Late Night Light Snark Open Thread: J.R.R. Tolkien, Dungeon Master

All due respect to the learned Professor Tolkien, for the great joy he has given us and the myriad tales he inspired, but rereading Lord of the Rings after forty years *does* make it obvious how lightly his original worldbuilding was edited.

Showed this thread to the Spousal Unit, who was a locally renowned DM back in the hex-paper days, and he LOL’d too, so…

Click on any tweet above to read the rest of the thread.

Saturday Evening Open Thread: Samwise!!

We’re finally moving in to the new apartment in Midtown East. Today I went upstate to get Samwise from my friend who’d been taking care of him lo these many months. He’s acclimating very well for a dislocated cat.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled vituperations. I’m going to play Octopath Traveler, probably. Open thread!

War, War Never Changes. Or Does It?



Recently I had the pleasure of being one of many B.E.T.A. testers (Break-it Early Test Application) for the upcoming Fallout 76 RPG game.  It was interesting – quite different as it is semi-multiplayer – and looks to be a major time-suck once it launches next week.  For those who don’t know, Fallout is a post-nuclear war adventure game. Until now, it has been a solo affair, but that changes now.

Besides adding other people, one of the biggest changes involves construction of bases, defenses, etc.  Interestingly, this game (previous versions played by myself and John, that I know of; I assume many, many more) is set in West Virginia, and it looks pretty spot-on. In my testing, I did my best to wander the entire map bushwhacking my way up and down mountainsides, collecting leaves and mushrooms and roots and wood as well as water.

I boiled the water and then made various teas, soups, and the occasional smoked critter as your hydration and food levels need constant replenishment. Catching the occasional disease or skin condition from sleeping on bemildewed beds and sleeping bags was a fun, if annoying twist.

It was neat to really lose one’s self in the hills and hollers of West Virginia.  My father-in-law observed me playing for an hour and remarked how much some of the houses, hamlets, bends in the road, and creeks looked like places he knew (he’s from the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, a 20-minute drive from WV).

Because this game will become a bit more competitive with multiple players being able to attack and kill you, I fear shitheads. By nature, I love single player games and two-person cooperatives. I also like first person shooters, especially multiplayer online, but I’m not sure that’s quite how Fallout will roll out as this game is not so combat-focused. I know there will be jerks, but I hope that they will be easy to avoid for the most part.

We all know that groups are stronger than individuals, and so I guess that means that finding a good group will be integral to long-term survival in the game. Which leads me the whole point of this post – is anyone interested in forming an in-game group of jackals?

I didn’t work with other folks in-game beyond a few minutes’ task-sharing, so I’m not sure how it will all work out, but I hope that we can meet in-game and setup our camps near each other, or perhaps stage our camps in useful areas across the Wasteland so that we can share shelter when out on the road adventuring. Since all players won’t see each other at the same time, I’m not sure if this will work long-term, but I figure it will be a fun thing to try, and making an alliance from the get-go should ease the way for many of us as we run into griefers and other jerks.

I am an Xbox player, and I know that many of you are not. For now, Fallout 76 only links players on the same hardware – Xbox, PS4, and PC.  I know that John is a PC gamer (like I used to be and perhaps will be again) but I suspect that many other gamers here might be Xbox users.

What say you all? I was tempted to post my Xbox Live ID but that invites crap, so if you want to hook up in-game, please use the contact form so I can email you. I’m happy to put players from other systems in touch with each other, just use the form to tell me your  game system, player ID, and email and I’ll pass it around privately to others who provide the same.

Have a great afternoon, everybody, and feel free to discuss other games – I’m currently loving No Man’s Sky Next (the new underwater mode is awesome!) and my daily adrenaline fix, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.

If you play either on Xbox, hit me up and let’s have some fun.  I often don’t play with headset, but I’m happy to change that since I assume you won’t be a bunch of trash-talking bros spouting sexist and racist shit or kids unable to control their glossolalia (and yes, I spelled that without spellcheck, thank you very much).

On a Lighter Note, Check Out This Obituary

And now, for some completely different things…

Thing the first: The Times ran, I kid you not, a delightful obituary yesterday.

Alan Abel, Hoaxer Extraordinaire, Is (on Good Authority) Dead at 94

Alan Abel, a professional hoaxer who for more than half a century gleefully hoodwinked the American public — not least of all by making himself the subject of an earnest news obituary in The New York Times in 1980 — apparently actually did die, on Friday, at his home in Southbury, Conn. He was 94.

I wonder how long they’d been working on that headline and lede?

Long before The Onion began printing farcical news articles[…] there was Alan Abel. A former jazz drummer and stand-up comic who was later a writer, campus lecturer and filmmaker, Mr. Abel was best known as a perennial public gadfly, a self-appointed calling that combined the verbal pyrotechnics of a 19th-century flimflam man with acute 20th-century media savvy.

He was, the news media conceded with a kind of irritated admiration, an American original in the mold of P. T. Barnum, a role model whom Mr. Abel reverently acknowledged.

Today, in the internet age, anyone can be a Nigerian prince. In Mr. Abel’s time, however, the hoaxer’s art — involving intricate planning, hiring actors, donning disguises, printing official-looking letterheads, staging news conferences and having the media swallow the story hook, line and sinker — entailed, for better or worse, a level of old-time craftsmanship whose like will almost certainly not be seen again.

I recommend reading the whole thing. It’s an engagingly-written look back on an interesting man’s life.

Thing the second, I made a sign-up form for the Minecraft whitelist, so, if that’s for you, yay.

What’s everybody doing to unwind tonight? I might watch teevee or keep working on that Vinge book.

Cosplay Socialists Open Thread (+Minecraft address!)

Julia Salazar is one of the latest young, Democratic Socialists of America-affiliated insurgents to defeat an establishment Democrat in a primary. She is also my potential future state senator, as that primary was in New York Senate District 18. Also too, she is a bizarre serial fabulist.

The New York Post condemned her personal story — a big part of her appeal — as “wildly exaggerated.” Salazar has said she immigrated from Colombia when she was, in fact, born in Florida; asserted a “working-class background” that her brother strongly denied, offering photos of the family’s four-bedroom riverfront house; said she went to work at 14 to “make ends meet,” which her mother contradicted; implied her mother hadn’t gone to college when her mother got a degree when Salazar was 8 years old; asserted a very confused timeline about her conversion to Judaism; and claimed Jewish ancestry nobody could verify.

Eve Fairbanks at Buzzfeed has an article up about what she sees as a generational issue: Well-Off Millennials Are All Julia Salazar. I Wish We Weren’t.

Rolling Stone seemed baffled to have to report last night that “the constituents of District 18 were apparently untroubled” by that. But I wonder if the supporters — certainly the young, mostly white, recent college graduates who flooded her victory party — didn’t recognize, at least subconsciously, that this kind of thing is just way more common than we’d like to admit.

The article limns something I’ve seen a lot of.

I’ve described my paternal grandfather as a man who “grilled armadillo roadkill” to suggest he was a Southern hick, and it’s true he liked armadillo and at least occasionally foraged killed ones — but he was also the head of the archaeology department at the University of Florida. I’ve told people my maternal grandmother is an illegal immigrant who came to America illegally, alone on a boat from Poland, like an orphan Fievel the Mouse, conjuring hardscrabble images of tenement life, not mentioning that she married into a wealthy family.

I suppose I’ve lightly participated in this myself. “Did you know my mom grew up poor on a family farm?” I sometimes say, bristling at claims that we’re anything other than very recently well-to-do. It’s not unbelievable if you meet her–she’s an often-foul-mouthed animal lover who likes to shoot guns. But just looking at her C.V., you might have a hard time seeing it, other than the decidedly non-elite education. However, I am a creature of privilege. What’s important is that I don’t cover myself with her history, or use it to claim imaginary oppression. (Lord knows I have enough actual problems anyway.)

I’ve also observed the true cliche that nobody seems to have gone to Harvard or Stanford, but rather “college in Boston/the Bay Area.”

I will say that there is significant social pressure, at least among some Millennial groups, to just shut up about fixing oppression if you’re privileged. (I encounter this mostly on social media and rarely in person, so it could be an Online Mean Girls issue.) That doesn’t excuse lying, but it may explain the prevalence of this particular lie. On the flip side, there really is a problem with the most vocal ‘socialists’/’leftists’ being the ones with the least skin in the game–I’m looking at you, Chapo Trap House. (I’m actually not, because I find looking at them unpleasant.)

Anyway, thought y’all might enjoy the (hate)-read. I will now be re-enabling my Millennials-to-Snake-People browser plugin.

Onwards to more pressing issues: The Minecraft server is up! It’s at, and if you leave your username (not email) in the comments, I can whitelist you. It’s running Spigot with a land-claims plugin on easy. This IP will eventually be DNS’d to a balloon-juice subdomain, but I’m still working out the kinks.

Non-sports open thread!