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I don’t normally like live versions and covers, but I’ve filled out the videos with a lot of those because I’m trying to show the sheer breadth of influence and appeal Bowie had.

Space Oddity, Changes, Life on Mars, Star Man, Suffragette City, Panic in Detroit, The Jean Jeannie, Rebel Rebel, Young Americans, Fame, John, I’m Only Dancing, Heroes, Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps), Ashes to Ashes, Fashion, Modern Love, China Girl, Let’s Dance, As the World Falls Down, Absolute Beginners, Jump They Say, The Heart’s Filthy Lesson, I Have not been to Oxford Town, I’m Deranged, Dead Man Walking, I’m Afraid of Americans, Thursday’s Child, Cactus, Everyone Says Hi, Pablo Picasso, Lazarus.

DennettQuote

It has been a weird, difficult year. So was 2014, but 2015 has been a full year of many of the same issues and problems and has been a steep learning curve for an old dog who hit forty this year. Some things have changed, some things have to change and on the broader stage I finally see some positive change.

Hitting 40 wasn’t too much of a concern, weirdly. It was mostly a non-event, though a stark realisation of age has certainly exacerbated other problems, 40 itself doesn’t mean much to me, just like 16, 18, 21 and 30 didn’t really.

***

Depression (and related anxiety) has dogged another year and although I am a lot better than I was (off the dried frog pills and coping) it continues to have a savage impact on my ability to work. I had hoped that signing on with Chronicle City would enable me to step back and take more of a project management role but problems there – outside anyone’s control – have stalled that and forced me to go back to Postmortem to keep that going and to keep money coming in.

***

The ongoing difficulties with getting the Gor RPG to market have not helped matters either. The backers have been incredibly patient – thankfully – and it is only the art that is still being waited on, but its impossible to tell at this point when the last parts will come in and all I can tell anyone is that there’s good reason for the delay. Still, it’s a lot of pressure and a lot of money is tied up waiting for the printing and posting. That also severely limits my ability to commit to new projects and to work.

Despite all this, I did manage to release…

Which when you look back at it, isn’t so bad. It’s about a project a month.

***

I also self-published my first full length novel, Old, Fat Punks, which was a bit of a waste but agents and publishers weren’t biting and it was annoying the piss out of me having it just sat around. Fortunately the people who have read it seem to both ‘get it’, and love it. That may not pay the bills, but its artistically satisfying. I have two more full length book ideas in a position to write this year, but it’s hard to justify when there’s so little money in it, even compared to what you’d think would be a profitless niche – roleplaying games.

***

Honestly, it comes hard to write or create anything these days. Something that will doubtless give my tireless critics cause to celebrate and it is, indeed, because of them that it is difficult. The urge to self-censor in order to avoid yet another shitstorm is strong, to the point of creative paralysis often. Even if the conclusion is ‘fuck you’ and the urge is to take them ‘from hell’s heart I stab at thee’ approach to ‘criticism’, it is extremely wearing both to have the Sword of Twittercles hanging over your head, and to endure the thrashings of the hateful ‘SJW’ mob whenever you do anything.

This is different to trolling, though trolling comes with it too. Trolls lose interest over time, while some of these people are persistent enough to keep going for years and years. With that comes a volume of unfair and inaccurate material online which turns up when people search for you, which then turns up when new people look into your projects. How can you fix it? I don’t know that you can.

I don’t concur with people like Mike Cernovitch or Vox Day on… pretty much anything, other than their commitments to free speech, yet I get treated – on a smaller scale – with the same kind of scorn normally directed towards them. Both have written books on their approaches to the problem of social shaming but what they amount to is that they don’t give a shit.

I don’t have that luxury. Vox and Mike aren’t my kindred spirits when it comes to this because I do strive to be a good person and so end up nonplussed and genuinely hurt by being portrayed as some sort of avatar of evil, as this misogynist, racist horrorshow they’ve conjured. It bothers me because despite their protestations, I am not. It should be sufficient to know who and what I am and am not, but reputation matters and it takes a lot more effort to remove a stain than to make one – it’s a sort of Gish Gallop of slander.

Jon Ronson’s book and TED talk on this issue is perhaps more my speed. He shares my hand-wringing incredulity that people who are ostensibly on our side are acting so appallingly, being so intolerant and resorting so such tactics. That they are throwing basic liberal values under the bus towards some nebulous and opaque end, so unclear concept of the ‘greater good’ that tramples on individual liberties.

***

It’s also a time of hope, at least on the broader stage, as we seem to have reached the peak of this kind of stupidity that society as a whole is willing to tolerate. There are signs of hope from Spiked and FIRE to Ronson, Dave Ruben, Bill Maher and Sam Harris. ‘SJWs’ have burned their allies with a fanatical commitment to an orthodoxy most people – fortunately – don’t share. We also have language to describe things now, we are cultural libertarians, the censorious, authoritarian voices calling themselves liberal are the ‘regressive left’ (Maajid Nawaz).

The fuss on university campuses is a laughing stock and appears to be provoking a backlash, which may reinforce intellectual and free-speech spaces on and beyond campuses, rolling back the Tumblrisation of public discourse.

More and more it’s the people whose side I supposedly should be on (as a far-left anarchist) who are intolerably dickweasels, while the people whose political, economic and social views I am opposed to, who are polite, engaging and willing to talk. I’m far more likely to have a productive discussion or cooperation with a conservative libertarian or even an Objectivist, than I am a self-styled progressive, even though I would agree with the latter on so much more and the former only on one thing.

I don’t know what tactic to use to cope and to feel free again. It’s not so simple as trolling, which can simply be discounted, I don’t have the self-confidence to ignore it or self-assert though it, but I have to find a way to cope. There’s a toll to simply blocking people, each time I have to resort to it its a violation of my principles, but that’s something else that’s going to have to be got past. There’s simply no reaching some people and while wanting to debate, discuss and reach people is a noble goal, it can be unrealistic.

***

A bigger problem, and one other depression sufferers will empathise with I’m sure, is that pleasure and fun has become elusive – and this has been going on years now. Even as I’ve gotten better in so many other ways it has become much harder to derive pleasure and satisfaction from things. I’ve been a gamer over 30 years now, with a consuming passion for it that has taken me into it as a career, but I’m just not getting the joy and wonder I used to from it.

Every gaming session, whether I’m running it or not, leaves me dissatisfied, frustrated and even upset. Even when everyone else involved seems to think it has gone well. Somehow I need to recapture my love of gaming and find a way to do it more. Thing is, it’s not just gaming, it’s reading, it’s computer games, all of it is simply going through the motions on mental life-support, which is rather worrisome.

***

The quote at the beginning of this look-back is from a speech Dan Dennett made, he’s quoting a friend of his – partially, but he makes a good point (even though it is a bit of a downer). When you take a stand on things, it costs you. I’m an opinionated guy with a very strong moral and ethical sense – despite accusations to the contrary.

  • That’s why I took a stand on Gamergate – and lost friends over it, or rather the lies told about it.
  • That’s why I’ve taken a stand on censorship and free speech issues – and lost friends over it.
  • That’s why I’ve taken a stand on the toxicity and nonsense of religion and woo – and lost friends over it.
  • That’s why I’ve taken a stand on various men’s issues – and weathered accusations and lost friends over it.

This year has, perhaps, brought home that people who really are friends have tolerance of difference, are willing to talk about it and those that don’t, perhaps were never really your friends in the first place. It’s never me that cuts people off (who I consider friends) but the same concern and courtesy rarely seems to extend to me. You never aid, help or support your friends seeking reward, but there is an expectation of reciprocity which, sadly it seems this year – and for a long time – hasn’t been particularly forthcoming.

On the other hand, I’ve made many new friends and acquaintances, made of sterner stuff and with similar concerns, and whom I should make the effort to cement my friendships with. I’ve also strengthened existing acquaintances, and that’s definitely worth strengthening and renewing too. To have people you can trust to give you honest feedback, knowing where you’re actually coming from rather than projecting their own biases, is good too.

***

So looking forward then, but not resolutions, because resolutions are bullshit.

  • I need to try and be more positive. Fighting to protect and defend things is great, but it necessarily means you’re always coming across negative, reacting to shitty things that other people do. This is obviously a tall order for someone with severe depression, and has never come naturally to me (a pessimist can only ever have a nice surprise).
  • I need to cement, secure and strengthen the new friendships I have.
  • I need to stop self-censoring and find a way to work through the dread of genuine harassment.
  • I need to let things go more often. People, arguments, people who don’t deserve, or return, respect or who hurl accusations when they should know better. Some progress on that this year, but not enough.
  • I need to find my enjoyment of my life’s passion, again. Somehow. Playing more games, making time for it.
  • I need to somehow overcome this exhaustion and lack of confidence to work more again, and pick more of the projects I really want to do – and let that guide what I choose to work on.

Little changes, really, but they all add up.

Wish me luck!

Penetralia

I think it’s fair to say that James Desborough has something of a…reputation in the gaming industry. I have no interest in weighing in on that, however – if you want to delve into that stuff I’m sure there are plenty of people on the internet who would be happy to oblige you. I will say that in my interactions with James on the internet I’ve always found him to be an open and genial person, and personally I have nothing unkind to say about him.

I’ve also long been aware of James’ issues with depression and mental illness and – like me – he’s always been rather forthcoming with his own struggles and in that I feel something of a comradeship with James. This is the first time I’ve had an opportunity to speak at length with James about…well, anything, really and I found our chat both entertaining and…

View original post 4,242 more words

tumblr_lxx7p6a9AX1qjjvnxo1_400Oh dear…

“The next one?”

Saul’s voice sounds strange, quiet almost strangled. I turn, noticing as I do that the knife is strangely clean. George is unsettled and moves away towards the door, Ana has already left, Ray chasing after her… but why?

Paul sits in the chair, unharmed. There’s a flicker around his throat like the way they blur a criminal’s face on the television. What do they call it? Pixelisation.

“I just cut your throat, you should be dead,” I stalk back to him, angry, confused.

“Gamers have many lives,” he says, smugly. He opens his mouth to say something else and I stab him again, punching my blade between his ribs, into his heart and watching the life leave his eyes.

“Now Saul, the next…” I’m interrupted. The air breaks into squares and reforms. Paul sits there again, looking at me, smugly.

“Many lives,” he repeats.

I stab him again. This time through the eye.

Again, he returns.

I cut his wrists, Saul shoots him – damn the sound I want this man dead – none of it works. I’m… afraid. I lash out and I stab him over and over again until the meat that was once a man slumps and almost pours out of the chair.

It doesn’t take.

“There’s also cheat codes,” he says, offhandedly.

“WHY WON’T YOU DIE?” I scream. I almost stab him again but what would be the point.

“Perhaps I was never alive to start with. Perhaps I’m a scarecrow, a strawman, a conjuring if your own delusion. Perhaps I had the mushroom starter.”

A sensitive spot, I drive the dagger up under his chin, between his jaw, up through his soft palette and into his brain. This time I leave it there, but when the squares engulf him the blade appears, back in my hand.

“I never raped anyone. Though that sort of accusation is something people like you like to throw around. I never stalked anyone or harassed anyone. I disagreed with some people, loudly, and you seem to regard that as some sort of cardinal sin. I think you’re looking for an excuse to play out some murder fantasies. Maybe it’s just your puppeteer.”

I raise the blade, but I can’t make it strike this time, it would be pointless, unsatisfying, horrifying.

“You can’t kill something that never existed. You can’t kill the truth. Especially if you’re a fiction yourself and you, Ella, are just a bad story. A murderous wank fantasy. A trope. You’re the traumatised avenger, just another Batman with tits, like Huntress, Batgirl, all the rest. You’re a rule 63 of Patrick Bateman. Even the cover of your book betrays your influences.”

“Book? I…”

There’s a flash of squares and now there’s two of him, neither of them in the chair, neither tied.

“You created a cartoon villain, a ‘bad man’ of the type the Amazon reviews say you like to kill. Except… we’re not bad men. Come to that, can you imagine the screams of protest if we wrote murderous revenge porn about those arrayed against us?”

A flash, there’s four of them now.

“Many of us aren’t men at all. We’re gay and straight, bi and trans. We’re men and women and all points in between. We’re people who want to defend art and free expression. We’re people who want to retain a free internet.”

A flash, then sixteen, then thirty-two, Saul disappears into the crowd. They’re all smiling at me as they close in, so many faces, so many different faces, and they’re laughing at me. Laughing at me, Ella, the murderess, the avenger. They’re not scared of me, they’re not taking me seriously. The blade falls from my hand and clatters to the ground.

“What do you want?”

“We just wanted to play video games. Now we have to save the world.”

Paul emerges from the crowd and crouches, at my feet, picking up the knife. “Milady,” he says, and tips a fedora I’m sure he wasn’t wearing a second again.

He leans in closer still. I recoil against the wall, my skin crawling. This is horrifying, unreal, unnatural.

“The sad part of this is that if the people we oppose had their way, you wouldn’t exist at all Ella. A sexualised woman, written by a man? Bloody violence? They’d 451 your arse in a second. We deal in truth Ella. The truth is you’re badly written revenge porn, written by a male-submissive hack who likely pays for his Amazon reviews. If you think that’s incorrect consider I’ve not bothered to research you very much. Before you open your mouth again, maybe put us to shame by bothering to research us. Take that message to your puppetmaster.”

And everything dissolves into little squares.

404, file not found.

The following is a five star review for Old, Fat Punks – posted on Amazin. You should totally buy a copy, review it and recommend it to your friends.

***

This is an outstanding novel. It is also a very dangerous novel. Old, Fat, Punks is nostalgic tribute to a bygone era. A pre-Margaret Thatcher, pre-Ronald Reagan era in which young people still thought they could change the world for the better – an idealistic era, a romantic era. This novel is also about the cold hard truth that that era has passed and it is a blistering critique of the world we live in today.

This novel is also about the cold hard truth that that era has passed and it is a blistering critique of the world we live in today.

Derek, Trol (one “l” because two is too much work) and Tim are ageing, drunk, unsuccessful former punks from the late 1970s. Each one is facing a grinding, humiliating future in which their choices are poverty on the British dole or throwing out what little self-esteem they have left. One drunken night they agree to under take one last great act of defiance. But not to make a difference but rather to show the world that we now live in a system that even the most extreme political act cannot change (told you it was a dangerous novel). Over the course of the novel we see them put together their plan of action while confronting some of their own demons from the past. We also flash back on their days running with their mates in Britain’s punk scene and come to better understand who these characters are and what drives them.

Each one is facing a grinding, humiliating future in which their choices are poverty on the British dole or throwing out what little self-esteem they have left. One drunken night they agree to under take one last great act of defiance.

The book is well written with complex and interesting characters (even the secondary characters are well rounded and believable). Derek, Trol and Tim are as distinct and complex as you can possibly imagine and make a magnificent spring board for the author to comment on everything from being gay and a racial minority to the state of public schools, the nature of unrequited love, political activism, obesity and the music industry. It is a stinging critique of our modern era and some of a particular political bent will not appreciate our hero’s views of the world (if you are in the 1%, I’m guessing you won’t enjoy this). But if you dreamed of making a difference (or bless you if you are young and think you can make a difference) then this novel seers the heart. It is not hopeless. The novel is romantic and so is the author. Both believe that at the core of all of us is the desire to make the world better – if we can just believe that it can be done (and believe in each other) and open our eyes to the truth of the world around us.

The novel is romantic and so is the author. Both believe that at the core of all of us is the desire to make the world better – if we can just believe that it can be done…

Amazon Kindle

Lulu (hardcopy)

PROJECT_COVER_IMAGE_1._SY300_Hey!

Do me a favour and check out Kindlescout, it’s a way of supporting authors on Amazon & this series deserves support

A friend of this author gave me some support – full disclosure – but it’s a cool idea for a series and deserves support!

New, and even experienced, authors need help and support, this is a new way of making that happen.

Derek, Tim and ‘Trol’ are three ageing rebels, hitting their fifties. Disillusioned by the way the world has turned out and the frustration of their teenage dreams of a better life or a revolution.

All they have left are stories of past glory and pints of cheap beer at one of the last punk-pubs in London.

Watching a riot unfurl on television, to no point and no effect, their frustration boils over and they decide to do something futile and stupid, a grand, nihilistic gesture of futility.

Comedy, social and political satire, and frustration all meet in this story of a ‘revolutionary caper’

 

Smashwords

Amazon

Lulu (Hardcopy)

Drivethrufiction

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