August 1st, 2021

Panoply

Random Bits from Facebook

July 16:
Posted Elsewhere:
Back in the long ago, we used to do a thing at parties where everyone would do a simultaneous shot of Everclear. It was all the alcohol anyone got for the evening, and it was pretty much the beginning of the party, so no one left drunk. There was trick to it. You took a deep breath first, tossed the shot, and then stood there with your mouth open and your head back for as long as you could, while the fumes cleared your esophagous. Because if you inhaled too soon, and got Everclear fumes into your lungs, it BURNED, and made you want to die. We never told the newbies that until they had experienced it the first time. The experience made such an impression on one particular girl that, five years later, she would still cringe and say, "Ohgodohgodohgod" whenever anyone said, "Everclear."

July 16:
Esoterica Mathematica: Tesseracts (or, Down Another Rabbit Hole)
In Abbott's "Flatland", there is a point where Square finally GETS it, and not only believes in the third dimension, but actually more or less understands it. In fact, he understands it well enough to begin postulating the possibility of a FOURTH dimension, which upsets his mentor Sphere enough that he tells Square to shut up. One of my cranial denizens picked up the theme, and has been bothering me about it ever since I finished reading Abbott's book.
The accompanying image is a pretty standard 2-D presentation of a highly distorted 3D visualization of a 4-D concept. It isn't bad, but you begin to understand the extent of the distortion when you realize that all eight of the cubes presented (inner, outer, and six distorted medials) are identical in all respects. If you can handle THAT, the other anomalies like each edge being surrounded by three 90 degree angles that add up to 360 degress should come easily...
I have always pretty much written the tesseract off as interesting but pointless, and that hasn't changed. Yesterday, though, I gave in to that persistent cranial denizen, and put some time into seeing the tesseract as clearly as I could. Here is what I came up with.
First, consider that each of the eight cubical cells shares one face with each of six of its sister cells, but does NOT share a face with the seventh, thus creating four pairs of relatively isolated cells within the structure. This corresponds to the vertices of a cube, in that each vertex shares a face with six of the others, but not the seventh. Hmmm.
All right, then, let's graph stuff. A unit tesseract can be described as all values between zero and one (inclusive) along four axis plots, w, x, y, and z. These can be represented with either two simultaneous 2-D plots (x,y and w,z) or four simultaneous 3-D plots (w,x,y; x,y,z; w,y,z; w,x,z). To begin, each of the 2-D plots shows a square, and each of the 3-D plots shows a cube.
Let's set w to zero, and see what happens. x,y still shows a square, but w,z shows a line segment. x,y,z (henceforth not-w) still shows a cube, but the other three 3-D plots show 2-D squares. Set w to one, and x,y and not-w don't change, but the line and the squares move. So... Eight combinations of this, which happens to correspond to the eight cells of the tesseract.
If we set w and z to zero, x,y still shows a square, and w,z shows a point. The cubes are gone from the 3-D plots, some of which show squares, and some of which show only line segments. Same deal, with different locations, if one or both of the limited variables is forced to one. There are 24 such combinations, which correspond to the 24 square faces within the tesseract.
If we set THREE of the variables to zero (or one, independently), we get points and line segments only. There are 32 of these combinations, which correspond to the edges of the tesseract.
Last permutation: Set all four variables (independently) to either one or zero, and you get nothing but points on all six plots. There are 16 of these combinations, which define the vertices of the tesseract.
So... Eight cells, 24 faces, 32 edges, and 16 vertices, all of which now have names (boring, cryptic names, but names nonetheless). I still can't see the thing clearly, but I can see it better. And while this is FAR from the bottom of this particular rabbit hole, it's more than deep enough for today.

July 17:
So... On Wednesday, I fought my way through a BAD case of threshold anxiety, and finally bought a season pass for the Ren Faire. And then today, I went up there with a sign on my hat that said, "May I tell you a story?" I got there just before 2:00, and left just before 7:00.
When I came up with the idea and made the sign, more than a year ago, there were certain things I hoped to have happen, certain ways I wanted the Faire to react to me. Today, I got every single one of them.
There were the usual bits of interaction, though there seemed to be more of them. I did "Puff and Leroy" twice, "It's the Math..." twice, and "Old, fat, ugly, and poor" three times. And then...
People looked at my hat and said, "Yes, you may," and I asked them how much time they had; two minutes for a poem, more like ten for a short story. The very first time, they backed out after the time question, but after that...
I ended up reciting "Fortune's Toy" at least seven times (I lost track), and I read "The Turtle's Question" three times, always to GREAT effect.
I was even offered money, once, refused it, and then refused it a second time, saying, "I'm not part of the Faire, and I could be thrown off the midway," and that settled it. (For the record, that exact transaction was ON my Bingo card.)
So I spent the afternoon at the Faire, playing the visitors, and probably had my best day at the Faire ever. And the Faire will be there again tomorrow...

July 18:
Another day at the Faire... Got there a little later, left at about the same time. Did "Fortune's Toy" several times, "When the Tall Man Speaks" once, read "The Turtle's Question" once and also "Laggy's Last Game". "Turtle" got me a serving of mead as a tip (HOW do you turn THAT down?), something that wasn't on my Bingo card because I had never imagined it happening.
I may have a sort-of regular gig to do my thing for the crew at the archery booth at the south edge of midway late in the day when the traffic dies.
Standard Hyena-schtick along the way: "Are you from Chicago?" (once yesterday, and once today), and "Pink Lemonade". I also SANG "Stormbringer" for the archery crew.
EVERYTHING worked. It's kind of amazing, and a TON of fun.
(A note on Hyena-schtick: *I* know what I'm talking about, and will happily rerun anything you're curious about. Which is something of a karmic closed loop...)

July 19:
My Faire shirts this year are two-decade-old "Adventure Shirts" from the now defunct Diva Lifewear, archaically designed button down shirts with flounced sleeves. The one I wore this weekend was sold as "Boysenberry"; it's a somewhat ruddy purple, with two decades of fade. Given the essential tackiness of wearing purple or blue to a Ren Faire, I had occasion on Saturday to describe it as, "red, with delusions of empire." It immediately occurred to me, as someone who once made his living dealing with hundreds of nearly identical colors with profoundly silly names, that, "Delusions of Empire" was a name that would sell itself to the vast majority of my friends, assuming they were looking for purple paint in the first place. It would certainly work for me...

July 20:
On the "Unofficial Bristol" board:
I have been going to Bristol at least once a year for nearly 30 years, and I had season passes in 2016 and 2019. I know the Faire and its denizens pretty well, and I have many off-the-midway friends who have been street cast, shop help, and shop owners. Over the course of the 2019 season, I started polling them as to whether I should try to get on street cast for 2020. The basic answer was, "It's a LOT of fun," but the people in that group who knew me best were more wary. "Obligation and Joy do not share your head peacefully," they said. "It would be a big risk for you."

I came up with an alternative plan. Going into the 2020 season, I decided I would NOT do anything formal, just wander the Faire with a sign on my hat that said, "May I Tell You a Story?" and see what developed. And then the plague hit.

So now, 2021. I missed the first weekend, but spent about ten hours on the midway during the second, wearing "The Hat", wandering, talking to people, being me. Several people saw that hat and said, "Yes, you may," and I was off.

"How much time do you have?" I would ask. "Two minutes for a poem, ten minutes for a story." Only one questioner walked away; more than a dozen asked for a poem, five asked for a story. One person offered me tip money, and I turned it down, saying I was not part of the Faire; one person offered me mead, and I hesitated, then accepted, thinking it was money being spent that might not otherwise be.

When you perform, there is a moment when something happens in the audience's eyes, and you know that you have gotten through, that the magic is HAPPENING. This weekend, it happened EVERY SINGLE TIME. There is so much joy in that...

So... Best Faire weekend EVER. Seven more to go. May I tell you a story?

July 20:
Rules Were Made to be Broken:
I am not particularly fond of the practice of breaking the fourth wall. The technique can be effective in comedy, but it is usually destructive in drama. That doesn't mean it can't work, though... We finished watching "The Queen's Gambit" tonight (and it is, as everyone says, VERY good), and there was a moment, 2 seconds out of a six and a half hour presentation, when the main character hung up a telephone, and, without moving her face, looked straight through the fourth wall into the audience. It was FABULOUS; in a theater, the audience would have cheered. At home, I just laughed joyfully, and wound it back to watch the moment again. Pure magic.

July 21:
Back when I was writing "Fiddler's Rose", I wasted some time trying to come up with a gender-neutral alternative for "journeyman" that doesn't sound contrived. I used "Quester" in the "Perf" stories, but was never happy with it. Of course, the answer was in front of me all along: Errant and or errantrist. As in, "Sorcerer Errant". or, "Errantrist Sorcerer. Which will no doubt be relevant somewhere along the line. (I discovered along the way that French alternative to "journeyman" is "companion" which is at least interesting.)

July 22:
Refrigerator-jutsu: When the only advantage you have is size, sometimes the only functional tactic is to fall on top of your opponent, and hope for the best.
(This is a two-decade-plus old bit of Hyena-schtick that I dropped on some of my nephews yesterday, and found they had never heard me say it before. So I thought it deserved a bit of daylight.)

July 24:
On Tuesday, I posted a photo and a description of my Storyteller efforts at Bristol last weekend on the "Unofficial Bristol" board, and it got a LOT more traffic than I expected. I suspect that this will have an impact on today's activities... (100 reactions)

July 27:
From the Dredge. Sharing mostly to make sure it gets archived, but, well, it's very much still true.
From 2016:
I have been thinking more and more lately that the biggest single lie I have ever encountered is the aphorism, "Money can't buy happiness." It's true that not all sources of unhappiness can be bought off, and it is also true that there is no amount of money that will GUARANTEE happiness. But still, the vast majority of unhappiness in the world BEGINS with a lack of money. The actual fact of the matter is that money CAN buy happiness most of them time, and even when it can't, it can almost always mitigate the unhappiness.

July 27:
E. Gary Gygax would have been 83 today. Get together with some friends and play a table game in his honor. (Bonus points for using non-cubical dice.)

July 28:
Just finished watching "Gunpowder Milkshake". It's hyperviolent and huge amounts of fun, pretty much exactly what it says on the label. If you like this kind of thing, you will like this. We certainly did.

July 29:
Hyena-speak:
Sometimes I use words or expressions that sail right over my listener's head, and I never realize the meaning was missed. During a conversation at Bristol, someone commented that all of my stories end with a small twist, and I replied that I like to end with a rim-shot of some kind. One of the listeners asked for a definition of the term, and I was taken aback. Didn't everyone know? Subsequent investigation has determined that no, they do NOT. So, we go to YouTube for a seven second demonstration. (Thump, thump, ching.)