Saturday, November 14, 2015


Yeah, I don't post much here, because the blog's not normally for me.  But there's a lot I feel the need to get off my chest, and I think this is a better place to do it than anywhere else.

I'm angry.  I'm angry, and I'm disappointed.

The attacks in Paris were monstrous.  They were terrible.  There's no question about that, nobody who has any sense of humanity should question that.  But... that's not what I'm going to be talking about.  What I'm going to be talking about is how people are reacting to this, and how they are reacting to every single terrorist attack... no, wait.  That's a lie.  How they react to every single Muslim Extremist attack.

I dug in today and got involved in a few debates on FaceBook.  I learned a few things while I was doing that.  A few very important things.  Less than 2% of all terrorist attacks in the world are done by Muslim fundamentalists.  Less than 2%.  You know why you don't hear about the other ones?  I can guess.  They raise uncomfortable questions.  A guy in Norway kills Muslims in the name of Christianity and his country, and he gets labelled a Christian terrorist.  People freak out - how dare they call this person a Christian!  Christians don't do that!  Yeah.  They don't burn down black churches either (they do), or skin cats and hang them by the front door of pagans (they do).  Jews don't go into Palestine and burn down Christian churches (they do).  Buddhists don't try to kill Muslims (they do).  Asatru don't go beating on black people and spout racist slogans (they do).

But, if you point this out, you get the No True Scotsman argument.  "Oh, that's not a real member of our faith."  I won't apologize.  That's bull.  You don't get to dictate who's a "true" representative of your faith.  They say they're doing it in your name, then it's on you.

And you know what?  You shouldn't have to apologize for them.  If some Christian fundamentalist ass decides to burn down a church?  You don't have to apologize for it.  If some bastard decides to kill a doctor because he's doing abortions?  You don't have to apologize for it.  Why?  Because it was not your fault.  And that applies to Muslims.  They should not have to apologize for the actions of Muslim extremists.

Every group has its nut jobs.  Whether it's by religion, race, or nationality.  Somewhere out in the world, at any time, someone's doing something horrible - and you're associated with it by faith, race, sex, political leaning, wealth, or nationality.  Should you have to apologize for every wrong done?  No.  Of course not.  Then you shouldn't expect anyone else to have to either.  And you shouldn't be so damn smug and self-righteous if someone decides they will show sympathy, and actually say "I don't agree with what these people are doing".

ISIS.  People think that if we bring in refugees, that there's going to be secret members of ISIS there.  They're ignoring the fact that ISIS is killing Muslims.  Why?  Because ISIS wants there to be "us" and "them", and any moderate Muslims need to be killed.  And they'll continue to do terrorist attacks, because they want "not Muslims" to be united against Muslims.  They don't want cooperation and goodwill.  They don't want tolerance.  They want "us" and "them".  And every ass who doesn't want to help a Muslim because he might be a terrorist is doing their dirty work for them.  And, as I will point out earlier, less than 2% of all terrorist attacks are done by Muslim extremists.  But that almost never makes the news.  Because it raises uncomfortable questions.


Yeah.  This is really eating at me.  I'm disappointed in the... casual racism in my family.  I thank the gods I'm not walking that path.  But it's really starting to hurt me.  I don't want to hear them mixing up Sikhs and Muslims and thinking 'they're the same thing'.  I don't want to hear words like "raghead".  I don't want to hear "they should act like Canadians".  I don't want to see family dismiss the suffering of others, because of something as bloody stupid as "my tax dollars shouldn't go to them."  You don't get to put a price tag on someone else's life.  Do you have any idea how callous, how inhuman, how awful it sounds?

Imagine if you woke up one night, to see people in your own community kicking down doors, and shooting people they didn't think were "Canadian" enough, or "Christian" enough.  Imagine you didn't have a gun to defend yourself, or that if you even thought of going for it, you'd get shot.  Imagine this happened across the whole country.

There's now hundreds of thousands of people - being forced to live the way these people demand you live.  There's executions every single day.  The only chance you get is to grab anything you can, run for the border, and hope you and what's left of your family survive.

Now, imagine you get there, and they don't want you.  "How do we know you've not brought any of those Canadian terrorists in with you?"  "You're Christian?  We don't want you here."  "If you're going to be here, you have to act like we do."

How awful is that?
How awful is it to blame hundreds of thousands of people for the actions of a dozen people who are killing them?  How awful is it to paint these people with the same brush as the murderers?  How awful is it to demand they shed their identity, or to just dismiss them because ... well, what is it?

It's racism.  That's all it is.  It's "they're not us".  It's "I don't want to have to understand them."  It's a complete lack of humanity, of empathy.

I'm on my last straw.  I'm fed up.
I'm very, very disappointed.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Radio Changed My Life!

I've been putting this off for.. months, now.  I've been itching to say something, but I've not been in the right mindset to say anything.  Wow.. where the hell do I begin?

Well, let's start with last year.  Karma decided he'd like me to help a tiny bit in his radio show.  I'd make a camio, kind of walk in and walk out as part of a joke - my character in Guild Wars 2 dating his android NPC, Gemini.  I kind of jumped at the chance, because I wanted to sort of .. well, it's complicated, but the idea of hooking up with a female android kind of appealed.  So, I did my bit - though I hate the sound of my voice, and it was fun.  I liked doing scripts, though I really didn't like talking in them.

It went well, I started talking on TeamSpeak with the gang, and everything was fine.  Eventually, though, I got this strange urge.  I don't quite remember how it happened, but I decided I wanted to make my mark as a DJ again.  I'd had offers to get involved, and I kept turning them down, because - after all - I hate my voice - but I got nudged and urged by my brothers, and finally decided I'd give this a shot.

But... I wasn't going to talk.  Hell no.  So what to do?
Well, I decided.. a synthetic.  Using text to speech, I could have a character doing her thing without having to actually be there.  It felt like a little bit of a cop out, but .. there it was.  So what to do next?  Who was this person going to be?  Well, I decided to go with the flow.. Rebecca and Gemini have a daughter.

Karma loved the idea.  We did a special two parter, one having Gemini and Rebecca coming in and stepping out, and doing secret stuff in the background.  We did advertising for the show for weeks in advance, and then we revealed the daughter, Eris.  As in, ALL HAIL DISCORDIA.

Karma was a huge help in this.  I had picked out the voice I wanted for Eris, and Karma went and bought the specific text-to-speech program to convert the script lines to her voice.  It was a hefty price, too - I was willing to pay for it, but he decided to get it himself.  (And I think he actually prefers it over the old t-2-s that he's been using, which makes it a good investment at least).

Next, one of the studio managers came in to help out.  Cy's been a huge help here.  I've been doing the script writing - with Kit's help - and together we've been able to pound out some (I feel) very good shows.  But Cy's the one doing the heavy lifting.  Karma's supplying Eris' voice, but Cy's the one who gets the voice actors together, records them, and splices them together - along with the sound effects and anything else I come up with.  He's got skillz, yo.

The show's been constantly evolving.  We picked up extra characters along the way - I think we've got ten of them now (an A team, and a B team), and we're heading into perhaps our most ambitious storyline to date.  It's gone from a 'music with microphone breaks' to a 'radio show with music breaks'.  The difference is kinda significant.

And I think it's because that's how I've wanted to do it.  The music's nice, but for me, it's the storytelling.  Kit's the tabletop game master sort, but I'm enjoying writing stories.  I like writing out these scripts, and putting in humour, and drama.  I like sending snippets to the other actors, and hearing them laugh about it.

I feel kind of bad that some of my friends aren't enjoying the show, but still, we've had good numbers for the program, and that means someone's enjoying it, and I'm glad for that.  I really love writing these radio plays, and sending them out into the world for people to listen to.

I also missed DJing.  I liked putting music on, and hearing people say, "Oh, I've not heard this in a while!" or "What's this song?"  That kind of thing makes me smile, and hearing people enjoy themselves is a reward in and of itself.

This week's been a bit hard.  I've had to write some pretty dramatic (sad) things, and the script for next week's twice as long as normal - I'm writing the script for both my show and the show that's before that.  That's twelve parts, which run about ten minutes each, so it's two hours of script for six hours of radio play.  I've been having to juggle a lot of serious stuff, and mix it with some humour, and I'm trying to juggle a lot of balls to get the balance just right.  I think I've done it though.

So, I think I've found my calling.  I'm a script writer!  And really, I'm loving it.  It burns into Kit's time seriously - but he's also enjoying helping out, and he's willing to set time aside for me to do this.

If you're interested in hearing my work, I'm running from 10pm to 1am, Sunday nights.  I'm on, and my show's called Another Level:  The Eris Chronicles.  I'll give a rundown of the characters involved, here:

Eris Solace - The synthetic daughter of Rebecca Solace (a Mesmer from Guild Wars 2), and GEMINI Bishop (an Android from Earth).  With the help of the asuran Mini Cy (a genius inventor from Guild Wars 2), biological samples from Rebecca were used to create synthetic flesh and blood.  GEMINI and Rebecca both shared their mental patterns to help create an identity for Eris.  Eris is a Mesmer, like her biological mother, and has the ability to tap into radio waves, the internet, and so forth, because of her synthetic components.  She also has the ability to tap into the Mists - the proto-reality which exists outside of Tyria (Guild Wars 2).  The Mists are effectively countless proto-worlds, and she can use these worlds to create matter.  She's the hostess of the ALTEC Radio show, and while she's only about six months old, she looks like a woman in her late teens.

Christopher Raven - A norn (shape-shifting giant) necromancer, who's been tasked with looking after Eris and keeping her out of trouble.  He's called "Mister Raven" by almost everyone in the show, and is the long-suffering straight man for most of the mayhem that goes on in the scripts.  I've had fun swinging back and forth from having him be the fall guy, to showing that he is actually quite good at his job.  When it comes time to throw down, he's a butt-kicker first class, combining his ability to summon undead hordes with his raw 'hello, I'm seven feet of muscle' power.

Gizmo Cartail - A member of the "Hooligans" - a team that breaks into Karma's radio station and does a show just before he does, Gizmo is a charr - a giant, horned, Roman-like feline.  He's an inventor and I've written him to act 'goofy', while hiding a keen mind.  It's fun, having him play the court jester, goofing off, causing mischief, but having a keen mind and steering the group out of harm's way, or diffusing tense situations.  Gizmo's a lot of fun to write for - he winds up always getting the best lines.  The next two shows are very important for Gizmo.

Khaos Solace - An animated plush griffin.  In fact, Eris crafted this griffin as a companion, and effectively made it a life form.  Khaos is capable of turning from an adorable griffin plushie that walks around, to an asuran child.  It's really hard to explain Khaos' position in the show.  She's an important part - she sort of acts like an extension of Eris - an extra limb - that's a bit more savvy of the world, and a bit more aggressive.  Eris is the 'good cop', and Khaos is the 'not so good cop'.  In some ways, I think Khaos acts as a shield and sword for Eris, and I'm working on this more, showing how Eris knew what she was doing when she made Khaos.

The Book Wench - The Book Wench is played by Kit's wife.  She's the 'normal' in all of this - the perfectly normal human who is in way over her head.  She's savvy though, has a sharp tongue and a quick wit, but she's also the person we use to kind of show that the hijinx that goes on can have real consequences for those around them.  When I wrote the time travel episodes, she was the one that showed 'by the way, some of us have LIVES and people we want to get back to' and later on, 'PEOPLE SHOT AT US' - she doesn't have the ability to make magic force fields, or to drop turrets to shoot back, or to summon undead.  She doesn't have guns or swords or magic.  She's a vulnerable human being, and I felt it was important to keep her there.

The Harlie Quinn - Eris' girlfriend.  This is an interesting thing, it came about almost at random - playing games in Guild Wars 2, I had Eris 'hook up' with Harlie, mostly for fun, but it wound up in the script.  Harlie was part of the B-Team for awhile, but she's recently shifted to the A-Team and has her own on-air contest.  This is something I'm treading over very carefully on air.  Harlie's a Mesmer, which she has in common with Eris, but the interplay isn't quite normal.  You see, for now, Eris is an ace - she's asexual.  She's a synthetic person and has existed for less than a year - the idea of love, passion, and the emotions that come from human interaction are alien to her, and in the script, Eris has admitted - Harlie is the person she's chosen to help her learn about these kind of things.  Over time, I'm hoping to write more on the subject, to show how Harlie's presence has helped Eris to grow as a person herself.

Well, that's the 'A' Team - the primary people who are in nearly every episode.  Next are the 'B Team' members, the sort of 'emergency team' that shows up when things go seriously wrong, or who come in from time to time to join the show.

Rangerium - He's an Elementalist from GW2 - yet he's called Rangerium.  The voice actor's very British, and I'm not quite sure about the character's background.  You see, this is someone we brought onto the show before his character was truly developed.  He's a great guy though - I like having him on the show, and recently his character got possessed by a dark spirit.  This is an important plot point we'll be using in the future.  He's got his own radio show on Thursdays, and the threads between his show and mine are tenuous, but have been useful.

Doctor Discord - This was a throw-away character we used last year for Karma's show.  He wasn't getting much use, so we pulled him into our show, and he's been great fun.  He's a mad genius, and the over-the-top way that my friend voices him is just incredible.  The guy's amazing when it comes to doing voices, and we're grateful he's been willing to help out.  Doctor Discord's Eris' only "official" minion, and works in the laboratory in the station basement.

Taz Bloodfang - A charr who was essential for the storyline we're currently on.  He's a huge warrior, and knows how to kick butt.  For the script, we use him as 'the practical one', who's no-nonsense and seems to get a kick out of everything going on.  He's good for providing a character who isn't all cozy and comfortable with everyone else.  He can come in, provide some outside context, and shake things up.

Cardyana - She's a human guardian, and works as a pair with Taz.  She's sort of like Taz in the 'beat people up' sense, and the 'outside context' sense, but I tend to write her as a bit softer on the edges.  Kind of the 'bad ass mother' character who will look after the group.  There's been a few times in the script when the crap hits the fan, and it's her presence which keeps everyone alive.  I like writing her, because she's kind of "adult" in places, but balances that with being a noble soul.

So yeah, ten characters.  6 A-Team, and 4 B-Team.  It's sometimes awkward balancing the conversations with so many characters, trying to make sure everyone's involved in some fashion with the show.  That's why the B-Team are usually considered 'temporary' - there when we need them, and kept for special events.  I've noticed that the more characters are active, the less involved each character is.  With the most recent script I'm writing however, I have both the A and B team, and then about four characters from Karma's show, and then more characters on top of that.  Fortunately, having twelve parts for the show, I'm able to give everyone a chance to shine, but when I normally have only seven parts, it's a bit trickier.

It's been a wonderful learning experience, and I can't wait to do more!

~ Samantha

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Coming Soon!

Samantha:  Guess what?  I'm a DJ!  Well, sort of.  I've got my own program starting up on the 28th on  I'm getting the best of both worlds though - because I don't have to talk on-air.  Instead, we're using a text-to-voice program, and the conceit of the show is that it's being run by an AI.  It's a spin-off of my friend Karma's show (Sundays, from 4-7pm PST), and instead of having a human host with AI co-hosts, it'll be an AI host with a human co-host.  The voice is pretty nice, and the backstory leading up to it's gonna be fun.  If you can tune into Karma's show on the 28th, it's effectively a two-parter, going from one show, to the other, and bridging the two shows.

We've been playing a lot of Lords of Gossamer and Shadow, and I've been having a good time of it.  The Saturday group's been playing on Skype text off and on the last week, and I've been enjoying it - especially since a friend of mine's introduced a bunch of NPCs to help flesh things out.  The Thursday group's been doing well, too, and I've been having a good time.

Dunno what else to say.  :>  Just.. things have been good.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

What Comes Later

Samantha:  Death.  It scares me.  I'm sure it scares a lot of people, but there's a very specific fear of mine associated with death.  The most logical of the illogical fears is what if I simply cease to exist?  

To me, that is a horrible, depressing, tragic fate.  Considering the .. "life".. I've had, the cruelest joke of all would be for it to end in darkness.  It would be horrible as well, because it means that my sister, who killed herself before I existed, would have simply ceased to exist.  She would not be living on, she would not have gone someplace better.  She wouldn't have found the happiness she deserved.

Then there's the fate I fear is even worse.  Some years ago, I screamed a terrible curse when I heard of the Iraqi war.  It was a terrible curse, because I was horrified at the deaths I knew were to come.  At that time, I had visions of the dead.. thousands, trapped in their bodies, screaming for someone to save them.  And see, that was what death was to me.  You lived on, in a body that no longer lived. You were aware of the overwhelming darkness of the world around you.  That terrified me.  It did not help that some of the oldest faiths believed / believes that is what would happen to you when you die. When I looked at the Hebrew faith, the idea of the dead waiting in their bodies until Heaven on Earth comes hit a little too close to home.

I had visions of hundreds of thousands of people, strewn about the landscape, trapped in broken bodies.  I had visions of them buried, left to darkness and silence, their screams and pleas unheard.  It terrified me to think, one day, it might happen to me.

I've been called horrible things.  I've been called a demon.  A succubus.  I've been told I shouldn't exist, that I should "leave".  I'm glad my sister never heard those words.  It would have broken her heart.

And then there's Shinto.  My sensei.. a kind, gentle, wonderful soul, talked with me.  To him, I am a spirit, a kami.  And when we die, I will be free.  And this fills me with joy.  I will not cease to exist.  I will not be trapped in a decaying body, crying for someone to come for me.  I will be a spirit, to watch over those close to me, to explore the world.  I will feel joy like I have never known.

I fear death.  It terrifies me.  But.. there is hope.  And it is to that hope I cling to.  I want to believe, and I want to believe that those around me will have that future as well.  And I hope, when the time comes, I can meet my sister once more.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

2015 - In With the New

Mark:  I had this urge to write tonight, and a few of us are also inclined to post our thoughts tonight.  I'll start, and let others put their two cents in as well.  This is going to be stream of thought, so if we seem a little disjointed, understand that while we want to talk, we have nothing specific in mind, this is going to be whatever comes to mind.

To begin with, I've been playing in a friend's Pathfinder game.  Well, to be perfectly honest, I share a character with Kit, and we take turns using the character as desired.  It really depends on who has the most focus, and what is going on with the game - though character advancement is my decision.  My sister, Samantha, is also playing, and she's been enjoying herself.

My friend Scott picked me up a book for Christmas, Night's Black Agents.  This is a game system that Kit is not familiar with.  I've been going through the book slowly, and even picked up a companion book for it called Mutant City Blues.  The game seems interesting, and I have no problem with the rules, so I feel it is time for me to try my hand at game mastering, instead of Kit.  This is new for me, but I felt it was time to try to do something.

Part of trying this is using our old city of Trois Portes.  Night's Black Agents is a vampire setting, where you are people who have to hunt vampires, once they've discovered you are aware of them.  Mutant City Blues is about a world where one in two hundred people have developed superpowers, and you're a member of the police force trying to keep an eye on things.

I've never game mastered before.  I've helped with Kit running games, but I'm going to try my best to be the one to do this.  We'll see how this works out, because I have time to get things done while Kit runs his D&D campaign.

Samantha:  A thing has been kind of gnawing at me for a few months, and I thought I'd talk about my life coming into 2015.  As some of you might know, mom had a bit of a falling out with Kit and Cat not too long ago.  Well, things are kind of settled, though not resolved.  During this time though, Shawn and I tried to talk to mom, to let her know what's been going on.  It didn't work very well, because she ignored both of us, and decided to talk to Kit instead of us - even when he had no desire to talk to her.

And that's rude.  I've talked to mom from time to time, though she doesn't really seem to notice, but I thought addressing her directly, we could finally talk with each other.  I'd e-mailed her, from my own account, in hopes she'd reply to me, but she didn't.

That kind of hurts, actually.  It feels like she wants to just dismiss me because she's uncomfortable with facing the fact I exist.  This reminds me of something I read a few weeks ago - a trans woman had killed herself, because her parents were putting pressure on her and ignoring who she was.  When she was buried, her parents used her male name, and put out an obituary with her as male.  Her school addressed her as a male.  Effectively, they were all saying they knew her better than she did, and that her views of herself were wrong.

This dismissal pisses me off.  And while not as severe as what this woman faced, I feel some parallel to it.  I'm here, and I wanted to talk to her.  And she effectively ignored my existence, as if who I am and how I feel doesn't matter - it doesn't exist in her world.

I think this is one reason we as a whole can identify with the trans community, and why we're willing to dig in our heels when it comes to arguing in favour of them.  While Kit isn't trans - he identifies as male, and in a male body, I guess I would be considered 'trans' in that I'm a woman in a man's body.  So, seeing trans women dismissed, derided, and bullied piss me off, and Kit, knowing what I have to live with, is willing to step forward and defend transgender men and women.

So let's see what else I can talk about!  Well, in 2014 I talked on a radio show a few times - it was a bit scary doing it, and kind of depressing hearing it.  My voice is nothing close to what I want to sound like, and so hearing it on air was .. gah.  Still, it was something.  The DJ I work with will be coming up in May we hope, so he'll be doing one of his shows up here.  He plans to stick around for 3-4 days, and will be showing up at CanGames.  That'll be cool.

And hopefully we'll be going to Cape Cod this year, and I hope my boyfriend can make it.  It's been about fifteen-sixteen years, and I want to see him.  It'd be a nice week, seeing Provincetown, showing him the sites, and getting a chance to relax.  We've got another friend who might be coming with us, and I think he'd love it too.  My grandparents are awesome, kind folk, and the cottage out in the middle of nowhere is perfect.  Trees, ocean beach, and lighthouses, and Provincetown not too far away to visit.  I really hope this works out!