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 18:17 on 27-04-2013, Alice
@Shimmin: It is so great, I was in a constant state of glee at how great it was. And when I say "how great it was", about 90% of that is "how awesome Marian Halcombe is". :-D

I actually picked up The God of Small Things about ten years ago: it was someone else's copy, so I didn't get very far into it - somewhere not far past the Orangedrink Lemondrink Man. At least, that's the only scene I remember clearly, though I do remember thinking the book was beautifully written. It's one I've been meaning to pick up ever since, actually, but since I also remember it being incredibly sad, I've never quite managed to.

But I will say that the podcast has pushed it back up near the top of my to-read list. In fact, Ferretbrain podcasts have been a major factor in my recent reading habits, having been responsible for my picking up or re-reading The Woman in White, Cotillion, Gaudy Night, The Maltese Falcon, Wolf Hall, Vampire Academy (and sequels), Glass Houses (and the next in the series), and Lirael & Abhorsen (the last two because of a side discussion in one of the podcasts about awesome librarian characters in fiction).

In fact, thinking about it, it seems I get the majority of my book recommendations from Ferretbrain...
at 16:03 on 27-04-2013, Shimmin
Ouch! Well, I'm glad to hear we could help. Audio is really nice for illness - I remember a delirious day drifting in and out of consciousness with the archives of You and Yours playing (this was in itself a pretty good sign of illness). It was incredibly trippy actually.

Yeah, The Woman in White is ace. Did you, out of interest, check out GOST?
at 13:36 on 26-04-2013, Alice
I noticed the lull (and guessed it was for the reasons mentioned) too, and used the downtime -- and being laid up for three weeks with the flu -- to work my way through the old TeXt Factor podcasts, which has been great fun.

It also led to my finally picking up The Woman in White (joint winner of the first series) and enjoying it immensely. I actually ended up reading along with the relevant bits of each episode so as to prevent being spoiled for either plot (the plot of a 150-year-old text, I know...) and/or discussion, and it was extremely entertaining, so thanks, Past!Ferretbrainers!
at 10:54 on 26-04-2013, Arthur B
For my part I have several multi-part reviews on the go but, of course, they can't go up until I've considered all the bits I want to consider in them.

I may have something going up at the weekend.
at 09:58 on 26-04-2013, Dan H
Basically what Shim said - we've been mega busy with offline stuff.

I should have a new article going up in a couple of days.
at 08:31 on 26-04-2013, Shimmin
I think that's less a case of things going on with the site, as things going on with the editors.

Dan, Kyra and Arthur are all tied up with offline stuff at the moment. Most of us are also doing at least one non-FB project to divide our attention. And of course, Alasdair has recently stepped back from articling.

Personally, I only write GOGathons these day, which means a gap between articles at least as long as it takes me to finish as much of the game as I can handle, i.e. anything from five minutes to, I'm starting to suspect, the rest of the year: as you may have spotted I'm playing The Witcher now. At the moment I'm trying to read through my epic book pile, which doesn't exactly lend itself to considered reviewing, but if anyone's desperately keen to see a load of one-paragraph reviews then hey, let me know and I'll think about mashing some together into a post. The RPG-related stuff I occasionally posted now goes on my blog instead. Any spare articling time I have tends to go on non-English stuff.

I recommend submitting something :)
at 08:30 on 26-04-2013, Robinson L
I haven't seen any announcements either. I figure people have just been busy.
at 01:12 on 26-04-2013, Cressida
Did I miss an announcement about anything going on with the site? There haven't been any new articles in almost six weeks...
at 17:38 on 25-04-2013, James D
Yeah, that one was kind of a dud. In fairness though, SMBC is definitely one of the better webcomics out there that's updated daily. I also appreciate how inclusive he is in terms of gender, race, sexuality, etc. For example there are plenty of comics where he'll just have a gay couple presented as a perfectly normal couple, without the comic revolving around their gayness.
at 12:20 on 25-04-2013, Arthur B
Exactly, to have a Dorian deal going on you need three things:

- Something getting progressively more corrupted.
- An unchanging facade.
- Something which reveals the changes taking place under the facade.

The comic presents only two things, a mind clinging to a blunt and mildly juvenile refusal to change and a face which does age. The facade itself is missing.
at 12:07 on 25-04-2013, Kit
Yeah, but isn't the whole point that the portrait represents Dorian's soul getting more and more corrupt, twisted and jaded? So that wouldn't work in any case. I guess...?
at 21:39 on 24-04-2013, Cammalot
I read that one as a reversal. Isn't it saying that the face is the portrait getting older, while the mind inside stays youthful?
at 18:49 on 22-04-2013, Adrienne
Alasdair: Is Jünger's name in the air lately or something? The first time i'd ever heard of him was a couple weeks ago, following a link to the blog of a crazy right-wing lawyer guy who apparently thinks Jünger is the bee's knees.
at 19:50 on 21-04-2013, Arthur B
Minor gripe about today's one: half the point of The Picture of Dorian Gray is that despite his body being fantastically well-preserved, his mind gets more and more jaded and decadent and callous as time goes by, so using "Dorian Gray" as an example of a character who retains their youthful outlook on life is ridiculous.
at 01:26 on 20-04-2013, Alasdair Czyrnyj
Bah, you kids with your xkcds and your Saturday morning breakfast cereals. You need to read a real webcomic, like Control-Alt-Delete. That thing is amazing. It started out bad and discovers new and exciting ways to be terrible every day.

In other, more interesting news, I finally read Storm of Steel a few weeks ago, and it got me interested enough in Ernst Jünger that I tracked down a rather illuminating study of his work during and between the wars. He was a very interesting man. He was a modernist, of course, but more attuned to the "conservative" metaphysical side of modernism, which is hardly surprising given his time and place. I've grown to think of him as an epiphantic modernist who tried act like a programmatic one, but wasn't suited for it. In the '20s he tried to put down some schemes as to what his ideal world would look like, but he was always at his best when he was just acting as a writer and working in allegory. He was always ruminating over man's relationship to technology and to war, the latter of which he always got attacked on. (Storm of Steel is all about his WWI experience, but the memoir views the war not with horror but with fascination, particularly for its extreme situations and transformative effects on the men who fought.) However, despite accusations and some occasional dalliances in the early '20s, Jünger was definitely not a Nazi. Hell, he was even tangentially involved in the July 20th plot.
at 22:51 on 19-04-2013, Fishing in the Mud
I haven't read SMBC for a while, but when I did it always had that self-righteous, resentfully sexist edge of the Nice Guy who finally found a girlfriend.
at 18:12 on 19-04-2013, Dan H
God I'm glad somebody linked that so I didn't have to. SMBC has been going either downhill, or up its own arse, or both for a while now.

Today's comic really does boil down to:

Interesting people are LIKE ME

I also wish he'd quit dumping on economists, given that he knows *precisely jack shit* about economics.
at 17:06 on 19-04-2013, Arthur B
I know we usually boo XKCD here but I want to boo today's SMBC.

Grounds for booing:
- Assumption that talking about ideas is inherently interesting: [CITATION NEEDED], nothing's more boring than someone who drones on and on about his pet theory.
- Assumption that talking about people is boring. This would imply that people themselves are an inherently boring topic. [CITATION NEEDED] again - I think people are pretty enthralling myself - though I can see how the concept appeals to a guy whose webcomic career is based on a series in which there are no actual characters whatsoever.
- Assumption that any discussion of what you drank last night is intolerable. [CITATION NEEDED]. Maybe you had a nice wine which you'd like to recommend! Maybe you had a well-aged port which had an interesting story behind it! Who's to say that alcohol is the exclusive province of alcoholics?
at 01:18 on 19-04-2013, Melanie
That was amazing.
at 12:52 on 18-04-2013, Axiomatic
Ladies and gentlemen, the best game trailer ever.

It's funny and informative and shows you actual gameplay, which is pretty much unheard of in game trailers.
at 14:55 on 15-04-2013, Cheriola
Sorry, something wasn't working right and my post got posted 5 times. The delete function wasn't reachable the first 2 times I tried, either (couldn't find the URL). But it's probably just my little netbook that's slow.
at 14:47 on 15-04-2013, Cheriola
Ack, sorry for spoiling, then.

And, no, you're probably getting Agron mixed up with Auctus, who was Barca's first lover in the prequel and whom Crixus was forced to kill in an Arena match. Agron was one of the Germanic brothers who came in with the new group of trainee gladiators in the middle of the first season, right after the storyline that got Barca, his boyfriend Pietros and that nasty brute who abused the poor boy killed. Agron is the elder brother, the one who couldn't resist checking out his neighbor's junk when they were told to strip for Illythia. He gets a boyfriend named Nasir in season 2 and their love life and character development becomes a major storyline.
at 10:38 on 15-04-2013, Arthur B
Irreverent tangent: the Spartacus board game is actually awesome, I played it with Dan and Kyra and Shimmin and we got ridiculously into it.

It ended, naturally, with a fight to the death between me and Dan. (Dan won but my death was a glorious one.)
at 09:53 on 15-04-2013, Dan H
I'm really confused. Didn't Agron die in the prequel?

Kyra and I are way behind on Spartacus, partially because we decided to watch it in chronological order, which meant rewatching the first series again after the prequel.