In Light of Rossetti and Siddal

Wanted: Bona-fide male muse

Must meet all the standard muse characteristics expected of the female of the species: uncritical, non-judgemental, with extremely good looks and extreme passivity. Impishness a plus. May engage in creative endeavors of his own, but must not expect to be taken seriously. Must also cook.

Tasks include: bolstering of my fragile ego, unwavering support of my art, sexual favors, constant emotional availability, cleaning up my artistic space (but never after a work in progress), caring for my physical needs while I’m on a creative binge (i.e. ensuring I eat while enraptured, providing me with enough coffee and cigars, finding the right balance between insisting I sleep and letting me stay up late into the night to work on my endeavors).

Compensation will be meted out in the form of poems and dedications, and in the infrequent mention of his goodness and virtue to my friends before we discuss topics of real import.

Words

Names, words, writing… not the same but interlinked. They have power. To name a thing is to control it, to speak a thing makes it true, to set a thing in writing makes it unalterable. Myths and words of power: Odin gave his eye for knowledge of the runes.

Words are the poles we use to vault the chasms between minds. That is its own magic.

Falling in Love

With Fallout 3, specifically. Having been a fan of the original Fallout, I had designed (but never implemented) a Vault 13 jumpsuit costume for the Post-Apocalyptic themed Graduation Palm Court Party some years ago. I’m kind of hardcore for someone whose computer always seemed to suffer from severe (often explosive) malfunction before she could ever complete the game.

I have to say, in the week and a half since Fallout 3’s release, I’ve been lapping it up. I had been reservedly excited about the game. I mean, I am always leery of sequels. To anything, really (yes I am dreading the Dark Crystal sequel like a pap smear). Usually, they suck. And not just a little bit— they often drag out the corpse of their beloved predecessor, defecate upon it, take a leak on it for good measure, and then coat it in gasoline, light it up, and dance drunkenly upon it. With Interplay’s closing, and Bethesda’s purchasing of the rights, I feared it would be too much like Oblivion to really be a Fallout game, especially using the same engine and utilizing a first person perspective. I mean, the isometric view presented in Fallout became for me synonymous with the RPG genre. So what’s a gal to do?

Well, I could always claim poverty, and stick my head in the sand like I did for the abomination known as D&D 4th ed. In that particular case, it was a wise decision. This time, trusting Bethesda, I stuck my pinky toe in. And now I am as addicted to the game as my character is to Jet.

A lot of the humor of the original Fallout was stripped away, and this incarnation is gritter than a butt-scoot on the beach. Dialogue and stories are the things that suck me into a game, and even if the gameplay is difficult, so long as there are enough delicious twists, I’m a happy gamer. Needless to say, I was surprised and delighted by the use of profanity in the game– I side firmly with the late George Carlin on this one. Just enough to seem realistic. Just enough for it to feel “right.” The dialogue glows, though, and not from mutational dose radiation exposure. With a number of quests and characters, it adjusts in minor ways. Harden Simms speaks differently of his dad if his father dies (he fell off the walkway and splatted in my game), and Three Dog’s quest reward and dialogue adjusts if you find yourself a step ahead of his information. I also think I’m in love with Moira.

Because I’m a little bespectacled academic at heart, I do have concerns and reservations about the songs selected for GNR. “Butcher Pete” is entertaining in the context of the game, but what is being sung about is specifically the murder and mutilation of women. It feels really wrong blowing off a female raider’s arm by hitting her frag grenade with that playing in the background and knowing that there are in fact people out there who actually hold women in such low regard. It literally and viscerally reminds of a coffee shop owner I had known who murdered his wife before killing himself. It was chilling to walk by the closed storefront of the shop after that had happened, and with that in mind, combining the contexts of the song independently, the song within the game, and then the game independent of the song, add up to some grim food for thought. On the other hand, it has to be one of the catchiest recordings in the game. On the upside, the inclusion of Billie Holiday’s recording of “Crazy, He Calls Me” sent me squealing through the house delightedly crowing, “Come listen to what they included! Come listen!” grabbing boyfriend and roommate by the arm much to their mystification.

On the down side, you can’t name your saves. There is nothing more annoying to the person who must compulsively create a million characters than the inability to title a save WITH THE CHARACTER’S NAME. Hells, Bethesda, fix that already, please? It was a pain in Oblivion, it’s a pain here. The usual map holes and occasional crashes seem to be the biggest inhibitors to my enjoyment of the game right now, which doesn’t amount to much. Overall, this game is solid, and with the ability to go good or evil and the myriad dialogue options, I think after this go around, I’m going to have to create a truly evil snake of a character.

With that, I think I should be off to go raid the RobCo factory. Fucking robots. This quest is going to be like extracting a blood-hemorrhaging tooth through the back of the skull. My skull. Because robots don’t have skulls. But the fact that I still want to do this, that’s the mark of a truly excellent game.

A quick update: it seems I was mistaken about the nature to my RobCo visit. It was far less painful than originally anticipated… and mole rats go splook so satisfyingly!

Settling Dust

Time to breathe a sigh of relief. The election is over, Barack Obama won. It feels like we’ve won something else, too. As I tiredly and anxiously awaited the tallies last night, breath held, I couldn’t bring myself to check up on the other incredibly important issue that we voted on here in the state of Florida. As the results came in, I had for myself an untainted moment of joy in Obama’s victory, then dropped into my bed (after a piña colada) like a bird over a smokestack.

This morning I awoke with dread and hope gnawing in my stomach. I checked the results for for Florida’s Amendment 2. California had something similar in their Prop 8, and while Prop 8 made national headlines, Florida’s 2 seemed to cause barely a ripple. It’s a fishy amendment, which shouldn’t be legal, as ballot initiatives in this state must only do one thing. Amendment 2 does two things– it defines marriage as something that occurs only between a man and a woman and it illegalizes any contractual or other agreement that simulates marriage. Ouch.

In Florida, for a ballot initiative to amend the state constitution, it must garner 60% of the vote or more. CNN tells me this morning that it tidily swept up with a clean 62%.

The opponents of Prop 8 modified a commercial that I viewed some weeks ago, substituting “interracial” marriage for “gay” marriage. The results are show just how bigoted the measure really is:

I am troubled and disheartened. I had really hoped that my state would pull through for me, that the people of it would see just how cruel and prejudiced this measure was. I had hoped that bar of 60% would be just too high, that there would be enough people who could recognize that a “family” meant more than man/woman/child, that it meant love, interconnection, and that love these days is often hard-won. Why not nourish it were it grows? Instead, my state, my fellow citizens have chosen to deny individuals rights based on, based on, based on… based on what really? The fact that one’s partner doesn’t have the appropriate plumbing? How is that any different than denying couples the right to marry based on so-called “racial” traits? The anti-Prop 8 folks got that one right.

For now though, we can kiss goodbye notions of personhood for gay, lesbian, and bisexual folk. Because the right to marry is tied up in that. We can also kiss goodbye rights for unmarried couples of any orientation– because no contract devised, no agreement entered is allowed to simulate marriage. This may be the end of domestic partner benefits in the state of Florida, depending on how strictly this amendment is interpretted– domestic partner benefits which helped out any unmarried couple, regardless of orientation.

In one breath victory, in the next, crushing defeat. I think I’m going soothe my pain by retreating into Bethesda’s latest work of interactive fiction. Call me when I can come out of my vault; the only reality I can deal with right now is Fallout 3’s.