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Alex Mayo
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Another year I won't be at Gen Con. And yet, aside from missing out on seeing all my friends and colleagues I don't feel like I'm missing out. I honestly don't think I'm really up to it.

That said, I hope you all have a wonderful time. I wish it wasn't the only place I see most of you.

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Steph and I did this double-feature last night. It was a little bit of catharsis all around, I think.
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PREPARE TO MEET YOUR GOD.

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Small sample of a piece I'm working on today.
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After this week's score I'm now a mere 12 books from having a complete set of LBB's!
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Ha ha ha - so, that mysterious letter I mentioned? It's some dude in Canada writing to whoever I presume previously owned this Striker box set. About drugs.

I won't give names, because Snitches Get Stitches, Bitches - but here's a transcription of the letter. Also - the number clarifications in parenthesis are the writer's, not mine.

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September 27th, 1981

Dear (xxx),

How the hell have you been? I've been doing O.K. I guess, except I haven't been altered enough because of my financial status, if you know what I mean!

Well if you haven't heard from (xxx) I should tell you there's drugs up the ying-yang here: LSD seems quite plentiful, and I don't think it's PCB either, the hits go for $5.00 (five) a hit. Hash oil; well if you didn't know hash oil normally goes for 30 to 40 dollars a gram, but I can get a five (5) gram vial for $100.00 American ($120.00 canuck). That's already calculating exchange. That works out to around 24 (twenty-four) dollars a gram, not bad at all, right? I can also get some hash, which is also fairly plentiful. The first night i went to the drive-in with (xxx) and a few other guys, (It's gettin' kind of hard to write down here so turn over the page.)

I bought a gram of hash for $10.00 (ten) ant it was soft and gooey, needless to say I got 12 (twelve) good fuck-ups out of it. (It was Blonde Lebanese.)(TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE: The 'good fuck ups' part of the letter here is underlined. They must have been really good fuck ups...) But take into consideration I didn't smoke anything in that two (2) weeks. I also have a possibility to get some opium and heroin. So if you want to send out some cash at least a hundred (100) bucks and I'll try and get you some good shit. Send it out in 20's and 50's, or something, so the envelope's not about to bust open. Someone might get suspicious. And wrap a letter around the money so it won't be seen so the mail crew's don't see it and steal it.

Well as it turns out I won't have to do another year after all (probably) so when we come out west on vacation next summer I'm going to stay out there. Well I'll be going now, when you write back I'll write more.

(xxxx) D.A.
Drug Addict

P.S. The faster you send the cash, the faster you get the stash.

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Holy shit - I hit the jackpot at Half Price Books today. I've been trying to land a copy of the Traveller Striker box for several years, as it's a great companion piece to Book 4: Mercenary. Today I spied a copy in the display case for $20 - which is a great deal. Normally it runs $50 or more on eBay. So I asked the staff to let me have a look...and as soon as I picked up the box I realized there were a lot more than three books inside. Sure enough - it was packed with LBB's. 11, in fact - plus the complete contents of the Striker box (and a mysterious envelope I haven't opened yet...)

Hell of a haul for $20.
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8/10/17
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I'm co-opting a post I made on Facebook for the monthly #nerdy9th thing (which I almost never do because I always forget about it). Anyway - Imma geek out about Andrei Tarkovsky's two forays into science fiction, Stalker and Solaris.

I've been begging Criterion for years to acquire and release Stalker and two days before my birthday in July I finally got my wish. While most people remember Stalker as an adaptation of the Strugatsky Brothers' novel Roadside Picnic it is in fact a very loose adaptation. Nevertheless it takes the basic concept of the novel and turns it into a weighty, almost religious allegory for the struggle of the artist to convey what is in their heart and soul to an often uncaring world. The science fiction aspects of the story are pared down to a nearly non-existent level - the Stalker refers to repercussions should his patrons not follow his instructions to the letter but we never really see any of it come to pass. The end, which promises mysticism and apocalypse, stops just short of resolving the quest leaving the viewer to puzzle out what exactly the journey was all for in the first place. Of course, the point is that the journey is the transformative experience...not the magic room at the end. Tarkovsky achieves something far more significant than if he'd simply show the audience a bunch of special effects and given them a neatly tied bow at the end. It's paced in a slow, stately manner that forces the viewer to either get with the fucking zen or bail. I appreciate Tarkovsky's uncompromising vision, even though I suspect more people have talked about the film than have actually sat through the whole thing.

The same could be said for Solaris , which I re-acquired today thanks to Barnes and Noble's extended 50% off sale. Like Stalker, Solaris takes its goddamn time. It is 166 minutes of people wandering empty corridors and trying to puzzle out the meaning of dreams and death. The sentient planet Solaris is a background presence, making itself known through phantoms conjured from the subconscious minds of its human companions. Are the scientists studying Solaris - or is it studying them? For what reason does the planet choose to interact with them in this manner? None of these questions are answered, and yet Tarkovsky's film sets out to explore an even deeper question - the meaning of life. Like Stalker, Solaris is a film that demands that the audience calm their desire for constant entertainment - to allow themselves to be lulled into a more contemplative space where the film can work its' magic. It demands patience and consideration, and in an era where many science-fiction fans are satisfied with easily-achieved eye-candy and straightforward plots, Tarkovsky's work is something of an anathema to today's sensibilities. These films are also science fiction of a particular kind, concerned less with the realistic depiction of conceptual futures and the fetishization of technology and special effects and more with the implications of contact with the universe on a grand scale. These are films about the human soul, with science fiction providing the set-dressing. This is not entertainment for the pocket-protector set - it is high art, brought to life through great sacrifice and meant to address the viewer's yearning for spiritual knowledge. They are, in a sense, religious experiences.
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I seem to have two modes when I'm working on creative stuff: Pure Bliss and Oh My Fucking God This is a Week Late and My Soul Is Dying Please Kill Me Now.
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