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 06:50 on 12-10-2013, Bookwyrm
Weird, as it was on Coming Out Day 2010 that I first looked up the term asexual and realised that it fit me, so it's kind of a significant day for me

Same here, Coming Out Day 2012 was when I officially came out as aromantic asexual. :)
at 04:33 on 12-10-2013, Michal
So I started reading God's War by Kameron Hurley and am now thoroughly convinced that a glowing blurb from Jeff Vandermeer on the front has become a universal warning for "this novel will contain an odd obsession with insects."
at 23:14 on 11-10-2013, Fin
Awesome bracelets. :) I'd forgotten it was that time of year actually. Weird, as it was on Coming Out Day 2010 that I first looked up the term asexual and realised that it fit me, so it's kind of a significant day for me.
at 22:56 on 11-10-2013, Cheriola
Also, since today is apparently Coming Out Day, I've made myself a couple of pride flag bracelets from some old cross-stitching yarn I had lying around uselessly. I know a black hematite ring is the standard ace equivalent of the solitary ring in one ear for gay men, but I can't afford to buy jewellery and I never liked wearing rings besides. Plus, this way I can add a rainbow flag for general ally-tude. You know, to mark myself as safe to talk to.
at 22:45 on 11-10-2013, Cheriola
@Alasdair: Nightvale has a canon gay romance subplot between Cecil, the narrator, and Carlos, the scientist. (No, not just the usual queer-baiting. They're a couple now.) So the slashers love it. There are bloody fandom wars over whether or not the characters are PoC. (Carlos is, though some people like to deny it because they're into shipping white dudes exclusively. The vast majority of the fandom sees Cecil as white. And the queer PoCs in the fandom are pissed off that people would just assume that and drown out the PoC interpretations, when there's no proof for his whiteness, while there are some indications that he's Native American.)

Also, the show itself is quite intersectionality-aware. I.e. there's a running joke about how one guy who appropriates Native American culture while being white is an unforgiveable asshole; women in positions of power and girls who are heroes; nearly everyone being a little or a lot strange in ways that would make them outsiders everywhere but in Nightvale... That kind of thing.

So, because decent queer and PoC representation is still rare, tumblr feminist circles have been recommending the show to give it more exposure. And social outsiders and less privileged groups of every stripe find ways to identify with the characters. It's a bit like Rocky Horror in this regard.

But yeah, I can see why someone who already finds himself well-represented in the media wouldn't see what's attractive about this fandom.

(I really hope you weren't refering to the queer aspect with your "cutesy" verdict.)

Though saying all that, personally, I do find the main plot / horror elements often too nonsensical or boring. And I skip the indi-band promotions.
at 21:40 on 11-10-2013, Arthur B permalink
at 21:08 on 11-10-2013, Janne Kirjasniemi
True. But on the other hand, some of the IKEA names don't necessarily mean anything, like Bastig? On the other hand Einherjer, or Sargeist could be of an older germanic language, which makes them kinda unikeanistic. I think. Taake is kind of a tricky one though. And Klubbo would be a real game changer if the quiz was about IKEA or europop bands.
at 20:11 on 11-10-2013, James D
Well I don't think a single one of the metal band names was actually IN Swedish, so it seems like it would be pretty easy to fudge the quiz if you didn't know anything about either except that IKEA is Swedish.

I did get a laugh out of them calling Von an influential band, though. Give me a break.
at 19:56 on 11-10-2013, Janne Kirjasniemi
We have only a few items of IKEA around and my knowledge of this genre of music is seriously limited. I do, however, have adequate skill in swedish, so I got compared to the cloven one as well. But i guess it just follows, that as IKEA likes to use place names and nice commonplace words in swedish and metal bands aim for the grimmer and more vikingy or mythological and cooler sounding names, knowledge of the language helps to spot the feeling of the word, if not the meaning itself.
at 10:22 on 11-10-2013, Kit
Hm, at least among my crowd it seems usual to have at least a couple of low-cost Ikea things to go with your fleamarket-bought/found/donated-by-friends furniture. Plus browsing the catalogue to get to the cheapest stuff in each category and painstakingly hunting for those elusive yellow tags, as I had to do last year for a very hasty move, probably gives you a good feel for the general tenor of Ikea names ;)
at 17:02 on 10-10-2013, Michal
Huh, when I was in grad school I furnished my room with furniture found behind apartments and in alleyways, so I was not much good at this test at all.
at 15:49 on 10-10-2013, Kit
Oh, cute. So apparently my knowledge of Ikea furniture names is "at the level of dare we say it, the cloven hooved one himself", which probably says an awful lot about how much desperate grad students rely on Lack tables and Sultan mattresses to sparsely furnish their overpriced rooms; more than about my knowledge of obscure nordic metal bands, at any rate.
at 15:14 on 10-10-2013, Arthur B
Ikea or Death?, a gentle web diversion in which you have to guess whether a particular name belongs to Ikea furniture or an extreme metal band.
at 23:23 on 09-10-2013, Alasdair Czyrnyj
Sort of, yeah. I mean stuff like Alan Wake and Deadly Premonition that apes the rustic small town filled with eccentric characters of Twin Peaks, but doesn't really get ahold of the whole concept of Lynchian evil. Sheriff Truman and the Log Lady are easy to replicate, but I haven't seen anyone succeed in creating another BOB...or a Frank Booth or a Mystery Man or a Man Behind Winkie's, for that matter.

Actually, that's not entirely true: The Oregonian managed to do that, though it aped Lynch pretty slavishly.

Also, in other news, Yellowbrickroad is a good little budget horror movie. It doesn't explain itself entirely, but that's probably the point. Weird Fiction rather liked it.
at 13:52 on 09-10-2013, Arthur B
cutesey-Lynch stuff

I made you a garmonbozia but I eated it?
at 04:51 on 09-10-2013, Michal permalink
at 02:49 on 09-10-2013, Alasdair Czyrnyj
Okay, maybe one of you young people can explain something to me: what the hell is Welcome to Night Vale, and why should I care? People seem to have gone apeshit for it, but it just sounds like a bunch of cutesey-Lynch stuff to me.
at 22:36 on 08-10-2013, Arthur B
Yeah, Cage's MO has always been to deny the player any choice which materially effects the core plot at all costs but as I understand it Beyond: Two Souls is especially flagrant about it.

At least they seem to be moving away from QTEs, but people who've played the game tell me the "intuit which direction the game wants you to push the stick" system isn't actually that much better (and if anything is sometimes just weird and arbitrary).
at 21:09 on 08-10-2013, Axiomatic
I'm just puzzled by the suggestion that you could make decisions that significantly impacted the story in Heavy Rain. Or any Quantic Dream game.
at 16:46 on 08-10-2013, Arthur B
I find David Cage to be one of the more risible developers out there - he's easily the most pretentious and underachieving developer to be handed an actual major game budget - so I was happy to be told that IGN actually let their reviewer write an actual review instead of the usual advertising blurb for his latest opus.

Person that pointed this article in my direction thought this was the bit which drives the knife home and I am inclined to agree:

This constant push and pull between our sense that we are impacting the story and the story itself has always been at the heart of everything David Cage has created, but it’s examples like these that highlight just how passive Beyond made me feel. There are, of course, choices: on Quantic’s whim, you can choose how Jodie responds in conversation, whether she’ll dance at a party or not, or take revenge on someone who has wronged her. But unlike the critical decisions you make in Heavy Rain, Beyond’s choices feel small, and the story will storm onward no matter how they are played out, never pausing to toss you a crunchy moral quandary to change its direction in any way that feels significant. It’s disappointingly unadaptable.

I can illustrate this by comparing two scenarios. In one, Jodie is preparing for a date: you have the ability to choose her outfit, what she’ll cook for dinner, if she cleans up her apartment or not, and so on. How she completes these tasks will affect the outcome of the date. In another, Jodie is instructed to kill a man. You have no choice in this.
at 16:12 on 08-10-2013, Bryn
This review blog may be of interest to Ferretbrain! It promotes diverse SFF but is quite willing to be harsh when warranted.

Also they have some really good looking collections of queer SFF short fiction + SFF short fiction by Asian and African and Caribbean writers.

(found via Tori Truslow)
at 03:30 on 05-10-2013, Robinson L
Sure, we all need someone (probably multiple people) double-checking us to make sure we don't wind up producing something horrible. I just think there are some writers who 1) have loathsome proclivities which go above and beyond the everyday level of fail most people generate; and 2) are so incredibly self-satisfied with their own work that the only way to make it palatable is to put someone in charge above their heads to forcibly remove all the noxious content from their scripts (whereas I like to think that most writers, professional or amateur, can be persuaded to accept editorial assistance without having it forced on them).

As for Moffat, I think in his case it's more like even a blind chicken finding a grain sometimes.

I think that's a bit too harsh. Sure, his ideas might not be original, but many of them are still good ideas, and often does a better-than-decent job of executing them. (Though admittedly, his batting average has slipped considerably since he took over as frontrunner.) Sure, many of his stories have massive problems even setting aside his social justice issues, but many of them still stand out among the best in their respective seasons. If he can do that despite weak characterization and incompetent continuity, I have to figure he's got some measure of talent. (And I'm not even counting the dialogue, which seems to be good pretty much across the board.)

I think it's both fair and unfair to say he sucks at arc-plots, because his arc-plot stuff is mostly bad (in the same way, I would argue, that it was bad under Davies), but he sometimes does something competent with them, and occasionally something which I find genuinely cool and interesting.

Then again, Series 1 is my least favorite season (I think even after the mess that was Series 6), and I'm inclined to apply the same blind chicken analogy to Russell T Davies, so I suspect our views on this point may be irreconcilable.

By the way, the actual script editor to get all those S1 scripts to a filmable level and into a cohesive whole was Helen Raynor.

Oh really? Huh. She also wrote that astonishingly bad two-parter in the third series with the Daleks in 1930s Manhattan. And also the pretty-okay but a bit unimaginative and cliche-ridden Sontaran two-parter in the fourth series.
at 02:08 on 05-10-2013, Melanie
He started his very brief answer with "If you hadn't said that, I would have had a discussion with you"

God, that's gross; it sounds like he thinks he has some kind of moral high ground there. As well as that attitude that... condescending to discuss it would have been some kind of boon for him to graciously grant, if only you'd bent over backwards more to avoid any kind of implication that he'd done anything wrong and thus avoided hurting his fragile little feelings. I hate this attitude that if you're going to call someone out for something, then you have to start with a million different reassurances that you're sure they're not that kind of person; that you're sure they're really a good, smart, funny, kind person who would never hurt someone on purpose and probably it's just a misunderstanding--no, probably you're just misunderstanding what they meant, or maybe it was an accident somehow, or someone changed what they said to make them look bad--and so on. You can't admit anyone did anything wrong: wrongness just sort of happened, somehow, without anyone (but especially the person you're talking to!) being actually responsible.

I'm sorry you had to deal with that. Hugs?

even a blind chicken finding a grain sometimes. (Sorry, I don't know the equivalent English idiom.)

"Even a broken clock is right twice a day", maybe? I mean, if you think about that one, it seems to have more of a flavor of inevitability and less of chance, but I don't think the inevitability is really... emphasized, there. Not that the chicken idiom is unclear, or less appropriate, I mean--just that if you want a pretty similar one that's common in English, that's probably it.
at 01:10 on 05-10-2013, Cheriola
Well, we all need an editor like that, and not just to do those life experiences justice that we have no direct experience with. I just picked up an old fanfic script of mine that I started a few years ago, and am currently scratching my head over how to save a comedy scene that I now realise has a few rather unfortunate sexist/racist implications that I didn't notice when I employed a few well-worn tropes. (The problem is that all the problematic parts are actually perfectly in character, because the characters are a bit sexist and wouldn't notice the racist implications. So I can't even have someone in the story point out how it's not okay. And I would probably take another writer to task for using these particular tropes in a lighthearted scene, thereby making them look harmless. But I don't want to cut the scene completely, either, because it's hard enough for me to inject any humor into the story at all...)

As for Moffat, I think in his case it's more like even a blind chicken finding a grain sometimes. (Sorry, I don't know the equivalent English idiom.) I don't think he's that great a writer at all. He got lucky with the for him exceptional TEC/TDD being his first and therefore longlasting impression. And okay, "Blink" was at least interesting, though it has feminist problems and only really stands out from the crowd because no other NewWho writer had done anything at all creative with causality logic and simultaneous timelines before. (Similar ideas can be found in 80s/90s mainstream time travel movies, however, so it didn't feel sooo amazingly original to me as people usually make it out to be.) But in general, I feel if you can't write other people's characters in-character or at all (mainly RTD's Companions), fail to give female characters any sense of a deep inner life and instead rely on casting luck to bring your flat one-off characters to life and on repetitivly using the same archetype again and again for your more 'developed' female characters, and you don't even care to keep your own continuity straight, never mind respecting other writers' work, then I just don't think you're a good writer for episodic TV, no matter how snappy your dialogue is. From what I gather from other people's comments, he seems to suck at developing a satisfying series arc plot, as well.

I actually wonder sometimes how much of his scripts under RTD's rule actually was his own original ideas. I mean, I've heard that RTD could be very meddlesome with the other writers, and IIRC at least Robert Shearman complained that the actually filmed version of "Dalek" really doesn't have much in common anymore with his original script. (I've once read what supposedly was the original script online, and if it was the real thing, he's completely right. But it could have been a fake, so I don't know. That script certainly did have quite a bit in common with Shearman's DW comic "The Cruel Sea".) And AKFAIK, RTD specifically asked for Jack to be introduced in TEC, he wasn't Moffat's creation. In The Shooting Scripts (Yes, I'm enough of a NewWho series 1 fan to have imported that heavy tome from the UK.) it also says that the way the Nanogenes work doesn't really make sense because he was forced to cut out a few minutes out of the climax of TDD due to scheduling problems with the night shoots. Lines that were cut before they actually filmed the scenes aren't actually written in the book, so I don't know.

(While I have the book open, Moffat's commentary to those scripts also has these in hindsight rather telling paragraphs:
"The mysterious crashed vessel was once Captain Jack's own ship, time-looped and invisible, having arrived the previous month from the near future. Yes, well, clever in its stupidly complicated way, I suppose. But Chris would've need three extra pages to explain it all, plus a flip chart and a pointer. [...] Anyway, as Phil wept like a grown man about the budget, Russel H Gardner (for decency's sake, I'm conflating the Welsh) guided me towards a simpler story, Julie would keep asking me to change my set descriptions from 'stunningly vast' to 'stunningly compact', and Helen would tactfully suggest that explaining the plot at some point would be a positive, and Russel would enthuse away Welshly, demanding more death and destruction, like Neddy Seagoon in a fit of blood-lust." )

I was refering to the film cutting editor before when I said that some problematic lines didn't make it into the broadcast version. But they're still in the shooting script and probably would have been on the DVD if the BBC hadn't burned all the cut footage. Sadly we also lost a few really good bits from RTD-written episodes that were probably cut for running time. Such as Rose calling Adam out on some mild but typical adolescent male geek sexism/classism, or a bit at the end of "The Parting of the Ways" that made it clear that RTD understood that it wasn't okay for the Doctor to rob Rose of her agency and send her away like a child. By the way, the actual script editor to get all those S1 scripts to a filmable level and into a cohesive whole was Helen Raynor. I shudder to think what the early series would have looked like without her. Well, IMDB says she was also script editor for much of the second series, including "New Earth" which I consider to be one of the most offensive and worst written NewWho episode ever (RTD is far from perfect), so perhaps she didn't have as much positive influence as I thought.