Our Weekend Reading series continues with a curated selection of fascinating articles—and a few other things—from around the Internet.
Before I get to my recommendations proper, I want to re-up an article we shared out earlier this week from Kotaku: “Therapists Are Using Dungeons & Dragons To Get Kids To Open Up”. Friends of ours from both Wheelhouse Workshop and The Bodhana Group were interviewed for this article. It got a lot of attention early this week, but if you missed it, don’t hesitate to share it out. Every bit of exposure helps these awesome groups.
Okay, moving on.
Alice Daniels’s review of Life, Animated over at Christ & Pop Culture hit me right in the feels, as it were. “A Land of Lost Sidekicks in ‘Life, Animated'” sounds incredibly powerful, and I’d love to watch it soon. (And I never say that about films—I’m really not a movie guy.) I’ve had it in the back of my mind that we should talk about autism on STG sometime; this article made that conviction much more urgent.
Throughout the film, the question “who decides what a meaningful life is?” hangs in the air, and viewers are led to ask it of themselves. Does it consist of the traditional paradigms we have—financial gain, public recognition, and above all, a universally accepted idea of “normal” that allows us to smoothly transition from success to success? Life, Animated allows the viewer into that world we see in 1 Corinthians 1:27, that place where God chooses what the world thinks is foolish to shame the wise and what the world thinks is weak to shame the strong. Really, how God determines what the meaningful life is—and it may not be what we think.
‘Karloff‘ put out a very solid blog post about running noir-slash-police-procedural games: “Top Cop (Mutant City Blues)”. Honestly, he barely touches on MCB in this article—it’s all about capturing the tone of this sort of game. Well worth a read.
In this kind of campaign, the city is just as important a character as any of the players. More so, because the city was there before them and will be there long after they are dead and dust. In The Wire we see small parts of that bigger picture, when McNulty and Bubbles school Shakima Greggs about Omar’s cousin No Heart Anthony, or Prop Joe talks about how the house he lives in is one of the first available to black families in that neighborhood. These stories go straight to the long term history of the setting, hinting at a bigger universe that the individual characters are often blind to, so focused are they on their own problems.
Nikita Stewart at The New York Times wrote a very powerful article a couple of weeks ago about Girl Scout troops for homeless NYC girls: “Living by the Girl Scout Law, Even Without a Home”. It’s powerful, and hopefully inspirational.
Troops for homeless girls are rare, but not without precedent. Girl Scouts of the USA does not track such troops nationally, but in the past 30 years, troops have formed in shelters in Atlanta; Broward County, Fla.; and San Pedro, Calif. At one point during the 1990s, a number of untraditional troops were created to reach girls in shelters, migrant worker camps and public housing.
And finally, perfect for any Unknown Armies game: “Fatal Victorian Fashion and the Allure of the Poison Garment”. Over ninety different pieces of Victorian fashion, collected in 2016 at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto and described by Hyperallergic’s Allison Meier—all of which were lethal to their wearers or manufacturers. Entirely appropriate given our contemporary conversation about character appearance and clothing!
Fashion Victims is presided over by one of these arsenic dresses, its color still vivid, and beguiling. And even as Emerald Green’s hazards were exposed in the 19th century, people still wanted it, and in a way, that hasn’t changed. “Emerald Green was the Pantone Color of the Year for 2013, which suggests that we still love it,” Matthews David said.
For my spiritual piece of media this week, I’d actually like to give a bit of a shout-out to a church I used to attend, St. Michael’s & All Angels in St. John’s, Newfoundland. They’re trying something a little new where every Monday at 1 p.m Newfoundland Time (11:30 a.m EST) Father Jonathan Rowe does a Facebook livestream talking about the gospel reading for the season of Easter. Father Jonathan is an excellent speaker, and an all around cool guy. You can find the archived livestreams here on their Facebook page.
For gaming, I would like to happily (but quietly) tell you about Sign by Thorny Games. It’s a silent role-playing game about the development of Nicaraguan Sign Language, which is a fascinating story all on its own. I encourage you to read the Wikipedia article about it. I actually first learned about the story in one of my favourite linguistics classes in university, so when I heard about this game I had to pre-order it.
In 1977, something happened. Fifty deaf children from across the country were brought together to an experimental school in Managua. Without a shared language to express themselves, the children did the only thing they could — they created one. In Sign, we follow a small piece of their journey.
How I Learned to Love the Weird, from Octavia Butler to Kelly Link, a piece by Brian Francis Slattery on strange, outlandish fiction, added a large number of authors and books for me to check out.
For the reader in me, it was as though someone had given me a bigger, more detailed map of the book world than I already had. There were towns I’d just passed through that now demanded return visits, longer stays. There were entire continents of books I’d somehow missed. Possibly the best thing about publishing a book was discovering so many more books to read.
I could apologize for the number pun in the title, but the apology just wouldn’t be genuine. ;)
This article on the Bazooka Vespa seems like it’d be great inspiration for pulpy adventure games set in the 50s or 60s.
Vespa has had many models through the years, used for many purposes. However, there is one model which will remain known as the most dangerous scooter ever made: the Vespa TAP 150. Ordered by the French military in 1950’s, Vespa TAP 150 was produced by ACMA, the licensed French manufacturer of Vespa models. The model was first introduced in 1956 and enhanced in 1959. The TAP 150 was planned to be used in the Indochine and Algerian conflicts by the Troupes Aéro Portées (TAP), hence the name of the model.
On a considerably more serious and thoughtful note, this sermon by bishop Will Willimon isn’t from this week, month, or even year, but it’s a favorite of mine and it has stuck with me since I heard it when it was new. Willimon has an interesting perspective on faith, community, and God’s rather active role in our decisions. It’s particularly hopeful if you have folks in your life that have lost their faith.
Finally, apparently pacifist speed runs in Diablo II are a thing? If that’s making you scratch you head, like it made me scratch mine, take a look at the article.
There’s a catch, of course, as DrCliche explains in a detailed guide to the pacifist run. He equipped his character with thorn-covered armor, so that any time an enemy hit him, his gear would just hit them right back. Based on DrCliche’s defined set of rules, that didn’t count as a kill; as long as he never took any intentional aggressive actions, he was in the clear.