Friday, September 22, 2023

Intertextuality Friday

Super-quick Friday Grab-Bag because I wrote most of a longer post this morning before realizing it was going nowhere and now I don't have time to do much of anything. But I'm working tomorrow and we're going away for a couple of days next week - yes, actually "away", although not so far away we won't be able to drive there in a morning - so there probably won't be any posts for a bit, unless I take my laptop, except some of the keys aren't working and I don't particularly fancy posting some experimental piece that doesn't use the letter "B".

Enough drivel. Let's get on.

When Do I Get To Play WoW?

I said I wouldn't until either Blizzard got better or Microsoft bought them. I see from today's news that the last brick in the wall is about to topple. The CMA has provisionally approved the buyout. "Residual concerns" remain but apparently Microsoft is already "offering remedies" to calm any remaining qualms. I guess there could still be a twist in this never-ending tale but it seems a lot more likely things will now proceed in a stately manner to a resolution that suits everyone. Well, almost everyone. 

I don't know why I care, really. I don't play WoW all that much. I subscribe occasionally for a month or two but mostly I just futz around on the endless free trial. It's not like I've been jonesing for Azeroth ("Jonesing", for younger readers, used to be a slang term for addiction, specifically drug addiction, although later any kind of craving. Oh, who am I kidding? I don't have any younger readers.)

I would quite like to have a go at Cataclysm Classic, if and when it arrives. Most of it would be new content to me and I've heard that if you don't have prior attachments to the originals, some of the do-over zones are pretty good.

Started three consecutive paragraphs with "I" there. My old deputy headmaster would have his red pen out by now.

Words and Music

I was intrigued to read two reports this week about the very different approaches taken by the publishing and music industries to the looming threat to their business models posed by so-called AI. The music industry or at least the UK arm of that global monolith (Can a monolith have arms? I very much doubt it.) released "five fundemental rules" for engagement with our new digital overlords;

At a glance, those seem surprisingly reasonable and pragmatic. I'm very encouraged to see the would-be gatekeepers acknowledge that at least some of the people they're meant to be protecting might actually want to engage with this sort of thing.

Personally, I'd love to start messing around with the tech but I'd also like to feel comfortable putting the results on my YouTube channel and linking to them here and right now I'm definitely not going to be doing that. If they work out some copperplate licensing agreement with Google, though, I'm in there!

Meanwhile, George R R Martin, John Grisham, Jodie Picoult and fourteen more authors have filed a class action lawsuit against OpenAI for copyright infingement. That's not actually news. It happened a couple of months ago. I had heard about it before and tried to pay it no mind but yesterday I saw this at NME and the close-up of George in that hat and waistcoat was just too much to ignore.

The spectacle of vested (Hah!) interests clashing in this way is unattractive enough without framing the whole thing as some kind of battle for the soul of literature, when we all know it's about the money. George R R was a SciFi writer once upon a time, too, which somehow makes it even worse.

FFinger-Lickin' Good

If you want another example of how in the end it's always all about the money, Square Enix have you covered. I first saw this at MMOBomb under the headline "WTF IS Colonel Sanders Doing In Final Fantasy XIV?", which is exactly what I was thinking. 

I ate some KFC chicken once. It was in the early 'eighties, before I gave up eating meat altogether. I wouldn't say the Colonel's secret recipe (I'm guessing it's secret. If not, it should be.) turned me into a vegetarian but it sure didn't help. 

The most disgusting thing I've ever eaten was a brawn sandwich (Aka head cheese, which should tell you all you need to know. I'd link to the recipe but it would literally make you vomit just to read it.) It was handed out free on darts night in the pub where my college pals and I used to hang out in the even earlier 'eighties. That bucket of KFC chicken ran it a close second.

Maybe fried chocobo will taste better.

I So Don't Want It To End

Carole and Tuesday, that is. One more episode to go. Pretty sure I know what the seven minute miracle that saved Mars is now. Just have to watch it happen.

There will be a full review but for now let me say the second season is as good as the first, maybe better. The theme and opening sequence is going to be an all-time favorite. I could watch it over and over and I already have.

I've been looking at Carole and Tuesday merch. There are a number of large wall posters but none of the ones I've seen feature any of the scenes from the Season 2 intro, which seems like madness. Literally every shot is a poster waiting to happen.

Don't take my word for it. See for yourself.

I googled the lyrics to see if I could figure out what the song's about. It doesn't seem to relate to anything in the show unless it's in the final episode and I haven't seen yet. Maybe it's a hat-tip to P.J. Harvey. The show does name-check a lot of 20th century artists so it's not that unlikely.

Whatever, I love it. Been singing it in my head (And out loud.) for days. Carole and Tuesday has a lot to say about AI and music, by the way. I could iterate on that in the light of the aforementioned five fundemental rules but I'll save it for the review.

Last Of The Gang To Die

Crossing the streams, a zeitgeist game I never played spawned an anime I really loved when Edgerunners appeared as a post-launch prequel to Cyberpunk 2077. Without getting too spoilery, the series pretty much ran as a one-and-done, the ending leaving little room for a second season, the final episode being one of the more conclusive and downbeat resolutions I've seen for a while.

It was good to hear that the legacy of the show lives on in the game itself in the form of a lore-appropriate memorial. I've got T-shirts featuring both Rebecca and Lucy on my wishlist. That'll be my tribute although I guess playing the game might be a better one.

There's Something To Being Human After All

When I posted a video by yeule last week I said "We'll be hearing from her again. And again, I'm pretty sure." Oh boy. Ironic foreshadowing. Also misgendering, for which I can only apologise. I did not do my due diligence.

I also knew pretty much nothing about the post-human phenomenon that is yeule. I didn't know they were from Singapore, for a start. I don't know a lot about Singapore other than that my mother thought it was very clean when she went there. I guess when you beat people for dropping chewing gum that'll happen. 

Anyway, it's not the kind of environment you'd expect to foster teen rebellion or then again maybe it's exactly that. Either way, according to Pitchfork's review of their third (!) album, sofstscars, yeule "first started toying around with music production as a young teenager in the early 2010s, after they saw a live video of Grimes on the internet and thought, “This fucking bitch does it all by herself… so I’m gonna try.”"

The first two albums are variously described as ambient, glitch and "Asian post-pop".  Also vaporwave, I've seen, which tracks. yeule, who's name as I'm sure someone who isn't me will have realised long ago, comes from the Final Fantasy franchise, leaned heavily into post-humanism for their persona but the third album sways the other way, embracing the soft, messy reality of being human.

I don't know why it's taken me this long to notice them. I'm ashamed of myself, sometimes. I'm busy right now going through their back catalog. Here's one yeule made earlier. It seems relevant, somehow.

And finally...

Speaking of pronouns, on the always-reliable recommendation of Xyzzysqrl, I downloaded the demo for Penny Larceny: Gig Economy Supervillain on Steam. I played it, enjoyed it, wishlisted it. I'll wait for a sale to buy it, though. It's cheap but I'm even cheaper.

I wouldn't have mentioned it only it has by far the most impressive choice of pronouns at character creation I've ever seen. I took a screenshot.

I remember a really long time ago, long before the current on-trend gender awareness set in, reading a long list of possible pronouns and what they implied. It must have been a long time ago because I know I was at work and it's been a decade and a half since I had the good fortune to be able to web-surf and educate myself on the company dime.

Given the level of debate over the use of "they", I'd almost allowed myself to believe there were only the three choices left. I mean, I know that's not true. I was watching or reading something recently where someone's preferred pronouns were I/I... hmm, what was that? 

Anyway, even though I was theoretically aware other pronouns were still in play, it's nice to be reminded. I almost feel sorry I'm stuck with boring old he/him although I guess if I was that sorry I wouldn't be. Stuck with it, I mean.

And now, I think it's bedtime, which means the finale of Carole and Tuesday. Conflicted doesn't begin to cover my feelings about that...


  1. The fine folks (mostly Stefan Gagne, although there's others) at Fiction Factory Games have a policy of "every time someone complains about the pronouns in our games, we add more pronouns to our games."

    As you can see, it's been something of a running war.

    1. Sadly, they'll run out of pronouns before the world runs out of bigots.

    2. Bigots proliferate like weeds. Or lice.

  2. When it comes to certain decisions at unlikely stages, "what's the point" asymptotically approaches "what's the harm". Take that for what you will.

    I am actually glad that GRRM et al are thrashing it out in court, even though I'm not necessarily on their side, because in the Anglo model of jurisprudence (to which we all, globally, have to grant a certain amount of fealty) such clashes result in lasting legal frameworks. I do think one is needed around AI and this kind of thing will get results faster than legislation.

    George has been an odd duck on this stuff for a while, though. For instance, he's somewhat notoriously declared himself not to be a fan of (non-commercial, obviously) fan-fiction drawing on his works. If I were an author, I could scarcely think of a better compliment than amateur writers committing their time and talent to writing stories set in my world for no reward other than the joy of it.

    1. Yes, I agree that asking the courts to sort things out is usually both faster and more pragmatic. If I had to choose between judges and politicians to make law, admitedly kind of like choosing between whether you'd rather be eaten by a lion or a tiger, I'd usually opt for the judiciary.

      I almost included a line about fan fiction. I don't particularly see much difference between a fan making a bunch of non-canon stuff up and publishing it online and a fan getting an AI to do the same. I think any author who tries to stamp on that kind of thing is going to look pretty silly. When it comes to making money out of it, though, I imagine there'll at least need to be the fig-leaf of a name-change. There's already some serious precedent for that, of course.


Wider Two Column Modification courtesy of The Blogger Guide