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Subversive Puppet Show



pup·pet n.A small figure of a person or animal, having a cloth body and hollow head, designed to be fitted over and manipulated by the hand.A writer reigniting his love affair with his muse while making his way in a strange world. Visit jasonmical.com f



Updated: 2018-02-18T12:54:03.762+00:00

 



We're Done Here

2012-01-27T00:27:30.057+00:00

I registered JasonMical.com in 2005 and intended to migrate this blog over there back then. Hey, 2012 isn't too late to finish the job.

There will be no more updates here. The show will go on at jasonmical.com.



If the Play's the Thing...

2012-01-18T21:35:09.472+00:00

My friend Roger Whitson pinged me early on Twitter yesterday and directed me to a post by Mark Sample on Play the Past: What Comes before the Platform: The Refuse of Video Games. It's a good article and makes some very salient points about a side of gaming that people don't want to talk about, what Sample sums up as "Pre-Platform Studies:" what goes into making the things that play the games we play?Specifically Sample's talking about the long lines of supply that go into producing the raw materials that are fed into the factories that are made by workers into things they will never personally be able to afford. It's a tale of slavery, coercion, warlords, organized crime, exploitation, and Western consumer ignorance. Go read it - it's a good post and hits the points better than I could myself.If you don't feel some measure of guilt over this, you should.Something bothered me after reading Sample's post though, and (like any good netizen) I turned to Twitter to discuss it with @rogerwhitson. Why did Sample pick on video games specifically? Why is it so important to video game studies that we include the amount exploitation that pervades the supply chain? Does it actually matter to the study of the game itself? Shouldn't we then study the deforestation and supply process that goes into the creation of books (I asked Roger)?Our discussion went off on a tangent about the importance of the influence of capitalism (Rog's label, not mine, although he later admitted it was shorthand for what I referred to as a technologically advanced society. After all, the Soviets weren't exactly known for their Earth-friendly or nonexploitive labor practices, and they built video arcades too.) Sidenote to readers: don't use "capitalism" as a synonym or shorthand for "technologically advanced society." It's wrong on several levels.That's more like it.What we came back to in our conversation was that Sample's point was most definitely important: people don't really know about the awful things that go into making the things upon which we play our games, and that should be part of the conversation. But at what level?Let's start with a few statements and assumptions.1. Is platform important to video game studies? Yes, absolutely. "Platform" covers the hardware you use to play the game, which includes graphic and sound capabilities and input: two important overall aspects of the gaming experience. It also includes lesser-important things like media (although load times do affect the game experience) and multiplayer capabilities and experiences. So yes, it's important.2. Is platform important to other studies? Well... sort of. Is a book on Kindle fundamentally different from a book on paper, to the point where it would change the overall experience? If so, the difference is more of an Xbox 360 vs. PS3 instead of an Xbox 360 vs. Atari 2600 argument: in other words, relatively insignifiant.But what about, say, music? Listening to a recording done on a home casette recorder is significantly different from listening to a recording done with professional recording equipment. So too is listening to both recordings on a tinny mono speaker instead of a high-end audiophile system. The experience changes both ways, therefore the platform does influence the study.Movies are the same way. A film shot on an 8mm handheld is vastly different from a film recorded with DV and postprocessed on massive server farms to add CGI to every frame. Watching them is a different experience on a small black and white TV than on a 9-story IMAX screen.John, stop the car, Ringo's got out again.I realize I'm talking in degrees here, but if anything I'm searching for larger context in the overall conversation to answer my previous question. I left the conversation with Roger yesterday and took the dog for a walk (a sure way to clear my head if ever there was one), and came back and Tweeted that the thing that bothered me about Sample's article was that he didn't offer solutions. Actually, I was wrong. He did offer solutions: the importance of including th[...]



Four Tips for Interacting With A Formerly Fat Person

2011-12-16T19:18:02.701+00:00

I meant to write this post a month ago, but my experiences coming home for the holidays reminded me I never got around to it, and it seems like as good a time as any to put this down.What inspired this is the variety of reactions I get about losing weight from my friends and family, especially people who haven't necessarily seen me in a long time. I can tell it makes some people uncomfortable (for whatever reason - it's not my place to speculate) but it also elicits some well-intentioned behaviors in others that, frankly, are a pain in the ass to deal with. So undersand that I've written this as a friendly and helpful tips, and I fully understand that the last thing my friends and family want to do is hurt me; I just don't think people realize how things come across sometimes. I want people to see things from my point of view without coming across like an overbearing jerk, so please take this advice in the spirit it's given.So, some tips for interacting with a former fat guy.1. You don't have to keep offering me food; or, no means no. Food is wonderful; it tastes good, and it's an inherent social driver for our culture. It's also something that I had a very self-destructive personal relationship with that I have repaired for my own health and well-being.A key part of that process for me was identifying both what I wanted to eat and in what quantities. I'm really good at keeping my diet sustainable. I know full well how much and of what I can eat. You don't have to go out of your way to prepare super-healthy stuff when I'm around, but if you're serving biscuits and gravy don't expect me to take a massive bowl of it.Let me put it this way: it's very obvious that I've lost a good deal of weight in the last seven years (it's hard to hide the physical change of 150 pounds off.) Looking at me is a reminder. You know I've lost a lot of weight. So, please ask yourself this: if I was a recovering alcoholic and you were aware that I used to have a self-destructive relationship with alcohol, would you offer me a drink? Would you continue to offer me drinks throughout the day if I politely refused the first one (or two?) How do you think I would feel if you did, even if I knew you were doing it out of politeness?Apply that to food. It's not a perfect correlation but I would argue that what I'm recovering from is very similar to addiction, and the mental processes I use to stay healthy is similar to how recovering addicts make it through the day.I don't like to throw food out but if you heap a bunch of it on my plate after I tell you not to, I will. Also understand that it's a lot harder to control portions once the food is on your plate. I still nibble. I'm only human. I know my weaknesses, and I control them by not putting the food on my plate in the first place. Like the booze, I know where the food is and if I really want to make that choice I'll do it myself.2. Yes, I'm still self-conscious about my weight. Please understand that as much as I'm proud of what I've done that being fat left lasting psychological damage, in no small part related to the fact that my weight gain was directly linked to my depression. You don't have to reassure me. I appreciate it, but honestly it's best just left alone. And yes, looking at pictures of me when I was much heavier is very uncomfortable for me. That's why I've personally only kept a handful myself.3. I want to inspire you but in a healthy way. I've noticed that when I'm out with people they'll often pick up on the fact that I'm ordering healthy, smaller quantities or loading up on fruit at the salad bar and skipping the full-fat ranch dressing. Then they turn around and order something way outside of what they would normally eat. Cool, let me inspire you; in fact, that's one of the best parts about having made such an achievement is helping others see that it is possible. That being said, understand that the me you see now and the way I eat now is the result of seven years of constant, hard work.Say you went to a martial arts[...]



The Kids Are Alright

2011-11-22T15:59:32.655+00:00

I started not understanding Occupy Wall Street's purpose. I fell into the media trap of reciting a talking point: they have no message! But the more I spoke to members of the movement, people online, people at Occupy Seattle itself (yes, I've been a few times), the purpose and message became more clear. Occupy started focusing itself as well, which helped. Switch to Credit Unions? Yeah, I get that. And old friend who worked in finance until 2008 (heh) has been telling us the same thing for months. The Beautiful Competition's been saying it for years.The more I learned about Occupy, the more I realized I've seen this before. I was quite an activist in my college days: supporting Nader in 2000, working on a certain filmmaker's TV show, railing against corporate greed and a fundamentally corrupt system.Youthful IndiscretionsAfter Bush was elected and 9/11 happened any sort of discourse about these subjects came to a grinding halt for several years--while the very interests we sought to highlight proceeded to continue their ruin of our economy. Not just the American economy mind you, but the global economy.It's been a strange past month. I've watched as friends and family attack the Occupy movement with a variety of strawmen and non sequitors. I've seen relations of those family members struggle to try to find a job several months out of college--hardly a unique phenomenon, and one that's central to the heart of the Occupy movement.Yes, it's the protesters who are messy.They're not too proud to go and flip burgers (despite being told that incurring tens of thousands in debt is the way to avoid burger-flipping): it's just that there aren't enough burger-flipping jobs available. "They should shut up and get a job" in response to Occupy is the response you'd make only if you were utterly clueless about the economic situation in this country (and now spreading into the EU.)There is a certain amount of irony here: the very boomers whose protests in the civil rights movement and against the Vietnam War are the same people who simply don't understand Occupy, for whatever reason. I was reminded yesterday of a verse written by these very boomers more than 45 years ago, which are oddly prophetic for Occupy. Here's a video to accompany it. allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='https://www.youtube.com/embed/vCWdCKPtnYE?feature=player_embedded' FRAMEBORDER='0' />Come mothers and fathersThroughout the landAnd don't criticizeWhat you can't understandYour sons and your daughtersAre beyond your commandYour old road isRapidly agin'.Please get out of the new oneIf you can't lend your handFor the times they are a-changin'.Much of this coalesced last week when I read this stunning article about a Catholic's loss of faith after the Penn State pedophilia scandal. It's not so much about a loss of religious faith but a loss of faith in institutions, leaders, and those who should be serving as role models. In a way it's the loss of faith in the boomers who protested war but put us in this situation by allowing the monied interests to have their way with America. I grew up on The Simpsons: the first episode to hit Fox came out in my very formative fifth grade year. The Occupy grew up on South Park, a far more nihilistic cartoon lampooning literally everything. For The Simpsons generation, there are institutions we should still be able to trust. For the Occupy generation, the South Park generation, just a few years younger than me, they have been raised to suspect and distrust literally everything.It's an isolating proposition. It's the ultimate existentialism, a body of internal self-reliance that would probably scare the ever-loving shit out of most people who rely on religion, leaders, institutions, or something for meaning. As the boomers drift around like boats on the ocean taking refuge in new age nonsense while ignoring the economic ruin they've enabled if not condoned, the South P[...]



Red State Welfare

2011-11-13T16:00:28.056+00:00

Because I'm trying to get away from subjecting my friends and family (OK, my family) on Facebook to my political views, I'll post this here instead.

One of my favorite little facts about America: those states who receive more federal money than they contribute to the tax base are almost identical to the states who routinely support candidates who propose doing away with such programs. This is not a new trend at all.

Attention conservative red state welfare queens: I'm tired of my hard-earned tax money being taken out of my state and reallocated to yours, where you guys don't work hard enough to support yourselves. Why don't you go get better jobs you lazy right-wing conservative bums? I mean seriously, surely there must be some well-paying jobs in your states somewhere. That's why all of us fled for the coasts, right?

Until then though we should put your fantasies into reality, remove the subsidies us blue-staters are paying into your states, and watch your states roads, schools, and infrastructure crumble even more. Because that's how a community ought to support itself by your own rules and standards, right?

Or maybe we could all, you know, support each other. Like us awful class warfare liberals have been advocating - and you all have been taking advantage of while calling us names and taking away our rights in the same breath.

Hypocritical jerks. There, I called you a name. Although I'll just use a conservative argument and say I'm "refusing to be politically correct" and you can't argue with me, nyah nyah!

Man I'm out of practice at this whole rant thing.



NaNoWrMo Or Something

2011-11-07T18:34:51.237+00:00

Hey, did you know its National Novel Writing Month?

I realize it's supposed to be a way to motivate aspiring writers to actually get off their asses and, you know, write.

For some reason it always turns into feelings of guilt and anxiety when I see a half-dozen writerly friends updating their word counts and I don't realistically have time to plow through several thousand words a day for a month.

The problem is my own. I need to set lower goals first: I've got some short story ideas knocking around I should finish off. With the ease of e-publishing these days, I could just release a collection of stories on Amazon, post it on Facebook, get a few dozen sales from friends and family and I'm on my way!

Call that "National Writing Anything To Keep Some Kind of Momentum" month.



Blogging

2011-11-05T15:23:38.471+00:00

Blogging's a funny thing. You don't do it for more than a year, realizing you've just kind of left a part of yourself dangling out there (and let's face it, a pretty esoteric closing post to boot.) Then you write one letter to Google and tell yourself "hey, I should publish this somewhere other than Plus so I can actually, you know, find it in a week" and all of a sudden you've got ideas for blogging again.

 Blogger's gone and got itself a new interface. It looks like the rest of Google's interfaces: less Web 2.0 and more Tech 2015. I feel like I'm using an interface designed by Apple's interns.

 My life has changed in many ways in the last 15 months. New job. New tech. New games played. New hobby (winemaking). The anti-greed movement I've been a part of since college has gone and made itself more mainstream by camping out in public parks. My dog's grown up, and one of my cats has moved on. In other words life is moving forward.

 My problem with blogging has been writing for the sake of writing. Therefore my previous mission statement still stands: I will only write if I feel I have something of value to add to the conversation.

Otherwise, you can just catch up with my personal shit on Facebook, and my more newsy shit on Plus. And when I occasionally dip back into Twitter... well... I don't reliably use it anymore because the value just wasn't there.



An Open Letter to the Google Plus and Reader Teams

2011-11-01T19:53:20.151+00:00

Dear Google Plus and Reader Teams,I've been tracking closely the development of both Plus and Reader; I was excited to try the former and have been a long-time user of the later. Reader has been an important tool in my digital toolset for years; I use it personally to track and read important news and updates from friends' blogs, and I have used it professionally and semiprofessionally as a monitoring tool for blogs, social media, and news.Like many other Google Reader users I met the announcement of Reader's integration into Plus with some skepticism; at best I was cautiously optimistic. When I finally switched over yesterday I found the new UI different but nothing that would cause any permanent harm; I have suffered through UI and design pages on services beginning with the Prodigy network back in 1990. Although they cause short-term confusion there hasn't been a single instance where I've ceased to use a service because of a UI change. I would prefer something with more color delineation between posts, but you're receiving enough feedback about that from people far more qualified as designers than I am, so I'll leave that be.The main piece of feedback I have about the new Reader is around its social sharing features. Reader's sharing features were, for myself and many others, a self-selected and silo'd social network. I followed users (offline friends mostly) who actively shared news and other content I found interesting, and would occasionally comment on that content and have conversations with each other. Rarely would these develop into full-blown conversations (and if they did we typically moved to IM), but the information discovery mechanisms of this service were invaluable to me both for professional development and personal enrichment. I understand how to share content through Reader into Plus; this is not the issue. The frustrating thing about this change is that I no longer have the option to filter content from others in the same silo I had in Reader. This, frankly, was functionality I expected when Plus launched (if you check my account, it's one of my first Plus posts.)Reader gave me a way to get content from a few people without drinking from the social media firehose of less-relevant updates. I love my friends to death but I don't want to have to filter through 10 pictures of their kids to get to the one news story they found interesting. Facebook doesn't allow for this kind of filtration, and neither did Plus when it launched – which would have been its defining competitive factor. This is the beauty of Reader's old system; if was a filtered network.In short: rather than cloning Facebook's functionality, I wish Plus had been more like what Reader was in its content filtering.My recommendation then is twofold:1. Make a feature in Google Reader where you can automatically create a Plus circle from the people you've followed. This was a basic exporting beat Google completely missed; why should I manually have to recreate a circle of followed friends from one Google product into another? That should have been one click, or done automatically, behind the scenes. Google's value proposition is its platform ubiquity; this was a missed opportunity to demonstrate this is actually the case.2. Within that circle (or within any circle in Plus) allow me to filter posts from people in that circle to only show +1s from Reader. I love my friends to death but don't want to cruise through a dozen pictures of kids in Halloween costumes to get to important news. To put this a different way: turn circles into content silos, not just person groups.In fact, this kind of filtering is what I expected from Plus in the first place. It would be a true differentiator from Facebook's platform, which forces me to filter in reverse, by blocking updates from certain apps like Farmville. Instead, Plus should allow you to filter down, only showing [...]



Questions for God

2010-06-04T23:04:47.571+01:00

Rather than "why?" I'd ask "how?"

If I knew "how" I could do it myself and then I could figure out "why."

But then again my reasons would be different than His.



Artificial Intelligence

2010-05-28T22:30:53.784+01:00

A higher difficulty level in a strategy game should mean that I'm playing against a smarter opponent who makes strategically sound moves.

It should not mean that the rules of the game alter to favor my opponent, who is still playing as dumb as he was on the easy setting, but now with fuzzy math that means things end up in his favor more often than not.

How is this so hard to program?



Attention Criminals

2010-05-21T22:46:24.460+01:00

I would like to see the following threats to American security report to Guantanamo Bay Prison immediately:

  • Every employee of British Petroleum, and their agencies;
  • Everyone connected to the Bush administration and everyone who voted for them;
  • Everyone who purchased a vehicle that gets less than 20 miles to the gallon between the years of 1993 and 2010
It is time to be held accountable for your crimes against this country, the environment, and the human race.



Dreaming

2010-05-11T22:53:30.227+01:00

Anyone who interacts with me long enough will have the pleasure of hearing my Sean Connery impression. It's just part of what I do, no different than breathing or washing my hands twenty times a day.

I often have strange dreams when my wife is out of town, which she is. That is important to our story.

Last night I dreamed I was at at dinner party, and one of the other people at my table was Sean Connery. I inadvertently did my Sean Connery impression in front of him and then tried to play it off as a joke. Sean was not amused. In fact he got very mad and I had to start running away from him.

I hid in someone's house but their dog found me and started chasing me. Then the owners of the house chased me.

Good times.



A Question of Character (and System)

2010-05-06T00:30:37.295+01:00

I'm getting back in the groove of running a regular role-playing game, and I chose a very different genre for me: a sci-fi game set in the universe of Richard K Morgan's Altered Carbon books. I also decided to give a new system a spin: Eclipse Phase. I've had a really good experience with the Eclipse Phase team (they helped me out when I really needed it - seriously, excellent customer service), but it doesn't look like the system is going to work with our group's style. More importantly, with my GMing style.I thought about this after reading a list of story-driven RPGs on The Mighty Atom, many of which I've at least read if not tried. My GMing style tends to be very story focused. I see the game as a chance for a group of friends to sit down together and tell a collective story, and the game system has to be an enabler for this. The system is designed to give the game some structure and resolve conflicts that arise in the story in a reasonable way (characters fighting other characters being a common conflict.)Eclipse Phase turned out to be slightly too clunky for my tastes. It's not a bad system at all. It's a very good system, but it focuses a little more on simulation over story. This fits some people's playstyles perfectly but not mine. One of the reasons I was happy with the d20 system was that I knew it very well, including its limitations, and it did a fair job of simulating a character's abilities without getting in the way. The system was easy to push aside when you simply wanted to focus on story.I've been thinking a lot about this in relation to other game styles that I enjoy. I agree about 99.99% with Shamus Young's comparison of Saint's Row 2 vs. Grand Theft Auto IV that he published on Twenty Sided. The money quote for me:In GTA IV, the mission designer has all the fun, designing something for you to enact. In Saints Row 2, the designer just fills the world with toys and you get to do the creative part.This carries over into the characterization as well. In Saint's Row 2, you design your character from the ground up. He (or she) has no name. His history is painted with broad stokes, allowing you to fill in. In GTA4, your character is so specific that I'm certain there's a 100-page biography sitting on some brand manager's desk somewhere in Rockstar headquarters. It's fine for a movie. It's awful for a game. RPGs, especially online RPGs, have had a hard time walking this line. Early RPGs like Bard's Tale or Wasteland had no 'stock' characters. You rolled your own, decided your class, named them, and they simply interacted with the world. This is the same model that most offline RPGs use, except all of the hard math stuffs are automated. The funny thing is, most of these early RPGs were very light on the story (if it existed at all.) Eventually this changed, notably with games like Baldur's Gate or Planescape: Torment. The character was still largely up to the player but he or she had a defined background and history. You were no longer playing a character that was your own. Japanese RPGs are even worse in this regard, essentially plopping you in the role of an anime character where the only customization they allowed was swapping of gear or possibly changing the name. Which is fine if you want an interactive film, but not so great if part of the joy of playing the game is imagining yourself in the role.RPGs have since swung back towards the Baldur's Gate or Torment models. In Fallout 3 players can define their character and even play through and define some of his or her background (within a set of parameters) and are then presented with a series of puzzles, missions and quests that they can solve pretty much any way they wish. This is the design ethic I like to use in the games I run. [...]



Ecoterrorism

2010-04-30T20:52:58.978+01:00

I hate that phrase. Really hate it. It equivocates obstruction of business and loss of profit, or at worse destruction of property, with the taking of life for a political gain. I guess it's simply a matter of perspective, and the ultimate utilitarian argument: I agree with the ends, therefore I can justify the means.

I find myself becoming more utilitarian in this regard, mostly because I feel a room full of Kantians would never accomplish anything. Progress is often predicated on a strong sense of ideology, but also a willingness to enter into compromise.

This is problematic in and of itself. If Gandhi or Martin Luther King had compromised, would they have accomplished as much?

At what point does a stubborn 'right' turn against itself? Is Paul Watson, for example, a terrorist? If he had strictly used peaceful means, would he be a Gandhi, or pejoratively compared to Osama bin Laden? Just because I agree with his goals am I overlooking what is a form of terrorism, by definition?

I have no answers to these questions. I'm just tossing them out there because I haven't made up my mind, and I'm not sure what to think.



Oysters

2010-04-23T20:47:40.671+01:00

Last night I went out for dinner with a team visiting my office from Korea to a local seafood place. On the menu: oysters, crab legs, a little bit of fish, and some bread.

Normally oysters are something I eat in my mom's stuffing at Thanksgiving or Christmas. I don't dislike them, but I've always found them kind of gross.

Last night I eschewed that and had quite a few (for me) oysters. And in retrospect, they weren't half-bad.

As I get older, I find my palate changing, accepting things I would not have eaten before. I love bananas. Black pudding in the UK was good. The Beautiful Competition even turned me on to fois gras, which I admit is really damn good. I feel like there's a new world of culinary delights out there yet to be discovered as I open my mind and taste buds more and more.

Still not going to eat any raw oysters on the half-shell though.



40 Years

2010-04-22T23:27:40.990+01:00

Today is the 40th Earth Day. Today, I rode the bus to work for only the second time since I've been back (this was not planned, it was a coincidence.)

I admit that most of my efforts are token at best. I recycle, I owned a hybrid car (but now drive a far-less efficient Jeep.) I carpool when I can and I compost, but still continue to directly participate in a system that encourages wasteful and unmitigated consumption that is ultimately unsustainable.

I'd like to think I did my part this morning. Our secretary was going to drive three hours south to Portland to pick up 3 iPads because there aren't any left in Seattle, then drive three hours back. iPads. Calculate the carbon footprint on that.

I convinced her that if she really had to go 200 miles to pay $600 a pop for some fashionable gadget, she should at least take Amtrak.

She also had no idea it was Earth Day.

40 years from now, I'll blog that today is the day I truly felt and understood the meaning of the term Phyrric Victory.

Edit: here's something a little more positive.

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Fundamental Beliefs

2010-04-21T20:49:36.060+01:00

Health care is not a luxury item. It is not an iPad or a BMW or a bottle of nice wine. It is not a vacation to Fiji or a seven-bedroom mansion.

Health care is a utility, like sewage and sanitation, police protection, fire departments, good roads, a strong military and other utilities that keep society safe and operating well.



Mistakes

2010-04-20T22:45:50.922+01:00

I've made a lot of mistakes in my life. Most of them are the sort of laundry I don't care to air on this blog, but I will admit to and apologize for this one.

When I was a freelance writer trying to make my name, I sold out my integrity as a movie reviewer, Star Wars fan and as a writer by penning a good review of Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones in exchange for the chance to see the movie a week before the rest of the world.

I'm so very sorry.



Christology

2010-04-19T17:36:23.641+01:00

I'm now about 99% certain what the Bible was referring to in the story of the loaves and fishes.

Jesus said, bread and anchovies? Awesome. Let me get a little red sauce and I'll show you guys a real miracle - of flavor!

You heard it here first kids.



Chicken Coop For The Soul

2010-03-24T18:14:45.710+00:00

(image) So one of the things that Elizabeth and I found in London was a thriving locally-sourced food scene. Locally-sourced foods are great for many reasons: fewer preservatives, healthier, you know what's in them and how they were grown, and it bolsters the local economy rather than massive corporate farms that are good for no one except investors. We decided to become very serious about looking into the possibility of entering the scene as more than just consumers, and although we still don't know what that will look like we decided to try to start 'easy' with a few chickens for eggs.

So we now have five hens, a chicken coop and 9 eggs after two days. A small portion of our yard is taken up with the chicken run, but apart from a long weekend of hard work and a lot of Internet research on the part of the Beautiful Competition most of the intensive labor is done.

I'll post more about this as things develop but 'going local' has always been a priority of ours, and this is the first step to becoming that change we want to see.



New Horizons

2010-02-24T23:28:13.727+00:00

I've been fairly tight-lipped about this but for good reason. The 11th was my last day at Edelman, as I accepted a new position with a gaming company. Today we announced ourselves to the world, so I can say that I work for En Masse Entertainment, an MMO publisher, on their first title TERA.

I'm the Community Director here an En Masse, and we're putting a huge focus on community before, during and after the game's launch. It's an amazing opportunity for me not only because I'm back in the games industry and working with an awesome group of people, but it's possibly one of the best moves I can make for my professional development. We're going to do some kickass community work and I won't just be a part of it, I'll be leading it!

BrotherMagneto is back in the old community saddle!



Top Six Ways First-Time Social Media Engagement is Like Your First Time Having Sex

2010-02-18T23:13:42.510+00:00

I can't recall the presentation that made the cheeky point 'your first social media engagement will be like your first time having sex,' and I'm more than happy to credit it for inspiration of this post if anyone cares to point it out. The 'awkward first time' thing is actually pretty apropos for social media engagement, and I was reminded of this fact recently with some clients at my old agency who were enamored with the act and not nearly enough with the approach. So without further ado, and tongue planted firmly in... cheek, I give you: the Top Six Ways First-time Social Media Engagement is Like Your First Time Having Sex.Goes without saying some of this might not be work-safe if your company can't handle a little grown-up fun.6. Those who talk the loudest are rarely the most experienced. Remember the braggart jock in high school who used to like to talk about his conquests in the locker room? And remember how your parents told you he was full of hot air? Guess what: there's a lot of that floating around in social media too. Those who can, do. Those who can't, have slickly-designed blogs and write about it a lot. Not that there aren't some perfectly legitimate people out there with well-designed blogs who have intelligent things to say about social media. Unfortunately, those people tend to be few and far between, and the number of locker-room bragging is going up. Beware someone who hasn't actually been doing this for several years, unless that person is young and has been doing this in their off-time before doing it professionally. 5. It's easy to get hung up on the toys. Unless you lead a very un-exciting life, in which case I apologize and recommend you spice things up a bit, you have probably experimented with toys at some point. But rarely are toys the sole focus of what you're doing, and very rarely are toys a major part of your first time. So while it may be exciting to think about sinking hundreds of thousands into a YouTube channel, remember that these toys are really just something to supplement the overall experience - not central focus of what you're doing. Sure, they can be used in some very interesting combinations and when used correctly can greatly enhance your social media experience. But keep them in your pocket in case the mood takes you there, don't whip them out over dinner and declare that this is where things are headed. Unless you're into that kind of thing, I guess.4. There's a lot of porn out there. Porn exploits people. People choose to allow themselves to be exploited for money. Porn also creates a series of completely unreasonable expectations about sex, because porn is designed to do one thing and one thing only: scratch a biological itch and make money doing it. When's the last time you had a sexy plumber over while you were wearing nothing but French-lace panties and he lost his shirt and you ended up re-creating 3/4s of the Kama Sutra in your kitchen? Or when is the last time you had one of those 'Dear Penthouse, I never thought it would happen to me?' experiences?Yeah, I thought so.A good deal of the social media sales is like pornography. Slick gurus put out titillating books, post to well-designed blogs and talk about how if only you fork over $100,000 to them for consulting fees you're assured a front-page success story in the Wall Street Journal. It's all as airbrushed, posed and fake as porn, baby, but like a generation raised with the Internet and without the need to hide a crinkly stack of Playboys under their mat[...]



Growing Up

2010-02-08T19:50:25.682+00:00

In one morning I've used Rogaine and listened to the Dead Kennedys. This, dear readers, is what growing up and adulthood is all about.

Also that's an admission for me: yes, my hair is thinning up top. I can no longer pretend it's just falling funny or maybe my pillow is wearing a spot in my head like a baby. It's definitely thinning. I wonder if the Rogaine kicks in what it will look like. Will there be little peach fuzzy hairs there for a while? I dunno.

(image) All I can think of is that in the future, they can replicate food, eliminate money, peacefully explore the stars, create entire realities in a holodeck - but they can't cure baldness.

Clearly science has failed.



Tonight

2010-01-20T08:31:38.447+00:00

Tonight I wrote a poem.

When I was done, I read it over and thought it looked like a puddle of vomit in the toilet.

Unlike a puddle of vomit, I've saved it.

Like a puddle of vomit, I don't think I'll show it to anyone.

I mention this only because I'm still writing which is better than not writing at all.



Buffalo Sauce

2010-01-19T16:24:07.049+00:00

I go through strange food cravings. Not the kind of craving that a pregnant lady has, 'I have to have this right now or a small nation will suffer!' or the kind of craving you might have after work, 'gee, Mexican food sounds great tonight.' My cravings are much more constant and low-grade, but consuming in that it may be the only kind of good that sounds good to me.

When I was in London, twice I had tomato cravings. Both of them lasted six weeks. I ate fresh tomatoes, tomato sauce on Italian food, roasted tomatoes, tomato soup, tomato paste. If it can be made from a tomato, I probably put it in my cakehole. The Beautiful Competition was extremely tolerant of these cravings despite their nonsensical nature.

I've gone through others, but much less pronounced. Red meat. White sauce. Different kinds of cheeses. But these haven't lasted nearly as long.

Since I've come back to America, I've craved Buffalo sauce.

That's not entirely true. I didn't crave it the moment I landed. In some small town in Oregon, while the Beautiful Competition and I were driving back from Oklahoma, we ended up in a Denny's at 11 at night (the only thing open) and the Buffalo Fingers sounded good, so I ordered some. The waitress brought extra Buffalo sauce on the side, in which I dipped my fingers (the food, not my attached fingers.)

And.. bam.

Ever since then, I'm craving Buffalo sauce. This is definitely the 'strange craving' category. I've imagined a world - this world - where I could buy a 50 gallon drum of Buffalo sauce, the kind you'd only find in a school cafeteria or a fallout shelter. And take it home. And just start drinking it. Despite the fact that I'm well aware that this would be a Very Bad Idea.

I'm typing this up in an airport on the way out of town for a business trip. I just had some Buffalo wings. They were nothing more to me than a Buffalo sauce delivery system. There was a nice paste of sauce on the bottom of the plate when I was done. I wondered whether I could just suck it up through a straw and drink it. (In case you're wondering, propriety won out and I didn't attempt it. To my fellow Sea-Tac travellers: you're welcome.)

I cannot explain this craving. But right now, if I could eat Buffalo sauce for three meals a day, I probably would.

Om nom nom.