Tuesday, August 30, 2011

SnoutCast #80: "London Spooks, Part 2"

In which we finish talking with Lisa Long about her London Game!

[ Download mp3 - 20 MB ]

00:54 - Part 2: The Exciting Conclusion!
01:10 - how London GC used Twitter
02:03 - yet another Hogwarts Game war story
02:26 - did players care about the theme/plot?
04:20 - pre-clues and such
06:15 - only Game Control thought that was funny
07:28 - from start to finish
08:38 - building a puzzle community in London
09:02 - new mailing list: the_game_uk
09:50 - division of labor and ownership idiosyncrasies
11:45 - what's special about London?
13:49 - working with local businesses
15:55 - how teams responded to the story
18:07 - PLUG: BBC's "The Code" game (Lisa says "It's awesome!")
19:40 - don't you forget about PuzzleHuntCalendar.com
21:15 - The End

Got a comment or question? E-mail podcast@snout.org or post at snout.org/podcast!

Music: instrumentals from "Code Monkey" and "Skullcrusher Mountain" by Jonathan Coulton

[ Subscribe to SnoutCast / iTunes link ]

Curtis DeeAnn Lisa

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Flash Fiction: "Act Two Problems"

I'm working on a story based on a Write-a-Thon sponsor suggestion, but I don't quite have a handle on it yet. Meanwhile, here's another excerpt from "Somebody's Daughter," the story which is going to lose the Writers of the Future contest any day now. This scene may seem like a huge spoiler, but I've actually removed some crucial lines of dialogue. See if you can guess where they used to go.

Read "Act Two Problems" at 512 Words or Fewer

(Previous excerpts: "Who's Your Daddy?", "The Ties That Bind," "Everybody Loves Lawyers.")


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Renovation in Words and Pictures

(TL:DR - Worldcon was lots of fun!)

On Monday, DeeAnn and I returned home from our road trip to Renovation, the 69th World Science Fiction Convention. This was the first Worldcon we'd attended since Denvention in 2008, and all the new friends and connections we've made in the intervening three years really added to the experience.

The trip actually started last Monday, when my fellow VPXII grad Katrina and friend-of-a-friend Joe arrived in Portland. Katrina had driven down from Vancouver, BC, with a stop in Seattle to pick up Joe, and they spent the night so we'd all be well-rested for the long drive to Reno.

On our way out of Oregon the next day, we took a brief detour to Crater Lake. The water really is that blue, and reflects like a mirror when it's calm. Definitely worth visiting at least once:


WARNING: huge panorama below. Download at your own risk.


This bird was very disappointed that we didn't share our lunch with him.


We arrived Tuesday evening, dropped off Joe at his hotel, and then docked at the Peppermill, which author Jo Walton described as "the least authentic building I have ever seen." She was not wrong. I didn't feel the need to take any photos, but the Peppermill web site's "virtual tours" should give you some idea of how ridiculous it all was.

After a late dinner, a good night's sleep, and a breakfast of leftover pizza, we headed over to the convention center to pick up our badges and start the fun.


I won't give a full account of everything we did, partly because I can't remember it all at this point (though I did take notes, for tax purposes), and also because I didn't take many photos. We did meet up with several VP alums and instructors, including Steven Gould, who did a reading and Q&A at the library across the street. As you can see, he takes audience questions very seriously.


There were quite a few people in costume, including this woman. The photo below is from Thursday; the day before, she'd been dressed as the tenth Doctor. I didn't run into her again on subsequent days, but I'm sure she looked good.

(ADDENDUM: thanks to Brian for identifying JaneTorrey, and pointing out that she won Best in Show - Re-Creation at the Masquerade with her Na'vi costume. No wonder I didn't recognize her!)


We probably spent at least as much time hanging out with people as we did in panels. I'd been excited about the fact that there was an app for the convention schedule--imagine that, science fiction fans actually using technology--but it turned out to be buggy and unreliable, and by Sunday, DeeAnn and I had gone back to using our paper schedules.


The exhibit hall had several fan history displays, including a whole series of portrait photos from the 1990s. I still can't believe that was almost twenty years ago.


Worldcon is, by and large, focused on literature--as in books--but given the current state of pop culture, there was more than one panel where people talked about science fiction and fantasy in different media.


There was some kind of crazy plastic chair in the exhibit hall. Quite a few people sat on it to get their picture taken, but it looked kind of pointy and uncomfortable to me.


Speaking of George R. R. Martin, he was there, and a presenter at the Hugo Awards ceremony Saturday night. (Where Rachel Bloom and Seanan McGuire were robbed. Okay, end of rant.) You can watch the video online; if nothing else, skip to 1hr:31min for "The Garcia Moment."


To Chris Garcia's credit, he still showed up at his next scheduled panel, Kevin Standlee's Match Game SF--where the newly minted Hugo winner was upstaged by a nine-year-old girl. It happens.


Later on, I found myself at a party with Campbell winner Lev Grossman, where he let Keffy Kehrli try on the tiara.


Because the con officially ended on Sunday afternoon, we had plenty of time to dine with Hugo presenter Farah Mendlesohn and then do our own little dead-dog BarCon. That, plus the Tor and VP parties (on Thursday and Friday nights, respectively), were probably the highlights of my reconnecting with old friends and making new ones.

Oh, yeah, there was also a puppet show, which I helped usher.

It was a little difficult to emerge from the happy-shiny-fantastic Worldcon bubble and re-engage with the real world. I gather that others had similar issues.


On the drive home, we stopped in Central Point, Oregon, where DeeAnn encountered zombie bunnies made out of candy.


And now we're home for just a few days before heading off to PAX Prime. We took Katrina and Joe to breakfast and Powell's before they left, because you can't visit Portland and not go to Powell's. You just can't.

I am determined to finish the Kangaroo novel (perhaps even re-energized, though still a bit exhausted from travel), but that'll have to wait until next week.


@thedoubleclicks #portableinstrumentquest2k11

After being offline for most of tonight at Geek Trivia (during which competition no smartphone use is allowed), I caught up on Twitter and learned that two musical sisters of my recent acquaintance had undertaken an epic quest.

So that the pictorial details of this grand adventure will not be lost in the shifting sands of the Internet, I have (with permission) recorded them here for posterity.

And now, in their own words and pictures... The Doubleclicks!

And what, you may ask, was the impetus for this acquisitive excursion? I believe two earlier tweets provide context, and promise further adventures at PAX Prime this weekend.

We shall see, my friends. We shall see.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

SnoutCast #79: "London Spooks, Part 1"

What's the deal with Cygnet LLP? Lisa Long tells us all about her London Game from July, 2011!

[ Download mp3 - 22 MB ]

01:00 - "international"
01:45 - a brief history of The Game in London
03:50 - MBAs like puzzles too
05:22 - theme and origins of the London Game
08:27 - adventures in playtesting
09:53 - "It's very cosmopolitan."
10:48 - a variation on the captain's meeting
12:05 - the players who went to prison
15:27 - clue placement issues
18:38 - fun with logistics
21:08 - End of Part 1
21:43 - meet us at PAX Prime!
23:06 - The End

Got a comment or question? E-mail podcast@snout.org or post at snout.org/podcast!

Music: instrumentals from "Code Monkey" and "Skullcrusher Mountain" by Jonathan Coulton

[ Subscribe to SnoutCast / iTunes link ]

Curtis DeeAnn Lisa

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday Flash Fiction: "To Cruise Or Not To Cruise"

This week's story was inspired by: an idea from Corby, one of my Clarion Write-a-Thon sponsors; JoCo Cruise Crazy II (about which I am still undecided); my own novel-in-progress, which mostly takes place aboard an Earth-to-Mars cruise spaceship; and one of JRA's ex-girlfriends.

Read "To Cruise Or Not To Cruise" at 512 Words or Fewer


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

SnoutCast #78: "Geocaching, Part 2"

The second part of our interview with Cully Long and Brett Rogers, puzzley geocachers in New York!

[ Download mp3 - 21 MB ]

00:54 - the exciting conclusion!
01:05 - (thanks to Larry Hosken for various things)
01:45 - how is geocaching similar to the 2-Tone Game?
04:40 - what's the deal with MacGuggan's Horse?
06:20 - puzzle feedback and other online interactions
07:35 - Cully's puzzle cache masterpiece
08:36 - introduction to geocaching puzzle conventions
11:40 - spy themed puzzles for PMC2: Culper Junior, Cadman Plaza
13:30 - fun with microfilm
15:37 - building a Game community in New York (and elsewhere)
17:38 - Brett's caches and Cully's caches on Geocaching.com
18:31 - Cully's book of subway sketches
19:53 - ambitious Brett has ambitions
21:39 - the usual: PuzzleHuntCalendar.com, e-mail us, DeeAnn swears like a sailor
22:47 - The End

Got a comment or question? E-mail podcast@snout.org or post at snout.org/podcast!

Music: instrumentals from "Code Monkey" and "Chiron Beta Prime" by Jonathan Coulton

[ Subscribe to SnoutCast / iTunes link ]

Curtis DeeAnn Cully Brett

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday Flash Fiction: "Question of the Day"

As noted elsewhere, the inspiration for this piece came to me in a dream. I'm still trying to figure out how to expand it into a longer story without ruining it...

Read "Question of the Day" at 512 Words or Fewer


Tuesday, August 09, 2011

SnoutCast #77: "Geocaching, Part 1"

This week (and next), we talk to New Yorkers Brett Rogers and Cully Long about the fascinating world of geocaching!

[ Download mp3 - 22 MB ]

00:00 - teaser: a conversation with Corby
01:17 - "geographic"
01:30 - what is geocaching?
02:45 - the origins of geocaching
05:08 - caches around the world (and out of it)
07:00 - a fun travel/vacation activity
09:20 - regional differences
11:21 - puzzle caches by Brett and Cully
13:39 - other puzzling interests?
16:40 - building a Game community in New York
18:50 - the Dastardly Manhattan Puzzle Caches
21:28 - to be continued!
21:43 - upcoming events: Puzzled Pint (8/9), apply for Bay Area re-cast of WHO Game (8/15), more at PuzzleHuntCalendar.com
23:28 - The End

Got a comment or question? E-mail podcast@snout.org or post at snout.org/podcast!

Music: instrumentals from "Code Monkey" and "Chiron Beta Prime" by Jonathan Coulton

[ Subscribe to SnoutCast / iTunes link ]

Curtis DeeAnn Brett Cully

Friday, August 05, 2011

Friday Flash Fiction: "Kangaroo Fails"

As noted elsewhere, this week's story is an excerpt from the novel I'm currently rewriting. So don't worry if some things don't completely make sense.

Read "Kangaroo Fails" at 512 Words or Fewer

ALSO: You still have just two days left to support me in the Clarion Write-a-Thon, and depending on how much you donate, you can have the opportunity to influence future 512 stories. See details here, or click on the image below to donate now!


Thursday, August 04, 2011

QuoteBusters: Harry Potter vs. Twilight

"Harry Potter is all about confronting fears, finding inner strength and doing what is right in the face of adversity ... Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend."
-- Robin Browne

This bon mot has been making the Internet rounds lately, probably due to the release of the last Harry Potter film, and is usually misattributed to author Stephen King, or sometimes to musician Andrew Futral. (It first appeared in early 2010.)

The actual originator is New Yorker Robin Browne, who was originally quoted by Andrew Futral in a tumblr post with unclear attribution. Andrew later re-confirmed that he was quoting Robin in his original post.

It's a nice little observation, and will probably stick around for a while; so if you quote Robin in the future, please give her the proper credit. That's all.