baskerville: Black dog head facing left on a background of fiery red (Hellhound red)

written today over lunchtime

"Hey, you," said the unearthly horror.

"Go away," I said.

Its bristled, wet protuberance squirted a puff of foetid air into my ear. "I hunger," it said in a voice like gravel scratching your best pie pan.

I slapped it aside. "You can't have my soul or my dried fish."

"I only wanted one of those things," it wheedled, but I ignored it and focused back on the bushes.

There was a heavy whump beside me, followed by a series of quieter, rhythmic thumps on the ground.

"Go and bother the urchin girl before I carve a psalm or three into your filthy hide," I said through my teeth, still not bothering to make contact with the acidic red pits it called eyes.

"She's awesome," the unearthly horror said. It did not move. The thumps continued. My target had gone by now.

I stood up in one graceful motion and kicked the abomination in the rear. It was worth the time I spent later sewing the trouser leg beck together.

View the original post at Black Dog Blog

baskerville: Black dog head facing left on a background of fiery red (Hellhound red)

Young Baskerville's foray into meta-poetry or satire or something. (© 1999)


by Herm Baskerville, 1999

Settle down, class, please. The lesson has begun.

The poems we will be dissecting today will look
Like this one. The poems we have in school
Have been pre-killed to avoid distress, and are preserved
In formaldehyde. And if anyone feels faint at the sight
Of alliteration, you may go outside.

You can get the necessary instruments from the tray
At the front. You need one poem, one white tile,
One scalpel. It doesn't matter if, like this one, it is a little blunt.

Let us make a start. We haven't much time, so I suggest
That we go immediately for the heart of the poem.
Watch, and make a small incision here, between
Verses three and four: just there will do.
Yes, that's fine; try to make the cut as neat as mine.
And try to keep the punctuation
On the white tile, and not on the floor.

Pay attention, please. Notice the neat form of the simile,
Just peeping out from behind the extended metaphor.
Here we have the colon, and further down,
The semi colon. Can anybody guess
What this is? Yes, it is an internal rhyme.
And here is the inner or hidden meaning, visible
If we just hack our way through the outer meaning.

Oh, there's the bell.
Quickly put everything away. Just tip the pieces
Into the bin. If you haven't had the chance
To open up your heart, it doesn't matter.

Terry Pratchett said he liked this. So did my English teacher, but let's keep the credit to the one who inspired my love of writing rather than teaching a curriculum optimised to suck the life and colour out of it.

View the original post at Black Dog Blog

baskerville: Black dog head facing left on a background of fiery red (Hellhound red)

In my experience, iThemes Security, the module formerly known as Better WP Security, is kind of terrible. Significantly, it doesn't uninstall cleanly and will lock you out of your own site at the drop of a hat.

Before I fully got rid of its screwups (and I'm not even sure I have, completely), I had to muck around in phpMyAdmin and drop two database tables it created. (These can be spotted from their prefixes, which will be something like itsec or bwpsec.) From help threads it seems much of the time you'll also have to delete whatever lines it's added to your .htaccess and wp-config, also manually, but in my case I didn't find anything I needed to remove.

On paper it does look like a desirable mod to have; if you do use it, at the least I recommend against activating any of the file- or folder-renaming functions. Pretty sure those are what screwed me up…

View the original post at Black Dog Blog

baskerville: Black dog head facing left on a background of fiery red (Hellhound red)

If you have installed a new editor like LibreOffice on your Mac, you may have been given the option while you installed it to make it your default. If you didn't take that up – perhaps you only wanted it as default for certain doctypes, or perhaps a certain office suite stole the default back – you can change it manually.

"Open With…" does not work globally

You might find instructions to open the context menu (right-click) on a document, go to "Open With…" and tick the "always open with" checkbox. This friendly checkbox is a LIE, my friends. In fact this option is pretty much useless: it only changes the editor for that particular file.

Going through "Get Info" works

This method changes it for ALL files of that type.

Open the context menu (right-click) on the file and, instead, choose "Get Info". You're looking for the options with the heading "Open with:". Choose your preferred editor from the list and then hit "Change All…" to apply this to all files with this extension.

You will still have to do this separately for every different file extension – .doc and .docx, .html, .shtml and .xml, for example. Still the only solution I've found.

MacOS screenshot showing the "get info" dialogue box with default file editor options highlighted

View the original post at Black Dog Blog

baskerville: Black dog head facing left on a background of ghostly blue and lilac (Hellhound blue)

(Reposting this old piece so I can more easily find it. One line tweaked to make it generic.)

I found a fragrant pebble;
When I smelt it, out he came.
He turns quite green with envy
If left out in the rain.

I could trade him in for silver
Or beat him 'til he's thin;
Reduce him to a third
if I boiled him in a tin;

But cruelty's corrosive
So I treat him as a friend,
In hopes that I'll be hearing
A purr there at the end.

View the original post at Black Dog Blog

baskerville: Black dog head facing left on a background of ghostly blue and lilac (Hellhound blue)


Pony with ridiculously short legs, a horn, and feathered wings, using her ultimate attack

Mayflower, the shortest-legged pony in the UK, uses her ultimate Crataega Operandi attack - Equipulchritude.

So this is, um, Mayflower the (real) Shetland pony using her ultimate attack, which is coincidentally similar to Problem Sleuth's.

View the original post at Black Dog Blog

baskerville: Black dog head facing left on a background of fiery red (Hellhound red)

"What you doing, Aunty?"

Just a collection of reference pics for a future minor character – the son of a genetically uplifted horse, who commissioned a bunch of magogeneticists to give her foal a horn. She wanted him to be special. That's also why she named him Moonflower Etheriel Bliss. *facepawheaddesk* Mares.

Baby pic!

These following are all pics of one cremello chap and right for colour, but I don't know that he'd the right breed/build. (I know the horses in this setting are roughly Percheron-derived, but I haven't the expertise to recognise one if it came up and ate a stick at me.)
He still knows how to play
Our cheeky boy Levis
Levis as a 4yr old
Baptiste Levis Strauss
On the go

Here's a pic that I particularly like (source unknown; the url on the picture is sadly domainsquatted now, so I can't find out any info about it), although this might be overdoing the feathers. You know, just a tad.

feathery light-coloured horse

Possible reference picture for Moonflower Etheriel Bliss, the poor boy.

And finally, amusement courtesy of Second Life, because whatever daft idea you come up with, someone is bound to have done it before in Poser…

View the original post at Black Dog Blog

baskerville: Black dog head facing left on a background of fiery red (Hellhound red)

Inspired by @spellingwitch2's (understandably) furious tweets about "Bridalplasty", the new TTLY AWESOME show on E!1, I have come up with the next killer format.

@Suitov: @spellingwitch2 I've had an even greater idea!1! It'll be called Last Trans Standing. The winner gets their gender reassignment paid for! #
@spellingwitch2: @suitov OMG. If they hear that they will probably take you up on it. That's more like a medical procedure though. #
@Suitov: @spellingwitch2 Yes it is, but don't worry, the challenges will be so humiliating that only the truly self-hating and shameless will win. #
@Suitov: @spellingwitch2 And to make sure we show no semblance of sensitivity, the presenter shall be a drag queen! I will elevator-pitch this now!1! #

This consititutes my official claim to this idea which is an AWESOME idea and this blog post is PROOF that I thought of it first! It is © FOR EVER and I want 50% royalties when it is made and subsequently inevitably voted the best telly format ever engendered.

1 So ttly awesome, in fact, that E! Online's own link to it doesn't work, or else I would supply it. A related page.

View the original post at Black Dog Blog

baskerville: Black dog head facing left on a background of fiery red (Hellhound red)

So I was idly tweeting with another online writing enthusiast, David Ball of Ongoing Worlds

David: (to someone else about a different writer) I think he's got multiple characters in his head
Herm: Oh boy do I know THAT feeling. :)
David: Do you have multiple personalities? Or do you just mean you write about lots of characters? Or are they both the same thing?1
Herm: My characters are a lively bunch, but when it comes down to it, everyone is certain who's the writer and who the puppets. :)

David: Have you ever known a player who uses his name for the character? I always thought that was weird.
Herm: Not as such. Known people, self included, who use character names as their screen names. Can be warning sign but not always.
Herm: I knew one guy who invented a race of super-elves and used the species name as his handle. He also really thought he was one.
David: Haha let me guess they were better and much more powerful than normal Elves? Was he a god modder?
Herm: He tried so hard not to be a powergamer while his immortal psychic swordsman interacted with everyone else's humanoids… ;)
Herm: He was a good writer and a good friend for a while but he just couldn't play a human. When he did, it BECAME an immortal elf.
David: oh god! He should have read my article about god modding…

David: So what's the different between a god modder and a powergamer? Is it just a different term for the same thing?
Herm: Yes, as I understand them. But I've seen others say "godmodding" to mean "writing another's character w/o permission".
David: Ahhh, good point it does also mean that. Maybe i'll do a follow-up article to distinguish the two

By which time I'd already decided to do a bloggy ramble myself.

First off, and tangentially: maybe it's just because I'm an old-timer, but we always said "godmode"/"godmoding", not "godmod"/"godmodding". I always assumed the etymology2 was "someone whose character is overpowered to a degree inappropriate to the setting – like using a God Mode cheat on a video game"3. Possibly the urge to rhyme won out in popular parlance. God-mod. Mod-nod-plod-oddsbodikins.

I say I say I say, what's personal, enjoyable and best done in private?

Of course you can be a good writer and also have the powergaming flaw, just like you can be a nice person but incredibly obnoxious when you're with more than two or three people. Some of us are naturally more suited to solo writing: after all, the protagonist or antagonist of a novel can be comparatively overpowered without tripping the same Mary Sue alarm in the reader, and without having to worry about discourtesy to the other writers.

So, if writing about immortal planet-building elves is your bag, and more importantly if it's your only bag and not shared by your friends, perhaps it's best bagged in private. That way you can use both hands and it's less messy.

All the same, if someone really wants to play with others, I won't say they shouldn't. (It helps if they're into it with the right reasons or attitude, which I'll cover later.) But that does come with a certain expectation of communication, cooperation and gentlefolkly behaviour towards all writers involved.

Be chivalrous.

Communication is a perennial problem in roleplaying games and I can't offer any advice beyond the obvious: do it. Do lots of it. Chat around the roleplay; chat about things you liked or didn't understand. Make yourself approachable and encourage questions or requests from others. And act on what you hear.

In extreme cases, yes, that may even mean making your precious character behave out-of-character in order not to distress another writer who may have some personal issues of his/her/their own. (If you're a good roleplayer who can think on your feet, even this can be avoided very easily. "Suddenly Cecil dropped his fork and had to stop talking for a moment." Done.)

The writer I mentioned earlier on had a degree of my own social impairment and didn't grok that. It was overridingly important to him to be true to himself, and his characters were too personal to him for an accommodation like that to be thinkable.

I think a lot of roleplaying etiquette problems stem from people taking either their characters or their writing skills over-personally.

One of the two of us is real. On balance, I don't think it's the guy with the wand of fireballs.

I've recently been involved with a fan roleplay for the first time ever. During that I've come across people with different opinions about how a character should behave. The person playing that character reacted in a very upset fashion to criticism along the lines of "I think that was out-of-character for him", describing it as the most hurtful thing it was possible to say to a roleplayer.

I don't agree with that. Between two fans of a series, what is in or out of character in any uncanonical situation is a judgement call, and just because one of the two fans is actually roleplaying the character in question, their opinion doesn't override that of someone else who likes the series. Of course, where one person's opinion does override the other is in the course of that particular roleplay – the character from the series 'belongs' to each of you, but the fan iteration of him is being played by one of you, and that's who has the final say about whether he ends up hanging from a bridge.

If you feel the game is wandering so far off track that it's no longer enjoyable for you, the other choice is to leave as amicably as possible, which the other player ended up doing. Their parting comments, although expressed fairly politely, were what caused that strong reaction from the player who felt accused of OOCness – and that strong reaction caused alarm bells for me.

As well it might. I've been guilty of the same.

Lessons can be learned. Blame can be shouldered. (With a smile!)

I'll take a fairly recent example. The vast majority of what I write and roleplay is original fiction, not fan stuff. When someone described a character of mine as (paraphrased) an arrogant know-it-all, I was very upset. Now, this could be an understandable reaction from a writer who had been trying to play the character as approachable and humble as well as highly intelligent: after all, essentially the comment signified that I'd failed to do this, which was a straightforward failure in my writing skills.

But being honest, I couldn't separate that from feeling hurt more personally. The character in question began as a bit of silly wish-fulfillment – a villainous Gary Stu, if you will. I've developed him over years into something I, while trying not to be presumptive, think is much more of a rounded and realistic fellow than he used to be, complete with healthy differences in outlook from his writer's. But still, unlike other characters of mine where I would take criticism of their personality flaws with humour and often agreement (and even secret glee that I as a writer have expressed those flaws well), with this one character there's still that bit of personal resentment that insists my friend is criticising me.

But it's a childish bit of personal resentment, and it's wrong.

It's not that I think the character's perfect – indeed he's deliberately far from it – but I suppose arrogance is an accusation that hits close to the bone for me personally. My upset was understandable, certainly, but it was wrong. And it needed putting in its place. After a bit of weeping and angsting and canvassing my other friends saying "Do I really write Suitov as arrogant, baw haw?" I got over it. I'm still not sure if I accept the criticism as it was stated, because the collective feeling was far from unanimous, but when I write the character now I bear it in mind. With any luck, Suitov is less likely to be taken as arrogant these days than he was before.

A point to all of this. I know I had one.

Pairs of things.

Authors do take their characters personally, that much is obvious, but it's (a) not a positive trait and (b) not an immutable fact. Nobody is stuck with a thin skin. Part of playing with others means, to put it brutally, jolly well blowing one's nose and growing a pair. Whether breasts, balls or whatever secondary sexual appendages we neuters get to have, when you play with others you will either end up growing a pair of something or you'll always fail to fit in anywhere without upset.

If you don't want criticism, you can always write your novel, send it off and then prepare yourself for the possible shock of your life when you hear back from the slush pile editor. That's cool. Many people work best that way. Writing solo is a different kind of writing, as we've covered above.

But, if you've chosen to roleplay with others for fun, you will need to accept the basic tenet that fun needs to be had by all writers involved.4 They're not there to carry you or stroke your ego. They're not there purely to set up really cool lines for your character to say.5 You're all there with the aim of forming a kind of gestalt lulz machine, cranking out fun and jollies for all in the vicinity.

Happy pretendy funtimes.

To finish with, I could do a lot worse than to link you all to the legendary article entitled Internet Drama and You. Even if you just skimmed my lengthy post here, I urge you to read Wade's in full. It's funnier than this one and it's written by another Deadpool fan. If that hasn't yet convinced you to read it, it also has ILLUSTRATIVE PICTURES. Come on! I mean, pictures!

1 I could deal at a bit of length with the similarities and differences between dissociative identities and being a writer, but that's not the topic of this post. I know some multiples number among my friends, so as a courtesy to me, no flaming David for his well-meaning curiosity. :) (Or, frankly, anyone.)

2 Yes, I do theorise uncontrollably about etymology. For someone lacking a classical Greek and Latin education, I'm weirdly interested in the epidemiology of words. I put this down to two of the racial flaws I took at character creation, "Half English Teacher" and "Half Geek", which infused my genes with two hefty doses of pedantry. Come to think of it, even as a toddler I wouldn't say a new word until I knew how it was spelled.

3 Wikipedia has more about God Mode and debug modes. Even modern video games use this term sometimes. The command console in Oblivion, for example, toggles god mode with "tgm".

4 But not necessarily all characters involved, of course. (Sorry, Weft.)

5 There's an element of that, of course, but Crowning Moments of Awesome, Snarkitude or Being the Universe's Butt Monkey are there to be shared – appropriately, according to character type. Two badass characters in play means two characters who both need to be given scenes that express their badassery.

View the original post at Black Dog Blog

baskerville: Black dog head facing left on a background of fiery red (Hellhound red)

I may or may not be working my way through Wikipedia's list of Black Dogs in popular culture. Regardless, I read this book recently.

The Kettle Chronicles: the Black Dog by I. S. Morgan has a hideous cover, which it proceeds to defy by not only not sucking, but also being quite a charming little book.

This is a historical story (I hesitate to call it a novel, it's so short) set around a spooky event in the Suffolk town of Bungay in 1577, popularised at the time by Abraham Flemyng's pamphlet entitled "A Straunge and Terrible Wunder". (This pamphlet is real. I own a modern copy.)

Flemyng, let's be clear, was a churchman with a Christian axe to grind. Though he was not present in Bungay on the Sunday in question, when loud thunder accompanied the deaths of two of the congregation, nevertheless he wasted no time in reporting the attendance of a diabolical black dog and dressing the whole thing up as an expression of God's wrath. Of course. This sort of thing always happens in out-of-the-way places that Flemyng's London-based target readership have probably never visited.

However, the pamphlet also makes its way back to Bungay itself and is duly read out with great relish by pub landlords all over town, and soon half the congregation is claiming that they did remember seeing a black dog…

The book follows Captain Richard Brightwell as he investigates the affair on the orders of the area's bishop. The book itself was supposedly compiled with the aid of notes made by Captain Brightwell's attendant scribe, John Kettle (the titular Kettle Chroniclist, and another character based on a real historical figure). Also present are a manservant, Humphrey, whom one could reasonably accuse of slyness – all in a good cause, of course – and a gentle seven-foot-tall mute monk named Augustyn, sent along to act as bodyguard and general human shield.

The Kettle Chronicles: The Black Dog is a short book with a lot packed into it. The writing style is eccentric and works rather well, I think, but Your Mileage May Vary. The historical references are both slyly applied and explained by endnotes (the automatic numbering of which seemed to have undergone some form of MS Word fail in my edition).

Of course the central mystery is concerned with the supposed Black Dog, whom the locals know from legend as a "shilly-shally" named Black Shuck, and who is usually more likely to accost people on lonely roads and give them a scare than to burst into churches and wring the necks of two town feoffees.

The storyline takes in both mundane and supernatural events. The tale, including its frequent humour, is focused on the human characters' interactions with the denizens of the town.

There is a romantic subplot. This manages to be portrayed slyly and not boring, and does not dominate proceedings. It's not really necessary either, other than a bit of human interest.

A short, obscure book, but one that definitely belongs in my tiny collection of Black Dog and ghost dog literature.

View the original post at Black Dog Blog


baskerville: Black dog head facing left on a background of fiery red (Default)

January 2015

1819202122 2324


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags