dorchadas: (Chicago)
At my Japanese lesson last Tuesday, Aya-sensei gave me a flier from a giant stack she was carrying around. Moth, the shop where she works at part-time, was having a huge sale, she explained, and she invited us to come. And we did.

When I described the store's decor to [twitter.com profile] slarnos, all light wood and airy spaces filled with Japanese and Nordic goods, clothesracks against the walls filled with monochromes, browns, and blues, a table in the center of the store covered in small candles, pots, and cups, he said that it sounded like a store for people who live inside magazine photoshoots. I myself had used the phrase "Kinfolk-ass store" to describe it, so I can't and won't dispute his claim. But there was a lot of tableware I'd love to have, and I did buy two things. The first is a set of cerulean dishes made by a Japanese designer whose name I didn't get. Aya-sensei told me that he was a pain to work with, requiring a lot of reassurance before he'd agree to sell his wares overseas, and that he had been ignoring the emails asking about getting further stock. The second was another matcha bowl:

Moth matcha bowl
I took a dozen photos and can't get it to focus perfectly, but this one shows the colors.

I don't know much about the performance of tea ceremony, but I do know how to make matcha. Right now we only have a single black bowl, but I already like the aesthetics on this one too. The black allows the matcha to contrast strongly, but the green here should be a good compliment.

The store's owner told me that the bowl was part of a collection by a Finnish woman married to a Japanese man. She also wrote a cookbook where she made all the tableware for the photos herself, but it's only in Finnish, of which I read none, though the photography is gorgeous. It's called 桜 Sakura: Japanilainen keittokirja (Sakura: Japanese cookbook). We also talked a bit about Japanese--the owner is studying because her job involves speaking to Japanese vendors and right now she has Aya-sensei do most of the go-between, but since she owns a store, she doesn't have as much time as she likes to actually study. She asked me how my Japanese was and I said, "I get by," and was pleasantly surprised when Aya-sensei took objection to my characterization. I suppose that is a little over-modest. I am reading a novel, after all. Emoji La

After buying those dishes and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd getting a pair of work heels she can leave at school on massive sale (60% off, I think), we said goodbye, turned down Aya-sensei's invitation to go to a party a friend of hers who owns a restaurant was throwing to celebrate their one-year anniversary since we had other plans, and went north up to the Bristol. Aya-sensei also recommended that to me a while ago, and since it was within walking distance of the Moth, it was our chance.

Delicious restaurant food within )

After dinner we hopped on the bus and went north to [livejournal.com profile] tropicanaomega's house to help her with a secret project related to DragonCon which I'll edit into this post next weekend once the plan is in motion! Then we went home and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd napped next to me on the couch while I watched Jeremy Parish play ten minutes of G.I. Joe: the Atlantis Factor before getting annoyed and switching to Super Mario Bros. 3. And now, after getting our shopping done, I'm playing Legend of Zelda: the Minish Cap and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd is resting and working on her meals for the week.

Hope everyone is having a good weekend!
dorchadas: (Link to the Past Comic Master Sword)
Originally I wasn't even going to play this on my chrono-gaming march toward Breath of the Wild. It's not a mainline Zelda game, after all. Then I happened to be reading an old interview with Aonuma Eiji that mentioned that there used to be a lot more story in the game about the Imprisoning War before Miyamoto came in, pulled a ちゃぶ台返し and most of the story was thrown out. I saw elsewhere that Four Sword Adventures featured Gufū (Eng: Vaati) as the villain, making it a good lead-in to The Minish Cap. And when I posted about it on Facebook, several people said they had a great time with it, so on the list it went.

I remember reading about it when Four Swords Adventures came out, but while I did have my sister's GameCube, I didn't have a Game Boy Advance, and I certainly didn't have four of them. Of my friends at the time, I think only [livejournal.com profile] sephimb had one. Four Swords Adventures sounded like a great game, but even at the time I remember people complaining about the high investment cost, and I lost interest and never actually realized that it doesn't require multiplayer. Dolphin does allow for multiplayer with Four Swords Adventures, but from the minimal research I did, it's a giant headache and anyway I don't have three other people to play with. The game is still plenty of fun by oneself.

The Japanese name just means "four swords" (yottsu no tsurugi +), though it's a little odd. Japanese uses counters for specific objects, like 人 for people, 冊 for printed or bound books, and so on. Long, thin objects, including swords, usually take 本, so I would expect the title to be yonhon no tsurugi. There may be some subtlety in the title that escapes me.

Legend of Zelda Four Swords Waterfall and Rainbow
This is probably my favorite screenshot I took.

Read more... )
dorchadas: (Default)
I saw an article that Whole Foods is planning to lower prices starting Monday when the Amazon deal goes through. That's good for [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I, since we're the perfect demographic for the deal--a well-off, urban couple who shop primarily at Whole Foods and have an Amazon Prime account. They specifically mention slashed prices on salmon, and that's money that goes right back into our budget because every morning I have rice, miso soup, pickles, and salmon for breakfast.

We don't have any brand loyalty, though. We shop at Whole Foods because it's within walking distance and it replaced the Dominick's that used to be there. A few years ago, we did most of our shopping at True Nature, an independently-run organic food co-op, but when Whole Foods opened they packed up and moved a mile and a half north, too far away to make regular grocery runs to on foot. We did our meat shopping at the local butcher, Holtzkopf's, and just this week I learned that they were closing for business and not relocating. And the Asian grocery store a few blocks south that we used to get our rice and miso from went to weekends-only, and I think has since closed for good, forcing us to go down to walk about twice as far south down to Little Saigon to get them.

We're lucky that we still can shop within walking distance, but nearly everything around that originally led us to pick where we moved to has since closed. Emoji Cute shrug

[personal profile] schoolpsychnerd got a new crockpot for her birthday last month, replacing the old one that we got as a wedding gift ten years ago. The new one is easier to clean, less bulky, black (hey, #aesthetic), and makes wonderful food like this:

2017-08-24 Chicken curry crockpot
Curry chicken in coconut milk broth.

When I came home, it had been cooking for twelve hours. It was sublime. I could eat curry every meal for the rest of my life and I would die a happy man.

Tonight I get even more delicious food, since it's [twitter.com profile] xoDrVenture's birthday and she elected to have her party at Fogo de Chão. I've never been, though I've heard stories of the delicious piles of meat and the servers coming around and loading one's plate to bursting, and I'm looking forward to a meal fit for Sovngarde. Giant mountains of meat with vegetables on the side would be my second-most-desired every meal right after curry.

🌚

2017-Aug-22, Tuesday 09:27
dorchadas: (Music of the Spheres)
I didn't get a chance to see the entire eclipse because I was at work and I wasn't in the path of totality, but around 1:05 p.m. yesterday I left the office and went outside to the south terrace, where a couple hundred people were all gathered and watching the sky. I also didn't have eclipse glasses, but thanks to a tip online, I turned off my phone and watched the reflection of the eclipse in the glass. It was visible through the clouds and got a bit darker and colder, but it wasn't super dramatic. That didn't stop me from getting misty eyed, though, because nature is amazing. We knew this eclipse was coming in 1932!

My father was more dedicated than I was. He drove six hours downstate and took this picture:

2017-08-21 - Eclipse image
dorchadas: (Green Sky)
I'm 35 today! Halfway through my three-score and ten.

Today is a low activity day. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd invited me to go along to the Glenwood Art Fair, but I've been pretty active for the rest of the weekend and I thought rather stay at home, so I've mostly been playing Four Swords Adventures and reading my RSS feeds. I did take a short break to go out collecting Pokemon and one of my eggs hatched into a ゴマゾウ.

The events happened yesterday and the day before. On Friday, I had the first birthday party I've had in over a decade and a half, and while it was sparsely attended because my birthday had the bad luck to fall on Gen Con weekend, I had a nice time. I went with a cyberpunk theme, because I already dress like this, and we got appropriate food to go with it. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd made street-vendor-style skewers and bought an incredibly salty seaweed salad, sōmen, and taiyaki from an Asian market nearby. [tumblr.com profile] goodbyeomelas had asked me earlier in the week if I wanted anything baked for the party, and then showed up with two caramel cheesecakes. One of them got eaten at the party, but we still have the second one in the fridge. Yum.

We got a bunch of alcohol and I came up with some on-theme drinks, too. Emoji Awesomeface Cylon

Here's the drinks menu )

I really liked the Company Man, actually. I'll probably have another one tonight so I can use up more of the syrup before it goes bad. And while I didn't specifically set out to do so, I thought it was funny that all the drinks were varying shades of green.

Last night, after Call of Cthulhu, my parents met us at our apartment and we walked into Andersonville to go to Anteprima for dinner. We got in after a short wait, and while the main room was deafeningly loud, they led us through it into the small courtyard in the back, so we were actually able to have a nice conversation and eat a large meal. I got the duck--the duck on the menu and my father requesting a place with food that my mother would eat were what led me to pick Anteprima in the first place--and it was delicious. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd got a yellowtail dish that was almost good enough to make me wish that I had ordered it instead, but not quite. After dinner, and presents, my parents made the trip back to their house out in the suburbs, since they're still looking after my sister's dogs and so they couldn't stay too late.

A lot of what I asked for was silly Kirby and Warcraft goods, but I did get a set of bluetooth headphones, so maybe I can stop cutting it so close with my battery at work. An iPhone 7 and listening to podcasts all day don't mix very well with wired headphones.

And now, back to Legend of Zelda. Emoji Snapping Minish Cap
dorchadas: (Great Old Ones)
​​Dramatis Personae
  • Luc Durand, French Professor of Linguistics
  • Radovan Venclovic, Romani ex-soldier
  • Rosaline St. Clair, American Antiquities Dealer
  • Valentina Durnovo, Russian Countess/Gentlewoman
  • Yan Nikolaev, Bulgarian police inspector
The next day was their appointment with Beylab the perspires, but not until the evening. At breakfast, they discussed the man and bear they had seen. Radovan was convinced he was benign, saying that anyone who an animal trusted couldn't be all bad, but Rosaline wasn't so sure. When Feyar arrived, the party asked him about the proper etiquette for the meeting. Feyar explained that no gifts were required, putting their minds at ease, and they decided to go investigate the Red Mosque. After a long walk through the city, they arrived at a crumbling building that pedestrians walked by without even a glance at its grim-encrusted walls. Several young men, perhaps a street gang, lounged in the doorway and beckoned, calling out "Nice things! Nice things!" and gesturing to the investigators. The countess approached, asking about the trinkets, but then asked about the gang and the mosque, no whether they had seen anything unusual in the mosque at night. Feyar translated the answer--that they sometimes saw other gangs, but no one else. She asked about the Brotherhood, but the gang had only heard rumors. They took the countess's money without incident, and the investigators left.

For a change of pace, the party spent some time on tourism at the Hagia Sophia. The ancient cathedral was glorious, but had seen better days. The Basilica Cistern was across the street, so that was their next destination. That was better kept up but empty of water. After lunch, they visited the Hippodrome, and then the time had come to go to the baths and meet with Beylab. Knowing that Beylab was a stickler for punctuality, the investigators made an effort to arrive on time, and entered the bathhouse and left the bustle of the street behind. The professor checked the skin of the other bathers, but none of them seemed to have any identifiable tattoos or marring of the skin. The women went off into their own section, and the men prepared to meet the perspirer.

Beylab was lounging on a navel stone in the bath, grossly fat, and awaiting his visitors. The professor, Yan, and Radovan approached as Beylab raised a hand, and they took places next to Beylab on the stone. He greeted the party and asked them what they want to know, and the professor mentioned the disappearances of children. Beylab explained that it was an evil statue-worshipping cult, and that the children had not appeared in the slave markets. He said that the cult extended to the city bureaucracy, and that the statue's destruction was key to ending the cult. The ritual of destruction was in the cemetery, in Garaznet's grave, and suggested that the break into the grave in the night. As he reached for water and made to speak more, a shape surged up out of the water behind him and cut his throat!

Radovan and Yan heard the roaring of flames and pulled the professor off the stone as fire surged up and seared the body of Beylab. As the assassin fled, the three gave chase before they were blocked by two other bathers. Yan noticed that one of them had a mismatched ear and the other had an eye that was cloudy, and shouted, "They're here!" He tried to shove past the men but they stood firm, and Radovan's sucker punch flew wide. They made no hostile action, and in a moment it was obvious why--the flesh of Beylab flowed off his bones like a wave, surging across the water toward the men like a red tide. One of the cultists was caught by the monster, shrieking in pain as it reared up over him and began devouring him, and the party fled in terror leaving the screams behind.

There were already police outside, and when they saw the Europeans one approached and spoke in broken English, asked them to stay and and give their statements. Another policeman entered the bath and returned in moments, vomiting in the street. Another policeman later took the investigators statements, and the professor left out the parts about the cult or the monster, describing only a madman assassinating someone else in public. The police called a cab and they returned to their hotel, where the professor explained what Beylab had told them. They debated what to do, but quickly decided that they could not visit the graveyard tonight. Yan and the professor dressed and went down to dinner and had a long awkward conversation about their backgrounds, while the others had dinner sent up to their rooms.

The next morning, there was a message from the British Embassy requesting their immediate presence, so they bolted down their coffee and took the car provided. They were met by Sir Douglas Rutherford, in a clear agitation. He got right to the point, saying that his son was abducted in the last night, and asked for their help. The investigators agreed, and the ambassador said that his son James was last seen in the embassy garden and that he suspected the servants. He summoned the servants, and they stood in a line while the investigators examined them. One servant had mismatched eyes, and when he noticed the attention, he took a step back. The professor shouted to arrest him, and as guards appeared and seized him, the servant screamed that the Brotherhood had the boy and there was no hope. The Skin Beast would come and all of them were doomed. As he struggled, the tattoo suddenly revealed on his arm writhed and the skin of his face drew inward, flowing down his mouth and choking him to death.

Later, as they were drinking brandy with the ambassador, he said that he suspected the Red Mosque and while police searches had turned up nothing, he no longer trusted the police. The professor asked for excavating equipment, and while Sir Douglas was suspicious of his reasoning, he offered to provide it. He further suggested they speak to Lieutenant Douglas Hennessy about the British officer's death. The lieutenant met them in the lobby of their hotel, and the professor noticed that he was extremely nervous, constantly glancing around at the passersby. After asking what they knew, he said that the Drakes were part of a continent-wide smuggling and vice ring known for flaying people. He said that Evelyn was suspected in a murder, shortly before she disappeared, and that a local member named Phelps had recently turned up dead, but Yan realized that he was holding something back. The countess pushed further, mentioning the flayings that the investigators had encountered, and the lieutenant revealed that Mr. Phelps was deformed, half his face having been seemingly melted. The lieutenant said he was being transferred out, but asked that they tell Sir Douglas anything they discovered, and then he left.

After preparing, the investigators went down to the docks to hire a boat. Feyar suggested hiring a fishing boat, and they chartered the boat of a man named Haqim. And they were crossing the straight, Rosaline and Radovan noticed another fishing boat crossing on a similar course, but it remained at sea instead of docking, and it was too far away to make out any details. They landed and Haqim promised to wait, and the party made the short walk to the cemetery.
The countess's player: "Is this grave-robbing? Three of us are white. It's archeology."
After two hours of searching they found the tomb of Garaznet, its letters almost entirely faded away from the weathering of centuries. As Radovan and Yan began digging, Radovan noticed that the dirt wasn't as packed-down as it should be, but shrugged and kept digging. After some time, as the shovels clinking against a stone box, a man approached. He was babbling, in tattered robes, and Feyar explained that he was called the "Companion to the Dead." The professor listened, but most of what the beggar said was nonsense. He urged on their digging and said that "they" were numerous tonight as Yan and Radovan levered open the tomb of Garaznet, but when he heard the sound of stone on stone, he screamed "Don't let him out!" and leapt onto the countess and professor, flailing away. Eventually he backed away as an overwhelming foetor comes from the tomb. The lib slid back, and inside was a bubbling vat of flesh!

The flesh flowed out of the tomb and wrapped around one of the countess's legs as Rosaline began screaming in panic and Yan staggered around sightlessly. The professor threw a lantern onto the monster but it seemed to have no effect, and as he was looking for another weapon, dozens of shapes appeared out of the darkness and the Brothers of the Skin captured the party. The party was disarmed and tied to stone monuments with the weapons just out of reach and formed a circle, which parted to reveal six cultists carrying a squirming bundle. Four others brought in an older man, ancient and shriveled, on a chair born on their shoulders. He questioned them about the scrolls and the statue, but the party was silent. After a short moment, the old man looked at Radovan and began muttering. Radovan's skin twitched and seemed to rot, and Radovan shrieked for a moment and then slumped in his bonds. After further questioning, the old man again muttered and the same thing happened to Yan, though before he fell unconscious, Yan yelled that the simulacrum was in the bank vault.

Content warning: Violence toward children )

On the Golden Horn, Aktar led them to his room, a small cluttered dwelling. In the light, he seemed vaguely familiar, but none of the investigators could place it. Aktar revealed that he was disguised as a Roma, but actually worked for Ataturk spying out threats to Turkey. His daughter had been kidnapped by the cult, and he had followed the cult to their headquarters and found what remained of his daughter. He suggested they join forces and fight the cult. The investigators agreed, and they decided that they needed to get to the Sedefkar Simulacrum before the cult did. They arrived, leaving Radovan and Yan behind in Aktar's room, and found the bank closed, so they immediately changed tack and went to the hotel. The front desk clerk asked them if they had gone and come back--the cult had obviously already been there. Their roomed had Ben searched, and the scroll was missing. Aktar suggested that they must go to the cultist's headquarters immediately and warn the British and French, and they traveled to the cistern where the secret entrance to the cult's headquarters was. The stairs led down into water, but there was a small boat, and Aktar rowed them through the water to a secret passage, and the investigators travel down a spiral staircase. At the bottom were ooze-covered walls and a small door, on the other side of which was a tomb lit by a greenish glow and covered with horrific carvings.

Across the chamber was an antechamber with a guard facing away from them. Rosaline whispered that he had to be subdued, and Aktar drew a knife, crept behind the cultist, and cut his throat. As lights entered the room, shelves of scrolls were revealed, but a quickly glance didn't reveal anything out of the ordinary and the group continued on through a surgical room separated from the main room of the mosque by a curtain. The professor peeked out and saw a large group of cultists, but they were all facing away from the curtain, so the investigators slipped out into the room next door, only to find that it was a meat locker filled with disembodied limbs. There was also the body of a skinned woman hanging on a meat hook, and when the countess saw it she gasped but steeled herself. Rosaline noticed a pearl necklace lying on the floor, and she discretely pocketed it.

There was nowhere else but he main chamber, so the investigators snuck into the mosque chamber and crept into the crowd. In the center, under the mosque dome, is a stone slab with five indentations carved into it. Five children, James Rutherford among them, were led into the chamber and waited nervously near the slab. Aktar suggested that he would create a distraction while the others rescued the children, and lacking options, they agreed. As they waited, red-robed figures brought out the Simulacrum and placed it into the indentations on the slab. The old man also came out and pulled a scroll out of his robes, and began chanting. The professor understood part of the ritual, asking for power through the suffering of the flesh. As he stepped forward to end the ritual, his mouth sealed itself shut. The investigators began to usher the children out of the mosque, Aktar shouted, "foreign traitors!" and stepped forward, seizing the scroll, and completes the ritual. The statue absorbed itself into his flesh, and Aktar laughed manically and revealed himself as Mehmet Makryat, son of Selim Makryat, the new master of the Brotherhood of the Skin, and ordered the cultists to kill their old master, which they did with enthusiasm.

The investigators tried to run, but they were overwhelmed and escorted away. They were led past other cells full of maimed and mutilated prisoners, begging and whining, and shut into a cell on the top of the minaret of the Shunned Mosque. The professor understood some of the guard's speech--they were discussing the "flapping man," who might come for them, and they were desperate to retreat. As they left, the light revealed a shape in the corner, limbless and eyeless, covered in a blanket. He shouted out at the party, and Rosaline recognized the voice of Professor Smith before he fell unconscious.

Hours later, the door opened to reveal Mehmet Makryat, who lit a cigarette and monologued about his plan. He had impersonated Professor Smith from the beginning, setting the investigators on their entire quest, and revealed that he had been following them along the way and helping them overcome their difficulties. He thanked them for helping him defeat his father, and asked them how they had defeated Le Comte. They did not answer, and Mehmet explained that the Simulacrum's power was corrupting them already and they had only one hundred hours remaining in their lives, and that he was off to London to retrieve the Ritual of Cleansing that would save him from the Simulacrum's effects. With a smile, he said that he would unchain them so that they could see their bodies fall into slime, and he left. When he did, Professor Smith confirms Mehmet's story, but he said that the brothers believed the Flapping Man was a spirit of rage, and they could use that to escape. After some time, a pair of guards arrived to unshackle the investigators. As the countess passed Professor Smith, she flapped the blanket and screamed, and the the guards ran back down the stairs. Rosaline looked at Professor Smith and, after a short internal struggle, she slit his throat to end his suffering. Then the investigators fled down the stairs past the cells, past flayed skins, and the countess grabbed one and put it on. She ran out and babbled in a mix of languages, and the Brothers ran screaming in fear. The countess heard something behind her, and turned to see the real Flapping Man charging the Brothers. With that as a distraction, the party ran. Outside was James Rutherford, who ran up to them as they fled, as the sunrise washed the walls of the Shunned Mosque with blood-red light..
Annals of the Fallen
  1. Gianni Abbadelli, Italian Vatican Parapsychologist, arm torn off by čudovište in Vinkovci, February 8th, 1923.
  2. Demir Sadik, Turkish Revolutionary/Field Medic, devoured by the living lair of the Baba Yaga in the forests outside Orašac, February 13th, 1923.
  3. Jazmina Moric, Croat Linguist, killed by a thrown grenade during a battle with the Butchers at Sofiiski Universet, February 15th, 1923.
  4. Radovan Venclovic, Romani Ex-Soldier, driven to madness by the beast of flesh in the cemetery at Üsküdar, February 20th, 1923.
Over three thousand words. This was action-packed from beginning to end.

This part is, frankly, one of the weakest parts of the entire campaign--not only is it a railroad from start to finish, it has the players betrayed and captured by someone they thought would be their ally multiple times in sequence and the revelation that the entire quest across Europe and everything they accomplished was all at the bidding of the villain, so it would have been better if the PCs had just ignored Professor Smith's plea entirely and went on with their lives. I knew this was coming, and I've known for the entire game, so it didn't bother me that much. And it is a cosmic horror game, so it does a good job of showing the investigators' actions coming to naught. But as a roleplaying game device, it's poor form.

[livejournal.com profile] mutantur said that the new version of the campaign has an option to end in a climactic battle at the Shunned Mosque where the PCs kill Mehmet Makryat and destroy the cult once and for all, which allows for immediate revenge. It's not how the scenario originally went, however, so we're going to do the original ending. That means there's two, maybe three more games and then we're done with the Horror on the Orient Express! Emoji ~ Cat smile
dorchadas: (Pile of Dice)
A while ago, I wrote up a description of elves for a science-fantasy RPG setting I'm working on. I liked them, but they were based on elves as creatures of Faerie and didn't really have anything science-fiction about them at all, so now I went back and changed them a lot and I think they fit a lot better:

Elf
The elves have always been a people apart. Before the coming of the Mist, the elves were united by the Elven Court of the Elder Wood, the center of elven civilization. There the Queen ruled, advised by the oldest of her people and the spirits of the forest. Even the far-flung communities in other forests paid homage to the Elven Court, their bonds aided by the Emerald Roads that facilitated travel from elven community to community.

The Mist ended that forever. As it washed over the Elder Wood, the elves made a choice. Some of them gave themselves fully to the rule of the forest spirits, forsaking such technology as they used and following the dictates of their shamans. Others saw the changes that the Mist wrought in those creatures it touched and determined to learn from them. They studied the Changed, using all their magic to form bastions among the woods to hold the Mist at bay, and developed the art of fleshcrafting. The former are known as the wild elves, and the latter as the mist elves.

There are rumors of a third group, who fled underground to avoid the Mist rather than ascending to the heights. It is said that the Mist changed them as they fled, that they worship spirits of fungus and spider and unclean things, and that they have tunnels under the surviving lands and raid the surface for slaves. But theses are merely rumors.

Physical Description: Generally taller than humans, elves possess a graceful, slender physique seemingly made of bark, vines and foliage. They vary greatly in appearance, as wild as nature itself. They encompass the colors of all plant life, tending towards shades of green and brown. Their hair grows leaves and branches. The older they are, the more growths they have, sometimes becoming long twisted vines that hang to their waist or longer. Their flesh is wooden, smooth when they are young and furrowing more and more as they grow older until it resembles the gnarled bark of an ancient tree. Their eyes vary from virgin wood green, morning sun gold, rich brown earth, to deep sky blue, but always a solid color with neither pupil nor iris visible.

The wild elves live in the forests and frequently dress in animal skins or clothing of bark and leaves, whereas mist elves wear suits designed to keep off the mist and work with fleshcrafted creatures, or the symbiotic armor given to their warriors.

Society: Where the elves were once unified, now there is a great division among them. The wild elves are ruled by shamans who speak to the forest spirits and look up to the warriors who practice supernatural martial arts learned from the spirits of the animals around them. The mist elves delve ever deeper into the arts of fleshwarping in the hope of discovering the secret of adaptation to the Mist without losing themselves to it.

There are still some similarities, however. Both cultures have a deep-seated appreciation for artistry and craftsmanship, and whether it’s a carved wooden chair or a piece of living furniture, an elven artisan will always work to their utmost and take pride in their work. Magic is held is high esteem, and the lifeshapers of the mist elves and spiritspeakers of the wild elves are some of the most honored members of their communities.

Relations: Others were always suspicious of the elves because of their insularity, and their new behavior has not changed that. It is the wild elves who are the most well-thought-of, because while they are savage and unpredictable, at least their powers are understandable. Wild elves get along especially well with grippli and sesheyans, who share their wilderness homes. Whatever it is that the mist elves are doing in their living strongholds makes the other races nervous, and their appearance, swathed entirely in robes or with visible symbiotic grafts attached to their bodies, does not allay that concern. There are some elves who live in the patchwork human cities that sprang up after the Mist came, but they are often not entirely trusted there, even after long years of residence.

And here's a picture I found on the internet that's a pretty good visual inspiration:



Pathfinder game mechanics )

Exalted stats )

Maybe someday, I'll actually be able to run this.

It can happen here

2017-Aug-16, Wednesday 09:05
dorchadas: (Warcraft Face your Nightmares)
Posting today instead of tomorrow because there's no farmer's market dinner this week. Now that the school term is starting at [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's workplace, her summer break is over and she can't consistently make time to gather ingredients for dinner anymore. There may be sporadic farmer's market dinners before the market closes in October--those meals are really good--but it's no longer a routine thing.

Charlottesville affected me more than I thought it would. Some of it was reading accounts like this one from a local synagogue, about how the police refused to provide protection and they had to hire private security to protect from roving bands of Nazis. Or this account of weapons caches, similar to what happened in Rwanda, indicating that the Nazis were using Charlottesville as a training exercise for a para-military operation somewhere else. And then the President of the United Sates of America revealed that he's a Nazi sympathizer at a press conference, so the Nazis' goals were mostly achieved. Great. 2017. emoji head in hands

It reminds me of an old statement I read by a rabbi from centuries ago that history was divided into periods of persecution and periods of leniency. A lot of young Jews seemed to think that the cycle had been broken, at least in America, and that the concerns of their elders were overblown. I suspect they don't think that anymore.

At least the weather's nice. I'm not sure we've had a day over 30°C for the entire month of August and the weather report shows that it won't get higher than that for the next upcoming week either. Since my preferred clothing style includes pants at all times, I appreciate the deference the atmosphere is showing me.

I started playing Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures (well, ゼルダの伝説:4つの剣+) and I'm filled with immense nostalgia for A Link to the Past. Four Swords Adventures reuses a lot of the sprites and music from ALttP, but also has a lot of toonification from Wind Waker. The bomb explosions are cel-shaded, a lot of the enemies are round and blobby, and the water effects are much more liquid-based than pixelized. The gameplay is all hack and slash, but I'm finding it surprisingly fun so far. We'll see if that's still true after I get past the second area.
dorchadas: (Office Space)
This is about the Nazi rally yesterday.

Not about how the President of the United States of America is a Nazi, sympathizer, though he clearly is. Trump is perfectly capable of making strong, unambiguous statements when he has something he's actually interested in condemning. Saying "hatred, bigotry and violence on many side" is implicitly blaming those targeted by the Nazis as much as the Nazis. Trump cannot condemn racism and white supremacy because Trump is a racist and a white supremacist.

This isn't about the idiotic free speech arguments claiming that Nazis arguing that [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I should die are equivalent to us saying that perhaps we should not. It's the worst kind of Is-Ought fallacy, arguing that because that's currently the way that the First Amendment is interpreted that makes it somehow the best possible interpretation. They may say that this sort of free speech makes America great, but what I hear is, "We will only come to your defense when it's already too late."

Well, it's about those inasmuch as I've mentioned them. Emoji Cute shrug

No, it's about the claims that this "isn't America" that I've seen from politicians. In response to those, I submit this article. Madison Square Garden, 1939. Twenty thousand people showed up to cheer Hitler and complain about Roosevelt's "Jew Deal." And before that, when the Nazis were laying out the Nuremberg Laws, the meetings they held on the topic repeatedly returned to American legal segregation as an inspiration. The Nazis were, of course, perfectly capable of coming up with these laws on their own, but the fact that they looked to America is a lesson that many of us need to remember.

This is America. Most of the problems we still have can be directly traced back to slavery and the legacy of racism it left. The lack of socialized health care (partially scuttled by southern politicians' fear of integrated hospitals), the police state, Republican voter suppression efforts, a lack of a robust welfare state...

The hatred is coming from inside the house.
dorchadas: (Kirby Walk)
Happy 25th anniversary, Kirby!

I ordered a bon voyage Kirby plush since they were available for the anniversary, and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I started watching the Kirby anime, but of course, Kirby started out as a video game character. What better way to celebrate his existence than by playing the games that birthed him? I originally thought about playing Kirby's Adventure, the first Kirby game I ever played and the one that cemented my love for the series, but that's a several-hour commitment if I want to find all the secrets and unlock every part of the map. Kirby's Dream Land is bite-sized. I finished it in an hour and a half and it was fantastic.

Strange, coming primarily from later games, but fantastic.

Kirby's Dream Land eat enemy
Kirby, just let Waddle Dee waddle be!

Read more... )
dorchadas: (Toon Link happy)
Wind Waker is one of the few Zelda games I've played and beaten around the time it came out, along with only the original Legend of Zelda and Ocarina of Time. My sister owned a GameCube and kept up with the releases, though she never played the games for that long. She pre-ordered the limited edition--I still have the bonus disc with the Ocarina of Time Master Quest on it--and I'm not sure she ever played it, but when I came home from university that summer, I did. I played through and beat the game without reading any of the online invective about it and I really liked it. I didn't care about the happy, cartoony graphics. That was the year that Call of Duty first came out, and I was busy playing Morrowind and Warcraft III. Something light and happy was refreshing, especially when I spent every weekday at a summer job that I hated and was going to spend the next semester studying abroad in Ireland. At the time, it might even have been my favorite Zelda game.

On replaying, it's still good, but the cracks stand out to me in a way they didn't then.

The Japanese title, as is often true, is simple and straightforward--kaze no takuto, "The Baton of the Winds."

Wind Waker - Ship firing Cannon at shore
Incoming!

Read more... )

I'm interesting!

2017-Aug-10, Thursday 08:54
dorchadas: (Default)
At our last class, Aya-sensei told me that unlike some of her other students, the two of us never end up staring at each other without having anything to talk about. A lot of her students are software developers, apparently, so that's a big portion of their interest. But explaining programming concepts to someone who isn't a programmer can be complex enough in a language both of you are fluent in, much less trying to do so in a language you're learning. I know what functions are, and while I might be able to explain them, I'd have to do so in very abstract terms like 箱のようなものだ ("It's something like a box") unless I looked up a lot of vocab during the conversation. In contrast, Aya-sensei and I mostly talk about food, travel, and TV, podcasts, and games during free chat, all subjects about which we have a lot to say.

"Function" is 関数 (kansū), by the way. I had to look that up.

Farmer's Market Dinner )

I ordered two pairs of pants recently but had to return both of them, one for being slightly ill-fitting and the other for basically being parachute pants. And then today, I noticed just before I left for work that my most-recently-purchased pair of pants from before that already had a hole in it. It's on the back of my lower leg so not in a vital location, and it's not like these pants fit that well already. But still, I thought I would be up two pairs of pants and now I'm down one. Emoji Uncertain ~ face

I took the afternoon off tomorrow and we're going out to India House for lunch, and after that we're going to have to go shopping for more pants. Maybe in a brick-and-mortar store, they'll be able to find something that actually fits me (30" waist, 36" leg). Though I'm not super hopeful, since I tried to get a dress shirt there before and they didn't have any with sleeves long enough for me...

Bon voyage, Kirb!

2017-Aug-08, Tuesday 09:25
dorchadas: (Kirby Walk)
Kirby is my favorite Nintendo character, and this year is the 25th anniversary of Kirby. In Japan, they're doing all kinds of things to commemorate it, like a Kirby concert series or the Pupupu Train traveling shop, but of course there's nothing like that here. Fortunately, there are some good sides to global capitalism, and one of them is the ability to order limited-edition items from other countries. We already bought the omikuji 25th anniversary drinking glasses and need to make Blushing Russians or strawberry smoothies to drink out of them, and yesterday the Kirby plush I ordered arrived.

It was a bit of a surprise.

Bon voyage! )

It is very large. About a foot high, which means that I didn't read the description carefully. I was expecting it to be about half that height like the other Kirby plushes we have. It's extremely cute and wonderful to hug, but I'll need to find a place to put it...
Tonight [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd might watch the Kirby anime. It's a Kirby kind of day.Emoji Kirby heart
dorchadas: (Darker than Black)
Tea time!

This came in the same shipment as the Genmaicha Crunch, but after the bland disappointment of that chocolate it took a while god is to get to this one. Hōjicha (ほうじ茶) means "roasted tea," and it adds a distinct smoky flavor to the normal slightly-bitter taste of green tea. It's the kind of thing that should compliment dark chocolate very well if they can pull it off.

Spoiler: they can't.
Read more... )
dorchadas: (Genbaku Park)
At 8:15 a.m., August 6th, 1945, the first atomic weapon exploded in the skies over Hiroshima.

This year is the 72nd anniversary, but the effects still remain. Our Japanese tutor had a black-and-white photo on her kamidana of a young man, maybe in his early teens, and when we asked who he was she said that he was her brother. I met a man in Heiwa Kōen who had seen the bombing with his own eyes, though from the comfortable distance of his parents' house miles outside the city. The mayor of Hiroshima is the president of Mayors for Peace, who work for the elimination of nuclear weapons.

There's a ceremony in the morning with speeches, but what I remember is the evening. People write messages on thousands of paper lanterns and set them adrift in the Otagawa, bearing their hopes and fears down to the sea.

Genbaku Dome ceremony

There are more pictures of this year's ceremony here.

戦争が恐ろしすぎるから、世界に平和が広がるように。佐々木禎子さんとか鉄谷伸一さんとかのような子供が誰もいないように。世界は核兵器が二度と使われない場所になるように。俺は希望だ。

🍶

2017-Aug-04, Friday 09:52
dorchadas: (Chiyoda)
Last night at [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's suggestion we watched a documentary called The Birth of Sake, about the Yoshida sake distillery in Ishikawa Prefecture, while we drank some sake ourselves and ate Japanese snacks.

Sake is my favorite alcohol but I knew basically nothing about the process of making it, so everything in the documentary was new to me. The workers live at the brewery from October to April, tending the sake around the clock from rice through to finished product, and then need to find other work for the rest of the year. They could automate the process and leave the measuring and tending to machines, but the workers value the human approach and believe that their customers value that aspect of the process. The brewery has been open for six generations, and there's a 神棚 (kamidana, "household shrine") up on the wall in the main room of the brewery and some scenes of the workers gathering together to pray.

Over the course of the documentary, one of the workers died of a sudden heart attack and two quit due to the grueling schedule, inability to find good work the rest of the year, and being away from their families, so one worker who was going to retire came back for another year. There's a note that sake consumption has been in decline since the 70s and that now there are only about 1000 breweries down from 4600 a few decades ago. That does match with my experience--though there was a brewery in Chiyoda, everyone we knew drank beer or shōchū most of the time.

I really liked it! It was all in Japanese with subtitles, though I could barely understand anything the older workers said (they might have been speaking Hokuriku dialect). It was immersion-style, with the filmmakers taking scenes from the workers' dormitory, the five a.m. waking period to tend the sake, the parties, the quickly-scarfed-down meals of miso soup and tamago kake gohan before going back to the floor. It's up on Netflix if you want to watch.

I looked into where to get Tedorigawa sake, and while there are some stores, none of them are nearby. Maybe I should get some shipped to us while [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd is still at home and can sign for the shipment...

Computers, why?

2017-Aug-03, Thursday 09:29
dorchadas: (Warcraft Algalon)
The chronicle of woe: new database system continues.

The previous system was clunky and old, but one advantage it has is metrics. Every day I got an email with how efficient I was, letting me know how I was doing and giving me daily feedback. My boss had to manually run the reports and mail them to me, so they tapered off when we started gearing up to transition to the new system, but the capability was still there.

Well, the new system has many capabilities, but metrics apparently aren't one of them. The contractors didn't seem to understand why we would want to know how efficient any particular worker was, so while it's possible that they keep metrics on their end, we don't have any access to them. But we need them for yearly evaluations, because one of the good parts of my job is that I'm graded on concrete numbers rather than on generic feelings. And thus, I'm keeping track of my metrics using a free stopwatch program and a LibreOffice spreadsheet.

Isn't the progress of technology great? Emoji Psyduck Cylon

Heard from the next cubicle over in the process of writing this post: "When they built this, they knew nothing about our data."

Farmer's Market Dinner )

Been feeling down these last few days for a variety of reasons, and having moved Japanese tutoring to tomorrow instead of on Tuesday because Tuesday was Tisha b'Av doesn't help. Usually by this point in the week, I know I'm clear until the weekend, but now I have class. Hopefully after I come home on Friday I'll start to feel a bit better with the weekend ahead of me.

And I just saw that The Dark Tower is at 20% on Rotten Tomatoes. I didn't like what I saw of the trailer--it was too fast-paced, too much in our world, and too tonally strange (any movie about the Dark Tower series should be elegiac, at least in part)--so I'm not surprised that the movie is being savaged. But what a waste.

תשעה באב

2017-Aug-01, Tuesday 14:30
dorchadas: (Blue Rose)
By the rivers of Babylon,
There we sat down, yea, we wept,
When we remembered Zion.
Upon the willows in the midst thereof
We hanged up our harps.
For there they that led us captive asked of us words of song,
And our tormentors asked of us mirth:
‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion.’
How shall we sing the LORD’S song
In a foreign land?
If I forget thee, O Jerusalem,
Let my right hand forget her cunning.
Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth,
If I remember thee not;
If I set not Jerusalem
Above my chiefest joy.
-Psalm 137:1-6
Today is Tisha b'Av, the commemoration of the destruction of both Temples and several other disasters which have befallen the Children of Israel over the millennia, as well as many disasters which almost certainly didn't happen on the Ninth of Av but which get folded into it because it's poetically satisfying. Traditionally, we do not eat or drink from sundown to sundown, do not shave or get haircuts, do not conduct business, do not shower or wash, do not wear leather shoes, and avoid activities that are joyous or hopeful like studying Torah or saying hello.

I'm posting this from work, so I'm only doing middling on following halakhah there. I did fast for much of the day, but I found a group of rabbinic opinions that I really like that suggest fasting until halakhic noon (chatzot, the exact midpoint between sunrise and sunset), and then breaking the fast, thus both mourning the Temples and the loss of their centrality in Jewish life while celebrating the rabbinic sages and the diversity and vivacity of the diaspora. This is a little unusual, as fasts are generally sunrise to sundown, or sundown to sundown for Tisha b'Av and Yom Kippur, but there is some precedent--some people fast on Erev Rosh Hashannah but only until halakhic noon.

Tonight, I'll come home from work and read Eicha together with [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd. But for now, I have to keep working.

Scream dream

2017-Jul-31, Monday 10:12
dorchadas: (Awake in the Night)
It took me an hour and a half to fall asleep last night and then I had horrible dreams for most of the night, but it did lead me to empirical proof that sometimes movie cliches are real. In my dream I was exploring a run-down mansion or house, by myself, and at some point I went upstairs and saw someone else. Being a dream, I went over to talk to him and he turned around and had a fleshless skull for a face, much like the strange woman from the NES game Uninvited. He said something spooky, I screamed...and apparently screamed in real life as well, loud enough to wake up both [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and myself. Fortunately, she rolled over and went back to sleep, though it took me a while to fall back asleep and then I woke up before my alarm.

I did not suddenly start up in bed with a gasp, though I have done that when I lived in Ireland, when I dreamed about a zombie cat trying to tear off my face. Eventually I will combine these two stereotypical incidents and have a real picture-perfect horror movie waking up moment.

Part of the reason I had such a hard time getting to sleep is that I was worried something would go wrong at work today. So far, nothing has, and I even got all of my vacation I need to take before the end of the year approved. Hopefully the day remains uneventful!
dorchadas: (Darker than Black)
I mentioned the trip that [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I went to visit my parents on the last Darker than Black post, but I didn't mention that part of the trip was celebrating her birthday a week early. They sent us home with presents, a card, and a parting word that she could wait to open them or open them right away, as she preferred. And as is tradition, they sent us away with chocolate. Since [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd waited to open her presents, I waited until after her birthday to eat this.
Read more... )
dorchadas: (Default)
King's Quest as a series was introduced to me by the same friend who showed me Hero's QuestQuest for Glory. We played King's Quest I, in all its EGA and text-parser magnificence, and while I fondly remember its fairy-tale aesthetic and falling into the king's moat and being eaten by crocodiles, we never got particularly far. We never reached an unwinnable situation because we would always die before solving anything. But that made an impression, and I grew up playing Sierra games.

My favorite Sierra games are still the the Quests for Glory, but King's Quest VI is my favorite King's Quest out of the ones I've played until now (I, V-VIII). King's Quest V is too arbitrary and full of situations that require advance knowledge of to beat, like throwing the boot at the cat so that the rat will rescue Graham in his cell later or beating a yeti with a pie, that I didn't want to replay it and I didn't want to subject [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd to it, so we watched a longplay of it. I didn't own King's Quest VII at the time we started playing and anyway it has a different style and interface than the older games, so wasn't going to begin with that one. We do not speak of King's Quest VIII. But King's Quest VI is the best iteration of the early King's Quest games, with understandable puzzles, a whimsical setting, and a minimum of no-win situations. I thought it would be fun for us to play together, and I was right.

King's Quest 6 Ignorance Kills
The credo of adventure games.

Read more... )
dorchadas: (Great Old Ones)
​​Dramatis Personae
  • Luc Durand, French Professor of Linguistics
  • Radovan Venclovic, Romani ex-soldier
  • Rosaline St. Clair, American Antiquities Dealer
  • Valentina Durnovo, Russian Countess/Gentlewoman
  • Yan Nikolaev, Bulgarian police inspector
The last leg of the trip was long, but at 12:30 p.m. the investigators arrived in Constantinople. Having been warned that it was easy for baggage to get lost, Yan and Radovan immediately went to oversee the unloading. Radovan looked for the large crate Le Comte's coffin had been in, but didn't see it. Yan saw four pieces of the party's luggage, Radovan saw two, but the remaining piece containing the right arm of the Simulacrum did not appear. The Baggage Office was a nightmare of bureaucracy, shuttling the countess and professor from department to department, each of which swore that they would find the luggage but gave no impression of confidence. When Rosaline spoke to the staff of the Orient Express, however, they apologized profusely for the error and told her that they would find it and send it on to the hotel. Satisfied with this, and with the staff procuring a taxi for the party, they went on to the Pera Palace Hotel.

Constantinople was grand but appallingly dirty, with dead animals and garbage in the streets, but the hotel was clean and grand. The party checked their luggage carefully when they arrived, and soon after they got a call that their lost luggage had arrived. Everything was in order as far as they could tell, but as they sat down the countess and professor felt pain in their arm and leg, respectively, that struck suddenly and did not go away.

The investigators discussed their plans for a time. They had been given no contact and had no leads on finding the Shunned Mosque or the Sedefkar Scrolls they needed for the ritual. They eventually decided to store the Simulacrum in the vault of the bank associated with the hotel, and the hotel staff transported it without incident. The professor, Radovan, and Rosaline went to the British Consulate to check for messages from Professor Smith or Beddows, and received one from Professor Smith stating that the Simulacrum required all parts assembled and the scrolls to be destroyed. After, they reassembled at the hotel, they went on to the Topkapi Museum. Unfortunately, the professor's Turkish was not good enough to read the museum catalogue, so they retreated in defeat. Their next stop was the Great Bazaar, a madhouse of commerce. The professor bought some souvenirs:
Me: "I buy some souvenir garbage for my children."
[livejournal.com profile] mutantur: "Your beloved children."
As they approached the scribes' section, they saw five Turkish men approaching them quickly and with purpose. Yan waved at them, but they continued around him toward a young scribe and began to smash his possessions. Rosaline screamed for help, the professor asked the men what the scribe's was and received a gruff reply that it is none of his business. After half a minute of beating, the men left and Rosaline hurried over to check his wounds. The scribe, Feyar, explained that the men had business with the government that went badly through no fault of his own, and offered his services. The investigators accepted, told him to meet them at the museum tomorrow, and win back to dinner at the hotel. After dinner, the professor scanned a local newspaper and noticed an article about a rash of child kidnappings. Greeks were suspected, but the group thought the Brotherhood of the Skin was more likely.

The countess and the professor still felt stiff and unwell in the morning, and after breakfast went to the museum. Feyar was there, and they entered and searched the catalogue. Listed plainly was "Scrolls, Sedefkar," with a note that they were not on public display. They sought out the museum director, Professor Azap, and the professor stated that he was writing a book about Turkish linguistic history and wished to see an example of 13th century Middle Turkish. The director was insulted, stating that the scrolls were an embarrassment, but allowed them in. However, the tubes he provided were empty, containing only a note:
The Skinless One reclaims
what is his
Cursed be Garaznet the Thief.
The director began consulting books, and the professor asked who the last person to see the scrolls was. The logbook contained an entry dated 1823 for a person named Selim Makryat, perhaps an ancestor of the Mehmet Makryat who had died three times in London at the start of their journey. With nothing else here, they left the archive. Yan asked Feyar about the Skinless One and Garaznet and the countess asked Feyar about the Shunned Mosque, but he had not heard of any of those. The screen suggested the university library, so that was their next destination. The professor looked up Garaznet, finding he was a Kurdish scholar four centuries ago, who had died without children and was buried in the Üsküdar. The countess looked into the Shunned Mosque, but didn't find anything matching the description from the records of the crusaders, and neither did Rosaline find any mention of the "Brotherhood of the Skin" by that name. She did, however, find a "cannibal cult" rumored to gather in a ruined mosque of roseate tincture. They left, with Feyar promising to meet them at the hotel the next day. After dinner, they went to a belly-dancing performance that was obviously designed for tourist pounds and francs.

On the way back to the hotel, it seemed like they were being followed by a Romani man leading a trained bear. As he passed, it seemed that he said, "Take care, my friends" in English, and the vanished into the crowds. Back at the hotel, as the professor scanned old newspapers, he saw a note about a murdered British office who had been killed by a couple involved in criminal activity, Charles and Evelyn Drake. The article mentioned a skinned monkey left in her room, which seemed strange. The cult had never been reluctant to skin humans before.

The next morning, they went to the market again. Listening to the local gossip, the party learned that the children were continuing to go missing and that the child of a wealthy European had also gone missing, so maybe the authorities would do something about it now. A young woman seemed to know about the mosque but wouldn't answer until the countess reassured her, and then she revealed that the Shunned Mosque was also called the Red Mosque, but then ran in fear. They heard the name of Beylab the Perspirer, who can find out anything. Feyar said he could not be trusted, but was willing to draft a message requesting an appointment for the following day. Next the investigators went back to the university to look for the whereabouts of Professor Sadik, Demir's uncle. They found an address and followed it, and after drinking tea in the sitting room, Professor Sadik arrived. He was unsurprised at Demir's death, saying that he always expected that he would outlive his nephew. The professor explained how a Demir had died and asked Professor Sadik about Garaznet and the Red Mosque, and while they did not learn anything new, they had the information they already knew confirmed.

After speaking with Professor Sadik, the investigators went to the Hotel Oasis to look into the Drakes' murder of the British colonel. The hotel was slightly run down, with a large man staffing the front desk. They rented a room, claiming that they knew the Drakes and asking after them. The clerk claimed he had never heard of them but Yan could tell he was lying, and the professor noticed the Drakes' names in the ledger next to two days in then Sultan Suite. That was there next destination, and strangely the door was unlocked. The room had been cleaned, but the mattress still bore bloodstains.

Down in the lobby, Radovan and Rosaline noticed that there was a tall, gaunt man who seemed to be watching them. As the countess pretended to faint to distract the clerk, the professor paged through the register and found that Charles Drake and stayed in the hotel many times, but Evelyn Drake had only previously stayed once. As the countess went back to the room, Radovan, Rosaline, and the professor went to talk to the man. He gave his name as Maurice Cotting and said he was a writer. He did not answer the investigators' questions, but Rosaline realized that he was an opium addict and might be more talkative at an opium den. They excused themselves and removed to a safe distance to wait. After several hours, Maurice left and the investigators followed. He went into a cafe, then out the back and into an opium den. They followed and sat next to Maurice, who was much more talkative now. He said he frequently saw the Drakes and that Charles Drake claimed to be a carpet importer but was actually a gun-runner, and asked for a share of the reward. The countess promised a share, and as Maurice floated off into an opium haze, the group left.

On the way back to their real hotel, the investigators saw the man with the bear again. It seemed strange, like the two were blending into each other, but when they looked again, there was no one there.
Annals of the Fallen
  1. Gianni Abbadelli, Italian Vatican Parapsychologist, arm torn off by čudovište in Vinkovci, February 8th, 1923.
  2. Demir Sadik, Turkish Revolutionary/Field Medic, devoured by the living lair of the Baba Yaga in the forests outside Orašac, February 13th, 1923.
  3. Jazmina Moric, Croat Linguist, killed by a thrown grenade during a battle with the Butchers at Sofiiski Universet, February 15th, 1923.
This session was pretty meandering, because we arrived in Constantinople knowing that we had to bring the Simulacrum to the Shunned Mosque and recite the ritual but didn't know where the Shunned Mosque was, where the Sedefkar Scrolls were, what the ritual was, and didn't have a contact or any other way to find the information out. There have been in-game days that took multiple sessions to cover, but this one session was almost a week.

I don't really have any other comments. This is the last slow point, then it's all a speeding train towards the ending!
dorchadas: (Pile of Dice)
I've been tinkering with RPGs again. Some people write fanfiction, some people draw fanart, and I come up with RPG homebrew. Even though I'm in three games right now--[personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's 7th Sea game, [livejournal.com profile] mutantur's Call of Cthulhu game, and my own Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom game--and thus have no time for another one, I just enjoy game design. My latest burst of creativity was spurred on by finding Heretical Shadows, someone's fan supplement for using the Shadowrun system with fantasy settings. It's something I've always wanted to try, since there's already rules for fantasy races, magic, and spirits, it's skill-based instead of class-and-level based, and it uses my favorite dice mechanic (giant pools of dice). But it would be a bunch of work for a game that I'm not likely to run anytime soon, so I'm glad someone else did it.

I keep thinking about tweaking it more, but I should actually run Shadowrun for a while first to familiarize myself with the system. I did a lot of tinkering with Exalted, but I ran that game for years. And anyway, one of my players perks up every time I mention canon Shadowrun so that's probably next in the queue. And urban fantasy cyberpunk is a good departure from grim sword and sorcery.

At [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's suggestion, we sat down and watched an episode of Chef's Table about Ivan Orkin, a Jewish New Yorker who ran a ramen restaurant in Japan. So now I want to move back to Japan, and I really want a bowl of ramen. Especially his ramen, with its noodles made in-house using toasted rye flour. He's right that it's very unlikely a Japanese person would have thought to do that, especially since they usually buy their noodles.

This also reminds me of the first time I saw salarymen ordering noodle refills and decided to do it myself. I spent a few minutes psyching myself up and formulating how to ask and eventually said something like すみません、もう麺を一皿お願いします ("Excuse me, may I have another plate of noodles?"), and the ramenyasan looked at me quizzically and said かえだま (kaedama), the specific word for that very thing. Emoji Smiling sweatdrop I did get my noodles, though.

And speaking of food:

Farmer's Market dinner )

Overcooked comes out on Switch tonight and we're probably going to buy it. Usually, if a game is multiplatform I buy it on PC for future-proofing reasons--I just recently played through a game from 1994 with no problems at all--but Overcooked is specifically local co-op only, and sitting on the couch next to [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd to play is more comfortable than both of us crowding around my computer. It's also about cooking, one of [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's my treasured hobby. I'm looking forward to cooking together, on the back of two speeding trucks!
dorchadas: (Not he who tells it)
Today marks the first week that I've gotten all my reading of 世界の中心で、愛を叫ぶ done for class before we even met for the first reading. In fairness, it's a relatively short chapter and like three quarters of it is dialogue, which is always easier to comprehend than, to pick an example at random, a half-page about how beautiful and pure a girl is using an extended inorganic chemistry metaphor.

(That example was not random)

I also got more practice handwriting, when [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I took the postcards we bought at the wedding and wrote them out to our old Chiyoda Eikaiwa students. We do a mix of English and Japanese, with [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd writing the English and me the Japanese, and my penmanship is atrocious. Sometimes I wonder if they can ever read what I've written:

2017-07-23 - Postcard Japanese
I think every single looks different.

I can instantly read this and know exactly what it says, but I kept having to look kanji up while I was writing because I didn't know how to write them. This is actually a major problem with Japanese writing nowadays, even with native speakers. Auto-complete kanji selection means that writing that takes place on computers or phones can be done phonetically, leading to a phenomenon called character amnesia, or 漢字健忘症 in Japanese (kanji kenbōshō) (article here. I write in Japanese relatively often, but literally the only time I hand write it is for these postcards.

I had a nice vacation--still too short, as they all are, but I was able to go back to work with a minimum of problems. My insomnia last night was entirely down to the people across the alley staying up and talking until 12:45 a.m. on a Monday and drinking like four cups of water because I was inexplicably thirsty. And yesterday was [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's birthday, so we went out to dinner and I ate duck curry! Emoji Fairy La And I had butter chicken on Sunday, and I'm having more butter chicken tonight...

Yum.
dorchadas: (Chicago)
So recently, Chicago Dyke March had an incident where they threw out three Jewish women marching with rainbow flags that had Magen David on them. The march organizers claimed that they made people feel unsafe and that the women had been asked to leave for expressing Zionist opinions at an explicitly pro-Palestinian march, but the women say they were approached and confronted about their flags. And since the march organizers put up a fundraiser for a self-care retreat where they used the phrase "from the river to the sea," leapt immediately to a Nazi analogy when explaining their decision:
"But, we need to be in control of our space just like you wouldn't accept Nazis in your synagogue."

-Alexis Martinez
and then used the phrase "Zios" when celebrating how they got the journalist who covered the initial incident demoted--they claim they didn't know the term or its usage, but I believe that as much as I'd believe someone who claimed they just happened to shorten the word "Hispanic" and why are people so angry--I believe the three Jewish women who were exiled.

And just recently, the Chicago Slut Walk said they stand with the Dyke March and also plan to ban "Zionist displays." What are those?

Is it any Jew who is identifiably Jewish? Is it merely the Magen David, a symbol of the Jewish people for centuries which long predates the modern nation of Israel? The Slutwalk claims that they're not the same thing, but I do not trust them to make that distinction. Slutwalk seems to uncritically believe the Dyke March's version of events, where the marchers were changing chants and being openly "Zionist," whatever they think that means. Of course, the Dyke March was happy to leave up comments about how Zionism is an insidious cancer (sound familiar?) and one of the women they banned was an Iranian Jew, and they also describe Zionism as a "White supremacist ideology."

Tell that to a Nazi.

There's a good article on the New York Times about the incident titled I’m Glad the Dyke March Banned Jewish Stars that talks about how intersectionality so often fails to consider Jews:
One of the women who was asked to leave the Dyke March, Eleanor Shoshany Anderson, couldn’t understand why she was kicked out of an event that billed itself as intersectional. “The Dyke March is supposed to be intersectional,” she said. “I don’t know why my identity is excluded from that. I felt that, as a Jew, I am not welcome here.”

She isn’t. Because though intersectionality cloaks itself in the garb of humanism, it takes a Manichaean view of life in which there can only be oppressors and oppressed. To be a Jewish dyke, let alone one who deigns to support Israel, is a categorical impossibility, oppressor and oppressed in the same person.

That’s why the march organizers and their sympathizers are now trying to smear Ms. Grauer as some sort of right-wing provocateur. Their evidence: She works at an organization called A Wider Bridge, which connects the L.G.B.T.Q. Jewish community in America with the L.G.B.T.Q. community in Israel. The organizers are also making the spurious claim that the Jewish star is necessarily a symbol of Zionist oppression — a breathtaking claim to anyone who has ever seen a picture of a Jew forced to wear a yellow one under the Nazis.
I saw claims that A Wider Bridge has an anti-LGBTQ stance, which is just blatant lying. But it serves the struggle, so I guess it's okay.

This is why I give money and don't directly participate in activism. Israel is a complicated issue, reducing it to indigenous Palestinian vs white settler colonialist Israelis is 1) insultingly stupid and 2) blatantly applying American political dynamics to the rest of the world, and I sure as hell don't want some leftist crusader subjecting me to an inquisition about Israel while they decide if I'm a good Jew or a bad Jew. I don't trust them to be able to understand my answers, and I don't trust Slutwalk to be able to able to distinguish between "Zionist" and "non-Zionist" uses of the Magen David. The Slutwalk already has the attitude that most pointing out antisemitism is spurious, so of course they're going to lean toward antisemitism. If you think a lot of it is fake--that's there's some kind of, say, world-wide conspiracy--in an environment where antisemitic incidents almost doubled in early 2017, then in practice, you're not going to end up much different from those people who immediately assume any black person shot by the police must have deserved it.

Shabbat Shalom.

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