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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in The Unshaven's LiveJournal:

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Saturday, March 16th, 2013
7:01 am
The Big Red Couch: A Podcast About Turning Bad/Weird Ideas Into Playable Concepts.
My friends and I have been working on a podcast for tabletop RPGs called The Big Red Couch.. The show is designed to take listeners from the 'weird concept stuck in your brain' stage all the way to having a playable concept.

In every issue, the cast draw a random idea from The Mystery Box, and then return after downtime to share the concepts they had in response, along with how they might work as an RPG. We also discuss what RPG systems might work for implementing different concepts, together with reasons how or why. This frequently involves adaptation of systems from their original settings to the point where they creak under the strain.

The whole idea is that if we can do it, anyone can.
Sunday, February 5th, 2012
11:16 pm
One Ring alt-universe characters meme.
I saw this on [personal profile] recessional's page, and it nested in my head:

The One Ring game basically goes: think of (a) character(s) from a fandom other than LotR, and figure out what would happen if they were given the One Ring and charged to destroy it. So, for example: Neville Longbottom would destroy that sucker; Andrew Wells from Buffy would hide in a dark room with it and call it his Precious and be totally useless; etc.

I've been making progress on the first of an urban fantasy novel trilogy as the barrier-dominoes have been falling, and this meme stuck to several of the core characters. Unfortunately, perhaps two people have encountered them aside from me, so this will be babbling to no purpose.

Carter will eat the Ring within minutes of figuring out what it does. This is aggravating to me, because at that point we have Indestructible Object versus All-Consuming Maw, which leads directly to a Divide By Zero error in my head. Either the universe resets so that the ring is left spinning on the ground and Carter is Vanished, or - if we assume he's powerful enough to make it stick - we're back to Divide By Zero Error and I have no idea, srsly. Perhaps a funnier option where they tie is that it's the one object that gets stuck in his stomach. This would result in an entire pantheon of Dark Things coming looking to get their shiny back, with the moderate obstacle being getting it out of an extra-dimensional internal-to-Redcap space when said Redcap is unlikely to cooperate. Fun times, everybody. Fun times.

It's interesting that although Carter is far from all-powerful, the Ring exists on a particular axis of influence that would glance right off him.

My first thought regarding Divinia is that we would land directly in ALL SHALL LOVE ME AND DESPAIR-ville within maybe forty-seconds. Perhaps forty-five. But then I thought about it, and Divinia's personal sovereignty is so iron-clad that I think she'd declare Instant, Total War pretty instantly... assuming she figured out what it did. I think that's the key. If she realises she's being subverted, she's going to destroy this thing and will rustle up her own Fellowship if need be: You! Yes, you! Wingus, dingus, carry my stuff!

If she doesn't notice... Things go badly. (Honestly, even if she goes to war its unlikely to go well: fuelled by rage she may be, but she's not a tactical thinker and that's a military campaign that's unlikely to go well. Our best hope would be that the specific opposition going after her, the Wraiths, say, underestimate her and/or try to mess with her head some more. That would circuit her right back into Righteous Rage, and might buy her some more time.)

Of course, she's pretty much the only member of the Fae Nobility for whom there is any option besides raving BEAUTIFUL AND TERRIBLE AS THE DAWN within seconds, so she deserves some credit on that score.

Now, on to characters even fewer people have met yet!

The Old Monster hides the Ring somewhere nearby, cackles and waits: terrible things are going to come looking for it, and when they do he's going to have more Fun than he's had in ages.

Brian probably goes into Who's Laughing Now mode and starts kicking over Noble anthills.

Greta finds a quiet place to hole up in for a while. Except 'quiet place' might be 'hemisphere emptied of all other life' and 'for a while' might be 'in perpetuity.' Given how Redcaps work in my head, that might actually screw up Sauronian plans, at least for a while.

Saint John can fight the Ring's influence in himself and others, and the very concept of its existence pisses him off. He'd wind up exhausted and run out of spoons pretty quickly because he'd be unable or unwilling to pace himself, which is a bummer since otherwise he'd be a perfect member of the Fellowship. Aside from the fact that being around the Ring would have him in a constant rage. So, useful, but not congenial.

If Shawn the Gremlin so much as touched it, we'd probably lose anything more complicated than a wheel at a global level, and he'd feel very sorry.

Fun stuff to think through! Also, I should use this more. Most of my pointless ranting has moved over to Twitter or G+... and I can provide details if people need.
Monday, August 22nd, 2011
9:20 am
Crowdsourced fiction.
Greetings all!

I haven't been around on LJ/DW a huge deal recently, due to The Busyness with a side order of poverty and disorganisation.

In this case, I wanted to point people at a good cause.

Jamie Lackey, a known quantity in the publishing business and who has been involved as a slushreader for Clarkesworld magazine along with editing a prior anthology, is looking for funding on Kickstarter for an anthology of optimistic speculative fiction.

I love the idea of crowdsourced fiction publication. I love the idea that someone with a concept can just bowl on up to the Internets and declare a scheme, and that people might work together to have that happen. I think it's a great extension of the modification of gatekeeping that's been happening with publication over recent years.

But for it to work, I guess there needs to be a frontrunner, and at the moment it seems like the idea hasn't taken off. But I'm big on that "If you're going down, don't go with dignity," thing, so here we are.

I've decided that if it doesn't make target, it won't be due to inaction from me.

And so, here we are. True story!

Bursts of Light.

Since it's on Kickstarter, if the project doesn't make its goal, then nobody is charged any money at all.

I'm not going to pimp it further than this on LJ/DW, and I acknowledge that's what I'm doing, but I thought it was worth a try.
Tuesday, January 11th, 2011
9:37 am
Eee hee hee...
Someone has created an animated video complete with Shakespearean narration from a badly written and not terribly coherent review of a flash game.

It's... it needs to be seen.

Monday, December 20th, 2010
6:22 pm
And let it be known that when I returned from that desolate place, that the beast was dead...
Righty right.

A bunch of dominoes obediently fell down over the weekend, as I've noted in some other venues.

1) Printing done fast using industrial-strength printers belonging to my parents, which was Super Effective in an unexpected way.

2) Binding done easily.

3) JP easily accessible, using the 'Do Not Trust The University To Supply Same' plan, since I'm betting that paperwork people are like hen's teeth at this time of year for their own defence.

4) Turned out I could just wander on in and submit today, which I did.

So, it's official: the PhD is basically done. I'm no longer a student.

The full doctoral chrysalis won't be done until the oral defence happens sometime next year, and I incorporate whatever editorial notes I get given there. But that's going to be cool, the only caveat is that I have no clue how long it'll take to arrange.



I have thoroughly enjoyed the whole of my PhD, and worked with some lovely people. I never got sick of it, I still enjoy the ideas that went into it, and I'll be using everything I did in the PhD in academic work in future.

This just means I can get on to doing Other Stuff. Which is brilliant.

I'm going to sample doing some of that Nothing I've heard people do for a while, and then I'm getting into RPGs again, videogames - which are arguably vocational for me - writing fiction and then that other stuff I have deadlines for.

But actual time, like a normal human! Rather than existence being a PhD with life scheduled in it.

It's going to be good. And I'm looking forward to teaching over summerschool again, since I've missed it and it's fun. Plus, it's alarmingly wellpaid fun, which always feels gleefully criminal.

Contemplating having a Medicinal Slothfulness phase before Christmas, though. We'll see what happens. I might wind up doing that Thing I do sometimes where I say I'll rest, and by 'rest' I mean "do a tonne of work on stuff I haven't been able to work on because of other work."

I'll try to embrace the sloth inside.

That sounds dirty.
Sunday, December 19th, 2010
12:37 am
To Sleep, Perchance
PhD is finished and ready for printing.

A slight miscalculation meant I had to rework all of the careful internal page references I'd organised at a chapter level. The same chapter-level page references I carefully did so that I could avoid several painstaking and paranoid, if uncomplicated, hours sorting everything out at the end.

I misscounted somewhere and so 90% of them were out. By one page.


I can't stop giggling about that.

Everything is backed up, so I think I'm going to bed now. It's even before 1AM, so I'm doing pretty good.

And tomorrow, we print!
Monday, December 13th, 2010
3:03 pm
As of Friday the 10th of December 2010, this is my full list of things to do before submitting the PhD:

1) Send off paragraphs which themselves fix earlier problems to be reviewed. DONE.
2) Rewrite chapter 4, send in for feedback. DONE.
3) Incorporate feedback notes on those paragraphs to be reviewed, essentially finishing Chapters 1, 2 and 3 of 7. (Though I plan a final reread if there's time.) DONE.
4) Rewrite the conclusion chapter, send in for feedback. DONE.
5) Polish Chapters 5 and 6.
6) If there are any significant changes made at the paragraph level in Chapter 5 and 6 which I'd like a second opinion on, submit them for review.
7) Polish Chapter 4 in response to feedback when it arrives.
8) Submit new paragraphs for review from fixed Chapter 4 if necessary.
9) Polish conclusion chapter in response to feedback when it arrives.
10) Submit new paragraphs for review from Chapter 7 if necessary.
11) Incorporate any feedback on review-paragraphs from chapters 4, 5, 6, 7, assuming there are any review paragraphs and that anything needs changing.
12) Put into format for printing.
13) Print.
14) Get at least one copy to a JP to sign a (daft) form saying it's all my work.
15) Submit a PDF of said PHD to the Graduate Centre.
16) Attend meeting at 10AM on Wednesday the 22nd of December to officially submit the PhD.

It's currently Monday the 13th, Garfield's worst day. And yet I'm doing pretty good, considering it's just been the weekend and today so far, and I'm about a third of the way through...

Some of the rest is depending on how fast my supervisors get things back to me, but so far they've been Significantly Glorious, and I'm very pleased with how everything's going overall.
Tuesday, October 19th, 2010
12:09 pm
(Icon so appropriate it sings, if people have read the story)

It feels very weird that there is a book, available for purchase using Earth Moneys, which has a story of mine in it.

The release date kind of snuck up on me.

Released in the US as of today, but pending for other regions. It's even available for order in little old New Zealand, which is an additional point of weirdness.

Thursday, October 14th, 2010
5:29 pm
Darth Tang's "A Strange and Incomplete Tale"
I wish to archive a story put up by a poster going by 'Darth Tang' on RPGnet from 2003. It is well written and entirely creepy for a wide variety of reasons.

The above link does go to it, but it's on a section of RPGnet which is inaccessible without an account... although accounts are Entirely Free.

So here goes.

A Strange and Incomplete Tale, from Darth Tang.Collapse )
Sunday, September 5th, 2010
8:39 pm
THAT was unexpected...
Well. During a field-test of the expansion to the BSG boardgame, the lovely [personal profile] zcat_abroad pointed me at a position being advertised at a university in Melbourne.

I checked it out.

The entire thing is Very Interesting: I have quite strong experience in many of the things on the Key Selection Criteria, although there's stuff on there which implies their ideal candidate is someone who has already done a stint as a baby-lecturer. In other words, me or someone like me having done a lecturing job for a few years, in much the same way as [profile] doc_spatial has UpJobbed in going to Perth. However, the ad notes that depending on response, they might be willing to go with someone less experienced than the Ideal Candidate.

At minimum, the current job ad presents me with an opportunity to work with people at the university whose avowed purpose is to help students concoct CVs/Resumes + Cover Letters for exactly this kind of application. Even if I don't wind up applying, this would be good practice in shaping a CV/Resume for a specific, advertised position.

Then I'm tempted to apply anyway, purely for the experience of having done so. It'd be interesting to see what kind of response I get. Experience in doing an interview would be good, and is a good way of spreading your name around in a hopefully-charming fashion.


I am definitely not sure I actually want the job. Yet. It's too soon. I have a number of friends doing PhDs who have been so hectic in organising travel and prep for new jobs while finishing up that they are really, really not having fun.

More than that, I'm not sure I would work to the standard I want to for such a new position if transplanted in a shrieking rush when I haven't even had my thesis-defence yet.

So that raises a spectre of what I'd do if I applied for the experience of doing so, and they offered me the position. The 'introducing myself and networking' element of doing the interviews might be somewhat eroded by saying "Kidding!" at that stage.

Plus, I can't convince myself that turning down a lecturing position is anything other than folly. Stupid brain!

So anyway, I have bounced these very issues, in a hopefully more coherent fashion, at one of my PhD supervisors, so we see what advice I get there.

Bear minimum, it's practice in writing professional CVs and cover letters; we'll see if it's more.

Other related stuff which has been needling me in amusing ways:
- I was taking notes today on a really good article on ARGs, and happened to notice it was a paper presented at a conference... at the university in Melbourne offering the job. I could almost see the cartoon "TEMPT! TEMPT!" sign, which was cruel, universe. Cruel. Poor form, in fact.

- Apparently Melbourne is a lovely city, and I have anecdotes supporting this from people who have experienced it over several decades worth of data.

- I and my snake-brain both know that academics get paid peanuts, and have to fight hobos for the best dustbin-leavings and will die raving in the streets about fire-ants and communism. Hell, I have planned for this very eventuality! ...Yeah. Whoever advertised the position? Seems to have not got the memo. *Fans self.* ohhhhhh that dirty sexy money. Interestingly, a university in Sydney advertised positions about a year back that were equally seductive for one's mercenary tendencies, so it might not be a typo in either case, which was my first assumption.

There we have it. Unexpected, and entirely intriguing. It's one of those cases where it would be simultaneously sensible and reckless to either apply or not apply, which is just funny.
Saturday, September 4th, 2010
10:50 am
Ursula Vernon link archive.
Ursula Vernon rocks on toast.

I wish this to be on-record.

All of these posts are from the above link, and realistically I only tried archiving the cool discussions she puts up when I first started reading her blog; since then I have realised the futility because so much of what she posts is great.

Digger is also an excellent webcomic, and well-worth reading. It has great characters, dialogue, world-building, comedy and is an increasingly epic tale. Plus, it has Shadowchild. Shadowchild is love.

Here begin the links! Some of them I'll expand on in greater depth, but the general trend is that these are the non-exclusive highlights from a very funny, articulate woman. All of these made me either laugh, think, or entirely agree with the writer. Some of the titles are hers, others are mine when an original wasn't available, and thus are not as interesting.

Cut Because I CareCollapse )

So there we have it folks! More at the source.
10:46 am
Lateral Thinking!
Righty right. I can't import Memories from LJ unless I wrote them. This is Unfortunate, so I'm going to work around the problem.

I'm going to link to them here, one post for each subcategory of Memories, and then archive *them.*

This is Cunning. Let's see what happens!
Friday, September 3rd, 2010
1:42 pm
Okay, it turns out that was much less fiddly than I'd expected.

I've already reorganised the Memories section on Dreamwidth so I can find most of what I want to - particularly the fiction archive. The only things which I can't seem to port over are the Memories associated with other people's journals... and that makes pefect sense, since I didn't import those and it would be a little frightening if I had.

Positive movement!
12:37 pm
Righty right.

As part of various Grand Experiments, I've set up an account with Dreamwidth, and set it to crosspost to LJ. My LJ has been enthusiastically borken for a while, which has had no bearing on how little I've been using it, oddly enough.

That said, I figured the beginnings of a move would be a good idea, and so far it's very simple. I've been able to import all my LJ posts into Dreamwidth with comparative ease. The problems which have arisen are entirely reasonable, they're just fiddly.

What hasn't imported is my Memories page, the central hub from which I was able to locate various fiction drafts and the like. I'll have to hunt them down using the LJ version as a guide to dates and times, and do them manually.

And any Youtube videos I embedded didn't come over, but I'm less worried about them.

If people are interested in checking out Dreamwidth, here's where to go to get an invite code.

Now, let's see if the crossposting worked...
Tuesday, August 31st, 2010
6:53 pm
I salute these people.
This has been doing the rounds, but I regret nothing.

Scott Pilgrim trailer mashup with Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Be warned: Has visual spoilers for all three series of Avatar, in case that's relevant.

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010
10:31 am
Loki's last morning was bright, clear and cold.

He was hugged a great deal, fed more than he should have been, and was able to explore the sunny world that was his domain.

It does not really feel as though he is gone, and I cannot convince myself this is a bad thing. He was a vast and significant part of our lives, and I see no reason that should stop.

Good bye old man.
Thursday, August 19th, 2010
9:42 pm
Sic Transit Loki.
Don Loki Underfoot, the Viking Longcat, has been unwell for some time. We took him into a vet to check out a limp he was developing about six months ago, and the Crap!Vet said "Dunno maybe arthritis give him these dietary supplements," and then became legitimately distracted with a tooth problem that lead to said fang being extracted.

Meanwhile, his limp has not been getting better, and over the last few weeks he has been trying to avoid doing many of his normal weirdcat activities to avoid stressing it.

poing_critter and I took him to a new vet, and wound up getting an x-ray. The upshot is that he has bad arthritis in his limping-leg, but also elsewhere too. This means that correcting the leg wouldn't be worth the overall suffering he'd go through, so the question became one of how he was going to respond to injections designed to relieve his arthritis, and anti-inflammatories/painkillers in his food.

Long story short, while improved in many ways, he is periodically in extreme pain as things shift inside his elbow. There's nothing we can do to help him feel better, and we can't even touch him when the pain hits without making things worse.

This is not right, and we want to make it better. We have decided not to put him through any more procedures, and had decided this even after the initial x-ray.

We are going to say goodbye to our lovely gigantic orange cat some point after this weekend, although the arrangements are yet to be made. He is a huge, loving and extremely good-natured creature, to go along with his amusing pestulence and deeply mercenary nature. Vets have had to write on his chart that he's so good-natured that he won't show discomfort in traditionally sharp and shreddy cat ways, so to be careful with him: just because he's not biting you doesn't mean he's not sore.

When we've felt sick or down, he's come to look after us - possibly because we're warm. It's got to the point over the last few weeks that the best we've been able to do is return the favour and curl up around him so he knows we're there.

I wish I could tell him how much he means to us, but we'll settle for spoiling him rotten instead. If people would like to arrange a time to come and say goodbye over the next several days, drop us a line.

He has been a friend and companion through the world for many years - fourteen for poing_critter. He will be missed. There's not much more I can say than that, really.

If you could hug any cats in your vicinity for me, I'd appreciate it.

I'll put up some images of the fuzzy creature later on; at the moment my image server is having issues.
Saturday, July 10th, 2010
10:30 pm
In which I survive air-travel.
(The first half of this post was begun when I just arrived in Oxford, and I stopped when I ran out of spoons. I finished the rest later.)

I am surprisingly awake, under the circumstances. However, this is not to say I am coherent. I expect a more fleshed-out and less "Hunter S. Thompson's Adventures At the Departure Lounge" will appear when I has my brains.

I have, you see, been largely awake for... *counts* howling crackbaby christ 61.5 hours. That's even worse than I thought! Yikes.

This is likely to be long, so I hide it behind a cut. It will involve impressions of several different airports, the experience of flying itself in different legs, and a wide range of movies I watched because it was that or commit unapologetic murder.

International travel is new for me...Collapse )
Sunday, June 13th, 2010
11:10 am
Dresden Files: Finding a place for Someone Awesome.
We watched Race to Witch Mountain last night, and I was struck by how much Ciaran Hinds managed to provide gravitas and menace simply by existing in a lightweight and incredibly simple, unthreatening Disney film.

Known most widely for playing Julius Caesar in HBO's Rome, I think he has to be slotted into my previous pointless ranting about casting the Dresden Files.

Initially, we thought Mr. Hinds could be another good Marcone. And this is a true statement.

But then the thought of him playing Lord Raith was floated, and that was better again.

A role for him which might trump Lord Raith?


He could be utterly chilling in either. I'd be happy either way.

Sunday, June 6th, 2010
10:52 am
*Cue tumbleweeds*
Greetings all.

I haven't been posting here much, due to a combination of factors. One is that my 'pointless ranting' ration has largely moved over to Twitter, as has 'sharing of weird and interesting shit, plus things that amuse me.'

Here's the link, if anyone's interested: http://twitter.com/theunshaven

The other factor is The Busy. I've been applying Actual Time Management to the PhD, which is proving extremely useful.

At some point in the hopefully nearish future I plan to put some fiction up here in the hopes of feedback and shreddage, so it's not entirely dead.

Fiction on the plate:

Transhuman noir called Fruiting Bodies, with a potential alternate title of Cancer Blossoms since there's another story out there called 'Fruiting Bodies,' and I don't know to what extent that's an issue.

Science-fiction jailbreak scenario of sorts called Surly Reggie.

Both of these are horrible little stories.

Then there's the urban fantasy trilogy of novels, the first called True Fae, which has been chewing on my head For Years, and it might be best to exorcise the demons by getting some of it down.

Lots of stuff happening, most of it good.

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