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September 28, 2007

A Year and a Week Ago
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 09:20 AM * 42 comments

Came the end of Viable Paradise X.

Viable Paradise is the workshop that Patrick, Teresa, and I help to teach every year on Martha’s Vineyard. This year’s edition is about to start.

Last year at the end of the week the students got together and discussed what they’d learned. Here’s the podcast.

Not safe for work. Not safe for kids. Bad language. Writers talking about writing. Dinosaurs. Sodomy. Modified.

Comments on A Year and a Week Ago:
#1 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2007, 10:16 AM:

Modified? What is? The dinosaur, to accomodate sodomy?

#2 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2007, 10:19 AM:

Bad language. As Cambronne said, merde!

#3 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2007, 10:36 AM:

Or sodomy, modified for dinosaurs?

#4 ::: Matt ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2007, 11:04 AM:

Why is no one asking the important question?
Are we on the giving or receiving end of the dinasour sodomy?
Although, I think both are apt to be painfull...

#5 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2007, 11:16 AM:

Og the gigantic, with a hideous roar,
commenced to sodomise a dinosaur,
but, with a curse, in the Jurassic rain
declared the whole thing was a total pain.
The truth is dino sex ain't for the meek,
they're structured so you can't find what you seek.
Deplorable I know. Still there's relief
in letting others know your horrid grief.

#6 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2007, 11:23 AM:

Consider Eric Bogle's "Little Gomez" as a cautionary tale.

#7 ::: The Commandant ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2007, 11:26 AM:

**Facepalm**

I get it now. The inside joke. Always knew the VP instructors shared an inside joke (or 4 gazillion).

Your delight in the use of the word "modified" -- it's really because you knew that's what we'd all be when we were through. Not quite the same, modified.

Have fun y'all. Wish I were going to be there with you.

#8 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2007, 11:26 AM:

Modifying dinosaurs on Martha's Vineyard? Hmm.

#9 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2007, 11:28 AM:

"It doesn't work like that!" the purist cried;
But this dino dil-do's modified.

(Ever feel like comment spam filters are just a little *too* inclusive? Let me tell you about trying to blog the Aqua T-E-E-N Hunger Force movie over at metblogs...)

#10 ::: Dru ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2007, 12:07 PM:

*sniff*

I'm pretty sure the VPX alumni are horribly jealous of the new crop of students, staff and instructors. They get to make up their own unique group culture.

I guess this proves that nothing ever truly disappears from the Internets if it contains potentially embarrassing content.

Thankfully, the riffs about the dinosaur sodomy was mostly off-mic. Ahem.

Disclaimer: Most of us had been partaking of tnh's scurvy cure by that point in the evening, or zak's ambrosia.

#11 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2007, 01:13 PM:

VP is an intense experience. Mur deciding to podcast our last night party was a stroke of genius. I remember asking her in woosy, but loud, disbelief, "You are *not* podcasting this party," but I'm so glad she did.

However, as Dru said, none of us were in any danger of scurvy. I don't know that we came off nearly as intelligently as Uncle Jim's description makes us sound.

#12 ::: John Hawkes-Reed ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2007, 02:53 PM:

I want to be back on the island
I want to be back on the island
I want to be back on the island

Etc.

I don't have anything bright to say here. You lot go on and have a good time and warp some more heads.

#13 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2007, 09:57 PM:

X marks the spot.

#14 ::: Remus Shepherd ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2007, 11:32 PM:

Hmph. Now I feel obligated to be socially entertaining. Well, if that happens it'll be by mistake. And not via alcohol, as I can't drink. But contact highs are nice.

On a plane tomorrow morning, on the island tomorrow night. On a podcast, gods willing, never. But we shall see...

#15 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2007, 12:38 AM:

Amen, JHR. An' if I can't be back on the island--this year--well then, heaps o' blessings upon the new crop o' students. May they spot many jellyfish and be, quote-unquote, so not the Thing.

#16 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2007, 01:22 AM:

Oh, for the Lawful-Good types playing Thing, the LG response to being "thinged" in the middle of the night is to stay in the game for one round to identify the other things, then confess your thingedness, have all the other things tested and killed, and then sacrifice yourself. Things are evil, and good cannot abide evil.

When playing Mafia, there is no proper Lawful-Good solution, other than to not play at all, but that's kind of boring, so, just do what you can.

And if a potential thing testee says that the game will be much more interesting if they're allowed to continue to play, test them if you want to live.

#17 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2007, 07:40 AM:

Re: #16: I'm confused. If someone has been Thing'd, doesn't that mean that their motivations are then driven by the Thing within, and not by their past motivations as a Puny Human? Surely a lawful Thing ought to be driven by its loyalty to its own kind, and its desire to see the Puny Humans it once was like converted to the glory of Thingdom.

(I agree with your point about immediately testing anyone who says the game will be more interesting with them untested, however.)

#18 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2007, 11:27 AM:

G. Jules, that's the shoal upon which many role-playing campaigns have foundered: the gulf between players playing characters and players playing themselves.

There are arguments for both approaches, of course.

(And the third approach, players playing the rulebook, but that leads to other sorts of curdled feelings.)

#19 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2007, 11:29 AM:

I dimly recall a Thing strategy that involved getting tipsy enough so that the player genuinely does not remember at some moments whether they're a Thing, and thus does not put out their usual tells... or else cloaks them in a fog of random noise.

I blame whatever was in that glass that my friend handed me. Yup. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

#20 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2007, 12:48 PM:

[*] One of the nostrums discussed at this year's Farthingparty: when you describe a gun, some weapons buff will probably point out where you got it wrong-- unless you know what you're doing. But if you describe the weapon as a "modified" bleep-beep peashooter instead of a bleep-bleep peashooter, you're less likely to be accused of ignorance.

#21 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2007, 12:52 PM:

I'm told that claiming fiercely not to be playing, and then making unhelpful suggestions is distracting. YMMV.

#22 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2007, 01:19 PM:

Nicole J. Leboeuf-Little @ 15... heaps o' blessings upon the new crop o' students.

A crop?

... must... fill... braiiiinnnns...

#23 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2007, 01:40 PM:

#19: Last year, Greg was in a game where he was a Thing right from the start. (I know because I was also a Thing right from the very start. I figured the Things were doomed.) Both Greg and I survived longer than either of us had any right to by being very drunk.

e.g., I'm pretty certain Greg can't actually tell an outright lie. However, whenever anyone asked him if he was a Thing, he'd say that he was really drunk.

OTOH, there's a limit. I was sufficiently drunk that, eventually, I blurted out that I wasn't sure if I was human. At that point, TNH (who'd become a Thing by then) sacrificed me to bolster her human creds. (Still, I did better than I usually do as a Thing.)

#24 ::: Dru ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2007, 04:06 PM:

And if there is any iota, twinkling, glimmer of doubt in your mind if TNH is a Thing...

Let me save you some agony: She's a Thing. But by the point you've decided to test her, she's already plotted your removal.

Oh, and dimples will doom you.

#25 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2007, 04:23 PM:

Teresa is a Thing? And I suppose that Lurch is always ready to help open and close her box...

#26 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2007, 06:42 PM:

#24: As a corollary, though, the game really is much more interesting when she's playing. (Also, I view being sacrificed by Teresa as a highlight.)

#27 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 01:59 AM:

I haven't played Thing often, but I do recall one game I was in where we were down to only a few players, only three or four. One of the other players wanted to test me (I was in fact still human) which caused me to want to test him. We went back and forth and back and forth.... Suddenly I turned and pointed at my SO, Katie, who had been (as is her wont) sitting quietly. "We'll compromise," I cried. "Test her!" "Okay," he said. Turned out that she was the last Thing. Victory for humankind.

#28 ::: Linda Daly ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2007, 01:11 PM:

It's so sad not to be the babies anymore! Happy VP11. May your Things always reproduce.

#29 ::: pete ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2007, 02:35 AM:

If this is an open thread, here's a great line I just ran across in a webcomic. It made me laugh out loud, and think of the toils of a SF editor:

http://www.davidcsimon.com/crimsondark/index.php?view=comic&strip_id=39


You know, when I started Crimson Dark, I told myself that I was going to try and avoid all of the standard webcomic cliches. In the space of just one chapter, I have mentioned pirates and used a Zombie Ninja Cyborg. Wow.

#30 ::: Laura Strickman ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2007, 01:21 PM:

A year already?

Nobody would really notice if we all just showed up back on the island, would they? Twice the students = twice the awesome. Twice the students also = half the pancakes-per-person ratio, but... um... nobody likes pancakes, right? Yuck. Pancakes.

#31 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2007, 02:02 PM:

There's a plan for a virtual reunion of VPX that's been proposed in the VPX room on AbsoluteWrite.com/forums (using Yahoo messenger) this coming Friday evening at 6 pm on the West coast, which would be 9 pm on the East coast.

#32 ::: retterson ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2007, 11:46 PM:

I think it was rigged that I got to be commandant twice in a row. No one believed me the first time --and then, OF COURSE no one believed me the second time and they all lost to TNH and her gang of mafiosa.

Great fun. I still regret missing the Friday night hijinx -- but I think I need a goodly dose of protein by then.

#33 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 12:12 AM:

I would like to go on record as not being jealous of the XIers. Happy for them, yes, having that intense, scary, wonderful experience to come.
But I was at VPX. Nothing's going to beat that, even another VP.
-Barbara

#34 ::: Erin Underwood ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 02:50 PM:

I owe my pen to VP.

If it wasn't for VP, I'd never-ever-ever have gotten into Stonecoast. :-)

What I loved most about VP: The instructors at VP said the things that none of my undergrad professors ever dared to say .... and then some!

#35 ::: Erin Underwood ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 02:50 PM:

I owe my pen to VP.

If it wasn't for VP, I'd never-ever-ever have gotten into Stonecoast. :-)

What I loved most about VP: The instructors at VP said the things that none of my undergrad professors ever dared to say .... and then some!

#36 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 02:53 PM:

Erin Underwood...

What's that you said about underclad professors?
("Undergrad.")
Nevermind.

#37 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 03:08 PM:

Lenny @ #20:
[*] One of the nostrums discussed at this year's Farthingparty: when you describe a gun, some weapons buff will probably point out where you got it wrong-- unless you know what you're doing. But if you describe the weapon as a "modified" bleep-beep peashooter instead of a bleep-bleep peashooter, you're less likely to be accused of ignorance.

I tell authors similar things about writing dance scenes - leave it vague, because unless you consult someone who knows what they're talking about you're going to mess it up the minute you get specific. (This will then provide me and my circle of dance friends with entertainment, but probably not the sort an author wants to provide.)

#38 ::: Erin Underwood ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 03:13 PM:

Serge #36 .... You made me spit out my coffee!

I need to rememeber not to drink and read at the same time. That was too funny! But now there is coffee everywhere. Doh!

#39 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 03:37 PM:

Erin Underwood... Flattery, eh?

#40 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 04:12 PM:

Serge, I think the word is splattery.

#41 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2007, 04:23 PM:

ethan @ 40... Muttermutter(darnkidsnorespect)muttermuttergrumble...

#42 ::: Spherical Time ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2007, 06:12 PM:

Just got back home. So tired.

/Ow!

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