Do More

2016 New Year

This time last year, I was freezing my arse off in a London boxroom, about to say goodbye to one of my best friends (don’t worry, she’s not dead, she moved to Sweden), and trying to suppress the feeling that I was going to die in this decrepit house in Camberwell, surrounded by the detritus of two lifetimes rammed into a single room, with all the goodwill and charity of friends and relations used up on the first or second failed attempts to start living in the real world.

The sun’s coming up in Abergavenny and it’s gorgeous – clean and cool and quiet. I want to be outside, here, even though it hurts to walk more than ever – my health is the one thing that’s not improved in 2015. We have enough in the bank to pay six months’ rent on a space where there’s space. Space to breathe and work. I’m writing, and while I’m grateful for the PIP that cleared the decks and allowed us to move out here and establish ourselves, a goodly portion of our living is earned from that writing. Robin is taking commissions for paintings (via Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook) and has held down a job of her own for the first time in ages.

Things are better.

It’s been a quiet six months since we moved up here though. Not for want of things to do – you can’t throw a stray glance at a window in Abergavenny without seeing some society, group, organisation or institute running something – but for want of something else. Chutzpah, maybe. As I age and cleave away from school and Big School, my coping strategies and mechanisms for dealing with people and spaces become less and less adequate. I can’t spend too much time in supermarkets – they echo the  battering on the senses which happened all the time in London. I’ve never been good at introducing myself to people at the best of times, and my behaviour has been… inconsistent. I’ve made some bad impressions and that’s kept me to myself, reflecting and – let’s be honest – hiding. My usual approach to irritants and misbehaviours is to avoid the stimulus and keep myself to myself “until I’ve learned my lesson.”

My desk in our new living room faces the wall. There’s so much light in here, from two big windows, and I have a laptop and swivel chair, and I choose to face the wall. That’s telling.

I spend time writing, which is good, but I spend time scrolling through social media and playing solo games, which is less than good. I clocked up 39 hours on World of Warcraft in my first week back in the game. That’s the working week, with an hour off on Friday for good behaviour. That’s telling, too.

After the election I elected to take some time off active political engagement. I was tired and disappointed and in pain all the time, and I need to sort out my own shit for a while, whether the Party needs every pair of boots on the ground or not. It’s a different affair in Wales – more spread out, less centralised and structured, and it feels much more dependent on networking and knowing people – the two things in the world at which I am worst. (Besides archery. I’m really bad at archery.)

I took up witchcraft instead, in a quiet sort of way. In this more than anything else I am secretive and solitary as Dickens’ oyster, it seems. Reticence comes with the territory. There are a few contacts and companions, but I don’t feel the need to be involved with a Scene and all its spats and poses, and it’s awkward talking to strangers. It’s a thing I do sometimes – that’s all.

There’s no grand resolution for 2016, other than this: do more. Stop looking at the wall, scrolling and clicking, appeasing the trained inclination towards dull and repetitive non-activity of the Bullshit Jobs variety, buying things to cheer myself up. Do more. Paint some figures and go out and play games with them. Write some fiction and stop being shy about pitching. Don’t stop at clocking a poster in a window – go to the damn event. Start drawing again. Recruit some roleplayers who aren’t eighty miles or more away – I refuse to believe that I’m the only geek in the village. Maybe go back to teaching or at least tutoring, if the college or the grammar school in town will take me on. Do more. Doesn’t matter what.


Interlude with a Vampire

The stage is easily set. Four weeks of Mordheim games. One big map showing our warbands’ progression into the ruined city (and governing what sort of terrain will appear when two warbands meet, although the scenarios themselves would be played by-the-book). ‘Victory’ is a tenuous sort of thing really, but for the sake of people who need to know who ‘won’ a wargames campaign, whoever’s warband came out with the highest rating at the end of the month would be lauded, applauded, and relieved of the sandwich run.

I decided to treat the campaign as a prequel of sorts. During the Storm of Chaos campaign I built a heavily kitbashed Army of Sylvania (which actually grew out of a Mordheim warband itself) led by that Mordheim vampire with the swooshy cloak and later, after I lost him in a house move, by a swashbuckling undead Imperial Noble from the Warhammer Quest range. I didn’t do any conversion work at all on him – merely painted on an eyepatch after he caught the wrong end of a Dwarf rune axe in his first outing. Since Mordheim is set some five hundred years prior to the Storm of Chaos, during the slow rise to power of the Von Carsteins, I thought this would be a good chance to see how my newly-turned Vampire started out his career and made himself noticeable to his antecedents.

Continue reading

The Last Word on Ludology v Narratology (2005)

Janet H. Murray

ludologyfightnight Ian Bogost’s rendering of the great critical struggle.

Recently this image has resurfaced in a talk by Espen Aarseth. I believe that the Ludology/Narratology discussion has moved on.  My favorite sign of the discussion changing occurred   a few years back when Espen announced that he was studying narrative elements in games.  But only last month I had a request for the content of my “preamble” to my DIGRA 2005 talk which I think was published in the Proceedings but may be hard to track down. So I am posting it here, along with a movie version of the slides. Espen introduced me for a keynote speech, and the body of my talk focused on other issues. But I felt a need to begin  by offering the “Last Word on Ludology v Narratology”.

The slides are here and  the essay is below:

View original post 1,664 more words

Mythopoeic Press: Baptism of Fire


Literary critics who are into modernism have this unfortunate habit of claiming everything and anything as modernist. I wanted to see how far that would fly with Eddison, who is after all profoundly un-modern and has little in common with the Eliots, the Joyces and the Woolfs despite being active in the same general period. Hence the construction of a theory of modernism based on the difficulty of the text and its relationship to social context – an area where there is some overlap between Eddison and the high modernists – and an application to the most straightforward of Eddison’s novels. Think of it as a Venn diagram – an attempt to identify the extent of the overlap – rather than an act of claiming. Alternatively, think of it as a demonstration that anything’s modernist if you squint.

If I were to work/publish on Eddison again it would be a very different kettle of fish. This one was enjoyable to write but it doesn’t grapple with the craft of writing to the extent that I’d like. It is also not as well written as I would like: very British, very reluctant to state a clear case. I don’t know if today’s ultra-theoretical circuit really has an interest in a dissection of Eddison’s highly specific similes from a purely craft perspective. If by any chance there is a department, publisher or other sponsor of research out there who is into that sort of thing, I’m generally not doing much between October and March – how about it?

A Carnival of Aces – Asexuality and Mental Health

What follows is not especially helpful. It is not a suggestion for reform of the community or a guide to resources for individuals. It is not a solution to anybody’s problems, not even mine. It was supposed to be an essay on neurosis and ‘ace guilt‘ – the feeling that asexuals in relationships owe their partners something, whether to satisfy their partner’s (or partners’) desires or simply because it’s part of a ‘healthy’ relationship (read ‘one similar to that of the statistical majority’). What it turned into is a confessional about asexuality, abuse, suicide, autism and bipolar illness (and these terms, in bold, are hopefully good enough as trigger warnings). It is presented more or less unedited, in the hope that it does anyone any good at all.

by relatablealien

Continue reading

“Game Changers: The Reptile House EP”

Unexpected reblog of my Corehammer piece on The Reptile House EP and why it’s the best thing ever. Good things happen sometimes!


the_reptile_house_epFor me, the Sisters of Mercy are one of THE goth bands, and it makes me chuckle inwardly when Eldritch, and Pete Murphy, try and distance themselves from a sound and an image they went to painstaking lengths to define and craft.

The Reptile House EP is a moody slab of uber-goth and is probably the crystallisation of Eldritch’s vision (the EP is allegedly pretty much an Eldritch solo work) and, being pre-Hussey, has no light side… in fact there is no glimmer of light in any of the 25 minutes – and it’s the better for it.

View original post 854 more words