Open Thread: September 7, 2012

Completely open.


Button said...

I'm at work, in need of occasional distraction between spurts of documentation, and fulminating a new idea.

What out-of-copyright books would y'all like to see turned into Choose Your Own Adventure stories?

EdinburghEye said...

I am getting very very depressed over the way the LEGO group, which makes what were among my favourite playthings between 5 and 12, has for thirty years been moving the company's marketing and manufacturing away from selling using the fact that both girls and boys like to build things with Lego.

Apparently they've done the research and discovered "the ratio of boys to girls interested in construction is maybe 8:5" ...but their management knows that girls like to play with dolls, not build things, so they're creating abominations of simplified Lego kits for girls, with fewer pieces, with less scope for creativity and imagination. This makes me furious, in a very frustrated/amused kind of way: it's so amazingly short-sighted to try to avoid selling Lego to the girls who want to build with it.

(From about five to about twelve, I loved building stuff with Lego. I looked at their simplified kits "for girls" and I swear, I could weep. Where's the fun in that?)

So instead of raging and weeping I wrote a blog post: Lego: Sexism Trumps Capitalism which is also promoting a Facebook campaign page, Lego4All.

But why we should have to campaign to try to get LEGO group to improve its profits by widening its customer base...

There's also a tumblr: Legowomen begun in response to the German Lego branch explicitly marketing some very complex kits as "Lego FOR MEN". Bah.

In possibly slightly more earth-shaking areas, I also wrote a lengthy post about the Maldives and the coup d'etat that took place 7 months ago, which was approved by the Obama administration as "constitutional".

Silver Adept said...

I'm surprised. LEGO has been one of the few toy companies that didn't give in to gendered marketing. Maybe the presence of the Ninjago and other character-driven lines is causing the shift?

Unrelated, I think I just experienced what it's like to be on the receiving end of the Tone Argument during my annual review yesterday. I didn't get full marks for having a positive attitude because I talked about feeling hamstring by the administration due to past inaction they've taken when they solicit feedback and ideas from the front-line workers. The manager took issue with the phrasing, considering it too negative and focused on the past, and that I should rephrase to be more positive and future-oriented. They also said that there's been plenty of good feedback in the current cycle, too. I later realized that what they said was correct in general, but wrong about the particular example I was talking about. It took me some extra thinking before I figured out the underlying reason why I didn't like the way that went - too much focus on the tone for being insufficiently positive about any "improvement" that has happened in the interim, not enough addressing/dismissing of the actual content of the complaint. We're not quite at the level of "smile, citizen" required for a game of Paranoia, but it very much left like that was a possible message being conveyed.

So, yes, I now have firsthand experience to complement my intellectual distaste for the use of that particular derail.

More happily, the rest of the review was exactly what I expected - the manager and I were in accord about what was good and what needed some assistance.

Trynn said...

I just wrote out a huge rant about how textbooks are a complete and utter ripoff. It's a good thing none of my teachers have asked why I don't have them yet. I don't want to say "because I can't afford them" in front of the entire class.

Because of Anna's recent read through of Little House, I'm reading through Little House in the Big Woods today. And I just finished reading Pollyanna Grows Up. It was ok, except that I solved the "mystery" as soon as the mystery was mentioned, and then had to plow through pages and pages of the romance part of the story and wait ten years for the characters to solve it. Sigh. I hate it when I figure out the ending in the first two chapters. That's no fun.

What's everyone else been reading?

FrenchRoast said...

Pink LEGO sets drive my husband bonkers. Every time we're in a store and we see them, he gets very "but why on earth do they need separate 'girl' sets? Anyone can play with LEGOS!" I never had LEGOS as a kid (neither did my brother, so I think it was a "my parents weren't aware of them" thing rather than a gender thing), so they don't have quite the same hold over me.

I despise the Tone Argument, mainly because it was what my mom used to stonewall almost every single disagreement I ever had with her until I got married, which somehow has freed me to be able to have an opinion of my own without getting jumped on for using a mythical TONE she disapproves of. I'm not sure I want to open that can of worms.

Dracula could be a fun Choose Your Own Adventure.

Susan Beckhardt said...

I'd like to see some of P. G. Wodehouse's books turned into a Choose Your Own Adventure, possibly drawing from several of the books and stories. The potential for farce and increasing levels of complexity and ridiculousness would be a lot of fun in a CYOA. The point-of-view character could be Psmith, on a visit to Blandings Castle (as in Leave it to Psmith. (I don't know for sure whether it's still in copyright.

Silver Adept said...

@Susan Beckhardt - Is this the same PSmith that appears in Phil Foglio's Buck Godot: Zap Gun For Hire? (A hive mind spread across various bodies that all look alike).

It might be interesting to turn something like The Tale Of Genji into a choose your own adventure...although it would probably end up more like a visual novel rather than an adventure story. Not impossible, just different.

EdinburghEye said...

Silver Adept: LEGO has been one of the few toy companies that didn't give in to gendered marketing.

Once upon a time that was true. Then in the 1980s, they decided Lego was a boy's toy. Because girls will still buy Lego (or their parents will) even though the manufacturer thinks it's for boys, no one noticed until Lego decided they needed to expand into the "girl's market" and started doing simplified pink kits for girls.

They've also started a new Lego magazine "LEGO for girls!" (This may apply to the British market only.) One of the features of the Lego magazine was a photo of proud child with Lego construction: the "regular" Lego magazine will from now on have only photos of boys.

French Roast Pink LEGO sets drive my husband bonkers. Every time we're in a store and we see them, he gets very "but why on earth do they need separate 'girl' sets? Anyone can play with LEGOS!" <./I>


The colours wouldn't bother me so much - new colours are always neat to add to the Lego bricks - it was when I realised that LEGO was simplifying the kits they were promoting "for girls" that I really got frustrated.

EdinburghEye said...

I like that idea. But PG Wodehouse died in 1975, so even under the pre-Disney-grab copyright law of 50 years after author's death, his books wouldn't be public-domain til 2025.

Will Wildman said...

fulminating a new idea.

This is not a use of 'fulminate' I have seen before, and I am intrigued. Struck by explosive inspiration? (But that would be 'fulminated by an idea', so not that.)

It's not a book, but I suspect Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Hamlet would be amazing, and only slightly edged out by CYOA MacBeth.

I'm not sure that CYOA Don Quixote would be meaningfully different from the original text.

Ooh, I know: CYOA The King In Yellow. Every time you made a choice, there would be two context-appropriate options, plus "Read that intriguing play on the shelf". At some point, you would get stuck in an infinite loop no matter what choice you made, except "Read that intriguing play on the shelf", at which point everything would come crashing down.

muscipula said...

I would love to play Choose Your Own Adventures of Baron Munchhausen.

Button said...

Looking it up, I see that I used it incorrectly. I knew that 'fulminate' had to do with thunderstorms, but for some reason I had thought it was used when a storm was brewing, not when it was actively striking. My bad!

I love everyone's ideas btw, especially The King In Yellow. I had thought that Lovecraft would be particularly good for CYOA, but I hadn't lighted on a particular story.

Susan Beckhardt said...

@Silver Adept - I doubt the PSmith there is meant to be the same person (although I haven't read the comic), but knowing Phil Foglio's sense of humor (as a longtime fan of Girl Genius) I wouldn't be surprised if he named the character after the original Psmith. Psmith in the Wodehouse books is a charming dandy, always able to persuade people (usually his friends) into odd situations, and good at talking his way out of trouble.

@EdinburghEye - Darn, I was afraid Wodehouse would still be in copyright.

Ana Mardoll said...

Dracula as CYOA would be fun. Is Kipling PD? A CYOA based on Jungle Book + Just So Stories could be cute.

I had an idea once that I would make CYOAs out of each of Lang's Color Fairy Books, but that didn't go anywhere.

Will Wildman said...

No worries; I actually really like the sound of an idea fulminating - it just means something different than intended.

Chambers' The King In Yellow might be a little easier to work with as CYOA than Lovecraft proper - it inspired him in a good way, and it has a couple of deeply creepy stories, but on the whole it's less horrifying than Lovecraft's work (and refreshingly free of racism that I recall, though I may just have winced and moved on) and might have more potential to surprise - not everything is always awful for everyone forever in Chambers' world(s?). I kind of wish Chambers were better-appreciated, but that's probably just me being a hipster who thinks Lovecraft is too mainstream. (Well, not according to Scalzi's definition, since I recommend King In Yellow to folks all the time.)

Silver Adept said...

@Susan Beckhardt - that sounds at least a little like the PSmith that I saw, but I remember other things more prominently, so I can't say its a match. Too bad.

theKatriarch said...

Hey an open thread seems like a good opportunity to let you all know that my wedding (which as some of you may remember, I was kind of dreading) turned out great in the end. I did have a huge emotional meltdown the night before thanks to lack of sleep, hormonal issues, and the general stress I'd been under for weeks... And the final straw was my Fox News loving uncle provoking an argument with one of our political science grad student friends during the rehearsal lunch (I wish I'd realized when I picked the date that convention season in a presidential election year was a bad time to get large mixed groups together). Panic attack, total meltdown, it was pretty bad. One of the worst nights of my whole life. So I had very low expectations for the wedding itself... and it exceeded them! My husband and I both had a great time and the best part is, we never have to do it again! Yay!

EdinburghEye said...

Kipling died January 1936. Under the old copyright law, his books became public domain in 1986.

In 1993 the EU extended this posthumous copyright to 70 years (and in the US, Disney had the copyright law changed to 70 years or longer in 1998) and so then his books went out of the public domain until 2006.

I think Kipling's back in the public domain now.

Redwood Rhiadra said...

Project Gutenberg has released The Jungle Book and indicates the copyright status is "public domain in the USA":

Presumably that would therefore apply to the rest of Kipling's works as well...

I trust Gutenberg's research on copyright issues - they're pretty careful about it.

ZMiles said...

Open thread, wooo!

I submitted two short stories to fantasy magazines, a 10k one about dragons in Russia during the Crimean War and an 8k one about orcs at a school for fantastic creatures. I don't find out for a few months, which is also when I find out about the first story I submitted a while ago. Here's hoping!

A conference paper our lab submitted to a conference in Japan was also accepted. We have a month to make the requested revisions, and then in late November we (hopefully) get to present it over there.

I've been reading "Goblin Hero" by Jim C. Hines. I think I liked "Goblin Quest" a lttle more, but GH is still a great book. The series (which also includes the third book 'Goblin War') is a perspective flip on the dungeon crawl; instead of adventurers going into a dungeon, slaying goblins and orcs and stealing treasure, we read about a goblin who runs into a group of mean adventurers that want to, well, go around killing everything and looting treasure. He gets dragged along, since he theoretically knows the tunnels and can help the adventurers find the treasure vaults. Throw in a dragon, a necromancer, and a long-forgotten god, add the narrator goblin's cynically comical personality, and it's a wonderful read. In my opinion, at least.

Asha said...

Hans Christian Anderson is public domain, no? I, for one, would love someone to make an CYOA of The Little Mermaid. Just to see what could happen.

Aidan Bird said...

I used to play with Legos all the time as a kid, though I lost interest around twelve. It was Feminist Frequency that brought Legoes to my attention again - I didn't realize that they had started those awful, disgustingly sexist "for girls" sets. She did a good job of deconstructing just how sexist such sets are and has a separate video for the girls sets and one for the boys. I highly recommend.

My contribution to the open thread? Well, since I'm searching for jobs with no luck, I've done a lot of writing short stories and more of my novels.

I also came up with a project, where I decided to take the planet of my science fiction story - the home planet in particular - and create a model of it out of a styrofoam ball, paper mache, and paint. So far, I have the ball paper mached, and have just starting sketching the continents and features into place. (To aid that step, I've carefully drawn some tectonic plate maps, to map out hot spots, plate movements, and so forth to determine where mountain chains, island chains, and so forth exist.) Now I need to transfer this to the ball. Once I'm done sketching that, I'll start carefully painting the landmasses, oceans, and so forth - trying to go for how the planet may look from space. So far, it's looking pretty cool, though I'm not quite ready to paint yet.

Jenna Moran said...

I've recently started up, which I'm hoping will be pretty cool.

Isator Levi said...

"Completely" open, eh?

Talk about -anything-, is it?

Jenna Moran being around, hmmm?

Okay, going out on a limb here...

What opinion, if any, do you have on Exalted receiving a Third Edition?

(Curse my lack of restraint)

Jenna Moran said...

Haha. ^_^


It seems to be a seriously good crew doing it.

I'm a little sad that I can't participate in it, but it's really not feasible under my current circumstances---it's way too easy to disrupt my productivity right now for me to rely on it or have others rely on it, and my living expenses are being paid by a different gaming company, so that'd be awkward. ^_^ Maybe someday both of those things will change and I'll get involved with Exalted again.

I'm happy? I guess? They seem like the kind of people who'll do good things with the good parts of my own work there. ^_^

Best wishes,


Isator Levi said...


Hmm, I know there was something relevent that I wanted to bring up the next time there was an open thread, but for the life of me I can't remember what it was.

This is what I get for failing to live up to my commitment to write down all of my thoughts.

Dav said...

I think there could be a kickass Homeric Ulysses/Odysseus CYOA epic.

In other news, I just took my first test of grad school. With essay questions like "explain the regulation, function, and implications of mutations of this particular gene in the following inch of white space". Okay, then!

Apart from reading stacks of papers, I've been playing Sleeping Dogs, which I enjoyed very, very much. It's basically an undercover cop in a gang open-world-ish story. The story itself is very linear, but the voice acting tends to be very very good, especially the lead, Will Yun Lee. They mostly cast Chinese American and Chinese British actors for the Hong Kong parts, and there is much fun to be had if you like that sort of thing.

EdinburghEye said...

Hans Christian Anderson is public domain, no?

Yes, if you read Danish. But note that the copyright of a translation belongs to the translator.

Isator Levi said...

Oh, here's a thought:

Does anybody else think that increased acceptance and encouragement of attitudes possibly containing personal solipsism may be detrimental to identify and curtail remaining problematic cultural trends, especially as relating to race or gender privilige?

Brin Bellway said...

I'm not sure what you mean by "attitudes possibly containing personal solipsism".

Isator Levi said...

I mean a trend, as I see it, to place greater concern on personal experiences to the detriment of recognising or being concerned with wider cultural trends.

By way of example, I would think of people who would, say, dismiss the notion that they have priviliges based on race, by the logic that they themselves have many troubles that certain people of colour known to them do not.

Which isn't to denigrate the realities of Caucasian people struggling with poverty and similar issues, but it's just a thing I have noticed, and I'm wondering if anybody else would have seen it like that.

Ana Mardoll said...

That's always been a problem, I think, but it's one of those things that can be used for good or ill.

For example, as illustrated today, it would be wrong to say, "all women fear strangers on the bus". I have seen that said before, and it is incorrect and invisibling. Some do not, and those women and their experiences should not be invisibled. But the fact that some do not fear strangers does not negate the fact that we live in a world where 1 in 4 women are raped, and 1 in 4 of those rapes are perpetuated by strangers. So there's a complex culture within which all these experiences are taking place.

The answer, I think, is to remember that your personal experiences do not apply to everyone. And that one experience can only say so much about the larger culture.

Isator Levi said...

Yes, I should probably not let myself fall into the trap of dismissing individual perspectives outright.

Loquat said...

I'm wondering where I'm going to put the enormous horned bipedal hyena-beast that showed up on my doorstep last week. He takes up a lot of space, especially when he's got his flaming sword out.

10 points to Gryffindor if anyone knows what the hell I'm talking about.

Isator Levi said...


I'm a member of this online community.

And I have often noticed a curious trend for subjects that I devote a lot of thought to to come up there very quickly.

For instance, I'll spend a whole day thinking about, say, the definitions of certain terms that the game the forum is about uses.

And then, within hours, a thread related to the subject will come up. And everything I thought of just comes pouring out.

It's a curious trend, and one that I've often facetiously attributed to personal powers, such as precognition or some kind of summoning.

So I've been catching up on this blog lately. Tried to be more involved in the community of it. Had quite a lot to think about.

And what should appear on the forum, completely out of the blue, but a thread in which subjects relevent to this blog are prominently discussed.

That's... a little unsettling.

chris the cynic said...

A CYOA of the story of Oedipus might be interesting, if incredibly depressing, because everything you did (even, say, attempted suicide) would somehow wrap around to you killing your father and marrying your mother.

Blow off the prophecy and go back home and then war will errupt between your city and this other city by some guy who looks kind of like an older version of you, somehow you'll defeat him in single combat and end up taking his wife as your own.

Attempt suicide and now an amenesiac you begin your wanderings, unaware that you are under the threat of prophecy.

Give the sphinx the wrong answer and as it attempts to kill you somehow, if you've thus far avoided killing him, this will result in the death of your father (he tries to push you out of the way just as you reflexively draw your sword when the Sphinx charges.)

So on, so forth. You'd get a sense of the power of Fate.

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