Thursday, February 12, 2009

Newbie tune

The "Dish and the Fiddle" is a bar where the Lost hang out. Mortals who find the place are in one of two categories: either they're the enchanted companions of one of the patrons, or they were very definitely looking for some other place. It's a fairly common phenomenon for places owned, operated and frequented by the Lost. There's no way to know whether it's some kind of trade-secret Contract similar to the one that maintains Goblin Markets, or a not-quite-Noble bestowment, or just something that the Lost generate instead of dandruff.

A selling point is that there's an ever-changing cast of live music. No two acts are ever exactly alike, except for two things. The first is that they all tend to be some variation of folk music. The other is an unbroken tradition. The first time that any newcomer sets foot into the place, no matter who happens to be playing, the band immediately breaks out in the unofficial Newbie Anthem. You've heard it before. It's officially called "Mad About Me", though most non-Star Wars fans just call it the "Creature Cantina Theme".

I've heard some of the more literary-minded among the Lost describe it as the archetypal theme to "Crossing of the First Threshold" in the Hero's Journey. Most of the rest of us just say that it's like an announcement that "you're not in Kansas anymore, Toto". And damn if it isn't worth it for the looks some of the accidental tourists get on their faces. We all maintain our Masks, of course, and unless they come in with the means to see past such deception, the mortal visitors only see a strange cross-section of perfectly human demographics. It's still somewhat unsettling, though, because the "Dish and Fiddle" doesn't have a recognizeable 'vibe' that mortal barflies could 'tune in' on and use.

And that's the way we like it.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

25 Random Things About Me

Yup, I got tagged with this, and thought I'd share it with everyone...

Rules: Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.

(To do this, go to "notes" under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people (in the right hand corner of the app) then click publish.)

1. When I was younger, I wanted to be a "Scientist!" Not any particular discipline, mind you; just a "Scientist!". If "Buckaroo Banzai" had come out a few years earlier, I would have wanted to live "in many directions at once", too. Nowadays, I'd be happy with a regular income, though I'd appreciate it if I needed six figures to express that income...

2. My number one comfort food is any kind of deluxe packaged macaroni & cheese. However, a close second is Spaghetti Factory's Spaghetti a la Homer (browned butter and mizithra cheese).

3. I deliberately make obscure intellectual references for no reason other than I find greater humor in encouraging people to work for the joke. For example, I would like to raise a very particular toast to Kim Stanley Robinson: a Mountain Dew Code Red, followed by a regular Mountain Dew (green), in turn followed by a Mountain Dew Voltage (blue).

4. In the highly unlikely event that I acquire a fan-following, I mostly wish that my fans would show their respect for me simply by doing whatever they can to make the world a better place. Failing that, I would hope that the "fan-gift" of choice would be hand-painted *G-RATED* Trumps. Which is to say, these:

5. My greatest fear was of doing the absolute best I could to raise a child (or, worse, more than one), to end with a beautiful genius possessed of enough ambition to take over the world, the drive to actually pull it off... and the morals of a rabid shark. In a word, I was terrified of producing Gulliver (or Gayle) Foyle:
Now that I've had a vasectomy, this has passed... somewhat.

6. I think I've played to my intellectual strengths to the detriment of my social weaknesses for so many years that they have switched places, then balanced each other out somewhat. It might have been nice if this had happened earlier; say, in junior high. So it goes...

7. I am functionally unable to attend any sort of concerts except classical music or comedic monologues. I don't care if they're the blandest corporate rock act since whomever, or if they're the best blues player since Robert Johnson. Amplification above the minimum necessary for people in the nosebleed section to hear clearly... *hurts*.

8. I wish I could visit an alternate world where "Firefly" and "The Dresden Files" were renewed (deservedly) for several seasons, while "King of Queens" and "Seinfeld" died quick, quiet network deaths.

9. I would like to ride the "Weightless Wonder" a.k.a. the "Vomit Comet" to experience free-fall.
Okay, I'd *really* like to afford an orbital flight on Virgin Galactic...
... but the "Vomit Comet" dream is at least within spitting distance of financially possible for me.

10. I wish that, upon meeting any or all celebrities for whom I have any respect, they remember me only as "that guy who was the most courteous and unobtrusive fan I've ever met. Wonder what his name was... Oh, well." I have taken to heart the implicit warning in the Chinese curse: "May you gain the attention of those in power" and fervently hope to remain someone distant and happy and small.

11. Aside from concerns about genetic disease or genetic predispositions toward medical problems, I am mostly unconcerned about my distant heritage. Probably because I have so *many*. I have English, Irish, Scots, Norwegian, German and French in my genetic background... that I know of... and going much further back seems likely to produce even more tangles.

13. I want to get past my personal foibles and get paid for writing a short story. Step one: finish writing one...

14. The first thing I notice about people is their 'regional dialect', which I refer to as the 'birth certificate they carry in their mouth'. Kind of like how Professor Higgins can narrow down where a person was born and raised to within a couple of blocks in "My Fair Lady", though I'm not nearly as good.

15. If I were ever forced to attend a big-time "Social Event" (like some award show or, worse, some bigwig ball), I would make every possible effort to procure a reasonable (read: comfortable and in my size) facsimile of the collarless "spaceman's business suit" worn by Bruce Boxleitner on Babylon 5. Bonus points if the color scheme could be 75% black, 20% emerald green and 5% white; Green Lantern uniform proportions (give or take).

16. I would very much like to contribute to the death of the necktie as a required component of businesswear for men. Like a ruff, it is a pointless way for the wearer to show off his aspiriations of status or wealth. Also like the ruff, it can be hazardous.

17. My music library tends to be as eclectic as I can stand. For example, I own several Sting CDs, the soundtrack AND score for "The Matrix", the Poxy Boggards "Anchor Management" CD, the soundtrack to "Titan A.E." and four CDs by a now-defunct band called "Brother" who dared to include a didjiridoo and a bagpipe... at the same time... in a rock band. And they did it really well, dammit!

18. My Evil Plan To Destroy Hollywood involves loaning each and every role-playing game publishing company in the United States $10 Million USD, with the proviso that they use the money to produce a two-hour pilot for a television series based on their best-selling game license within two years. While the probable level of production value would vary *widely*, it would be an extremely safe bet that the results would be far and away more interesting than 90% of anything Hollywood has produced for the past twenty years.

19. What I really want to be when I grow up is Writer-In-Residence on the International Moonbase. Yes, there are a few more intermediate steps between my present state and achieving this job than most such.

20. I heartily enjoy foods and beverages in colors, shapes, flavors and textures not found in nature. Can't handle anything even mildly spicy, though.

21. I want to live long enough for the James Randi Educational Foundation to cut a check to someone who can demonstrate genuine psychic/magic abilities on command.
My imagination is taxed to the limit imagining myself as that person.

22. If I were a crayon I would be Cobalt Blue, because of what cobalt represents. Briefly, it symbolizes how a supposed 'flaw' can become something wonderful.

23. My favorite smells are "well-chlorinated pool" and "inside of a game store". No, really. Something about all those hard-bound books mixed with the miniatures, paints, plastic packaging and the dice... Oh, the *dice*... produces a curiously unmistakeable scent. NOT including the scent of unwashed gamers, mind you...

24. My cell phone wallpaper is a picture of Lee Ann's late, lamented Godzilla: a half-Springer/half-Dalmatian who looks like a black Labrador with long, wavy fur. He was a wonderful dog and I miss him so.

25. I hope I live long enough to get onto a BART train and travel in a loop around the Bay Area. If current conditions persist, I would have to live for at least another century or two...