Tuesday, July 06, 2004

So I rolled up to the branch, fresh from the 4th Weekend, and there's somebody crashed out on the steps of the staff entrance. Like, all the way across, step over and smash into them when you pull the door open across. Very inconvenient. I asked him to leave, and he wouldn't. So we were stepping over him and smashing his feet every time the door opened.

We called the cops. What else to do? About forty five minutes later, after I had finally pestered our guest into leaving, the cops showed up to say: "Yeah, so there." I thanked them politely, anyway. Good relations with you local police can be important, I'm told.

So, alright, I'm that funny kind of liberal that almost feels guilty about these exchanges. I mean, they really can't help it. I try to be polite to the junkies, no matter how obnoxious they are. I can't really bring myself to be friendly. But I can do polite real well. I'm only ever really sharp when they're leaving needles, or puking on the books, or stealing stuff. But what happens when you say "please leave," and you get back shrieks and belligerence?

You get passive aggressive, really. I suppose I could have offered them a cup of coffee. Maybe when we open later, I'll try it.

The 4th was very nice, thanks to Annie and Anthony and Nick and Margarethe. We were invited out to Annie and Anthony's suburban idyll. The fireworks show was mere blocks away, and the biggest and loudest I've ever had the pleasure of seeing. Everyone was good company, most especially Poppy, who was sweet as frosting until she sacked out in the car at 10:30.

Reading: Finished Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I think it is my favorite in the series. I think she handled the denouement very capably. I can't say I was surprised by the death. It just seemed to... Reasonable.

Eberron campaign setting. I don't usually buy campaign settings. I make my own. There were extenuating circumstances involved in the purchase of this one. Now I'm trying to read it cover to cover.

For those who don't read role playing game sourcebooks, there are rules, which tell you how to play the game, and then there are settings, essentially descriptions of people and places that are meant to give you ideas for the plots for your own games. Reading campaign settings is like reading a particularly vague travel guide. So and so lives here and defeated the frumious bandersnatch or vermicious knid. The blankety forest has monsters in it. So and so belongs to a cult. The people of so and so like cheese.

It isn't quite boring, and isn't quite entertaining. The setting itself is... a setting, built using everybody else's fantasy tropes. It is neither original nor wholly derivative. It is simply a kind of plot-lite pastiche.

Epic fantasy itself is kind of bankrupt. I will happily make the prediction that no new twist on the genre will ever be developed, and just as happily devour it if there is. The only real strength left to fantasy, as I think J.K. Rowling and George R. R. Martin have proved, is it's characters. The whimsy and phantasmagoria are window dressing. But who wants to look at a dull window?

I think in some ways, the fantasy genre hasn't re-invigorated itself with it's recent commercial success, so much as it has been re-invigorated by soap opera. Go figure.

Eberron is "not bad". I prefer the rules sections. They have introduced a few interesting plot elements, like an evil vampire warlord working to keep the peace. I will be interested to see what kind of novels and characters they set in it.

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