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Kit La Touche
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Kit La Touche

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Let's bring this little series to a close.

W. B. Yeats

'Your eyes that once were never weary of mine
Are bowed in sorrow under pendulous lids,
Because our love is waning.'
And then She:
                             'Although our love is waning, let us stand
By the lone border of the lake once more,
Together in that hour of gentleness
When the poor tired child, passion, falls asleep.
How far away the stars seem, and how far
Is our first kiss, and ah, how old my heart!'
Pensive they paced along the faded leaves,
While slowly he whose hand held hers replied:
'Passion has often worn our wandering hearts.'
The woods were round them, and the yellow leaves
Fell like faint meteors in the gloom, and once
A rabbit old and lame limped down the path;
Autumn was over him: and now they stood
On the lone border of the lake once more:
Turning, he saw that she had thrust dead leaves
Gathered in silence, dewy as her eyes,
In bosom and hair.
                                    'Ah, do not mourn,' he said,
'That we are tired, for other loves await us;
Hate on and love through unrepining hours.
Before us lies eternity; our souls
Are love, and a continual farewell.' 


This is my favorite poem. The last two lines, especially.
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Kit La Touche

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I've been looking forward to this one. One of my favorites.

No Second Troy
W. B. Yeats

Why should I blame her that she filled my days
With misery, or that she would of late
Have taught to ignorant men most violent ways,
Or hurled the little streets upon the great,
Had they but courage equal to desire?
What could have made her peaceful with a mind
That nobleness made simple as a fire,
With beauty like a tightened bow, a kind
That is not natural in an age like this,
Being high and solitary and most stern?
Why, what could she have done, being what she is?
Was there another Troy for her to burn?


We're starting to see the iconic phrases that Yeats is so good at. "Beauty tightened like a bow", "hurled the little streets upon the great", "that nobleness made simple as a fire". There's a density and spare quality to this poem that I like.

But we can't talk about this without talking about Maude Gonne. I've avoided contextualizing these poems, but for this one, I have no other option. Maude Gonne was an Irish nationalist (though born in England), mystic, and suffragist, who Yeats was completely head-over-heels about for a long time. This poem was probably written about her.

It's only by knowing a bit about her that we can properly understand such great lines like "hurled the little streets upon the great" as, essentially, anti-colonialist and nationalist. Published in 1916, this poem was written when the little streets were finding that their courage equalled their desire, too.

And this is where some of the obvious signifiers of fascism become problematic. The golden-age thinking ("not natural in an age like this") here, the nationalism, are not quite about the kind of ascendancy that fascism typically comes with—they're merely about Romanticism and freedom from colonial oppressors (and I use that term carefully, with my family tree entwined heavily on both sides of that oppression).

But here's the question I have about this poem, that I've never been able to answer: is there any meaning in the fact that Yeats puts Gonne, an agitator and would-be leader of an uprising, in the role of an abducted woman, a woman over whom a war was fought? It almost feels to me like this is less about Gonne, and more about the character of Hibernia. An abducted, captive Hibernia, over whom men would go to war.

The love of one's country is a terrible thing, as the song goes.
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I've been pondering how to make a campaign-mode of Sentinels of the Multiverse. The key dilemma is that the base game is very well-tuned, and the obvious ways to make the campaign and the inter-battle downtimes matter would risk damaging that fine-tuning.

So, here's what +James Mendez Hodes and I have hashed out.

You start by making a decision tree of sorts. You don't have to go too deep, just about as far as your characters can foresee. The guiding principle of this is to describe the villains' plans and contingencies. Think like you're planning some kind of comics arc, but with a range of outcomes. "These villains exist in these relationships to each other, some working together, some waiting for weaknesses in the others. If the heroes stop this person here, this one will counter-attack here," etc. etc.

So you make, basically, a map of villain-and-location contingencies, but because victory is so likely, you have to key them off of more than just "was this battle won or lost"—you have to include a whole bunch of particular achievement-style triggers. "If the villain is killed by the Explosives Wagon blowing up" kind of things.

Now, who stops the villains?

Well, heroes of course, but I really liked Mendez's idea for how to decide which ones: you divide the heroes into an initial set and a set of unlockables, and then draft the initial set. Each player has their stable, their team, and contributes one to each battle. By doing certain things in games, you can unlock some of the other heroes for your stable—but you must remember that you can't ever field more than one hero at a time from your stable, so be careful.

I think that the best way to deal with hero variants is that certain triggers will change which one you have for a deck, and you can't freely choose—you have to switch them around via game activities.

Incapacitation of heroes probably knocks them out of the next battle, but that's it.

Thoughts? I feel like coming up with the unlock triggers is what's hard, and is best done with a decent amount of Sentinels lore knowledge, which I feel I lack.
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Yeah, I'd be happy to, but we have three higher priority projects first.
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Kit La Touche

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Let's talk poetry.

I'm a huge fan of the poems of William Butler Yeats. I'm gonna talk a bit about some of them over the next few days. Let's start with Sailing to Byzantium, for no reason other than that I have it to hand.

Sailing to Byzantium
W. B. Yeats

That is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
—Those dying generations—at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.


Yeats has a talent for quotable lines (just wait until we get to The Second Coming). This one opens with a line that Cormac McCarthy made famous, but is otherwise sparse on them. Instead, we see imagery that, to me, mirrors the feel of the structure of the poem. The whole poem revolves around this line: "perne in a gyre", that is, spin in whirl. As you read the poem (especially aloud, to get every bit of metrical meat off the bones), you feel images and phrases coming at you again and again, cyclically but not regularly, always slightly warped and seen from a different angle.

And it fades, and gets quieter. And a theme is ageing and dying.

This is the core of what really gets me about Yeats. He always positions the reader in time, and specifically in the time between birth and death. You have this small space to live and love and hate and struggle and sing and explore, and you will, no, you must use it.

I could conjecture about how this and other Romantic tendencies in his poems fit into his supposedly Fascist political views, a longing for a golden age, etc, but I don't think that's a fruitful line of argumentation. I think all I can take away from this tendency in his poems is that he had a grasp of the beauty and fragility of life, and that we as readers should try our best to remember that, since any meeting might be our last, we must live full of love and compassion and appreciation for the moment.
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Oh, of course. It's totally a criticism of the kind of thing I'm doing here, of course, and I get to blather about Joyce, too, if I talk about it.
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I posted a thing or whatever.
What follows is rambly. You've been warned. I've been thinking about another result of the most recent playtest. It was implicit, between the lines of what J
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Kit La Touche

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Watching Robert Altman talk about directing Gosford Park. He didn't make the script his job—the actors know the script, the script supervisor knows the script. His job was to help the actors make the best performances they can. He watched a scene, and had no idea what the script was—if the take was good, he'd check with the script supervisor to make sure that they had at least hit the necessary plot points.

This is absolutely inspiring to me.
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Man now I need to go watch that movie again. So good!
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Kit La Touche

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Images, images, nothing but images.

The Second Coming
W. B. Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre   
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere   
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst   
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.   
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out   
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert   
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,   
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,   
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it   
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.   
The darkness drops again; but now I know   
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,   
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,   
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?


Almost every line in this poem has been used and re-used and quoted out of context and turned into a thing in its own right. Kinda amazing.

I don't know much about the context in which this was written, but it's easy to read some Great War/Oh God Not the 20th Century imagery into it. Of course, it's always easy to do that in hindsight. Modernity is scary, and triply so for a Romantic, eh?

There's a powerful quality to the repetition-with-modification going on here, especially in the second stanza. It pulls you forward inexorably with the tide of history in the poem. And the imagery of the second coming! More horrifically apocalyptic than any other I've encountered. This is an end-times that you want desperately to avoid. And yet it's one that we seem to have made—the mere anarchy and the blood-dimmed tides precede the image out of Spiritus Mundi.

And, I think, the imagery is deceptively simple here. The only fantastical element, really, is the lion body with the head of a man, and even that is far from a Giger-esque nightmare. Its horror derives not from the image, but from the restraint. It moves slow thighs, it slouches. It doesn't care how long it takes, it will not be stopped.
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Kit La Touche

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This one's a bit late, but let's do it anyway. This goes out to +James Mendez Hodes​.

The Scholars
W. B. Yeats

The bald heads forgetful of their sins,
Old, learned, respectable bald heads
Edit and annotate the lines
That young men, tossing on their beds,
Rhymed out in love’s despair
To flatter beauty’s ignorant ear.

They’ll cough in the ink to the world’s end;
Wear out the carpet with their shoes
Earning respect; have no strange friend;
If they have sinned nobody knows.
Lord, what would they say
Should their Catullus walk that way?


And here, we see old age as ridiculous. Well, maybe not quite. We see self-importance, calcification, restrictive dignity, all as ridiculous. We see a call to actually do things, not just talk about and criticize and study them.

But, youth and vigor and action are a little ridiculous, too. Young men tossing on their beds, beauty's ignorant ear, neither are held up as paragons.

Perhaps the real object of ridicule here is hypocrisy. If it has nothing else, youth in this poem has honesty.

Somehow, this poem always reminds me of the line from Joyce:  "Latin me that, my trinity scholard, out of eure sanscreed into oure eryan."* There's this thread of fond mockery for that kind of self-important scholarship, I guess, running around some corners of Irish literature.

* The puns in this sentence are so densely packed. I love it.
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Kit La Touche

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Another poem.

When You Are Old
W. B. Yeats

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.


I mean, wow. I don't even know. This treads a line for me between Romantic self-indulgence (which, seriously, I have a deep love of, but I recognize as kind of an acquired taste), and frighteningly clear-eyed acceptance of the reality of sorrow and loss in life.

The last two lines of the second stanza just get me every time, even though they include some self-importance.

With this one and the last one, I want to set up the next one (The Scholars, a special request from +James Mendez Hodes, but also a crucial piece of this amateur musing on Yeats). The last one recognizes the inevitability of age, but that age is offered no place in Yeats' heaven-on-earth. This one accepts age more, but also acknowledges the diminishing of possibilities. The next one, well, we'll see.
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Kit La Touche

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Thinking about Project: Dark and Wolf Hall. If you want to understand the kind of darkness referred to in Project: Dark ,watch Wolf Hall. Bonus: the fashion and material culture are substantially the same in both.
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I've got it. It's just clicked for me. Every character I've played or been in a game with in the last forever who I have cared about has not been a character in isolation. They have been part of a dyad, half of a relationship. Sometimes multiple relationships. But whatever, the point is, play to find out, but start with some meaningful relationships, so you care about what you're finding out.
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I want to take the "don't make your characters in isolation" rules that exist in various games and amp them up to 11. Make your relationships, then make your characters.
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I've been working on a little project. If you like "rich" (or at least non-REPL) interfaces at the terminal, but don't like curses or ncurses because they're mazes of twisty little functions, all subtly different, then this is for you. It's a curses wrapper, intended to be more humane.

It's totally alpha still, but the core of the API is present, as shown in this example. I think it's Surprisingly Usable.

I've got a backlog of issues, mostly around improving the flexibility of the layout options, here Pull requests are, of course, welcome.
usr/bin/env python # The basic imports: from hexes import ( Application, Box, Style, ) from hexes.behaviors import quit # We're going to use this in the logic below; not part of Hexes. import subprocess # Layout # # You can nest boxes indefinitely, though some layouts may fail on some screen ...
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Programming speak is like going through the looking glass. Words that look familiar have no meaning to me. Like the opposite of Jabberwocky.
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And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by…
I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.
Sea Fever, John Masefield

My games thus far:
Bragging rights
People who I didn't know before have become friends because of games I've made.
Basic Information
This is definitely my favorite restaurant in Boulder, and one of my favorite places in the world. The food is great, of course—I try to change up what I have, but whatever you choose will be good—but what really wins me over is the atmosphere. The owners are lovely folks who do a great job of making the place welcoming. As soon as I come in, I feel tension and worries melt away. Don't be put off by the proximity to the DMV; just go inside and let it feel as cozy and nice as it does!
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