strategic miscalculation

“People don’t break into banks because they’re not secure. They break into banks because that’s where the money is,” said Janet Abbate, author of Inventing the Internet, on the network and its creators. “They thought they were building a classroom, and it turned into a bank.”


“It’s not that we didn’t think about security. We knew that there were untrustworthy people out there, and we thought we could exclude them.”

Yeah…the first quote nips my flippant response to the second one but still…that is asking for trouble.

From here.


linking knowing you are playing into an unhappy expectation by doing the linking

The short version is that I want you to read this.

–which, if you read it, will eventually drop you at the phrase “I have been here long enough to know that this article about Being A Woman will be more widely read than nearly any heartfelt work of pure games criticism I could do. That knowing is a low and constant ache.” I arrived at the link through a tweet from The Mary Sue, and here I am relinking it, so yes–I am contributing to that ache. I am sorry. I say that less to mitigate anything than because it known that I am aware of what I am doing.

However. If you take that bait and read that article–and you should–you will, first, encounter the phrase “Now I don’t remember much about those times, because the real me was not really present.”

That is why I am linking this article. I am not in games journalism. I play them, but I am currently huddling with a box of kleenexes (goddamn conference colds!)  at the back of a conference hall for a totally difference industry. One where being able to mention off-handedly about the academic lifestuyle I left behind can, with the right people, open doors. When they ask about “what it was like” sutdying what I did, living in Tokyo for so long, and then coming back–“the transistion–there is a set of stories they expect, a tailored suite of anecdotes they hope I can light them up with. But while years of distance have afforded me space to craft what they want to hear, which I do in order to grease the wheels of our conversations, there are large blanks in that time period, especially once I got back and tried to subsist as an academic. Not subsist on an economic level, even, but an emotional one. I couldnot. Because I was…absent. From that life and that persona. So that phrase–“I don’t remember much about those times, becuse the real me was not really prsnt”–that was damn true. To the point where I wanted you to read it.

Back to games, though. Again, I just play them. Because of my allergy to academe and its pretensions, I have deliberately in some cases alienated those who were willing to talk to me about such things on a more critical level, and that is fine. But there is a third point in that article that resonates:

My partner is in games, and his friends, and my guy friends, and they run like founts of tireless enthusiasm and dry humor. I know sometimes my ready temper and my cynicism and the stupid social media rants I can’t always manage to stuff down are tiring for them.

Not mentioned here (well, not on the receiving end), because I assume those friends know how douchey it would be of them to do this to her, are the links we are sent, as Women Who Play Games, by well-meaning men. “Look! Look! Another Leigh Alexander article!” cries my inbox; my facebook feed. I follow her on social networks but usually it is my male gaming friends who make me aware of new articles by Women In Games, even before I have a chance to encounter them naturally. And it’s not just her, of course–what she experiences as knowing that people will read this because it’s about Being A Woman, those of us not writing in games experience as being deluged with articles because we too Are Women, and thus should either Be Moved by this, or Be Impressed By The Progressiveness of the Man Sending Us This.

Please stop.

I know the men who do this have good intentions. They mean to level the playing field. Or to assuage some white male guilt complex they are cognizant of and wish to address in a positive way. Or they would loudly proclaim that no no, they are gender blind, they just were moved by a piece of good writing and wanted to share it. And that is possible, it is true. It is infinitely possible. But I do not think that is what is happening.  I think you are pandering to us.


We can find this stuff on our own. We can be moved by it on our own. We can believe in your not being a total shit, hopefully, on our own, without you having to take duck-footed steps toward it, quacking all the while just to make double-triple sure we hear you. It is unnecessary. It is, despite your best intentions, demeaning. To us and to all the authors you send our way. Which is, if you are to be believed, the last thing you want. 

So please. Cease the giddy pipeline of gaming news of a particular gender stripe. We are quite capable of giving our own shits about it, without having to listen to yours too. Your shits needn’t be the vehicle of delivery for every piece of gaming journalism written by, or connected to, women. Understand that when you insist otherwise, you undermine your own espoused ideals. You know, the ones that are supposed to convince us you aren’t That Guy, whom you don’t want to be.

yes please

yes please“Now that I am older life seems full of things to worry about. Sometimes I search for bad news as if reading the details will protect me somehow. I call it tragedy porn. I will fill myself up with every horrible detail about the latest horrible event and quote it back to people like some bad-news know-it-all. Remember that Austrian dad Josef Fritzl who raped his daughter and kept her and her kids in the basement for twenty-four years? I do, because I spent many nights reading every horrible specific fact about it and talking about it to everyone who would listen, until one day Seth Meyers gently reminded me that I worked at Saturday Night Live and it was a comedy show and maybe I was bumming everybody out. At the end of the year the “Update” team surprised me with a framed copy of an Entertainment Weekly cover Seth and I had posed for. They replaced Seth’s face with Josef Fritzl’s. I am smiling and pulling at his tie. This is what it is like to work in comedy. Hilarious and horrifying.”

I received this book as a Christmas gift and stopped reading it because the end was approaching too quickly and I needed to stockpile it on my shelf knowing I could open it at any time and be reassured that someone who shared at lot of the same experiences and opinions about shit with me–but who was older than me and who was so wonderfully reliable as a narrator, and who gave advice with intent, without me having to drag it out of the text and hope she maybe could’ve meant it somehow possibly in application to someone who could have resembled me–at any time.

Well, now felt like a good time.

Most of my lunchbreak was sent texting people quotes from the book. It’s like one big forgiveness check for all the things people don’t like about you. Bad at scary movies? Wish someone would beat up nasty cat callers (even if you feel guilty for wishing it because maybe it makes you seem weak) for you? Didn’t actually have a horrible childhood but fantasized ways you could have in a childish search for adventure? Read about terrible events–crashes, natural disasters, the gross misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time–as a way to attempt to inoculate yourself against it? Are neither as pristinely aloof or as raunchily friendly as seem to be your two options in a landscape of twentysomethings? Well, so was Amy Poehler, and she’s not shit, so there’s hope for you too.

cooking in thedas: dalish hearth cakes


 Thought train whilst baking these:

1.) I’m going to bake these for work! I’m going to be a hero.

2.) I have just enough gluten-free flour left to even include the GF people at work! I’m going to be a SAINT.

3.) Dum dee dum, a-baking we will go… 


So I had to find a way to bake these sans flour-rolling. I also lack a very griddle-friendly stovetop–no gas here–so I was limited there too. I went for ten minutes in a baking sheet at 350 degrees. For the dried fruit I used golden raisins and rose hips, because I love both of those things.

These will make your house smell amazing. They’re not too sweet but they’re very amply spiced, so you’re definitely going to notice the ginger and particularly the nutmeg. I might not recommend you use rose hips, though, as they don’t soften up much with this limited amount of moisture. (Just the egg and a glug or two of milk.) Still, even if I go for just the raisins next time, the spicing on these is pretty good. Lends a different and strong enough flavor to feel unique. And you can definitely bake them if you don’t want to use the griddle–don’t even have to flip them; just pop them in for ten minutes, flattening with a spatula beforehand if you don’t want your fingerprints on them.

you’re allowed your grand unifying theories

I keep trying to recall some of the questions people asked Mitchell when he spoke here. One of them very clearly questioned the…overarching nature of his fiction; familiar things from previous books appearing in the new ones. Thousand Autumns wasn’t even out in paperback yet, I don’t think, so Bone Clocks wasn’t even on the horizon of those asking questions. Even so, there were two currents to the questions: a sense of betrayal that Thousand Autumns had lacked those connecting threads, and a much more resounding sense of…I don’t know what it was, exactly. Disdain? Dismissal? Coming from those who thought such connections distracting at best or gimmicky at worst.

I only have a dim memory of one of his answers–some sort of vague acknowledgment that, yes, there was this cosmology at work and it was intentional, and from there we segued off into the question of whether such a thing was ever completely avoidable in fiction, intentional or not–but I’m less interested in his own defense of his own books than of a defense of the act on the whole. Because yes, you are allowed those grand unifying theories. They’re your books, for crying out loud. Would you deny authors that? If they cannot make sense of this world–and they can’t, or they wouldn’t be writing–let them force a kind of sense onto their own worlds. Obviously this becomes problematic when you refuse to acknowledge yourself as a writer of fiction–when you author a religion, for example. But for the people who don’t claim to be delivering one grand truth–who acknowledge the fact of their fiction–why deny them that? Why resent them for it?

I’m leaving out entirely the question of the reader’s gain here, too. The little thrill of recognition when we read, in Number 9 Dream or Black Swan Green, of the atlas of clouds. Those are nice, sure, but those little thrills are not enough of a reason to devote so much of your time and energy into a whole new book. There needs to be personal gain, for you the author, I should think.

Which is why, no, I don’t resent the huge huge arcs penciled in between previous books in Bone Clocks. Why should I? If we are to take some of the balder criticisms leveled at Crispin Hershey as thinly-veiled paraphrasing of criticisms leveled at our own author who turned from “literary fiction” to “good god, Crispin, are you writing a fantasy novel?” then it seems that some people, at least, feel betrayed by such a move. By the existence of the Anchorites and Horology and the reappearance of Marinus and Oshima and Penhaligon and all the rest. Does it feel a bit rushed, reading about the history of all this in the final few pages? Sure. But it also feels as though we are being prepared for future books. I’d read about Marinus in any setting, for example; any life. Also, I should think a prolonged exposure to the writer’s circuit of talking heads and mugs miming for the cameras and too-eager bootlickers and endless travel would sour anyone on the vaunted notions literary fiction wants to claim for itself–at least in modern circles. One cannot discuss such things amongst one’s fellow humans for ten minutes without someone tearing their hair out over how kids these days / the internet / ipads / everyone of a different political stripe than oneself is Ruining Literature. So I imagine that the flight into a world of Anchorites and Horologists–or rather not the flight but the taking of each previous text in the fist and smashing them together with links, making them connect–feels somewhat liberating. If it enables the man to feel morally at peace with continuing the act of writing, why condemn it? He’s going to be worth your time whether he’s writing about worlds you recognize or worlds you wish you did. Either way, let him do his thing.

And hey, if we’re lucky, we might even get to see Sixsmith and Frobisher again. One can dream.