CategoryFame

By now all this is past the point of relevance

But it needs to get written down anyway. On Saturday morning, September 7th, I woke up feeling grumpy about the way nerds had treated my friend Elizabeth and made the following series of ill-advised tweets.

If you see the numbers under those widgets you can see that they became the most far-reaching things I have ever written. I did not plan for that. They were tossed off, poorly thought out, and not particularly intended to stand in the record. This took a while to dawn on me, and when it did, I considered deleting them. I chose not to mostly because it wouldn’t undo anything, and because I should be held to account for my words.

I failed as an ally and a writer in several ways by writing what I did. The most significant and glaring is that I didn’t ask Elizabeth before posting them. That’s enormous. She and I had talked privately about the abuse she was getting, so it was on my mind, and I am so used to violent misogyny being directed at women who point out flaws in popular culture that I failed to consider her public stance about it. But even if she had discussed the hate more openly, I still should have asked. At the very least I should have reconsidered using her twitter handle, which made it even easier for a new wave of garbage to find her.

Also, as several people have pointed out, those three tweets are not exactly an iron syllogism. Elizabeth wrote a strongly worded post taking a strong stance against PAX; all I did was briefly express disappointment. I still think someone with a feminine name and icon would have received more abuse than I did for that tweet, but I certainly am not doing the kind of work Elizabeth does, and should not have tried to accord myself her stature.

There are other things about my phrasing with which one might well take issue, but those two are the most basic and important: I didn’t show my friend the respect she deserves. I can’t undo that, but the least I can do is point out for other people who want to be allies where I went wrong. I hope this helps someone else avoid a similar mistake in the future, especially if that someone is me.

As for the original matter of the controversy, I’ve been wrestling with it, but the simplest way to put it is that I take a version of Elizabeth’s view. I’m not going to PAX in 2014, I’m definitely not volunteering there, and I won’t be back unless and until they demonstrate change from the top down. It won’t be enough for PAX to come up to the standard of games conventions; from here on they’ll have to be twice as good as everyone else to make me consider attending.

I have dear friends in and around the Penny Arcade organization, many of whom work tirelessly to create safe space, and I’m not going to spurn you or your work for being involved with PAX. But I will say that attending any conference without a clear, detailed, rigorously enforced harassment policy is a bad idea. PAX rose to that standard in 2012, but when internal pressure from the volunteer corps relented this year, they failed again. That alone is a valid reason to stay away.

Some people can’t do that. PAX is a big part of how money works in games, and if the choice is between taking a stance and making your rent this year, I don’t have the moral authority to stand in judgment. I hope you’ve got other avenues for promotion too, though. I won’t see you there.

It’s actually “Twitters Brendan”

When I was a kid I had asthma. Growing up largely fixed that, but I still got attacks when I went running in cold weather; since running is the only exercise I enjoy or have ever been good at, I got into the habit of slacking off as the weather got colder. In late fall, for many years, I’d slip into a comfortable lethargy, stop caring about what I ate or how much I moved, and gain a bunch of weight that I’d then try to work off in the spring.

After I started recognizing this pattern I wanted to change it. Because the only motivation I understand is self-mockery on the Internet, last September I made a new Twitter account, WinterBrendan. I’d post as him when I caught myself in moments of sloth, gluttony and self-loathing. He hasn’t actually written that much, which is a good thing! It kind of worked, and I ate a lot better and worked out more (aided by the fact that I figured out how to run without asthma, which deserves its own post).

But WinterBrendan was only the beginning.

Within two weeks of his appearance, SOMEONE WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED created SpringBrendan, which is the worst thing that has ever happened. SpringBrendan is a machine gun of incredibly lewd jokes, which, well, fine, except all those jokes have my face on them and people instinctively believe I am writing them. The worst part is that he’s fucking hilarious. The only thing worse than people scolding you for coming up with horrible things is people praising you for coming up with horrible things when you did not, and indeed could not.

There are apparently people who still don’t believe I don’t write SpringBrendan. Look! Here! I AM NOT SPRINGBRENDAN. YOU CAN TELL BECAUSE HE IS FUNNY, AND LIKES HIMSELF.

Unfortunately everyone else likes him too. Around the time this was going on, I realized I was coming up on my ten thousandth tweet. Because my friends (and their friends, and total strangers) seemed to enjoy seeing my face plastered on any old garbage, I took a grumpy few hours and wrote my first Twitter client, RealBrendan. It was pretty simple: a text box that hooked up to my actual account and posted whatever you typed. My 9,999th tweet was a link to it, and my 10,000th was “Go.” Then I went to lunch with a friend.

When I got back I was in Twitter jail.

As soon as people realized it was legit, they had unleashed a hideous torrent of raw, anonymous Internet. I once thought of my followers as a carefully curated selection of clever, thoughtful people with taste; now I know better. RealBrendan only went silent when it hit the ceiling for allowable-tweets-per-hour, which turns out to be 128. I got a lot of texts along the lines of “are you okay???” and “WHAT ARE DOING, TURN OFF,” and one person even figured out how to send DMs as me. Exciting! (If you authorize the Exquisite Tweets app, you can read a complete archive of the horror.)

I revoked the app and was allowed back on Twitter the following morning. I did feel a certain sick fascination with what had happened the day before, so I tinkered with the machinery so that it would maintain a queue and post at a more reasonable rate, then hooked it up to its own new account. Once people figured out there was no more immediate gratification, the torrent dropped to a trickle, but now there’s this kind of anonymous group-fiction thing going and it’s kind of fun.

Because ideas are unkillable, there are other accounts as well, and once again I DO NOT CONTROL ANY OF THEM. Summer called them Brendan-shards, which prompted me to start thinking of them as my Horcruxes, because it would be awfully hard to track them all down and also each one represents a horrific murder. They are GrampaBrendan, JoelBrendan and BrendansMcdald, and I strongly encourage you not to follow any them. Or the other ones. Or the actual BrendanAdkins, really.

Please RT.

Stories We Tell, The

My dear friend Joe Mcdaldno–writer, game designer, and fascinating Renaissance human–was kind enough to interview me about Anacrusis for his nascent radio show/podcast, The Stories We Tell. This marks the third podcast to feature me, and my second time on Canadian radio. Soon, listening to my nasal drone trail off in the middle of half-baked jokes will be completely unavoidable!

Incidentally, the term I can’t think of at around 16:45 is syllepsis (and more generally zeugma).

Raising the level of discourse

The other day Erika got a request to do up a Penny Arcade guest comic and made the mistake of saying so on LJ–and, worse, confessing that she was a little nervous about it–at which opportunity I leapt like a jaguar in a trebuchet. I believe my exact words were “ERIKA ERIKA LEMME HELP I WANNA HELP ERIKA LEMME HEEEELP.” Out of some unknown and misplaced emotion, she acquiesced.

Anyway, it’s up now, so that’s pretty neat! That gag was Erika’s (and Matt’s?), I just helped tweak the dialogue (and, shamefully, truncated Professor Snugglesworth’s name). I did write the little bonus strip mentioned in the post.

This marks the second time in two years that my work has made some kind of appearance on PA. Based on linear progression, the plan is working, and by 2240 my takeover will be complete.

In which scrolling through Google Reader gives me a mild heart attack

Rian Johnson is posting like twenty pictures a day to the just-created Brick tumblr, for some reason. Happily, today he included this DVD-cover fan art that I did back in 2005. I always meant to clean that up and redo it; I had a couple other ideas for doing similar treatments of different scenes, but I don’t remember what they were now.

I’ve been thinking about Brick a lot the last couple of days, actually, because it’s occurred to me that I have pretty simple tastes in terms of plot. Give me any of the following and I will squeal with delight (double points for setting it in high school):

  • Emotionally crippled badass tries to get to the bottom of things (Brick, Neuromancer, Veronica Mars)
  • Young woman comes into her own and learns how dangerous she can be (Howl’s Moving Castle, The Privilege of the Sword, Bone, everything by Robin McKinley)
  • Tenuous network of friends and lovers collapses under the simple pressure of human desire (Lovebot Conquers All, Battlestar Galactica, Magic for Beginners)

And, of course, the latter is why I love Scott Pilgrim. Take away the video-game trappings and the fight scenes and the hipster music references and the fourth-wall humor and… okay, don’t take any of those, they’re great. But the real reason I have such an aching priapism for those comics (which I didn’t pick up until 2008! GAH) is the way O’Malley spends so much care and attention setting up what we in the Indie RPG Club call a relationship map. He gets you to like everybody in it, gives them each their own petty little wants, and then lets them tear each other apart.

Not that I would know anything about what that’s like.

SO EXCITED

GUYS! GUYS I FINALLY GOT A DMCA TAKEDOWN NOTICE. I feel like I’m a grownup on the Internet. It only took seven years!

Hello,

We have received a formal DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) notice
regarding allegedly infringing content hosted on your site. The specific
content in question is as follows:

The party making the complaint (Deborah Sykes, e-mail:
websheriff@websheriff.com), claims under penalty of perjury to be or
represent the copyright owner of this content. Pursuant to 17 U.S.C. §
512(c), we have removed access to the content in question.

http://www.loc.gov/copyright/title17/92chap5.html#512

If you believe that these works belong to you and that the copyright
ownership claims of this party are false, you may file a DMCA
counter-notification in the form described by the DMCA, asking that the
content in question be reinstated. Unless we receive notice from the
complaining party that a lawsuit has been filed to restrain you from
posting the content, we will reinstate the content in question within
10-14 days after receiving your counter-notification (which will also be
forwarded on to the party making the complaint).

In the meantime, we ask that you do not replace the content in question,
or in any other way distribute it in conjunction with our services.
Please also be advised that copyright violation is strictly against our
Terms and Conditions, and such offenses risk resulting in immediate
disablement of your account should you not cooperate (not to mention the
legal risk to you if they are true).

http://www.dreamhost.com/tos.html

We also ask that if you are indeed infringing upon the copyright
associated with these works that you delete them from your account
immediately, and let us know once this has been done. We also ask that
you delete any other infringing works not listed in this take down
notification, if they exist.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to let us know.

Glen,

— DreamHost Abuse/Security Team

Web Sheriff is, Google suggests, a DMCA gun-for-hire firm that Van Morrison has been employing for a couple months to hunt down those damn pirate MP3s on the Internet (along with, quite zealously, people saying mean things about him).

Now, my having posted that song seven years ago was unquestionably infringement, and I’d rather not see my hosting service get terminated, so I won’t be filing counternotice. Of course, the explicit purpose of posting it was to get a noncensored version out on filesharing networks, and I think that work is as done as it’s going to get.

So congratulations, Web Sheriff: you did it! You managed to Google “brown-eyed girl mp3,” send a stern email to the ISPs for all the results, and charge a pathetic, aging musician tens of thousands of dollars. Now no one will ever be able to illegally download his songs again.

I think I’m going to print this thing out and frame it.

Oh, I didn’t see you there

I’ve just now noticed that for some reason this story got an enormous, Penny Arcade-level traffic spike through Stumbleupon two weeks ago. (As with the PA bump, visitorship quickly returned to normal.) Was it on the front page or something? Nobody tells me these things!

I’m back from Mexico!

No, I did not tan. I did almost fall off a pyramid, though.

And I’m going to be on The Erika Moen Show in a couple hours, along with its host, Erika Moen! And Matt! I’m gonna be the big time!

Mom, you might want to skip this.

Today’s DAR is sort of about our cocktail party!

I cannot avoid using the word “viral” here and I’m sorry.

Somyr Perry, whom we know from the following clause has fantastic taste in writing, discovered Ommatidia and made a meme out of it on her blogging community, Open Salon, which as far as I can tell is Livejournal for real journalists. Most of the posts are getting tagged or collected (except the ones that aren’t), and some of them are really excellent, that last in particular. You are awesome, Open Saloners! Now buy my book.

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