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Saturday, July 14, 2007

It's all good

So. Um... what's been going on around here?

Well, the Ebay auctions are over, at least, for the moment. The Heroclix population hereabouts has been thinned considerably, but I'm very pleased to report that, due in large part to Mike Norton's tireless efforts on my behalf, and my own recent victories over the local bureaucratic labyrinth, I've managed to amass a sum sufficient to (a) get the middle SuperKid started on some pretty expensive orthodonture, and (b) pay the rent for a while, thus keeping a roof over my wife and kids' heads for a while longer. Each a cause well worth the investments of time and effort, and the sacrifices of some little plastic figures.

For the first time in several months, I feel (however briefly) as if I'm making a contribution around here again. It's a nice feeling; I just hope it's not a fleeting one.

Nate's moving down here in a few weeks, and we're keeping busy trying to find an apartment for him, but I'm very much looking forward to having him nearby. Yet another reason to believe things may finally be looking up for all of us.

And if you go here, you can find the second issue of ON THE PREMISES e-magazine, which is publishing one of my short stories as "Honorable Mention #2". My short story was chosen #4 out of 5 winners, out of a field of 30 entries, and netted me $20 cold hard cash. I suppose this means I'm a professional now. The story is far from being one of my personal favorites, and SuperWife doesn't like it much, either, but like Dick Jones and Clarence Boddicker, I say good business is where you find it.

On other fronts, let's see: I've finished reading Vernor Vinge's RAINBOWS END recently. It's not the best Vinge ever, but Vinge doesn't seem to be writing the best Vinge ever any more, and this is pretty good. In fact, the only real problem I have with the book is that it's a very thick, very long, very complex book, and yet, when you get to the end, it seems as if really, very little happened at all. It's a great deal of style, and very little substance -- and while we are told that the main character has changed enormously over the course of the novel, really, the only evidence we have for that is that Vinge tells us it's true.

Still, I enjoyed it while I was reading it.

I'm now whizzing through CHANCE, one of Robert B. Parker's Spenser novels. As with every Spenser novel after EARLY AUTUMN, it's pretty much Spenser-lite, a mawkish, formulaic adventure where Spenser bops around doing pretty much all the same stuff we've seen him do several hundred times prior to this, dealing with the same sorts of people in the same sorts of places while doing the same sorts of things he always does, and, as usual, he's got Susan Silverman and Hawk along for the action, too. It's enough to make the discerning Spenser fan nostalgic for the days of Brenda Loring, or, at least, a time when Spenser wasn't so pussy whipped by Susan Silverman that he would occasionally get boo-jiggety with someone besides a bitchy middle aged Jewish psychiatrist. (It's occurring to me as I type this that Spenser never once cooks anything in the course of this novel, either, which is an element I also miss. However, he does get pissy about rock music at least once, which is another ever recurring element of Spenser novels I certainly wouldn't miss, if Robert B. Parker could ever bring himself to write an entire novel without at least one of these "you kids get off my lawn!" type tirades.)

You might wonder why I'm bothering to read the damn thing if this is how I feel about Spenser novels since, I don't know, what, 1982? But the Spenser series up through EARLY AUTUMN was just so fabulous that I still live in hope that at some point, Parker may write another good one. So far, the closest he's come is PLAYMATES, which was quite astonishingly good for a post-early 80s Spenser novel, but then when I got done with it, I realized why -- it was essentially just a retread of MORTAL STAKES, with all the professional baseball elements swapped out and college basketball retrofitted into the plot in their place.

Here's an interesting realization I came to a little while ago, not about Spenser novels, but, about life in general. In my late teens or early twenties, I either formulated a philosophy, or read about one somewhere that I liked a lot, and I've spouted it off to nearly everyone around me ever since, and more or less tried to live by it. And it goes like this -- there is no 'should'. There is only need, and want. By which I mean, there is no category of 'things you should do'. The only real categories of actions in the world are 'things you have to do' and 'things you want to do'. When somebody starts talking about something you should do, I have often opined in my best sage, worldly wise tone, you need to keep one hand on your wallet, because 'should' is a word that generally means "here's what I want you to do, that will benefit me".

For the longest time, this seemed like real truth to me, and for the most part, it was intended to avoid being able to blame other people for my decisions by requiring me to acknowledge that, if I made a decision or took an action that I wasn't being forced into by necessity, well, then I was entirely responsible for that decision or action, because if it wasn't something I had to do, then it was something I wanted to do.

But I've very recently realized that this is an overly simplistic way to look at life. There is indeed a 'should' category, except that calling it that is sloppy semantics, and therefore, sloppy thinking. Instead of 'things I should do', this category would better be called 'the right thing to do'.

See, that works much more neatly. There are three kinds of actions in this world --


  • The things you have to do
  • The things you want to do
  • The right thing to do
See, the third is often a separate category -- maybe it's always one, I don't know. But I do know that if you genuinely need to do something, for whatever reason, morality rarely or never enters into it. And often times, if you want to do something, then that desire is either morally neutral, or, worse, actively immoral to act on. (That is, alas, the human condition; it's just how we work -- many of our desires come from the primitive id, and are anti-social, and therefore, by nearly any cultural moral standard, wrong.)

The right thing to do, it seems to me, is almost never a necessity, and hardly ever anything we want to do. And, given this -- that we're rarely forced to do the right thing, and doing the right thing is rarely something we would choose to do (if only because it's almost never the minimum effort choice; doing the right thing is nearly always much harder work, with far less pay off, than doing the expedient thing, or merely choosing to opt for personal comfort and/or pleasure).

This, I think, is where the element of personal character comes into play. If you don't have to do something, and you don't want to do it, but you do it anyway, simply because you know it's the right thing to do, when you don't get anything out of it and, in fact, it may very well cost you something as a consequence... well... that's a demonstration of character. Like Fast Eddie conceding his match after he finds out that Vincent let him win in the previous round. he didn't need to do it, and certainly didn't want to... he had nothing to gain from it, and a lot to lose... but it's the right thing to do.

The only thing that's happened recently that isn't all good is that I seem to have a cyber-stalker from Texas; someone who shows up randomly on this blog, or SuperWife's blog, sneers something nasty in the comment threads about my lack of character or parenting ability or general worth as a human being, and then buggers off again. This person posts anonymous, of course, because that's what sad dumbass little losers like this always do, and I don't let the comments get through my own moderation filter, because I'm the kind of hypocrite who demands my own completely untrammeled freedom of speech on every site I post comments to, but who refuses to accord that same liberty to turdmouthed little trolls who seem to have nothing better to do but launch tiresome, tedious, and subliterate attacks at me from several states away.

I have a pretty good idea who this person is, but, honestly, I can't be bothered to care much about this kind of sneaky little shit, anyway. If this is the worst thing to happen to me and my family recently -- and it seems to be -- then life is good, indeed.

Hey, SuperWife and SuperDramaTeen are playing Magic in the kitchen without me. That will NEVER stand.

8 Comments:

At 9:28 AM , Blogger AaA said...

Hmm, I expect you'll be wanting me to get some of my own damned cards when I get down there, eh?

Maybe I can get you people hooked on Jyhad/Vampire instead...

Failing that, I expect I could e-Bay the Vampire cards and get some M:TG the same way...

 
At 10:59 AM , Blogger The Bunnyman said...

Nate,

I'm not wild about kids playing a game as contemptuous of human life as Jyhad. Just sayin'.

However, we have lots and lots of decks and you can always borrow one. There are also many sources of cheap Magic cards within easy walking distance.

 
At 4:05 PM , Blogger AaA said...

Um, you DO realize it's about vampires, right?

 
At 5:32 PM , Blogger The Bunnyman said...

Vampires hunting humans like cattle, yes. Not a world I want my kids dwelling in vicariously, especially in the context of the vampire POV. Thanks anyway, though.

 
At 10:51 AM , Blogger Opus P. Penguin said...

Congrats on the pub! Jeez, for my first (and only, so far) mag pub all I got was ten bucks and two copies of the publication.

 
At 3:20 PM , Blogger AaA said...

Ah, you're thinking of the RPG. The card game is really old vampires feeding off younger vampires like cattle.

But, point taken. So I guess I have some e-Baying to do.

 
At 4:18 PM , Blogger The Bunnyman said...

Opus,

Thanks. The sale wasn't all that much, but hey, if you're interested, go over to the site and check out their current contest. They publish contest winners quarterly, and if I can win, you should be able to, too.

aaa,

I've played Jyhad a few times. The human-preying tends to be casual -- as I recall, whenever a vampire is down blood points, you tap it for a turn and it hunts and goes back up to full health. Of course, what goes unsaid there is, 'hunts' is a phrase that means, it goes out and kills some human being who is so unimportant to the mechanics of the game that we never even learn who they are. It's that casual disregard of the value of human life that makes me say 'nope, not my kids'.

My recollection is also that Jyhad has an extremely dark, extremely violent atmosphere -- kind of like Magic would be if the only color people played was black, and it was an accepted part of the game that the players were all ancient vampires living on the blood of their minions, and the minions of their opponents. Given that Magic is a mixture of colors, it doesn't come across anywhere near as bleak, dark, nihilistic, and generally corrupt at Jyhad.

Super Drama Teen is old enough to play whatever she wants, and she might well like Jyhad if you introduce her to it, but then Super Dependable Teen is going to want to get into it, and I'll be much more conflicted about that, and about games occurring in front of Super Adorable Kid, who is already keening to learn to play Magic and would resent being left out of another card game her sisters were into.

All told, I'd prefer to keep Jyhad as far from my family as possible. But you certainly don't need to sell your cards if you don't want to.

 
At 3:20 PM , Blogger AaA said...

Well, perhaps I don't 'need' to sell them due to my proximity to your family, but, you did just raise some realy good points. So, I think that selling off or trading my Jyhad collection to restart a M:TG collection is a sensible move on all counts.

I'll just have to restrict my urge to be a raging asshole when games aren't going my way even though whatever deck I'm playing at the moment is a 'hand-crafted masterpiece that is utterly invincible'.

Damn. I HATE restricting my urge to be a raging asshole. Being a raging asshole ios one of my defining characteristics.

 

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