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jodie-whittaker-doctor-who-reveal-portrait-300x450The announcement of the new Doctor being a woman has understandably ruffled a few feathers, and there have been a plethora of articles about it. Most of these seem to run along the lines of:

“LOL! CRY HARDER MANBABIES!” and various accusations of misogyny directed towards anyone who regards this decision as anything less than ‘stunning and brave’ or expresses even the slightest misapprehension as to the motivations and effect of changing the show in such a fundamental way.

It seems like nobody is going to write the article we should be seeing, so I guess I’m going to have to do it. I’ve tried, already, in comments etc, to stem the tide of “LOL! FRAGILE MASCULINITY!” but even belabouring the point to excess doesn’t seem to get the point across, so let’s try something else…

Dr Bewb

So by now, you’ve all had a few days to absorb that the next actor to play the role of The Doctor is going to be a woman. This shouldn’t really be a surprise, NuWho has been hinting at this – initially jokily – since 2011 or so. Moffat wasn’t keen and said it wasn’t going to happen on his watch, but he’s leaving and the new guy – Chibnall – is coming in with a new broom to sweep through. Maybe this is a good thing, maybe it’s bad. RTD was getting pretty tiresome towards the end of his run, Moffat had some good stories in him but seems to have run out of steam, a new guy might reinvigorate things, or not.

Similarly, a female Doctor could be a kill or cure moment for the series.

I don’t think you’re misogynists for being antsy, in fact, many of you are women. Many of you who are women have had nerd crushes on the various Doctors. That has certainly been a part of NuWho that people into the original series never really expected to happen, even with the relatively young and pretty ‘New Romantic’ run of Peter Davison (weren’t those costumes great?).

NuWho has already made a bunch of changes, some to the good, some to the bad. Resurrecting the series seemed to require a bunch of changes, changing to a breakneck-speed episodic format rather than a serial format for a start – something I very much bemoan. The scientific and educational aspect has also taken a hit, in exchange for more ‘pure’ entertainment, but it seems to have paid off. Dr Who finally ‘broke’ America. bringing romantic plotlines, especially ones including The Doctor was controversial, and something I – didn’t like, but we coped with that.

If there’s anything this change is similar to it’s when Matt Smith took over. He was too young, way too young. His publicity shots looked like an otter that listened to Green Day. Every time there’s a regeneration people are in an uproar and this is no different. People’s concerns about Smith were justified and he overcame them. People’s concerns about Whittaker are similarly justified. She doesn’t have a penis though, so your concerns and worries aren’t just dismissed as ‘nerdy’ or unreasonable any more. They’re being called ‘misogynistic’.

That’s not fair, is it?

I mean, you love Doctor Who. You want it to succeed and you want it to continue. This is a big change and a risky one that tinkers with the whole story dynamic of the series. So you’re worried. That makes sense, it doesn’t mean you hate women, does it?

This is also happening against a background of other things going on. The BBC has quotas for staffing and on comedy panels. It is discriminating in its hiring and has fired ‘cishetwhitemen’ from positions and shows. Doctor Who has been painfully PC for some time now, to the point of revising history to make it more palatable in recent episodes. In that context, the change to a female Doctor can’t help but look political and seem to be part of a trend. It needn’ be, but it’s understandable that it can look like that. I might just be that Chibnall wants to bring a familiar face with him. It might.

It might.

Being worried about that doesn’t make you reactionary or conservative. You probably just want people to succeed on their own merits and don’t want things to be mucked about with for no reason. You probably think these kinds of policies are sexist/racist or whatever else. You’re not wrong, but we don’t know if that’s what’s going on here.

Maybe you’re worried about the stories. That’s understandable too. Such a shift to the whole story dynamic could change everything. Could be for the worse, could be for the better. There’s no real way of knowing how that’s going to work out until we see it. It’s a risk, but so was a shift to a younger Doctor, and it did change the dynamic and feel, but it worked. This might, it might not.

Your concerns are legitimate. There’s a lot to be worried about. Merchandise sales are down, viewership is down. This is a big risk to take in that relatively fragile situation. People are playing around with something you love and their motivations might be political, the people giving you a hard time and crowing about ‘male tears’ certainly are being political.

Fuck those people. You’re not bigots. You know it, I know it, anyone worth talking to knows it.

But we won’t know if the fears are justified until a few episodes into the new series, and because it’s a woman people are reacting differently to you saying exactly the same things you said about Matt Smith. So have your concerns, but how about we all just wait and see if it’s as bad as it can seem. The whole NuWho project has been one long set of risks, fucking with something beloved and cared about – and its great that people care. Let’s just give it a shot.

And if people could lay off screaming misogynist at you guys too, that’d be great.

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792ff0efca4a02382678eb238ac650adJust over a year ago I was standing on the far platform of a railway station, with crusted blood on my arm from self-inflicted wounds and trying to muster the courage to throw myself in front of a train. I nearly did it too. Standing so close to the edge of the platform that the side of one of the trains brushed and almost clipped the tip of my nose.

I couldn’t quite do it though. Not quite. Ended up going back home with my tail between my legs and trying to salvage the pieces of my broken brain.

I was in a very severe depressive slump anyway and then was kicked while I was down by life. One friend died and another, dear, friend turned out to be in a rather harsh home situation. I couldn’t help either of them in any meaningful way and was left feeling thoroughly impotent, even more useless than usual and selfish for feeling terrible. I was unable to ask for support and help when I felt other people needed it more.

Eventually, of course, people found out and were amazingly and wonderfully supportive, as they always are (depression lies to you about that) and while a dead friend can’t be brought back, at least the other friend now has an escape plan that I can – hopefully – help with.

My beautiful and lovely friend, and one-time unofficial, virtual housemate, Katie sent me a care package not long after my bout of suicidal ideation, and while some of the contents were an arcane mystery (a face pack? wtf?) amongst the goodies was The Book of You, a little diary/workbook of sorts with daily micro-actions for a whole year (there’s also an app). I just finished working through it (it was actually useful and not the hippy crap it might look like at first glance) and one of the things it tells you to do is to ‘report back’.

So, what’s there to report back?

I’ve made it 12 months without a relapse. No self harm in that time. No new suicide attempts. Only – relatively – mild bouts of depression and panic. I’m out of therapy but back on the drugs, on what seems to be a semi-permanent basis, constantly trying to anticipate and balance the dose. Summer is the worst time of year for my mental health, the heat I think – and the lack of sleep. I also tend to feel out of place at this time of year, it’s not really my ‘cup of tea’ and there are extra, physical chores that need doing.

I’ve been working hard to try and get back to the self-sufficiency I was at before the last few years’ heavy bouts of depression, but it’s tough. I’ve even been looking for supplementary part-time work but with the depression as it is I just don’t think I’m reliable enough for anyone to hire. This presents its own problems in terms of both self-esteem and finances, wanting to regain that full independence and being – seemingly – unable to. There’s not a lot of options to remedy that either. Seeking assistance or benefits is massively impactful to self esteem if you don’t feel you really need them and austerity has cut funding for such things to the bone anyway. An ‘invisible illness’ would be a tough sell to any assessor or board, especially the kinds that judge terminal cancer cases ‘fit for work’.

There’s no real prospect of ever ‘getting better’ at this point. Just varying degrees of coping. That puts a lot of stress on friendships and relationships, as does the aforementioned lack of independence. There’s things I’m good at, even very good at, but imposter syndrome is a bitch and even having talent isn’t enough in a very tough gig economy with a trashed reputation, caused by sticking up for what you know is right – no matter what. No matter the lies and aspersions. Even when some of the people you were sticking up for end up turning on you.

I’ve accomplished a lot, in spite of being sick. In spite of there being no prospect of ever getting better. These are things I should be proud of, but anhedonia – one of the symptoms of depression, look it up – makes it all but impossible to truly acknowledge and take it to heart even when you do something amazing and against the odds.

I’m still here, but the Reverse SAD is pretty bad, panic attacks are pretty frequent. The abuse and suspicion I’m used to by this point, and when you have severe depression nobody can hate you as much as you hate yourself anyway, so it barely registers.

All of that sounds really bad, but here’s the thing. It isn’t.

It’s just an acknowledgement of status. I’m coping. I’m plodding on. I’m working away on things – bit by bit. I’ve re-organised my work schedule and am much more productive. I have a large body of work on Youtube now. I’m at least looking for ways out of my problem situations and there’s slow but steady progress on every front.

That’s all much better than it sounds.

Thank you everyone who looks after me when I need it, stays friends through tough differences of opinion, doesn’t treat me like some fragile thing all the time and forgives me my failings while valuing my strengths.

Here’s where I was last year, for comparison…

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grimbletideI don’t care about Christmas, but I do care about you.

My friends, my family, my readers, the players of my games.

The people who’ve stuck around, who’ve disagreed with open minds, discussed, defended and worked with one another to muck on through and get shit done. The skeptics, the shitlords, the ‘true liberals’, the artists, the people with the courage of their convictions and a real understanding of friendship.

Thanks dudes.

This last year hasn’t just taken a toll on celebrities that meant something to us, it has taken a massive toll on a lot of people in a lot of ways. Everywhere I look I see people losing parents, friends, pets, marriages, lovers, jobs, money, homes even children – and even their own lives and health.

It has been shit, no question. Politically, economically, socially, professionally, personally, for a whole swathe of people.

The good news is… we survived it (at least I assume nobody is reading this from beyond the grave). It hasn’t all been terrible either. We’re at the crest of a backlash against the authoritarian/regressive/SJW left, the censorious arseholes who have been causing trouble for everyone for years.

The trick will be preventing that backlash turning into an equally oppressive authoritarian right. Perhaps though – finally – we can re-find some balance at the end of this process – in another four years. Perhaps this is also an opportunity (though not one especially being taken up with gusto yet) for the left to modernise and correct its mistakes, rather than doubling down.

We can hope.

Dominant over-cultures create powerful and interesting subcultures. As the dominant force shifts from the authoritarian ‘left’ to the authoritarian right there’s an opportunity for a lot of creative energy to find outlets and it’ll necessarily have to also be anti-PC, there’s bigger fish to fry. I hope and expect we’ll also see the skeptic community turning its ire, fire and focus upon the excesses on the authoritarian right as it did with the left.

I guess, what I’m saying is that there’s hope – and interesting times ahead. We survived the 80s and its constant threat of nuclear Armageddon with a senile, talentless hack actor in charge of the White House. We can survive a corrupt and incompetent ‘reality star’ in the same way. Brexit is shit, but there’s years of negotiations and decisions to go. We can soften it and heck, with the banks abandoning the UK maybe there’s finally impetus to diversify what we do beyond banking services so we can avoid becoming the Venezuela of Europe.

Similarly in Murka, Trump’s incompetence and his blithe obviousness in his corruption (rather than having the good sense to be sneaky about it) may well provide the impetus – finally – to make changes to the American political system to lessen and prevent such things in the future. It may also lead, eventually, to some much needed reform to the electoral college. One can hope the UK also, finally, gathers the gumption in the next swing of the pendulum to reform the hopelessly unrepresentative first past the post system.

Lots of people are despairing, but in some ways things are a bit better. In other ways I see hope. Sometimes you have to burn something down to clear the path for something new.

Anyway, hold onto that hope, try to see the positive changes that have happened along with the negative. Fights never end, they change, but you can acknowledge progress – and the instances in which we were right.

Let’s see what we can do in the new year.

Love,

G

x

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So last night I’m making a Youtube video and talking on Facebook while it renders or I’m downloading effects. Between the video and a conversation I was having I remember an episode of Aeon Flux I particularly loved which was of some relevance. Then I think ‘I loved the music on Aeon Flux, I wonder if you can get in anywhere’. A little Google-Fu later (avoiding the movie, *shudder*) and what should I find but the sales website of the composer himself, Drew Neumann.

I think ‘what the hell, I’ll help a brother out’ and buy the remastered triple-album version of the music for just over $10, figuring I can listen to it in the car and I can use snippets in my videos – because it’s cool.

All good, download it, no problem.

Then I get an email from Drew himself just to let me know if I had any problems with the download I could ask.

So I reply, nerding out – as one does – about Aeon and how much I love the music (almost equally to the animation) and then Drew mails me back…

‘Wait, are you THAT James Desborough, the RPG guy?’

Turns out Drew is a massive D&D nerd and ‘knows my work’.

That, ladles and gentlespoons, is frigging, cool.

You can buy and download the Aeon Flux music HERE (and it’s instrumental, so good for having on while you’re working or gaming). I highly recommend that you do.

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GOD FUCKING DAMN I HATE THESE ‘ARTICLES’.

Ariel!

ArielRapunzel!

Rapunzel

Sleeping Beauty!

SleepingBeauty

Jasmine!

Jasmine

Belle!

Belle

 

Tiana!

Tiana

Snow White!

SnowWhite

Cinders!

cindarella

Merida!

Merida

Mulan!

Mulan

Pochahontas!

Pochahontas

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Richard Mayhew walked down the underground platform. It was a District Line station: the sign said BLACKFRIARS. The platform was empty. Somewhere in the distance an Underground train roared and rattled, driving a ghost-wind along the platform, which scattered a copy of the tabloid Sun into its component pages, four-color breasts and black-and-white invective scurrying and tumbling off the platform and down onto the rails.

Richard walked the length of the platform. Then he sat down on a bench and waited for something to happen.

Nothing happened.

He rubbed his head and felt slightly sick. There were footsteps on the platform, near him, and he looked up to see a prim little girl walking past him, hand in hand with a woman who looked like a larger, older version of the girl. They glanced at him and then, rather obviously, looked away. “Don’t get too near to him, Melanie,” advised the woman, in a very audible whisper.

Melanie looked at Richard, staring in the way children stare, without embarrassment or self consciousness. Then she looked back at her mother. “Why do people like that stay alive?” she asked, curiously.

“Not enough guts to end it all,” explained her mother.

Melanie risked another glance at Richard. “Pathetic,” she said. Their feet pattered away down the platform, and soon they were gone. He wondered if he had imagined it. He tried to remember why he was standing on this platform. Was he waiting for a Tube train? Where was he going? He knew the answer was somewhere in his head, somewhere close at hand, but he could not touch it, could not bring it back from the lost places. He sat there, alone and wondering. Was he dreaming? With his hands he felt the hard red plastic seat beneath him, stamped the platform with mud-encrusted shoes (where had the mud come from?), touched his face . . . No. This was no dream. Wherever he was, was real. He felt odd: detached, and depressed, and horribly, strangely saddened. Someone sat down next to him. Richard did not look up, did not turn his head.

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Lowest Ebb

596664298I’m at the lowest I have been in some time and while the stresses that got me here are long term it has been a rather rapid and sudden descent over the last few days.

As I’m sure you’re all extremely tired of hearing from me at this point, I suffer from severe and ongoing depression. I had been a lot better for quite some time, to the point where I no longer need the drugs and have been phasing out the therapy sessions – up to now.

That wasn’t my full diagnosis though, there was another aspect to it that I haven’t been quite so open about. I had a sub-diagnosis of Dependency Disorder which, though mild, is definitely present in me.

The long and the short of that is that I judge myself a great deal by how I am seen in the eyes of others. It means I need good, close, loyal friends. It means I need to feel appreciated, valued, useful. All hard things to be when you’re a depressed lump. This is part of why I’ve always taken criticism so badly and why, despite trying to be stoic, the attacks on my reputation and the horrific way in which I’ve been attacked and hounded for several years now have affected me so very badly.

I’ve lost a lot of my old support network. Some of that’s geography, some of that is family – people starting their own inevitably fall out of touch. Some of that is people listening to the rumourmongers or not having the common decency to talk to me or listen to me.

I guess they weren’t really my friends after all. Friends have your back and reciprocate, standing up for you in the way you do, or would, stand up for them. I’ve been let down a great deal and lost a lot of people I care about and it’s mostly for bullshit reasons.

This means the support network that I have left becomes increasingly important and integral. The people who still think well of me and say so occasionally. I have met some good people in the time I’ve been losing old friends, but I haven’t made close friends or the kinds of boosters that I guess I need. It doesn’t feel real or sincere, and the depression creates a compliment-resistant forcefield.

I’ve also felt less able to say on social media when I need help or feel down because there are people who’ve seemingly dedicated their lives since my ill-titled blog post to attacking and provoking me at every opportunity they can find. Most internet harassment isn’t worthy of the name, but I think, if anything, years of consistent abuse and attempts to trigger suicidal episodes counts. The other issue is that well-meaning and loving people – the ones that are left – overreact when I’m low, which leads me to keep it to myself to avoid upsetting or panicking them, and to avoid the stress that comes from well-meaning people hounding me about how I feel.

A lot has happened, and continues to happen, to grind me down, the background radiation of my life.

I have some personal issues I can’t go into here, but there’s other stuff that I can.

When my reputation was first attacked it had no real impact, it was positive if anything. My attackers have, however, been very persistent and much as it pains me to admit it they’ve done real damage. I can’t get my fiction published unless I use a pseudonym and even that’s touch and go. Freelancing has dried up. New work doesn’t do so well at the moment and there’s that constant threat of the banhammer of Damocles hanging over the main publication sites for PDF games. You don’t even have to be particularly controversial or graphic to be under threat.

Thing is, all these people know the accusations and reputational damage is bullshit. These are real-world friends, people I’ve met and hung out with at conventions, professionals I’ve worked with, and they’re all running scared or hostage to the false impressions of other people that I haven’t.

Doing the right thing is intensely costly.

Expressing opinions is intensely costly.

These things shouldn’t be, but that’s the world we live in. It’s not even as though the things I believe and fight for are awful anyway. A big part of me rails against all this in a righteous fury. Things would be so much easier if I were a meek little tag-along, if I let my principles go.

I run the Darkzel Scholarship every year, and this year it was like pulling teeth to find entries. Some of that was down to sabotage. Someone ‘warning’ people they didn’t want to be associated with it. Some of it down to communications channels not wanting to boost my signal. There I am, trying to commemorate a dead friend, help young artists and create a legacy and some people hate me so much they’d attack that.

Our friend Craig died recently, of natural causes. I’ve written about that already. It was a terrible shock and has made me reassess a lot of things in my life. Losing someone that way is very different to suicide, drugs or accidents – the other ways I’ve lost people. It makes me realise that I need to be happier. I need to look after myself. That always feels selfish though. I almost never put myself first and every time I do it feels like I’m compromising my morals and it usually ends badly. What makes it worse is that when I put myself out for others it rarely seems to be reciprocated to the same degree I would sacrifice for them. It’s an uneven relationship.

That’s not how it should be.

I have not been able to work properly for the time I’ve been ill and I can’t get financial aid. I have an invisible illness and the fact I can work at all seems to disqualify me, even though my capability is unreliable day to day and a a conventional job seems out of the question. In a time when people who are genuinely crippled are being allowed to starve to death or are driven to suicide, my ‘feels’ aren’t a priority – and fairly so.

The stalled Gor project hangs over me like a big black cloud but there’s nothing I can do to make it go faster and its not the artist’s fault its taking so long, but it’s my responsibility to get it done. A rock and a hard place, with the licensors, sponsors and crowdfunders getting increasingly – justifiably – impatient.

There’s the friends with babies. I wanted to start a family years ago but for various reasons we never did. Today I held a friend’s child in my arms and it was like shards of icy glass stabbing through me. I love them dearly and I love their child as a reflection of them, but it’s painful to me every single time and it’s the same with my nephew.

Roleplaying has been my life’s passion, as silly as I am sure that must seem to a lot of people, but the joy of it has been robbed from me the way my love of art was. Relentless, negative, boring interference and dissatisfaction with the end result.

And finally, in the last few days, I’ve lost one of the very few people who helped make all of this tolerable, survivable, liveable. Someone who was able to cut through all the bullshit and self-deprecation and make me feel like a worthwhile, good human being in spite of everything else going on. Worse than that, they’re in a bad, abusive situation – that they’ve chosen for themselves – and there’s nothing I can do to help. You have to let people live their own lives, but it is agony to see them hurt and worse when you can’t fix it. Even worse when they’re someone so valuable to you. Essential. When that’s all abruptly and capriciously taken away from you.

Sometimes there’s no good choice to make, no moral or right choice to make, no choice that doesn’t hurt anyone and my brain can’t handle those situations.

So that’s why I’m so very down. There’s all this long term shit going on. I feel betrayed and let down by a lot of people I consider – or considered, friends. I can barely work and I know that whatever I do I will be attacked and hated. I’ve lost people, to death, and to bullshit and I have nothing left, no reserve of ‘cope’ or ‘fucks’ with which to persevere and endure. I’ve lost hope.

My heart is broken. Everything I care about is taken from me in one way or another and I don’t see any way forward from that.

A lot of that is the fuck-brain talking, but there’s some truth behind all of it that will linger even when (Zarquon willing) I feel better.

I was so close to quitting therapy, we can’t really afford it any more either, and now I feel like I’m all the way back where I started. That’s so disheartening, even though it’s not quite suicidal (I have cut, but not severely, to make the pain more manageable).

You must all be so sick of me being a useless, miserable lump.

I’m sorry, but I can’t hold it in any more and I know there’s at least some use in me chronicling it so other people know they’re not alone. Still thinking of others I guess.

G

x

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