Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Monday, September 22, 2003

Today has been:

lunarly, waning to just a sliver
hemispherically, the last day of summer
regionally, raining
personally, menstrual

It's like everything around me is exhaling down to the last and preparing to renew. I'd say it's almost like entropy, except all of those are cyclical, so it's never really destroyed, just waxes and wanes. It's like that point where your heart stops beating so it can begin again. That's a little vulnerable, a little scary. If you get hit in the chest at just that point in your beat, everything stops and you can die. I guess I'm waiting for the next beat. Yeah. I'm in one of those odd moods, can you tell?

watching: 'MTV2 presents Dave Matthews Live' performing material from his new solo album, Some Devil
feeling: Bleh


what decade does your personality live in?

quiz brought to you by lady interference, ltd

I was sure I'd be from the eighties. Although believe it or not, I never saw The Breakfast Club, even though I was eighteen at the time it came out.

Great quote from Dave Matthews in the aforementioned programme: When asked about how his opinions on allowing fans to record and share music from live performances differ from some in the music industry, he said (paraphrase here) that his opinion covered a fairly large range on the topic and he could certainly see if someone is creating something, and that's their livelihood, they should be compensated, but in terms of live performances he said: 'but live, unless you really suck live, I don't see why you shouldn't' allow people to record performances. Later he was talking about a song, 'Save Me', where it was sort of inspired by the temptation of Christ in the desert, and described the devil as showing up and say, 'hey, how about a cheeseburger, here's a Pepsi'. Great modern visual there, although some might not agree on that sort of update.

They just showed the video to 'Gravedigger', which is an excellent song, a very intense video (directed by the guy who directed Mothman Prophecies); I really love that song. If you haven't seen or heard it yet, definitely check it out. It's got great imagery in the lyrics, a brooding musical quality that really matches the mood of the lyrics. Not to mention, that even though Dave Matthews has a fairly low voice, this high soprano can still sing along to the song....except today.

I just woke up about a half an hour ago. I felt awful this morning, managed to get a lot done at work, even set up a meeting for Wednesday with a woman who works at KET about doing some research and web work for her, but felt bad enough that I had the employee nurse take my blood pressure, because I felt light-headed, my chest was tight, I was really tired for no really good reason, and like my heart was racing. Everything was normal, but we both decided I was probably having one of those sneaky asthma attacks where you're not really coughing or having a full-blown problem breathing out, but you feel like your chest is tight and and you're feeling a little panicy. So, I inhaled my medicine, went home, put the CPAP machine on (I don't know why, but it seems to help) and just utterly crashed for four hours.

I'm starting to feel human again. I ate. I growled at kids selling papers. Well, I growled fairly politely...two separate kids came by who were trying to sell newspaper subscriptions. I get the paper at work. I get my news online. I recognise that the school or club or whatever is trying to make little entrepreneurs out of them and get funding for some project. But I don't have the money, so I just said, 'I'm sorry, thank you' rather then let them go through the whole spiel. Okay, the second one got a...'dude, you're the second one in five minutes, this has got to stop'. It's like they let them loose with a gate. I was a little testy, especially since...and anyone out there who ever has to do this stuff for school clubs take note: why do they always send the kids out to do this right after dark? Women who live alone are not appreciative of this. Besides, I don't want people knocking on my door every five minutes that late, and I was eating. My apartment is small enough where I can't just ignore a knock easily, either. But, I wouldn't want my kids knocking on doors alone through large apartment complexes and how many weirdos there might be after dark, either. These kids were maybe 12. And if some nice person does order, make sure they get their paper...Dwana hasn't seen hers yet, after two months.

Speaking of Dwana, today is her wedding anniversary. Two years! Hope she and Eric had a ball. We missed her at work.

What else has been going on? Let's see...yesterday on the way to the game I went down Lyndhurst, the street where the rape I mentioned the other day took place. I've had three friends live on that street over the years. I glad nothing like that happened during the time they were there. Well, okay there was the police streaming through the neighbourhood after a guy shot at police over by the YMCA and then was spotted there before going over towards Transy and shooting a cop there, but that was years ago. I discovered then, though, that shooting at cops means virtually every peace officer in town swarms into action looking for you. Don't know why people could be that stupid. And with downtown, we actually have the Lexington police, UK police, and Transy police all within a small area, on foot, in cars, on bicycles, on motorcycles, and on horses. They will get you. Trust me.

The game went rather well. We're still in process of hunting down a cultist who is trying to gain eternal life by possessing people who received his donated organs. We managed to avoid a very clever trap due to some great rolls by Brenda in terms of driving and a great call on both parts to get our innocent home where we could protect him rather than chasing those trying to entrap us through the woods. Oh, and Brenda also managed to take out a Hunting Horror with one sword stroke. Nasty creatures that tend to be great diversions because they try to come chomp off your head. The one-winged ones always cause my characters to lose sanity. I haven't made a roll yet on those. I think it's because one-winged flying things cause me sanity problems myself.

You've got to love Cthulhu. What other game would you have this sort of exchange:

Gamemaster: You hear two thumps on the top of your car roof and a high chittering noise.
Brenda: Nightgaunts or Biyalki? Do Nightgaunts make sounds? Or do they just tickle?
Lisa: And take you away never to be seen again. Do we happen to have a sunroof in the car?
GM: No.
Brenda: I'm going to flare the Elder Sign through my sword and punch it through the ceiling?
GM: *eyebrow raises*
Brenda: Well, it's not like they're made of steel anymore. And you'll probably just wreck this car too, so we might as well beat you to it.
GM: You'd have a very small chance to hit.
Brenda: Then I'm going to have to get out with my sword.
Lisa: No. You need to drive on to protect the innocent if needed. I'll do it. But first, can I tilt the mirrors to get a look?
At this point the idea...I'm not sure who had it...comes up to flare the Elder Sign through our palms and up to the roof of the car. We both do so. The Biyalki (who do chitter) dissipate. We drive on.
GM: Drat.

Also, here's another little brain-hurting thing from the game that seems to come up only with science fiction.

Five characters go back in time, using a spell that sends them mentally into the bodies of contemporaries, to right before the Salem Witch Trials to try to save someone who has been thrown back in time physically. They do not immediately realise who they are. They are inhabiting four young girls and a woman named Tituba. Any of you familiar with history will realise these are the girls who touched off the Salem Witch Trials. Because it takes awhile to come to ourselves and unite to save the woman, there is a moment of panic where we very actively band together with this brilliant white light coming from us and we save the woman, bring the true bad guy to justice, and then return to the future, only to find out much later that in doing it so openly we gave the girls the reputation of having been touched by God and so instead of running to the historical conclusion, Witch Finding is still happening today in the re-written timeline, and we are the only ones who remember it otherwise. Now we're trying to put things to right so thousands don't die and history 'goes back'.

I've mentioned that one before. But the sheer consequences of what we did are just now sinking in. For instance:

1) Britain in this timeframe is ruled by Parliament--the Roundheads won.
2) World War II was shortened considerably because the US came in quicker because of Hitler's occult leanings. Which also means that the concentration camps were liberated much sooner, and millions of people who originally died, did not.
3) JK Rowling never wrote the Harry Potter books, because they would be considered too subversive by ignorant people who want to say anything to do with magic is the Devil's work, and the powers that be would have put her to the stake or gibbet. Actually most fantasy work would be in the same boat. Tolkien probably never published either, nevermind that the the battle of good vs. evil in fantasy books is often a metaphor for the same theme in Christianity. In other words, the four remaining characters (one died later) are the only ones who ever read Harry Potter. Or Tolkien.

Now, as my mind was being boggled by that revelation, which came in an after-game chat on instant-messaging, the sheer weight of ethics also hit me, even though they're totally hypothetical.

What would you do if you realised that in changing history, you had caused the deaths of thousands, but prevented the deaths of millions? If you had the opportunity to 'put things back', would you? If you are dedicated to the protection of humanity, which is the greater need?

There was an interesting quote that came out in that discussion:

'The force of history demands a certain number of deaths. The details of how they happen do not matter.'

I would argue (and did) that history itself is very much depends on the details...how the past unfolds makes for a different tapestry woven, a different history written. But the point of the quote was that a certain balance remains. The consequence of life is death. Those thousands that died on the gibbet or the stake would have died in other ways. Those who died in the Holocaust or in the war would have as well. But the when and how a person lives and dies, whether they reproduce, how their lives affects their descendents, make for a different world.

Of course, in the game what will probably happen is that two alternative timelines will be spawned, and it's more of a matter of which one do we choose to live in? 'Fixing' it from our point of view will make our jobs much easier, and in another timeline, other lives will go on. So it's not just down to selfishness vs. greater good. And in the game, the person trying to fix things hasn't thought of these ramifications, and so it won't come down to a choice when the time comes to fix it.

Instead, it's in my hands whether to bring it up to her or not. My character is the one who figured it out. And as a witch from a tradition that's been decimated due to being easily sensed by Witchfinders, that just makes it harder. In the end, I think she's going to go for the 'let's right the first wrong' and put things to how they were before we meddled. But I think we're definitely going to resist mucking with time much in the future. And she's going to keep a record so that, hopefully, if the timeline changes back, we'll still know what happened.

See, science fiction is good for brain stimulation. But it can hurt the brain worse than horror.

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