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In which a marriage ends.

October 17th, 2014

Some of you know this, some of you do not.

Rochelle and I have decided that we’re better apart than together. This is an amicable split. No one person did anything wrong. Instead, over time, we became different people. Neither one of us want anyone to choose sides, and neither one of us want people to feel like they have to. We continue a shared love of our dogs, and we wish each other the best for the future. We’re both going to need pillars of support, Rochelle in Seattle and me in Vancouver. Over 17 (almost 18!) years, amazing adventures were had, pets loved and lost, many friends gained.

Now, new amazing things hopefully await us both.

I’m up in Vancouver, and will have Basil Hayden and Medallion with me while Rochelle takes care of Aspen Blue, Adia, and flyball girl Eowyn Marie.

Explaining all this is always awkward. Yes we did “all the things!” people say to do re: counseling etc. It just didn’t pan out.

It was a great run. Better than most actually, because we decided to end it before it went down too many darker paths. Relationships are complex, and it’s always best to optimize towards happiness. That’s what we’re doing. We both think it’s a good thing.

I’m looking out over the Vancouver skyline and missing Basil, he has to be fixed before he comes up. We’ll walk in the park across the street. And everything will be ok, eventually.

50 Word Ghost Story

October 7th, 2014

I did something I’ve not done in too long given life events and work and conventions and sickness: do a writing challenge. I have other obligations I am working on so this one cropped up and was the perfect 15 minute exercise for the creative side of my brain.

The fine folk over at Scottish Book Trust are running a 50 word fiction competition. This month’s theme is a write a ghost story in 50 words. I love ghost stories so I thought, why not? I don’t expect to win, but thinking about this story made me want to write more of it, and I’m actually happy they capped it at 50. Here’s my entry:

The table stands next to an overturned chair. The eyes of the woman in the portrait on the wall seem to gaze directly at it. I feel a tap on my shoulder and turn. No one. Looking back, the chair is upright and the woman’s eyes now gaze behind me.

Cypher flops down on the couch next to me and stretches out to take a nap, then leans over. “Hey do you have the new iPhone?” he asks.

“I just got mine!” Samwise Gamgee says, waving a new iPhone 6 plus.

We’re in the “special guest” room at Rose City Comic Con. I look over at my friend and we both do the eye contact thing where we mentally go “be cool.” and I concentrate on my salad. The leaves are very green and the dressing is a balsamic so it’s brown. “This is the food, that food eats.” Wil had said.

I’ve just gotten off stage from interviewing Wil. Ernie Hudson is chatting with Sasha Roiz who also drops by in a moment to say hi to us. Joe Pantoliano just asked me about an iPhone. Sean Astin just piped up to say how he got his. Nick Brendon tells us where he got his shoes from Australia. Wil’s munching a burger while he catches up with Sean.

YES I AM DROPPING NAMES LIKE A B-52.

Because of this: All of them were not only gracious nice people to us, they were happy to be at the con and seemed genuinely happy to be amongst their fans.

A lot of times we think of celebrity culture as being very fake, and it can be. But nerd celebrity culture I have found is different. Later walking the floor and getting to see fans of Gears of War or who liked my panel with Wil, then watching how a lot of the other people treated fans reminded me that while there are some outliers, most of them generally love events like these.

There’s a lot going on in geek culture that’s horrible lately. It overshadows the positivity.

But Rose City Comic Con was a great reminder of what brings us together. From the anti-harassment cosplay signs everywhere to the amazing cosplay to the gracious artists to the helpful henchmen, to the enthusiasm of the guests, it was a nerd meter recharge event and I am so happy to have been a part of it.

All the Pretty Moments

September 18th, 2014

Basil Hayden scared the living shit out of me two days ago. He suddenly refused to eat. All at once everything that happened to Remington came back to me, three years later. Aspen had a seizure the night after.

All the stress.

Basil is fine. He just had a bad case of worms. Aspen is fine, the seizure was a normal and a bit overdue part of his epilepsy.

But it struck me hard once again: we are our pets’ stewards. I held Basil, like I held Remington, and I asked him not to leave me. Remington did. He couldn’t hang on. Basil stayed. He wasn’t suffering from the same problem.

He’s looking at me right now, wondering why I am misty eyed while Aspen barks in the corner, unable to hear himself.

We are their stewards.

“I’m not going *anywhere*…with you.”

With that line I watched my choices play out at the finale of Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead Season 2, and cried.

Doesn’t that seem silly? When was the last time a video game made you cry? Has a video game even made you cry? (and I don’t mean out of frustration) I knew it was going to be emotional, I knew that I was completely invested in Clementine’s story. But I wasn’t prepared for what they had crafted.

It’s no secret I am a fan of Telltale Games’ work. I loved Back to the Future and The Wolf Among Us. Their games aren’t for everyone, if I was to take the most hostile critical view you could argue it’s mostly dialogue choices and quick time events. Some people just don’t get into that.

But that mixture of interactivity made me feel like I was part of the story. In season 1 I played Lee as I like to think I would be. It was role playing in a way a lot of RPGs have not pulled me into. I made choices as I like to think I would in that world to protect Clementine. In season 2, you play Clementine and I played her at first as a bit of a hardened survivor, how I like to think a child version of me would have to be in that situation.

But along the way I discovered something profound.

Playing a young girl in this hopeless world that had been created gave me all sorts of new perspective. By episode three I was playing Clementine not as a child version of myself. I was making her choices as I thought she would make them. I was instinctively doing things I would not normally do. And I realized.

Clementine is probably one of the most important video game characters of the past 10 years.

I’m 100% sure I could do an entire PAX panel on why. The writing is top notch, let’s set that aside my having acknowledged it up front.

It’s far more important that the unique combination of writing, situations, voice acting, and my ability to interact with it as a participant affected me so emotionally that when I sat down to play the finale I actually, in a tiny tiny way, dreaded it a little. I was scared for Clementine. She’s tough, and vulnerable, and surrounded by adults who both expect too much of her and underestimate her. Her story is rich, her character doesn’t just have three dimensions it has four because you play her.

This is astounding fiction.

Clementine is a role model. Because through her narrative, you discover things about yourself. I discovered things about myself through playing Lee but I discovered things I need to learn through Clementine. Everyone expected of her, but held her accountable. Wanted to protect her, but put her at risk. And none of it was too contrived, I felt. Forced to role play that situation I felt informed about what it means to be a “little girl” in a survival scenario. The gender role part is an element, but it’s far more important that Clementine is a person, a human. This is how we teach empathy. This, in a way, is how we help put an end to misogyny.

It can’t be any other way, but The Walking Dead game is M rated so it’s not something I can say you should show to your children or have them play role model wise. However it moved me deeply. Thank you to everyone at Telltale Games for making it.

** EDITORIAL DISCLAIMER: Telltale Games was kind enough to send me a code for the finale so I could play it a bit early. I think given my tweets and posts about the season up to that point it’s fair for me to say that didn’t influence my views. Smile


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