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 04:29 on 11-02-2015, Arthur B
I'm pretty sure In a Foreign Town, In a Foreign Land was conceived as a collaboration between Ligotti and Current 93. Which is cool, anything that distracts David Tibet from further engagement with the Boyd Rice/Doug P./Death In June end of goth-folk is to be encouraged.
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at 02:36 on 11-02-2015, Alasdair Czyrnyj
Oh God...I've been rereading Teatro Grottesco, so seeing that picture of Mr. Rogers with all his puppets with that quote from "The Clown Puppet"...lawls were had, has the children say.

Also, I was introduced to iTunes over the holidays, and I found this: a musical accompaniment to Ligotti's "In A Foreign Town, In A Foreign Land" stories by the postindustrial/experimental Brit group Current 93. Looking at their discography they appear to be fans of Mr. Ligotti.
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at 15:56 on 10-02-2015, Arthur B
Still not got around to tackling Ligotti's The Conspiracy Against the Human Race, but here's Mr Rogers sharing some of Ligotti's wisdom.
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at 17:22 on 08-02-2015, Arthur B
So I just watched The Purge and I don't really have thoughts on it developed enough to be worth an article, beyond these:

- I thought it would have been a much better film if it had avoided the "creepy masked killers" angle entirely (because we already have The Strangers) and instead just concentrated on the early conflict between the dad and the daughter's boyfriend. Have dad and boyfriend go into a room privately to thrash out their differences, then have gunshots blare out and the two men burst out of the room in different directions, both claiming that the other drew first. Boom bang, you suddenly have a family civil war playing out within the confines of a suburban house.

- On which note, the mass killing of the poor the film plays out would of course be a near-inevitable consequence of the Purge, but I think they missed the point that the day after the Purge you'd find an awful lot of security systems being opened up by concerned police to reveal a total massacre of the occupants with no signs of break-in.

- As pointed out by my brother when we were discussing it, if all crime is legal during the Purge, why is it good for the economy? "All" crime includes white collar embezzlement, so shouldn't every company of every significance go bust overnight as its management plunders its accounts for all they're worth?

In short, the filmmakers pitch The Purge as this big "what if" exercise but then they don't offer anything but the most shallow possible speculation as to what the consequences of the Purge would be.
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at 02:19 on 03-02-2015, Alasdair Czyrnyj
So Star Trek Online may be dying a slow painful death, but if you still need a Trek fix, there's something wonderful out there for you: Star Trek Armada III: A Call to Arms, a total conversion for the hybrid RTS-4X game Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion. I've been tinkering with it on and off over the past few weeks, and it is amazing. There's a bit of a learning curve (I'd recommend playing around with the base game before installing the mod just so you can figure out how it handles), but once you get the rhythms it become the biggest Trek playset you never had. This thing is truly a labor of love; looking at the ship and station loadouts is a trip down '90s Trek gaming memory lane, and damn near everything is useful in some way or another.

Also, if the late TNG era don't float your boat, they're working on a second mod set in the pre-TOS days that should be out by the end of the year.
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at 17:26 on 02-02-2015, Arthur B
Russell Madness. Because talking animal movies and underdog-in-sporting-event movies aren't hit-and-miss enough by themselves.
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at 21:07 on 01-02-2015, Melanie
The real trouble began the day you arrived at court. Every last nobleman hides a viper in his smile. How you long for the purity of life in your village, which is currently on fire or something.


Magical.

But I think my favorite's all these "x in western art history" posts! "Women Rejecting Marriage Proposals In Western Art History". "Families Who Hate Each Other In Western Art History". "Women Having A Terrible Time At Parties In Western Art History". I love it.
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at 12:39 on 01-02-2015, Arthur B
The Toast is great, it's got one of the best signal/noise ratios of anything in my RSS reader.
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at 12:08 on 01-02-2015, Alice
I don't know who here also reads The Toast, but I suspect Ferretbrainers might enjoy these two pieces from their "how to tell what novel you're in" series:

How To Tell If You Are In A Soft Science Fiction Novel

How To Tell If You Are In A High Fantasy Novel
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at 19:09 on 31-01-2015, Arthur B
I have Conspiracy Against the Human Race on my Kindle - I'm thinking I should get around to reading it.
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at 17:30 on 31-01-2015, Alasdair Czyrnyj
I admit that I haven't read Conspiracy yet, but I have wondered that sort of pessimistic philosophy for a while now. I think that the key thing to remember is that these philosophies are not intended to attract converts. They operate on core assumptions, such as the inability of both materialism and metaphysics to provide fulfillment to human consciousness as well as the Gnostic malevolence of the universe, that most people do not accept. In my opinion, these philosophies are more for people who already accept the core principles, consciously or otherwise, and are looking for a way to organize their thoughts into a cohesive worldview. Mind you, I have no problem with this. While an optimistic worldview may be the majority, there will always be those who are either unwilling or unable to accept its principles, and coming up with an alternative philosophy seems a far better prospect than eternally torturing yourself by trying to fit into a world you don't want to be a part of.
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at 09:55 on 30-01-2015, Janne Kirjasniemi
I've been getting into Ligotti recently, I read Teatro Grottesco and The Conspiracy Against the Human Race. THey're very good, although in some the constant refernces to things which have some unthinkable attribute gets a bit worn out. I mean I get that those cosmic horror objects can't be described, but still...I'll be sure to get those reprints. I wonder has his sales figures picked up after he was alluded to in True Detective? Probably.

On The Conspiracy, that sort of anti-natalist pessimism is supposed to be kind of depressive, I think, but for some reason, I find it sort of endearing. It's sort of like realizing the four truths of Buddhism and then just dwelling on it, instead of trying to accept it.
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at 03:00 on 30-01-2015, Robinson L
Ibmiller: I love Zahn's stuff as well - Icarus Hunt and the Quadrail series in particular.

I was wondering when you'd show up for the conversation.

Arthur: D'awww!

Okay, some of those are really funny, but many feel like they're kind of reaching to make the connection between image and quote - or maybe they require a more in-depth knowledge of of Lovecraft's works to get the full effect. Still an amusing diversion, though, thanks for sharing.
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at 00:27 on 30-01-2015, Alasdair Czyrnyj
For those of you out there tired of this meat nonsense and this puppet nonsense, I have some news: two of Thomas Ligotti's long out-of-print collections, Songs For A Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe: His Life And Works, are going to be reprinted in a single volume under the Penguin Classics imprint this October.

And remember: when you see the preorder button, you will know it is time.
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at 16:30 on 29-01-2015, Arthur B permalink
at 05:46 on 28-01-2015, Ibmiller
I love Zahn's stuff as well - Icarus Hunt and the Quadrail series in particular.
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at 18:00 on 24-01-2015, Robinson L
Ooh, recommendations. My all-time favorite is The Icarus Hunt, a standalone sci-fi mystery; I may post a review of it someday, if I ever organize time to write one.

My second favorite of his non-Star Wars stuff that I've read (and there's plenty I haven't gotten to yet), is the five-book Quadrail series, starting with Night Train to Rigel, a sort of noir train thriller ... in space.

Zahn's characters, though hardly Shakespearian, are usually fun, and I love how they often use cleverness and ingenuity to solve the problems they face in unexpected but plausible and exciting ways. Also, the man can pull out some amazing plot twists every so often.

Fair warning: Zahn seems to be pretty oblivious to issues of gender, race, etc.. He's not actively hateful, but every once in a while he'll come up with something which makes me look at the material askance. Or, in the case of Spinneret, on a semi-regular basis, but so far it's the only one, and even it has improved substantially since my last update. But just so you know.
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at 23:00 on 23-01-2015, James D
I've only read his Star Wars novels as a teenager - what non-Star Wars stuff by him would you recommend?
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at 03:02 on 21-01-2015, Robinson L
I'm currently reading Spinneret, a sci-fi novel published 30 years ago. Now, Timothy Zahn is one of my all-time favorite authors, despite issues like finding his politics rather tone-deaf. But oh goddess, 150 pages into this book, and I loathe the main character. Seriously, Zahn; this hypocritical, xenophobic, classist, racist little tinpot dictator is the guy I'm supposed to be rooting for?
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at 03:30 on 10-01-2015, Robinson L
I'm shocked, shocked, I tell you.


Speaking of paranoia-prone reactionary politics, my journalist friend whose stuff I've linked once or twice before has apparently already gotten quite a bit of flak for basically saying let's not blame Muslims as a whole for the Charlie Hebdo attack or try to explain it in terms of "clash of civilizations" bullshit, mmkay?. (Oh, and also that expressing our compassion for Charlie Hebdo and outrage at the killings need not and ought not be conflated with minimizing or denying their faults.)

I'm disturbed by the apparent suggestion of mental illness as a valid alternative interpretation for the killers' motivation in the third to last paragraph, but otherwise, I think it's a solid and clear-headed article.
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at 10:10 on 09-01-2015, Arthur B
For those pondering whether GamerGate is a genuinely new phenomenon or merely an evolution of paranoia-prone reactionary movements of the past, the fact that they're willing to accept tweaked John Birch Society rants as pro-Gamergate manifestos would kind of point to the latter.
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at 01:29 on 09-01-2015, Michal
Sad Puppies 3 is a go.

It feels waaaaaaaay to early in the year for Hugo talk, and yet all my feeds are brimming with it.
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