Friday, June 30, 2006

The Waiting Game

The good news: It appears that the turnover with my former company has gone smoothly. Over the last five years, we've always had trouble with employee resignations. Seeing that I was leaving my day-to-day duties to a team of people, it was pretty important that everything got taken into account in order to ensure their uninterrupted services. Apparently, everything did... and all it cost me was about a week's worth of job-hunting.

The bad news: It's been just over a week since my formal departure, and I am now thoroughly bored. Most of my reading material nowadays appears to be made up of blogs and the like; As a result, I get a lot of inconvenient waiting times on a dial-up connection. Add to that a lack of inspiration that I normally get from work, and it looks like I'm going to have to look for something constructive to do very soon.

On the job-hunting front, I've spent the last nine days sending application forms to nine different companies, and only one of them had the courtesy to send me a confirmation letter. That puts them a notch up in my estimation, yes, but I'm still wondering about the HR practices of the other eight companies. Isn't it supposed to be standard procedure to confirm receipt of any online application (even if it is an automatically-generated e-mail)? Or have things certainly changed since the last time I was on the job market?

Ah, well. I suppose I shouldn't be complaining. Interestingly enough, five years of constantly being on the job have given me license to apply for positions that require "extensive experience" in a managerial position. People would most likely ask why I would leave a company that has been my heart and soul for the last five years, but I believe that a change of pace and scenery would constitute a good reason for that. Hopefully I won't get beaten out by anyone who has more charisma than brains; I hate it when that happens.

Right now I'm doing cleanup -- not the same cleanup I was doing for five years' worth of files and papers in the office, but a general cleaning of my other idle pastimes. I've got over a thousand archived e-mails in my personal inbox, for example, and I suppose that now's as good a time as any to throw away the old, outdated ones.

For now, however, the only thing I can do is wait... and watch. Some people say that waiting is always the hardest part, and I'm starting to believe them.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Exeunt Omnes

I'm sitting in an internet café right now, having just gathered the last of my belongings from the office. These aren't personal knickknacks like toothbrushes and stuffed toys, mind you. These are items that were conceived and born in the workplace -- things that I'd rather take home because they hold some sentimental value. For some reason, they all seem to fit inside a short brown envelope.


- An ashcan-type comic book, created as a pseudo-hobby of one of the previous staff members.

- A parody L5R comic, illustrated by the same staff member. (He's a creative sort.)

- A collection of plastic forks, evidence of my typical Cup Noodle lunches.

- A coaster from Australia, a memento of my boss's last vacation. (Why I don't have any mementos from my previous vacations, I don't know.)

- A Nokia lanyard that doesn't attach to anything.

- A leather picture frame from the earliest satisfied client I ever had. (It's five years old, ladies and gentlemen. I'm either that good, or that old.)

- Various notes on Antaria characters, most of which were born and built during periods of ennui.

- About thirty pages' worth of office doodles. You know you've been working for a long time when it takes you about an hour to sort through your idle scribblings alone.

- Around eighty pesos in five- and ten-centavo coins. When we got bored, we got bored.

- A condom. (Yes, my office is weird.)

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Self, No Self

For the better part of last year and a good chunk of this year, my user profile read as follows:

I write. I draw. I plot. I scheme. I eat. I sleep. I work. I play. I live. I die.

But for the most part, I write.

I've been writing since I was 12, and I've had enough patience to write more short stories than I can count. At least half of them were good enough to publish.

I've done story work for quite a few things (including the Anito computer game), although I tend to work on many other branches of literary expression. Not many people know about me just yet, but I'm slowly gaining a reputation for hard, fast, creative plotlines and well-developed characters.

Otherwise, I'm a chronic game-player, growing up on a diet of personal diversions. I've long enjoyed stuff that makes me think, which means that you can probably say anything with the good chance that we'll find some middle ground to walk on.

If you're new here, do look around. Read up on the Antaria installments. Study the awkward treatises on writing. Get threats from the monthly disclaimers. Post whatever comments you want. I can very well assure you that I don't bite. (I disable, dislocate, shatter, hamstring and maim, yes, but I don't bite.)

As with many things in life, however, I figure that it's about time for a change. Most of us are blog writers, after all -- we're aware that every single one of our new posts inevitably replaces an old, run-down article on the front pages of our respective sites. We get a little older, we get a little wiser, we get a little more crochety, and we eventually have to change the way we refer to ourselves.

My profile, for example, references the Anito computer game. Hasn't it been two years since the game originally came out? And it's not as though it received a lot of exposure on the international front. If I raise any spectre of my work in my profile, then I should really be pointing out my more recent achievements, I think.

On the other hand, one really has to consider what the User Profile's for. People only usually read it once, and that's when they're new to the blog and wondering about what kind of person the author is. It's strange, actually, once you realize that we bare more of our heart and soul in our posts than we do in our profile write-ups.

In this light, I suspect that the profile write-up has more to do with a basic introduction than it does a personal description. It's literally an avenue by which we "sell" people the prospect of reading the blog -- much like the cliffhanger synopsis on the back of a mystery novel. "Will Sean continue his silent war against online plagiarism? Will Sean ever realize that his passion for games actually masks a critical weakness to kryptonite? Will Sean ever overcome his secret desire to wrestle naked in a kiddy pool filled with carbonara sauce?"


Er... feel free to ignore that last bit. I'm sure you get the idea, anyway.

This, of course, raises a particular question: Assuming that it's best to write a User Profile for the express purpose of making the author seem interesting, then what's the optimal method for writing a proper introduction? Should one reveal one's true identity, for instance? Can we brag about our achievements without alienating ourselves from the rest of society? Can we legitimately talk about our hopes and dreams without whining about our lot in life? How far should we go into the minutiae of everyday existence before the readers start getting bored?

The irony, I think, is that each of the above questions can just as easily be asked about our blog posts. The idea of our User Profiles being a summary of exactly who we are and how we write sounds more and more plausible with each passing second.

For my part, I'm going to be checking my blogroll to see how other people put together their write-ups. I don't expect that everybody will have a good, entertaining or informative User Profile, of course, but I think I should be able to identify what I want to see and what I don't want to see in a personal introduction. And if the experience only ends up confusing me further, to the point that I don't know how to rewrite my User Profile, then that'll only give me license to write anything I darn well want.

So there you have it. Now, if I could only come up with a snappy answer for all of Blogger's random questions...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Antaria: High Fashion

Maquin Dreamweaver rifled through his collection of clothes, and as he did, he spoke softly to himself.

"Green?" he asked. "No, no... perhaps blue. Blue with a touch of... pink? White? Or perhaps a spot of charteuse..."

He posed before the full-length mirror in his chambers, inspecting the robes draped against his chest. "Perhaps green after all," he said, chuckling softly to himself. "Sea-green and rose, with a delicate pattern..."

He wondered if Giselle was already awake. Then again, it wasn't as though she was likely to help him with his color choices. Whatever, he thought. Whatever whatever whatever.

Maquin pulled the cloth over his chemise, giving the combination a critical glance in the mirror again.

"Then again," he whispered, "maybe the blue would work better..."

* * *

Maquin Dreamweaver ran one arm across the fabric, and wrinkled his nose. "It won't do," he said impatiently. "It just won't do!"

The wagonmaster clutched his cap against his chest. "Is my lord displeased?" he asked carefully.

"Oh, yes," Maquin said in a downcast tone. "But not at you. This is excellent material."

The peasant's expression brightened. "I am glad to hear that, my lord."

"I only regret that I only have a single roll of it to work with," Maquin sighed.

The peasant raised an eyebrow. "I can obtain more of it, my lord. I have a contact in the Northlands who practically has a full supply."

Maquin glanced at him. "How much of it?"

"Bales, my lord. Bales."

Maquin gave him a wide smile. "Twenty, perhaps?"

The wagonmaster nearly fell over at the mere mention of the number. "Tw...twenty?" he asked, incredulously.

"You can provide the material, can you?" Maquin asked.

"Y-yes," the peasant said. "It will run a heavy cost, though. Thirty crowns at least."

"Thirty crowns will be quite all right. How soon will it take you?"

"I can deliver the material within three weeks, my lord."

"Two weeks," Maquin interjected.

"Two weeks?"

"Within one week I can have a single ensemble made from this roll. For the week after that, the courts of Lorendheim will be whispering about the new creation," Maquin said, running his hands along the smooth cloth. "But in the week after that, the trend will have passed and the courtiers gone for other diversions. The advantage is in the timing, dear one. The advantage is always in the timing."

The peasant scratched his head, not understanding a single word.

"It is vastly important that you return from Hadrian in two weeks," Maquin concluded. "It is very, very important for the both of us."

"Ah... er... yes, my lord."

"Now," Maquin said, "how much did you say it was, again?"

The peasant thought for a while.

"Twenty crowns, was it?" Maquin interjected. "I remember you mentioning twenty crowns."

"I did?" the wagonmaster asked.

"Yes, you did," Maquin said without skipping a beat, "although that feels a little high for me. Ten crowns would be a far better price, dear one. Ten crowns."

The peasant frowned. "I couldn't do it for less than eighteen crowns, my lord."

"Twelve crowns."


"Fourteen crowns, and not a silver more," Maquin cautioned.


"Fifteen, then."

"Done," the peasant said. "Fifteen crowns."

"Excellent," Maquin acceded, bowing in deference. "Twenty rolls of the new cloth, and in two weeks' time. I shall be expecting you."

As he crossed back into his palatial home, Maquin laughed into his sleeve. With skills like that, he thought, he could be working for the Tempestite merchants. Or perhaps not.

* * *

Maquin inspected himself in the mirror. The blue wasn't turning out so well after all.

"What do you think, Giselle?" he asked.

Giselle glanced, once at the mirror and once at Maquin. She looked thoughtful for a moment, and then shrugged.

Maquin rolled his eyes. "I guess that's why I'm the maven and you're the model," he said resignedly.

He stared at the mirror for a few more seconds.

"Green," he said, simply. His robes shimmered slightly, and then turned the color of emeralds. Giselle gave him a thoughtful expression once more.

"Yes, it's a little... much, isn't it?" Maquin said. "Lighter, then."

Giselle shook her head.

"Darker, you mean?" The robes shimmered into deeper green.

Giselle nodded. Maquin continued to inspect his reflection in the mirror.

"I guess... that this will do," he finally said. "For now."

* * *

Maquin glanced up from the parchment in his hand. "That is all, Lord Gallos," he said.

"Nothing more?"

"Nothing more," Maquin said.

The Lord of Masks was dressed in blue and black silk for the day, accentuated by velvet cloth. Maquin personally approved of the combination; it was one of the reasons why he admired Gallos so much. Whenever the man didn't follow the conventions of fashion, he made them up from scratch.

Maquin didn't like the mask, though. Gallos always wore a different mask each day; this one concealed his face in shadow and darkness. Although it certainly went well with the grandmaster's robes, it had a strange unnerving effect on its own. Maquin was certain that that was precisely what Gallos had intended.

"Do you have the secondary report?" Gallos asked.

Maquin nodded enthusiastically. "Yes, my lord," he said. "But perhaps it would be best to wait for a more private audience..."

Gallos waved one hand. "Every Masquer knows that I watch their moves as surely as I watch the others," he said.

"Very well, my lord," Maquin said. He turned the parchment over and cast a few whispered words upon it, causing the scribblings of ink to appear on the back. He knew as well as any other man that all this was merely confirmation -- the Masquer lord could certainly afford to acquire any bit of information on his own skills.

Still, it was good to feel useful. "Lord Nyris has not moved at all," Maquin began, "although the Council demands his attention. There have been more than a few petitions for you to remind him of his duties to the sects."

"Indeed," Gallos said, although he only appeared to feign interest in the matter.

"Lord Bane continues to hold the Allandrian court together," Maquin continued. "While he has certain members of the nobility contributing large sums of money to the deployment of forces to the southern border, he has prevented others from doing the same. We suspect that he is attempting to shift the balance of power in Queen Sasha's court to a more balanced setup."

As Maquin read out the contents of the report, his eyes wandered about the grandmaster's chambers. Unlike what most people expected, the Lord of the Masquers led a spartan lifestyle punctuated by the illusion of opulence. It was, Maquin had to admit, a very Masquer thing to do.

And then, of course, there was the matter of the man's bodyguard. Maquin didn't know her very well -- none of the Masquers did, save for the fact that Gallos seemed to trust her implicitly. She was a strange person, always dressed in the same light robes without thought as to how she looked. Maquin could easily tell a person's character based on their fashion alone, but even he had trouble reading her.

Now that he thought about it, however, she was probably like Giselle: A loyal retainer completely devoted to her master's whims. What made Maquin unconfortable was that she seemed otherwise at times -- especially when Gallos asked for her advice on matters. He asked few people for advice on anything, short of wanting to see how their thought processes went.

She caught his passing glance, and returned it with a suspicious glare. Maquin smiled back, taking pride in the resulting derisive snort.

"Maquin," Gallos suddenly said, interrupting him.

"My lord?" Maquin asked.

"Don't play with her," Gallos said.

Maquin gave him a fascinated smile. "Yes, my lord."

* * *

Maquin critically inspected his right sleeve. There was something about dark green, yes, but Maquin felt that it had overstayed its welcome. He considered giving the blue another try, but he didn't want to end up flip-flopping between the two choices for the rest of the day.

Finally he gave in and watched his robes change to match the soft tones of the earth. He wasn't sure at all about brown; it made him look like a peasant, no matter how good it tended to look on Giselle. But on the other hand, Giselle looked good in anything. He knew the type.

Maquin glanced at her. "That," he concluded out loud, "is why you can't give very good advice when it comes to color coordination."

Giselle gazed back at him, unable to give a proper answer.

* * *

The young woman stared at her reflection in the mirror. "I don't like it," she said.

Maquin all but threw his hands up in despair. Kharandon Greybane had ordered a dozen new wearables for his sister, newly-returned from the Northlands, and she was already down to the last two sets of robes. While Maquin had expected her to be non-materialistic, he didn't expect her to be practically an ascetic.

"Don't you have anything more... practical, Lord Dreamweaver?" she asked.

"Lady Octavia," Maquin said in his most patient tone, "these are the fashions that are currently in vogue across the courts of Lorendheim. While a few of the designs do reflect only recent trends, I am sure that some of them are more than passing fancy."

Octavia adjusted the bodice of her current ensemble. "In the Northlands," she said, "we wore far more clothes than these... rags."

Maquin chose to ignore the remark. "I must remind you, Lady Octavia, that the denizens of the Northlands don't have much of a choice when winter cloaks their land all year round."

She disappeared behind a paper-and-cloth screen in order to try the last of Maquin's fashions. "Most of these show altogether too much skin, Lord Dreamweaver. I'll have you know that I am not that sort of woman."

"They don't show that much," Maquin replied, picking up a jacket from where she had discarded it. "They show just enough to merit attention. Your esteemed brother could tell you himself that attention is important in many of the nobles' gatherings around here."

"I'm not looking for attention," Octavia insisted. "I'm just... here."

Maquin rolled his eyes skeptically. "Everybody looks for attention, Lady Octavia. Some don't even find it at all."

"Oh?" Octavia said in the same skeptical tone. "What about you, then, Lord Dreamweaver? Why do you seek attention? Is it for your talents? Your status? Your self-esteem?"

Maquin thought for a moment, and had to admit that despite her asceticism, she had asked an excellent question. "It is the fashion, Lady Octavia," he said. "It is always the fashion."

"Fashion," Octavia repeated.

"Yes, fashion," Maquin said. "Surely you would be familiar with the saying that clothes make the man... or woman, in this case?"

"Yes," Octavia said, dismissively. "Merely another lesson that we only see what lies on the surface of things."

"That may not be entirely correct," Maquin mused. "Fashion is a conscious choice. Style is a deliberate bearing. We present a part of ourselves to the rest of the world, but simply choosing which part to show already tells us exactly what sort of people we are."

"Mm," Octavia said, pulling something over her head.

Maquin waited patiently for the young woman to emerge. When she finally did, it was in a lovely white dress with green trimmings, exactly the sort that anyone would be delighted to wear to a royal celebration. Maquin was quite proud of it; he had chosen the colors himself.

Octavia picked at the high collar. "It's itchy," she said. "How can anyone possibly find it comfortable to wear this?"

Maquin sighed. This was going to take far longer than he expected.

* * *

Maquin Dreamweaver lay sprawled across his four-posted bed, visions of blue and green and earth tones dancing in his mind.

It had not been a good day. In fact, it had been as far from a perfect day as possible.

Maquin shuddered, and noted his schedule for the rest of the week. Here was a meeting with the Metrian Guild, which was possibly the stingiest of all the sects, according to Maquin's experience. There was a fitting with the Lady Saville, and doubtless she would try to seduce him out of his nominal fees again. Here was another dreadful meeting with the Lady Ophelia, who could wear even the finest clothes and make people wonder which unfortunate animals she had recently skinned.

Sleep did not come easily to him nowadays, and for good reason.

"Blue," he said, and his clothes shifted to the color of sapphires. Maquin went through the general spectrum from sky-blue to azure blue, then dropped the idea and went for green instead.

Then again, a quick glance in the mirror convinced him that the green looked terrible. He regretted using it for most of the day, but not as much as he regretted playing around with the earth tones. Perhaps he should have asked for Giselle's opinion, after all.

In the end, Maquin Dreamweaver resolved to sleep on it. He needed the sleep; it calmed his mind and allowed him to take on a jumble of different worries all over again.

He discarded his robes carefully, draping them over the gilded screen in the corner of his chambers near the full-length mirror. He was glad to be rid of the vestments; despite all the praise and glamor, he had to admit that they chafed from time to time.

In the end, Maquin fell asleep as he usually did -- naked, under the thick covers of three sets of blankets.

He slept quite soundly for a man who was always in a constant state of activity.

He never felt as free otherwise.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

On the Cheap

Yesterday, at the Powerbooks warehouse sale, I came upon a startling realization: I am, in all likelihood, the greatest cheapskate on the face of the earth when it comes to buying new books.

Now, I'm perfectly aware that most of us try to save money on reading material. We borrow comics or paperbacks from friends, we join neighborhood book exchanges, and we download "free" stuff from file-sharing applications. All that, however, doesn't automatically mean that we're total misers when it comes to books; it merely concludes that we like to read.

I'm a cheapskate, plain and simple. Whenever money finds its way into my wallet, I try to make sure that it stays there. And given the prices of quality reading material in the local bookstores, I'm more likely to browse their shelves, shudder at the numbers printed on the price tags, and leave empty-handed.

On the other hand, hanging around the air-conditioned confines of pristine shelves and hermetically-sealed displays isn't anything new. So I take things one step further: I scour warehouses, garage sales and corner stores -- all places where unsold stock and unwanted hardcovers go to die -- and still leave without finding anything of interest. I have a philosophy that dictates that I am only obligated to buy a book if I feel that it's worth keeping for the long term... and it relegates my buying habits to about one paperback every couple of months.

You want more evidence? My room was derisively called "the black hole" once, if only because I have a habit of borrowing books and then losing them in the harrowing morass that serves as my personal quarters. People literally lend me reading material and fully expect to never see them again. I strongly suspect that this is because I make sure to keep every favorite bit of reading material I find, borrowed or otherwise.

This has resulted in a couple of interesting aspects to my life: One, long-standing friends know to buy me books as opposed to lending them. Two, anyone who actually manages to borrow reading material from me should realize exactly what a rarity they hold in their hands.

Another less obvious aspect, on the other hand, cuts far closer to the bone. I've long assumed that writers and readers were one and the same: If we read, then we write. If we write, then we read. But if that were the case, then where would a miserly reader fit in?

I suppose that that would explain why I only put out a new piece of fiction about once a month. It's entirely possible that I could be just as stingy when it comes to storytelling.

And that, in a nutshell, is why I was walking around a warehouse sale yesterday, studying the titles and cover images of a thousand low-priced books while a lovely female friend piled more and more softcovers into my basket. She openly wondered why I wasn't really buying anything, and in the back of my mind, I suppose that I was wondering the same thing.

In the end, however, I did pick up a few old paperbacks that seemed interesting. They were selling for about PhP50.00 (approximately US$1.00) each, although all three were disjointed parts of a single out-of-print series. (I had seen them around the bookstores some years ago, but held off on buying them because, well... you know.)

The good news, however, is that it's altogether possible that I'll end up with more reading time nowadays, seeing that I've finally resigned from my five-year job. That means, of course, that I'll probably eventually cure myself of the horrible, terrible, miserly habit.

Then again, considering that I'm now unemployed, I'll have to keep a close watch on my personal savings. And that, of course, means that I might just have to stay a cheapskate for just a few more months.

After all, if money somehow manages to find its way into my wallet while I'm out of a job, I should probably find a way to make sure that it stays there, right?

Thursday, June 15, 2006


Sorry, everyone.

Coming into this evening, I had in mind a nice concept for a post about blogging, random ideas, topic consistency, and mental flatulence. I wanted to explore a point of view that concerned writing about what happened to be on one's mind at any particular moment, and how such writing would end up interesting reading for any number of people. It looked like a good point of discussion, and I consequently spent the last two hours working on the draft.

The trouble is that, every time I hit the "Preview" button and went over the article itself, I didn't like how it was turning out. I don't know if it was the grammar or the phrasing or the habitual run-on sentences or what, but it just didn't read the way I wanted it to read. And if I don't like how an article reads, then I don't think it's worth putting out here.

So I did what I usually do when I come up with inferior stuff: I rolled the paper out of the mental typewriter, crunched it up into a ball, and bounced it off the rim of the nearest wastebasket. I may or may not resurrect the idea for future use, but for now, it's dead to me.

Yes, I know that it's possible to salvage bad stuff every now and then. Sometimes it just needs a little tweak, a second read, or perhaps even a fresh coat of paint. In this case, however, I not only felt that the work was distinctly inferior; I also thought that it deserved a complete re-evaluation. It's the kind of writing that you just give up and sleep on, if you get my drift.

And now that all that has been said and done, I realize that I have a sizeable gap in my blogging schedule.

I'm in the last days of my present employment right now, and I'm scrambling to finish things up so that I have as few obligations as possible after this coming Friday. In the recent past, this workload would have left me with too little time to post new entries. But I don't want another period of time where I post less than once a week, because that leaves me complacent. That leaves me idle and lazy. That leaves me rusty and atrophied. And if anything, I can't claim to be a writer if I don't write.

So this is all I have at the moment: The shreds of an article whose idea sounded pretty good, yet whose execution left a lot to be desired. That, and an apology for not presenting anything really substantial tonight. Hopefully I'll have something new in the next couple of days.

In hindsight, however, this does prove that one can technically write about anything. Even at the point where one has lost his original intended post, one can still write about losing that same post. C'est la écrit, I suppose.

Sorry again, everyone. Do check back in a couple of days...

Friday, June 09, 2006

Quiz Feature

You want a setup? Well, I'll give you a setup.

You see, I've had an entire small, two-story house all to myself for the past few days. I'll repeat that in case you didn't hear that the first time: I've had an entire small, two-story house all to myself for the past few days. And if everything goes as planned, I'll probably hold it for a couple more days... until about 6:00 pm on Sunday night when the rest of the family finally arrives home.

Yes, that's right. The rest of the family -- mother, brother, sister -- decided to fly to Hong Kong a few days ago. My sister graduated from high school this year, you see, and she wanted to have a more substantial vacation before we shunted her off to college. So they fly to the former British territory, I stick around to hold the fort, and Bob's your uncle.

Unfortunately, unlike the developments in most crazy American teenybopper movies, I have no plans of holding a massive celebration of drunken debauchery at this time. For that matter, most people who read this blog have little or no idea where I live anyway, so it's not as though I'll be looking at an extensive guest list if given the chance.

And that's too bad, really. It would have been a nice party.

But I digress.

By now, you're probably wondering exactly what I've been doing ever since they left. For that matter, you're probably wondering if I've already broken into the liquor cabinet, trotted out the illegal substances, and called the local escort services. The truth is that I'm going to remain evasive about the matter, if only because I feel like messing around with the normal writing approach tonight.

My recent activities are detailed in five multiple-choice questions below. I'll eventually get around to giving a straight answer for each question, but you at least get to look through the products of my insanity and first speculate on what the hell I'm really doing over here.

So... shall we begin the narration?

1. It's obvious that Sean's been spending his days at work. But what has he been doing every night while the rest of his unsuspecting family is away on vacation?
a. Partying at the local nightclubs.
b. Picking up loose women.
c. Watching Jeopardy.
d. Watching porn.

Answer: (c). Darn you, Alex Trebek. Why must your show be so compelling, especially when it all goes down to Final Jeopardy?

With that said, I haven't been completely glued to the TV for the past few nights. I've been tweaking some bits of Legend of the Five Rings game theory, beating some short fiction out of my head, and dozing off at two in the morning when there's nothing left to do. None of that is very constructive, no. But at least I haven't been completely glued to the TV for the past few nights...

2. Hey, wait a minute... Sean weaseled out of the family vacation because of work obligations. What's he doing that makes him so busy in the office?
a. Finishing an important project.
b. Cleaning out his work desk.
c. Nothing, actually. Sean just likes working.
d. Watching porn.

Answer: (b). I'm contractually obligated to clean out my desk and wrap up all of my concurrent assignments, since my official resignation takes effect on Friday next week.

Yes, I'm leaving my current office after more than five years of engagement. It's not because of any measure of dissatisfaction, mind you. It's just that, after more than five years' work in the same field, I'm solidly in the "burnout" phase. I'm looking at approaching a different work discipline right now, perhaps something in marketing or corporate communications.

From an ironic point of view, this also means that I'll be stranded on the other side of the job market for a while. I put together quite a few notes on job applications a few months ago; We can probably think of this as a way of putting my money where my mouth is.

3. Hey... the weekend's coming up, and there's a holiday this Monday. So what did Sean do to prepare for this long break period?
a. Collect DVDs of CSI.
b. Collect stuffed toys.
c. Collect reading material.
d. Collect porn.

Answer: (c). In the last week, I've picked up the usual cheap paperback novels, magazine back issues, and comic book manuscripts. Gem was nice enough to throw in a Madeleine L'Engle book and a Year's Best Fantasy collection into the mix, and if I can find some way to scrounge up the money, I can pick up a couple more pieces of high-end material.

I'm planning to put a bunch of stuffed toys together for another mini-comic strip, though. But I'm stopping short of actually collecting them -- I think I've got enough to work with at the moment.

4. Oooooh... stuffed toys! Where's Trevor in all this, anyway?
a. In Sean's closet... and boy, is he mad.
b. At the foot of Sean's bed, watching his every move.
c. In Cancun. Summer vacation rules, baby!
d. Watching por... ah, heck. This joke's been beaten to death already.

Answer: (b). For the record, I did stuff him back into the closet one evening. The next morning, however, I found him sitting at the foot of my bed again, just staring at me like he always does.

Yeah, that's creepy. But at least you get used to the garlic after a while...

5. Tomorrow, with his family still a thousand miles away, Sean plans to:
a. Perfect a cure for cancer.
b. Repair the hole in the ozone layer.
c. Join a threesome with a couple of Victoria's Secret models.
d. Get a haircut.

Answer: (c). It's a long story, you see, and it involves Scottish bagpipes, fine silk neckties, and ripe bananas. (Mmmm... bananas.) Suffice to say that from there, it was easy for them to fall for my manly charms, and...

Okay, so the answer's really (d). I'm probably going to spend an hour in the barber's chair tomorrow, trying not to fall asleep in the face of electric razors and liberal doses of aftershave. I'm about a week overdue for the haircut, and my scalp's starting to resemble the Amazon rain forest. It's time for me to get cleaned up a bit.

After all, I wouldn't want to look like a total slob once my family comes back on Sunday evening.

For that matter, chances are that they'll probably first inspect each and every corner of the empty house. Then they'll turn to me and ask exactly how I was able to hide all evidence of my massive celebration of drunken debauchery, in which case I'll just tell them that the stuffed bear did it.

Trevor most likely won't appreciate that, but I've got him perfectly under control.






Tuesday, June 06, 2006


JP: Hey, Sean
JP: I'm making a Warrior/Ritualist for the Guild Wars MMORPG.
JP: Warrior is self-explanatory.
Sean: "Zankuro" comes to mind.
JP: A Ritualist is a shaman-like character who summons spirits, including ancestor and dead spirits
Sean: Right, right...
Sean: Male, right?
JP: Does Zankuro have any special meaning?
JP: Yes, male.
Sean: No specific meaning.
Sean: "kuro" means "black" in Japanese, though, or it can alternatively mean "ninth son".
Sean: "Zankuro" just rolls off the tongue pretty easily, and is a fair choice if you want to sound intimidating.
JP: He's not really an intimidator. just a noble but down-to-earth, soldier-minded LG or NG* kind of warrior.
Sean: "Isamu".
JP: A sincerely humble samurai, so to speak
JP: What does that mean?
Sean: "Isamu" = "bravery".
JP: Hey, thanks a lot!
Sean: If you're looking for other possibilities, though,
Sean: I'd strongly recommend just stealing something from L5R.
JP: okay, shoot
JP: Ha ha!
Sean: Seriously.
JP: I was thinking about that...
JP: Okay, thanks a lot, Sean.
JP: Gonna go and make that character now.
Sean: That's okay. It was fun. :)
* LG ("Lawful Good") and NG ("Neutral Good") are examples of personality alignment, usually referenced by players of Dungeons and Dragons and other similar storytelling games.

Honest, doctor. I really do run into conversations like this. :)

Now, I don't play Guild Wars like many other people do, but it's nice to run into a naming exercise every now and then. I have a tendency of naming characters on the fly, so this one happened to be right up my alley.

The catch, of course, was that JP was looking for a Japanese or Chinese name. While I like to think that I'm fairly good at transposing Western syllables into good names, Asian names are another matter altogether. With all the variances in pronunciation and whatnot, there's no telling what you might inadvertently come up with. You certainly don't want to name your character something embarrassing, or insulting.

So this is where the irony of the situation comes in: It's probably best to steal a name from somewhere, if it comes to that.

Yes, I'm aware that I'm a steadfast anti-plagiarist; My stance hasn't changed on that matter. But in cases like these, you're not looking to use the name for profit or any kind of commercial purpose. You just want a moniker that your fictional character can carry around in a fictional game world. "The Red Warlord Zankuro" certainly sounds better than "The Fair Maiden l33tb@be21", after all.

"Zankuro", for that matter, was the final boss in the Samurai Shodown III arcade game. "Isamu", from what I remember, is both a personality in the Legend of the Five Rings card game and a character from the Macross Plus animé. Both names had a fair bit of baggage associated with them, which made them easier to use -- I ended up having a feel for what their respective personalities looked like, based on this baggage, and I like to think that I was able to pass that on.

It's not stealing, no. But there's quite a fine line there, to tell the truth.

Assuming that we've all played a few RPGs here and there, it might be interesting to look back on the names that we gave our old characters. For my part, I remember using Elemen (Diablo II), Xinet (Neverwinter Nights), Zahn (Breath of Fire), Scythion (Zeus), Stryker (Wing Commander), Alexander (Final Fantasy Tactics) and Ming Xu (Vampire: the Masquerade). When taken as a whole, they'd probably say something about our own personal psyches.

Or they'd just look like a bunch of random character names all rolled together into one great big katamari. It's your call.

Then again, that's probably why I haven't gotten into MMORPGs yet: I have enough trouble keeping my current repertoire of character names straight.

I just hope that Isamu up there lives up to his well-gifted name...

Friday, June 02, 2006

Disclaimer: June 2006

Reiji raised an interesting point in the disclaimer I posted last month: I tend to come off as boastful or arrogant in these posts. I find that to be a very logical observation, for reasons that I'll outline later on.

For now, however, it might be best to take a long hard look at these monthly disclaimers. Why do I continue to write these things up, for example? I mean, I've applied for a Creative Commons License, I hold a Note of Ownership on each page of the blog, and I make it a point to encourage people to find their own voices instead of parroting what others think. On average, a monthly disclaimer post usually lasts less than a month on the front page, so it's actually far less efficient than any of the other alternatives.

All things said, there's really no reason for me to continue writing these.

And yet, here I am.


When I first set up this blog back in 2004, I knew that I was going to be writing in it. Not just writing, mind you, but writing writing. I was going to put up whatever happened to be on my mind at the moment, and apart from the serious reflections and the strange vignettes, that meant scribbling down my peculiar brand of fiction for the tastes of an online audience.

The catch with placing all of these things in a blog, however, lies precisely with that online audience. People see the Internet as a convenient resource: they read, they research, and they download. The Internet is a massive repository of searchable information -- it's like your school library's reference collection, in a way. And, like any massive repository of searchable information, it's easy to take for granted.

In a sense, it's not that people steal things. It's that people steal things without realizing that it's wrong to do so, especially when it comes to the Internet. When we can download MP3s, movies, scans and software hacks without giving much thought to ethics, I don't think it's difficult to see how people can copy images, essays and other literary works without regard for their context or use. Some of them even go one step farther and claim them for their own, which isn't that much of a stretch from the fourth-grader who copies an excerpt from the school encyclopedia and gets an A for his "efforts".

So I write disclaimers every month. I've found that it's actually very easy for people to miss an everpresent notice or announcement, mind you. But I figure that if I can hold their attention for a long enough period of time (about a month, in this case), then they'll probably read every post I write in the interim. With any luck, that should include any rants, threats or legal issues I end up putting online.

That only leaves the spectre of emotional impact, I think. It's easy to come off as irritating, paranoid or obnoxious when writing disclaimers like these. But how else could one possibly express oneself? These are one's own babies, after all. Everyone but the most prolific of writers out there probably knows that it's ain't easy thinking up a thousand words, organizing them, and putting them down on virtual paper for the rest of the world to criticize.

The last thing any writer wants is to see his words being claimed by some lazy idiot with too much time on his hands. And it's no picnic seeing those same lazy idiots misquote, distort, or blow those same words out of proportion, either. Is there any wonder why we come off as a bunch of overzealous elitists?

Better to show your fangs than let people know that you've declawed yourself, I say.


So now we come to the part of our program that deals with the legal information. If you've been reading this blog for at least a month, then this should sound familiar to you already. If not, then I hope that I've been able to entertain you so far with my mad ramblings and pathetic sob stories. Just remember not to steal my stuff, and we'll do just fine.


Everything that is posted on this blog is an entirely original work, except where noted. Any non-original work, or any entry that makes references to outside sources, should contain the appropriate acknowledgements. In the event that one of these posts does not have the given well-deserved references, you only have to contact me so that I can rectify the error.

Others are welcome to reference anything in this blog as long as they do so with the proper attributions and references. I do not tolerate people who quote me in a manner that is extremely inconsistent with my original point, nor do I have much patience for people who claim that they were the real influence behind my personal works. (Not that any sane person would claim to have written any of the more stupid stuff instead of me, mind you, but still...)

These are my standards, ladies and gentlemen. I have to draw the line somewhere, after all. If you're interested in discussing this further, the Comments link is right down there.

Have a nice day, everyone.