David Tennant’s Hamlet

Shakespeare’s existing work famously contains a wider vocabulary than that of any other author. It’s ironic, then, that this splendid performance of one of Shakespeare’s most demanding and knotty plays mostly inspires me to overawed vulgarity.

Holy shit. David Tennant as Hamlet. I knew he was a good actor, but now I see what all that “greatest actor of his generation” business was all about. He burns up the screen in this motherfucker. As my friend Dan describes it, “Shakespeare ‘s characters say everything in the suavest, most perfect fucking way it can be said.”  Dr. Who went on semi-hiatus while Tennant could star in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s stage production. I naturally assumed that I’d never get to see it, but this Christmas the BBC aired an adaptation of the stage play. When Tennant’s on screen, you can’t stop looking at him. He’s absolutely compelling every fucking second he’s on screen. Mel Gibson, Laurence Olivier, and Kenneth Branagh are now David Tennant’s bitches.

Organizing with tags

My friend Christine posted that she was having a hard time using tags instead of folders for organization.

I mean, I get the idea that if you give everything relevant tags, you can search and cross-reference. But I’m a “file-cabinet” kind of girl… I mean let’s say I have tags called “bugs” “fish” and “green”. I could look up “green” and get green bugs and fish, “green bugs” or “green fish.” OK, fine. But it’s so… See More… so… murky. I keep wanting to put all the fish in one folder and all the bugs in another… And then what about my “pen” collection? Is it mixed up with my bugs and fish?

I’ve loved tags since I started using them in del.icio.us. I’ve not given much deliberate thought to Web 2.0 semantics, metadata, etc., but I can at least explain how I use tags in productivity. I thought a blog post would work better than replying to a status update, so here goes.

There’s an idea for a gaming article that’s been bubbling around in my head for a long time: how to adapt Zorro to tabletop roleplaying. The character is around a century old and the story been adapted for film and television dozens of times. There’s a nice mix of civilization and wild frontier mentality, built-in villains, and a premise that adapts well to large gaming groups (Zorro’s Fighting Legion) or to a GM and one or two players (Zorro and a sidekick). So how to take this notion from a vague, nebulous idea to a written article? I look for online references and found the original short story. That link gets saved with a few tags: “gaming, Zorro, fiction”. I like to use context tags as well. I don’t have a printout of the story, so I’ll be reading it online during slack time at work; I add the tag “@Work”. I want to read the original first, so I tag it “nextaction”–reading the original story is the very next thing I have to do to make this article a reality.

My work’s been a lot more streamlined since I started following the Getting Things Done strategy from David Allen. “Writing a Zorro article” is way more than one task, so I create a project with that title on my list. (I use Remember the Milk to keep track of tasks and projects.) There are lots of other things that will have to happen besides reading that one story, but at first I’ll content myself with a few: watch the famous movie versions from 1920, 1940, and 1998; find out what’s available of the Guy Williams TV series from the 1950s; look for a nonfiction history of California in the 1800s; and see if I can get copies of Johnston McCulley’s other Zorro stories. ALL of these go on the Zorro project, so there’s some folder-like hierarchy going on here. Some of these tasks get tagged “@Web”; I can do online research anywhere with a broadband connection and time on my hands. Watching the movies gets the tags “@Home, film” in addition to “gaming, Zorro.”

Here’s how this process works to my advantage. If I decide I want to work on that Zorro article, I can look at the project list and see everything I’ve thought of so far that needs to be done. If I’m at home and feel like watching something, I can look at everything tagged “film” for a list of things I’ve noted to watch. If I have some free time at a computer I can look under everything “@Web”–research projects, silly videos, interesting new blogs, whatever. If I need a break from projects at work, I’ve created a smartlist that shows everything tagged “@Work” (to be done at near my workplace) that’s not also tagged “work” (related to my job). I have other gaming ideas, too. If I’m just in a gaming mood I can look up the tag “gaming” and see what I’d most like to do at that moment. If I feel like reading a good story, I can search “fiction.” Finally, if I’m just feeling like I need to be more productive, I can search “nextaction.”

This kind of tagging doesn’t work for everybody, but I’ve found a lot of advantages to it. If I’m looking to organize a Cthulhu caroling group (and I am), where do I save the links, documents, music, and other info in a folder–Humor? Music? Books? What if I save it under Humor -> Cthulhucarols, then forget I created that folder and create a Music -> Cthulhucarols folder when I find the sheet music three months later? Christine, I hope you read this and find it helpful–maybe others will as well! Comment if you have any questions.

Barre of my dreams

Last night I dreamt I was walking through a moonlit version of Barre, Vermont that was even more dilapidated and eerie than the real thing. So You Think You Can Dance judge Nigel Lythgoe was with me, confiding production details of the show. He suddenly got excited and yelled, “A beach!” He ran down the hill, stripping down to a swimsuit as he went. Everything became sunlit; we were on a warm, sandy beach along a small blue lake. It was crowded with summertime sunbathers because we were still in Barre–this lake was behind Merchant’s Row. I think our stretch of beach was right behind Lenny’s Shoes. Suri met Nigel and I; we were soon joined by our friends Chris, Dan, and George. We were all happily swimming and chatting when a lifeguard called out “Cleaning!” Everyone knew what this meant and we nonchalantly got out of the water and crowded into a giant aerial cable car. A great wave of royal blue suds cleaned the lake while we waited. Some no-account Barre teenagers were sitting nearby. Kaye and Vaughn had ended up in our cable car. Vaughn turned to me with a concerned look on his face and said, “Joe, they’re having a INCIDENT.” I looked over and the Barre kids were sitting on Chris and standing on her feet. She remained calm, trying to elbow the kids off and saying to us us, “Could you report this incident to the police?” Dan tried to make his way through the crowd with mad moshing skills, but the cops got there first and hustled the kids off. A cat jumped on the bed and I woke up.

New games!

After going a long time without playing any new boardgames I’ve now played three in less than a month. Last night Suri and I got together with Casey to play Dominion, the latest German boardgame from Rio Grande Games to sweep every boardgame award on planet Earth. (Seriously, what is it with the Germans? Why are they so awesome at making games?) It was a little difficult to understand before we started playing, but once you get the flow the turns go very quickly. It’s the differences from ordinary deck-building card games that throw you at first: you never have ANY cards “in play” on the board in front of you when it’s not your turn and in most variants you have little ability to affect your fellow players. The strategy mostly involves choosing what to buy, especially early on in the game. I had mined enough silver and gold to replace my copper cards by the end of the game; that made my sudden late-game Province-buying spree much easier.

The Stars Are Right is an equally good strategic card game, but with a very different flow. The game board of constellations changes with almost every player’s turn, limiting the utility of planning out your play in

The Stars Are Right

advance. Figuring out the correct moves to summon your unspeakable horrors can take a while, creating a fair amount of downtime. I’d be curious to try this as a two-player game to see if that speeds up the play. Even with the slow pace, this is an elegant, well-balanced strategy game. Lovecraft would likely disapprove of the whimsical art style, but he was afraid of degenerate French Canadians, so we have to take his opinions with a non-Euclidean grain of salt.

Ticket to Ride has been around for a few years now, but I’d never gotten to play until Christmas at Frank and Siobhan’s. I see why this game has been such a smash: gameplay that’s easy enough for an older child to follow, beautiful production values, instant gratification in building routes along the way, and long-term satisfaction at completing long train routes and blocking your opponents from doing the same.

It mystifies me that games as un-fun as Monopoly still sell with all the other great options out there. If your main exposure to board and card games has been beat-up copies of Sorry and Uno during childhood, here are some other great options.

  • Settlers of Cataan
  • Puerto Rico
  • Illuminati
  • Axis and Allies
  • Pirate’s Cove
  • Tigris and Euphrates
  • Frag
  • Formula De
  • Tikal
  • Talisman
  • Kill Dr. Lucky

Information for new friends and old

Swiped from Maddie.

You know how sometimes people on your friends list post about stuff going on in their life, and all of a sudden you think “Wait a minute? Since when were they working THERE? Since when were they dating HIM/HER? Since when?” And then you wonder how you could have missed all that seemingly pretty standard information, but somehow you feel too ashamed to ask for clarification because it seems like info you should already know? It happens to all of us sometimes.

Please copy the topics below, erase my answers and put yours in their place, and then post it in your journal! Please elaborate on the questions that would benefit from elaboration. One-Word-Answers seldom help anyone out.

Real name: Joseph C Weinmunson III
Online handle: litlfrog, pretty much everywhere. Chosen when I needed an e-mail address that was 8 characters or less, inspired by an evening of debauchery in which I spent much of the night pretending to be a talking frog mascot for a wildlife organization

AGE: 40.
BIRTHDATE: August 19, 1969.

LOCATION: Plainfield, a small , close-knit village in rural Vermont. Originally from the ‘burbs around New Orleans. Spent most of my youth in Natchitoches, a small Southern town that under different names provides the setting for Steel Magnolias and True Blood.

OCCUPATION: Tech support at a small Internet Service Provider. Also do some computer repair and web design on the side.

PARTNER: Suri Weinmunson (neé Geske). We met in Janet Sturman’s ethnomusicology class at Louisiana Scholars’ College. Suri initially thought I was a gay, know-it-all windbag, but I guess she changed her mind. 🙂

KIDS: None, though I do like kids.

PETS: Kim, a beautiful, sleepy, well-behaved gray cat. Soft, plump, around 10 years old. And then there’s Aimee, a 10-month-old tortoiseshell who can go from sweet kitten to wild-eyed destructive pixie hunter in no time flat.

SIBLINGS: One brother, Les. He lives in Irving, TX with his family. We’re not that similar, though we get along fine these days. I take after my dad, Les takes after our quiet, country maternal grandfather.

PARENTS: Dad, Joe, died in the summer of 2001. I’m very like him, in good ways and bad. My mom is 68 and very lively; lives in the house in which she grew up outside Natchitoches. A sweet, admirable woman, even though I think she was a Randian in her youth. 🙂

List the 3 to 5 biggest things going on in your life

1. Commuting. I list this first because I have an hour commute to work each way; it means that five days a week my time is far more restricted than I would like. I feel like I have to compress too much life into too little time.

2. Web design. I wear a lot of different hats in IT work, but it’s web design that I enjoy most. I’m finally getting to the point where my understanding of XHTML and CSS has become ingrained and accessible.

3. Music. The easy availability of online music is letting me rebuild, organize, and share my music after an unfortunate hard drive crash. My appetite for new music has only grown with age, and streaming radio stations have made me more connected with a broader alternative culture than I ever was at 20 years old.

4. Being 40 g-dd–ned years old. I have no patience with midlife crisis films and no desire to emulate their sad, self-absorbed protagonists. I’m limiting my self-reflection to a desire to stop wasting time and a somewhat sincere effort to improve my health.

What else should people know?

My Christian upbringing worked at least this far: I’m compassionate and tend to believe the best of people until proven otherwise.

As a corollary to this, when I have contempt for someone I’ve met personally it tends to be quite strong. If even I can’t like you, there must really be something wrong with you!

Despite being a big guy, I love dancing. When I’m in practice and not nursing a shoulder or knee injury, I’m even pretty good at lindy hop.

I’m a huge geek, by most definitions of the word. I’ve long outgrown my adolescent social awkwardness, but I enjoy a wide variety of geeky media and pursuits: tabletop roleplaying games, science fiction and fantasy novels, films, and TV shows, comic books, working on computers, science/technology news, videogames, etc.

Stuff I’m not into, that I don’t care if you’re into
Most anime. There are a few that I like quite a bit, but I’m puzzled by people whose media diet consists almost entirely of imported Japanese animation.

Sports. I can watch and enjoy a game every once in a while, but I completely don’t understand identifying with a particular team and following them all season long.

Other stuff I’m into

Mixology, especially tiki cocktails; twee pop; So You Think You Can Dance; hamburgers; mysteries, especially good historical mysteries; Sid Meier’s Civilization games; martial arts movies (hop and chop!); first-person shooters, though I kinda suck at them; trying different world cuisines; easy hikes in the woods

WRONG on the Internet!

Tangency’s enjoying an interesting thread about flamewars. What pushes people’s buttons and ignites giant screaming matches seems so RANDOM. I completely understand the need to correct people who are wrong on the Internet but for the life of me I can’t imagine how some of this stuff leads to bitterness and recriminations. Here’s a sample.

Most memorable to me was on the (now defunct) metal-is boards where a debate on whether Penfold from the Danger Mouse cartoon was a hamster or a mole simply would not end until we finally got the Word of God by emailing the studio.

Any given Star Trek message board at any time will be having a flame war about whether or not the existence of Captain Robert April is canon. It will go on for pages and will get personal.

A vicious fight over wehther it was proper to use a dash “-“,colon “:” or semi-colon “;” in one prticular sentance in an article effectively destroyed the Marvel chat boards in 2001 and ended the existence of two popular fanzines done by regulars on the board, one of which had just gotten a mention in Wizard magazine.

On another message board discussion about wasps was forbidden, due to a previous flamewar.

he went off against everyone, eventually threatening people with RL gunplay, initially based on , as I recall, an argument about Miracle Whip versus Mayonnaise

from a WWII re-enactment forum: a pic showed up of a German uniform tunic with a wool collar (many thought they were first used in 1940), but a manufacturing ink stamp of 1939. The place went utterly ape-shit. It just exploded. Accusations of photoshopping flew, followed by counter-charges of counterfeiting the stamps, followed by all of the usual invectives – insults of people’s relatives, their authenticity standards, their knowledge of history, their personal lives, you name it.

The dumbest flamewars I’ve ever read have been on cuteoverload. People get really upset about things like bathing cats. And whenever they post a picture of a baby, or any kind of cute picture involving humans, people come out of the woodwork to argue that humans are never cute, and they come to the site to get a break from looking at humans all day.

I remember one tampons vs pads argument on feministing.com that made me dumber just reading it. Both sides wanted to portray the other as some kind of tool of the patriarchy based on their choice of hygiene products

And on Pyramid, back in the day when you had to be a subscriber, there was an incredible outpouring of vitriol over someone’s suggestion that Chow Yun Fat would, accent aside, be the perfect actor to portray Superman [I, litlfrog, remember this one very well]

Gundam Wing fanfic forum – ridiculous string of flamewars on whether one of the characters was an abuse survivor.

Outpost Gallifrey once shut down for an entire day because of the flame wars that erupted when Chris Eccleston announced he was leaving. [I enjoy “Dr. Who.” I enjoy webforums. Outpost Gallifrey residents were INSANE and I never hung out there.]

on Tabletop Open there was a massive flamewar about REIGN and in particular one bit of setting fluff: men don’t ride astride horses because of a deeply held cultural belief that it makes them impotent.  That led into a massive flamewar over horsemanship, saddle design, cultural beliefs, and what Greg Stolze’s opinion on the penis is. Truly a debate for the ages.

one beautiful word: Boxxy

was Jesus Jewish?

The “I Hate Ezri Dax” thread [I boldly defended Ezri in this one]

Harry-Hermione ‘shippers vs. Ron-Hermione ‘shippers on a LiveJournal fanfic community. [I forget which side compared themselves to brave Holocaust survivors]

First of all, yes there was a The Bible category at fanfiction.net (it may still be there for all I know) and yes, there were NC-17 fics. Now, granted the Bible is full of sex, so ok. But no, this one was about Jesus and Judas and the real reason why Judas betrayed him.

I recall hearing legends of the GURPS forums (starting back when they were alt.rpg.gurps or something like that) having a decade-spanning flame-war over the TL of ‘fluffy biscuits’.

I’ve seen and participated in several massive flamewars over whether or not Avril Lavigne was punk rock or just a poser on the Linkin Park fanclub message board [the lameness of that sentence hurts me]

bitter, insulting arguments about belief in the existence of Bigfoot

One time, on another forum, I suggested that use of the term “raghead” didn’t elevate the level of discourse in a conversation about US foreign policy. My life was threatened.