Writing, publishing, geekdom, and errata.

True Love Doesn't Mean It's Easier (expanding on and clarifying what I meant yesterday)

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So this is what I get for burying the lede and being imprecise in my post yesterday. So let me break down a few things.

First, the thesis - again, horribly buried - was this: Even if you have a "true love" relationship, it needs as much work and effort as any other... and probably more. 

That takeaway got buried and lost by a lot of people who read the post.

Second: There was a strong monogamist bias in the way I wrote the post and my phrasing. I used the term "true love" and "the one", when really I should have just said "true love" as reflecting a particular quality of love, just as there's a qualitative difference between "crush" and "love" and "lust".

I suspect that quality of love is a rare thing indeed.  Could you have two people who fit that category in your life at the same time? Sure. Poly folks, do not despair. No slight or implication was intended.

But this is where it gets tricky - and also reflects back on the actual thesis I had yesterday. Having that kind of love does not guarantee that it's a good relationship, or the only kind you can or should have.

It can be a good relationship. But it isn't automatic, at all. See Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind for a wonderful example.

And that gets to my third thing, which was another bias in my writing: The way I wrote it was more than vaguely hierarchical, and that was crap. As I was reminded, there's lots of different kinds of love, and a relationship doesn't have to be "true love" to be worthwhile. You shouldn't reject other kinds of love simply because they're different.

That's actually one of the great things about polyamory and other kinds of "designer relationships". You get to decide what relationships you have, what intensity they are emotionally, and can have really meaningful relationships with all sorts of people at all sorts of intensities. Monogamous folks are stuck in the "all-or-nothing" kind of scenario (which is why the "Settl" app parody from SNL is so terrifying and funny).

I'm tempted to just blame the limitations of English, but really, the language I used yesterday was based out of my current experiences and some biases that crept into a quickly written post.

And, of course, it doesn't matter at all if they don't love you back.

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Where I disagree with Dan Savage

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[Edit: You should see this expansion post and clarification that will post 1/28 @ 0930 EST.]

I disagree with Dan Savage on one major thing.

I think that The Princess Bride was right. There is true love. There is a "the one" for you.

"This is true love - you think this happens every day?"

I had convinced myself that true love was a storybook idea back around the turn of the century. That it was an idea that people told themselves....and then pretended that they'd found, when they'd really found "good enough".

And I had found, I thought, "good enough". 

Nevermind that I was wrong, that the rounding up I was doing was far greater than I thought. Nevermind any of that.

Because, years later, I found out that true love did exist.

There was no after-the-fact retconning of "at first sight". It was there from the first moment I saw her. I had found "the one" for me.

But here's the thing that the movie version of The Princess Bride doesn't tell you, but the book does:

True love doesn't mean everything works out automatically.

There were problems - many of them of my making. And I thought they'd go away and be unimportant, because true love, right? This was something that most people never got to feel.

And I was wrong. The problems built and became greater. The fears grew, because so few people actually experience true love, and the emotions are so fucking overwhelming.

And I screwed it up.

So I'm writing this blog post now for two reasons:

1) To assure you that true love is real, and once you know it, you will never be able to settle for "rounding up" again.

2) To tell you that if you do find true love, that you do not take it for granted. It requires as much ... no, it requires more work than the regular kind. Because it is terrifying as much as it is exhilarating. And trying to do that work after you've screwed it up is so, so much harder than doing it right the first time 'round.

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Be True To Who You Are

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There's something toxic about hiding who you really are.

It doesn't seem to matter *what* it is that you're hiding, or even whether you're hiding it from others... or even yourself.

Maybe it's your sexuality. Maybe it's your orientation. Maybe it's your passion. Maybe it's who you love.

The thing is, often everyone else already knows (or guesses) what it is you were hiding.

But worse, that secret - even if you're trying to keep it a secret from yourself - will have negative effects on you. Your mental state, even your physical health can be completely derailed by worrying and stress.

It's hard to realize this when you're still hiding the secret. It seems almost normal, sometimes.

But when you realize that you're simply fighting yourself, when you realize you're denying who you are, and decide to *stop*....

That's terrifying.

But it's also liberating. It brings clarity.

Even if you know that being true to yourself is going to cause you pain.

It's worth it.

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Writing (And Gaming) Music Review - Phantom Power

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Did you ever want to have music that sounds like it came from movie trailers while you're writing or running a roleplaying game?

Of course you did.

And did you want that music for free?

Hells to the yes you did.

Let me introduce you to Phantom Power. They're hard to find - the term is a mixing one, and their focus isn't really on producing finished tracks for people like us.

As best as I can tell, their focus is on sound design, and creating sound elements. But they also provide the end result of those elements, and that's what we want to enjoy.

The simplest way to enjoy this music is on Youtube - there's two big playlists (here and here) that catch nearly all the released tracks between them.

But if you want to go to the source (or can't figure out youtube-dl), then you'll want to go to!albums. You can download the albums after a free signup, but be warned! You'll not only get the finished songs, but many of the tracks that make up the song as well, such as an isolated bass track, or isolated lead guitar, and so on. (If you're a music person, it's a bonus, for everyone else, it's a warning.)

Although each track is usually only two to four minutes, these epic arrangements seem to keep the energy always rising. Highly worth checking out.

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Jealousy and Envy: Sibling Rivalry


Jealousy has a sibling, close enough in appearance that they’re often mistaken for each other. But like siblings, these two emotions are different and must be handled in different ways.

This sibling is named envy.

One is jealous when you’re afraid what you have will be taken away, but envious when you aren’t able to have what you want. (This isn't the only definition, but it's the one that fits here.)

For example, Sam is jealous when Sue goes out for dinner with an old flame who is passing through town, because he’s worried the old flame will steal the affection and relationship he has with Sue. Sam is envious when he wants to go out to dinner with Sue, but she’s having dinner with the old flame instead.

It’s very possible to be both at the same time, or just one of the two. The example of Sam above illustrates this quite well.

It is important to know the difference between the two in yourself, and how to recognize these emotions, because while they’re similar, they’re not synonymous. The tools and techniques to handle jealousy are going to be of limited use when you’re dealing with envy.

With one major exception.

Both can be reduced and minimized by honest, vulnerable, and clear communication about your emotions, fears, and desires.

And being able to name your emotions accurately is a step toward that goal.


Review: Spy (Melissa McCarthy, Jude Law, Jason Statham)

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I went into Spy ($6-$10 rental, Amazon) figuring I'd be mildly amused.

I laughed my ass off throughout.

Artfully dissecting the issues of being large and female in the world, Melissa McCarthy and the supporting cast provide a delightful - and still exciting - tour de force through the stereotypes of spy thrillers.

Jason Statham continues to show that he doesn't take himself seriously at all while simultaneously demonstrating how he became an action movie star. Jude Law is perfect as the awesome super spy. And the rest of the cast turn in pitch-perfect performances.

As one Amazon reviewer put it - and I agree completely:  "It's as if Pam from Archer got her own movie".

Quick notes:

1. There is a lot of cursing. Doesn't bother me, but f-bombs abound.
2. The "unrated" version doesn't have a lot more to it than the original (mostly a bit with dick pics).  While that scene is hilarious, if there's a price difference the theatrical release will do you just fine. 
3. There aren't that many fat jokes...and they're usually making the thin person look bad. A nice change of pace there.

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Review: Joker Rising

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Over the weekend, I watched the fan film "Joker Rising".  In some ways, it's a technical achievement, apparently shot for only $3,000 over eight days.  With that kind of budget and timeline, it's really impressive.

Other than that...well, it does quite a bit of violence to the continuity of the characters. A lot. So I recommend approaching this more as a "film about criminals" than a "Joker" film.

And for the greatest part of the film I cared far more about "Croc" than anyone else. He was played by Manuel Eduardo Ramirez, who brings what nuance and subtlety there is to this otherwise straightforward film. Yes, Dylan Hobbs later gets the Joker's giggle mostly right (mostly; the times he doesn't jar badly), but for most of the film his character is so freaking cardboard.

That said, it wasn't bad, but it falls just a bit short of being good.  If you've got the time, it's worth watching on YouTube for free.

Apparently the indiegogo campaign for a sequel fell quite a bit short of its goal, which is a pity.

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A Review of "The Abominable Bride" (Sherlock New Year's Special)

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The New Year's special of Sherlock, The Abominable Bride ($11-$15 on Amazon) is... well, okay.  Keep in mind that if you're waiting for Amazon instead of broadcast, you've got to wait until the 7th, because.... reasons?  (Dammit BBC, you'd think you'd learn.)

That said, it has some really good lines in it, and the first hour was pretty compelling1. But the third act... well, Cat Valente and I had a brief exchange on Twitter that sums it up.

Again, it's not bad by any stretch of the imagination. Cumberbatch is, well, delightfully Cumberbatchian. Mrs. Hudson gets a few good lines, and the plot (again, at least in the first two acts) highlights exactly how overlooked and misused women are.

But the resolution of the story once again swivels the spotlight off the women and squarely onto not just Sherlock, but he, John Watson, and Moriarty. The shift in focus to the male characters once the "aren't we clever" twist is revealed is jarring, especially since we finally had meaningful female characters on this show. (Mary Watson doesn't count, for reasons I talk about here:

And the twist itself - after the initial "Oh, that is clever" reaction that it warrants - is then repeatedly shoved at you in a manner that is, I presume, intended to disorient. This isn't inherently bad either; but when we reach the conclusion, we're to believe that Sherlock has gotten it all straight and clear... while we, the audience, are left with many many questions about what is real and what isn't unanswered, and perhaps, unanswerable.

The thing that always annoyed me about the original Holmes stories was the way that Sherlock would have information that you did not. And while there are plenty of hints that Sherlock's friends think he's an unreliable narrator2, we as the audience are clearly meant to still trust in this not-a-hero.

I understand that it's difficult to write a super-intelligent character. It's fiendishly hard to have a character solve a mystery before the reader/audience while still providing all the information.

But that possibility - that we get all the same information, but do not correctly deduce, do not observe well enough - is what makes the detective elements of Sherlock Holmes compelling.

Simply being confusing and vague in order to seem intelligent is David Lynch's territory. With Twin Peaks coming back, there's no need for Moffat and Gatiss to use that formula as well.

1 Gatiss in a fat suit, however, was not.
2 Now, if Gatiss and Moffatt actually followed that and had Sherlock become an unreliable narrator due to his egotism and drug use, and led us as audience down that path... well, that would be interesting.

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Quick Review: Rotcho Canvas Medical Bag

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Need a pur... satchel?  The Rothco canvas medic bag ($13 on Amazon) is a great size if you need to carry a tablet and keyboard along with some other stuff.  It's served me well for two and a half years, and held up to the beating I've given it.  The canvas isn't purely waterproof, but it's kept stuff dry in the rain just fine.  I put my old unit pin across it just because I could. :)

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