Vacation notice

I will be away from my laptop, and certainly not blogging, until Monday, December 2nd. It’s for a family vacation, and I intend to thoroughly enjoy it.

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Adventures in parenting

Most days, my daughter is not the speediest person in the house.

She’s bit of a procrastinator, a bit of a dawdler. She lingers. She redirects. She thinks of ninety-seven things that she meant to do, oh, just this one things really quick, before doing what she’s told. The problem is, she is also a very busy kid. She’s heavily into activities, and those activities require that she be certain places at specific times, ready for action.

It’s an ongoing concern.

Most days that I am home, I find myself nagging her. I want her to succeed, I truly do. I want her to finish schoolwork and chores in plenty of time to play for a bit before circus. I want her to have time to relax and snuggle me before I go to work. I want her to have accomplishments in good time. So I end up, in a move that is probably counter-productive, nagging her endlessly to just stop screwing around and do the next thing.

This makes no-one happy.

This morning, as she came out of the bath already running late, I said, “Today I will not nag you. You know what you need to do. You know when things need to be done. If you run late, you will get extra chores. If you are mean to me about it, you will be fined. But I am not going to nag you all day. I’m just not up for it. It will be a nagging-free day, so we don’t fight. Does that sound good?”

And she burst into tears.

Parenting, man. This stuff is not easy.

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The DNA of Sleepy Hollow

There is something in the writing of the new series Sleepy Hollow that makes me think someone on the team is a life-long table-top RPG gamer.

In the decades of table-top RPG gaming I have done, there is a thing, a thing, that players do. They behave as if the plot is out to get them. If an explanation must be given, it’s given quickly. If there is necessary exposition in a tome or on a phylactery, the objects are taken and stashed safely in a bag and hauled away for later perusal. If weapons are needed, they are improvised.

In modern-era gaming, characters go to the supermarket or home improvement store to load the hell up on the parts needed for traps. Characters call each other, they text, they check in. Gamers try to stack the deck in their favor however they can, in character.

The characters on Sleepy Hollow act in this manner. They are constantly filling each other in on needed backstory and plot. They stock up on goods and weapons. They make COPIES of important texts. They stay in touch constantly. They talk about their feelings briefly, then move on to the next action item on their agenda to stop the end of the world.

In the most recent episode, an elaborate trap was built out of pars purchased at Home Depot, in accordance with centuries-old plans they had printed off the internet, while the characters aired their feelings about Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings.

I like these people. I could go on a GURPS campaign with these people. They are familiar to me, and I appreciate it.

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Typhoon Haiyan

I can’t get my head around the devastation in the Philippines.

Thousands dead. Entire cities destroyed.

In the cyberpunk fiction of my youth and young adulthood, disasters like this were often part of the background of the world. A character would claim a false identity of a person from a town lost to the rising ocean. Or a person would have a missing relative, vanished in a hurricane, only to reappear when the plot required.

There are days I love living in the future. Days when the reach and promise, the grasping hope of humanity fill me with joy and confidence.

I never wanted to live in a cyberpunk world.

Red Cross
ShelterBox USA
Unicef
Doctors Without Borders / Medicine sans Frontieres
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Armistice Day

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

— John McCrae

Each year we talk about Armistice Day with the kids for school. We read this poem, and talk about the trenches, and the cost to nations and to people. I think the kids are too young to be horrified, and that’s proper and right. It takes time and experience and years to begin to comprehend such hideous waste.

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A few comics links on a Friday

1. G. Willow Wilson is writing a new Ms. Marvel title. Kamela Khan is a Muslim-American teenager, who idolizes Captain Marvel. This should be excellent.

2. Apple has some trouble with Fraction and Zdarsky’s Sex Criminals.

3. Pretty Deadly #1 goes to second printing.

4. Jessica Jones IS getting a tv series! JESSICA JONES. I adore Jessica Jones. She is the comic book character I most identify with. I adore her. Now I am filled with delight and trepidation.

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It’s the moments that make the character

So, the trailer for Captain America: The Winter Soldier is available online.

There’s a moment, at the 1:27 mark. In an elevator, Steve is surrounded by men who he understands are about to attack him. (I don’t know who they are or what’s going on in the scene, obviously, until I see the movie.) I’ve seen the end of that scene giffed on Tumblr quite a bit. There’s a fight, Steve wins, he kicks his shield up into his grip, it’s all very badass.

But that’s not the part that matters to me. The part that matters to me is at the 1:27 mark. Steve says, quietly, to the assembled men, “does anyone want to get out?”

It’s a simple question, but it reaches towards what I feel to be the entire purpose and heart of Steve Rogers.

Steve Rogers is not a naive man. He knows that the people in the elevator are going to try to hurt him. He is, rather, an idealist. In all the time we have seen him on the screen, Steve Rogers believes that you — yes, you — have it within yourself to be a better person.

It’s not that he does not understand evil. It is that he understands evil very well. As Deidre Sullivan said in her 2005 essay for “This I Believe,” In my humdrum life, the daily battle hasn’t been good versus evil. It’s hardly so epic. Most days, my real battle is doing good versus doing nothing. Steve Rogers knows that while you get your occasional lunatic Red Skull or Loki, most evil is done by people like those in the elevator with him. Human beings who have decided to take the path of less effort, less conflict. People who are slumping into a comfortable, thoughtless middle instead of reaching for a height. Evil is done by those who do … nothing.

But Steve Rogers is an idealist. He believes, every single time that he encounters ordinary human beings muddling along, that we can be better. That we can overcome our worst selves. That we can do good rather than do nothing. Steve believes it of us. And, time and again, he asks those around him to join him in being a better, more decent, human being.

So he gives them a last chance. There, in the elevator, he already knows how this will go down. He’s already a little bit disgusted with the agents surrounding him. But he has to give them a chance. He has to. Because this time, someone might take him up on it. Someone might stand up a little straighter, meet his eyes, and say, “yes, fine, because you asked. I’ll try.”

The reason Steve is a leader is not that he’s a tactical genius. (In the movie-verse his tactics are sort of middle ground.) And it’s not because he’s got superpowers. Steve is a leader because in his heart he truly, truly believes that you will not let him down. Because he nods your way, holds your gaze, and tells you that he has confidence that you have his back. Because he inspires, because he leads. Because he has faith is those around him.

“Does anyone want to get out?”

That’s the moment for me. That’s the story I want to hear. That’s why I will see this movie.

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