singular they

Gary Gygax: it’s complicated

Things I don’t like about Gary Gygax:

  • The gall with which he kept using first-person singular (“I devised”, “I created”, “I invented”) in describing clearly collaborative efforts.
  • How he basically edited Dave Arneson out of the books history of D&D. (Arneson! The person who actually invented roleplaying!) And not just him.
  • How he kept suing the fans of his own games for making up their own rules based on somebody else’s - JUST LIKE HE HAD. It pissed off people so much that they called TSR  (his company) “They Sue Regularly”, and him “Ye Dread Gygax”.
  • How he acted like he owned fantasy roleplaying. When Wizards of the Coast bought D&D, it was a standard corporate takeover - from the hands of a geek who loves the Thing, to the hands of a big company which wants to profit from the Thing - and that would have infuriated the fans… if TSR wasn’t so shitty with them. People actually cheered. And WotC had the bare minimum smarts at that point to come up with the Open Gaming Licence, which wasn’t perfect, but damn, it allowed people to publish their own lore and homebrew without worrying about freaking legal expenses…
  • He fitted the profile of Nixon’s “silent majority” to a T.
  • He was sexist as fuck.
  • Almost every bit of D&D lore and rules that I hate can be traced back to him.

[see The First Female Gamers for context for this image]

Things I like about Gary Gygax:

  • Almost every bit of D&D lore and rules that I love can be traced back to him.
  • FUCKING DUNGEONS & DRAGONS. This blog. This Collective. A million dice, many clattering on a table somewhere in the world as we speak, a million worlds, a million stories. All partly - but surely - traced back to him.

Speaking ill of the dead

Gygax didn’t revert to icon status with his death in 2008, but a lot earlier. Once he left TSR, and lost all the rights of D&D including his own lore (Greyhawk, Mordenkainen, Tenser…), he went immediately from Ye Dread Gygax who Sues Regularly to underdog. He was like a popular, dispossessed noble. Nobody had ever questioned how much he loved the game, or how immense his contributions were (though he didn’t actually create it all by himself, ffs). It was mostly his business practices that pissed people off. And even then, plenty of people didn’t care about that at all, and simply saw him as the indisputable D&D chief.

But now that D&D wasn’t his business any more, he could be universally loved again. Worshipped, even. With his seniority, charisma, brand name (I mean, it’s a striking name, and it was very well known), sick DM skills, continuing involvement in the game with conventions and publications, and his unbounded, contagious love for the game, he successfully got the title “father of D&D”.

And though I’ll nitpick that it wasn’t a virgin birth, dammit, it was a freaking orgy of creativity that birthed D&D, I must admit that if you had to pick out a single person for the honour, by that time you couldn’t possibly pick anyone else.

What his death did change, however, was how he was presented in geek media: like a saint, more or less. It’s been 9 years, and all the pieces about him are still eulogies. His failings are mentioned in other people’s stories, but never in his own. His story is now legend, nostalgia kills reason, and we don’t speak ill of the dead, do we?

Fuck that. Speak ill of the dead. They were human, and humans fuck up, and we need to remember their fuck-ups along with all the good they did, otherwise we’ll fuck up the same damn way, and that’s just a waste of history.

Remember it all. That’s true love.

Remember, kids! Smashing your idols now and then is good for the soul. And the brain.

Essays in Existentialism: Walls

I love your fics and was wondering if you’d write a smutty one where Clarke and Lexa are neighbors and have never met but the walls are super thin and they can hear each other through them

Sunday, April 4th; 12:04pm

As soon as her face hit the pillow, the noise started. Or at least that was what it felt like. It wasn’t even the normal noises of the city creeping through her window. Those things, the car horns and mufflers, the traffic and creaking brakes, the general hum of the world where she lived, those things all sang her to sleep most of the time. But this, this low hum, it was new.

“Are you kidding me?” she growled after looking at her clock and seeing that it was lunchtime. It didn’t matter. It was her only day off, and thus she was angry that any kind of sleep was taken from her.

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The trouble is that people who aren’t taught grammar very well in school fall for these statements from these pundits, delivered with vast authority from above. I’m fighting that. A very interesting case in point is using “they” as a singular. This offends the grammar bullies endlessly, it is wrong, wrong, wrong! Well it was right until the 18th century, when they invented the rule that He includes She. It didn’t exist in English before then. Shakespeare used “they” instead of “he” or “she"—we all do, we always have done, in speaking, in colloquial English. It took the women’s movement to bring it back to English literature. And it is important. Becuase it’s a crossroads between correctness bullying and the moral use of language. If "he” includes “she” but “she” doesn’t include "he,“ a big statement is being made, with huge social and moral implications. But we don’t have to use "he” that way—we’ve got “they.” Why not use it?
—  Ursula K. Le Guin, The Writer’s Chronicle, March/April 2017, A Conversation on Craft with Ursula K. Le Guin by David Naimon
A Yuuri Katsuki #Relatable Anxiety Feel:

Viktor, as they’re loading the groceries into the trunk, says, “Oh, we forgot sour cream.”

“Oh well,” says Yuuri, who is already planning how to work around the absence of sour cream in their fridge for the next week.

“Let’s go back in and get it,” says Viktor, closing the trunk with a decisive bang. 

“Um…no, that’s okay,” Yuuri says. “We don’t–do we need sour cream? I don’t think we need sour cream.” Half of Viktor’s recipes require sour cream. It’s a Russian thing. Yuuri has a What I don’t know can’t hurt me policy with regards to how much sour cream the typical Russian consumes in a week.

“Yuuri,” Viktor laughs, taking Yuuri’s hand, “Come on. The store is right there–it’ll take two minutes. It’s not like we’re in a hurry.”

“We’ve left the store,” Yuuri says. “We have to live with the purchase we’ve made. At least until another shift. We can come back in a few hours?”

“But we’re here now,” Viktor says, utterly perplexed.

“But the same person who just checked us out will probably check us out again,” says Yuuri, “and the only thing we’ll have to buy is two family-sized cartons of sour cream. They’ll know that we were just in there. And that we forgot something. And that our family eats a ridiculous amount of sour cream. Viktor, they’ll want to ask us about it.”

“Okay,” Viktor says. “Would it be better if…I went in and got it myself?”

“No. We go to this store every week. They know we’re married. The next time I’m here they’ll ask me Why did your husband buy all that sour cream.”

Viktor, gently, laughs and says, “Darling, I really don’t think cashiers pay that much attention to what people buy.”

“I know,” Yuuri groans. “But what if they do?”

“It’ll be fine,” Viktor says, and starts towards the store. “I’ll buy something other than the sour cream. I’ll be back in two minutes.”

When Viktor settles into the car, passing the single shopping bag with two huge containers of sour cream and one singular pack of gum in it, Yuuri releases a mournful bleat and says with the gravity normally reserved for funerals, “We can never come back to this store”