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 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.
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?
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.
at 00:33 on 02-11-2018, Daniel F
Fair enough. That's all anyone can reasonably ask for. :)
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.)
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.
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?
at 20:41 on 31-10-2018, Bill
I'm gonna miss y'all.
at 00:01 on 31-10-2018, Arthur B
As promised, the big surprise.
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.
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 ...
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
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.
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...
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.
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.
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!).
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.
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. :)
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.
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.
at 20:00 on 08-08-2018, Robinson L
No worries, Raymond. My intention there was to correct, not to retaliate, and I'm sorry if I came across as aggressive. The wording of your reply read to me like you'd misconstrued my "keep plugging away" line to apply to myself as opposed to you, so I was trying to clear up the (perceived) confusion; an attempt which clearly backfired. Oops.

I also used to be a classic radio buff. The interest waned when I grew out of my teens, but I still have a soft spot for 'em. But my parents also used to read to me when I was a little kid, and since I was a precocious little tyke and didn't learn to read properly until several years past the standard age here in the US - ahh, unschooling - they needed something else to occupy my bored little mind when neither of them could read to me. Hence, I grew up with audiobooks, and there my interest hasn't waned. (And considering how very slow I am with regular books, it's unlikely to wane anytime soon.)

I've actually listened to many books narrated by George Guidall - he seems to be a pretty prolific narrator. And I'm not sure if he's really a cut above the rest; true, a lot of audiobooks I've encountered have had mediocre or down right crappy narration, but there's also a lot of real talent in the field, and they turn in some quality stuff. (Then again, I'm not the best person to judge this stuff - when it comes to movies and tv, I can't even spot a bad performance 4 times out of 5, so why imagine I'd be any more discerning when it comes to audio narration?)

I actually haven't read any of Banker's books so far - again, slow reader - but I appreciate those of his short stories I've heard on podcasts so far.

Anyway, congratulations on your job offers, and your refund; I'll cross my fingers that everything works out financially between now and October.

I know bugger-all about wrestling, but I have been entertained by Noah "The Spoony One" Antwiler's video rants about it. I've also heard good things about Lucha Underground, which I understand is less than a decade old, but I don't know how one would go about watching it. Oh, and coming back to commentary, the funniest thing of any kind I've seen in a while have got to be Martin "Little Kuriboh" Billany's "Mark Remark" videos; practically incomprehensible to someone not already familiar with the WWE, but so incredibly funny that I have to pause an average of two or three times an episode because my sides hurt so much from laughing.

... Not sure if any of that helps with what you're looking for but, ehn, thought I'd mention just in case.
at 14:41 on 07-08-2018, Arthur B
There's a cross-section of Western wrestlers doing well in Japan right now - Kenny, Cody Rhodes, the Young Bucks, Will Ospreay, etc. (Plus there's a long history of Westerners doing a stint in Japan at some point in their career - Finn Balor and AJ Styles did their stints there before tearing up WWE, and then you've got legends like Chris Jericho. Even Hulk Hogan didn't get huge in the US until he cracked Japan.)

That said, I think a lot of them got their groundings in Western promotions before getting signed to Japanese ones; I'm not sure how the process of getting into the Japanese developmental systems works for Westerners.
at 07:20 on 07-08-2018, Raymond H
Heya gang. Sorry for my recent bout of radio silence. Things have been quite busy, but thankfully they also seem to be looking up at last (knock on wood, God willing, and all that). Borderlink and RCS have both given me job offers, though I wish to hold out on any final decisions until I hear back from Interac, as it's the best company I could possibly get into, and even if I don't get into them I want to know for certain first. Also, for consolidating my private student loan, I got a small refund, which is JUST enough to pay off a full month's amount of loan repayment! I'm especially thankful for this because regardless of what company I sign on with, I won't be officially starting until September, which means I won't get my first paycheck until late October. I should be able to save up enough money to pay for rent and food if I scrimp, I just have to remember not to be penny-wise and pound-foolish.

I've also realized from conversations with friends that I've given the thought of becoming a pro wrestler far more thought than normal people do. Because I don't know where to start watching pro wrestling though (partially because it's so huge and impenetrable to newbies, partially because...I don't have a TV), I'm mostly contenting myself with documentaries on particular stars. If I had to pick one particular person to start following, it'd be Kenny Omega, as he made me realize that there were Western pro wrestlers in Japan (I know, I know, that must seem blatantly obvious to you fans, but I'm still new at all this), but again, I don't have a TV.

Lesse, what else? I still hope to keep my two-articles-per-month schedule up. I'm working on an article about the Sekigahara movie I saw recently, although I'm thinking of maybe doing one massive article about all the movies I watched this summer. Also I've got something big planned for October, let's hope Arthur lets me do it.

@Robinson, yes, I know it was meant to be encouraging, and I took it as such. I apologize if it seemed as though I misinterpreted your words, though I am curious as to what gave that impression. I'll admit, my upbringing as a writer has been somewhat Spartan (which caused no end of trouble when I took a Creative Writing class for the first time), but I hope nothing I said came across as insulting or demeaning.
I looked up this Banker guy, and I have a particular weakness for mythic retellings, so I have to check out at least one of his books now. I'd like to get settled into a new address before I even attempt ordering books (plus, y'know, no money till October), but I still haven't started my free trial with Audible, and I'm loving the audiobook version of Grendel I'm listening to now, so perhaps that will be an appropriate route for Banker and On the Jellicoe Road, especially if I end up with a job that requires a commute (my last school was 5 minutes bike from my apartment). Thank you for the review, and to answer your question, yes, audiobooks are significantly easier and cheaper to find than print books here. However, as a fan of radio, I've always born an irrational distaste towards audiobooks, perceiving them as a poor bastard spawn of two other superior media formats. It wasn't until I began listening to this Grendel audiobook that I began to come around (admittedly it is narrated by George Guidall, which I suppose puts it a cut above your average fare, but still).