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Bugs: Recent Topics Paging, Uploading Images & Preview (11 Dec 2020)

Recent Topics paging, uploading images and preview bugs require a patch which has not yet been released.

What books are you reading?

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16 Aug 2022 13:50 #335043 by jason10mm

Shellhead wrote: I hate the idea, but out of curiosity, I looked at the wikipedia entry for Laugh Track and that is sadly the rationale. Scroll down to Effects and then Legacy and Support in that wiki. Maybe "permission" is too strong a word, and some people just need some guidance to know when they are supposed to laugh. One critic points out that the results would be absurd if applied to other mediums. Imagine watching a murder mystery and a voiceover told you that a certain suspect onscreen is suspicious. Or a scary movie where a voiceover tells you that something onscreen is scary. On the other hand, movies and tv shows do that all the time, only they use music to cue your emotions.


Watching stuff with no/low volume robs it of a lot of emotion. I do that a lot these days when watching afte the kiddos are asleep and I'm wondering if this is why I dislike so much stuff these days :

Reading subtitles is also an issue as it preempt the actors inflection and pacing. Watching a Bill Burr comedy special with subtitles is.....less funny than with his timing and vocal inflections to be sure.
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16 Aug 2022 14:14 - 16 Aug 2022 14:15 #335044 by Disgustipater

RobertB wrote: The last few comedies that I've made a point to watch, Arrested Development, Veep, and Silicon Valley, all don't have laugh tracks

I don’t think any single camera comedies have a laugh track. Seems to be mostly reserved for multi-cam sitcoms. These days I associate a laugh track on newer shows as meaning it’s not funny.
Last edit: 16 Aug 2022 14:15 by Disgustipater.
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15 Feb 2023 21:04 #338336 by dysjunct
I couldn’t find “what article are you reading” prior to running out of patience, so here’s an article I just read that was very thought-provoking:

bloodknife.com/rough-edges/

Basically, things need rough edges to be good. Games, music, everything. The desire to polish everything is ruining it.

A common sentiment expressed here, so no surprises. But well written.
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15 Feb 2023 22:06 #338338 by Sagrilarus

dysjunct wrote: I couldn’t find “what article are you reading” prior to running out of patience, so here’s an article I just read that was very thought-provoking:

bloodknife.com/rough-edges/

Basically, things need rough edges to be good. Games, music, everything. The desire to polish everything is ruining it.

A common sentiment expressed here, so no surprises. But well written.


Good read. Thank you for the reference.

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15 Feb 2023 22:35 #338339 by Jackwraith
Meh. This is just one more variation on "things were better when we were kids!" It's just a better-written, more nuanced and non-bigoted version of the same shit that the D&D purists rant about. In her estimation, anything that takes actual skill is something that is no longer "pure" because then it's somehow about the "skill" (and the potential moneymaking) and not the "experience." I knew from a couple paragraphs in that there'd be a stab at punk rock being "about the music, man" at some point and, sure enough, there it was. As a diehard fan of more hardcore bands from the 70s and 80s than I can remember, probably the "roughest-edged" of "rough edged" music, I can also say that each and every one of them kept developing their music and every one of them mentioned at some point that they thought their music really improved when they learned how to play their instruments better. Um, the fact that I'd heard of all of them also meant that they did it for, y'know, some amount of money, too. Anyone could casually toss her thesis back at her and ask why she isn't just "writing for herself", as I used to see and hear people say back in the day when they didn't feel brave enough to try getting published. She's writing for money, right? Which means it goes through an editor and has to be "polished" for the site to publish it.

Simple things don't have to be simplistic to be good. Any number of games down through the ages have proved that (see: Go, for just one of innumerable examples.) Are many games overproduced these days? Yes, they are and you can easily make that argument without suggesting that everything that goes beyond a pencil and a piece of graph paper is less fulfilling because it's gone past "the experience." That is a simplistic argument and should have been kicked back by any competent editor. And, as someone who has been published (for money!) a few times, I can't say that I've ever thought of either my work or my status as equivalent to a "trash monkey" (whatever that means) or that I thought I could just scribble some shit down and then complain about it not being accepted because the editor wasn't feeling "the experience." Obviously nothing personal aimed at you, dysjunct, but that's a load of crap.

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16 Feb 2023 01:29 #338341 by Not Sure
Counterpoint: Instagram.

I think you've way over-indexed on the "games" and "punk rawwwwwk" bits, and there's not a word in your rebuttal about any of the other points she made. (Baking, Impressionism, etc.)

The always-on side hustle culture is a very real thing these days, as is the artificial raising of the bar by people selecting the best of their lives to share. I read it as a little reminder that quieting the voice that says "it's not good enough, nobody is interested anyway" can be a good thing.

Thanks for the link, dysjunct.

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16 Feb 2023 08:50 #338342 by Jackwraith

Not Sure wrote: Counterpoint: Instagram.

I think you've way over-indexed on the "games" and "punk rawwwwwk" bits, and there's not a word in your rebuttal about any of the other points she made. (Baking, Impressionism, etc.)


Because I'm taking issue with her central thesis using the things I do know a lot about (games, music) and not the things I don't (baking, etc.) If this is presented in the context of Instagram, then that's also something I'm not overly familiar with, culture- or execution-wise. But, again, that's where a competent editor says "Hey, I know you're trying to make a broad point here, but maybe we narrow this to the arguments that you can actually sustain, rather than trying to hit all of the 'trash monkeys' with the same brush." But, y'know, that might actually take some polishing...

And, yes, from my relatively distant grasp of it, the point she's making about Impressionism and the Academy is valid in an almost wholly incorrect fashion because it doesn't really support her thesis. If she thinks that most Impressionists didn't spend hours/days/weeks getting the details right on a lot of their paintings, then she's incorrect. That movement wasn't the origin of people like Jackson Pollock, who could arguably be presented as someone who just did stuff and said: "Good enough." Except, y'know, he was an Expressionist. In fact, it's arguable that her distaste for big, fancy games is akin to the Academy; that behemoths like CMON created a new movement of their own, where boardgames are these massive productions that broke out of the brown-and-gray cubes approach. I know that's not the point she's making because she's trying to say that everything doesn't need all the glitz attached, whether it's a game or a batch of cupcakes. And, in that, she's probably correct. But she was painting with way too broad a brush here and no one on Blood Knife's end thought to redirect some of that passion into an actual (ahem) pointed argument.

But, I know I'm marching uphill on this perspective around here, so whatever. I'm done.

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16 Feb 2023 10:45 - 16 Feb 2023 10:46 #338343 by Not Sure

Jackwraith wrote: , rather than trying to hit all of the 'trash monkeys' with the same brush." But, y'know, that might actually take some polishing...


You hit this phrase twice. And misquoted both times, which makes me think you got yourself a little bent up in the phrasing.

From the article:

Authors are no longer trash goblins who occasionally shove stacks of paper under editors’ doors; we now must must maintain a professional public-facing presence with [many public/social media things]


That we in there is doing a lot of work, and turns this from an attack paragraph into a bit of self-deprecation. Take away whatever you want, but I'm not sure what you're arguing against is what's in there.

But we're collectively almost at the length of the article, so probably too much said already.
Last edit: 16 Feb 2023 10:46 by Not Sure.

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16 Feb 2023 17:26 - 17 Feb 2023 18:15 #338354 by Sagrilarus
I liked it. And I don't think she's saying things were better when we were kids. I think she's saying that a focus on the core rather than the spiff is valuable, and perhaps more accessible. I'm seeing brand new RPG stuff being displayed on my Mastodon server that fits this category. Art that catches the eye without being neck deep in photoshop post-processing.
Last edit: 17 Feb 2023 18:15 by Sagrilarus.

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21 Feb 2023 05:48 #338406 by Erik Twice
This is a topic I've seen much written about, but which is very hard to put into words.

There's a clear tendence to soften, standarize or tone down art so as to achieve a more broadly pleasant or consistent output. The easiest way to notice is that radical politics become more moderate, the main characters lose their flaws or that the game is made easier. Probably the best examples are Hollywood remakes or Dinsey stuff.

The key for me is that the sharp edges of a knige are meant to be divisive. If you take them away, the knife becomes blunt, and hence, useless.

The other point, of following online standards, is mostly separate. However, I do see that game designers, even amateur ones, are incredibly concerned about making their games palatable to the market. I often see them shooting down their own ideas because they believe that the broad gaming market won't accept them, which is pretty dissapointing. I have a friend who is a game designer and it's disheartening to see how many publishers instantly jump onto any aspect of his games that won't appeal to the eurogamer crowd. And he makes children's games!

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23 Feb 2023 09:50 #338434 by drewcula
My book club of horror just wrapped a lovely session w/ 2 short stories:
1) Fall of the House of Usher - Poe
2) What Moves the Dead - Kingfisher

Kingfisher is doing a "retelling" of Poe's House of Usher, and it's delightful. I still prefer Poe's original, but Kingfisher packs a dark humored punch that's both leaner and meaner than a similarly themed 'Mexican Gothic.'

And then my club selected Octavia Butler's "The Fledgling' for next month's read. I'm only half way through but stopping. I can count on one hand how many books I have unfinished in my lifetime, and this one joins the ranks. It sucks.
Critics can take their pick of what's more bothersome; the genre, the set-up, the endless exposition, or the motif that the protagonist resembles a ten year old black girl who has explicit sex with her middle aged white male thrall. I think it's combo platter of dumb, and it surprises me that this author is so revered.

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24 Feb 2023 12:13 - 24 Feb 2023 12:15 #338449 by Shellhead
My local public library is great, probably because there are a disproportionate number of college professors living in the area. I admit that at least 2/3 of my reading material is either from the sci-fi/fantasy section or the comic book/graphic novel section. In between the two areas is all the other fiction books, where I sometimes find other things to read. This library displays a couple of selected books at the end of each aisle in the fiction section, and I have found that these tend to be good reads that often take me outside my comfort zone.

And so I quickly grabbed Skinflick, by Joseph Hansen. A brief glance at the back cover indicated that it was a hardboiled detective story set in Los Angeles that was published in 1978 and reprinted in 2022. When I got home and looked more closely, I realized that the investigator is a gay man, which briefly gave me pause. But I like to think of myself as fairly progressive and open-minded, and to be honest, I figured that any possible sex scenes would likely be discrete and therefore tolerable for me.

The main character is Dave Brandstetter, and he is an insurance company employee who investigates untimely deaths before the insurance company will release a payout to a beneficiary. He is a war veteran, tough, cynical, homosexual, and extremely observant. He has a dry sense of humor and key insight into people in general. Most of his work involves talking to people, and each scene tends to offer new piece of information and a new lead. Brandstetter works the case methodically, with the reader looking over his shoulder, and it is pleasing to watch him put the clues together and solve the case. The writing reminded me in good ways of both Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, with crisp, economical dialogue and descriptions. Apparently Hansen wrote a dozen Brandstetter books, and they are all getting reprinted. Skinflick is the fifth book in the series, so there are some references to the previous books. Not spoilers, just things that happened to Brandstetter himself. I'm only 60% of the way through the story, but it's a real page turner. The story opens with Brandstetter walking up to a suburban house while a teenage boy burns kiddie porn magazines in a grill.

The first Brandstetter book was published in 1970, at a time when homosexuality was illegal in most of the United States. The protagonist's orientation is not a constant presence in the story, just in the downtime scenes when he is dealing with his personal life instead of the case. The intimate details are not just discrete, but implicit. There are also knowing references to the substance abuse that was common in that scene at the time, as well as the self-loathing. So I got curious and looked into Hansen. He was born in 1923 and passed away in 2004. He grew up in Minneapolis but moved to southern California. From 1943 to 1994, Hansen was married to a lesbian who died in 1994. They had a daughter who later transitioned into a son. Hansen described his marriage as a gay man and woman who happened to love each other.
Last edit: 24 Feb 2023 12:15 by Shellhead.
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29 Mar 2023 22:07 #338818 by dysjunct
The Fisherman by John Lagnis. Postmodern horror, shades of HPL, literary aspirations, reminiscent of House of Leaves. Should by filmed, probably unfilmable. A widower seeks solace in fishing, always looking for the next spot, untouched by fellow weekend anglers.

Also this article:
freddiedeboer.substack.com/p/you-are-you-we-live-here-this-is ?

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01 Apr 2023 22:05 #338858 by RobertB
The Chronicles of St. Mary's - Time-travelling/alternate universe historians. Finished the whole series the other day; at least the books written so far. The narrator is a little Mary Sue, but the books are pretty good. The have a mix of silly/serious that has about the same dramatic weight the Dresden novels.

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09 Apr 2023 09:54 - 09 Apr 2023 10:04 #338943 by Cranberries
I started Gravity's Rainbow a week or so ago on the Kindle. I read it at 3:00 a.m. when I can't get to sleep. So far I like the hyper-detailed, visual writing and the subject of WWII. I can see Neal Stephenson drawing on Pynchon, a little. I generally don't go out of my way to read "classics" but this one hits the sweet spot.


“All the animals, the plants, the minerals, even other kinds of men, are being broken and reassembled every day, to preserve an elite few, who are the loudest to theorize on freedom, but the least free of all.”

“Don't forget the real business of war is buying and selling. The murdering and violence are self-policing, and can be entrusted to non-professionals. The mass nature of wartime death is useful in many ways. It serves as spectacle, as diversion from the real movements of the War. It provides raw material to be recorded into History, so that children may be taught History as sequences of violence, battle after battle, and be more prepared for the adult world. Best of all, mass death's a stimolous to just ordinary folks, little fellows, to try 'n' grab a piece of that Pie while they're still here to gobble it up. The true war is a celebration of markets.”

“If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers.”

“Kekulé dreams the Great Serpent holding its own tail in its mouth, the dreaming Serpent which surrounds the World. But the meanness, the cynicism with which this dream is to be used. The Serpent that announces, "The World is a closed thing, cyclical, resonant, eternally-returning," is to be delivered into a system whose only aim is to violate the Cycle. Taking and not giving back, demanding that "productivity" and "earnings" keep on increasing with time, the System removing from the rest of the World these vast quantities of energy to keep its own tiny desperate fraction showing a profit: and not only most of humanity—most of the World, animal, vegetable, and mineral, is laid waste in the process. The System may or may not understand that it's only buying time. And that time is an artificial resource to begin with, of no value to anyone or anything but the System, which must sooner or later crash to its death, when its addiction to energy has become more than the rest of the World can supply, dragging with it innocent souls all along the chain of life. Living inside the System is like riding across the country in a bus driven by a maniac bent on suicide . . . though he's amiable enough, keeps cracking jokes back through the loudspeaker . . .”


― Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow

I also assigned Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed (two different classes). I like LHOD and found The Dispossessed interesting but I don't need to read either again for a while.

For the advanced academic writing class next semester I will probably assign Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep because my goal during my final decade of employment is to turn every class into a single course entitled "What does Cranberries want to think and talk about this semester?"
Last edit: 09 Apr 2023 10:04 by Cranberries. Reason: added some books to show how well read I am.
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