Lexifabricographer For when the right word just won’t do…

August 23, 2010

The Monday after the weekend before

Filed under: fitter/happier,friends,joey,political sniping,the renovated life — lexifab @ 10:47 pm

NEW BABY

Dear friends Andrew and Veronica have just announced the birth of their beautiful baby girl Jade. Mother and baby both doing well, and father sounding exhausted and smug when I spoke to him this afternoon. I expect there will be an avalanche of photos available on the interwebs shortly.

HOUSE IN RUINS

So late last week we started to notice that there was water appearing on the floor in the kitchen. Naturally everyone – including me – made the reasonable assumption that I was responsible, spilling too much and cleaning up too little when washing up. It soon became apparent that in fact there was something else going on, that the water was seeping up between the seams of the floating floor slats and presumably up through the floorboards themselves. The floating floor boards are just a laminate, so any water that gets into them for any length of time causes them to swell and start to disintegrate. These ones may have had moisture in them for several weeks, which means at least half the boards in the kitchen are probably screwed beyond repair. And while we have some spares set aside for emergencies, we are pretty sure that we don’t have enough to replace the number that have probably been affected by this incident. And we’re damned sure that, with a two year old in the house and another on the way, we can’t face having to seal off the kitchen while we rip the ruined ones up and replace them.

An expedition to the underworld (played this week by the dusty, cat-faeces-choked subfloor crevice) revealed that…something was leaking in the laundry cabinet off to the side of the kitchen. Last night we turned various taps off (not the right ones, as it turned out, but in my defense there was no obvious visible evidence to suggest what was actually causing the leak) and hoped that the problem would start to fix itself overnight. Not so much. When I looked again this morning the drips were, if anything, more frequent than they were yesterday. Calls to the insurance company followed. Looks like they will cover part of the replacement but not all of it – the floorboards cover the dining room and the hallway that leads to the bathroom and study as well, so if we replace anything we more or less have to replace the lot.At the moment we are considering tiles or another form of timber covering (the floorboards themselves were in a pretty ordinary state, which is one of the reasons we covered them with the floating floor in the first place). There is also the possibility that the underlying floorboards and even the beams will have been damaged by the water leakage, so this could get quite expensive in the end. We think that insurance (or “gambling for pessimists”, as I like to think of it) will cover anything serious like that, but we allow room for the company to disappoint us on that score.

SICKENED

I crashed early last night with aches and pains and then spent most of the night awake with horrible wracking muscle spasms. Yet another frigging flu, I presume. That must be the third or fourth minor flu for the season – more than I managed last year, for certain. I daresay the change factor this year is the Joey’s childcare attendance, where he is undoubtedly exposed to every foul pestilence known to man, including the ones he himself is only too happy to share with the violent sneezes he inherited from his father and the occasional lapse in mouth covering discipline, which he also may have picked up from the paternal side. Have gradually recovered during the day, to the point now where I am wide awake and in only mild discomfort. Despite drinking litres of water, i still feel dehydrated, which is going to be just peachy during the night, I’ll warrant.

POLITICS

I was a bit too ill to spend much time to day catching up on the machinations of the independents and the musings of the polly-watchers, but I am quite keen to get back into that as soon as I can. A hung parliament is likely to be an exercise in protracted horror, certainly, but at least it is interesting. A friend cautions me not to get too optimistic about the prospect of general improvement in the conduct of the parliament as a result of the changed balance of power. Nevertheless it looks a lot like independent Rob Oakeshott is going to lead the charge for parliamentary reform and try to get some much needed quality control back into the procedures for the House of Reps. I like his moxie too, in putting his foot down and saying that if the big parties can’t do that, at least, then it’s back to the polls for the lot of you. Myself, I hope a minority government forms and he and the other two to three to four non-party members kick some common decency into the House.

I notice that he has a surprisingly non-annoying web site, for an Australian politician.

August 22, 2010

The Katter in the Hat is Back

Filed under: political sniping — lexifab @ 10:55 am

On further reflection, I may have been unkind to Bob Katter last night. (Though not about being a dim parochial yahoo with a random non sequitur generator attached to his frontal lobe). I now think that in his interview with Kerry O’Brien, which rambled all over the shop and touched on various points about the US and UK political systems, that he was trying (without success) to allude to the poor state of parliamentary debate that has crept into Australian politics over the past few years.

One of the reasons to be slightly optimistic about the otherwise-horrible prospect of a hung parliament is that whoever takes power – and I guess I have to choke on my own vitriol and admit that it’s probably going to be Tony Abbott – will have to change the way they do business. Under Howard and even more so under Rudd, the will and capacity between the big parties to negotiate and compromise in order to enact good laws has eroded to the point where each is incapable of conceding in the other even the slightest virtue. Question time is a pointless joke, senate enquiries are more often than not purposeless witch hunts designed to uncover nonexistent smoking guns, disagreements are vicious more often than they are spirited, and what traces of bipartisan goodwill linger in the body politic smell more than a little off.

Having to get policy through a collection of independents and Greens who do not occupy the political centre-right (as both of the major parties do, give or take a notch or two) means that the new PM and Cabinet will actually have to engage with allies and opponents both and treat them with a measure of respect. I think Gillard is capable of this, and I grudgingly concede that it’s likely that Abbott can step up as well. Rudd and Turnbull, the PMs-most-likely as at the start of the year, are both monomaniacal autocrats who need to be in charge of everything. Both would have found themselves struggling in the heady new environment of today.

If a hung parliament leads to a more humble and inclusive minority government that must debate with integrity and negotiate in good faith, then the certain pain of the next few months will have been worth it. Of course, more likely is that the whole thing will disintegrate in acrimony and recrimination and we’ll be back at the polls before Xmas.

It is possible – likely – that Bob Katter meant nothing of the sort, and that he remains the same deranged Joh loyalist and climate change ignoramus he always was. With the spotlights that will turn on him in the next week or two, we won’t die wondering.

August 21, 2010

Nothing but politics and corned beef

Filed under: political sniping — lexifab @ 10:08 pm

Tonight I am going to liveblog the election coverage. The baby is in bed, the dinner is in preparation and soon I will be tucking into some very delicious corned beef. A classic dish for a traditional, good old fashioned election night session of beer and yelling abuse at the smug gits of the Coalition. It’s still early yet, but I am getting disquieting clues that this is going to be the first night of a very long epoch of darkness and horror. But enough editorialising, let’s go to the blogging:

7:32 Kerry O’Brien is talking to a Lemming, apparently. Lemming is congratulating Tony Abbott for a fantastic campaign. Credits the fishing vote, which is a little strange. Abbott’s marathon man efforts have delivered the seat. Still no idea what seat that was. Daresay that will be the last we hear of the Lemming.

7:34 Steve Smith is looking a bit nervous and is writing stuff down to avoid meeting Kerry and Anthony’s eyes. (Brief editorial note: still can’t stand fucking Nick Minchin, smuggest of all Coalition members).

7:35 Taking a break to carve the corned beef. Back soon.

7:37 Crossing to Tony Jones with George Brandis and Penny Wong. George Brandis = Dick Cheney. To his credit he is not sounding as smug as he might about the Queensland swing away from the ALP. Banner notifies us that porn-moustached war hero Mike Kelly has retained the alleged bellwether seat of Eden-Monaro (right on our doorstop). Wong is putting on a brave face.

7:43 Dinner break!

7:44 Greene is suggesting that it’s a dead heat. I think that this is not going to be resolved tonight, is it? Bizarre news – Warren Entsch has been returned three years after his retirement. Peter Dutton has also retained his seat, despite demonstrable incompetence in every respect for the past – what, six years? Longer? My old home state is a bit of a disappointment, but I really only retain parochial pride in the Qld State of Origin team, so whatever.

7:51 Looks liek a human zygote named Wyatt Roy (WTF) has become the youngest-ever Member of Parliament. Good luck to him. Handsome lad. Pity he’s a Liberal candidate and (being a Young Lib) is probably a horribly face-punchable toad.

7:55 Stopped briefly to sooth my choking heart with some salty corned beef and crumbly broiled taters, smothered in white sauce. Might be my sole consolation for this election night. Current count is ALP 64 to LNP 53. Looks like Maxine McKew has lost Bennelong to the Libs’ star-powered candidate, Some Tennis Guy I Should Remember. Sad that McKew lost her seat, but unsurprising since she hasn’t put in a media appearance since the last election.

7:59 Informal vote rate nearly 6%. “The Latham Effect?” No, more like the “You guys are all the fucking same Effect”.

8:00 Kerry puts Smith on the spot – “looking good for the other side with all those ifs and buts”. Smith not quite ready to concede it yet, which is probably fair enough. Now discussing Hung Parliament possibility. LNP can’t count on the three conservative independents. Would be a sad state of affairs if three independents controlled the lower house and the Greens the upper. That’s a little too anarchic even for my tastes.

8:02 Greene forecasting the increasing possibility of a hung parliament.Somewhat likely that it will come down to the swing against the government in WA. 12 seats crossing from red to blue, with 3 independents in the mix. Someone just said that the Green candidate in Lindsay Tanner’s old seat is looking good. Greens picking up a hefty chunk of the primary swing away from the ALP, rather than the Coalition.

8:05 Food break.

8:08 Now crossing to the seat in Northern Victoria where “Governor” Fran Bailey (recently retired) won last time by 31 votes after the third count. Voting irregularities discussed. Disappointingly this is not “voting boxes set on fire by rabid Green protesters” but “AEC technicality discounts a small handful of votes as invalid”.

8:10 Overwhelming impression is that the Greens have picked up a huge chunk of Labor’s primary vote.

8:15 Child is being annoying about going to sleep, by not doing it.

8:15 Mad bastard Warren Entsch is blaming the Wilderness Society for the persecution of indigenous Australians as a fund raising trick. Or something. Hard to work out what the hell he’s on about, as usual. Rambling on like a very drunk sheep. We’ve missed his kind in Australian politics. Oh no, wait, no we haven’t.

8:18 Vote counting has just started in WA. This is what it all comes down to, of course. Think I need to finish eating and drink some beer.

8:20 Looks like the Green candidate has won Tanner’s old seat of Melbourne. Julia Gillard’s picked up a huge swing in her own seat. “Rah rah Julia,” cheers her electorate, “we don’t care who you stabbed!” Tony Abbott also retains own seat with swing towards him (not as big as Julia’s ha ha!)

8:25 “At what point will senior Labor power brokers admit that getting rid of a Queensland Prime Minister was a mistake, given that Queenslanders are waiting for them with baseball bats?” Tony Jones is a snide genius, but I have to admit that Paul Howes deserves it.

8:30 What have we learned tonight? Small target campaigning overwhelmingly favours the conservatives. ABC election coverage is the only sane option. (Nine’s vomitous coverage is Teh Horrid). Labor screwed themselves getting rid of Kevin Rudd just slightly less than they would have screwed themselves by keeping him. Australia would rather have a hung parliament than elect a ginger or a woman or an atheist or an unmarried PM. And I am not exactly the world’s most exciting election night liveblogger.

Update 1: Hung parliament, possibly favouring the Coalition. Maxine McKew’s interview with Kerry O’Brien pretty much nailed it – Labor wounded themselves when they failed to properly take credit for steering the economy through the GFC, and then committed seppuku by walking away from its commitment to its carbon tax (not that the CPRS was in any way good policy, but it was bad politics to surrender on it. The weak fuckers should have taken the first double dissolution trigger and rolled the Coalition in May).

August 20, 2010

An update, absent political commentary

Filed under: fitter/happier,joey,wordsmithery,workin for the man — lexifab @ 12:42 am

If there is anything that validates me more as a human being with utter mastery of his individual destiny than spending an entire day working with excel spreadsheets, I am sure that I don’t know what it is.

I would like to find out however.

Man, I am sick of fucking Excel spreadsheets. First of all there was the “quick win” job that my boss’ boss handed me about eight weeks ago, which has changed scope, shape and content about three times a week since. As a result I have been working on the damned thing constantly for that entire period. I am (give or take a day or two) eight weeks behind on the deadline-driven task which I am nominally employed to complete. Not to worry though, because the possible change of government on Saturday could mean the installation of a new minister, who might not want the information I’ve been working on at all (“That was all the baggage of the previous government. We’ll throw that lot out and come up with a program of our own!”) or, worse, will want it in yet another completely different format.

(You’ll notice that the problem I have is not with Excel per se, which these days is actually beginning to approach being an excellent product, much as it pains me to admit it. Excel is merely the scapegoat for my railing against the pointlessness of my recent career. It’s also excellent for that purpose).

The second set of spreadsheets was the trickier but potentially far more satisfying completion (still pending actually, because I gave up when my eyes started to go square) of the household books that  we will soon hand over to the accountants so that they can work out our taxes. It’s still baffling to me how much work we have to do just to get our accounts into shape to hand over to someone else to do the actual tax application but, as the accountants pointed out, their couple-of-hundred-bucks-an-hour-if-we-waste-their-time fee schedule is a compelling argument for me to sort the invoices and receipts into an orderly state and run up a couple of summary tables. It’s more complicated than that, of course, what with having to guesstimate which investment property expenses were repairs and which ones were improvements and where assets fit into all of this. I figure in about five or six years of doing the preparations for tax returns i might actually have some idea of what I’m doing.

Unless there is a financial apocalypse before then, but I’m not going to lose sleep over that one.

Other than that the rest of this week has been a bit of a blur. The Joey spent a couple more days with a sniffle, which meant that more or less since Rob left on Saturday I have had interrupted nights of sleep and very dozey days. I also haven’t (quite) managed to force myself to resume my exercise schedule, which was on hold while Rob was visiting as I thought it might be a bit inhospitable to trundle out the treadmill at 5 am every day and watch ‘The Wire’ on the TV while I pretend to be a power walker for an hour, across the room from where he was sleeping.

(By the way, is it just me or does everyone have problems running treadmills? Maybe it’s something about the shape or orientation of the one we’ve bought, but for the life of me I cannot get a fast running rhythm going on that thing without seriously threatening grief. I like to think of myself as reasonably coordinated – I can’t dance but I can run in a straight line – but damn I suck at treadmills).

Anyway, hopefully tomorrow morning the motivation will come back. Until the interruption I was actually making decent progress towards my ‘fitness goal’ – the somewhat unscientific but highly motivated “Make that gut smaller, mister” – which I hope to achieve before I have to appear in front of a crowd at Evan and Sara-Jane’s wedding in about six weeks. For about the first time in my life I was actually completing sets of situps and thinking with some seriousness about moving up to crunches. I daresay that my efforts to date will have gone to waste, or rather returned to waist. Ha ha kill me now.

I’m also doing some writing. I’m about a third of the way through a short story that I suspect will bloat out to a novella thanks to the writing technique I’m employing. Writing in chunks of 750-100 words at a time means that I tend to pad, and of course when you’re typing as fast as your fingers can think a lot of redundancy creeps into the prose. By the time I’m finished it it will probably be 40 to 50,000 words. At the moment I’m not convinced there’s enough meat to the story to justify that length, but we’ll see where it goes. Either I will need to pare it back a bit so that it’s a tighter novella-length piece, or I will have to rewrite it from the ground up as the short story it was intended as, which means a lot of footage is going to end up on the cutting room floor, as the misapplied and technologically obsolete expression goes.

August 13, 2010

The Emperor (deceased) is at rest

Filed under: geekery,now playing: anything — lexifab @ 1:07 am

And there it is, all over. The Emperor Must Die, the Burning Wheel campaign that we first conceived more than 18 months ago and started playing around Easter 2009, ended tonight with a sudden and unexpected flourish. The three kingslayers turned emperors – Constable Aetius, the grand general; Prelate Hesperia, the priestess chosen of the gods, and Kaeso, the (charcoal-cloaked) dark sorceror – completed their journey into power.

The campaign was originally conceived as a political drama concerning the chief lieutenants of an Alexander-like general who had just completed a campaign of conquest to subjugate the warring city states of a large peninsula. The three characters discovered that their leader was consorting with barbarian witches and conspiring to acts of heresy, based on forbidden knowledge he learned in ruins on a mysterious island. When they confronted him, his arrogance and irreverence towards their gods angered the three, and the would-be Emperor was slain on the eve of his coronation. Over the next year, they struggled to maintain the fragile imperial state, first uncovering a hive of sedition and spirit-sorcery in the northern city of Spinosa, which borders a mountain range crawling with hostile barbarians obsessed with bringing about the apocalypse. Kaeso learned that his mysterious alien teacher is actually a demonic entity that feeds on dying gods. Surviving a seditious uprising centred around a charismatic Spinosan agent, the three joined forced with the Pontifex (a holy figure) to encircle the city with wards that prevented all barbarian spirits from entering it. That broke the heart of the rebellion and brought the fractious state of Spinosa fully into the empire.

A year passed, and the three characters, having gained the temporary leave of the leaders of the imperial city-states to lead under the title of the Triumvirate, called a Ducal Conclave to consolidate their power. The city in which they met, Palinorum, became the scene of a number of religious miracles and demonic appearances. They learned that the gods of their pantheon were occasionally replaced by ascendant mortals, and that the gods and saints so displaced were consumed by the demonic entities of the Empty Houses between the stars. The Duke of the city was slaughtered by zombies under the control of a necromancer in the service of Kaeso’s father, the Duke of Aprillia (who knew nothing of his servant’s misdeeds). To preserve the integrity of the Conclave, Aetius locked the city down and had the necromancer assassinated, discovering in the process that another Duke was conspiring to rebel by smuggling weapons into the city. Confronting the rebel at the Conclave, the Triumvirate killed him and his demon allies as the Pontifex ascended to heaven.

Along the way bastard imperial heirs were born, clumsy love letters were composed, tattooed children were adopted, splendid horses were obtained, mad bombers were arrested, tsunamis attacked, eels were consumed, between two and three unnecessary wars were declared, prospective saints were stricken with blindness, any number of people were blasted with sorcerous lightning and burned with sorcerous fire, saints and gods made regular cryptic appearances, traitors were hunted, apocalypses were averted, the blasphemous island was wiped from the face of the earth and all sorts of other wackiness ensued.

This was one of the most satisfying campaigns I’ve ever participated in, let alone run. The game kept itself fresh and interesting by turning in all sorts of new directions on critical dice rolls. While there were not too many instances where we needed to call upon Burning Wheel’s Fight! mechanics, the Duel of Wits system got a regular workout, and quite often the storyline took a very unexpected turn as a result of a failed argument. The death of the emperor, which happened in about the third session, completely changed the course of events and turned the game from being about three ambitious followers squabbling and jockeying for the favour of their lord and master to three masters suddenly charged with the responsibility for holding together what they had helped to build or losing it all through negligence or inaction.

By the end of the game they had transformed from formidable characters with significant weakness to all-round powerhouses – they all had at least one supernaturally potent ability, and towards the conclusion of the game it was basically impossible to challenge them with physical threats, even from horrific monstrosities like Burning Wheel’s demons (Triumvir Hesperia burned two of them where they stood in the final session, before anyone else could even blink). Though we certainly did not wrap up every plotline and loose thread that had been established over the 25-session campaign, over the span of more than a year, we finished with the three rulers establishing a new order that would likely hold together. We all agreed that that felt like the right place to end it. It’s an open enough ending that we could come back to it at some later point and do more in the world (although probably not with those particular characters).

I’d like to thank Steve, Peta and John for the game. They made three very cool characters and took them to very interesting places (and lived to talk about it, which was not always a probability) and I had a great time coming up with the characters and situations that got in their way. Burning Wheel is a game that rewards long term play, and we’re already talking about the game with which we will replace EMD.

August 8, 2010

Sunday night is a bad night for working

Filed under: friends,wordsmithery — lexifab @ 10:22 pm

Rob is about to watch Firefly for the first time and I think that I will need to be there for that. Besides I haven’t watched it in a while myself, and goddamn do I like watching that show. And weeping. I do a lot of weeping when I think about what could have been, because I am a sad Joss Whedon fanboy (a fact which I even have the t-shirt to prove). Besides, I am too full of good food to make a commitment to hard creative work.

The writing is going pretty well at the moment, although the fact that Rob is here is messing slightly with what I laughingly refer to as my routine, through no fault of his, I might add. I have about 3000 unedited words of the first Sawl story that I have been working on, and I have about half an outline of two others (in both cases still waiting for inspiration as to where the actual story is going to go, but I think that in the case of at least one of them it’s not going to matter much if I start without knowing the ending. We can fix all this in post-production).

Speaking of visual arts-speak, I keep coming back to the idea of doing the Sawl stories as a series of scripts for a hypothetical TV series, which on the one hand is probably a terrible idea given that I have no experience whatsoever writing scripts and have no way of getting one produced even if I managed to write something of genuine quality. But on the other hand, some of the material really feels like it calls for that visual element, which either means that my instincts about what I should be doing with it are spot on or, more likely, I don’t have confidence in either my own powers of description or in the strength of the ideas to stand on their own, without the support of incidental music, scenic art direction and Lisa McCune or possibly John Waters who used to be in Play School.

Be that as it may, I still may go ahead and do it that way. I daresay that the rhythm of script writing (with all the EXT – DAY – A ROADSIDE CAFE CAR PARK and suchlike stage directions that they include) would come to me after a while, so it would just be a matter of whether I can develop a sufficient feel for the structure and style of dialogue. I think that I have a terrible ear for dialogue that sounds as though people other than me might have said it, so that would certainly be something that such an exercise would help me to work on. I guess the main thing that is holding me back is the thought that actually some of these ideas are quite decent and – if the quality of stuff in the current issue of Aurelis Magazine is any guide – potentially they are quite saleable ideas. That being the case, I’m not sure I want to “waste” them on something that is 99% likely to be nothing more consequential than a writing exercise, no matter how much it might lead to other writing. Of course I am equally aware that story ideas are a dime a dozen and one should never become too attached to them, because someone else might do the same thing only better, or else closer inspection might show up some of the flaws in a supposed gem of inspiration.

August 7, 2010

Making excuses

Filed under: wordsmithery — lexifab @ 1:57 am

I missed my day’s 750 Words writing because (a) work was busy and then (b) I went to the pub and then (c) I came home with a crowd and we all ate Indian takeaway and then (d) I forgot all about my plan to take a quick break from Rock band in order to come into the office and write for a little while. I’m only just getting to it now, but it’s after midnight which means the 750 Words web site ticks over and strikes a mark of shame or something against my name. i was supposed to be doing the August monthly challenge, in which one is expected to write at the site every day during the month. Kind of like a National Novel Writing month but with marginally lower expectations.

I regret nothing. Despite a few tiresome dramas at work (which were actually canceled out by a discussion with my boss on his last day in the office in which he told me about the new work I’ll be doing, which sounds much more interesting than the crap that I’ve been doing all year than I am now comprehensively sick of) it has been a pretty good day. It was nice to take a rare opportunity to go to the pub – the excuse was introducing Rob to the other gamers nerds of my acquaintance, and in particular the ones that he will be playing with tomorrow night – but it was even better to have all of Rob’s former Townsville friends now residing in Canberra (i.e. ChrisT and Lindor, along with MizEmma and Gav) over to eat good food and sing songs badly, with plastic guitars. That, my friends, is a pretty good time out, and if it means I have to start my run of writing again from scratch if I want to earn the “100 days streak” badge (and incidentally finish the story that i am working on) then so be it.

I will actually have to find some time tomorrow to work on the story, though. I’ve used the 750 Words exercise for a few other writing tasks this week – including Lexifab entries, and in one exceptionally dire case some background notes for work – but in my mind its primary purpose is supposed to be getting some fiction written. I’ve actually made reasonably decent progress on my current story, which is perhaps not all that good but which should be at least readable when I am finished. (Did I talk about this yesterday? I honestly can’t remember and it’s late and I just want to finish typing this up quickly until i hit my word count and then I am going to bed). Anyway, yes, I want to get it hammered out onto the page (so to speak) so that i can see if I have any capacity for editing whatsoever. It’s an interesting question – shut up, it’s interesting in my head – whether i actually have the capacity to go back over something I’ve written to identify the heart of it and then go through with hacking away everything that doesn’t serve a useful purpose. I have always been rather slack about revisions (you will notice that these blog entries rarely seem like they’ve had a second thought applied to them, and there’s a reason for that). It’s quite possible that I have allowed the relevant muscles to atrophy so much that I won’t be able to do it – a bit like those situps I’ve been embarrassing my abdominal muscles with every morning of late. But i digress.

And in fact I will keep doing so… I discovered the not-actually-secret identity of my mysterious Aurealis donor. MizEmma ordered for me for my birthday, and it just took a while for the subscription to kick in. I’ve delved into a couple more of the stories and am rather encouraged by the quality – it’s high, but it really doesn’t seem unachievable the way that much of what I read does. It’s not that the writing is sloppy or lazy or whatever – it’s just that the subjects seem accessible and familiar, feeling like they’re stuff that I could have written. I don’t know if that’s a particularly healthy impression to form – for one thing it’s mildly insulting to the authors who have successfully completed and sold their work, and for another thing it seems like I’m convinced that I can only aim so high and no further – but it’s what I need as encouragement right now. So thank you MizEmma! It’s much appreciated.

August 6, 2010

Our Man in Tokyo is not actually in Tokyo

Filed under: family,friends,now playing: anything,wordsmithery — lexifab @ 12:05 am

Our friend Rob, who normally resides in Tokyo, arrived in town yesterday. Apart from occasional grainy , badly-lit webcam conversations over Skype, I haven’t actually seen Rob since my wedding, which was nearly eight years ago. He’s making a rare visit to Australia to catch up with the relatives and as an added bonus has now taken up residence on the couch for a few days. It’s been over a decade since we all cohabited at the house on the hill in Townsville, but it’s remarkable how easy it is to just carry on as if no time has passed at all. It’s good to recall that living back in the Ol’ Sweatbox did have its good points (though I maintain that the only thing I really miss about Townsville is the people I used to hang around with there. Well, that and all the swimming pools).

Hopefully over the weekend we will actually get Rob along to a session of roleplaying. The poor lad’s been somewhat starved of dice-rolling entertainment since he moved to a city where coordinating to meet three to four friends for several hours is a massive logistical challenge. One of my Burning Wheel playing compadres has received his advanced copy of the BW Adventure Burner, so if all goes to plan we are going to test drive one of the introductory scenarios  (no experience necessary!)  in the back of that on Saturday night. Should be some good times. Hopefully he will enjoy it as much as we do. BW really is the game I wish that we had back in the 90’s when we were trying to bend games like Shadowrun and Earthdawn and Torg into character-driven narrative adventures, and for the most part falling short (even though it was still obviously a lot of fun).

A mysterious package addressed to me showed up during the week. It turned out to be what looks like the first issue of a four-part subscription to Aurealis, the now-venerable magazine of Australian Fantasy and Science Fiction. I have absolutely no idea what mysterious benefactor got it for me. At first I theorised that it was some sort of resumption of the old subscription that I used to have, but since it’s been about fifteen years and since I’ve moved probably six times in the meantime, that theory stretched credibility somewhat. In the absence of a better hypothesis, I have to assume that somebody gave it to me as a birthday present. I might also cautiously venture the conjecture that perhaps whoever it was has actually provided some sort of hint as to their identity and intentions, but if so I appear to have been completely oblivious at the time. So I will take this opportunity to thank you, mysterious benefactor and purveyor of quality short stories about weird outback happenings and doomed astronauts, and say that so far I am quite enjoying it. Cheers!

The writing is continuing. Today Lexifab is brought to you courtesy of a long, busy day, an evening of beery chatting with Rob, making an ill-advised expedition to the kitchen to try my luck at glucose-based honeycomb (recipe provided by the good people at MasterChef, the failures all my own) and the sudden realisation with less than an hour to go before the end of the day that if I don’t write my 750 Words then I will ruin my run. I think this is the 28th or so consecutive day of writing at least 750 words, and if I can keep it going to 100 days i will earn another achievement badge.

More practically, I am using many of those days to throw together a scrappy-but-written-at-least short story set in the Sawl (aka New Salisbury). I will probably publish it here, but I think that I will finish it first and then actually run an editing pen over it. If it keeps going as it has it should turn out well, though I have not yet necessarily overcome the peculiarities of the constraints I’ve set for myself – each day’s (750+ words’ worth of) writing must deliver a complete scene, and the next day’s writing must move onto a new scene. Some scenes have not exactly had their chance to breathe properly, and a couple of others are excessive, but hopefully an editing pass will fix that. At least, if editing achieves what I imagine that it’s supposed to. Editing is not what I would call a personal strength, so it will be interesting to see whether I have the fortitude to get stuck in with the red pen and do the (very necessary) rewrites.

I just realised that I allowed my brother Gazza’s birthday to pass unremarked in the corner of the internet. What a terrible oversight. Ian, if you’re reading this, hope that your birthday continued well after we spoke, and don’t worry about me reminding everyone that you turn forty next year. I know when to keep my mouth shut.

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