Tag Archives: Writing

Baseball, Stories

So, a day late on this one again, mostly because I couldn’t think of anything to write that wasn’t pandemic-related, and I have been determined not to make this All About The Pandemic, because frankly I already do more than enough thinking along those lines anyway, and I’m sure you’ve got all the pandemic content you could ever want or need as well.

But then (as of course often happens) as I was lying down to sleep, an idea occurred to me, because I was thinking about baseball*. Now, why was I thinking about baseball, in this odd season where major league ball is not being played, and gives no particular sign of being played? Partly, this doesn’t mean that there’s no baseball being played at all – the Korean league is playing in front of empty stadiums, and I have adopted the SK Wyverns as my team to follow from a (great) distance. Korean league baseball is a delight, with bat flips and teams named the Heroes and parts of the stadiums labelled ‘EXCITING ZONE’, but of course the Wyverns are terrible and it’s still all very far away.

So that wasn’t why.

I have also just finished reading a really excellent baseball book, Joe Posnanski’s The Soul of Baseball, which you should really give a read if you have even a tiny piece of affection for the sport. I would argue that a lot of people will probably enjoy it even if they’re not into baseball, but I can’t imagine a baseball fan not liking it.

But that wasn’t why, either.

The real reason is that one of the ways I have been passing some of my extra time in seclusion has been to get out my old tabletop baseball game (Avalon Hill’s Statis-Pro Baseball)** and playing out a little league with teams from 1985. Now why 1985? Because that’s not the year I bought the game, and in fact I ordered these cards special.

Well, if you’re a Blue Jays fan (or, I suppose a baseball historian) you may know that in 1985, the Jays had finally turned into a good team, good enough to win their division and get to the American League Championship Series, and even lead it 3 games to 1. The ALCS being a best-of-seven, they needed to win just one more game to go to the World Series. Instead of doing that, they would lose three straight, and the Kansas City Royals advanced to the championship, won it, and (with apologies to Joe Posnanski) I have loathed them ever since.

So, 1985 is a bit of a tantalizing ‘oh, what if’ in the minds of the right vintage of Jays fan, the sort of thing that games like Statis-Pro are somewhat uniquely suited to exploring. But, despite the heartbreak of how 1985 (and, really, all the efforts of those 1980s Blue Jays teams) ended up, I have a lot of affection for it because that’s more or less when I started becoming a fan of the team.

By which I mean, having an active interest in the team itself and hoping they would win rather than just watching a baseball game because it was something my father put on in the living room. I had favourite players (Jesse Barfield and the late Tony Fernández), and although I had tons to learn about how baseball really worked, I would watch the games and hope to see my heroes do well and (since they were pretty good that year) see them do some pretty amazing things.

Bit of a shock how it ended up, which is really the point I am (eventually) getting to. 1985 was also the year when (coming to this realization perhaps a bit late in life, but I have generally been behind the curve in various kinds of learning) the difference between sports and a story in a book, or a movie, came home. Because of course, had it been a book (or at least, the kind of books I would have been reading at the time), ‘the good guys’ wouldn’t really lose three straight games to their rivals, and they wouldn’t really not go to the World Series. Maybe they’d lose two, and then win the last vital game in dramatic fashion, but they’d never really fail utterly the way the Blue Jays did in 1985 (or the way they did an arguably even more heartbreaking thing in 1987).

One of the main reasons I enjoy watching sports is that you do get wonderful, exciting, amazing stories played out in front of you that challenge the limits of the imagination and would strain suspension of disbelief if someone did make them up that way. You genuinely cannot predict what might happen, no matter how well you know the conventions of drama and character and plot, because none of them apply.

But, of course, that’s also one of the strengths of the stories we write. We can tell the tale we want to tell, or want others to experience. Unless it suits our purpose, we don’t need to have our heroes, or our readers, experience their own 1985. That’s a big part of why I think fiction is always my first love, both for entertainment purposes, and as something I will always come back to creating***. Being able to tell, and to read, or watch stories where things end up as they should is such a powerful and important thing, and perhaps especially so during times where the ends appear uncertain.

.Keep creating, and keep reading.

Thanks for being here.

*-I did not leap out of bed and go write it, right then, thereby getting it published ‘on time’ because although deadlines are definitely a thing for me, I am just sane enough to recognize that the world does not exactly turn on the writing of this blog. Also, it was just past midnight anyway.

**-For the unfamiliar (thus, virtually everyone), Statis-Pro and games like it were simulations of baseball from the time before computers became ubiquitous. Each player has a card that rates their effectiveness at hitting, fielding, running the bases, and pitching, and with these and a bunch of arcane charts you can play out all these imaginary games. You can use the teams as they existed, or switch the players around and create new ones. If you have cards from different seasons, you can have pretend matchups that break the laws of time. It was exactly the sort of thing that would naturally appeal to a quiet kid with a good imagination who was also a baseball fan. I played a lot of Statis-Pro.

***-I was going to write a whole thing on this, but again, I don’t want to dwell too much on the pandemic situation. So: as I mentioned on my friend Jay Odjick’s podcast, I started out my seclusion period thinking about how much writing I would get done. For a variety of reasons, that hasn’t happened, and in fact, I have written exactly zero words during this time. I have, at times, felt very badly about this, especially while seeing writers I know be very productive. Most times, though, I feel able to recognize that there are good, legitimate reasons why I’m not able to write right now, and I know in my soul that I’ll get back to it.

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Christmas (?) Cactus

First of all, I flat-out forgot that yesterday was ‘write a blog entry day’ until I was just about to go to bed, and with my usual struggles in getting my brain to turn off and let me sleep, I decided not to take any chances. Obviously things are a little weird right now, my schedule is all messed up, and hopefully we’re all making allowances for ourselves as a result. And I’m going to get back on the ‘Tuesdays’ schedule going forward, as best I can.

However, this is also kind of perfect based on what I wanted to write about on the blog this week.

My Christmas Cactus.

No, seriously.

See, I have had this plant for quite a long while now, and right up front I’ll admit that I’m quite sure it hasn’t been in ideal Christmas Cactus conditions (mostly due to me not really knowing what those are). Mostly it has been a nice little splash of green that survived the rather iffy lighting conditions of a series of apartments.

It hadn’t bloomed for the past two Christmases, and I pretty much figured it wasn’t going to, any more.

Then, a little while ago, I noticed it had buds.

It is, you will note, April.

My first instinctual reaction (and this is not to my credit) was ‘Man, this cactus is bad at it’s job. Doesn’t bloom for two years and then finally produces some in the springtime.’ I was going to make a Hilarious Internet Post about it.

But then I thought a little more, and you know, there’s a lot to be learned from this cactus. It is not, as I said, in ideal conditions. It’s not producing what is expected on the expected schedule, nor at the rate of other similar cactii.

But, by the gods, it has produced something, and (one has to assume) done the very best it was capable of. This is much like many of us, including myself. I don’t write as much as a lot of other people I know, I definitely don’t do so with any kind of predictable regularity these days, but I plug away. I like to hope eventually something will come of it.

And really, this is all any of us can do. We are all in our own situations, unique to ourselves, and if we do the best we can, then we have no reason to feel in any way ashamed of the results.

By all appearances, my cactus’ flowers are going to be lovely.

It’s great at its job.

Thank you for reading.

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On Piracy

All right, I lied.

The thing is that I did have something I sort of wanted to write about, but by the time it got to be time to write it yesterday, my energy level was in the sewer and I convinced myself it was a bad idea. I’m finding my energy levels to be incredibly volatile in the current situation (and this is not becoming a ‘pandemic’ entry, I swear) and that’s something I’m gonna have to adapt to.

However. Here’s what I wanted to write about.

Piracy, and not the ‘fun’* kind. There was a bit of a Fuss about book piracy last week and into this week, and I had some Thoughts, but was really going to let it go (because, basically, who the fuck am I) but then I saw a friend in the world of music with similar issues, and since this is clearly a thing, here we go, for what it’s worth.

This is especially fun because I get to argue with me from 30 years ago.

I didn’t have pirated books back then (it wasn’t really technologically practical) but I did have pirated videogames. Almost every game I had for my computer back then was copied. If you had asked me, I would have had my reasons. Video game publishers are big companies and won’t miss the money. I’m a broke kid who wouldn’t be buying a game in any event, so it’s not like they’re out money. They got money from a sale at some point, this is just basically lending the games around. And on like that.

My friends and I copied music for each other, too (those double-deck cassette players seemingly purpose built for the task) and again, the thinking was (if we bothered to think very much about it) that musicians were clearly rich as fuck, we were not, and so it was, in a way, only fair.

I know exactly when my thinking at least started to change. It was year 1 of my ill-fated foray into journalism school, and we had to write an article on an issue in society. I chose software piracy and did some interviewing; one of the people I talked to was a family friend who had some sort of job with IBM. (Look, again, 25 years ago) I raised a question: ‘What do you say to the argument that people copy software because it’s too expensive?’ His reply: ‘That if you can’t afford a BMW, it doesn’t mean you get to steal one.’

I wrote up my mediocre article and it got the grade it deserved (the idea of me as a journalist gets more hilarious the better you know me) but the point is, and I remember this quite distinctly – I never really came up with a counterargument to that point. I’m not going to claim some moral epiphany here, I still had pirated software for years afterwards, but I also know my certainly about the whole deal had been fractured.

Basically, since then, the more I’ve learned about every creative industry (creation of computer games included), the more I have learned that basically all of my assumptions about them were wrong. There are, of course, titanically wealthy authors and musicians who no, probably don’t feel it much if they lose a sale to piracy. But for every one of those, there’s at least dozens who are just scraping whatever income they have out of their art, either literally to get by, or to see if they can (in this strangely terrible world we have built for ourselves) afford to divert time from things they know will make money to their art.

Everything that gets torrented or downloaded kicks those decisions in a particular direction, and the net effect is going to be less people making art, and more people giving up on it as a thing they can do. It would indeed be lovely if our society was such that people who feel art in their soul could pursue it for nothing but the joy of it, but the world we have thus far chosen to build requires all of us to make money somehow. If there’s no money in art, for most creators, the decision will have to be to do something else.

So there will be that small number of people who make a living at it, the gate to getting into that group will be exceedingly narrow, and the array of voices we will have in whatever field of art we’re talking about will be less. And we will be worse off because of it.

It doesn’t take much thought to carry this a little further and realize that the people who will suffer most from this are those whose position in society is precarious to begin with, the marginalized and underprivileged. Those are the voices we need to amplify, not stifle by making pursuing their art something they literally cannot afford to do.

This is without getting into the wider issues here: similar to the artists themselves, there are of course tremendously wealthy and powerful publishers of art. But there are also lots where, even if we know the name really well, the margins are razor thin, and the decisions about how many things they can put out, or if they are even going to continue to make a go of it, are absolutely impacted by how much of their stuff gets stolen.

Even for those big publishers that, no, probably aren’t going to close the shutters because a thing was torrented, they are making decisions based on sales. So, do they give that particular author another deal (and thus, get more art in your hands), or do they not? If the sales aren’t there, they won’t, and so your artistic world just got a little smaller.

For every piece of art we consume, there’s also a bunch of work we often don’t think of attached to it, as well. For a book, there’s editors, layout people, cover designers, agents; a whole pretty-darned-rickety industry that gets that story in your hand. Even if the artist themselves, or the publisher, is crazy rich? Gonna bet that most of those other people attached to the project are not. All of them are ultimately depending on someone paying for the book to get paid themselves. The whole thing gets closer to collapse the more of us decide we’re not paying.

Basically what this all comes down to is recognizing that we do, as a society, value art. Almost everyone I have ever known likes some type of it – there’s either music they like to listen to, stories they like to read, images they like on their wall, games they like to play. We surround ourselves with art nearly constantly.

The bizarre thing is that for a society of art-lovers, we seem strangely reluctant to pay for it. Can’t we just enjoy it? And again, it would be lovely if that was the case. But, every piece of art we enjoy exists because of someone’s labour, and it almost always comes to us because of many people’s labour. To say ‘nah, I’m not gonna pay for it’ or ‘you should give it to me for nothing’ is to say that you think the worth of that labour is zero, and that’s a terrible judgment to make.** It’s especially indefensible if you claim to be on the side of workers, and ordinary people.

If it’s really what you think, though, at least have the decency to not call a thing literally worthless and then also insist on taking it at the same time.

We all love art. Love the people who bring it to you as well, and please don’t steal it or help facilitate it being stolen. Our world needs art very badly, and we’ll have less of it if we starve our artists.

Take that, me from 30 years ago.

Thanks for reading.

* – Real piracy was not, in fact, fun or charming and the transformation of brutal vicious killers into whimisical jolly good fellows is an interesting phenomenon that we are absolutely not getting into.

** – there is an (I hope) obvious exception here for providing access to art to underprivileged people who would never be able to experience any of it otherwise, which is another objectively good thing to do. However, these should always be things that the artists consent to being a part of. And no, ‘you can tell us and we’ll stop’ is not anywhere near the same as getting permission before you begin.

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Down the Line

I’m gonna try not to do too many of these, but this is gonna be another coronavirus-adjacent blog today. I don’t think we should reduce our entire existence to this very strange thing we’re all in the middle of, so I’m going to make a special point of writing about some other things in the weeks ahead, but this week there is one more thing I want to look at real quick.

Since my last entry, the restrictions put in place by the government have gotten more stringent, at least here in Canada. The limits on us have gotten more extensive. I have seen several people who I think of as intelligent and wise wondering if what we’re doing is even working.

And, of course, the uncomfortable answer is that we can’t tell yet. We’re still probably a couple weeks from seeing if all of this effort has made enough of a difference. Especially when we’re stressed out and worried, that’s not easy to swallow. Heck, I’m not great at ‘wait and see’ and the best of times.

But right now, that’s what the world demands of us. We’ve got to do the right things, and trust that we will see the results we want a little bit down the road.

It occurs to me that that is kind of true about a lot of things, even in ordinary life. My fitness routine is certainly like that – I do the work in the gym and out on the road and trust that I’ll get the results I want down the line. Usually, that’s a wait of at least a few weeks before I can see that it’s made a difference.

I think it’s like that with writing, as well. I work hard at creating new stories, improving my craft, and making contacts in the trade, and although the results thus far have been relatively small scale, I try to trust as much as I can that I’ll see the results of it all in the end. I have taken the best advice I can from people who know what they’re talking about, I do the best with it I can, and … I shall wait and see how it works out. Hopefully it will look somewhat like what I’m hoping for, down the line some.

It’s not an easy thing to do, while it is easy to lose patience.

But a lot of the time, all we can do is the best we can right now, and wait to see the results shake out after some time passes.

That’s it for this week.

Thanks for reading.

All shall be well.

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End of Season Grump

End of another series of Doctor Who, and I have a grump. I liked a lot that they tried to do this year – a lot of ambitious storytelling effort and trying to do things that were genuinely different, and some of it worked. But man, I didn’t like the wrap-up.

Some of that last episode was fun – the ‘Last Cyberman’ mastermind getting casually chumped by the Master was darkly hilarious – but I felt like there were a variety of problems with the writing, and I especially didn’t enjoy the new reveals about the past of the Doctor. Part of it is that it’s such a major retcon of the show’s history (and not a retcon that works especially well, in some ways), but that kind of thing is sort of the inevitable consequence of a TV show that is sort of like following a comic book, at this point – so many different writers and creators that all want to make their mark on the character and their world and some will take big swings. A lot of it will go away.

So this might have just been a big swing that was a miss for me, but I think it was especially so because I don’t like the idea of rewriting the Doctor into being a Very Special person with a special destiny and a double-secret past. I think the character is so much cooler as a frankly mediocre member of this strange race of time travellers who – not out of any secret agenda or inborn destiny – just decided to change their lives and start doing good things.

It’s kind of the same thing I liked about Rey, when she was still Rey from Nowhere. You don’t have to have the special bloodline or the destiny written in the starts to start being a hero. Anyone can do it, which means everyone can do it. It’s the same message from the end of Into the Spider-Verse – anyone can wear the mask. To me that’s a message we kind of need, these days, and it’s a much cooler one than ‘the Special Person will do the thing’.

(I am also increasingly disappointed, as much as I do enjoy Sacha Dhawan’s manic Master, that we’re apparently just pretending Missy never happened now. Of course, the Doctor never got to know that in the end, Missy really was on their side again, but you would think the whole issue of Missy seeking redemption might have come up in at least one of their conversations, at some point.)

Anyway, I still like Jodie Whitaker as the Doctor very much, I enjoy a lot of the things they’re trying to do with a show that’s going to take some big swings, but I am somewhat hoping that a lot of that infodump we got in the last episode (also: not great storytelling, there) turns out to be some kind of misdirect or ploy by the Master. Because no sir, I don’t like it. Also, get off my lawn.

(Also, you’ve gotta do better if you want to cliffhanger me than ‘oh gosh the Doctor is in prison’. Putting the Doctor in jail is never going to work for more than about thirty seconds, and everyone who has ever seen the show knows it)

Thanks for reading.

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On Vacation

I am writing this on vacation, which so far has been very nice.

Taking some time to go away on a trip was perhaps not the most practical decision in terms of use of time (or, no doubt, financially) but I can’t maintain an endless level of grind. As the last couple of weeks have shown, eventually it wears to the point that even time spent ‘on task’ becomes so unproductive that I do very little.

Counterintuitive though it may be, taking a space of time to do nothing works out to me being more productive in the long term. So that’s what I’m doing this week. I did bring a ridiculous amount of reading with me (because of course) and I already had one solid idea for my writing project, so I think this is already paying off.

We’ll see. Still on vacation at the moment.

(I have already finished, and enjoyed, Ann Leckie’s The Raven Tower, which is a very clever and unusual kind of fantasy story that I find personally comforting because although it is a really good tale, it is also not what you would call packed with action. Which tends to be what a lot of the stuff I write is, so it’s encouraging re: marketability. Which we’re not thinking about. Because we’re on vacation.)

Back on the job next week.

Thanks for reading.

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New Project

So, since I have abundant free time (aheheheh) I have decided to take on another project. I spend a lot of time making up stories out of nothing, but there is at least one really good story that happens to be true that I think needs to be told, in some form. If you have followed this blog for a while, you will probably have seen me mention my grandfather at least a couple of times. Usually connected to one of those running posts.

This is because my grandfather was, among other things, an athlete. He did some running, he bicycle raced, he snowshoe raced, he canoe raced. He did snowshoe races with a 50 lb bag of flour on his back. He did another one against some army cadets in weather so bad that all the cadets quit and someone had to go find my grandfather and tell him that he was the only one left out there. So, athlete.

He also supported his family with a little farm in Northern Ontario where there was no electricity or running water. He went away to the Second World War and came home married. He was a local politician, interested in regional heritage, and you wouldn’t have guessed any of that from meeting the quiet person who I knew as my granddad when I was growing up.

To my regret, I never got to know him especially well (among other things, two shy people) before he passed away, some years ago now. The project I am going to work away at for the next however long is to find a way to properly tell his story. It’s going to involve some research, and (I think) eventually some writing. I make up stories that I think and hope are interesting, but again, this is a truly exceptional and unique one that is also true.

Granddad was never rich and never widely famous (seems to have had some kind of reputation in certain athletic circles, though), but there’s a story there nonetheless. I think there’s a story in the lives of many people, perhaps everyone, if we look at it right.

Our stories need telling, and deserve telling.

I know some of the details of my grandfather’s life already, through family stories, but I know there is a great deal more to know, much of it in the memories of family members who are not as young as they used to be (who of us are?) and on increasingly fragile pieces of paper.

Our stories can be fragile, and if we don’t tell them they can be lost.

Part of this project does, of course, scratch a particular historical research itch for me, and no doubt that is part of why I have picked it up. Part of it is just curiosity – I’m interested to know what new things I may be able to learn. I am also very interested in putting together all the little bits and pieces of fact and memory into a real story about a remarkable person that I was fortunate to know, for a while.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Thanks for reading.

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What Just Happened on ‘Doctor Who’?!?

I wasn’t at all sure what I was going to write about tonight, until I watched the latest episode of Doctor Who. (‘Fugitive of the Judoon’, incidentally) I had kind of kicked around the idea of writing about the return of Doctor Who after BBC shenanigans gave us another extra-long break, but I didn’t have too too much to say.

(There are about to be some spoilers, if you’re not caught up on Doctor Who)

I had mixed feelings about the return of the Master – Sacha Dhawan gave us a fun take on the character and seemed to be having a great deal of fun, but (as I went through in a previous entry) I really enjoyed the wobbly path towards redemption – and being the Doctor’s friend again – that we saw Michelle Gomez’ Missy take, and loved the poignant end to her incarnation. Dhawan’s Master at least seems to undo all of that (it’s at least possible that his Master comes in between the previous incarnations we saw and Missy, due to time travel nonsense, but then having his TARDIS appear as a flying house did seem to be a shot at Missy), which I regret a bit.

At the same time, this is what almost always happens with villains who ‘turn good’ – they’re so much more useful to the plot of an ongoing story as baddies than ancillary heroes that it’s very hard to resist flipping the switch back over. The Master is nearly always a fun foil for the Doctor, Dhawan did a great job as a particularly expressive version of the character, and he wore Patrick Troughton pants. It was pretty awesome.

After that the episodes were just pretty ok, and I lost much sense that I had anything to write about here, until ‘Fugitive of the Judoon’. Holy boats, the series abruptly made a hard turn into some delightfully puzzling territory. Captain Jack was back, that was cool. We have another incarnation of the Doctor, who we’ve never heard of before, and who doesn’t seem to fit into either the character’s past or present as we’ve known it. Maybe Gallifrey is gone and maybe it isn’t. Something truly, gloriously weird is afoot.

If I stop and think about it, I don’t love every aspect of this storyline. I especially think they’ve gone to the ‘fate of Gallifrey’ well a few too many times now. Either destroy the place or leave it be, but there’s not a lot of impact to yet another change in status for the home planet the Doctor basically never visits. The puzzle-box plotline is likewise a frequently used tool in the box for the writers of the revived series, and it hasn’t always paid off.

However.

This is a truly intriguing mess they’ve thrown in our lap (and, incidentally, how cool did Jo Martin’s TARDIS interior look?) and I really can’t wait to see where the ship is going, now that it’s veered onto this unexpected course. If nothing else, I’m glad to see the writers doing something truly bold in terms of direction with this series – even if they don’t end up quite sticking the landing, they certainly haven’t played it safe this time, and that, I enjoy.

Thanks for reading.

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Finally, that Expanse blog

Well, looks like we’re finally going to fire up that blog entry with my thoughts on Season 4 of The Expanse, which I realize I didn’t exactly advertise well last time out. Ah well. Here they are. I should note that I haven’t read any of the books that the show is drawing from, which may affect how I see things somewhat, so take that for what it’s worth.

Obviously, spoilers ahoy for those of you who haven’t watched Season 4 yet.

On the whole, I liked it quite a lot. I have seen a lot of comments online about this season being slower or not ‘accomplishing’ as much as previous seasons. What I mostly saw was some writers who knew they weren’t getting cancelled at the end of the season and knew they could start spinning out some strands of story that would extend into those upcoming additional episodes they now know for sure are coming. So, I guess I would agree that Season 4 didn’t quite wrap up into as neat an ending as the previous ones did, but on the whole (again) I trust the creatives behind this story that we’re going in an interesting direction.

A big part of the reason I trust them come from characters like Klaes Ashford. When he first appeared in Season 3, I got kind of braced for what I thought was a very obvious storyline where Ashford would undermine Drummer (another character I love) at every opportunity, and turn part of her crew against her, leading to a Dramatic Showdown. And while we kind of did get that storyline a bit, it wasn’t because of Ashford. Instead, here was a guy who recognized that Drummer was a good leader and (more or less) becomes her second-in-command in fact as well as in theory. We might not agree with all the decisions Ashford made in the last parts of Season 3, but they made solid sense coming from a crafty, practical Belter pirate (and not the cartoon villain he initially seemed like he was going to be)

Ashford the politician in Season 4 was even more impressive to see – here he is now recognizing that the time to help his people as an outlaw is gone and that something else is required. Again, he’s not always exactly right, but there was so much depth and growth from a character I initially thought I was really not going to like. I was truly sad to see him die in the season’s final episode, symbolic and dramatic though the moment was.

So, yeah, the people who brought us Klaes Ashford get a big benefit of the doubt from me.

They didn’t hit on everything, I thought. Murtry was a fun, easy-to-hate villain, but (contrast to Ashford) he was entirely what you thought you were going to get. As soon as we met him, you knew he was going to be an awful fucker, and he absolutely was. Sometimes you do just need a black-hearted villain, but it was a bit of a surprised on a show that has usually gone out of its way to give everyone multiple dimensions.

The recast of Arjun Avasarala was a bit jarring as well, not so much because the actor was replaced (these things happen) but because it also seemed to come with a rewrite for the character. I can only imagine it’s very hard to recast someone and maintain a lot of consistency in how the character comes across, but this really seemed like a completely different dude. That, combined with the writers having a bit too much fun with Chrisjen’s freedom to swear a lot more, made that storyline my least favourite.

But now I’m kind of nitpicking. Overall, I thought the season was great. We had an exciting, complete story of what happened on Ilus, the rather poignant end of Miller, and several longer-term arcs starting to spin out. For my money, The Expanse is one of the best rides you can currently jump aboard for SFF on ‘TV’ (is episodic the better term now?) and the only bad thing about the whole season coming out in one massive chunk is that I burned through it too fast and am already eagerly awaiting Season 5.

Thanks for reading.

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2019

I am a very tiny human, and I made it through another year.

I missed our usual Tuesday schedule (again) with the actual day being New Year’s Eve, and then some other stuff happened, but someone asked yesterday if I was doing a year end post, and so I am. We’ll get back to our usual pattern next week. Almost certainly.

As always, I don’t and won’t do resolutions. Don’t like ‘em. Fight me if you want.

At a quick glance, 2019 was not what you would call a banner year for me. I didn’t find a home for Heretic Blood, which was not according to plan, and best described, as a friend of mine did, as ‘bruising’. I still believe in the book. The search continues, but in terms of ‘career’ milestones, I didn’t truly get very far down the road in the last twelvemonth.

Other things happened, though. My friend Brandon and I started a podcast talking to other creative people about their work, and it’s been a remarkable amount of fun. Also work. But also fun. We’re continuing on for at least one more ‘season’ of episodes, and I’m looking forward to that. It’s been good because we had almost exactly zero expectations going in beyond ‘see what this is like’, and it’s been fun finding out.

I have made tighter connections to my local writing community, and through our time hanging out (some of which involved playing elfgames) I learned a lot more about writing than I knew before. I have closer friendships than I did starting out the year, and that’s a treasure.

What else. I taught history. I did my best to help some students, and for some I believe I made a difference. As always, I learned while I taught, which is great. I had a couple Tweets blow up a bit, answering the question of ‘what happens when’ – turns out the answer is ‘not much’. I spent another year helping bring Can*Con to life here in Ottawa, and once again the end result was something I’m really proud of. I did a lot of running, which is another kind of teacher, and thought of a new plan for challenging myself in the year ahead.

And there was writing, some of which I’m quite pleased with really, either in things that haven’t seen the light of day yet, or in I guess non-career contexts like things for the role-playing games. I don’t know if I will ever make much of a dent as a professional in the field, but I know I’ll always be a writer. It’s one of the things I most consistently like about myself, and I continue with the self-reminders that it doesn’t matter how many people read what I write, or like it – I can still be a writer.

At times it was a tough year, with struggles and losses and reversals both professionally and personally. Whenever these have come along, I have had the tremendous fortune of being reminded that I have people around who will help me with getting me out of the ditch and back on the road. At times it was a joyous year, and it has been a delight to share those moments, too. It is in my nature to seek out solitude, a lot of the time, but of course the paradox is that I am also blessed beyond measure to not ever really be alone, and I hope that I am sometimes a person that people are glad to have around, as well.

I am a very tiny human, and I’m still around for another year.

Thanks for reading.

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