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Chicago, IL
I'm a writer, historian, and storyteller. I also have a day job.
Recent Activity
Well, after a fashion, that is. I've decided to decamp and head over to Wordpress because, well, reasons, mostly. So from here on out you can find me right here: Stop on over. Set a spell. Continue reading
Posted Jan 20, 2014 at Accidental Historian
So I haven't checked in for a while. I have a bunch of things floating around in my brain, but I haven't had the time or the desire to actually write about them. Instead I'd like to offer an exercise in subjectivity. 1. Awful, just awful Note that this song... Continue reading
Posted Aug 23, 2013 at Accidental Historian
I grew up dreaming of mecha. BattleTech was my intro to the world, but it wasn’t my only outlet. Still, it was my primary vehicle for understanding the simple idea that giant mechanical battlesuits punching things in the face are awesome. I don’t know when, exactly, it began, but I... Continue reading
Posted Jul 22, 2013 at Accidental Historian
I’ve struggled to put Christianity in its proper place whilst cataloging my various insecurities. When I left I wanted to just say, “Well, I didn’t like myself and Christianity told me that I sucked, therefore it must be Christianity’s fault.” That made a great deal of sense. I’d been a... Continue reading
Posted Jul 11, 2013 at Accidental Historian
I briefly fell into that chunk of the population that believes in stratifications for Alpha/Beta/Zeta Males. It came, not surprisingly, at that moment of transition when I began leaving Christianity but didn’t know where else to go or even if I was going. It should also come as absolutely not... Continue reading
Posted Jul 10, 2013 at Accidental Historian
I consider myself a feminist. I don’t necessarily call myself one, since I’m not sure if that’s appropriate. Still, I’d say I’m definitely an ally. I came to my feminism through a strange path: Judaism. ------------------- This is a testimony. It’s my story of awakening. I went to Western Illinois... Continue reading
Posted Jul 9, 2013 at Accidental Historian
A few of you might have noticed that I’ve been absent for a few months. I could offer the standard excuse and say that I’ve been busy. That’s true enough, as I’ve been quite busy these past few months. Really, I’ve been quite busy for the last year. Busyness isn’t... Continue reading
Posted Jul 8, 2013 at Accidental Historian
This week, man. This fucking week. A couple asshole cowards bravely stood up to the people of Boston by leaving bombs in public and then running off. A few dozen asshole cowards bravely stood up to the people of America by keeping us from even allowing a weak-tea plan to... Continue reading
Posted Apr 19, 2013 at Accidental Historian
Yeah. I don't really get battle value. It was just starting to get play in the source books when I stopped paying attention. When I pulled my stuff out a couple weeks ago and sketched up a quick scenario I just eyeballed a balanced fight. I had an initial engagement of a Clan medium star against a 3050 Inner Sphere recon lance that got reinforced by a medium support lance. The main fight was a Clan heavy supernova with a medium star reinforcing against a mixed IS company with an assault lance plus a company of vehicles. According to battle value any two of the 'Mechs in the Clan recon star in scenario 1 were a match for all eight 'Mechs in the IS force (Uller, Puma, 2 Black Hawks and a Shadow Cat v. Stinger, 2 Javelins, Phoenix Hawk, 2 Blackjacks, Panther, Rifleman). So I divided it out slightly more with just the Uller and Puma on the board for the Clans at first. The IS lance kicked their ass. Once the other 3 came into play they pushed the recon lance back and I expected them to overpower the reinforcing lance. Not so much, no. And this was even with the Phoenix Hawk and one of the Javelins off the table. According to the battle value in my second scenario the Clans held a noticeable advantage (2 Daishi, 2 Mad Cat, Thor, Cauldron-Born, 2 Black Hawk, Shadow Cat, 10 points of Elementals in the main force, Phoenix Hawk IIC, 2 Hunchback IIC, Griffin IIC, Shadow Hawk IIC in the reinforcements. Battlemaster, Goliath, Marauder, Victor, Warhammer, Orion, Thunderbolt, Axeman. Archer, Crusader, Catapult, Trebuchet, Phoenix Hawk, Centurion, Wolfhound, Wasp, 4 Vedette, 4 Pegasus, 4 Demolisher. I tossed the Demolishers in at the end precisely because I'd looked at BV and figured the Clans would run through the IS like snot at a tissue party). That fight was pretty much even. The IS side won, but pretty much based on the luckiest gyro hit in the world against the Thor (1 SRM, rolled critical on the center torso) and an early head hit on one of the Daishi. I had no idea how that fight was going to go, which was kind of the point. And I don't really get all the new tech they were adding just before FASA went out of business. I like my Gauss rifles and pulse lasers. I really like CASE and Artemis IV fire control systems. But then they started adding in all kinds of bizarre variations on armor, all of which were inevitably worse than ferro-fibrous and in some cases worse than standard. And they tossed in the MRMs and whatnot. Apparently they added a bunch of other stuff that makes even less sense after that. I'll take 3050 tech over pretty much anything. Oddly, for all the walking computer stuff the one thing no one seems to have done is create a program that allows you to use your computer to track damage. That seems like the most basic freaking thing to bring technology in for. I get the romance of pencil and paper, but holy crap keeping track of all those record sheets is a PITA.
Imagine that you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade or so. I don’t know why you’ve been living under that rock. Perhaps you’ve spent too long in Arizona and it’s just so nice and cool. Whatever. Now imagine that you’ve crawled out from under your rock and... Continue reading
Posted Apr 12, 2013 at Accidental Historian
Easter brought about a resurrection…of sorts. Can you really bring something back to life if it was never alive to begin with? Or is everything alive if it’s part of your living memory? --------------------- They’ve been important enough that they moved with me four times. They were dead weight in... Continue reading
Posted Apr 10, 2013 at Accidental Historian
This is an old piece from the Washington Monthly. In fact, it's a piece from 2008. But it's new to me and that's why I want it to be new to you. Read it. It's fascinating. The thing that drew me wasn't the A Plot, which is a truly interesting... Continue reading
Posted Mar 7, 2013 at Accidental Historian
The Sons of Bill-ification of The Gaslight Anthem continues apace. That, for anyone wondering, is an actual sentence in English. I know, I’m as surprised as you are. It turns out that I kinda-sorta have to eat my words from the post I wrote about The Gaslight Anthem a couple... Continue reading
Posted Mar 7, 2013 at Accidental Historian
Do you feel like your life is missing something? Have you been wondering if there’s something more than that which you’ve been able to experience and understand up until now? Then I have good news for you. There is more out there. You just need to open yourself up to... Continue reading
Posted Feb 28, 2013 at Accidental Historian
So...I'm not dead. I guess I've got that goin' for me. On the heels[1] of the Being Me stuff I decided I need to get out more and meet more people and say, "You know, that seems like a terrible idea, I'ma go do that," more often. It's kinda like... Continue reading
Posted Feb 21, 2013 at Accidental Historian
Actually, knowing that it stood out and was wrong was really all that you needed to know for that one. It was totally against the established tone and because of that it colored the rest of the paragraph. Take that line out and most of the rest of the paragraph still works just fine. I'd still re-work it because it ends up feeling clunky no matter what, but that one sentence takes something that kinda works and throws it completely out the window. Also, you bring up one of those things that really of annoys me about people who respond to criticism. It happens with music more, but I see it all over. It's the whole, "You can't criticize [this thing I did/like] because you probably can't do it better." You don't have to be a musician to understand when someone is writing crap lyrics or singing off key. You don't have to be a film director to know when someone made a bad movie. I muffed that line. You saw it and it took you out of the moment. That's really all that matters and it's a legitimate criticism. Now, with something like that there might be a reason it happened, such as the author attempting to set up an unreliable narrator or a character who's hiding a secret momentarily slipping into their true character. In something like that the words, "I meant to do that and maybe you just missed it," become valid. But this is two pages in and I haven't established the necessary trust to justify pulling that. Either way, that's a long way around saying that, no, you're right to criticize and the only skill set needed is the ability to read and process. Because, really, seeing and and hearing others point it out and accepting that will only make me a better and more perceptive writer. Nothing wrong with that in my book.
Toggle Commented Feb 14, 2013 on Sketches: Jack at Accidental Historian
This would have been the second chapter of the 2010 kinda-sorta re-write of the project that never got off the ground. Note the rather intentional parallel structure to the first chapter. This, like yesterday's entry, is an unedited copy of something I wrote three-ish years ago. ------------------------------ The last thing... Continue reading
Posted Feb 14, 2013 at Accidental Historian
I filled in the blank, no worries. Although I used "standard," not "succinct." And I think that's part of the problem I have looking back. It feels too boiler-plate. I mean, that's Jack's backstory and it will be Jack's backstory even if I re-imagine the book (I'd say "re-write" but, y'know...) a hundred times. It's kinda hacky, I guess. And a little too "tell, don't show." And I can't imagine using the phrase "A succession of clingly bitches used him through high school and college, always taking and rarely giving back." I mean, srsly. Actually, that entire paragraph bugs me, compositionally speaking. That said, I was arrogant enough at the time to think the final line was one of the most insightful things I'd ever written. I still think so today.
Toggle Commented Feb 13, 2013 on Sketches: Jack at Accidental Historian
So I've had one of those stretches where I've lacked the time and energy to do much writing. As such, I think I shall begin my sketches idea. I've had an idea sitting out there in various states of incompletion since early 2006. The idea still fascinates me and I... Continue reading
Posted Feb 13, 2013 at Accidental Historian
D'oh. I'll bet those captains would have been well-served to ask the Chinese how to draw world maps, which would undoubtedly have helped them avoid embarrassment.
Toggle Commented Feb 8, 2013 on 1434 Fridays, Part 5 at Accidental Historian
So I think I’m about done with Gavin Menzies’ introduction to 1434. That’s not to say I’m to the end. That’s to say that this will be the last post I write about it because there’s just so goddamn much fail packed into this thing I might never get done.... Continue reading
Posted Feb 8, 2013 at Accidental Historian
Good ol' Bullshit Channel. Was the guy with the crazy-ass hair and the ancient aliens theories on? I believe that his Minoans in America theory is the foundation of his Atlantis book. Atlantis = Minoans = global empire. Also, apparently they decided, "Hey, let's leave evidence of our existence in Minnesota and nowhere else between, like, say, Long Island or Cape Cod." Which seems legit. The interesting thing is that I can't entirely rule out the idea that ancient Mediterraneans might have discovered the Americas. There are some tantalizingly vague stories of voyages beyond the Pillars of Hercules and at least one story of the circumnavigation (kinda) of Africa. The Phoenicians were amazing sailors, so they could have done it. That said, I'd say possible in on way equals likely. And there's no freaking way that the Minoans were trans-Atlanic empire.
Toggle Commented Feb 6, 2013 on Welcome, February at Accidental Historian
It's nice to be pleasantly surprised. One of the interesting things about blogging is that I find it's a record of things that I can go back and say, "Hey, that was really funny," or, "Wow, that was exactly what I wanted it to be." It's also a record of things that fill me with shame for their lack of crsftsmanship or, y'know, a point. I think the most interesting bits, though, are the ones where I can look at something and realize, "This was close, but a really clunky way to do that." That, I think, is where the real learning comes in. Several bits of A Distant, Dreadful Star did exactly that to me last night when I was re-reading it. Also, it occurs to me that my decision to consider the sketches as valid blog fodder should be partially credited to you. Your little one-off stories convinced me it's possible. Mine probably won't involve monsters or the supernatural too often, though. I really like writing small, self-contained moments that specifically focus on interactions. If I go much beyond that I start writing novels that never end...
Toggle Commented Feb 5, 2013 on The State of the Blog 2013 at Accidental Historian
So back when I wrote my Being Me posts and then wandered off into the weeds with stuff that annoyed me about the internet I thought I’d wrap it all up with a post about bullying as an act of enforcing conformity. My general, overarching point was that anyone can... Continue reading
Posted Feb 5, 2013 at Accidental Historian
I tend to put up some sort of State of the Blog post every year. I usually do it in January, I think. I also usually put up a bunch of grandiose plans that there’s no fucking way I’ll ever be able to actually carry out. In truth, the blog... Continue reading
Posted Feb 5, 2013 at Accidental Historian