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The Friday High Five
Stuff I'm into, for January 20, 2023
Every Friday I share 5 things I am digging at the moment. This is that.
(Long-time readers may notice I swapped the customary ‘high five’ image for a new one. I still love Jim and Pam’s long distance high five, but it looks a bit silly when the same image is on my main page 2 or 3 times. Let’s turn this into a game—join me every week as I share a new high five from pop culture history!)
This week’s high five comes from 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day, as John Connor tries to turn a time-traveling murder robot into a surrogate father. And kinda succeeds?
Fun anecdote: The incredible companion music video for Guns N’ Roses’ “You Could Be Mine” prominently features Arnold as the Terminator, and also includes gratuitous shots of Axl Rose gyrating in tight biker shorts, which is even more terrifying.
Things I’m Closely Following
You may have heard about some drama related to Dungeons & Dragons, something that had all the nerds adjusting their suspenders and reloading their pocket protectors. Gizmodo dropped a bombshell revealing that D&D’s owner (Wizards of the Coast) was planning to encroach on rights 3rd party publishers and hobbyists have enjoyed for 20 years. The move was fueled by greed and hubris—in addition to stealing content from 3rd parties, Wizards of the Coast wants to monetize D&D via micro-transactions, which is the absolute dumbest thing I have ever heard of. It blew up in their faces quite spectacularly. They’ve “tried” to walk it back by gaslighting the community, which didn’t work either.
It’s an evolving situation. I’m not going to go into a ton of detail about it here. I bring it up mostly because—as some of you may know—I co-founded a game design studio with my friend. We released our first book, a D&D supplement, back in 2020, after raising over $1000 on Kickstarter. We’ve been kicking around ideas for a second book—and were, in fact, supposed to meet today to discuss at our corporate lunch facilities, aka Taco Bell, but he fell ill. But any such plans, and the work of thousands of other companies, are now being held hostage until this crisis is resolved.
We may end up moving to a different game system entirely, as many other companies have already done. Bravo, Wizards.
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Things I’m Buzzing About
I had a wonderful conversation with Ryan and Tim at the Unreliable Narrator podcast last night and am still jazzed about it. We spent a long time talking about Star Wars, which naturally endeared them to me forever. We also touched on writing, pop culture, Medium, and the future of Fanfare, among other things. I’ll drop a link here once the episode goes live. For now, here’s their latest episode.
Things I’m Watching
My wife and I finally jumped on the Yellowstone bandwagon. It was just a matter of time—I’m a sucker for a well-told Western.
Quick aside: when you come into a story that already has a prequel, where do you start? We bought the Yellowstone complete series and the 1883 prequel for my parents this past Christmas. They started with the prequel. My wife and I started with Yellowstone, which is later in the narrative but was released earlier. Curious what most people do. How about a quick poll?
Yellowstone is quite different from what I expected. I only knew the broadest of basics going in: Kevin Costner, Western, Montana ranchers, Costner’s Dutton family vs all comers, Cowboys, Mature TV. From that hazy accumulation of attributes, I’d somehow come to believe that the Dutton clan were the good guys, the singular White Knights against the greedy and numerous Other. To borrow from Game of Thrones, I thought the Duttons were like the Starks: noble and honorable.
In Yellowstone, everyone is a Lannister. Everyone wears a black hat! I can count the decent people on one hand and have fingers left over.
It still makes for riveting TV. We flew through the first season in about a week. It’s as good as you’ve heard.
Things I’m Reading
I have been completely absorbed by This Is How Your Lose the Time War, a sci-fi story that won both the Nebula and Hugo award for best Novella.
The story involves two rival agents on opposite sides in a never-ending war across time, space, and the multiverse. Half of the story is told via 3rd person present tense (e.g. Red stands and loads her gun) and the other half is an epistolary, as the characters write letters to one another (again, across space and time). It is wonderfully inventive and beautifully told. It’s just under 200 pages, so I am now torn between racing through it and rationing the pages I have left.
Things I’ve Written in the Past Week
Why Fast Five is the Perfect Fast and Furious Sequel (Den of Geek) Technically I wrote this back in December, but it was just now published.
The Mandalorian Season 3 Trailer Confirms Andor’s Brilliance is an Anomaly (Medium) Star Wars is back to its old tricks. Alas.
What are you into at the moment? Leave a comment and let me know!
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