Saturday, January 7, 2023

"The Thing in the Woods" and "The Velveteen Rabbit"

A podcast that I co-recorded on June 5, 2022, will never be released. It was an SFF Audio discussion of The Thing in The Woods, a 1914 horror novel by Harper Williams, a pen name of Margery Williams Bianco, who then went on to write the beloved children's classic, The Velveteen Rabbit, published in 1922.

Unfortunately, the SFF Audio host, Jesse Willis, has lost the audiofile, as part of some massive problems with his massive website (977 pages of blog posts to date, with multiple posts per page), which has been around since 2003 -- wow! The listed guests were Cora Buhlert, Evan Lampert and me, and none of us kept a copy. I used to make all-voices recordings of all my podcasts with Call Recorder when I had an old Dell, but then it effectively died (incompatible with cameras, can't Zoom, etc.). A friend kindly gave me a Linux system, but I never got around to getting a Linux-compatible substitute for Call Recorder. Suggestions welcome!

The basic plot of The Thing in the Woods is that a new young doctor is asked to substitute for a small-town doctor who wants a vacation. It turns out that there have been reports of animal attacks, and a mystery slowly unfolds. 

Parts of the book are slow compared to modern pacing, and parts seem needlessly complicated, or now-hackneyed to today's eyes, although they were probably fresher back then. Also, there's a bit of racist language and stereotyping in the early sections of the book, but it turns out that the Black servant (referred to less politely in the book, alas) is perfectly justified in his "superstitious" fears of driving a buggy through the woods late at night. So there!

But I thought it was reasonably good for books of that time, as early Weird Fiction goes. Things happen, although subject to various interpretations, and the plot moves along, and threads end up being mostly tied off. If you want to check out an early minor horror work, you could do a lot worse. 

Horror writer H.P. Lovecraft enjoyed the book after his friend Frank Belknap Long bought it 10 years later, as I heard on the "Voluminous: The Letters of H.P. Lovecraft" podcast by the HPL Historical Society. Some scholars have claimed TTITW influenced Lovecraft's "The Dunwich Horror" story. (HPL was presumably one of the many people who looked no further than the Harper Williams pseudonym, and didn't know TTITW was written by a woman.)

Neither Project Gutenberg nor seems to have a text copy, but Librivox has a free audiobook here in case you want to listen.

One of the most interesting things about this minor early horror novel, of course, is the contrast with the next book by its author, The Velveteen Rabbit, a toy whose boy loves it so much that a fairy is able to turn it into a real rabbit, when the toy is due to be burned due to fears of spreading scarlet fever. It's poignant and well-written and deserves its great fame.

I don't know whether MWB got significantly better as a writer in the intervening years or if she just found children's books better suited to her skills. But after the huge success of The Velveteen Rabbit, she mostly stuck with children's books and a few young adult books. One of those, Winterbound (1936), was a runner-up for the 1937 Newbery Medal and won a retroactive Newbery Honor in 1971.

According to Wikipedia, MWB's "final book, 1944's Forward Commandos!, was an inspirational story of wartime heroism, which included as one of its characters a black soldier. Acknowledging the contribution of African-Americans to the war effort was extremely rare in literary output of the time and that fact was noted in the book's reviews."

So whatever MWB's views may have been in 1914 when she wrote The Thing in the Woods, I'm very happy to learn of the progressive attitudes she apparently held and fostered 30 years later.

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Audio/Video/Gaming roundup

 Audio and Video I've worked on, and games that have aired, since my last roundup on 9/16/22:

The biggest project I've done is started working with Shotcut to do some video editing. 

VIDEO: On Nov. 12, 2022, I posted a promotional video for the Speculate! fundraiser marathon that aired three times that same day, on ArvanEleron's Twitch channel. This was very well received! As I said in my YouTube description: 

"This is a song I wrote (and video I edited) to introduce, explain and help promote a fundraising marathon for Speculate!, a podcast and group of authors in actual-play roleplaying streams on Consider supporting Speculate! at

Vocals recorded and edited in Audacity on a Linux system with a Yeti Blue microphone. Video edited in Shotcut on a Linux system. Stills taken from Arvan Eleron's twitch and Youtube channels, and from my Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide (map of Waterdeep) and from"

GAMING: As the video says, I and the rest of the Midwintär's Mourning crew (Shaun Duke and Paul Weimer, both of whom I originally know from the Skiffy and Fanty Show) returned for a follow-up one-shot D&D game during this marathon on Nov. 12, in another Critical Crafting module, "Folktales of Gristwood," which you can see here.

AUDIO EDITING: I've been helping Shaun Duke edit more episodes of the Skiffy and Fanty Show podcast. Episodes I've done significant editing on include discussions of the "Tokyo Godfathers" anime movie and the "Macross 7, Part 2" anime series: (released Dec. 23) and (released Dec. 28).

AUDIO RECORDING: For podcasts where my own voice is heard, I haven't been on the main Skiffy and Fanty show much recently, but I've been on two more Patreon episodes, for those who are subscribed:

In an episode released Sept. 25, Shaun, Brandon O'Brien and I discussed Problematic Authors:

On a show released Dec. 31, Shaun and Brandon and I responded to some questions from Patreon subscriber Arturo in our first dedicated Listener Mailbag episode:

I have also been on a couple more SFF Audio podcasts (and recorded a few more):

Released Nov. 28 was a podcast on Leigh Brackett's "Black Amazon of Mars," discussed with Jesse Willis, Paul Weimer, Alex (, and Cora Buhlert.

 On Jan. 2, 2023, a podcast was posted on Leigh Brackett's The Long Tomorrow, discussed with Jesse Willis, Will Emmons, and Cora Buhlert.

UPDATE, 1/25/23: PODCAST: I was on a podcast at SFF Audio with Jesse Willis, Paul Weimer, Maissa Bessada, Evan Lampe, and Will Emmons, discussing Jack London's The Sea Wolf.

Saturday, November 5, 2022

MediaFest 22

The Society of Professional Journalists, Associated Collegiate Press and College Media Association united in holding MediaFest22, at the Grand Hyatt Washington in Washington, D.C., Oct. 27-30. This served as the annual convention of SPJ, of which I'm a member. I went on my own dime, for professional development.*

There were a few events on that Wednesday and Sunday, but everything I went to was on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

My agenda:

10 a.m. Thurs. 10/27/22: “FOIA and access to information” - speaker Mike Hiestand

11 a.m. Keynote - Perspectives on Journalism’s Future - speakers Pauly Denetclaw, Juana Summers, Darlene Superville (Lauryn Bass was listed on agenda, but I have no notes re her)

12:30 p.m. The Editorial Freelancers Association

Region 2 - Dela, Mar, VA, DC, NC. Stephanie Overman, R2 coordinator

1:30 p.m. FOIA and Public Records 101 - speaker Anna Marie Tamburro. SPFI = Student Press Freedom Initiative

2:30 p.m. Can You TikTok the News? Using social media video to report and present real journalism  - speaker Craig Duff

3:30 p.m. Beware of the copyright bots: Borrowing online photos and stuff - speaker Jonathan Falk

4:30 p.m. SPJ Business Meeting

7:30 a.m. Friday 10/28/22: SPJ Regional Meetings (region 2)

9 a.m. How to Investigate the Privatization of Public Services - speakers Jeremy Mohler, Tony Messenger, Angelica Serrano-Roman, Jeff Bryant

10 a.m. Google Tools Training - Detecting Disinformation - speaker Frank Bi

11 a.m. Woodward & Bernstein Keynote

12:30 p.m. Women’s Roundtable

1:30 p.m. Breaking into Business Reporting - speakers Paul Glader, DJ Shaw, Naomi Eide, Maria Monteros

2:30 p.m. Moving Mediums: Transitioning from Print to Broadcast or Delving into New Beats - speakers Bijan Bayne, Stacie Overton Johnson, Hazel Becker

9 a.m. Saturday 10/29/22: Excel for journalists - speaker Sean McMinn (graphics for Politico)

10 a.m. Nonprofit News to the Rescue? - speakers Stephanie Overman, Sarah Vogelsong, Len Lazarick, Jason Alconn (American Journalism Project), Yanek Rice Lamb

11 a.m. Keynote - Fellows Features

12:30 p.m. Legal & Ethics Roundtable

1:30 p.m. Freelancer - Editor Meet & Greet

2:30 p.m. Obstruction of Reporting through PIO Controls and Other Means: Responding to the Controls on Free Speech and Free Press  - speakers Haisten Willis, Cinnamon Janzer, Glen Nowak, Kathryn Foxhall

3:30 p.m. How to use open records laws to cover your beat and find and amplify your stories - speakers Miranda Spivack, Eve Sampson, Andy Schotz

SPJ Business Meeting (started at 3:30, still going when I went there after my 3:30 talk, continued past 6, when non-delegates like me were kicked out to make room for hotel staff setting up the banquet)

Most timeslots offered numerous seminars, up to a dozen or so. As you can see, I went to a lot of talks about using the Freedom of Information Act and dealing with Public Information Officers. As someone who never went to journalism school, I thought this was an area where I could use more training.

I'm not going to write up my notes here, because I didn't see anything where speakers gave permission for their talks to be published. But a lot of interesting points were made. I took at least two pages of notes for most of the talks, often more.

I wish I had saved myself some money by registering earlier for the convention. But even paying the full rate, I definitely felt it was worth the money.

I'll also give an endorsement for Whova, the scheduling app used by the convention. Having gone to three conventions this year, which each used a different scheduler, I found Whova the best for planning activities, adding notes, and networking, all in one app.

However, I was disappointed that MediaFest did not require masks, only proof of vaccination. I stayed masked the whole time, and went outside to eat my ration-bar lunches, but few other people were masked, maybe 1 in 20 or so. GenCon and ChiCon, my other two conventions this year, both required masks along with vaccinations, and although not everyone followed their policies, I felt much safer there.

* I'm writing this post on Jan. 10, 2023, but backdating it to Nov. 5, 2022, to keep it where the event happened in my personal timeline.

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

WorldCon Report: ChiCon 8

Chicago waterfront from Field Museum complex, Aug. 31, 2022, by Patricia E. Matson

I had a great time at WorldCon in Chicago this year, but I put a lot into that trip, and it took a lot out of me, so this is a belated report. That means some details will have been lost, but I still want to note what I can of how it went.

I drove to Chicago on Sunday, Aug. 28. It took about 11 hours, but I felt infinitely safer in my car than breathing everyone's unmasked air in an airplane. There was some construction from time to time, but no significant problems.

I stayed at the convention hotel, the Hyatt Regency, on the 26th floor. It was pricey, but very comfortable and quiet. I tipped the maid well on Monday and left tips with notes saying "Thanks! Gracias!" every day, and therefore enjoyed new towels and emptied wastebaskets every day, although the hotel had said I'd have maid service every three days. The room had a floor-to-ceiling window, but was opposite another fairly tall office building, so the only way to really enjoy the view was stand at an edge of the window and look sideways through it. I could have paid more for a better view, but I wasn't planning on spending much time in the room.

Before WorldCon itself, I took full advantage of my first trip to Chicago. On Monday, I visited the Art Institute of Chicago. On Tuesday, I visited the Garden of the Phoenix (Japanese Garden, a relic from the World's Columbia Exposition/World's Fair of 1893), the Museum of Science and Industry (including its amazing U-505 captured German submarine tour), and the Oriental Institute. On Wednesday, I visited the Field Museum (home of Sue the T-rex and many other exhibits), and in the evening I took a riverboat tour discussing the city's architectural history. 

I relished my first Chicago-style hot dog. My most memorable meal was at Firelake Grill, savoring an entire rack of deliciously spicy, melt-in-my-mouth Calabrian Smoked Pork Ribs.

I took many photos during all these ventures. Google put together a handy slideshow for me that has 30 pictures from that trip, which I am linking here. If I have time later, I'll upload individual photos and caption them. I also recommend these photo albums from a dear friend of mine: Chicago, Chicago II, and Chicago Boat Tour.

During WorldCon itself, I spent a few hours each morning prepping for my panels (in addition to the pre-con preparations, a lot of reading and note-taking). I was very pleased to realize during the panels that everyone else had done their homework, too. Every panel I was on comprised engaging, articulate, politely conversational lovers of science fiction and fantasy and the subgenres we were discussing. It was an honor, privilege and pleasure to be on panels with them.

Seven of the panels were on the 1946 retro track:

Thursday, Sept 1, 2:30 CT, Roosevelt 3: 1946: A Year in the Life of a Fan, with David Ritter (moderator), Jerry Kaufman, Joe Siclari and Peter D Balestrieri.

Thursday, Sept 1, 5:30 CT, Grand Hall GH: 1946: A Vintage Season for SFF, with John Hertz (moderator), Alec Nevala-Lee, and Dave Hook.

Friday, Sept 2, 11:30 CT, Atlanta: The Life and Impact of C.L. Moore, with Marta Murvosh (mod), Carrie Cooper, and Rich Horton.

Saturday, Sept 3, 10 CT, Michigan 3: Undiscovered and Forgotten Gems of 1946, with Alec Nevala-Lee, Connie Willis, John Hertz and Michael Haynes. (I moderated.)

Saturday, Sept 3, 1 CT, Airmeet 5 (virtual): Leading Ladies: Women in Fandom in 1946, with Carrie Cooper, Kate Heffner and Lisa Yaszek. (I moderated.)

Sunday, Sept 4, 11:30 CT, Atlanta: Science in Science Fiction: The Guesswork of 1946, with Daniel Ritter, G. David Nordley, Henry Spencer and James L. Cambias. (I moderated).

Sunday, Sept 4, 4 CT, Grand Hall I: The Likely Hugo Nominees from 1946, with Rich Horton (moderator), Dave Hook and John Stith.

I also had a fairly late invitation to one non-1946 panel, after a couple of other panelists had dropped out:  The Hollow Earth and Other "SF Before SF," moderated by Heather Rose Jones and including E. Lily Yu and David Stokes, on Saturday at 5:30 CT. I've read a fair amount of old (19th century and early 20th) speculative fiction, due to growing up with my father's collection, plus reading for some Librivox projects and for SFFaudio podcasts. I didn't read anything new for this panel, but I did take some time to go through what I've read and organize my thoughts.

I was also very honored and pleased that several panelists and audience members recognized my efforts to prepare for these panels and thanked me for smoothly moderating three of them. I tried hard to foster actual conversations instead of just inviting monologues. I was thrilled after the "Science in SF: The Guesswork of 1946" panel to be presented with a copy of "The Visual History of Science Fiction Fandom: Volume Two: 1940 (The First Chicon: A focused look at the second World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago)," by its co-author, Daniel Ritter, who was on that panel with me. It's a beautiful trade paperback (hardbacks available here) with reproductions of contemporaneous photos, reports, and essays. I recommend checking out the First Fandom Experience:

On Sunday night, I attended the Hugo Awards, as the guest of one of the finalists. Although only a few of the awards went the way I had voted, I thought it was a well-run ceremony, with several moving moments. The art-deco style Hugo Award trophy was gorgeous

Cora Buhlert, winner of the 2022 Best Fan Writer Award, comments on the Hugo Awards and the ceremony here, and she also links to several other people's commentaries.

Other activities: On Saturday night, I attended the Fan Funds Auction, which supports sending fans to international conventions abroad, that they otherwise wouldn't be able to attend. I bought some expensive dill chips (not dill pickle flavored, which is easily available here, but just dill), which were tasty when I ate them at home. However, I am still kicking myself for not bidding on the Glasgow 2024 convention T-shirt, which had been signed by about 20 science fiction authors. The bidder won at $35 or so; could I have obtained it for $40? Will I fit into a Large T-shirt by 2024?

I also received and greatly enjoyed a copy of The Gatekeeper, a hilariously satirical print fanzine organized and edited by Olav Rokne and Amanda Wakaruk of the Unofficial Hugo Book Club blog, which includes essays by Dan Gibbons, Bob Devney, Paul Weimer, Rebecca Calder and Cora Buhlert.

And I of course attended a lot of panels where I was NOT a participant.

On Monday morning, I attended part of the final business meeting of the convention. The business meetings are where members of the World Science Fiction Society (which you can join by buying a membership in that year's convention) vote on new bylaws and amendments to the bylaws. Most days I either went early and left early (to go to one of my panels) or went late (after a panel). Some days, I got to vote, when a vote came up while I was there, and some days, I just watched the process.

One of the amendments that I felt strongly about was a redefinition of the "fan" categories that would have prevented anyone who made any professional genre-related sales that year, even a short essay on a website, and possibly anyone who collects Patreon fees, etc., from being nominated in fan categories. While I find it perturbing that several professional authors collected awards in fan categories (my beloved Skiffy and Fanty would have been a finalist in Best Fancast again, had the pro writers/volunteer fancasters recused themselves), this amendment was far too restrictive. It was rejected. Hopefully a better one will be offered in the next few years. 

When checkout time was looming, I left the meeting and finished packing. My drive home, although long, was uneventful.

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Review: Black Cloud Rising, by David Wright Faladé

 I saw Black Cloud Rising: A Novel, by David Wright Faladé, in the new books section of my local library. This fiction book is based on true history, General Wild's African Brigade (56th Massachusetts Infantry, and the 36th and 37th U.S. Colored Troops) in the Civil War, and  then-Sgt. Richard Etheridge. The novel has Etheridge as the protagonist in December of 1863, when the brigade was hunting down rebel guerillas and bushwhackers in Eastern North Carolina and its Outer Banks, and working to protect Union loyalists and freed slaves.

The back cover says the author is also the co-writer of the nonfiction book "Fire on the Beach: Recovering the Lost Story of Richard Etheridge and the Pea Island Lifesavers" (although Amazon lists that book's authors as David Wright & David Zoby), so I will see if I can get that as an interlibrary loan. Etheridge's postwar history appears fascinating; he was appointed the first and only black station Keeper of the coastal Life-Saving Service (and recruited and led an all-black crew after the white life-savers he was supposed to command quit). 

I'm not sure how much of the book is true history and how much is fictionalized, although presumably nearly all of the dialogue and a number of interactions are imagined. It's fact that Etheridge was the son of a slaveowner and a slave, and that he had been taught to read and write before leaving and becoming a Union soldier. The novel portrays a lot of inner tension that Etheridge mostly keeps hidden from his father and half-brother (even long after the war, in the last few pages), complicated relationships with his mother and the woman he loves, give-and-take with the soldiers he commands and the officers he obeys (and sometimes counsels), and outright antagonism between him and the leader of the irregular swamp fighters allied with the Union troops, who despises Etheridge as a hypocrite who thinks he's better than other blacks (not the word he uses) because of his education and his white father. 

The novel includes battles, but really Etheridge's inner conflicts are the heart of the story. He spends a great deal of time mulling his words and actions, and the words and actions of his commanders. The military actions lead to more thoughts and dialogue, but the book is not about heroics and glory. It focuses more on struggling with decisions on how to act and how to think about oneself, one's place in the world and relations with other people. 

I found it an interesting story, as I had expected, due to my interests in history, military history, North Carolina (I'm from Wilmington, on the coast), the Civil War, and civil rights history. It was a thoughtful read rather than an exciting read, but I do recommend it for anyone interested in these issues.

Content warnings: Deaths, violence, racist language

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Death of an Eye and Disappearance of a Scribe: Dana Stabenow takes a stab at Cleopatran mysteries

The first Dana Stabenow book I ever read was an audio version I picked up from the new books section at a library. Hunter's Moon looked like an interesting take on "The Most Dangerous Game" by Richard Connell, which I am fond of reading/watching various versions of whenever I run across them, from random episodes of TV shows like "The Crow" to movies like "Surviving the Game." In this book, Kate Shugak, an Alaskan private investigator, has taken a side job as a guide for people on a corporate hunting retreat, and things end up going very badly, for them and for her. Parts of it are grim, but it's an exciting read, and I was interested enough in Kate to look for more.

It turns out that Hunter's Moon was the ninth in a series that is now up to 22 books, most of which I've read. Stabenow does a great job of characterizations, from Kate's continuing arc to her supporting cast to side characters, with immersive details on daily lives. Investigational scopes range from very personal crimes to arguments about sustainable exploitation of natural resources, to corporate corruption, to state politics. I highly recommend that series.

Stabenow has also written 5 books about Liam Campbell, a Mountie trying to rebuild his life, which are good but don't grab me quite as hard. She also wrote a few science fiction books early in her career. I looked at the first one, saw three things that threw me out of suspension of disbelief in the first few pages, and didn't read any further in that series. She's written a few other fiction and nonfiction books that I haven't seen yet.

So when I saw "Disappearance of a Scribe" in the new books section of my new library, I was curious enough to check it out. Mystery set in Cleopatran Egypt, by an author I enjoy a lot? Yes, please! But given that I don't love all Stabenow's books and genres, it took a while to move to the top of my To Be Read pile. Then I realized that this was actually the second book in the series. Luckily, Hoopla has an audio version of the first book, "Death of an Eye," so I was able to gobble them both up in rapid succession.

In this series, an Eye is the official investigator for Pharaoh, sort of like an Emperor's Voice / Imperial Auditor in Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosiverse. Tetisheri, a childhood friend of Cleopatra's, is named as temporary Eye in the first book, to investigate the death of her predecessor and the theft of a fortune in newly minted coins. She's not trained in investigation, but as the heir-apparent of her uncle's trading house (having recently escaped from a very bad marriage), she is very observant and has a great many contacts, social and business. She's reluctant to take on this risk and burden, but Cleopatra generally gets what she wants.

Happily, she has assistance from her loyal household of freed slaves (she rescues strays when she gets chances), the ex-soldier and gym owner Apollodorus, and Sosigenes, head of the Library of Alexandria, along with others. It appears she'll continue collecting allies throughout her (secondary) career -- since I'd seen the second book first, it was no surprise that the temporary appointment turned permanent.

Complicating matters are all the factions arrayed against her queen, Cleopatra. Her siblings Ptolemy and the exiled Arsinoe would love to see her dead and themselves in control; ethnic Greeks who gained power when they came over and stayed with the original Ptolemy (Alexander's general) are unhappy to see how much influence Cleopatra is giving back to the local Egyptians (and their gods); and of course there are the Romans, from Caesar who is using Cleopatra as she uses him, to his supporters, some of whom back him fully and others who are concerned he is becoming "Orientalized", to his foes who want to undermine him and all his allies, to those who just despise Egyptians because they are not Roman. 

In each book so far, the mysteries themselves are not that complicated, with few red herrings diverting Tetisheri. She just has to ask the right people the right questions and put the pieces together, while avoiding being stopped permanently. But the politics and household issues and the lovely slow-burn romance, and the fact that I like Tetisheri and sympathize with Cleopatra and other characters, make these books thoroughly satisfying. I am definitely looking forward to the third book in the series, Theft of an Idol, coming out later this year. 

Content warnings: Death, violence although not too graphic, references to past domestic abuse, slavery, and ethnic/cultural/national discrimination by some characters. 

Lois McMaster Bujold's Memory and following Vorkosiverse SF books with Miles as Imperial Auditor;
Lindsay Davis' Marcus Didius Falco mysteries set in Imperial Rome, with him as a private investigator, followed by Flavia Albia later. Especially the first in the series, The Silver Pigs, which involves silver ingots stolen from Roman Britain.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Work, GenCon, WorldCon, and other updates


I have worked as a journalist for decades, from copy editing and layout/design, to editor and editor-in-chief of a small daily, to project coordination, to scheduling and sharing on social media, etc. On Friday I was laid off. Here's my LinkedIn profile. I'm starting a job hunt this week, and I'd like to stay in journalism, but I'm open to other options. Meanwhile, I suddenly have more time than expected for WorldCon preparations, which is a silver lining. See below.


I went to my first GenCon (in Indianapolis) at the beginning of August. I attended numerous panels on the Writer's Symposium track, attended a game played by authors, went through the dealers' room several times and got some books and a gamebook, and roleplayed in two games. I had a great time, and will certainly consider going again next year, depending on other demands on my time and energy. I skipped the downtown walking tour since it was raining, but got to see a few sights anyway, including the impressive Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument. I missed the Escape Room event I'd signed up for, due to a schedule mixup, but got to play an informal sort of Escape Room game later.

Panels attended: Adding Maps to Your Writing; Objectivity in Reviewing; Who Cares, It's Magic; Sword & Sorcery Renaissance in Writing; and Imagining Alternate Futures. 

D&D  with Authors Liveplay was GMed by Greg Wilson (host of the ArvanEleron Twitch channel where I'm a moderator), in a special one-shot adventure that he created. The players were Brandon O'Brien, Richard Lee Byers, Gini Koch, C.S.E. Cooney, Carlos Hernandez and Karen Bovenmeyer. It featured some puzzles and some fun RP, and a good time was had by all, including the audience, which included quite a few Arvanauts (regular watchers of ArvanEleron). (The earlier link was on Twitch; here the game is again on YouTube.)

Saturday morning, I played EsperGenesis: Crisis on Kammria. This is a prologue to the Expedition from the Barrier Peaks campaign system, which imagines what happens 200 years after the Expedition to the Mysterious Peaks module published in 1980. I had backed the campaign on KickStartr, but it hasn't delivered yet, due to various circumstances, so I was excited to get a chance to play. The DM was Rich Lescouflair, listed as the creator of the campaign. This one-shot preview turned out to be basically D&D 5e with a little tech flavor, but plotwise it was not like any module I've played before. The group (7 players) meshed pretty well, and I enjoyed rolling some dice with them.

Saturday evening, my friend and I played Weird Stories, a collaborative storytelling RPG, with half-a-dozen other people who had signed up. It's card-based, and the deck includes settings, characters and story prompts. I had voted for the creepy small town setting because I thought that would be the easiest for a group of strangers to play together, but the group decided on Victorian Manor with Something in the Basement. We ended up having a really good time with this -- a lot of good RP and moments of "Yes, and...!" building off each other's moves and ideas.

On Sunday, my friend and I went to the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields, primarily to see the highly recommended sculpture garden, but since it was pretty brutally hot, I suggested seeing the museum first and waiting until later in the afternoon for the sculpture garden. We spent a few hours looking at the museum, which was grouped primarily by theme rather than period, and had some interesting discussions. However, to our dismay, at 5 p.m. the museum closed -- not just the building, but the grounds. Maybe we'll get a chance to look at the sculptures if we go back next year. But something my friend commented on prompted me to go on a rant about Roy Lichtenstein's plagiarism. Please feel free to search for yourself, but here's a link to get you started:

Sunday evening, we joined Greg, his family, E.D.E. Bell, her family, and some others for a few informal games. We played a couple of rounds of Werewolf, and then we played Escape from Hoth, a combination card/online game from Fantasy Flight Games. It's the basic plot of the Hoth part of The Empire Strikes Back, but you have to solve a series of puzzles to get off the planet. Some of the puzzles were pretty obvious, some we had to use hints for, and some we gave up and looked at the manual for. We did eventually make it offplanet, but well past the deadline, alas. But we had fun anyway.

Safety: GenCon required proof of vaccination, and masks at all times at official con spaces. A lot of people whipped off their masks the second they were outside the convention center, but people were good about wearing them correctly inside. My friend and I kept ours on at all times except in our own hotel rooms and when eating outside (at a restaurant patio, or from a food truck). 

I really liked the food at Cafe Patachou, but be advised that their "spicy" scrambled eggs are far from it: not even Minnesota spicy, my friend said. The corned beef sandwich from High Velocity sportsbar (to go) was also surprisingly good, with high quality meat and plenty of it.  


I've known for quite a while that I wanted to go to the 2022 World Science Fiction Convention at Chicago, aka ChiCon, which will be over Labor Day Weekend this year. (Masks and proof of vaccination are required.) I indicated interest in up to 10 panels this year, but said the maximum I wanted to be on was eight. Despite Skiffy and Fanty, which I think of as my home podcast, not being a finalist this year, and despite my not doing many reviews last year, they ended up putting me on a lot, possibly partially because I was on several ConZealand virtual panels two years ago that the audiences appeared to enjoy, and probably partially because I've demonstrated interest in the history of the genre. My preliminary schedule had 7 panels from the 1946 retro track, and one modern panel on The Resurgence of Epistolary Stories. Sadly, the epistolary panel was canceled, so it's all 1946 for me.

The 1946 track is a new venture this year. Previous WorldCons have often held Retro Hugo Awards to recognize work done in years that didn't have WorldCons and thus didn't have Hugo Awards, but prizes often arguably went to big names rather than the best work of that year, and it's getting harder and harder to track down winners or their surviving relatives to receive those awards. So this year we're having panels instead of prizes. These are my panels:

Thursday, Sept. 1, 2:30 CT, Roosevelt 3: 1946: A Year in the Life of a Fan, with David Ritter (mod), Jerry Kaufman, Joe Siclari and Peter D Balestrieri. As the Second World War ended, fandom in the United States began to come back to life. What would it have been like to be a science fiction fan in 1946? How did the war change fandom? What were fans reading, who were they corresponding with, and where and how did they meet each other? (This panel is part of the 1946 project, a look back at the year in lieu of awarding Retro Hugo Awards.) 

Thursday, Sept. 1, 5:30 CT, Grand Hall GH: 1946: A Vintage Season for SFF, with John Hertz (moderator), Alec Nevala-Lee, Dave Hook. As the world began to recover from the trauma of the Second World War, SFF authors grappled with atomic futures. From Chan Davis to C.L. Moore, what works have withstood the test of time, and how are these works continuing to influence the genre today? How did they reflect, respond to, or ignore social and technological challenges of the day?

Friday, Sept. 2, 11:30 CT, Atlanta: The Life and Impact of C.L. Moore, with Marta Murvosh (mod), Carrie Cooper, and Rich Horton. Among the first prominent female science fiction and fantasy writers in the United States, C. L. Moore stands as a titan of early science fiction and fantasy. Starting in the 1930s, her work regularly appeared in publications like Weird Tales and Astounding Stories, and later in life won the World Fantasy Convention Lifetime Achievement Award and was posthumously inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. Our panelists will discuss the life and impact of this influential writer.

Saturday, Sept. 3, 10 CT, Michigan 3: Undiscovered and Forgotten Gems of 1946, with Alec Nevala-Lee, Connie Willis, John Hertz and Michael Haynes. I'm moderating this one. The authors and stories of 1946 that we remember and celebrate today are just a fraction of what was published. Which forgotten authors and stories captured the attention of science fiction fans in the wake of World War II? What happened, are all of them out of step with our current social values, and are they forever relegated to the dustbin of history, or is there room in modern science fiction for these older works? 

Saturday, Sept. 3, 1 CT, Airmeet 5 (virtual): Leading Ladies: Women in Fandom in 1946, with Carrie Cooper, Kate Heffner and Lisa Yaszek. I'm moderating this one. From super fans to popular authors to legendary editors, women have helped shape and define science fiction since its inception. Leigh Bracket, Myrtle R. Douglas (aka Morojo), Edythe Eyde (aka Tigrina), Doris Baumgardt (aka Leslie Perri), Dorothy McIlwraith and more: our panelists will discuss the prominent female fans, authors, and editors of 1946 and the role they played in creating the science fiction community and industry we know today. 

Sunday, Sept. 4, 11:30 CT, Atlanta: Science in Science Fiction: The Guesswork of 1946, with Daniel Ritter, G. David Nordley, Henry Spencer and James L. Cambias. I'm moderating this one. It’s sometimes easy to take for granted how much we know about technology and science today, but in 1946 much of what we know now had yet to be discovered. Authors wrote about spaceflight before we had sent a human into space, imagined exoplanets before we had confirmed they existed, and built galactic empires without the notion of the internet. Our panelists will discuss what writers would have known and not known about technology and science in 1946 and how that impacted the science fiction they wrote. 

Sunday, Sept. 4, 4 CT, Grand Hall I: The Likely Hugo Nominees from 1946, with Rich Horton (mod), Dave Hook and John Stith. Hugo Awards were not presented at the 1946 Worldcon, as they were first awarded in 1953. But what did attendees of the 1946 Worldcon think of the science fiction stories published that year? Using the comments, surveys, and reviews left to us by the fans of that era, our panelists will look at the most popular works published in 1946 and what the fans and readers of the time thought of them.

I'll also be attending the Hugo Awards ceremony. And I'll be visiting numerous museums, etc., in Chicago before the convention begins. Other parts of my schedule remain TBD.

Reviews/Podcasts/Video Updates

Good grief, I hadn't updated my blog since February! 

Reviews: Even before my layoff, I've been itching to get back to reviewing. I have a couple of ARCs from NetGalley in my TBR already, and expect to start tackling them this week, along with my WorldCon homework. 

Books currently in progress: "1946: The Making of the Modern World" by Victor Sebestyen, "The Best of C.L. Moore" (1975 collection), and, just for fun, Arkham Horror's "Grim Investigations: The Collected Novellas Volume 2."

Video/Podcast: I'm on Seth Heasley's Hugos There podcast again, for the "2022 Nominees for Best Novella – Discussion Panel" -- recorded on July 23, 2022, it's also a video, which you can watch here:

Other panelists besides Seth are Cora Buhlert, Gretchen Jones, Ivor Watkins, Juan Sanmiguel, Kristenelle, Lori Anderson, Olav Rokne, Rob Tomshany, and Scott Ullery. My top 2 favorite novellas were The Past Is Red by Catherynne M. Valente and Elder Race by Adrian Tchaikovsky.

Skiffy and Fanty: On April 3, I was on a Patreon-only podcast from the Skiffy and Fanty Show, discussing "Conflict in SF/F" with Shaun Duke and Brandon O'Brien. A very broad topic! In other Skiffy and Fanty news, I am stepping up to help with audio editing. Basically, I do some noise cleanup and take out most of the "uh" "um" "like" "you know" etc. fillers, tack on a beginning and ending, and toss it to Shaun for a final polish. My first edited audio this year is the discussion of "The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey"  and I am working on another one this week.

Other podcasts:

Aug. 15: In the latest SFFaudio podcast, Jesse Willis, Evan Lampe, Conner Kaye, Alex of PulpCovers and I discuss H.P. Lovecraft's The Doom That Came to Sarnath (and Jason Thompson's awesome graphic interpretation, and more). Spoiler: Those murderous, appropriative Sarnathians deserved what they got.

July 18: On SFFaudio, Jesse Willis, Paul Weimer, Maissa Bessada, and I discussed Robert A. Heinlein's Tunnel In the Sky. Parts were interesting, but I found the ending dissatisfying.

July 4: On SFFaudio, Jesse Willis, Paul Weimer, Maissa Bessada and I discussed John Wyndham's "The Midwich Cuckoos" novel that was made into movies as "Village of the Damned" and others. There was a lot to discuss in this one!

June 20: On SFFaudio, Jesse Willis, Evan Lampe, Alex of PulpCovers, Connor Kaye and I discussed Robert E. Howard's "People of the Black Circle." This is probably my favorite Conan story.

June 6: On SFFaudio, Jesse Willis, Paul Weimer, Maissa Bessada, Will Emmons and I discussed Robert A. Heinlein's "The Star Beast." Either this or "Have Spacesuit, Will Travel" was the first Heinlein I ever read.

May 16: On SFFaudio, Jesse Willis, Paul Weimer, Scott Danielson, Evan Lampe and I discussed James Tiptree Jr.'s "The Screwfly Solution."     This is just a discussion, no readalong, so I highly recommend listening to Pseudopod's free version:

May 9: On SFFaudio, Jesse Willis, Evan Lampe, Will Emmons, Connor Kaye, Alex of PulpCovers and I discussed William R. Bradshaw's "The Goddess of Atvatabar." This was a quite colonialist planetary adventure (hollow earth) that had some interesting ideas that it basically dismissed at the end. Lots of (unintentional, I believe) humor.

April 4: On SFFaudio, Jesse Willis, Scott Danielson, Will Emmons and I discussed William Shakespeare's The Tempest. This is such a masterpiece. I listened to or watched multiple versions of the play in the week leading up to this and never got tired of the various interpretations, although some were definitely better than others.

March 21: On SFFaudio, Jesse Willis, Paul Weimer, Evan Lampe, Jason Thompson and I discussed H.P. Lovecraft's The Cats of Ulthar.

Update 8/18:

If you're looking for me at WorldCon/ChiCon8, I'm on the program as TrishEM. 

Update 9/16:

I went to WorldCon/ChiCon8 and had a great time, which I still intend to write a full post about when I have time. I had a panel added, on "The Hollow Earth and other 'SF before SF'" with Heather Rose Jones (moderator), E. Lily Yu and David Stokes. 

Also, I completely forgot to write about ArvCon from Memorial Day Weekend! Once again, I had a major role in running this marathon fundraising stream on the ArvanEleron Twitch channel over Memorial Day Weekend. I ran almost all of the giveaways onstream for the chat, while the games were happening, reorganizing prize packages as needed when some game codes turned out to be broken. We raised $7,051.77 this year.  

More podcasts:

Aug. 29, 2022: The SFFaudio Podcast #697 – "Almuric" by Robert E. Howard, discussed by Jesse Willis, Evan Lampe, Will Emmons, Connor Kaye (who narrated the audio), Cora Buhlert, and me.

Sept. 5, 2022:  The SFFaudio Podcast #698 – "The Dispossessed" by Ursula K. Le Guin, discussed by Jesse, Paul Weimer, Evan Lampe, Will Emmons, and me.

Sept. 12, 2022: "Flowers for the Sea" by Zin E. Rocklyn on Skiffy and Fanty's subcast, Reading Rangers -- Shaun Duke, and Brandon O'Brien discussed this book with me. Episode 464.

I also did the initial audio edits for Skiffy and Fanty  episodes 463 and 462, an Andrew Liptak interview and a discussion/review of "The Last Days of Ptolemy Gray," respectively, before handing them to Shaun Duke for their final polishes and releases. I don't talk on those episodes, however.

Update 9/19: 

Sept. 17, 2022: If you're a Patreon supporter of the Skiffy and Fanty Show, you can listen to crew members Shaun Duke, Alex Acks, Brandon O'Brien, Paul Weimer and me talking about our WorldCon experiences:

Sept. 19, 2022: The SFFaudio Podcast #700 – The Door Into Summer by Robert A. Heinlein, discussed by  Jesse Willis, Paul Weimer, Maissa Bessada, Evan Lampe, and me. Interesting technical work, but none of the characters are interesting, not even the protagonist, except for his determined loyalty to his cat. I was really excited for a little while when I thought the little girl was going to grow up to become an inventor herself, but no, that female empowerment plot was only in my dreams. The cat has more inner life portrayed than any of the women in the book do.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

New for 2022

Happy Groundhog Day! This is a good day to revisit some of my creative activities, from October 2021 through January 2022, from podcasts to paneling, with some streaming writing and RPGS to boot.

Podcasts: Mostly SFFAudio in the past few months, but I also appeared on Hugos There again, and I've recorded on a new-to-me show that should be released soon.

Nov. 29:   "The SFFaudio Podcast #658 – READALONG: Dancing Aztecs by Donald E. Westlake" with Jesse, Paul Weimer and Scott Danielson. Westlake has written some science fiction, but this is a crime caper, one of my favorite standalone Westlake novels. In fact, I went so far as to compare Westlake's affectionate character sketches to Jane Austen's characterizations. Others compared this to the movie "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World."

Dec. 6:  The SFFaudio Podcast #659 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Shadow Of The Vulture by Robert E. Howard" with Jesse, Connor Kaye, Alex (from Pulp Covers), and Chris Schweizer. Not a Conan story, this is 16th-century historical fiction, but it does introduce Red Sonya of Rogatino, who was later repackaged into the Conan comics and movies

Jan. 3:  "The SFFaudio Podcast #663 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Murder In The Gunroom by H. Beam Piper" with host Jesse along with Paul Weimer.  A pleasantly competent mundane mystery by a writer better know for SFF, which reminded me of some of Rex Stout's non-Nero Wolfe standalone mysteries.

Panel on Video: In November 2021, I appeared again on Seth Heasley's Hugos There podcast, except that this time, it was a panel video recording. I thought it was also a podcast, but I can't find that in his feed. You can watch the recording on his Patreon at  or on YouTube at .


This panel on "2021 Hugo Nominees Best Dramatic Presentation (Long)" was a lead-up to the Hugo Awards voting, which was late this year due to the pandemic delaying WorldCon.  On the panel with me, discussing the Hugo finalists (they were all movies) from 2020, were host Seth Heasley and Juan Sanmiguel, David Agranoff, Nana Amuah, Paul Senior, Steve and Marshall from Androids & Assets, Josh Ziefle, and Lori Anderson. For my favorite, I went back and forth between "Palm Springs" and "Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)" ("The Old Guard" is what won). I think I settled on Palm Springs there, but Birds of Prey ended as my top pick on the ballot.

Speaking of the 2021 WorldCon, I went in-person to DisCon III in D.C. Attendees were required to be masked and show proof of vaccination, which was certainly reassuring. If I recall correctly, about 2,600 people attended, and about 25 attendees and staff reported COVID symptoms afterward, but many appeared to have contracted it before, and it definitely wasn't a super-spreader event. I attended many interesting panels, and I went to the Hugo Awards ceremony with a couple of my Skiffy and Fanty friends. I also took a lot of photos at museums and parks, which I posted to Twitter and may eventually upload to Flickr.

Flash Writing
ArvanEleron hosted another Infernal Salon on his Twitch channel, inviting numerous writers and other creatives to participate in a prompted writing session. They all had individual prompts and had about half an hour to write, and then read their creations. The audience also received one prompt ("Ruins are ruins for a reason") and several people, including me, submitted pieces that Arvan read onstream. The name Infernal Salon is from the fact that the writing prompts were taken from the Negocios Infernales card/writing game by Carlos Hernandez and C.S.E. Cooney. The event was a fundraiser for Worldbuilders.
This time I wrote prose. I didn't think it came together quite as well as my poem, but Carlos and CSE and chat all liked it a lot. The audience pieces start at about 2:06:00, and mine is from 2:12:05 to about 2:14:55. 

"Ruins are ruins for a reason"
The mock chapel ruins had always bothered the silent ones. A ruined church was one thing, that was right and proper. But to take the green meadow between the big house and the forest and build a ragged stone corner on it, with an unfinished steeple? What sense did that make?
But they liked the treacherous spiral stair. At night, they would creep from their shaded swards to nestle in those gneiss niches.
When the sun shone, children might play as knights and ladies, cowboys and Indians, astronauts and aliens, repurposing the purposeless ruins as castle or fort or moonbase as desired.
When the ruins were moonlit, their watchers mostly saw courting couples, playing at being scared and then taking comfort in each other. 
Once in a while, a curious soul would wander alone among the shadows, by day or night, fleeing noisy company or simple seeking a mood. The silent ones loved best to watch these loners, wondering at the moods crossing their faces. Sometimes they helped to set those moods, sometimes they reinforced them ... sometimes they swallowed them up!
When this had happened a few times, the chapel ruins became less popular with the children, and were forbidden by their parents, even though no bodies were ever found. Only a few courting couples with very particular tastes kept frequenting the ruins. 
Ghost-hunters began to haunt the ruins. Nobody mocked them anymore, except from a very safe distance.

Twitch Gaming
Because people's lives have been complicated, and some of us have also had hardware woes, the ShadowCrew hasn't played in The Dragon of Icespire Peak campaign on ArvanEleron's Twitch channel since mid-October. I should probably watch the last episode before resuming my Tabaxi bard character, Grace of the Refreshing Breeze, hopefully later in Feburary.  Here's the playlist:

However, I have played D&D a couple of times in a new campaign! Well, it was supposed to be a one-shot, but we've played two sessions so far, and are hoping to wrap it up on Friday, Feb. 18. It's a module by Critical Crafting called Midwintär’s Mourning. ArvanEleron GMed for Shaun Duke (of Skiffy and Fanty), PrinceJvstin (from so many things!) and me on the Sunday of WorldCon (in person! It was AMAZING to play D&D in person again!) and then we streamed on his channel for part 2. 
I am playing Vivian the Victorious, a halfling fighter. battlemaster specialty.  

Part 3 of Midwintär’s Mourning was played on Friday, Feb. 18! Between my character, Shaun Duke's tiefling bard, Sir Reginald Bartholomew III, and PrinceJvstin's dragonborn cleric, Elurian Bluewater, we resolved the adventure satisfactorily.

On Feb. 22, I guested for the first (but hopefully not last) time on Continuum Drag, a podcast "exploring the forgotten and little seen sci-fi television of yesterday." I really enjoy Luke and Jordan's wryly affectionate takes on old shows. We discussed episodes 9 and 10 of "Kolchak: The Night Stalker." This show from the 1970s features Carl Kolchak, an investigative reporter who keeps running up against stories with supernatural aspects. Naturally, I had a great time discussing "The Spanish Moss Murders" and "The Energy Eater" with Luke and Jordan.

On Feb. 14, I returned to SFFAudio to discuss "The Seascape Tattoo" by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes with Jesse, Paul Weimer and Scott Danielson. Set in the world of Niven's "The Magic Goes Away," this 2016 entry was far less impressive than the stories that started the series, but we still enjoyed an interesting discussion.

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Late 2021 updates on Twitch and podcasts

When I started to add another update to my January 19 podcasts and Twitch updates, I was told I couldn't switch from HTML mode to Compose mode or else I might lose part of my post so I'm starting another roundup post. Wow, I haven't updated since July 29! 

I've attended a couple of Skiffy and Fanty livewatch events of Torture Cinema movies -- for "The Ghosts of Mars" and for "Lady Battle Cop" -- but I had conflict dates with the podcast recordings for both, so I haven't been on any of their episodes lately. 

 I've been fairly busy with an impending move, but I've been on four SFFAudio podcasts released in the last few months, recorded months in advance:

Aug. 9: "The SFFaudio Podcast #642 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: 'The Sowers Of The Thunder' by Robert E. Howard" with Jesse Willis, Will Emmons, and Alex and Connor Kaye. 

Aug. 16: "The SFFaudio Podcast #643 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: 'The Hound' by H.P. Lovecraft" with Jesse Willis, Evan Lampe, Will Emmons and Connor Kaye.

Sept. 13:  "The SFFaudio Podcast #647 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: 'The Picture In The House' by H.P. Lovecraft" with Jesse Willis and Connor Kaye.

Oct. 18: "The SFFaudio Podcast #652 – READALONG: 'Farmer In The Sky' by Robert A. Heinlein" with Jesse Willis, Paul Weimer, Maissa Bessada and Evan Lampe.

Yes, these are all old stories, but I and several others in each discussion try to bring a critical 21st-century eye to them, while recognizing some merits in each (except The Hound, which I remember with no fondness at all). However, this month we discussed a major story by James Tiptree Jr. (Alice Bradley Sheldon), which will come out in another six months or so.

Several of the channels I follow have been on hiatus for the last few months, due to hate raids, marriages and other reasons. ArvanEleron has continued to be an active streamer, and I've played Grace of the Refreshing Breeze, a tabaxi bard, live onstream for Community D&D: The Dragon of Icespire Peak, several more times. Episodes are here:

Finally, I wrote a poem for a 30-minute creative writing challenge (extended to 36 minutes) during an Infernal Salon fundraising stream for the 2022 Strange Horizons kickstarter on Oct. 24, hosted by C.S.E. Cooney and Carlos Hernandez on Arvan Eleron's Twitch stream. More than 20 people connected in some way with Strange Horizons came and did a panel, giving brief self-intros and then writing to prompts from the lovely and disconcerting Negocios Infernales card game.
Three non-panelist people who were watching the fundraiser also submitted poems or stories they wrote during the stream, and I was one of them. 
These are the three writing prompts; I used them all for inspiration: 
"If it unlocks, it's a lockpick"
"How perfect the poem before it is written"
"Live long enough for better stars"
Arvan Eleron kindly read my poem onstream, starting at about 3:39:33:

Here's the poem. I submitted the three stanzas that night and added the title the next day.

Keys to Better Stars

To find the key, first find your awareness:
What are you trying to open? What do you seek to unfold?
There is no understanding without a fair test.
Not all keys look like keys; the keyhole can be the whole.

The keyhole and key are partners in a dance.
Imagine what you want, feed it with your zeal.
Plan it out first or ride/write the winds of chance
Let it live in your mind and then make it real.

Let your desires build, for better or for worse.
Feed your seeds in secret, let them grow, then go through
into the wide and wondrous universe.
May the best of your dreams outlive you.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Barding for BardandBarbarian

 I started watching one night when, among the Twitch recommendations, I saw that an Episode 1 of Dread Rising, a zombie apocalypse game, had started. I figured that it would be easy to dive in, and I could drop it if it wasn't interesting.

Well, I've been watching every week; the finale is [June 16, two days from this writing]. I love this ill-assorted trashfire of a party, playing their roles with conviction no matter how much conflict that creates with the other characters. Some are genre-savvy while others are decidedly not. Some are trying to save loved ones (including a Honda), while others are ready to just destroy anything that gets in their way. It's been very amusing.

Two weeks ago, I wrote bredliks for each character, during the stream:

Quin Strong: My name is Quinn, I have a gun; Shut up soldier, and let me run!

Maxwell Gray:  Barbara my love, we need to move; and I to you, my love will prove.

Clyde Myst: Jetta my queen, our love is true! Don't walk away! Oh, boo hoo hoo.

Daniel Smith: My genre lore will save the day; survival by zombie cosplay!

Last Tuesday, I wrote a limerick as the show started:

Finally leaving the hospital; key to surviving the zombiefall. 
This party of four Could live one day more,
Though they work as a group not at all.

Having become a fan of that, I have added another show on that channel, "Call of Cthulhu: Iron Dust & Blood." It's cosmic horror set in the Wild West. For this one, I jumped into the middle of the campaign. 

Last Thursday, at the beginning of the CoCIDB episode, naive young Maybelle Monroe slipped an anonymous sonnet under the hotel door of Dallas Rex Mason. He read just enough to realize what it was, and stopped reading. 

I decided to take the challenge and write the sonnet that Maybelle might have written. Given that it was supposed to be by a teenager, I did not polish away the word repetitions, etc.; this is pretty much how it came into my head. I take some pride in the rhymes in the first and third lines in the middle quatrain, and I am particularly fond of the dreadful fourth line in that stanza.

Love in the Dead of Winter: An anonymous letter 

"Spending all winter in this tiny town
Has made me think much on how I feel.
But it's hard to pin those feelings down;
How much is imagined, and how much real?

"You surely are a fine gentleman;
Courteous, capable, kind.
But maybe I'm too sentimental when
my heart could all be in my mind.

"Is it just that I'm scared and need a broad shoulder,
Or can I trust the warmth in my heart?
You, sir, would help if you'd be a bit bolder;
if you'd only step up and play your part!
This poem right here is all I can dare;
please let me know whether you, too, care!"

I finished it before the stream ended and posted it in the chat after they finished the action and were wrapping up. Diana, who plays Maybelle, was kind enough to read it on stream, in character!

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Podcasts and Twitch Updates

 Happy New Year!

Since my last social media update on 12/1/20, I've been up to a few more things.


Stargate SG-Fun

Two more Stargate SG-1 reviews have been released. I'm the host, with David Schaub and Andrew Pontious:

Where Do Little Goa’ulds Come From (Stargate SG-1 “Bloodlines” to “Singularity”)

and A Little More Oomph (Stargate SG-1 “Cor-ai” to “Solitudes”)

All the Stargate podcasts can be found here:

We announce new episodes on Twitter, and welcome comments:

Members of The Incomparable's Slack can also discuss things with us there.

Two more SG-Fun podcasts are in the can that haven't been edited and released yet.

SFF Audio

Two more SFFAudio podcasts that I'm on have been released, and I've been on a few more that aren't released yet:

The SFFaudio Podcast #610 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Star Hunter by Andre Norton, Dec. 28, 2020. I was astonished at how disappointed I was in this book's bait-and-switch meandering plot, since I read and enjoyed a lot of Andre Norton in my teens. We all disliked it, but the discussion was good. I recommend fast-forwarding to 3:37:53. With Jesse Willis, Paul Weimer, Will Emmons, and J. Manfred Weichsel.

The SFFaudio Podcast #611 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Jewels of Gwahlur by Robert E. Howard (Jan. 4, 2021). Not the best Conan story, but fine, and as always, the discussion ranges far afield. With  Jesse Willis, Paul Weimer, Will Emmons, and Alex (


The ShadowCrew's campaign, where I play a Tabaxi Bard, Grace of the Refreshing Breeze, continued on Dec. 3. 

Arv streams Day 18 of Community D&D: Dragon of Icespire Peak--The Sword & the Stalker!

Next episode, hopefully, is tomorrow, Jan. 20, at 9 Eastern on !

I also played a druid, Willow Kingsfoil, in what was supposed to be a D&D With Viewers one-shot but stretched into two nights in December, called Winter's Splendor. The first night was a little agonizing, as we fumbled around trying to solve a mystery, but I was very pleased to collaborate with Brandon O'Brien in crafting a poem in-game!

 Arv streams a special holiday edition of D&D with Viewers--Winter's Splendor!

Arv streams a special holiday edition of D&D with Viewers--Winter's Splendor, Part Two!

Update 1/24/21: We did play CD&D on Jan. 20. Here is the link for "Day 19 of Community D&D: Dragon of Icespire Peak--Favors at Falcon's!":

Update 1/25/21: Another SG-Fun podcast was released!

Goo Not Go (Stargate SG-1 “Tin Man” to “Within the Serpent’s Grasp”)

Update 2/28/21: 

I've been on another SFF Audio podcast, discussing The Untamed, a 1919 Weird Western sort of novel by Max Brand, with Paul Weimer, Jesse Willis, Evan Lampe, Maissa Bessada, Will Emmons, and Jonathan Juett. The linked podcast includes the 7+ hour audiobox from Librivox, and then we have a wide-ranging and very interesting (to me, at least) conversation about it. I don't think you need to listen to the audiobook to enjoy our talk, but I do think you'll get more out of it. The tale is a bit old-fashioned, in language and pace as well as some attitudes, but I liked it.

Another Stargate SG-Fun review has been released. I'm the host, with David Schaub and Andrew Pontious:

Goo Not Go (Stargate SG-1 “Tin Man” to “Within the Serpent’s Grasp”)

And I continue to play D&D on Arvan Eleron's Twitch stream, with the ShadowCrew:

Day 20 of Community D&D: Dragon of Icespire Peak--Metamorphoses at the Manse, Part One!

Update 3/24/21

David Schaub and I returned to the Supergirl Supercast to review the pilot of the new CW show, Superman&Lois:

I continue to play in the Community D&D campaign on Arvan Eleron's Twitch stream:

Arv streams Day 21 of Community D&D: Dragon of Icespire Peak--Of Manse and Magic!

Update 4/5/21

The SFFaudio Podcast #624 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: William Wilson by Edgar Allan Poe

I'm in this with host Jesse Willis and fellow guests Paul Weimer, Evan Lampe, and Will Emmons. The story is about 53 minutes, then we have about 90 minutes of fairly on-topic discussion, we return to the topic occasionally for the next half hour, we talk another 20 minutes and wrap. Then Jesse tacks on our 40 minutes of pre-show chatting!

Yesterday, I recorded another SG-Fun (we have quite a backlog built up), and today, I recorded a discussion of the Supergirl S6 premiere!

Finally, I continue to play in the Community D&D campaign on Arvan Eleron's Twitch stream.

Arv streams Day 22 of Community D&D: Dragon of Icespire Peak--Hog Hooves of Thunder!

Update 4/6/21

Shaun Duke and I discuss Samuel R. Delaney's Captives of the Flame!

Update 4/11/21

David Schaub, Alan Yu, Brianna Taeuber and I return to the Supercast to discuss the Season 6 premiere and sort-of-Season-5-finale of Supergirl.

Update 4/21/21

The SFFaudio Podcast #626 – READALONG: The Jewel Of Seven Stars by Bram Stoker with Jesse Willis, Maissa Bessada, and Will Emmons

David Schaub and I discuss Supergirl Season 6, Episode 2, "A Few Good Women"

Update 6/15/21

Supergirl S6E03 Review: “Phantom Menaces” (released April 28) with David Schaub

The SFFaudio Podcast #629 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Rastignac The Devil by Philip José Farmer with Jesse Willis, Will Emmons, and me. This is an odd book with some odd ideas; maybe skip it and just listen to the discussion. (released May 10)

Finally, our Community D&D campaign continues on ArvanEleron's Twitch channel!

Arv streams Day 23 of Community D&D: Dragon of Icespire Peak--The Summoned Swine! (released May 20)

Arv streams Day 24 of Community D&D: Dragon of Icespire Peak--An Inquisitory Interlude! (released May 20)

Update 7/1/21

I made my first appearance on the Hugos There podcast on July 1. I discussed the 2020 Hugo Best Novel winner (and my own top vote), Arkady Martine's A Memory Called Empire, with the host, Seth Heasley. 

I was on another SFFAudio podcast, this time discussing Sin Hellcat by Lawrence Block and Donald Westlake, with Paul Weimer, Evan Lampe, and host Jesse Willis. I love both those authors, but I do not recommend this book, especially for modern readers. But the discussion was certainly interesting!

As explained in a separate 6/15 post, I wrote a love sonnet during the BardandBarbarian Twitch stream,  and the player was kind enough to read it at the end of the session. 

I continued to play a Tabaxi bard, Grace of the Refreshing Breeze, on The Dragon of Icespire Peak on Arvan Eleron's Twitch stream. Day 25&26:

and I cosplayed as Grace during the May 29 session. It was a significant game, as part of a significant weekend. Read on ...

Finally, and most importantly, I helped run ArvCon, the Memorial Weekend charity fundraiser, May 28-31, on -- I was one of the moderators, and I carried out most of the giveaways. We blew past our goal and raised $7,000 for the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation.

Update 7/29/2021:
I discussed Milo Hastings' In the Clutch of the War-God on SFFAudio with Jesse Willis, Paul Weimer, Evan Lampe, Bryan Alexander and Kate Follis: 

I discussed Vonda N. McIntyre's Dreamsnake on SFFAudio with Jesse Willis, Paul Weimer, Scott Danielson, Maissa Bessada and Will Emmons:

I continue to play Grace of the Refreshing Breeze, a Tabaxi bard, on The Dragon of Icespire Peak, a D&D 5e campaign on . You can see the episodes here: