Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I May Have Gotten a Bit Drunk along the Way

DeeAnn and I went on an epic quest last weekend to collect McMenamins Passport stamps. She was our designated driver, and I did my best to chronicle our journey on Twitter and Instagram:

In all, we visited 25 different McMenamins locations, and I collected 39 stamps, including bonuses and experiences. (I've had my passport since early this year, but DeeAnn only got hers this weekend, so I'm ahead of her by approximately 16 stamps.) I am now 54.3% of the way to Cosmic Tripster status!

A word on our methodology: We always stopped and had at least two drinks (one for each of us) at each location. It wasn't humanly possible to eat at every single place, especially when we were doing seven or eight stops in less than twelve hours, but we wanted to actually spend some time in each new place.

As the late Joe Cotter's epigram on the back of the passport says: "If you ever get to it, and don't do it, you may never get to it to do it again!"

We did observe other people doing drop-ins, where they just asked for a passport stamp and left immediately. Several of the servers we spoke to said that behavior is not uncommon, and the staff don't really care one way or the other. But many years of running The Game and Puzzled Pint have made us sensitive to the quid pro quo of asking locations to host players.

Anyway. Most of the remaining McMenaminses are around Portland, but we'll have to do another road trip out west to catch the two bars which weren't open when we visited last weekend, plus a separate jaunt down to Bend. We also plan to hit some Washington state locations when we drive up to Seattle for our friends' housewarming party next month. THERE WILL BE TWEETING.

Meanwhile, for other questing perspectives with much more detailed travelogues, check out Portlander Gretchin Lair's "McMenamin's[sic] Passport Project" blog, which she began this month; and Seattleite Todd Springer's "My McMenamins Passport Odyssey," which he started in January (the latest update was in mid-April).


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I Support Movie Reboots with All-Female Casts

And I have been thinking about it probably too much, thanks to this sidebar from the August 15th issue of Entertainment Weekly (click for larger version):

Yeah, I know, that's pretty tongue-in-cheek. The online article "Would all-girls 'Ghostbusters' be a stealth 'Bridesmaids' sequel?" goes into a little more actual detail (though come on, EW, it's "women," not "girls") on the Ghostbusters thing, which is all very preliminary.

But here's the one that really got me going:

YES. FUCK YEAH. SRSLY. It's been thirty years since David Mamet won a Pulitzer for the stage play, and there have already been two different Broadway revivals of Glengarry, both featuring all-male casts (as written). Isn't it time someone tried doing something more daring with the material?

Approach it like Shakespeare. See what happens when you change the gender behind the same exact words. Mamet's hyper-masculine dialogue is so stylized that it already verges on satire. What does it look like when it's women spouting those profanities, swaggering around the stage with those attitudes, fighting tooth and nail for that modicum of status? That, I would argue, is more interesting and relevant than putting another group of angry men in the center ring.

And apart from a few gender-specific pronouns, you wouldn't have to change a single line of dialogue. Not even the character names. Ricky Roma, Shelly Levene, George Aaronow? Those could all be women's names. "John" Williamson and "Dave" Moss are more of a stretch, but those could be ironic nicknames. How's that for adding subtext?

Really, though, I just want to see Tina Fey let loose and fucking own the "coffee's for closers" bit:

(Before you nitpick: yes, I know that scene was written for the movie and doesn't appear in the stage play. But it's spawned such a strong pop culture catchphrase, I would argue you couldn't leave it out of any filmed version now.)

So who's in your dream cast for an all-female Glengarry? Leave a comment below!


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

SnoutCast #208: Annie Percik

This month, we talk to Annie Percik, who ran a pirate-themed puzzle hunt at Manorcon in July!

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Show length: 32:04
File size: 30.8MB

Stuff and things:

What Else?

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Music: instrumentals from "Code Monkey" and "Shop Vac" by Jonathan Coulton

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Curtis DeeAnn Annie

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I Was Sick This Past Weekend

...and for a couple of days following, so I missed a friend's birthday party and this month's Puzzled Pint event. Both of those made me sad, but hey, at least I didn't get sick while I was at Clarion West. That would have really sucked.

Every now and then something like this (an irregular recurring condition, but that's another story) will remind me of just how little control we humans actually have over our bodies. There's something like 37 trillion cells in the human body, and we have absolutely no say in most of things those cells do. Digesting food? Out of your hands. Regulating heart rhythm? Not your bailiwick. Dealing with a viral infection? Fuhgeddaboudit.

I have pontificated on this topic before—in fact, it's where the label name "The I in Meat" comes from. I still feel it's entirely possible that sentience is a random, emergent side effect of complex multicellular life forms, and that kind of freaks me out. It wouldn't be so frightening if we knew there were others like us in the universe, but at the moment, it feels pretty damn lonely.

Maybe that's why I'm such a sucker for science fiction which features intelligent alien life. As Larry Niven says, "The only universal message in science fiction: There exist minds that think as well as you do, but differently."

We got enough bodies; we could some more minds around here.


Wednesday, August 06, 2014

I Am Home

It's been less than a week since my Clarion West (CW) adventure concluded, and I'm still readjusting to normal life and catching up on all the e-mails I've been ignoring for six weeks or more. I'm almost done clearing out my inbox, and then I'll dive into the novel rewrites that this guy is patiently waiting for.

I didn't blog much about CW while I was there, though I did tweet quite a bit. You should go check out these other blogs by my classmates Folly, Marlee, Mike, and Michael.

Also: while I was searching to verify those blog links, I found K.C. Ball's "Missing Mike." Which, you know, fuck cancer. But it also made me wonder about who in my CW class I would lose track of over the next few years.

Something similar happened after I attended Viable Paradise (VP) in 2008: a few people had early successes, some hit it big later on, some don't do much writing any more (for various reasons), and some I've never heard from again. I gather that's pretty normal for most writing workshops, especially those who make an effort to emphasize diversity. That's not just gender or racial diversity; age and personal background are also huge factors. People arrive at CW and VP with varying levels of experience, both professional and personal. And the group dynamic is always changing, and depends on individual people to steer it toward something positive.

I had a great time at both VP and CW, though I understand it's not always great for everyone. Some people work better in less stressful environments, and sometimes social groups coalesce better than at other times. I feel like the folks running VP and CW do the best they can, and it's up to the students to meet each other in the middle.

Look, I know I'm not the right guy to be talking about this. As I discussed with one of my CW instructors in our one-on-one meeting, I am aware that I personally occupy a weird position of partial privilege: I am a tall, normal-looking male, and though I'm obviously non-white, I belong to a "model minority" group to which many people automatically assign certain positive traits. And hell, I signed an agent while I was at CW; I am the poster child for "results not typical."

All I can say is that I had an amazing CW experience. It was exactly what I expected, and also a whole lot more. Good things happened, interesting things happened, and now we'll see what happens next.