Sun Jan 01 2023 18:44 Yuletide Reveal!:
Now it can be told! I wrote two stories for Yuletide 2022. The one for which I anticipate more interest is The Practical Boyfriend: A Post-Scarcity Rom-Com. This is a brand new Constellation Games bonus story, the first one in ten years, depicting the meet-cute between Tetsuo Milk and Ashley Somn at the beginning of the contact mission. Guest starring Curic and You'll Only See Kis Echo!, a character you've forgotten about. It's got laughs, romance, and Tetsuo designs a game!
As a fan of high-quality 2012 releases, I'm sure you also enjoy Subset Games' FTL, a death-in-space simulator that inspired certain bits of Situation Normal. Now I'm closing the circle with an fanfic called Try, Try Again, where I used the gallows-humor style of Situation Normal to tell a story in the FTL universe.
Wherever you find yourself today, I wish you a happy new year, and happy reading and writing!
Mon Jan 02 2023 15:53 December Film Roundup:
- Paddington 2 (2017): Watched based on an in-movie recommendation in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. It's fine. Fun kids movie.
- Moonstruck (1987): More fallout from Massive Talent, though this time taking the form of "I've been wanting to watch that Nicolas Cage movie." A rom-com from before the formula was fixed in the 90s, with a tighter focus on the other family members and a little less on the main couple. In fact my favorite part of Moonstruck was the interlocking stories it told of different romances in different stages of life. Olympia Dukakis is great in this, and John Mahoney is a pleasant surprise.
There's always a sacrificial or decoy boyfriend in these movies, and I always feel bad for the guy. The most pitiful victim of this trope is Bill Pullman's character in Sleepless in Seattle, whose disqualifying problem is serious allergies. The guy has trouble sleeping! He's practically your title character!
- Glass Onion (2022): A fun addition to the franchise. The setting was a lot less interesting than the cool old house in Knives Out, but the obnoxious douchebags were a lot more colorful and fun.
- A Christmas Movie Christmas (2019): A big missed opportunity. Sometimes when I can see a better movie conceptually near the less-good one that got made, it's understandable what happened: the better movie would have cost a lot more or taken longer to shoot or required better actors. But a Christmas romance parody doesn't need a bunch of expensive Zucker and Zucker one-off gags. You could shoot it in the same time and budget as a regular Christmas romance, with the same equipment and sets and actors. The magic is all in the screenplay.
This screenplay starts off really promising, but it loses its way quickly and we just get a cornier than usual Christmas romance with an extra dose of creepiness. That was possibly a commentary on Christmas romance movie creepiness, but it's hard to say for sure--again, a screenplay problem. The good news is that the space of concepts used in Christmas romances inhabits a vague public domain, so nothing's stopping people from ripping off this idea and doing five new Christmas romance parodies every year until someone gets it right... and then ripping it off ten times a year.
- Made in Heaven (1952): We watched this after Sumana's Wikipedia browsing turned up the old British "flitch of bacon" tradition/incentive for marital harmony. Like a lot of old British traditions, the flitch trial fell into disuse until it was revived in a Victorian-era work of fiction, and like a lot of old British movies, this is a cheesy farce where people scheme about cheating on their partners and evading postwar rationing. Everyone in this movie is stupid, and the higher-status they are, the stupider. As opposed to the Ealing comedies where everyone is smart but the high-status people are too smart for their own good. Recommended, but only in hopes that a better, modern comedy will be produced to take its place as the champion of bacon rom-coms.
- Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941): Yes indeed, here he comes, played by Claude Rains. This was based on the same play that became Heaven Can Wait (it also has a sequel and a second 2001 remake with Chris Rock). It's a cool concept but how many of these do we need? I'm concerned that we're about due for another one.
Admittedly, in 1977 I would have said "Do we really need to go here again?" and then the Elaine May/Warren Beatty version would have blown me away. I feel like the characterization of the trainer is done better in the 1941 version, but the most crucial dramatic issue--a character dropping dead in the final act for no good reason--is handled even worse here. A reason is given for the death, a reason that really ought to result in significant changes to everyone's behavior, but nope, everyone just ignores it. It's like they noticed the problem in the screenplay and patched it with duct tape. Anyway, this was fun for its genteel 1940s approach to death, but I'm on team Elaine May 4 life.
Wed Jan 04 2023 14:04 Our Morning Games:
In the year or so since Wordle became very popular, bringing along with it the more general online game model of "everyone gets the same quick game every day". Since then, Sumana and I have curated a set of games that we play together most mornings over breakfast. Many games have gone in and out of our list, and I figured the start of a new year was a good time to make some recommendations. I hope you find some fun with any or all of these:
- Framed: guess a movie from increasingly obvious stills.
- Artle: guess an artist through their artwork. I find this one very educational.
- Globle: guess a country via distance from other countries. This also has a new "capitals" variant.
- Flagle: guess a national flag as the arithmetic sum of other flags.
- Subwaydle: guess the trains taken on a trip through the NYC subway system (also available for a few other cities). This is mainly a Sumana game because I don't like the weird, convoluted routes it comes up with, as if for a spy trying to shake a trail.
- OEC Tradle: This was originally "guess the country from its exports" but it's currently going through US states.
- There are a lot of variants of Heardle (now owned by Spotify), which is basically "Name That Tune", but we enjoy Heardle Decades and TMBG Heardle (originally a Casey Kolderup project).
There are also two slower-paced games that we don't necessarily play every day:
- Redactle: guess the Wikipedia article by filling in blacked-out words.
- After spending a while playing Wordle, Dordle, Quordle, Octordle, etc. we spent quite a while with no Wordlelike in our rotation. (I actually have a separate post in draft form for those who are into the N-ordle series of games.) Recently we picked up Squareword, which can be played just like Wordle but which adds a surprising depth of strategy to the formula if you want to take it slower.
Thu Jan 05 2023 08:27 The Procedure Sign:
My bad-dystopia-SF parody "The Procedure Sign" is out in Issue #16 of Etherea Magazine, a steal at USD $2.
Tommy stared at a blank concrete wall painted hospital green.
He heard the hot-air hum of a projector starting up behind him. He
squished his eyes closed, but the headband gave him an electric
shock that jolted them open.
I did not expect to ever sell this story, because its satire skates so close to the edge of being simply bad. "The Procedure Sign" was directly inspired by an item in the ancient Strange Horizons "Stories We've Seen Too Often" list:
A mysteriously-named Event is about to happen ("Today was the day Jimmy would have to report for The Procedure"), but the nature of the Event isn't revealed until the end of the story, when it turns out to involve death or other unpleasantness. [Several classic sf stories use this approach, which is one reason we're tired of seeing it. Another reason is that we can usually guess the twist well ahead of time, which makes the mysteriousness annoying.]
More seriously, the story was also inspired by the experience of my own mysterious Event: being baptized into the LDS church when I was eight. Assuming the story has any real emotional edge, that's where it comes from.
Wed Jan 11 2023 12:02 The Crummy.com Review of Things 2022:
Here we go, another year gone and I'm no wiser than before. But I do have some quality recommendations for you!
2022 was a year where I read a few really long books rather than a lot of shorter ones. Here are my top three of 2022:
- The Power Broker by Robert Caro
- Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb by Richard Rhodes
- Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing by Matthew G. Kirschenbaum
The big live event for me in 2022 was seeing Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster in the Music Man revival. It's my favorite musical, as I've surely mentioned here before, and seeing a live professional production live of it a real bucket-list event. We're not going to end up like that sap in The Apartment!
I also did more museum outings and whatnot than I did in 2021, and even took a trip to California to see my family, for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
As usual, Film Roundup Roundup is up to date with 21 new recommended motion pictures among the ones I saw in 2022. My top ten for the year:
- Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022)
- Local Hero (1983)
- L.A. Story (1991)
- Glass Onion (2022)
- Roxanne (1987)
- The Lost City (2022)
- Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)
- The Afterlight (2021)
- Stalag 17 (1953)
- WarGames (1983)
The Crummy.com Game Of the Year is I Was A Teenage Exocolonist. Other games I enjoyed in 2022 include ZERO Sievert, The Barnacle Goose Experiment, and Vampire Survivors. Of our daily games, the ones I most look forward to playing every day are Framed and Artle.
Ugh, don't ask me about The Constellation Speedrun right now. It will be done eventually. I am working on it today, and this blog post is but a procrastination measure. 2022 saw publication of four of my short stories (see previous post) and I finished three more: "Or Current Resident", "A Place for Monsters", and "Expert Witness". I also wrote two Yuletide fics. Not what I'd hoped, but not too bad.
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