KC Gorillaz Concert

Sep. 25th, 2017 11:41 am
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So, we were fortunate enough to have been able to go to the Gorillaz concert in Kansas City on the 22nd, which was ridiculously good, but definitely exhausting, overall. KC seems a little greener than St Louis, with less of the red brick I'm so familiar with, but the vibe was similar. It definitely had the feeling of a midwest city. I'd driven through their only once on my way back from Seattle, and the difference was literally night and day (as well as late summer / winter), but I still recognized the road I'd taken on the way through the city. The turnaround didn't give me the same degree of whiplash I got on the Chicago trip - we were there marginally longer - but it was still really quick. We got up on the morning of the 22nd, drove out, had a heavy lunch, checked in at the hotel and had a beer, and went to the concert. Then we came back, had a drink, and went to bed. We got out in a reasonably comfortable time frame the next morning, waiting until we'd had breakfast at least, and we did get back a little later than we expected, but there was no real time for relaxation.

Our seats were actually even better than we had supposed; we were viewing from the side, but we were still able to see clearly. Also, Vince Staples and Danny Brown both opened for the main act, which was great and I hadn't realized both of them were opening until they did.

The Gorillaz concert was legitimately overwhelming, which I don't mean in a bad way, but there was almost literally so much going on that I couldn't take it in all at once. Vince Staples and Danny Brown both did pretty well in terms of getting an audience reaction from the crowd, and I don't know if KC is the same as St Louis in this regard, but I know in St Louis, it's tough to get participation. I've heard musicians express this sentiment before - it's tough. Not that the crowd is hostile or anything, but they're self-conscious, maybe? But Damon Albarn and the rest of the band came out and literally everyone in the stadium stood up at once and didn't sit back down at all - I've never seen anything like it. I figure that's because I get out less than a lot of people, so that's more of an expression about me than the crowd, but the crowd was hype and that hype just got bigger as the concert went on.

The Gorillaz are a band that always makes me think of this concept of the hyper-real - especially when interviews are conducted with reputable media outlets with characters themselves and, meanwhile, Damon Albarn is interviewed elsewhere, treated as a separate entity, maybe an affiliate, simultaneously "the band" and not the band. I couldn't avoid thinking about that even while I'm clapping, singing, whatever, because on the back wall, they're playing music videos that are intentionally glitching out, there are screens on the sides that are showing you the concert as it happens from a viewpoint you couldn't access otherwise, and meanwhile, you've got the choir singing, the band is playing, often dancing, definitely trying to draw your eye - you can't watch them all at once, so you pick, you alternate. There's often a singer who's not present physically - their presence replaces the animation for a time so you can see them - this is especially with the tracks from the Humanz album, where it seems especially important to have the vocalists be present in the song. At a time when the simple existence of black artists seems to be controversial to white people, it seemed important that their impact on the tracks was made explicit and literally larger than the flesh and blood Albarn himself - actually occasionally absent during these moments.

So, that was cool.

Before we checked in, we were looking for somewhere to eat lunch in town and had some time to kill. Both Jim Gaffigan and Anthony Bourdain recommended Joe's Kansas City BBQ - Bourdain calling it the best in the world - and while Bourdain is kind of an ass, I liked the idea of a place that had that kind of recommendation-overlap, so that's where we went. What I'll say is that it was good - I really enjoyed what I ate, and it was definitely worth going. What I'll also say is that I've had BBQ that was every bit as good, and I live practically down the street from the region's best BBQ place here, so what I'm actually hype about is how spoiled I am on amazing BBQ options on the daily. For the record, Joe's french fries are better, but Beast BBQ's potato salad is significantly better, if we're talking about sides.

We got to stay at The President near the arena, like a five minute walk away actually, and ate breakfast at the Walnut Room where I ordered the eggs benedict, which was pretty excellent, but I usually eat pretty light, so I kind of ended up feeling uncomfortable for a while after my two incredibly heavy meals - basically eating once per day for three days.

Anyhow, when you ask me how something was that I did, half of what I talk about is the thing and the other half is what I ate, and that is just how I live my life.

Gatorbait

Sep. 24th, 2017 01:13 am
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Well, those were some big blue tears. No joy in Catville tonight. Talk about snatching defeat from the snaggletoothed, reptilian jaws of victory...

A Slight Case of Overbombing

Sep. 22nd, 2017 11:27 pm
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Crisis averted. Or managed. GoodReader doesn't send out update notifications, so I was using version 3.X, while version 4.X was out and 64-bit compatible. Five bucks out of my iTunes account, and we were back in business. Still couldn't migrate files from V3 to V4, so I took the opportunity to reduce the number of PDFs living on the iPad when I removed V3. Now, there's just some Call of Cthulhu and Star Trek Adventures. Couple of GB freed up.

--

Pretty good Star Wars session tonight. PCs being PCs, they took off down disparate paths, leading to the Jedi's capture by an Imperial Governor's Stormtrooper detachment. Aeris is now in custody of the Inquisition, and he's about to encounter the real face of that organization, at least in the Japrael Sector. The rest of the team has to decide how best to attempt a rescue, and what risks they face.

Discussion away from the table is leading me to try to make the game more personal. So, I'm going to develop allies, places, relationships, rivalries, and try to keep things inside the home sector. There will be jaunts across the Galaxy from time to time - one player gave me some good hooks involving Hutt Space, another wants some exploration/discovery action - but most of the action will happen in and around the hundred or so systems of the sector.

I've got the Inquisition and an ISB team assigned to pursue the PCs and find their base of operations. I need to identify the Imperial, Rebel, and criminal and civilian people that the PCs will most likely come into contact with. Reduce the prominence of the cybernetics company that sent the PCs out in search of a Separatist treasure ship - if a player brings up the need or desire for that kind of session, then work it into the game. Otherwise - fight the Empire, protect the weak, and be heroes.

Bad art and Weird Ideas

Sep. 21st, 2017 06:49 pm
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A group, or an individual, or four bad dogs in a horse costume has started posting flyers at some of the TARC shelters around the UofL Belknap campus. Calls to "be a man among men" and stand up for "European people and culture" and become a "UofL Identitarian." This torture of the language aside, I'm both contemptuous of and concerned about this. UofL's loudly and proudly inclusive, one of the first universities to offer full benefits to same-sex couples among other good things. Of course, the population isn't monolithic, and in a community the size of UofL's, you're going to have some of these regressive shitweasels.

Back in '89, when I was at UofL for the first time around, there was an incident in one of the sorority spaces - a black student had been assigned a room in panhellenic housing, and some twit slid racist notes under her door. This rapidly
became A Thing, and rightfully so, with the woman quickly resettled and, IIRC, the offender being found out and tossed out of school. There were demands by a hastily-organized group that all RAs take cultural awareness training, that white students be required to take a three-credit-hour culture course (the Chinese-descended kid on my floor found his exclusion hilarious), some other stuff. In a few weeks, things settled out, and I'm sure that more came of it, but I was busy falling apart and failing at everything so I don't remember.

--

The Dodgers beat the Phillies today, so they aren't swept (again) by a statistically much worse team. One more win and they seal the NL West; they go up against the bottom-of-the-division Giants in LA tomorrow night. The D-backs play the Marlins, who aren't good at all.

--

I'm watching Ken Burns' new series on the Vietnam War. It's, unsurprisingly, very good, done with typical Burns style - interviews, a deep dive into numerous factors contributing to the subject, archival footage and photography wherever possible. And Peter Coyote handling the narration. Just amazing work all around, and it breaks down and examines the complexities without overwhelming with detail or oversimplifying things. Worth checking out.

--

After crowing about iOS11, I've found a problem, and a pretty serious one. GoodReader hasn't been updated to 64-bit compatibility, so won't work under the 11. This is seriously not good. I use GoodReader pretty heavily, including the Saturday night game, and the loss of function combines with ... just not being able to access the files. I've never had a problem with GoodReader, so this is something of a surprise.

Vision Thing

Sep. 20th, 2017 11:19 am
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Against my normal policy, I installed iOS11 on my iPhone yesterday. The process was smooth, taking about ten minutes, draining a little less than 20% of the charge. Signed into my Apple account, and all was well. New control center is pretty slick, both simpler and more comprehensive than the previous versions. I checked my most-used apps, no problems there. And then I tried out the new Files app.

The iCloud app was pretty good. I throw Apple a dollar a month for online storage, following the loss of a flash drive full of data, and have no complaints - it would be great if Word would play nice with iCloud, but what can you do. There are worse problems to have than having to open up the Dropbox app and working from there. Files removes even that small inconvenience. One app that accesses iCloud, Dropbox, and Google Drive. Smooth and simple.

So, I think, let's see how this looks on the iPad. Start the download and installation, no hitches on the first-gen Air. Control center's even better. The dock is more like the one on my iMac and Macbook. This is good. Lots more utility. And Files is fantastic. This is the first time I've ever really thought about the iPad as a legitimate replacement for my Macbook.

So, did I try this new-and-improved tool out? You bet I did. Insomnia paid a visit, again, so I opened up the iPad and got to writing. Switched over to the iPhone for some occasional small edits - everything worked, and flawlessly. After finally getting a few hours of sleep, I checked in with the Macbook this morning and all is as it should be. I am quite pleased.

--

There's a guy I met not long after I moved to Louisville, big in the local minis gaming community. Good guy. He's lately been discussing his health problems, and holy cow is it giving me some perspective. Diagnosed with diabetes when he was 22, and at 40, he's starting to see some systems threatening to fail. Keto is helping him lose weight in a hurry, which his doctors are all about, but that but that puts him at real risk of kidney failure. So, rock and a hard place. Lose the weight in a hurry or be at serious risk of heart failure or stroke in the next two years, but run equal risk of the kidneys crapping out. Heredity can be a damned horrible thing sometimes.

--

The Dodgers are sliding again, three-game losing streak, including two to the Phillies. They need to get two more games up on the Diamondbacks to win the the NL West pennant, and the D-backs are also on a losing streak to a team they should be handling with ease. I'm not proud. If the Padres can beat Arizona again, and LA gets it together tonight, then there's the division championship, and no worries about a stupid one-game wild card play-in.

(no subject)

Sep. 20th, 2017 09:52 am
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I've been falling behind a bit on my textual work - writing, reading and notating, and that kind of stuff - because I've been either engaged with having the occasional bout of a social life or doing the season's last of the yard work. I've said it before - my yard's unruly. It takes an incredible amount of my time to deal with. Since it's drifted into September, though, even while the weather is still often pretty warm, it's a lot easier. There was a whole month where the weather was 100+ and that shit was totally unbearable. When I got work done out there (else suffer dire consequences), it was whatever I could do before 7 or 8 and the temperature started pushing 90.

In the last month, I spoke with my old thesis committee and all three agreed not just to serve as a reference for future academic postings, but also to write letters of recommendation should those be needed. It was genuinely a relief to see in writing that all of them were willing to attach their name to mine, and additionally so to see their enthusiasm for it. I know it's possible to fake that, but they're all pretty genuine people who've had few (if any) hesitations in letting their opinions known about work I've done - even though they've always been polite, they've been straightforward, so I believe them when they say they're behind me.

Very lately, though, there's been an unexpected and positive turn of events, where a position is extremely likely to open up and the person in the position now was asked (more or less) to put forth a recommendation on who they'd like to see interviewed and take up the job. Although I only know them through a mutual acquaintance, I was volunteered and I'm a very strong candidate for the position. I'm not putting any weight on it, but without getting into specifics, it seems very likely I could end up with the job - especially if there aren't any stronger candidates. The current holder of the job doesn't have an advanced degree and I do, as well as pertinent practical experience. It's not academic at all, which feels more disappointing than I thought it would, but it pays 3-4 times what I'd make as an adjunct and more than twice as much as the most I've ever made at my most lucrative former positions.

Although it felt unbelievable to consider at first, I'm forced to remember that I'm in my early 30's now, and I'm fast approaching my mid-30s. (See you in November, mid-30s.) I have a Master's degree and years of relevant job experience in a few different fields. It's not actually unreasonable to believe that a job I would find at this point in time would pay a comparable wage or salary.

I have to admit feeling some actual guilt about the possibility of accepting a non-academic job, if only because I've been in communication with professors I've really respected, lately, and it seems a little like a bait and switch, where I said I'd be teaching and that I'd be on site, probably, and then I'd take the first private sector job I found - but the state of academic jobs in the region is precarious AT BEST, and they pay poorly. The jobs I was able to find posted pay per contact hour (of which there simply aren't many direct contact hours per class) as opposed to being a staff position - that is, guest lecturer or adjunct. And like, the adjunct life is not a particularly easy one.

The Troubles

Sep. 18th, 2017 10:22 am
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Continuing from yesterday's entry ...

Pathfinder. I have to give Paizo this - they're either giving their fans exactly what the fans want, or the fans want exactly what Paizo's producing. Either way, Paizo is making plenty of money and they're doing some creative things with their setting. Golarian is chock full of gods, with every intelligent species having a whole pantheon, and semi-regular appearances of these gods and their avatars - no sane thinking person can deny the existence of gods in this setting. Yet in Golarian, there are atheists - they don't disbelieve, they just have no use for gods in their lives. I get that. Before I admitted to myself that I just didn't really believe, I was very comfortable with Yahweh and me not interfering with each other.

Trail of Cthulhu characters can have their religion as a pillar of stability, something they can (almost) always fall back on when things have stopped making any kind of sense; the new edition of Call gives investigators a similar resource as a shield against unyielding horror. There's good role-playing and storytelling to be mined out of a character trying to reconcile their faith with exposure to the monsters and other entities of the Mythos, and it can be handled with respect.

This is Where you can Reach me Now

Sep. 17th, 2017 05:59 pm
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Since starting the rewatch of Battlestar Galactica (2004 edition) and catching a few episodes of the original on one of the local digital side-channels, I've been thinking about the role of religion and/or faith in my gaming and related writing.

I'm, for sake of labeling, a post-Christian atheist. I grew up in a pretty mainstream rural Methodist church, and was somewhat involved in youth groups and things like that, but never really wanted to be warming a pew on Sunday mornings (evenings, at Wednesday night prayer meetings, revivals, you see where I'm going). To be honest, I think I learned more about being good and doing right from episodes of Star Trek on WAVE-3 than I did from most of the preaching I was exposed to - I sure enjoyed them more and loved Sunday mornings when I didn't have to go to church.

I remember a Palladium Fantasy game in high school, where the PCs were crusader-missionaries, spreading their faith by example and at the point of the sword. There was a World of Darkness game in the mid-90s, with the PCs caught up, indirectly, in angelic and demonic machinations. My D&D 3 historian/lawman/wizard was devoted to his goddess, if occasionally angry with her, and cared little for the beliefs of others. Currently, my Pulp Cthulhu investigator was raised a Quaker, left that belief for something between non-specific Protestantism and agnosticism, saw some weird shit while part of the occupation of Haiti, and is now confronting Yig's cultists. My CP2020 solo was a lapsed Catholic, more so in stories I wrote about him than in play.
In my current Star Wars game, there's no real discussion of religion, outside of the Force.

Quirky

Sep. 16th, 2017 08:21 am
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Bad week. Not gonna talk about it here and now.

More important topic. Gnomes. What the fuck?

D&D gnomes, specifically. Why are they necessary? What role do they serve? What is supposed to be their unique schtick? 'cause as far as I can tell, they're basically comic relief for people who don't think halflings go far enough out on the "wacky jolly small people" axis.

Now, I have seen halflings played straight, and played downright unnerving (looking at you, Kulik). But that's rare in my experience. Gnomes... seem to have taken too many cues from their counterparts in World of Warcraft, what with the slapstick pranks and anime hair and woo-woo anachronistic tinkering. (Not being an old-school D&D player, I am uncertain if they were like that before WoW came on the scene.)

Sleep Like a Baby Tonight

Sep. 13th, 2017 04:10 pm
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Days go by.

My Dodgers broke their twelve-game losing streak last night, beating the Giants and securing a playoff slot. The NL West pennant is up in the air, though.

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