Random Bits from Facebook
Life in my household:
When we watch TV at home, I sit on the floor, with my back against the front of the couch. It's peculiar, but comfortable (for me). My computer sits on a small stool, which leaves me lots of options to shift my feet around and change positions. This time of year, I am usually in shorts and barefoot.
Yesterday, I was at the computer, and noticed something odd on the outside edge of my left foot. I did a minor contortion so that I could see the area, and found a staple driven neatly into my foot; if I were standing, it would have been parallel to, and about 20 mm above, the floor. I needed a tool to remove it, and it was NOT painless. No idea how it got there.
Maybe I was marked down for clearance, but the tag fell off.
Life in my household:
We frequently slide into "Calvin and Hobbes" parallels; you never know, around here, when a plush toy will come to life and hold a conversation with you. Of course, there isn't just one plush toy, there are... MANY. This morning, during a random speculation as to why there was no green faction in Pokemon Go, a grumpy faced green stegasaurus named McCoy offered (with some help from Dementia), "Don't ask me. I'm a dinosaur, not a philosopher."
I didn't QUITE collapse to the floor from laughter.
I love my wife...
Two things to say about the new Doctor Who that I haven't heard before: One, she will be the 14th Doctor, not the 13th. There is NO reason to omit John Hurt that still allows you to count Paul McGann. So 14, OK? Also... Check out the completely functional, real person in stressful situation shoes!
Life in my household:
Dementia (while practicing the ukulele): This can't be right!
Hyena: Say what?
Dementai: The head chart wants me to play an H7.
Hyena: Maybe it's a Red Dwarf reference? Nah...
And here we have the apparent source, and a cogent explanation, of a statement I have often heard and have heretofore never had context for. It would seem to have originally meant, "Consistency of tone is preferable to occasional flashes of brilliance."
"If you here require a practical rule of me, I will present you with this: ‘Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it—whole-heartedly—and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings." --Arthur Quiller-Couch, "On the Art of Writing"
Wikipedia tells me that Kenneth Grahame's "Water Rat" was based on Grahame's friend Arthur Quiller-Couch, a writer and critic who gave the world the phrase, "Murder your darlings." But there is another option. In his book "The Surgeon of Crowthorne" (more recently known as "The Professor and the Madman"), Simon Winchester proposes that Ratty was inspired by one of Grahame's mentors, one Frederick James Furnivall.
Furnivall was one of the co-founders, and a significant contributor, to the project that became "The Oxford English Dictionary". He was also an incorrigible flirt and an avid oarsman, and (combining those two things) the founder of the world's first female rowing team.
As an oarsman and an incorrigible flirt, I tend to prefer the latter explanation...
48 years ago tonight, I was at a church run summer camp about five miles west of Iron River, Michigan, along with my brother Tim J Haynie, our friend Mitch Cooley, and pretty much every other camper and member of the camp staff, gathered in a partially refinished barn, watching history on a 12 inch (or so) portable black and white television. All of the REALLY dramatic stuff that was behind the scenes never made it onto the news, of course, but, well, it happened. I didn't actually care a great deal at the time; I was a pretty clueless kid...
In December of 1977, Clueless Tom was in Lincoln Park Chess and Games, looking at RPGs. He came upon a black six by nine box with no illustrations, only the text of a distress call from the free trader "Beowulf" and the name of the game: "Traveller (Science Fiction Adventure in the Far Future)." He would have pawned his mother to buy it.
It was over his head; he gave the box to me, I learned the game, taught it to him. He gave me that box, bought another for himself. Even though many of the game's systems remained over his head, it remained one of his favorite for the rest of his life (and the only competition for that title was the unpublished Lortzian "Dark Worlds").
Today (July 22) is the 40th anniversary of the release of "Traveller" at Origins in 1977. I have that same black box next to me right now, and I am about to relive one of the strangest experiences in the world or RPGs, generating a Traveller character. The process is simple but occasionally lengthy, and is one of Traveller's odder claims to fame: Your characters can DIE in the generation process, before you get a chance to play them.
Here's to Marc Miller and the people of Game Designers Workshop, who produced the thing, and to Clueless Tom, who dragged me into it.
On Friday, two different people went out of their way to compliment me on my wheel covers. I have had the them for most of a year, and this has never happened before (at least not with strangers; people who know me have asked me about the frequently). Don't know what to make of that.
I've been working my way through an audio version of, "The Professor and the Madman", by Simon Winchester. It often makes me cry in second (or maybe third) differential wonder. That is, there is nothing special about Winchester's prose, of the structure that he imposes on the story, but the material underneath it... Just WOW. In the late 1850s, a group of smug and over-educated Englishmen decided that it would be a good idea to create a definitive portrait and history of the English language. All of it. They had only the vaguest idea of what they were getting themselves into, and yet they, or rather their successors, because the project ultimately took 70 years, more or less succeeded. If they had not been arrogant idiots, they would not have tried, because the project should have been impossible. And yet...
The history of the Oxford English Dictionary is so improbable, so frequently absurd, that it staggers the imagination. I listen, and am awe stricken, and I cry for the beauty of it all. Grand adventures don't need deadly danger, just unimaginably long odds.
"I was pretty sure it was going to work out when I realized that we each had our own personal copy of the OED." ---Julia (Dementia) Haynie, once upon a time.
"A man is a very small thing, and the night is very large and full of wonders." --Edward Plunkett, Baron Dunsany
It's Lord Dunsany's birthday. Among MANY other things, he was to English language fantasy literature in the first half of the 20th century pretty much what Tolkien was in the second half. He was also, according to the White Box edition of Dungeons & Dragons, the creator of the gnoll.
Here's to his Lordship, who told the stories to the storytellers who told the stories to us.
Dementia: If there's any justice in the world, Hillary Clinton has a portrait of Theodora up on her wall, somewhere...
I got out my "Traveller" collection last weekend in honor of the game's 40th anniversary, and have been toying with it on and off for the last several days. It remains, as ever, deeply flawed but often brilliant. I am enjoying the experience for the same reason I enjoy the TV show, "The Expanse". That is, it makes me remember what it felt like to see space travel as exciting and hopeful, and NOT as a depressing impossibility. I miss that...
When it comes to matters of refit, repair, and replacement, achaeological truth and magical truth are diametrically opposed. Oddly, in this case Llyod's of London is squarely on the side of the magicians.
July 29 (today, as it happens) is the International Day of the Tyger, which led to William Blake's "The Tyger", which led to some grammatical foolishness. Note the first stanza:
Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
Say what? FEARFUL symmetry? How have I never noticed that before? The word should be FEARSOME (or possibly frightful). The Tyger is frightening, not afraid. OK, I acknowlege that one has to make allowances for linguistic drift, but in modern terms, "fearful" is offensive. All of the local tigers (there are four) certainly think so.
I was out Pokemongering this afternoon at about 1:00 PM, walking east on the south side of Grand Avenue approaching Powell Park. I saw a young couple coming up the hill through the park from the river. They were twentyish, and oddly well dressed. He was wearing a short sleeved white dress shirt, black pants, and black shoes; she was wearing a short but otherwise demure dress and rhinestone flip-flops. They got to the corner, turned right, and kept walking about ten feet in front of me. He was carrying a folder of some kind.
We all stopped at the same time; they were right next to the park sign, I was still ten feet away; the sign is a Pokestop, and an Ingress portal. The man looked at his folder, and I asked if they were doing the jigsaw (This is a reference to a current "Tour the Parks" game from the Waukegan Park Distict.). He said no, his surname was Powell, and he wanted a picture with the park sign. They asked me if I would snap it, and I did. They went back west, and I played my game for a minute or two.
They were waiting on Uber at the corner of Ash Street. I asked for permission to be nosy, got it, and commented that they seemed over dressed for a walk in the park. They replied that they had just gotten married. I congratulated them and asked if they were hiding from the crowd, and they said, no, it had been a very small, informal ceremony. Ne had just completed boot at Great Lakes, and was bound for another school in South Carolina, and they had decided it was time to tie the knot; the family could catch up later. I spoke up in favor of small, informal weddings, told them Dementia and I had been married on consecutive days two hundred miles apart.
Uber arrived, I congratulated them again, and we went on our respective ways.
Met nephew Jake and his lady Grace on their way home from their first ever trip to the Ren Faire for a couple of hours of conversation. Much fun.