April 25th, 2003


Blech and Ick

Adam arrived in Scotland last Saturday. As his girlfriend Bekka was working nightshift that night, he spent the day and night hanging out with me. He had a cold and we spent the entire day sitting on the sofa watching tv (Blackadder goes Forth, Simpsons and Lilo & Stitch).

On Monday I had a slightly sort throat. It's continued to tickle from that point to now, with progressively more sludge dripping down my throat. I've spent a lot of time coughing. Last night, it took me until 1am to fall asleep, and then only with the Nytol that Meredith gave me to help.

So today I'm sitting at home, feeling sorry for myself, while my nose streams.

Does anyone have a link to an explanation of what the body is actually doing during all of this? Is my streaming nose a sign that my body's defences are forcing out the invaders? Or that I'm getting worse?

Story versus Character

Over in his journal, Budgie talks about characters taking on a life of their own:

A while back, there was a minor (given the history of the two of them) dispute between John Byrne and Peter David about what characters in a story. As I recall, Peter David said that in Atlantis Chronicles, he originally had no plans for a character to do xxxxxxx, but that the character 'told him' what she was going to do, leading him to the point where it became apparent as to how the character would react in a given situation, despite that part of the story originally being conceived in a different way. Byrne fervently and vehemently disagreed, maintaining that the characters are creations and as such, the writer is supreme, deciding how a character behaves and acts.

My response to this was:

It's a case, to me, of realism. Or more accurately, of cohesiveness. If a character is defined with a particular personality, acts in certain ways and has recognisable traits, then not following those character traits when you get to a particular scene will cause cognitive dissonance in both the writer and the reader and remove suspension of disbelief.

If James Bond gets punch in the face and then collapses crying on the floor begging not to be hit again, the audience will instantly think "But James would never do that!" despite the fact that James is a character and will do anything the writer says he will.

Stories in some way fool the brain into accepting them as semi-real. People _care_ about the characters. Not as much as they care about real people (generally), but the feelings and relationships we have with them are real. If you break our expectations of them you'd better have a damn good reason for doing so, or you'll lose your readership.

This, to me, was the basis of numerous arguments with Joe about gaming. He wanted to tell stories - I didn't want to do anything that made characters act in an 'unrealistic' way. I was happy, in advance, to create characters that would be more suited to a kind of game, I felt that characters were far too fluid and unpredictable (in advance) to be used for the purpouse of telling a specific story without losing that suspension of disbelief.

I suspect a fair bit of that approach also comes from the fact that in real life I only see characters - the only way to see stories is in retrospect, when you can carve away all the bits that no longer seem important and get to the core of what now looks like it was a story. Doing it the other way round removes all the sense of wonder I have - of seeing how things will turn out for these people that I care about.

Fun and games with photos

I have a fair few photos of me on my website, including this passport photo:

You can imagine that I was pretty surprised to have my friend Scott tell me that a local bar (Pivo) had promotional postcards that looked like this:

Tomorrow, I shall be going into town to find a solicitor and see if I have a case I can make....


"The best thing for being sad," replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something. That's the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then -- to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn."
-- T.H. White, "The Once and Future King"