Monthly Archives: June 2013

Update #2

Well, I’m still waiting for CreateSpace to email me re: taxes, but I have another, more pressing issue.

My editor is under some stress due to personal issues, and I don’t feel comfortable burdening her with my manuscript, so, as it stands right now, my novel doesn’t have anyone to edit it, I have no money to pay a professional to do the job for me, and I’m not doing it myself, because that’s a recipe for disaster.

Long story short, the novel’s on hold until I can convince someone to check my spelling and grammar.

 

 

Game Review: King of Dragon Pass

This review is a bit premature, because as of this writing, I have not yet beaten it. However, I can’t resist the urge to write about it any longer, but please keep this in mind as you read this.

Every so often I decide to gamble and buy a game that I’ve never heard of before. Sometimes this pays off (Soul Reaver was worth every penny of the $15 I spent for it) other times, not so much (Mistmare, how were you ever approved for sale?) but sometimes, sometimes I gamble and I find something truly unique.

King of Dragon Pass falls into this latter category. There is literally nothing like it anywhere.

King of Dragon Pass is an eclectic mixture of simulation, visual novel, strategy games, and RPGs where you control a clan fighting for dominance of Dragon Pass. Assisted by your Clan Ring (your advisors, some with specialized roles) your job is to keep your clan happy while fostering good relationships with neighbouring clans so that you can eventually form a tribe, and eventually a kingdom (or a queendom).

You start KoDP with a simple questionnaire about the history of your clan: do you take thralls or adopt outsiders as family? Are you a warlike or peaceful clan? Who is your patron deity? When you first came to Dragon Pass, how much land did you clear for your stead? All of these things determine your initial setup. (Clearing lots of land at the start gives you lots of room to grow but makes you more vulnerable to raids, for instance.)

Time in KoDP is measured by the seasons, at the beginning of every year, you enter Sacred Time, which is the time that the clan uses to perform various rituals that strengthen certain areas (ie, crops, herds, or warfare) a good tip is to leave at least one point of clan magic in case of an emergency. It’s a good idea to pay attention to the seasons, as winter can make exploration difficult and your warriors may not fight during the harvest because all hands are needed on the farm.

The second most important element of gameplay is the Clan Ring. They are represented as portraits at the bottom of the screen. One of the most important roles is the Chief, who is always the portrait who is first in line going from left to right. You will have an easier time if your chief worships your clan’s patron deity. (You can reorganize your clan ring by clicking “Reorganize” on the “Clan” screen.) The manual will inform you that its important to have a “balanced” ring by making sure your members have different patron deities, and this also makes heroquesting much easier. (More on this in a second.) Your clan ring is basically your eyes, ears, and hands. You can send them on diplomatic missions, send them to explore the immediate area, or designate one as war leader in the event of a raid.

The ring’s other important function (arguably the most important) is to offer you advice. Let’s say you want to know more about your crops and farmers. You can click on the “Crops” icon (represented by a cow) which will give you an overview of how much livestock you have, the ratio of pasture to farmlands and wildlands, and how many farmers you currently have. Your clan ring will also give you farming related advice such as “We don’t have a whole lot of cattle.” or “Consider slaughtering animals to feed the clan.” Your clan members all have their own agendas, and some of them will specialize in certain areas. Your Warleader might not have a lot to say about crops, but they probably can advise you on matters involving your warriors.

Your clan ring can also advise you during the game’s random events (which number in the hundreds). During these events, a problem will be presented to you, and your clan ring will offer advice based on what they believe to be the best course of action (their choice will be highlighted in blue). Again, your clan ring will have their own agendas, and you usually can’t please everyone. Sometimes, particular members of your clan ring can offer unique solutions to problems. If you have a worshiper of Chalana Arroy, goddess of healing, you may have the option to heal your plague stricken clan members yourself instead of hiring shamans to do it, which can be costly.

You also need to manage your farmers and your weaponthanes (professional warriors). The game uses them to gauge your entire clans mood. You can keep them happy by giving them gifts, throwing feasts, not letting them starve, and giving them work to do. You also have crafters, who make goods (which you can sacrifice to the gods, trade, or give as gifts), and hunters, who hunt for food. You can check the overall mood of your farmers and weaponthanes on the “Clan” screen.

Let’s talk about cows, shall we?

Cows are very important.

Cows are not only your currency, they are a measure of wealth. If you think of the Orlanthi as Celto-Norse, this makes a whole lot of sense. You can get more cows by going on a cattle raid, trading for cattle with other clans, sacrificing to the goddess Auðumbla Uralda, or by doing Uralda’s heroquest, which can give you a herd of cows. The one thing you don’t want to do is sacrifice ALL THE CATTLE ALL THE TIME.

Speaking of sacrifice, you will spend a lot of time sacrificing to the various deities. You can sacrifice to learn Mysteries, which may be a portion of a myth or a blessing which can give you certain benefits for a season (ie. Uralda’s “Calf Blessing” increases the fertility of the clan’s cows). You can sacrifice cattle, goods, or thralls (if applicable), although some deities do not approve of human sacrifice, so be careful with thralls.

Besides sacrifice, you can also go on heroquests. Heroquests are special events where your quester (a member of your clan ring) enters the realm of the gods in order to reenact a myth. Successful reenactments will give your clan particular benefits, as well as increasing your renown among other clans. To even attempt a heroquest, though, you need to know parts of the myth you want to reenact, you can do this by sacrificing to learn Mysteries.

Yes, the game requires you to know its own lore to pull this off.

A bunch of conditions govern whether or not you can successfully complete a heroquest: having people who worship different deities in your clan ring, the presence of a Trickster, whether or not your quester worships the deity whose myth they are trying to reenact, whether or not you have other clans assisting you, and how many quests you’ve attempted recently. Even if you satisfy all of these conditions, however, you can still massively fail quests, and your questers can die from injuries they sustain during quests. (Your clan ring can also die from old age or during random events.)

Your end goal is to create a tribe by joining your clan and two rival clans together. As of this writing, I have not yet managed to do this (see below), but one path involves completing the heroquest “The Making of the Storm Tribe”. (I’m not sure if taking Orlanth as your patron deity will allow you to learn this myth right off the bat, but it will help) and being very kind and generous to your neighbours, who will then approach you with offers to form a tribe.

Since pretty much the entirety of the game is spent reading text and navigating menus, visuals are very important, and KoDP’s visuals are very nice, perhaps not as clear and crisp as they could be, but this game was made in the 90s, so yeah. Occasionally you will get a close up of a very unattractive face in a random event though, which is just bad design, if you ask me. The soundtrack is composed almost entirely of ear worms. At first, I found the music grating, and then I found myself humming the tracks after I put the game down.

Damn ear worms….

The Orlanthi like to draw runes on their faces for some reason.

Okay, so, I mentioned I haven’t completed the game yet, and that is because this game is deceptively difficult. You may think “LOL there’s no way this text-based game could be THAT difficult.”

If you underestimate this game, it will destroy you.

An example of the “Relations” screen.

Part of the reason for this difficulty is the random nature of the game (this is also one of it’s greatest flaws). Even if you’ve done everything to ensure success in a heroquest, you can STILL fail because there’s always the chance that the “right” answer (the one that matches the deity’s action in the myth) will fail. This randomness is one of the most bugfuck annoying aspects of the game.

The other most bugfuck annoying thing about this game is your clan’s Trickster.

Oh, Tricksters, I could go on all day about them.

Early on in the game, your clan will recommend that you add a Trickster to your clan ring. These individuals worship the god Loki Eurmal, who is the Trickster, the Fool, and the Scapegoat. Having a Trickster in your clan ring greatly increases your chances of success during a heroquest. Occasionally, you will also have the option to have your Trickster use their special brand of magic to steal shiny objects or curse rival clans.

Eurmal, god of assholes.

However, the thing you need to understand about Tricksters is that they are divinely ordained to be as bugfuck annoying as possible.

When offering advice, your Trickster will occasionally offer random “advice” that has absolutely NOTHING to do with your situation. Tricksters also have special random events which may include the following:

Giving a rival clan 30 cows because they “looked funny”.

Fashioning a crude effigy made of mud and sticks and leaving it in the earth goddess’ shrine (pissing her off)

Insulting the chief of a rival clan (leaving you susceptible to a raid)

and possibly other things.

Oh sure, the cows may eventually turn out to be cursed and trying to move the effigy will royally piss off Eurmal (who will curse your clan) but the fact remains that despite their amazing benefits, Tricksters will occasionally be the source of much annoyance (if not outright rage) on your part. (Note: You can outlaw your Trickster, it won’t stick, but it might make you feel better.)

One of the many, many random events you could get.

One thing I will say is that, in spite of the difficulty and in spite of the fact that I keep failing miserably, I am enjoying the heck out of this game. True, the game does throw a lot of information at you, so reading the manual (or at least the section for people who don’t read manuals) is essential, and it seems like I’ve covered a lot here, the game really isn’t that hard to play. It pretty much boils down to “you make choices”, sometimes those choices are good, other times they can have unintended consequences, and sometimes an option that works in one playthrough won’t work in another.

Overall, King of Dragon Pass is something different. There’s really nothing like it out there, and it’s deceptively deep and difficult.

It’s also $2.99 on GOG.com right now. Here’s the link to its store page.

Update

Went to the doctor yesterday, apparently I have this thing called punctate keratitis, which basically means that my cornea is inflamed. The doctor thinks it probably happened when I caught that virus I had in November. It was supposed to have healed by now, but for some reason it hasn’t.

So it’s off to a cornea specialist, who might prescribe steroid drops. For now, I need to lubricate with eye drops and ointment. Joy, eye drops, EYE DROPS EVERY DAY!

My eyesight does seem to improve a little bit when my eyes are wet, but I just wish this thing would go away.

On the upside, when I CAN make out letters, it seems my vision has improved by a whole line! Now if only the fucking blur would go away!

Anyways, this means I’m not really up to long writing sessions. I want to post a review today, but other writing will be slow.

Game Review: Alan Wake’s American Nightmare

This review is going to be short and sweet, just like the game.

Alan Wake’s American Nightmare is a follow up to Alan Wake in which you play as luckless author Alan Wake as he battles his evil doppelganger, Mr. Scratch. The game is framed as an episode of “Night Springs”, the fictional TV show from its parent game.

The first thing I noticed about this game is that Remedy seems to have realized that they can do more than just spooky forests, because they’ve replaced the spooky forest with spooky Arizona desert instead.

The second thing I noticed is that American Nightmare is much more action-oriented than its predecessor. In fact, in some ways, it definitely seems like the game is permanently stuck on Easy mode. Now, instead of hunting around for manuscript pages, they’re all marked on your map by question marks, and there are numerous stations that will instantly refill your ammo and batteries. Perhaps its simply streamlining a system that was already there in Alan Wake (Safe Havens often had places where you could refill ammo and batteries), but fights kind of lost their tension when I knew I could just instantly refill everything at the touch of a button.

In keeping with the focus on the action, there are also a wider variety of weapons to choose from, including sub-machine guns, hunting rifles, and the always awesome insta-killing flare gun. Flares and flashbangs make a repeat appearance, and are always good for getting out of scrapes. The game retains the Fight With Light system, of course, only this time you have pesky enemies that multiply when you boost your flashlight.

And spiders, can’t forget spiders. The ever annoying birds aren’t as annoying this time around, surprisingly enough. They just spawn creepy naked bat creatures that you shoot until the birds go away. It’s like they’re not really a threat now.

I can say that if this were a full retail game, it would probably lose several billion points in reviews for making the player repeat certain sections over again. Fortunately, you do less and less of that as you play, but it’s still annoying.

As far as characters go, you have Alan himself, who seems much calmer than he was previously, and then you have the women he interacts with: Emma, a car mechanic who is into New Age stuff, Rachel Meadows, a scientist who works at the observatory, and Serena Valdivia, a film-maker, but we don’t really get to spend a lot of time with any of them. As I said, the game is short (I clocked in at about four hours and didn’t bother collecting all the manuscript pages).

And then there’s Mr. Scratch.

Mr. Scratch is a hedonist, a sadist, and a psychopath who is absolutely full of himself. There are some antagonists that you can find a shred of sympathy for, but my guess is Mr. Scratch isn’t one of them.

The soundtrack is once again mostly made up of licensed music, and there are simply no words to describe how badass it feels to take down chainsaw-wielding Taken with a hunting rifle while “The Happy Song” by Poets of the Fall is playing.

One final warning for those who may be triggered by such things, but Serena is basically coerced into doing some pretty kinky things with Mr. Scratch (via being touched by the Dark Presence, which does freaky things to you). The one redeeming aspect of all the grossness is that Alan doesn’t take advantage of her in that state, but this and Mr. Scratch’s penchant for cold-blooded torture might be too much for some people.

Overall, Alan Wake’s American Nightmare is a good way to kill time for a few hours, although it has bucked the “horror” elements in favour of something a little more action-oriented.

Finally!

So I said to the IRS: “I can haz ITIN?”
And today the IRS was like “You can haz.”

😀 😀 😀

I have to send in another form to CreateSpace now, but the ITIN was the hard part, and then I get the manuscript and CS approves it and then we’re good to go AFAIK. I’ll worry about filing taxes later.

Oh, and there’s marketing. Yeah, marketing can wait.

My point is YAY I GET THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT OF ROYALTIES i CAN GET!

CAKE FOR EVERYONE:

Wow, that cake looks good….

I’m Sorry I Didn’t Put Up Any Writing Today….

[Warning: The following discusses poop, and animals.]

Today I went to my brother’s house. My brother has a new pet, a ball python named Fluffy. I love snakes, but my mom won’t let me have one as a pet because she is terrified of them.

So when my brother is like “Do you want to hold Fluffy?” I’m all like “Yus….”

So here I am holding Fluffy, talking to him and such–when suddenly I feel something wet on the front of my dress.

At first I thought it was rain–and then I looked down.

Snake shit, snake shit everywhere!

>_<

Needless to say, my dress went in the laundry when I got home and I scrubbed my thighs like mad. Yeah, i know, my thighs, not sexual at all, right?

And that is the story of how a snake crapped on me.

If you read this and laugh, I hate you so much right now.

Let’s Play the Urban Fantasy Drinking Game

Fangs for the Fantasy has posted a wonderful generic Urban Fantasy Drinking Game, and I thought it would be fun (as well as a good “check” for cliches) to see how my plans for The Splicer.

Note: These are just things I plan on putting into the story, and so are subject to change. In the event that giving a specific reason might spoil the plot, I’ll just give you how many drinks will be in the section.

The Protagonist – magic and work!: +1 drink if:


  • She has super-duper woo-woo powers that are super special
    • +1 drink for every element of them that is superduper rare
    • +1 drink if she’s super-duper strong
    • Empty the damn glass if she’s the only one with this power, ever
    • Empty the damn bottleif there’s no explanation why she has this power

You will need to take two drinks in this section. Splicers like Scott are rare, but he is definitely NOT the only one with the ability. In this world, all powers are determined by genetics. He’s also an average male. strong, but not super strong.

  • She has magical powers she DOESN’T USE
    • +1 drink if she’s afraid of them (+1 extra drink if it’s never explained why she should be)
    • +1 drink if she thinks they’re evil (+1 extra drink it;s never explained why she does)
    • +1 drink if she can’t control them
    • Empty the damn glass if she just doesn’t use them for no apparent reason.

I’m going to say to take one drink in this section. Scott has a very good reason for not using his power.  It can permanently switch off a target’s powers…or it can kill them.

  • She grows more powerful as the series progresses
    • +1 drink she has leaps in power with no apparent reason or cause
    • Empty the damn glass if the reason is “tried really hard in emotional stress”
    • Empty the damn glass if she gains entirely new powers
    • Refill the glass and empty again if these powers aren’t even closely related to her current powers
    • Empty the damn bottle if she gains power so often it feels like levelling up in a computer game
    • Raid the brewery and drink all the booze if it’s Anita Blake.


We’ll see.

  • She has a dark secret/hidden identity/curse (+1 drink per)


He has one dark secret that isn’t really a secret.

  • She is a police detective or private investigator
    • +1 drink if she has zero detective skills or experience
    • +1 drink if she never does any actual investigation
    • +1 drink if she hasn’t the slightest idea how the law works
    • Empty the damn glass if the author has watched waaay too much CSI
    • Empty the bottle if the “mystery” is solved by the bad guy attacking the protagonist

Scott is a writer. His husband is the cop, sometimes he discusses cases with him, but nothing really comes of it.

  • Despite NOT being a police detective or private investigator, she still ends up investigating a crime
    • Apply all the drinks above
    • +1 drink if she hardly ever attends her real job
    • Empty the damn glass if you forget she has a real job

The closest Scott will come to solving a crime is asking Dace about his work and possibly witnessing a murder or something. Hold off on that, though.

Skip the next section because it’s about TV shows.

BONUS DRINKS FOR TV SERIES:+1 drink for:

 

        • Successfully “enhancing” CCTV images to see the impossible – like someone’s face reflected in a car mirror across a parking lot
        • DNA results returned within the hour
        • Hacking. Just hacking, because there’s no way in hell the depiction won’t be laughable.
        • Warrants? Who needs warrants?!
        • Or warrants – let’s go ask the judge, he hands them out like sweet sweet candy
        • Aggressive interview with a lawyer present who sits there silently. Could save money and just have a cardboard cutout


Family and Friends! +1 drink if


  • Protagonist has a tragic back story
    • +1 drink for dead father
    • +2 drinks for dead mother (it’s always the mother)
    • +1 drink per murdered family member
    • +1 drink for each evil parent

Scott has two living parents, most definitely not evil.

  • Protagonist has no family.


  • Protagonist has no good past relationships
    • +1 drink if past failed relationship is mentioned repeatedly
    • Empty the damn bottle if a past boyfriend dumped her in college and she’s now 30 and still not the hell over it already.

Take two drinks here.

  • Protagonist has no hobbies (+1 drink) and/or no social life (+1 drink)

Scott has a very active social life, but he hasn’t told me about any hobbies.

  • Protagonist has no female friends
    • Still count if she has ONE female friend she assures us is her best friend but she spends absolutely no time with.
    • +1 drink for every woman she meets who hates her
    • +1 drink if they hate her because they’re jealous of her
    • +1 drink for every time she expresses contempt or derision towards another woman

Scott has plenty of male friends, and while he may come across men that he doesn’t like, jealousy is not a factor there. He generally doesn’t like people who try to kill him.

  • Protagonist has no friends at all, only work colleagues (double with no female friends)

 

    • Empty the damn glass if all of these are male
    • +1 drink if she has a pet. +1 drink if said pet is low maintenance


  • Empty damn bottle if more than 80% of everyone around her is a man.


As it stands, Scott’s apartment complex has five men to four women and two girls, and that’s just the characters living in his apartment.

  • Protagonist considers herself to be “one of the guys”
    • +1 drink every time she actually says that, talks about speaking “man code” or “guy code” etc
    • +1 drink if she makes a point of minimal her beauty/hygiene routine is (every time she does)
    • +1 drink if she still has amazing skin/hair/make up
    • +1 drink per scene where a man has to show her how to dress fancy


This section is pretty much not applicable.

  • In the event of a male Protagonist +1 drink per time the attractiveness of a woman is described
    • +1 drink per paragraph spent describing said attractiveness (for the whole book)
    • +1 drink per repetition of sexy description
    • +1 drink per time the protagonist is distracted by a woman’s sexiness
    • +1 drink if most of the women in the book get their sexiness describes
    • Empty the damn glass if ALL of them do
    • Empty the damn glass if “chivalry” is used as an excuse to treat women like fragile ornaments
    • +1 drink per woman rescued/protected/saved
    • +1 drink per woman kidnapped
    • Empty the damn bottle if a woman dies tragically to cause him ManPain and motivate him to avenge her

Scott is gay. If he does comment on a woman’s appearance, it will be because he is paying them a genuine compliment. As far as commenting on attractive men, you might need to drink a few times.

The Love Interest: Take a drink if:


  • Love Interest is a supernatural creature
    • +1 drink if he’s the leader of the local supernatural creatures
    • +1 drink if they hate/fear each other on first sight
    • Empty the damn glass if they actively try to kill each other
    • Empty the damn bottle if they describe how horny they make each other WHILE they are trying to kill each other
    • Empty ANOTHER bottle, if he later describes how he knew they’d always be together – despite them trying to kill each other.
    • +1 drink if he hates what he is

Scott is married. Dave is 100% human (although he, like Scott, has his own special ability). They love each other.

  • Love Interest is an alpha manly man who wants to protect and shelter the protagonist
    • +1 drink per secret kept from her “for her own good”
    • +1 drink per time he tries to lock her away “for her own good”
    • Empty the damn glass if she finds this romantic even while finding it annoying

I wouldn’t really call Dave an alpha, he’s just….a guy. 

World Building+1 drink if:


  • The author has included at least 4 different mythological creatures
    • +1 drink if the author has included EVERYTHING EVER
    • Empty the damn glass if the author decides to tell us about them. All of them. In the first book. At length
    • +1 drink if each book covers a new monster
    • +1 drink if the author’s research into these myths seems to be limited to reading OTHER Urban Fantasy
    • Empty the damn glass if the author has taken monsters from foreign cultures but not bothered to include any of the actual people from those cultures
    • Empty the damn bottle if there’s a bloody WENDIGO. Because there’s ALWAYS a Wendigo. I swear, about 10 years ago someone decided werewolves were passé and that was it, WENDIGOS EVERYWHERE!

I count at least three drinks in this section. There are a variety of different non-human species running around, and the world of the Splicer has a system to classify them all.  There will be no Wendigos. Besides the interwebs, I am drawing on sources like Nancy Arrowsmith’s Field Guide to the Little People, the Eddas, and other sources as needed.

  • The author has extremely long and detailed magic/political/world systems (+1 drink each)
    • +1 drink if they are explained in massive info dumps
    • +1 drink if the info dumps are completely unbelievable
    • Empty the damn glass if you read 3 solid pages of world building that never becomes relevant in the book
    • Empty the damn glass if the author repeats the same world building every single book
    • Empty the damn bottle if they’re still going this after the 6th book in a series

I don’t know if I’d call it massively detailed, but take two drinks anyways.

  • The world building is prone to change
    • +1 drink every time a character seems to forget about a power they can use
    • +1 drink every time a power suddenly stops working without explanation
    • +1 drink every time the protagonist suddenly spawns a new power that is narratively convenient
    • +1 drink every time something appears that is considered extremely rare
    • +1 drink every time something appears that is considered “impossible”, “non-existent” or “extinct”
    • Empty the damn glass if there are 2 or more of them.

I see at least two drinks here.

My grand total (so far) is approximately fourteen drinks. I can see some areas where I could definitely be less cliched.

On Magic

If you have been reading my earlier posts, you will undoubtedly have noticed that I don’t talk about magic much on this blog, if at all. I thought I would devote a post to the topic.

In brief, I have not personally experienced anything that would suggest to me that magic exists, and I think that the human mind has a tendency to see connections and patterns where there are none. This goes back to a past post I did on the idea of “signs” and how some jump to conclusions without looking for mundane explanations first.

However, if others do magic, and it works for them, then it works. To use an example I’m more familiar with, tarot “works” for me, it doesn’t work all the time, but it definitely works.

And I suppose I could come up with some half-assed explanation for why it works. Skeptics will say that it all comes down to cold reading, educated guesswork, New Agey types go on about “the energies of the Universe”, others will say that deities, spirits, ancestors and the like are the ones guiding me to pick the correct cards. Maybe I just have amazing intuition. I should note here that I don’t do any special rituals with my cards. They usually stay in their boxes, but some of the boxes are poor quality, so those decks are in bags. I usually shuffle, cut, and scatter the cards, but that has more to do with the fact that I have small hands and have trouble really mixing the cards up than ritual.

Whatever the reason, tarot works for me….sometimes….

I would imagine it’s the same way with magic. Some kinds work for some people, others, not so much.

The other issue I have with magic is that it kind of lost its allure once I grew out of my “magpie phase” (in which I needed to collect ALL THE SPELLS) and I my focus shifted to being less about magic-with-religion and more about religion-with-magic, because, as I said, the magic part really wasn’t working.

The one thing I don’t agree with, though, is bashing practitioners of magic. I have seen Heathens refer to magic as “gravy” on the mashed potatoes and steak that is doing blots and sumbel and shouting HAAAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIILLLLLLLL! a lot. I suspect this has as much to do with not wanting to look like st00pid Wiccans as Iron Age attitudes towards magic and magical practitioners.

And look, I know no one wants to look like st00[id Wiccans, but there were, are, and continue to be people who make magic a priority in their practice.

Deal. With. It.

As an aside, I swore if one more Nord in Skyrim made fun of me for being a mage, I would set them on fire.

And I did.

It was awesome.

You would think video game people would learn that you don’t make fun of the girl who can melt your face off without touching you.

They never learn.

Online Communities and the Broom Closet

[Trigger warning: homophobia, anti-Pagan bigotry, ranting]

In the wake of the recent drama around the Pagan/polytheist/whatever the fuck we’re calling ourselves this week blogosphere, there’s been a bit of discussion about community. whether there is or is not a “Pagan community” or whether or not online spaces “count” as a community, and such.

I just want to chime in and say that if it wasn’t for the online communities I’ve joined, whether groups on Facebook or fora like The Cauldron, I would find it very difficult to do religion. It’s kind of sad that I have to say this, but I would.

I live in two closets. I have told my mother that I am not interested in men sexually. She believes that I’ll turn around once I “try boys”. I haven’t said anything to my biological mother and stepdad because they make homophobic comments all the time and talk about wanting to slap gay men for DARING to kiss on a crowded beach. In short, I am concerned that if/when I do come out, I could be shunned or assaulted by my own blood because I’m queer, and that’s a scary thing.

I am also in the broom closet. In a nutshell, my a-mom thinks I’m an atheist, she calls my Pagan-y books “crap” and really doesn’t take any non-Catholic religion seriously. In fact, if I show the slightest interest in doing anything even remotely Pagan-y, she assumes I’ve gone and joined a cult. I am, after all, her sweet, innocent, naive daughter who couldn’t possibly make up her own mind about religion despite spending FOUR YEARS studying religion on a full time basis at university.

“How did you manage to collect so many tarot decks?” You ask.

To be honest, I have no idea, I think, somewhere inside my mom there is a very new agey part of her that believes in things like divination and TV psychics and stuff.

But then she turns around and gets mad at me for bringing home fiction about witches.

All I’m going to say is that there are certain things I’m writing that she’s never going to see, like Chapter 2 of The Tithe-Boy.

Some of us are not free to set up altars or shrines. Some of us are not free to make regular offerings, attend group meetings, conventions, or the like. Some of us are not free to do simple things that most Pagans don’t think twice about, and there are those who are not as lucky as I am, and who can’t have their tarot decks or books because their parents are super religious.

This is why online spaces are so important.

I have the advantage over my parents in that I am net savvy. The Internet is the one place where I can express myself as a Pagan, as a queer Pagan women, in places where there are other people like me. I have a very good reason why I don’t friend people I know in real life on Facebook, because sometimes (gods forbid) I don’t want to watch what I say, and I want to talk about things with others that people I know in real life just wouldn’t get. Sometimes I need a break from all the “compulsory monotheism” in my life, and I would rather have all the Internet Pagan Drama in the world than have to listen to my mom going on about how I’ve joined a cult and am only interested in “crap”.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my mother, but sometimes….sometimes….sometimes she just makes me sad. Very sad. Biomom is the same way.

My point is, online spaces are very important. For some of us, they’re all we have at some point in our lives, and I think some, having broken out of their closets (or having had the good fortune to grow up with open-minded folks) forget that.

Don’t forget.

PSA

[The following PSA is discusses topics that are NSFW.]

Apparently there’s another Ishtar = Easter type graphic going around, and I just want to rip it apart before it spreads.

Here is the graphic:

I just….no, just no.

The text is from Barbara G. Walker’s “The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets” (I do not have the book in front of me, but i read that book from cover to cover.) Walker’s work is INFAMOUS for being grossly inaccurate about everything from etymology to history of religion to, well, everything.

I will break it down for you:

“Oriental Great Goddess” – “Oriental” is an archaic, racist term used to describe a wide variety of people (from Saudi Arabia to China to everywhere in between).  Even if we accept that there was such a concept as a “Great Goddess” way back when (there wasn’t) the term “Oriental Great Goddess” doesn’t make any sense. Do you know how many nations collectively make up this idea of “the Orient”? A lot. Also, I never hear anyone saying “Occidental Great Goddess” because that obviously would be silly.

Furthermore, here is part of the entry from the Online Etymology Dictionary:

cunt (n.)

“female intercrural foramen,” or, as some 18c. writers refer to it, “the monosyllable,” Middle English cunte “female genitalia,” by early 14c. (in Hendyng’s “Proverbs” — ʒeve þi cunte to cunni[n]g, And crave affetir wedding), akin to Old Norse kunta, Old Frisian, Middle Dutch, and Middle Low German kunte, from Proto-Germanic *kunton, of uncertain origin. Some suggest a link with Latin cuneus “wedge,” others to PIE root *geu- “hollow place,” still others to PIE *gwen-, root of queen and Greek gyne “woman.”

The form is similar to Latin cunnus “female pudenda” (also, vulgarly, “a woman”), which is likewise of disputed origin, perhaps literally “gash, slit,” from PIE *sker- “to cut,” or literally “sheath,” from PIE *kut-no-, from root *(s)keu-“to conceal, hide.”

Hec vulva: a cunt. Hic cunnus: idem est. [from Londesborough Illustrated Nominale, c.1500, in “Anglo-Saxon and Old English Vocabularies,” eds. Wright and Wülcker, vol. 1, 1884]

As you can see, the word has absolutely nothing to do with Sanskrit apart the fact that it has Indo-European roots.

BTW, “country” comes from the Vulgar Latin “lying opposite”, “kin” from Old English cynn “family; race; kind, sort, rank; nature; gender, sex,”, and “kind” from from Old English gecynd “kind, nature, race,” related to cynn “family”, none of which have anything to do with the word “cunt”. The fact that some words have similar sounds to each other does NOT mean that they are related, and this is a mistake Ms. Walker makes OVER AND OVER AGAIN!

In short, this is horrible and terrible and needs to go away. Right now.

Seriously, the Online Etymology Dictionary probably isn’t the most reliable source out there, but I GUARANTEE YOU that it’s far superior to anything Walker wrote in her encyclopedias.

P.S. I thought you might like to know that, if her writings are any indication, Walker is an atheist who speaks disdainfully of witchcraft, invoking spirits, and other such practices, which I’ve always found amusing, given the sort of people who take her words as Truth.

I don’t expect that any of you need this PSA though, because surely all of you know that Walker’s books are, well, seriously outdated is being charitable. The whole book is just as bad as this one little entry.