthur B
Most people put the break point on TP somewhere in the second season. Not sure where I'd put it (it's been a while since I've seen it) but
when someone seriously proposes that BOB is "the evil that men do" it's a pretty clear sign that the point of no return has been passed.

I would skip to the last episode personally. The important bits to give you the context for those are:

- Windom Earle, an FBI agent turned psychopath who - amongst other things - killed his wife after she had a dalliance with Dale Cooper has come to Twin Peaks and is out to break into the Black Lodge and destroy Cooper.

- Cooper has met a nice lady named Annie and they are in love, despite Cooper having visions of the Giant which strongly imply that his connection to Annie may spell trouble for both of them. As you go into the final episode, Annie has just been kidnapped by Earle.

- Audrey is all tangled up in some stupid bullshit to do with something stashed in the bank which you don't need to worry about.

That's honestly all you need to know.
at 19:51 on 18-04-2012, Alasdair Czyrnyj
Okay, I'm about halfway through the second season of Twin Peaks and I'm thinking it's about time for me to stop watching. I've seen the revelation of Laura Palmer's killer (wait, should I spoiler this? The show's about as old as my sister now. Ehh, I suppose.) and
Ray Wise was just amazing. I've heard people complain that he overdid it, but I think that was what the show needed. Oh, and he also managed to make "Mairzy Doats" the stuff of nightmares.
However, in the second season the show is starting to evolve from a central mystery with a bunch of allegorical side stories into a soap opera, and a lot of the soapier elements are, well, kinda dumb and boring, and everything I've heard says that the show really loses focus after this point. It's been suggested I should skip to the last two episodes after this, but I wanted to hear what anyone else here thought.
at 23:00 on 17-04-2012, Adrienne
Rami: Can I complain about your markup? :)
at 19:11 on 17-04-2012, Rami
Andy: Thanks!

Adrienne: that would be much appreciated!
at 19:10 on 17-04-2012, Wardog
Has the font changed again, I can't tell anymore! *sobs*

And, oooh...that sounds exciting :D