Saturday, December 24, 2005

Mill Avenue Nights: Christmas Eve Day

Christmas Eve day - this'll be a neat one on Mill Avenue. 

They have decked the streets with lights, wrapping the treesin a glittering wonderland. They wrap the trunks in rising spirals and dripfrom the branches in an icicle haze. Gigantic multicolored fir trees of lightshang from the nearby power-transfer station towers. One of them isred-white-to-blue, looking like a flag scrunched up and hung; the other isgreen and red like a tapestry of candy-cane lights. 

People wander the streets aimlessly, the street preacherscome out to shout about commercials on TV and nobody listens to them as usual.However, even while the street kids sit, wrapped up against the relative chill,and talk to passersby more people pause to listen and talk to them. Theychuckle and laugh at our jokes when we ask for change for booze or debauchery;grin and hang their heads when they have no money—but offer cigarettes whenthey have them.

Tourists stand on the corner of 6th street, glaring across the way into the courtyardof Coffee Plantation. The coffee house and the now dead building that onehoused Duck Soup are surrounded by a cascade of lighted trees—igniting thecrossroads like a Beltane bonfire. The half-light of the Christmas lightsilluminates walkers into an ever shifting masquerade pool of people, facesflickering in and out of focus here and there. Suddenly brought into clarity bya flash, and then dimming away into the hustle-and-bustle again. 

Smiles all around as we descend into the night.

Hoping, wishing, wondering—what this New Year has broughtand will bring to all of us.

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Thursday, December 15, 2005

City of Heroes Litigation Settled

I just saw this little gem today, posted on by one of our wonderful editors, Atari.

Marvel Entertainment, NCsoft Corporation, NC Interactive and Cryptic Studios announced that they have amicably settled all claims brought by Marvel and all claims brought by NCsoft, NC Interactive, Inc. and Cryptic Studios, Inc. The parties' settlement allows them all to continue to develop and sell products, but does not reduce the players' ability to express their creativity in making and playing original and exciting characters. Therefore, no changes to City of Heroes or City of Villains' character creation engine are part of the settlement. The parties have agreed that protecting intellectual property rights is critically important and each will continue aggressively to protect such rights in accordance with all applicable laws. While the terms of the settlement were not disclosed, all parties agree that this case was never about monetary issues and that the fans of their respective products and characters are the winners in this settlement.

WomenGamers.Com :: View topic - City of Heroes Litigation Update

Thank goodness, I was about to forcefully boycott everything Marvel, after writing them an open letter on the subject.

Aside from the reality that Intellectual Property does not exist except in name and the uses of the City of Heroes costume and character engine extend above and well beyond any possible infringing uses—Marvel had chosen to engage in bully tactics to beat up on NCSoft.

As copyright holders, Marvel is granted certain protections, but in a sort-of-way the near-effect creation of a costume in City of Heroes seems to me a lot like making a costume and wearing it out for Halloween, or in the back yard. Comic books are so ubiquitous and costume types so varied that it is difficult not to come close to one that is copyrighted—but when a creation is made in this manner, one that isn't designed to become the actual copyrighted item, the expression of the design must always trump the copyright holder.

I would like to think that people who produce comics aren't becoming megalithic evil entertainment monopolies like Disney. Comic books and superheroes are a powerful American icon, they are becoming part of the mythology and the heritage, and the sort of behavior of lashing out at someone like NCSoft because they're getting close is the worst bad-neighbor behavior of capitalism.

My feelings on the bad state of copyright and its wicked progeny aside, I am pleased and proud of Marvel for choosing to take a more lenient route, settling in a way that permits the fans to be fans and not be punished by their bully-stupidity.

However, I cannot but feel a little cheated; because the culture that creates this sort of behavior has just been thrown another bone.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Warcraft Eye Begins

The Warcraft Eye begins.

Anyone else who plays the wonderful game, World of Warcraft, should be aware that a whole new blog—a travelogue of sorts, a traveblogue (no, I kid)—has started up. It chronicles the comings and goings of a baby-zombie by the name of Huntson who got too drunk one night, and woke up dead.

The enterprising player might even be able to find him in the game, though details of what server he is on are currently confidential. I’m sure that a clever enough reader could figure it our (or bribe me for details.) All that said, the style is a lovely romp through the stinging-nettles in a sort of imaginary prose that reminds some of a cross between Lester Bangs and Hunter S. Thompson.

Nelson Williams, a close friend of mine, scribes this new blog; so thou can probably guess why I am so keen on advertising its existence.

While there is no posted update schedule, it is worth checking back every week or so to see what sort of new mayhem Huntson has gotten himself into. It will involve screenshots from in the game, the actual day-to-day misadventure and mania that every new Forsaken has to overcome in the lands of Azeroth.

It’s going to be one wicked ride.

Expect the unexpected. Zombies. Underwear. Oh-so-gut-wrenching complexions…

It’s The Warcraft Eye and it’s got something for everyone.

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Friday, October 28, 2005

Past Years of Hallowse'en on Mill Avenue

Every year on Hallowse’en the streets of Mill Avenue teem with rampant costuming, flagrant coloration, and screaming tourists. The Hallowe’en Block Party for Mill is something to view—and a grave annoyance to most of us native fauna. Fortunately, the gateways that they produce to make people pay to enter the festivities are often easily bypassed by those of us who actually live on Mill.

Three years ago when they originally set up barriers and asked money of people entering they’d neglected to secure hotels and certain shops, a wise street-hacker could simply realize it was just as easy as entering the U.S. from Nogales by walking into the hotel from street-side and then exiting Mill-side, inside of the Block Party.

Strangely, I cannot find any news on the Internet, AzCentral, or any of the usual haunts about what they plan to do this year—perhaps because Halloween is on a Monday and not a Fri/Sat they do not want to shut down the Ave.

Skulking around the Internet I found some images from the Millcam for the 1997 Halloween Block Party.

This is as close as I can find to a notice about something going on in the region of Mill (they now call the region near Coffee Plantation, the Post Office, 5th Street, etc. “Hayden Square.”)

Mill Avenue Masquerade Adventure A costume contest, parade, and live entertainment at Hayden Square in downtown Tempe. Starts at 6 p.m. Call for info 480-967-4877. In 2005: October 31
Phoenix Event Calendar - October

Here are some past blog posts about the Halloween festivities on Mill.

One night after Ryan and I took the armor out for a Wal Mart drive it was time to tear it up in more competitive waters. You see here in Arizona we have a street called Mill Ave. in downtown Tempe that is the beating heart of the college night life. Its kind of like our version of Bourbon street minus the beads and boobs. Well, occasionally there are boobs but that's after everyone gets nice and drunk. Anyway, Mill Avenue is the place to go for drunken Halloween craziness in Arizona so my wife and I packed up and drove down.

The most adventuresome part of the entire night was striping down to a skin tight dive skin in a dirt lot that was literally on the other side of the tracks.
Halloween on Mill Ave.

Hm, well I am having some amazing difficulty finding much random people news about things they’ve done on Mill. The indexing and search services that the Internet provides are not quite strong enough (that and my keywords are probably not quite up to par for this.)

Thursday, October 27, 2005

CONCOST: It's a Dead Man's Party

Don’t run away; it’s only me. Don't be afraid of what you can't see. Don't run away; it's only me…” – Oingo Boingo.

We cloak our dead in vestments of white, just as when the land dies in winter and slumbers beneath a mantle of snow. And just as the land dreams in its sleep and awaits the day that it will awaken again into the Spring, so do our honored dead slumber beneath a shroud of white and wait their day to waken to our world once again.

As Concost approaches we harvest our fruits from the land, stow away the grains and fruit, prepare the meats we have gathered over the year, and watch the world breathe away its pain. We light fires against the night, watch the coming of storm clouds, lead by the breath chilled air, and smile.

When the sun begins to set upon the day sidled up against Samhain, we shroud ourselves in white—the vestment of the dead—and walk with them for a while. In their vestment we become our own honored ancestors, ghosts walking in waking unison with the living; we make our sorrows into coin and use them in trade for those things that would sustain for all Concost; we seek shelter with relatives, with friends, with neighbors, and with strangers, as we try to see what the dead would see in our community; and at night, when we sit by the fire, clutching our shawls around our shoulders, we are penchant to know them again, lost to us to that deep slumber, somewhere in the Otherworld: our honored dead return.

For any who has ever wondered what it is like to be dead for a while. To walk betwixt and twain those murmuring shadows, not to just glimpse the Otherworld at thresholds and crossroads, but to actually walk there for a while: then come thee upon Concost; shed thy mortal frame; and believe for a while.

On the first day of Concost—the day of the waking dead—we attune ourselves to the Otherworld; we bless ourselves with smoke and ashes from the burning alder and hawthorn and anoint ourselves with whortleberry juice. As the sun sets on the first day of Concost we visit the bonfires and offer up our mortality and we shirk all vestments of our former lives. We become apparitions who walk alongside the living, quiet in our speech, gentle in our movements, and very aware.

The second day of Concost—the day of the dreaming dead—we embrace those who are dear to us, we drink our whortleberry drinks, and partake of great feasts, sweet candies, confections, spirits, and liqueurs provided by our neighbors and friends, and they proffer their wares in trade for the coin forged of our sorrows. All day long we trade our sorrows thus that at the end of Concost we have exhausted our stashes and hold the coin of others in the community. When we visit the fires tonight we partake of potions and philters made from whortleberries and Lugh’s Fire; the embibation gives us that last push necessary to cross that final veil, and here in Samhain Eve’ we are visited by our ancestors, take drink with our gods, and enjoy the company of those who love us.

The third day of Concost—the day of the sleeping dead—we spendthrift the last of our coin, we spend the day in contemplation, smiling and watching. As the dead slowly return themselves to the Otherworld, so shall we return ourselves to our world. As the fires burn in that hallowed night air, we cast the coin of our sorrows into the fires and let them go. Release them like ashes into the air, burnt offerings to the year that is dying, that has passed into the Otheworld. Another tradition of this day is to keep one (or more) of our honored dead in our minds, we write a message to them on a bit of parchment; and think of their lives with us. At the end of the day, when we cast away our sorrows into the fire, also to them we offer up our message ito the ashes--and through this we can let them know that we miss them.

And we wait to watch the shrould of white cast itself across the land as she slumbers. As the vestment of the dead flenses her sorrows and leaves her cleansed to awaken into the Springtime.

Should an ethereal presence step close and touch you on the hand, or brush against you sitting all alone—never fear on this Concost day: it might be me.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Virtual Worlds: A Rose by Any Other Name

Virtual Worlds abound us in the cyberconoasphere, they surround us, infuse us, bind us – create shimmering and beautiful communities, enlighten ignorance, bring light to darkened rooms, fuse cliques, fight social wars, and they all know us by our names. The mark of a person in cyberspace isn’t their voice, it isn’t their face: it’s their name.

So: what’s in a name? In cyberspace a person’s name is their face, it’s the interactive identity of selfness that others identify. The persona can be changed, the avatar and icons that come along with it, all of those other identifying features that everyday people use on the street have been washed away into the glittering purity of the name.

Today on Slashdot, CmdrTaco, the premier editor and commentator of that community, lent us a piece of his mind in a rant directed at Blizzard Entertainment—the producers of World of Warcraft—for a very real slight.

I've been using 'CmdrTaco' online for around a decade now. It predates the existence of this website. It has followed me from game to game, both local, networked, and massive. My only problem with it is that as Slashdot grew in popularity, I started finding places where an impostor has taken it. I was excited when I was able to get it in Warcraft. It's like a warm blanket. It's stupid I know, but it's mine.

But Blizzard chose to take it from me.

Slashdot | Blizzard Made Me Change My Name

They took away his name.

They didn’t exactly take it away in a very ceremonious or respectful manner either, especially when examining the underpinnings of the psyche when it comes to names and cyberspace. This is how everyone knows you. How everyone sees you. How everyone minds what and who you are.

Blizzard does have certain naming policies set in their TOS that every player reads before joining, it was one of these that CmdrTaco violated without realizing it—no, not the celebrity clause, though it would have been funny if that were the case—the “Cmdr” part of his name breaks the “no titles,” clause. This is actually one of the rules of the game, it is written in the TOS. This isn’t a case of Blizzard doing something they hadn’t already warned they do to people; this is about Blizzard choosing inadequate, inconsistent, and disrespectful enforcement of these rules.

For 45 levels and hundreds of hours of game play, CmdrTaco went along as he normally did, his guild got to know him by that name, everyone else in the world watched him go by. He was CmdrTaco. Then suddenly, out of the blue yonder a GM speaks down and smacks his identity from him. Those 45 levels and hundreds of hours suddenly blow to ash, they become naught.

In this virtual world, two levels gives me a couple new pieces of armor, and suddenly I am unrecognizable to anyone who may have run an instance with me. In guild chat, I am a total stranger to people I may have chatted with for months. My history with other players has been erased. It almost makes me wish that I spent my first 45 levels ninja looting!

Slashdot | Blizzard Made Me Change My Name

Without so much as an apology this happened; not too different from suddenly being stripped naked because thy clothing slightly approximates something not permitted—defrocked after wandering the city for decades as a well-meaning citizen.

This brings me to one of the fundamental ironies of cyberculture: as with anonymity so there is perfect identity.

Out here on the edges you are who you say you are, no more, no less. Your reputation is attached to your name. If your name is new and shiny and nobody knows you, that is you. The unknown, the new, that wide-eyed traveler seeing everything for the first time—this is true even if you are a grit-and-bone veteran of every war in the trenches of cyberspace. You change your name, and for a moment—to everyone else—you are a different person.

There are people who are social chameleons; they change their behavior, their whole states of being between each of the cliques that they visit. For the denizens of this cyberspace it is only exemplified; here you can actually become a different person for different communities if need be. A new name: a new person.

Have a community where you are seen as a nice person, a hero even, polite, kind, and sweet—but you want to let out your bad side sometimes but don’t want to take the repercussions? Make a new name, never refer back to your alternate one, and let loose.

Reputations are valuable, why else would defamation be recognized as something that can inflict damage? In cyberspace names and reputation go hand in hand; when the name is all that identifies you it is the only thing that connects your reputation back to those communities.

A cyber-rose by any other name: would not be the same.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Lost Elves: Been Gone for too Long

I have been gone for too long from something that I spent the first half of my life searching for. Sometimes it's hard to believe that I actually sat for years, pouring through old German anthropology texts, studying Irish folklore, the archaeology of ages long lost to the mists of time and ephemeral existence.

“It's because you're a new soul,” Raytail, my Ru'Thello mentor, would tell me, sitting in the dark; the sound of her breathing becoming a counterpoint melody to the ticking of the clock. It didn't take her long to determine that my obsession with my feelings of strangeness were outside the ordinary purview of her Clan and so she started to bring me to people.

Some people are just elf-sensitive. Raytail certainly was, all but for her inability to put it into words. Over my lifetime I have been approached by new friends and total strangers alike, pausing, tilting their heads, and finally smiling, the same words on their lips: “Are you an elf?”

For the social stigma of trying to be Otherkin in a world where to humanity this sensation is viewed as aberrant it's all too easy to slide into those common defenses, those shields of “I'm not an Elf, but I role-play one on TV,” and that simple mistrust—but in that moment, it's hard to say no. Especially to someone when it's the first thing they say.

“Yes, how did you know?”

Elf-sensitive humans have always amused me. Though, I must say, that it's probably only the extroverts who approach me with the question. If there's anything else that I need to know the truth of it, the yawning chasm and transhumant truth of this era, it's that throughout history there have been people who always came across with other-than-human qualities; not the stuff that legends are made out of, not made out of the stuff-of-legends, but people who reflect the qualities upon which those legends were given life.

This is how I met Michelle Belanger, via Lady Camilla at City Club in Detroit. Camilla is one of those elf-sensitives that I spoke of above. It was a few years ago and I didn't realize how interested she really was until yesterday -- when I found several Otherkin articles written by her. Maybe we'll meet again, as I haven't vetted her work; I find an odd appreciation for other writers that I have met in person in the community. I know that her origins are in the vampire community (and my original perceptions of her work) but after reading one of their articles on Otherkin it has inspired me to think about writing some of my own.

Give back to the community I spent so long looking for.

So, I come back once again. After a day of feeling my heritage. And I wonder where have my people gone since those black, lost-days of the early 90s and before when I joined the Elvenkind Digest, wrote random stories about the elven presence in this world, wondered about my people, my heritage, and my culture and found them...

...and then just as merrily gave them all up.

The Otherkin Community; we’re losing hope and killing truth, one day at a time. It’s no surprise that the Otherkin community is a mass of “me, me, me” and very little about community growth anymore. It’s amazing how filled it is with egocentric know-it-alls and ‘yes people’. Every day more and more truth seekers are slipping into the shadows and disappearing from the community all together.
Elven Shadows: Death of the Kin Community

So I was prowling the blogs of autumn. I came across this one, the Elven Shadows, the name itself intrigued me so I paused a moment to browse the messages. The state of the community doesn't seem to brightly colored these days, but what is in the world. The subtle atmosphere of this decade seems to be a sort of chokedamp disappointment and angst about ever-too-widened communities stretched thin across the Internet. A coming together with a falling apart.

I suppose there is a lot for me to read out there to get a real clue as to what I've missed.

A great deal of my creativity, my stories, and the spirit of my writing comes out of my heritage, Irish and Elven alike.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Mill Avenue Nights: Drum Circle

So, I had quite the romp last night. Mill Avenue was all-a-bustle with every sort.

Of the people that I saw tonight, whom deserve some credit here: Josh, the ever-focused culinary artist; Ashley, the radiant gazelle sweeping up all in her path; Scum, our favorite prowling-cat; Sparky, my favorite drum-master; and a few others whose names I am forgetting but are still in my heart.

In my haste to reach the Mill Avenue Drum Circle, I neglected to visit Graffiti Shop to see if Lawrence had read (and enjoyed) the Mill Avenue Vexations booklet that I signed and gave to him. Naetheless, it was a highly rambunctious and fun-filled evening.

Omni dropped me off on the edges of the Ave at about 8:30 p.m. where we passed some of the street preachers foisting their pamphlets and wares onto passersby. All the hopeful intrigue of voices in the darkness, the auguries of innocence, and the impassioned blood of those who would stop, listen, and offer their own secrets in return for those strange glimpses into the psyches of the type of person who would step out onto the street simply to proselytize to a complete stranger.

The Street Preachers: Grade B

Among them I met Joyce, an older lady with a sweet composure, ice-on-blue eyes framed by round spectacles, and shoulder-length hair burnished by the nighttime lights. She approached me wondering at my notebook and my carriage; and asked as to why I wore a pentacle. To which I replied that it was a seven-pointed star and not five-pointed such as a pentacle would be—and in attempting to tell her what that would be, perhaps a septacle or a heptacle. Although, neither word is at all pleasing to the ear. I simply reneged that and explained that it was an Elven Star. Something she didn’t choose to question too far.

She went through the usual barrage of message-speak (less mirror-speak than I’m used to from one such as these.) She gave me the “good person” test such that it was designed for Christians because it uses the Ten Commandments (which I am amused by because I am most familiar with Catholicism and their commandments are slightly different than the Protestant ones—I will not go into this because I am Irish and Catholicism and Protestantism have caused my people some issues over the years.) Needless to say I am somewhat skeptical of a series of questions based in a religion that I do not follow, some of which involve “do you take the Lord’s name in vain,” which is most amusing because not following their religion I can hardly blaspheme them. I had to explain that since I do not follow their traditions nor religion nor really care for it as a background the gods that I swear to (or complain to as it were) bear different names. Also, I question the validity of “taking he Lord’s name in vain” to the context of even another strain of their religion who believe in a distinctly separate entity from them and whilst they might say “God!” they may be referring to someone else.

There was some discussion about the law as it is, and the Ten Commandments as God’s Law, and how their deity as a Just Judge would judge people on those laws and that lawbreakers had a particular penalty. And if I would have to be found guilty and thus face the penalties. Of course, examining those laws as they were: of course I am. I have broken one or two of those commandments over my time and live (probably a few of them before the age of five…several times.) So I have to say yes, by those rules given as graven and absolute: I would be condemned. However, I forgot something extremely important about Just and Good Judges… As a judge the person who would be judging me on the absolute of those laws (the Ten Commandments) could not truly serve justice: those laws are not just.

A judge with her hands bound by those laws and forced to allay guilt or innocence based in totality by adherence to them could not dispense justice.

This discussion continued for another young man—whose name now escapes me—who asked me to speak in front of a camera. We had something of a long discourse about the nature of morality, my own examinations of morality and religion, and a few of the other rhetorical philosophical discussions that come out of having differing worldviews. I have a good feeling that my friend Charlie would have enjoyed it immensely as the young man that I spoke with was quite intelligent and up to the task; however the questions that he was asking were all novicework and designed to ignite a response rather than actual discussion. I have a feeling I surprised him by attempting to discuss them.

I did receive two interesting pamphlets from them. One of them is made up in the visage of a million dollar bill, including the lovely statement, “THIS NOTE IS NOT LEGAL TENDER FOR ALL DEBTS PUBLIC AND PRIVATE.” It looks like a bill, has President Cleveland’s bust on the front, and on the back it has the ordinary bill back with some writing around the edges. And after glancing at this I discover the origins of the “good person test” which Joyce asked me: it’s on the back of this bill-pamphlet.

If this is the new tactics that they are using to hook and discuss these things with people I think perhaps the preachers might need to review their tactics a little. However, unlike Mr. Shouty-Shouty-Amplifier they actually talk to the people walking past and therefore become a worthwhile part of the Mill Experience.

In conclusion: I give these street preachers a B. They have some flaws to their approach, but at heart they are pretty good.

The Mill Avenue Drum Circle

The Drum Circle was glorious. It always has been. When I arrived there at around 10:30 p.m. they only had a few drummers and were frolicking around in their usual sprightly natures. I have always enjoyed finding that place as it is a focus of many worthwhile people and coalesces the very spirit and numina that is Mill Avenue into one place, at one time, and with one hopeful breath.

The Mill Avenue Drum Circle is a landmark to Mill culture as sure as the Old Hayden Flour Mill is a landmark to Mill geography. Without it the street would be lessened.

A few elderly women were sitting on the round pedestal for the flat-statue of metal placed there—it is the place where everyone congregates to become one with the social mishmash and listen to the drumming. They didn’t seem very pleased about what they saw, but I suppose I could have gone over to discover why they had chosen to sit amongst us. They certainly didn’t look like they were there for their health, strange as that may sound, usually the people who sit around and arrive during the drumming are there to socialize; these two women seemed to just want to glare.

I made certain to hand out booklets to everyone that I met who seemed worthy of receiving them, which in reality is pretty much everyone there. To the most extent I chose people I knew would enjoy them the most this time around and even handed a few copies out to a couple tourists who stopped to ask me about my outfit or my notebook.

Seems that Rocky Horror Picture Show is also coming back to Mill! At least close to Mill, and on the street, but not quite Mill Proper (as the Valley Art is too stuffy to accept their kind anymore.) The Rocky Horror goths are the originals that I always loved to mingle with, those who went to Valley Art. So for everyone who wonders about Rocky: The Sets. It’s a $10 ticket for anyone 21 and over, taking place October 29th—a Saturday—at 2am.

Sparky told me that the City in its infinite blundering blindness has designed to eliminate the drum circle and its inhabitants and has been reaching out to smite them even as we stood. This irritates me as much as having a venomous snake under my bed. I am annoyed that any ne'er-do-well sycophant politician not worth their salt might look down on Tempe, down into the Old Hayden’s Ferry area, see Mill Avenue, and then overlook the one cultural power of the entire place.
Well, we have snubbed them with our noses before; people make the culture of Mill, not the new buildings, developments, or even the outsiders who are rushed like so many droves of consumerism led chattel.

Meanwhile, as the bronze statute stands tall, the Drum Circle still remains, and I wish it many happy returns.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Mill Avenue Nights: Friday, October 21st, 2005

Once again I have gone forth into the wonderful world that is Mill Avenue.

Friday night as institutionally been known as the little Saturday, this is because there are people about, things to do, things to see, but very little of any consequence actually happens. The streets fill, people gather, music is played, but the real moving and shaking is relegated to the night after (not the morning.)

The newest street preacher comes with a microphone and a small amplifier. He stands and shouts to the teeming students and families who pass by in their consumption of the random artists and musicians of the Ave. With his thick voice and repetitive speeches quickly become boring, and the loudspeaker completely removes all potential for any sort of worthwhile interaction. In short: this newest Mill Ave preacher receives a D+, a just barely passing grade.

Pamphleteers still line the corners and I have picked up an extra stash of the tracts that they carry some church in Gilbert.

The old Duck Soup building has been taken over and put to good use. The International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival has a front there. A few of the booths are actually worthwhile, especially the Atomic Comics table. Anyone who is in the area might take a chance, get some tickets, and actually visit this event before it ends tomorrow on the 23rd. Seems that it’ll only run this weekend and then run itself out.

Antoinette and Emma were out on the Ave, as were a few others who I recall from my earlier and later years out on the Ave. The bold and the beautiful rats that I always found wonderful company—and I gave them all Mill Avenue Vexations booklets. I have handed out a total of five booklets tonight, which I think is a good number.

I even signed and gave a copy to Lawrence at Graffiti Shop. He paused a moment to tell me that if I was interested he would be willing to pay part of my printing costs for the Vexations volume if I put an advertisement for Graffiti on the back page of the fic. This interests me greatly because it would certainly change my distribution schedule.

I can only hope that he likes the story and doesn’t hold it against me that I destroy Mill Avenue and everything around it in the very first chapter.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Mill Avenue Nights: Wednesday, October 19th, 2005

I had the wonderful fortune today of stopping off at Mill after work. With the yellow-bright Arizonan sun shining down from our famously clear turquoise skies I wandered the Ave looking for familiar faces.

As fortune had it, I found them relatively quickly lounging around in the shade of the Coffee Plantation’s blue-green customer corrals—I call them this because they are greenish, metal fences that surround the outer patio of Coffee Plantation that seem to have been placed there merely to keep their customers from escaping.

My heavy laptop bag slung over my shoulder, book on the Anasazi Indians under one arm, a familiar voice called out to me from behind as I passed by—Antoinette’s beaming grin greeted me from where she sat across from Scum. Her enfant daughter, Emma, sat on her lap; beautiful eyes sparkled as they gaped and goggled at the spectacle of the world.

Having found some of my kindred on the Ave, I made rein, stopped, and rested the weight from my bones and soul in their presence. Between Emma’s antics and our soft banter we painted a cascading and hopeful vision of the life the Ave has had in the past year that I have been away in Michigan. The city streets still filled with the dusty inhabitants, foul smelling cars, and the casual presence of the indigenous Mill rat population and all the drama that follows them.

Antoinette tells me that she’d like to bring the Mill Rocky Horror back to life once again. In the early days it was held at the Valley Art theater, not too far away from the face of Coffee Plantation, but it had quickly been ousted when the theater decided to renovate; and then wasn’t permitted to return due to some sort of political disagreement between Harkins and the cast. Rocky Horror is probably too subversive and local color for those staid aristocrats.

We laid a brief visit to the gazebo and the magical hidden alcove where Graffiti Shop is accessible from. The wooden structure of the gazebo gives a nice vision of the red brick courtyard, claustrophobic in its small proportions, with shops lining the inside—mostly closed at six in the evening—and the green vines crawling the brickwork, drinking from babbling fountains and pools inset into the various edifices.

I only spent a moment to glance down into Graffiti as we walked on; the stairs down into the shoppe have always been a bane to me and my weakened legs. I will be giving Lawrence a meet and greet soon enough to let him know that I am once again keeping the company of our fair city warm again.

We stopped off at Trials, just a little ways out from Mill along 5th street, and Antoinette bought some interesting smelling incense. She has mentioned to me that she has pretty much run out of slaves, and that perhaps the next person who might offer her a light for one of her incense sticks could be offered the job—anyone interested? Come out to Mill, I’ll point her out. Be fair warned, though, while Antoinette is an absolute treasure of a person, she isn’t the type to be toyed with and pretenders will not be tolerated. So: only if you mean it.

We finished the night off sitting around at Coffee Plantation again, within the confines of the corral, which did a bad job of confining Emma (she quickly discovered how to operate the gate,) but much fine was still had by all. I handed out the booklet form of Mill Avenue Vexations—signed the one for Scum—and even Osiris made a brief debut before I was scooped up and spirited away.

Until next time.

Friday, October 14, 2005

The State of the Avenue Address

I arrived on a warm Friday evening in the wake of plane exhaust and the vibrating soliloquy of a vicodin haze, a headache laughing in my eyebrows. So, addled but cheerful, I put out to the street.

I visited all the usual places, made my paces, and even sat a spell in the shadows of the bronze statue outside of the Valley Art.

Some of the street kids that I remember and adore were about on the Ave that Friday, with the fading light of the sun still embracing the A on the mountain. With the dimming twilight nor did the heat, it waned but only slightly for the warm breath of cars rushing past and I wondered how the Ave still went.

I see that the old Wells Fargo building has turned to scaffolding; Cafe Boa has vanished, leaving behind a dusty patio, stucco walls, and a lonely brown folding chair; Long Wong's no longer exists in any form, the lilting industrial sound of its music no longer crashes like a thundering stampede over the sidewalk—and though it is equally long gone, we still mourn the loss of Java Road.

All of this dust in the Arizonan wind.

Yet still the Ave lives. It pulses with a deep rhythm beneath the skin of society, and writhes with an insubstantial glee that still fills me when I walk those streets. My opera trench fluttering in the hot air, hair brushed carefully back from my ears, and top hat pressed firmly on my head.

I smile and wink slyly when walking past a pair of girls carrying signs, spanging on a bench, who call out: "Hey sexy!"

I'll leave my visit to Graffiti until next weekend, the idle chatter of the winsome Mill rats and their lovely life out there in the plumes of car wakes; it is my forgotten homeland, though becoming less an echo of what it used to be, it strives on.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Friends and Dreamers: DJ_Mulder

DJ_Mulder is another one of my friends from #Suicide on, though he doesn’t visit there as often anymore. We spend most of our time in private message windows, chatting.

He lives in Holland, in a city named Zoetermeer, but he informs me that he is soon to move to a new town, Den Haag. Since he is moving into a new, spiffy flat that he is currently tussling to attain, and I wish him luck at that. “[Zoetermeer] is a small city where you can walk from north to south in 30 minutes,” DJ says, describing the place, but even though it is a small city indeed, apparently there is very little countryside remaining around. It has been mostly swallowed by buildings.

“There are 3 major discos...”  DJ explains to me about the social and nightlife of the town. “Tho one plays bad redneck music and sells weed and stuff... One is going broke and, well last time I was there (after I heard that Diana is perhaps gonna work there but didn't) there were like ten people inside... And the other is a kiddie’s disco… Tho I went there all the time when I was younger... met the DJ there hang out with him for a while...he taught me stuff.” At the end he confesses that his nickname, DJ_Mulder, comes from the DJ of the kiddie’s disco because of his tutelage.

Aside from the discos there are about nine social bars, one of which is quite fun, but also very small. What can I say about that, it seems the best things come in small doses these days.

DJ works as a programmer and writes modules for a suite of school software, his day job. He also says that when he has downtime he spends time plugging away at the World of Warcraft forums.

Much like my last interviewee, he plays WoW. Although, DJ is a lot more prolific on the forums than I. Also like my last interviewee, I cannot play along with him in that MMORPG. Because DJ lives in Holland and I live in the USA, we end up on completely different Blizzard servers. So we cannot even interact. But he has a great deal of fun there anyway.

“Hm well I have tons of people that worship me on the forums, tons that despise me due to my devotion to the Warlock,” DJ elucidates about his experiences in and out of game, “in game... Hmm I have guilds fighting over me! :P” He goes on in a whisper (a parenthetical aside) to humbly explain that he doesn’t think he’s that great of a warlock; but he does enjoy the attention he receives from interested parties.

He tells me that what he likes the most about WoW is the potential for things to go horribly wrong, more or less. Running on gigantic raids with numerous friends, skipping through dangerous missions, and discovering that minor events can cause a great catastrophe lends a certain element of danger and excitement to the game play. I suppose that I can see that myself, even though it is a video game, it can still be easy to get a little immersed in it and actually upset when you get killed off when a herd of Taurens stampedes over your entire group.

As for future plans—outside of World of Warcraft—DJs has a likely lass, dear to his heart, in the lusty, crushy sort of way named Diana who has turned his affections for quite some time. DJs relationship with his crush on her has been tumultuous at best—primarily because the lass hasn’t been very emotionally available (or quite available relationshipwise.) Like very much a Prince Charming, DJ is unrelenting in his interest, and has deemed it his goal to woo, court, and win Diana’s heart.

And perhaps one day he shall.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

I am Forsaken

I haven’t chosen someone to interview next, not yet, but I figured that this would be a good moment to point everyone to one of my other favorite pastimes: MMORPGs.

Aside from playing MMORPGs, I am also a writer—as some might have noticed. I do publicize this all over my blog. And in the vast variety of MMORPGs out there I do love to play World of Warcraft and whilst traipsing through those vast fields and barren wastes I started to wonder about the character that I play, her lineage, and the grim-parody of life that are the Forsaken.

So I decided to write a fanfiction: I am Forsaken.

Go, read, review, and have a good time.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Friends and Dreamers: Bruno

For my second Under the Hills post, I would like to begin by doing a series of interviews, where I introduce people to my beloved friends.

Bruno is a friend of mine from #Suicide on IRC. He is one of the more interesting people that I have met, brooding, temperate, and cuddly—he reminds me a lot of a great, big ghraul. Like a big bear, warm and lumbering, but purposeful like a giant shadow, with a bright smile. I am always happy to find him lurking in the forest of my Internet domain.

When asked where he lives he tells me, “a coastal European town that incidentally happens to be the capital of Portugal,” of course, I know that he’s talking about Lisbon. After a little prodding he continues to explain that its finer points are that it’s gritty, dirty, and has a lot of beautiful architecture. “[There is a] quiet aura of confidence about her, I guess. It's seen allot, including one of recorded history most fierce earthquakes.”

I asked him about what he liked about some of the architecture so he told me of the Torre de Belém, a formidably built ivory-white fortress constructed at the entrance to the River Tagus’ estuary. In spite of its apparent intent at construction it has a fragile, Fabergé eggshell look about it.

Bruno has always struck me as an artist of sorts, and his writing is something impressive. He tells me that he’s on a hiatus of sorts, lingering about and drifting to-and-fro as his moods take him these days. Getting up early, going out for coffee with friends, and watching life promenade through the twisting and dividing streets of Lisbon have become his everyday meat and potatoes. In the evening, he returns home to soothing music and writes; where he ponders what he’ll do with his life when this restful period is over.

When he looks toward the horizon, Bruno finds himself, seven years hence, receiving a PhD in economics, sociology, or psychology. But, really he feels that his true calling is ludology (the study of videogames from an anthropological and sociological discipline.) Except that this isn’t a widely followed—or taught—perspective, so it may be difficult to get a proper degree in it. I smile when he says this, videogames and their communizing effects (MMORPG and otherwise) have always been a wonder close to my heart. Myself following my own roots of anthropology through mythology and ancient cultures wonder often what will become the mythology of the new-fangled, highly technological world.

He’s a special person, Bruno, and I think that he’s probably not going to hear the last of my poking and prodding; especially now that I know that he intends to study the anthropological equivalent of videogame sociology.

More interviews to come. Watch this spot. There are just so many wonderful people out here, in the fringes of the Internet, flickering between the walls.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Welcome to the Under the Hills blog

Welcome to the Under the Hills blog.

I haven’t quite thought about what I am going to do with this blog, exactly. I come to it mostly because Google seems to have connected themselves with Blogger and the interface is quite lovely. I was trying out the new Google RSS Feed Reader and accidentally used Blog This! and it sent me to Blogger.

So here I am, my name is Kyt Dotson and I am an author. I already run the Over the Hills blog but I have kept that mostly for promoting my productions, works, artwork, and those creative outlets of my friends.

This, the Under the Hills, I think might have a lot more to do with my day-to-day life. And due to the name I will probably use it as an outlet for the more underhanded, strange, and unlikely things that danse through my ghostly-gaze and waking vision. Since I can use the feed reader to aggregate and push blog posts to it from Google I will probably make use of that also.

Welcome to my world.

A little about me:

Elven pixiechilde with a quiet attitude; perfectly at home living in a teacup as a metropolitan train station. Writer and programmer, book of poetry always at hand. The tall ghostly angel of the streets. Take my hand; abandon all fear; come away with me.