Friday, June 21, 2013

This Is What Having An RPG Blog Is Like

So you eat cheese, you're eating cheese, your friends eat cheese you spresd it on crackers and it's tasty and there's cheese and then you go on the internet and write "Oh the cheese, I'm eating it, I like cheese, this is good, let's try it on fries."

And people are like "Yeah, totally, cheese, it's a dairy product, it's tasty, sometimes yellow. Have a comment."

Then all the way from the other end of the internet someone's reading about your cheese and they go "You're eating cheese upside down with pie on your breath and it makes the geese fat and the waterpants frigid and participates in the culture of spooning your dad with a miserly fister and you've got to stop this we've got to stop this, why hasn't this already been stopped!!?!!'

And you go over there.

You go: "What now? What do you do with cheese?"

And so you go and you listen and they're talking about taking cheeses and they're saying they're putting them in magic pans with wires that touch and boiling it over eels and rubbing on one another and smothering the cheeses in airframe luggage and you go "Well I didn't even know that happened." That's not a judgment. It's just news to you. And therefore interesting.

And they go "You knew it! Liar! You're marginalizing our airframe luggage smearing cheese incidents entirely!"

And so you go and say "Well why don't you send me these cheeses you've got maybe? Maybe this bears investigation."

And you have it in the mail and you open it up and look at it and it looks like a cheese. Maybe on one side bluer than expected but cheese nonetheless and you put it on something and eat it and go "Well ok,  a little crumbly in bits but its all cheese, I get it."

And then they go "Well don't you see how the cheese it prevents grease fires and balloon stomachs and the medical dog wire?" and you go "What?"

And then you say "Well there appears to be a gap."

Like a gap of not the cheese and the other cheese but with what I and everyone I've ever met or had a conversation about does when I get ahold of cheese and what you do because literally not a single one of your cheese stories sounds like what happens when a person in my experience, in full good faith, slices a bit of coagulated casein with added rennet and slides it gulletwise.

And so rather than hiding in a trench and going "Why did I ever look all the way across the internet at your commentary on how I ate cheese?" you want to be nice and humane and learn to know that which is unknown and express this cultural problem of communicating things about cheeses and go "We aren't understanding each other because there is a gap. And since I actually got your cheese in the mail and ate it and it was just cheese by my definition the gap isn't in the cheese but in how we use it and I don't know where this gap is or where it came from but  let's talk about how this gap is there and do things to close it. Let's eat cheese together."

And they go "You're lying about cheese! There's no gap! We're slapping phosphorus with cheeses and hanging them from the doorplaster and so you should stop trying to sow dissent and marginalize our already so embattled cheese behavior!"

So you can try to point to that gap and know where to build that bridge and get shit for it the whole time or you can live on one side of the bridge forever. I choose the harder option because it's just the internet and nothing that happens here matters anyway.



sirkerry said...


Jessica Grant said...

a poetry of flames, and miscommunication come ignorance. loved reading this.

DaveL said...

O Zak, that thou wouldst commune with these misanthropes across the interwebs, shows thy stoutness of character (which I do sadly lack) with thou being younger and more energetic than my olde and curmudgeonly self. But as thou sayest, it is only the interwebs and of no consequence to us in our cheese eating endeavors.
I must at once go and consume some cheesy comestibles!

Brandon said...

You need to come to Cleveland, Ohio and see what they do with cheese at a restaurant called Melt. Methinks it might cheese you mightily, in a good way.

Fonkin said...

The only true cheese activity must have cheese, but transported in aggregate and laterally and merkin-like unto the foreign yodeling facility! Thereupon only shall the cheese be riven, and baked not but rather plaited, braided or otherwise laid cross-hatched and interleaved in whatsoever pattern doth please the eyes.

Unknown said...

What are you even talking talking about

Zak Sabbath said...

Would you like me to explain it to you?
Or is that just a question you asked in order to express some kind of other thing?

E.G.Palmer said...

What did I just read on the intertube, somewhere? Ah, yes, "Do not try to win over the haters, you are not the jackass whisperer.".

That's probably the first time I've ever used the term, "haters". Hmmm.

Zak Sabbath said...

If you ever think winning over haters is my goal, you have grotesquely misread me.
I am merely interested in studying their psychosis.

-C said...

I love explaining things! I want to hear things explained!

Odrook said...

I respect you a lot, and I've lurked in a few threads where you've had these interactions (not many, just a few), and I'd like to offer an honest observation. I hope this won't sound like some kind of attack or blame assignment or something because that's not my intention. I just want to offer food for thought in case it's something you haven't previously perceived for whatever reason. (Sorry for the long post, I can't seem to cut it down without losing meaning.)

What I've noticed is that your writing style in dialogue (closer to real-time conversation) is sometimes pretty different from your style in blog posts, where you can take time to consider the best phrasing for what you mean. Sometimes, in my reading, you come off as a bit terse or even aggressive. Sometimes what you say seems a little out of character for the guy who wrote "Rhetoric 101 vs Nerdrage."

I would guess it's because you're writing quickly to keep the dialogue going, and you're maybe used to a certain way of debating, because of friends or art school or whatever, and therefore a certain amount of your meaning and intent doesn't get translated into text. Or maybe it seems obvious to you and anyone who knows you, but it's not as obvious to people less familiar with your style.

The effect, I think, is that people can misread your intent, seeing aggression where you're being enthusiastic, or seeing typical internet argument instead of a sincere effort at rigorous intellectual engagement. They begin to operate in emotional and tribal mode instead of logical and open mode. At this point, the signal to noise ratio in the dialogue drops rapidly.

Obviously there are plenty of people who operate in emotional and tribal mode by default, and there are crazy people and asshats who will just drain your life away when you try to understand them. But I've seen plenty of conversations that looked like two people trying to honestly communicate that turned into hostility and confusion for no obvious reason, and that includes at least a few cases of you seeming confused when someone is getting hostile. That kind of turns the whole thing into a waste of time.

Is there a way to stop this from happening and reduce the number of conversations that turn into pointless argument? Probably, but I'm convinced you'll have better ideas than I do. And hey, I could be way off, but I figured it was worth bringing up in case it's at all useful.

Zak Sabbath said...

I am aware there are people who will respond to perceived tone rather than the literal text.

But since anyone who would do that is a moron, nothing is lost by offending them.

n8mcd said...

I think I saw this done as a spoken word piece in 1990 at a bohemian coffee shop down in Santa Monica, or maybe Venice Beach... it was late, and honestly, I think there were chemicals involved, but there was definitely a cheese theme.

Unknown said...

(With apologies to Rob Donoghue.)

It's never about the cheese.

We can say it's about the cheese, but really it's about how good a cheese tastes to us. If we know a cheese well, or it aligns with our tastes well, then we feel that is it tasty and perfect. If it does not, then it feels chunky, tastes weird, and we wonder aloud why it's even placed next to real food, by anyone. It doesn't matter if the cheese is the same ubiquitous cheddar/velveeta/individually wrapped 'american' cheese product we've all eaten in various forms, or something more exotic/strange/whatever. (Or maybe it's sort of in between, like Fate-- err. Havarti. Whatever.) My wife only ever gets white american, sliced in the deli, or this stuff her friends back in NYC make, though she's usually willing to try the weird cheese I end up with through kickstarter. It's all good.

There is room for discussion of how a cheese becomes 'normal' to each person, but that's a different conversation.

Plus, if a cheese really works for you, you don't really even think about it. The thing that makes you stop and eye a cheese with distaste or annoyance is going to be completely different from person to person. Some people don't mind having to stop and look stuff up on the label between bites (or we've memorized/internalized/made up our own label years ago). Other people really hate any sort of question about how the cheese is going to taste, or how it tasted, while you're still eating. Everybody's got a cheese dealbreaker that someone else doesn't mind at all, or even likes. And vice versa.

This is only really a problem if there was only one cheese.

Thing is, we are at a point in the cheese cottage industry (heh) where we have more cheeses available than any of us will ever be able to eat in our entire lives -- certainly more than we'd ever WANT to eat, so there's no point in cheese competition. Competition is an artifact of scarcity, and we no longer live in a world where there is any kind of scarcity of cheese, and it is damaging to stay in that mindset where we can only speak about one cheese or cheese-spreading technique as better than another.

I say damaging because in the absence of cheese scarcity, this competitive mindset (which NEEDS competition to survive, and won't acknowledge that it's no longer really needed) seeks to create a new scarcity - a scarcity of people willing to eat a specific type of cheese.

By dividing and fragmenting the cheese eating (or cheese body-rubbing, or whatever) community into tribes and camps, we create whole new problems to replace the ones we've solved. That's basically the opposite of progress, and it's heartbreaking to see.

Quibish said...

Step 1: Arrive at CHEESE


*Step 3: Belittle everyone else's attempts to NOM on CHEESE unless it is the exact way that you NOM on CHEESE.

Step 4: Get over yourself and make an attempt to NOM on CHEESE in a way that other people seem to enjoy, just to experience a new NOMMING of CHEESE.

*= Some people never get past step 3

Quibish said...

While others skip step 3 altogether

Unknown said...

Oh, Zak, you know full well that I am not asking for an explanation. I'm simply expressing impressed disbelief that you managed to torture that analogy into a thousand words.

I did enjoy your weird alternate reality cheese aficionado culture though.

Zak Sabbath said...


Unknown said...

Someone needs to write the stats for a Muenster.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Wallace and Gromit played a mean D&D campaign in their spare time.

Cross Planes said...

I feel you pain. Fan(aticism) is powerful. I run a comic shop and I had someone tell me I was wrong to love Man of Steel because it completely destroyed Superman. Completely. Of course, when I tried to understand the root of their perspective they informed me they hadn't seen it yet.

Unknown said...

actually, I am perma-banned from

Unknown said...

Then.. Get bent.

Zak Sabbath said...

What on earth are you two on about?

Zak Sabbath said...


All I can think when you say stuff like that is that you must be _so_ used to people onlint talking in 4chan style snarky disingenuity that you don't actually realize that when some people talk they actually mean
I actually did not know what you were talking about, and your explanation doesn't really explain to me what there is to be surprised about or why you'd ever assume I'd write something other than what I thought.

I've never done it before, why would I start now?

Unknown said...

It sounds more like what we've got is a negative-cheese-dialectic being posited here. Of which I can see no potential solution, thus the allegory must must be presented less in terms of which TYPE of cheese that one should eat and more in terms of how one, in fact, eats the cheese available to her/him. I don't imagine any solution to cheese as being some progressive form of cognitively dextrous activity. In fact, that seems quite boring to any GM privy to raclette. And I hope all of these progressivist standards start to fungate all too soon.

Unknown said...

Zak, I'm never on about anything. I picked up a copy of gravitys rainbow illustrations when I was 19, grabbed my art history degree from Vandy when I was 23, realized the states art commission simply provided nothing for me, started playing D&D when I was 24, received Vorheim for Christmas of last year and have slowly developed into some sycophant that might very well troll patrol on the individual who outrightly states that they have been banned by, in the case that I'm too drunk to do anything else tonight.

Jon Wake said...

Nerd identity politics are the saddest politics.