How D&D Made Me a Better Person

I grew up as a very socially awkward boy in a conservative religious family and a game of Dungeons & Dragons when I was 11 years old changed my life forever. That game at a friend’s house one day after school set in motion new ways of seeing and interacting with the world that changed my life and made me a much better person than I would have ever been without it. Continue reading

Tabletop roleplaying games that aren’t by white dudes.

As I said before, I’m not going to be reading any white dudes in the next year. I’m a tabletop roleplayer, though, which means I need to look for diversity in that as well as regular books. I asked on Twitter and Facebook for people to give me their favorite tabletop roleplaying games that are created by people who aren’t white dudes. Here’s what I got back, with authors’ names and handy links to the games. (Note that titles starting with a * were recommended at least twice.)

1001 Nights by Meguey Baker
Blowback by Elizabeth Sampat
Castle Falkenstein by Mike Pondsmith
Cogs, Cakes & Swordsticks by Lynne Hardy
Community Radio by Quinn Murphy
*Dead Scare by Elsa S. Henry
Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple by Daniel Solis
Ehdrigohr by Allen Turner
*Five Fires by Quinn Murphy
Mindjammer by Sarah Newton
*Monsterhearts by Avery Alder Mcdaldno
Nobilis by R. Sean Borgstrom
Project Ninja Panda Taco by Jennisodes
Psi*Run by Meguey Baker
Steal Away Jordan by Julia Bond Ellingboe
Witch by Elizabeth Chaipraditkul (Kickstarter open until 03/31/2015)
World Tree by Bard Bloom & Victoria Borah Bloom

I’m not going to be reading any white dudes for the next year. At least.

A saltine cracker with a frowning face and a single tear.For a couple of years now I’ve been working to diversify my reading so as to correct how male and white it has been, pretty much ever since I started reading. My friend Heina, who is full of good ideas, recently wrote about how they have been making similar compensations in their reading habits. They also provided an awesome list of recommendations for people interested in doing the same sort of thing. Continue reading

FOGcon 5 is coming and here is my panel schedule.

[EDIT 02-27-2015: There’s been a change, I am no longer on the “When your traveler is my colonizer” panel on Friday. I suggested the panel waaaaay back in 2014 and offered to be a panelist on the condition that I not be included at the expense of people who aren’t 100% descended from colonizers. After the initial schedule came out someone else (who is one of my favorite panelists and literary critics) who isn’t as lily-white as I am became available and I have been enthusiastically dropped from the line-up. That said, even though I won’t be on the panel, I plan to be in the audience and You should be too.]

Logo for FOGcon, a genre fiction convention in the San Francisco Bay Area.FOGcon 5 is March 6-8, 2015, which means it’s just about a month from now. It’s hands-down my favorite con. Why? Because it’s full of thoughtful, progressive people who like discussing stories about dragons and lasers through a feminist, intersectional lens. It’s just wonderful and I feel so lucky that it happens every year right in my back yard.

This time around I am on two panels, and they’re hella intersectional: Continue reading

Your reasons for objecting to the “Ghostbusters” remake are absurd and are probably sexist.

The logo for the GHostbusters film franchise.So it’s been officially announced that the upcoming remake for “Ghostbusters” will have an all female cast and dudes are freaking out. All dudes who are freaking out are claiming that their freak outs have nothing to do with sexism and are all measured and reasonable reasons to freak out. But we all know how excitable and over-emotional white male nerds are. Their freak outs are all for ridiculous and ignorant reasons and they’re all tinged with some misogyny. I’m going to go through some reasons given for these freakouts and explain why they are absurd. Continue reading

Kingsman: The Secret Service is a terrible movie for terrible people.

[EDIT – 02/25/2015: As of a couple days ago I’ve decided to stop approving comments in moderation that are just variations on telling me I’m a terrible reviewer (this isn’t a review anyway, it’s a recap and warning), that I don’t understand jokes (because we all know misogyny and white supremacy are hilarious), or that I should stick to “chick flicks” and would be justifiably murdered if this movie were true. I don’t have time and don’t feel like providing a place for “edgy” white boys to tell the world how little they care about other people. You have the rest of the internet for that.]

Last night I saw a free preview of Kingsman: The Secret Service and I was disgusted and angered by what I saw. It’s a foul movie full of terrible politics and I’m sure it will be very popular with the worst parts of Reddit, 4chan, and Gamergate. The movie opens with three white men in paramilitary gear torturing an Arabic man and it ends with a woman being a literal sexual reward for the protagonist.

The movie is about a secret non-governmental conspiracy of rich white Englishmen who know what’s best for the world and use violence to “save” everyone from democratically elected politicians. The villain is a black man and his main ally is a north African woman with disabilities. Now, he is fantastically wealthy due to his tech company and she is shown using sharpened metal running blades to kill lots of people, but there are literally no non-white people who are shown on the side of the “good guys.”

Continue reading

Wow, I guess it’s time for an update.

A year an a half since I last posted here? Holy shit.

Okay, so here’s the deal. After some turbulence and some help from some amazing fucking friends I made it through the end of 2013 and even through 2014. Back in September I quit my job. I was able to coast until finding a new job thanks to the remarkable and amazing generosity of many people who donated money to move and live off of and to my new/old roommate who let me live mostly rent free until I found a new job. My new job is hugely different from my old one. I work with some great people, and the diversity and lack of toxic personalities and bigotry have done wonders for my mental health. My now-usual holiday season depression came as usual, but it was pretty mild. Like no suicidal ideation at all!

I’m pretty broke as I work to catch up on bills and adjust to my new pay rate and pay schedule, but life is pretty fucking great, compared to the bad old days.

Drowning

I work full time. I also live in the United States, in the Bay Area in California. I don’t have a college degree. Compared to most people in the world I’m wealthy, I guess. It sure doesn’t feel that sometimes. I live close to the edge, paycheck to paycheck. I don’t have any medical benefits from my job, so I don’t really have access to medical care. Paying for my health would ruin me.

I neglect things that shouldn’t be neglected. I need to see a dentist, badly. I haven’t updated the prescription for my glasses in at least 5 years. I suffer from mental illness (depression) that is basically untreated. All because I can’t afford the luxury of health care.

I get by okay, though, as long as nothing else goes wrong.

Because of my interests I am surrounded by friends and peers who make more money than me, who are more financially secure than I am. I know I can’t really keep up with them as a consumer or in travel. Sometimes I try to be like everyone else and I pay for it. Sometimes I overdo it even more.

In the last quarter of 2012 I was struggling with a deep depression. One of the worst in my life. The worst one I’ve experienced since I was a teenager. Over a couple months I was careless and self destructive. How? I spent money on things for myself and my friends without paying attention to my means and my budget. It worked, in a way. It wasn’t until how screwed I’d made myself was completely unavoidable that the thoughts of suicide started.

Some people were very kind to me. Friends paid for some of my textbooks. Someone repaid a “loan” from a year before. Someone loaned me some money that got my rent paid. I paid them back as soon as I could. I have curbed my spending. I cut back on luxuries. I haven’t gone out all year. I’m mostly eating canned soup and ramen. But that hole I blew in my budget while unconsciously trying to stay alive is still there. Slowly growing. Payday loans to keeps the lights on and my home available just make things worse in the long run. A cut in my take home pay isn’t helping either.

This is what life can be like for someone with a full time job living in the richest country in history. A screw up, and error, and it cascades to the point where sometimes I feel like $1000 is worth dying over.

I’m not going to kill myself. I know people love me and I don’t want to hurt them. Sometimes though, dying seems like it wouldn’t be so bad, for me at least. I wouldn’t feel like I’m drowning anymore.

I’m moving, but what does that mean?

It has a floor and walls.

Last night I signed the lease on a new apartment. It’s a 650 square foot studio at the corner of 32nd Street and San Pablo Avenue in Oakland. This will cut my commute in half while keeping my living expenses (less transportation) about the same. It also means I can spend less time without pants on, which is always a groovy thing. I’ve scheduled power, gas, and internet to all be turned on by the 6th and I’ve scheduled my actual move for the 13th. This will be my first place all to myself. (I’m not counting the few months I spent in my old place after my ex moved out. I was living with ghosts the whole time.) I’ve always lived with roommates or a partner, so this is kind of exciting.

A big thank you to my roommate Cathy. When I was seriously torn up over my divorce and looking for a place to move without as many memories she opened her home to me. She’s been a great roommate, and is very cool and understanding about me moving out, too. Three cheers for Cathy!

People usually expect to hear a call for help carrying heavy things up and down stairs and into and out of vehicles when their friends move. Not this time. you all lucked out. I really pared down my possessions last time and have some money saved so I’m hiring movers. I feel like I’m part of the 1% now! Or is it the 53% these days?

Anyhow, there are still ways you can help.

I could use someone to help me with an IKEA run for some small things and then maybe keep me company while I wait for the cable guy on Saturday the 6th. I got a volunteer!

I will need someone to chauffeur me and my cat (in her carrier) from SF to the new place on he afternoon of Saturday the 13th.

I will also gladly accept any donations or gifts to outfit my new place. I got rid of most of the stuff a normal person owns when I moved last year. Here are the household necessities I actually do own:

  • Cocktail shaker
  • Cocktail strainer
  • Ice bucket
  • Cast Iron Dutch Oven
  • USS Enterprise-shaped pizza cutter

That’s it. No dishes, no utensils, not pans or pots for cooking, no microwave (thankfully the apartment has a fridge and a stove/oven), nothing else normal people have. So, if you feel like you owe me moving karma and/or you have some stuff you want to donate, now you know what I need.

Everything.

 

School Days

In the spring I dipped my toe back into academia by taking a class. It went pretty well, in that I got the third-highest grade in the class. This week I’m continuing with a full-time course load. That plus working full time has me ready to freak out. If you’re a friend who wants to see me, please be understanding and willing to schedule one or more weeks in advance.

Anyway, I thought it might be entertaining to show you which classes I’m taking and what books I’ll be reading and working from. (Images are clickable, links go to Amazon.)

Continue reading