Humpday Links for March 27

Greetings, internet citizens!  Thanks for coming by and exercising your eCivic Right to amusing internet links.  You are what makes this interweb the best interweb in the world.  Without you, we’d all just be a bunch of lonely people trying to find fulfillment in the consumption of internet memes and cats.  Er…

Anyway, your eCivicly-mandated links are below:

– For my fellow gamers: you are not going to find a better deal on a whole swack of dice than this. Yes, I mean a metric Swack.

– Courtesy of Squidoo, free printable board game templates of some moldy classics.  Now is your chance to make your own, actually enjoyable version of an -opoly.

– Got a friend interested in board games, but doesn’t know where to start? Show them this board game primer courtesy of Tested.

– Ever wonder what Adam Savage keeps in his home office?

– Here are SEO tips made simple. And belligerent.

– If you need a desk for travel, or just because you have a really small place, you can’t do much better than a Ninja.

– Ever wonder how your fav webcomic artists made the leap from a regular job to working full-time on their strip?  Wonder no more!

– Geek’s Dream Girl weighs in on why we attack what people love.

– As if I needed another reason to move there, Scotland may allow Jedi to perform weddings.

Because sometimes the answer is a nerdy fez.

– Dwarven Forge, makers of really great gaming terrain, have a Kickstarter for their new line of affordable terrain.  It’s already funded, and if you have the cash it’s a no-brainer.

– Speaking of Lord of the Rings fan films (master of the hard segue, that’s me), Born of Hope is a neat, good looking film about Aragorn’s father.

DIY is a great site if you are a parent, an aunt, an uncle, a babysitter, whatever, and you want to teach your kids how to make things.  Heck, use it for yourself even if you are a beginning “maker” looking to hone skills.

– If you are a writer, here are some suggestions on using Pinterest to aid your work.

– We end with a snowman that pretty much sums up how we all feel about winter hanging on, and on, and on…

That’s it, that’s all!  We’ll see you all next post, gentles.

Humpday Links for March 20

Guten Tag, nerdlings!  Going to keep things short and sweet; I have to prepare myself, physically and spiritually, to attend a book launch tonight.  Which you should attend, by the way.  Happy Harbor, 5pm, launching not one, but two locally crafted books: Masked Mosaic by Rhonda & Jonathan Parrish; and What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank, by Krista Ball.  Checkout the Facebook thingy for more details.

On to the links!

– If you are a John Green fan (I became one the same way you fall asleep, slowly, then all at once) then here is he with Craig Ferguson.

– I was squeeing pretty hard over the trailers for this season of Doctor Who.  Then this came out.

– I hate to say it, but it looks like physicists win at marriage proposals.  The math checks out.

– While we’re on marriage, Sir Ian McKellan will officiate Sir Patrick Stewart’s wedding.  Because who else would you get?

– Next time you’re in a library, why not make poetry?

– So I wrote a little blurb about places to send your RPG work, and completely missed the Pathmaster contest over at Adventureaweek.com. So get on that!

– Have a deity question, a divine quandary? These guys will sort you out.

– So apparently, an island that everyone thought existed has vanished, because it was never there to start with.

– Personally, I want to spend a vacation on this street with a lawn chair and a popcorn machine.

– Me pal Liana Kerzner wrote an interesting article about EA, the resignation of its CEO and who should have got the sack.

– Staying with computer games, Supergiant is making the first game I’ve been intrigued by in a while.

This mug will be mine. And it may be the only warning you get…

Real gamers paint their armies.

– I love the movies and I love Doctor Who; I’d watch this.

– And finally, if you ever need an epic soundtrack for your epic day, this is the site for you.

That is all for this humpday, geekorinos!  If you have a link to share, drop it in the comments.  Otherwise I’ll see you at the book launch tonight or here tomorrow.

Grab Bag

Today is going to be a bit of a grab bag on the blog. I had considered not posting until tomorrow as I have a busy day ahead of me, but then I thought, “Nah!”.  Riveting insight into the mind behind Renaissance Dork…

I’ll throw up short blurbs about things as they occur to me throughout the day.  So you can always check back multiple times, or simply wait until tomorrow for the whole thing.  Your call.

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My 50 in 52 book-reading campaign is going better than anticipated.  I’m up to seven-ish books now, which is a little behind the curve, numbers wise.  But if the trend continues I anticipate my personal concerns about Bookpocalypse (wherein I have to read thirty books in December to make my quota) may not come to nothing.

And so far my mantra of JUST READ IT has not led me to anything horrible.  To be fair, I did sort of pad the beginning with some of my favourite authors, but that was just good sense.  If I started with an unknown entity and it sucked, there’d be a book-shaped hole in the wall and my book-list would just be 52 entries of “Books Suxxor!”.  Okay, probably not, but it would have made this whole thing harder to get into.

Astute readers will note I did away with my “out of five” scoring system.  I’m not sure why I ever started it, given I always find those sorts of arbitrary scores pointless.  But it’s gone, so you’ll just have to trust that I’ll tell you if a book is bad.

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Onto a tougher subject.  I started following Victoria Dahl largely because of her work as co-host on Sword & Laser.  Much to my delight, she also writes passionate and engaging posts on feminist topics, so I lucked into a “two birds, one stone” situation.  Yesterday she wrote a post entitled, “What Should We Teach About Rape?“, which I thought a very necessary thing given CNN’s reaction to the verdict handed down in the Steubenville gang rape.  Her article articulated many thoughts that I’ve had about rape culture and victim shaming, and I think it is a necessary read.

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One for the Very Cool file; Adam over at The Unknown Studio cited one of my posts in his weekly Edmonton Blog Watch.  Thanks, Adam!

If you don’t know it, The Unknown Studio is a fantastic podcast from right here in Edmonton, now in its fourth season.  The website is great as well, and both Scott and Adam do a lot to boost Edmonton’s profile.  Check it out!

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I don’t know what took me so long, considering my 50 in 52 Challenge, but I am now on Goodreads.  If you want you can track me down under my name on the site, and we can swap stories.  As soon as I can figure out which of their widgets don’t clash with WordPress, I’ll use their challenge tracker here on the site.

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Okay, I’ll be back to add more nuggets later as they occur to me.  In the meantime feel free to leave comments below, they are always welcome.

Dissatisfaction and Shame

There is a lot of argument floating around the ‘net about body image and body shaming and the overweight.  As an obese person it is hard not to get drawn into the conflict as it rages across my screen.  The pro-obese crowd want me to lose my shame and fight the brain-washing of the fitness-industrial complex and its “thin=fit” propaganda; the pro-fitness (best case)/anti-obesity (worst case) want me to recognize the horrible, destructive home I’ve created in my own body, and start fixing it now before I doom us all!

As with most arguments that threaten to tear the internet apart, both sides have something right and both have many, many things wrong.  I’ll get into details and specifics about that in a later post (or three, or bazillion), but today I wanted to focus on my position.  Because my situation is the only one I can talk about with precision, without delving into hypotheticals and corner cases.  So let’s talk about something I hold true for myself, so you at least have an understanding where I fall on the issue of body image, fat shaming and fitness.

For today I’ll keep it simple, give you the core belief I hold, upon which everything else I feel about this subject rests.

Dissatisfaction is not the same as shame.

I have been ashamed of my body in the past, and it led to years of crippling doubt and self-loathing.  Until I was about 19 or so I was athletic; I wrestled, played volleyball, cross-country skied, curled, hiked, studied martial arts.  After a period of which I will not speak (personal tragedy can be boring, and is not always for public consumption in any case), I moved out of the city I had grown up in to the city I live in now.  Two things happened concurrently; I stopped being physically active and I fell into bad eating habits centred on emotional eating patterns, and as those habits spiralled my waist expanded.  As my waist expanded my self-worth shrank, and to fill that void I ate more food, which expanded my body but continued to shrink my soul, and thus began the cycle of my own personal Dark Ages.

Long story short (too late!) it is only relatively recently that I have let go of that shame to any great extent.  But, and this was a hard-fought lesson, I am still dissatisfied with my body and that is okay.  Because that isn’t the same as shame, not by a long shot.  Why not? Because shame feels hopeless.  Shame tells you not only are you bad, but you will never be good.  It is really the only true power that shame has, because once you stop listening to that message you start to leave it behind.

(And yes, I’m simplifying and condensing.  If you really want to know specifics about how I started to work passed my shame you can wait for me to write a post or ask me questions in the Comments.  I’ll answer.)

Dissatisfaction, on the other hand, requires an impulse to fix, to make better.  And at least in my case, is driven by the disparity between where I am and where I want to go.  I am dissatisfied with my body because it doesn’t help me do the things I want to do.  What things?  Everything from hike in the mountains without discomfort (and by discomfort I mean fear of heart attack) to standing for long periods without my back aching to the point of spasm.  Basically, there are things I used to do without thinking about them, and I would like to do again without thinking about them, and currently can not.  Now, if I believe my body is the tool I use to move my mind around (and I do) and I am dissatisfied with that tool, I can either destroy the tool (which I was slowly doing, but no longer have a desire to do at any speed), replace the tool (sadly, science isn’t quite there yet, but give them time) or improve the tool.  Of the available options, I choose to improve the tool.

Note that no where in there do I discuss how society views me, or the expectations of people around me.  Because a close examination of this day will discover that not a single fuck was given.  I don’t care.  My dissatisfaction is based solely on what I want and expect from my body.  Nothing else.  If I didn’t want to go hiking or cross-country skiing again, heck, if I didn’t want to spend a day walking around a convention without needing to sit down several times, then I wouldn’t be dissatisfied.  I’d leave my body alone because it was giving me exactly what I wanted.  But I want more, so it is up to me to forge the tool I need.

Okay, so that’s the starting point.  In later posts I’ll talk about other aspects of what I’m doing, the hows and whys.  But I wanted to put this out there first so you, gentle reader, understood what is at the heart of any discussion I have regarding my body.  So if you come at me because I’m “just another ashamed fat person”, I’m going to point you back here.  If you start telling me how “obesity kills, and you don’t even know…”, I’m going to point you back here.

You think you know me?  Well, if you actually read this without dismissing, yeah, you do a little.

As always, your comments are welcome below.

Humpday Links for March 13

The Ides of March draw ever nearer, and while you may not be worried about getting gang-stabbed at work, you could likely still use a tension reliever.  Allow my links to carry you away, O Caesar!

– As part of their Centennial celebrations, the Edmonton Public Library is giving everyone free library cards!  Followers outside of Edmonton won’t care, but those inside should get on this now!

This link came to me courtesy of my pal Leah, and it excites me for many reasons.  Not the least of which, think how easy building a hobbit-style home will be now…

– If you have ever struggled to make realistic fantasy city/town maps, and I know I have, this tutorial is for you.

– Designing a little bigger than a town or city? Space Engine is for you.

– My pal Brittney might like this: The Loneliest Unicorn.

This article raises some interesting questions regarding C.S. Lewis and Narnia.

– Last week I wrote a thing about Kickstarter and mentioned Monte Cook’s projects.  Here, Monte Cook talks about David “Zeb” Cook and one of his earliest projects/loves, Planescape.

– Speaking of earlier D&D, here is every issue of Dragon Magazine, digitally archived.  It appears to be above board. Maybe…

Star Trek: Into Darkness has a new teaser trailer, and all I can say is, “Engage!”

– There’s a Canadian werewolf drama a-comin’, and they’ve cast a familiar face in the lead role

– If you scroll past my links muttering, “Know that, seen that…” then maybe you are ready to ascend the throne of Nerds as our King.  I’d do it, but I’m more of a “power behind the nerd” type of guy.

– Know a nerd in Boy Scouts? The American Scouts just added a Game Design merit badge.  Hey Scouts Canada, you seeing this?

– Courtesy of Cracked.com, 6 board games that sucked, with suggestions of ones that don’t.

Iron Man 3, everybody.  Can I get a “Squeeee!”?

– And while we’re on trailers you’ve likely seen but will watch again, Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing.

– Speaking of Nathan Fillion (we were, watch the Much Ado trailer), there is a charity auction on the go that will let you hang out with him for a day.

– And finally, a review of the “geeksploitation” film, Zero Charisma.  When I get a hold of this I’ll have a movie night, promise.

And that’s your links for another week.  Keep on ignoring those seers, and we’ll see you next week!

Find Your Work a Home

Late, short and sweet, that’s the story of today’s post.  Busied myself most of the day with writing of one kind or another, none of which was a blog entry.  But since I sailed right through Monday with nary a whisper I thought I’d at least take a break between my writing and editing to put up something.

One of the things I’ve turned my focus towards is RPG writing, and today was a good day for that.  Started collecting the details of encounters I’ve used in my home games (mostly Pathfinder), and as I polish them up I’ll post them here on the site.  But I also did some work for outside publication:

– While Kobold Quarterly has sadly gone away, there is still plenty of life over at Kobold Press.  The latest is their Lost Magic: A Spell Contest.  Entry is pretty simple, and since the  submission length is limited to only 500 words you really have no reason not write something up and enter.  If nothing else, use it as a quick writing exercise, something to get the creative juices flowing.  It’s what I did.

Wayfinder, the excellent community publication for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, has put out the call for submissions for issue #9.  This issue’s theme is the Darklands, and preference is given to articles focused on adventures underground.  This would be a great magazine for fans of the Pathfinder setting anyway, but two things make it extra special: it is produced entirely by fans, players and GMs like you and me; and it is offered free of charge (though once a year they print a dead-tree version you can purchase).  If you are looking for somewhere to get your feet wet in article writing, this is a good place to start.

I sent off my spell for the Kobold Press contest this morning, and my work for the Wayfinder submission continues.  If you are interested in game writing I’d suggest these as good places to start.  Just be sure, and I cannot stress this enough, to follow the submission guidelines to the letter!  You can write the most brilliant piece of gaming literature since Monte Cook wrought Ptolus, but if you don’t follow the guidelines it won’t even be read.  So I’ll say it again: follow the guidelines.

That’s it. I have editing I have to get on, so I’m running away for now.  But I’ll see you all back here tomorrow, yes?  If you have writerly comments to make in the meantime, please place them below.

Kickstarter and the Gaming Industry: Weal or Woe?

(Note: For this post, I’ll be focusing on Kickstarter as it relates to the gaming industry and community.  Some things may apply to other creative avenues; your mileage may vary.)

If you belong to the nerd community, you’d have to be living under a rent-controlled rock to not know about Kickstarter.  For those paying a cheap lease for granite ceilings, Kickstarter “is a funding platform for creative projects”, as per their website.  Basically, if you have an idea for a creative endeavour you use the site to promote it and raise funds.  If enough people get excited and buy into your idea, you get the funding they pledge and can move ahead.  If you don’t meet your goal, you don’t get the funding, and no one has to shell out anything.

It almost sounds too good to be true, right?  Especially when you look at the massive success stories.  Reaper Miniatures ran a Kickstarter campaign last August to raise $30 000 for their new Bones line. When the dust settled, the company had raised a little over 3.4 million dollars. Yes, I said million. With all the zeroes, yes. More recently, Monte Cook hit a couple of crowd-funding home runs: his campaign to fund his new role-playing game Numenera raised $517, 255 ( a skitch over the $20 000 he set out to achieve), and the Kickstarter for Torment: Tides of Numenera, a computer game set in his new world, more than doubled its goal with $2 million in just two days, with 28 days left to go in the campaign.

You might wonder, then, what kind of idiot wouldn’t run a Kickstarter for their new gaming project.  And it’s true, even if your success is not as pronounced as the above examples, you may still find the crowd-funding lucre you seek.  But it isn’t as easy as just telling people about this neat game idea you’ve had, promising it will be the RPG second coming.  Kickstarter is equally filled with projects that didn’t reach their goal. In some cases it isn’t hard to see why; sloppy planning, vague promises and unrealistic goals abound.

But seemingly solid projects, well-laid out and presented, also fail to fund.  Key reasons?  Maybe the idea was not as widely popular as the creator thought; what works in your home game may not translate to the general gaming public (and thus, why I stopped work on Blubber & Bannock, my alternate trail rations sourcebook).  Most often though, it comes down to gaining attention for the project.  I consider myself pretty aware of what’s going on in the RPG industry, at least as much as an “industry enthusiast” can be.  But for every Kickstarter campaign of which I become aware, a quick search of the Kickstarter site turns up dozens more I have and had never heard of.  Obviously, then, while Kickstarter can do a lot to help a project the onus is still on the creator to get the word out.  The internet is too vast to simply pitch your tent and wait for visitors.

The onus is also on campaign investors to be smart.  While it is true it costs you nothing if a Kickstarter doesn’t reach its goal, there is very little besides internet disapproval to guarantee delivery on your funded investment.  A quick Google of “Kickstarter Fraud” turns up a pretty solid list, with the “Mythic” debacle showing up quite often.  To be fair, though, most of the stories are close to a year old, so it seems on the surface that out-right fraud on Kickstarter was a self-correcting issue.  But life can and does happen, and projects can find themselves unable to deliver on Kickstarter promises for any number of good reasons.  Good reasons don’t make you money any less gone, of course.

But taken all for all, Kickstarter seems to have brought a definite boost to the gaming industry, providing unprecedented contact between creators and those who might play (and therefore are likely to fund) their games.  While this contact is of obvious benefit to creators and massively convenient and exciting for gamers, there is some push-back at the retail level.  Many Friendly Local Game Stores feel that Kickstarter cuts them out of the loop, eroding their position as purveyors of the new and wonderful in the gaming industry.  And that has some merit, as far as it goes.  True, in days of old my FLGS was often my first contact with a new and interesting game; Kickstarter has stepped into that introductory role almost exclusively for many if not most.

But I also think that retailers may be engaging in a bit of a straw-man fight.  Many Kickstarter campaigns include pledge levels directed at the brick-and-mortar stores, allowing them access to a potential “new classic”.  As well, nothing about Kickstarter fundraising excludes FLGSs from the same role they have always played, as promoters and boosters of already published games.  After all, the goal for most campaigns is not just to provide enough of the new game to hand out to supporters, but to get published.  To varying degrees the funding allows the creator to publish in numbers beyond that needed to satisfy backers, and that is the point at which FLGSs step into their familiar and comfortable role.  Really, Kickstarter offers the same opportunity to retailers and distributors as it does to us, the gamers: a look at the new and exciting projects in the market.  If there is retailer exclusion in the Kickstarter process, the retailers seem to be doing it largely to themselves.

So Kickstarter has become an undeniable element of the current gaming landscape, ignored at one’s peril.  What about the future?  I don’t think the basic idea of Kickstarter is going away any time soon.  The low-risk, high-reward possibilities of crowd-funding make it too attractive to disappear, now that Kickstarter and its competitors have made the process so damn easy.  While variations on the theme might appear from time to time, there is no question that for the foreseeable future creators will continue to sing Kickstarter’s praises.

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If you are a burgeoning Kickstarter junkie, here are some other gaming-related campaigns that may be of interest:

Cheapass Games’ Deadwood Studios USA

Lester Smith’s Monster Con Card Game

9th Level Games Kobolds Ate My Baby! In Colour!

Green Ronin’s Freeport: The City of Adventure (Pathfinder ed.)

Alina Pete’s Weregeek Book 5: Random Encounters

 

What are your thoughts on Kickstarter and crowd-funding?  Have horror stories, or a potential KS gem you’d like to share?  The Comments await your coming!