Pinned Post: Looking at My Stats and Revisiting My #RPG #Copyright Posts

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The quarantine has me doing a bit of blogging lately, which means I’m also looking at my stats. With respect to my posts regarding copyright and RPGs:

The posts are broken into two separate issues. Part 1 and part 2 are about the copyrightability of RPG stat blocks, and part 3 (not relevant here) is about the OGL. As to the first issue, to date, part 1 represents ~30% of text by page count and has 17,037 hits, whereas part 2 (70%) has only 704 hits. Moreover, part 1 spends much of its text on going over basic copyright principles that don’t represent the actual argument. It’s clear by the stats and the basis of the criticism itself (often peppered with personal insults) that the vast majority of (non-lawyer) criticism I’ve received is from people that have read only 30% (at most) of that argument. I know it’s long, convoluted, and at times poorly written (mostly because it targets two very different audiences); and you’re under no obligation to read it (or even care about it). However, it’s all connected, and if you’re going to criticize it, you should probably understand it first.

Or not. Free speech and all that.

Endnotes:

  • Part 3 has only 703 hits, which is surprising. I thought it would be the most-read post.
  • Part 3.5 provides necessary clarification and correction to part 3.
  • Part 4 answers frequently asked questions and addresses frequently raised issues.
  • Over on a lawyers-only subreddit, all the attorneys seemed to want to discuss is my side note on the patentability of the Shadow of the Demon Lord initiative system. I guess it’s great that they all agree that my argument is trivially correct, but Rob Schwalb has seriously hijacked my glory. No worries, though. I gave him hell when I saw him in February.

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My Five Favorite Songs . . . Sort Of @rushtheband @StevieNicks @LBuckingham @MickFleetwood @billyjoel @IronMaiden @jumonsmapes #music #Rush #FleetwoodMac #IronMaiden #BillyJoel

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Are you kidding me? How am I supposed to do this? Bands were hard, and movies were harder, but songs are impossible. There are just too many deserving of high praise and to which I have a deep, personal connection for me to pick just five, but that’s been the thing for the past two posts. I guess I’ll have to give it a shot. While I have a clear favorite song, what I’m going to have to do is pick my favorite songs by some of my favorite bands. My sanity depends on it. There’s just no way to organize a list that large.

#1: Limelight, Rush

R.I.P., Professor.

As alluded to yesterday, my favorite song comes off of Moving Pictures, and it’s Limelight. I have no connection to the lyrics, as I haven’t even had 15 minutes of fame, but that music kills me every time. I’ve heard that Alex Lifeson believes this to be one of his most emotional solos. For what it’s worth, I agree.

Landslide, Fleetwood Mac

Simply beautiful. The version from Fleetwood Mac Live adds in Christine McVie’s keyboards to really fill out the music. I won that album as a middle school dance door prize. It was the second album I ever owned personally, and at the risk of shedding my cowardice, I’ll add that Stevie’s performance of Rhiannon on that live album was one of the most powerful vocal performances ever recorded.

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Iron Maiden

Sometimes, white people just want to punch someone. Rime appeals to that instinct, but the lyrics are based on Coleridge’s classic poem of the same name, which certainly doesn’t endorse such behavior. The bass solo always amazed me, but I could probably say that about any of Steve Harris’s bass solos. Like progressive rock bands, Iron Maiden didn’t shy away from epic songs that would never get radio airplay. They wrote what needed to be written and took no short cuts. The result, as expected, was always phenomenal.

Summer Highland Falls, Billy Joel

My favorite Billy Joel song comes off Turnstiles, which isn’t his worst album, but isn’t his best. The album isn’t bad in my opinion — he’s my #4 artist of all time! — but not everything can be the Stranger, ya dig? (Oooo, foreshadowing!) Anyway, I love how the consummate piano player just sits down with his piano and pours out his heart. Sure, he lets the band in for a bit of it, but make no mistake: This is about a guy, his life, and his piano.

Number 5?

By now, you must be getting the picture. To avoid undercutting the concerns of my post on bands, I’m going to cop out yet a third time. No #5 for you!

Yeah, I’m a coward, but let’s do this one more time tomorrow. I promise you’ll get five entries.

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My Five Favorite Bands . . . Sort Of @rushtheband @StevieNicks @LBuckingham @MickFleetwood @billyjoel @IronMaiden @jumonsmapes #music #Rush #FleetwoodMac #IronMaiden #BillyJoel

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Following up from yesterday’s post on my five favorite movies (sort of), I give you my five favorite bands. As this is all subjective, I can’t really justify my view by any objective metric, but I’ll be damned if I won’t try. Music is my favorite art form, so this one should have been tougher, but it turned out to be a little easier.

#1: Rush (tie)

What’s wrong with the people that don’t like Rush? No modern band in history can say that each of its members (or even just three of them) are in the consensus top twenty, of both music professionals and fans, for their respective talents. Geddy Lee and Neil Peart are often seen as the best bass and drum players respectively in modern music, and Alex Lifeson, while never given a #1 ranking, is solidly in the consensus top twenty. The songwriting isn’t silly and formulaic unless it’s the time for that. You can’t help but like what you like, but at the very least, this band deserves your undying respect for their musicianship. I, on the other hand, love this band’s music. I discovered it, and notably what remains my favorite song (q.v.) by any band, in middle school. The music kept coming until relatively recently. Oddly enough, I never particularly liked Tom Sawyer, which was the first song I heard from them.

R.I.P., Professor.

#1: Fleetwood Mac (tie)

Not only does this band get points for talent and songwriting, but they also get some serious nostalgia points. I was raised on Rumors. The fact that they had five members, three of whom were emotionally troubled songwriters, allowed them to produce rich, varied music packed with heart.

Here’s an interesting anecdote. Stevie Nicks wasn’t even two miles from me when she came up with the title to her masterpiece, Silver Springs. At least, that’s what I want to believe. As the linked map shows, I lived in Silver Spring, MD at about two miles from the exit sign that caught her eye and resulted in the name of the song. Rumors came out February 4, 1977, which is almost to the day when we moved out of that house. That’s when my brother bought the Rumors album and Silver Springs started to get some radio airplay as the B-side for Go Your Own Way. This band’s new music kept me going all the way through college. As soon as I was old enough to buy my own albums, I started going backwards through time and learning their older stuff as well, though nothing beats what was produced by the classic band lineup from Rumors, et al.

I also want to re-quote something an author wrote about the Chain.

[C]obbled together by Buckingham at a time when certain people in the band weren’t even speaking to each other . . . “[t]he Chain” is a stark reminder that you’re forever tied to the people you love most, even while they’re betraying you. –Jillian Mapes, https://pitchfork.com/features/lists-and-guides/stevie-nicks-in-33-songs/

Nothing sums up that song, that album, or my life better than that.

#3: Iron Maiden

I didn’t discover Maiden until freshman year at college, and they hit me like a ton of bricks. I was primarily a bass player, and Steve Harris is one of the best that’s ever picked up the instrument. Bruce Dickinson is no slouch with the microphone either. It’s not just the music, though. One of the handful of concerts I’ve attended was the Seventh Son of a Seventh Son tour in 1988 (not sure if it was the 7/24 or 8/7 show). Along with Pink Floyd’s Momentary Lapse of Reason tour (June 1 of that same year), I was floored by the visuals as well. These remain my two favorite concerts because of how those visuals added to the overall showmanship of the concerts. 1988 was a hell of a year for me, musically speaking at least.

#4: Billy Joel

For the longest time (yes, that’s a pun), Joel was my favorite artist. Sorry, Billy, but you’ve been demoted to #4. What a fall from grace (almost a pun), loser! Seriously though, this guy goes back farther than I can remember. Like the other entries on this list, he was top five the moment I heard his music, and he never left that list. He’s also the only headlining artist I’ve seen live twice. (I saw Black 47 in a small bar in Soho and then again at the Guinness Fleadh, 1999, but no repeats otherwise.) I saw him on the Bridge tour with my sister and then again decades later with my sister and her eldest son.

Number 5?

Sorry, but I’m going to cop out again. I can’t name a fifth band because then I’d be slamming the door on a bunch of bands I’d instinctively call “top 5.” I also won’t even provide an “honorable mentions” list (again) for fear of leaving some deserving bands off that one as well. I challenge you to do better. See if you can limit yourself to just five without feeling dirty.

The lesson here is that there are really just four at the top, and then a bunch of stuff … bunched together beyond that. Or I’m a coward.

To all these musicians, including the ones I didn’t mention, whose music I listen to repeatedly, I sincerely thank you. Technology make life livable; art makes life worth living.

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My Five Favorite Movies . . . Sort Of @kesseljunkie #movie #film

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My cousin, Kessel Junkie, published a blog post in which he stated that one of his favorite icebreaker questions with people is, “What are your five favorite movies?” He claims that a person’s answer reveals a lot about them. I’m 52 years old. I don’t think I could possibly limit myself to five. So, keeping in mind how I watch movies, here we go.

The Seventh Seal by Ingmar Bergman

I’ve written briefly about this one. I first saw it in high school as part of an English class assignment. We spent a couple of days breaking it apart. It’s a multi-layered film that makes you think if you’re ready and willing to do so. I was quite proud of myself for being the only one in the class (including the teacher) who noticed something in the film: The knight’s strategy in his game of chess against Death was a combination of the knight and bishop. If you consider the film’s theme and the knight’s intellectual struggle, it was not only appropriate that he’d use those pieces, but also appropriate that Death would trick him and defeat the strategy.

The Godfather, Part II

I don’t need to justify this to you or anyone else. This was simply a masterpiece, and most agree (both humans and film professionals). The only thing it lacked was comedy. Fredo was a joke, but not in that sense.

Caddyshack

I’m a sucker for comedies, and this one somehow stuck with me for years. It hasn’t aged well (no surprise considering how sensitive we’ve become), so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to anyone. The movie is stupid fun mixed with a large dose of childhood nostalgia. My childhood was rarely happy, so I tend to latch on to the few good memories with a death grip.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

I’ve already explained why this is my favorite MCU film, but why is it in the top five? I’m also a sucker for action movies, and in particular, the superhero genre, so that gives it a boost. Nevertheless, this is, as usual, a bit strange. I can count on my digits how many comic books I’ve read in my lifetime (so no more than 21). I’ve never been a fan of them, but the movies have grabbed me, so my favorite among them makes it into the top 5. Honestly, the top ten probably includes two more of them, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Shazam!, but I’d need the help of a psychologist to properly explain to you why they’re in that list.

Number 5?

So, what’s number five on the list? I can’t say. If I choose a fifth movie, it automatically rules out so many that I’d instinctively say are “top five” movies. There are just too many, and I don’t want to definitively slam the door on any of them (including the GotG2 and Shazam!). I don’t even want to provide an “honorable mentions” list for fear of leaving some very good movies off that one. Thus, the list above is arbitrarily chosen from a much larger list, rendering this post largely meaningless. Don’t you wish you knew that before you read it? 😊 If you think you can do better, go for it. See if you can limit yourself to just five.

This would get even tougher if I tried to provide my top five songs or music bands. Don’t get me started. Dammit. I’m going to do these next, aren’t I? Bands, here

So, for all you psychologists in the crowd, what do these selections (and refusal to select) tell you about me other than that I’m a coward?

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The Two Perfect Albums? @stevevai @BillyonBass @JWatsonRanger @davidgilmour #music

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A recent Twitter conversation had me reminiscing about my days as a new guitarist. I started with saxophone in third grade, but as a high school senior, I switched to bass and (to a lesser extent) guitar, which were the first instruments I played that I chose myself. Beyond junior year of high school, I’m entirely self-taught, including heavy music theory. At 52, I’m finally taking a legitimate stab at piano. Sure, I’m probably developing some bad habits, but I have those with the guitar, and as a pure amateur, I don’t care whether I impress anyone else. I’m having fun.

Guitar Magazine

In the mid-80s, I subscribed to Guitar Magazine. Because I wasn’t a good ear player, having four or five pieces of sheet music (both tablature and staff notation) mailed to me each month was a godsend. Some of it I was never good enough to play, but there’s a great feeling of satisfaction when you take a song from the radio (e.g., Mood for a Day by Yes, Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd) and learn it note for note without any help other than the sheet music. I’m not a musical genius, so it’s the result of a decent amount of work on my part.

I also enjoyed the insights of the professionals that were interviewed in those magazines, as well as their direct contributions to the content. Steve Vai and Billy Sheehan had a monthly column. Jeff Watson of Night Ranger eventually took over Vai’s column. Frank Zappa personally approved the sheet music for Peaches En Regalia. It was a great magazine and, to my knowledge, the first of its kind in that it published the sheet music. Others posted only lyrics.

The Two Perfect Rock Albums

This brings me to a point I raised in that Twitter conversation. In the Listening Room (I think) was a column in which a professional musician was asked to listen to some songs. Maybe they knew the song; maybe they didn’t. Steve Vai was once interviewed in this column, and one of the songs he was asked to critique was his own (if I recall correctly, it was the Attitude Song, which I love). Between this column and all the interviews, a common issue was raised by context or by the asking of a direct question: “Are there any perfect rock albums?”

There were two albums, though, that the professionals consistently agreed were perfect: Boston’s self-titled, first album, and Def Leppard’s Pyromania. Each of us, from the professionals to the tone deaf, have our own ideas of what a perfect album is, and that’s great. I hope everyone has an album or two that they can call perfect. I certainly do (q.v.).

I found it interesting that there seemed to be such a clear consensus among the pros. I happen to agree that there are no bad songs on either album, and Pyromania was one of two cassette tapes that I owned (along with Get Nervous by Pat Benatar) when I started driving. I always went back and forth between those two albums and never got sick of either of them. I wonder what the current consensus would be 30-some years later.

Music is a huge part of my life and my favorite art form, which is why I find goofy anecdotes like this fun. YMMV. 😊 Feel free to share yours in the comments.

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Reactive Centrifugal Force (Actually, Language [Actually, Me Being a Pain in the Ass]) #physics #science #language #pita

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Here’s a random memory triggered by an unrelated Facebook post I read.

When I was a physics major, one of my professors, referencing a carnival ride, actually said, “Centrifugal force doesn’t exist. What you’re experiencing is centripetal force pushing you in.”

I responded, “But if centripetal force exists, doesn’t Newton’s Third Law of Motion demand that centrifugal force also exist? Wouldn’t that be the force your body exerts back on the wall?”

Boy, was he pissed. Of course he knew that the “reactive centrifugal force” existed. This is the force that you exert on the wall in reaction to the wall pushing you towards the center. It’s a very real force. However, even back then, I was killing people for linguistic imprecision. I couldn’t help it. It was a legitimate question brought on by a quirk in how physicists label these topics.

“Centrifugal force” is used differently from “reactive centrifugal force,” which is stupid. All forces have a reactive counterforce, so why qualify it as “reactive”? Unfortunately, that’s the linguistic convention, but when you say “centrifugal force doesn’t exist,” it misleads people who otherwise have a grasp on what you’re teaching. Physics professors should make it clear that there is an outward force, but we experience a misperception that this outward force is acting on us. In fact, the outward force is acting on the wall (or whatever is forcing you to take a curved path). Without “reactive” modifying it, “centrifugal force” refers to the misperception rather than the very real force.

If you want more details on the physics, here’s a relatively short lecture on this topic (about 12-1/2 minutes), though it doesn’t discuss the issue I’m raising here. In fact, it makes the same mistake. I originally provided a paragraph explaining some concepts the lecture takes for granted, but that paragraph would probably have made things worse. 🙂

You may have expected this to be about science, or language, but it was really about me being a pain in the ass.

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MCU Phase 2: Nando Order @nandovmovies #MCU #movie #NandoOrder

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Sundays are now lazy days for me. Going forward, I’m just going to re-post other people’s work or just do something silly. This is both. This guy, “Nando,” initially annoyed me, but the more I listened, the more this made sense. What do you think?

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Heavy Watch: Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak @netflix #science #virus #flu #COVID-19 #pandemic #PickleRick #GoodWatch #QuarantineLife

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I do not want to discuss politics on this blog (or the GSLLC twitter stream), so I always do my best to avoid it. I will fail miserably tonight.

Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak is streaming on Netflix, and it’s a good look at the work that the relevant health workers and scientists do to keep the next, big, contagious disease at bay. This involves both the natural and political forces that work against vaccines and other forms of treatment. It’s a limited series of six episodes, each of which is less than an hour.

Much of the episodes discusses influenza (i.e., “the flu”). During the debates over SARS-COV-2 and COVID-19, I hear many people reference the flu, asking, “How is this any different than the flu? Why don’t we make a big deal out of the flu?” Forgetting the medical differences between those viruses, the key takeaway from the discussions on the flu is that we really should be making a bigger deal out of the flu, if for no other reason that it will help us develop better strategies against even more serious diseases. However, the flu is certainly worth wiping from the face of the planet. It’s bad enough on its own.

I’m a science guy, but for what it’s worth, I thought this was an important show. As always, YMMV.

Pickle Rick!
Pickle Rick! (Seriously, if you don’t like masks, make them fun.)

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Good Watch: Fear City: New York vs the Mafia @CurtisSliwa @netflix #GoodWatch #QuarantineLife

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Fear City: New York vs the Mafia is a 3-episode, limited-run series on Netflix. Each episode approaches one hour, so it’s a relatively quick watch. There’s nothing deceptive about its format; it’s a show about the mob in New York, but this show is from the perspective of those that fought back, including legal academia, law enforcement, and private citizens such as the Guardian Angels.

You either find these stories interesting or you don’t. FWIW, I find them interesting, and this show had my attention throughout. As always, YMMV.

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“Ummm, what?” Watch: Norsemen @netflix #GoodWatch #QuarantineLife

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Season 3 of Norsemen just hit Netflix. Here’s the good news. Though produced in Norway, it’s in English. Also, there are only six, 30-minute episodes, meaning it’s a waste of only three hours of your time. You wouldn’t know this if I weren’t a completionist that has to finish what he started.

The show’s primary problem is that it tries to strike a compromise between drama and comedy. Many shows pull that off, but Norsemen fails at both. First, it wasn’t funny. I suppose that the jokes are funny in Norway, but there’s very little that garnered even a snicker from me. I could tell they were trying, though, but that somehow made it worse; cringe-worthy even. Second, it fails dramatically because the characters aren’t meant to be likable, but the attempts at humor prevent you from truly hating the bad ones (i.e., you don’t get any satisfaction from a bad guy receiving his comeuppance). There’s also some behavior that’s just plain weird. It’s hard to articulate why, but even though these characters are ancient Vikings from the other side of the Atlantic, cultural differences don’t explain it. They just do some stupid things that are not part of the comedic side of the story. Maybe if the show were funny, the stupid things would have a purpose.

I would suggest that you watch one or two episodes. If the drama and comedy don’t work for you in those one or two episodes, I guarantee it wouldn’t be any different throughout the show. The show doesn’t evolve in the slightest.

As always, YMMV.

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Classic Movies: Citizen Kane @hbomax @movie #ClassicWatch #QuarantineLife

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I’ve discovered Turner Classic Movies on HBO Max and thought it would be a good idea to watch some of the “classics” I’d never seen. I decided to start alphabetically at Citizen Kane. Bad start.
It didn’t age well. The movie is inspired by William Randolph Hearst, who means absolutely nothing to me. I’m a guy born long after Hearst died (1951), and even longer after Citizen Kane was released (1941). I can’t relate specifically, and the general story is just blah. I’m also annoyed at the “twist” that’s been the subject of so much praise. I see it as less a “big deal” and more a “big disappointment.”
Nevertheless, I at least respect what this film means to the evolution of cinema. According to those in the know, it was a necessary step towards the great movies we have now. I also liked that it went out of its way to highlight new actors in the end credits, one of whom, Agnes Moorehead, played Samantha’s mother in Bewitched.

If, like me, you just have to see it, then do so, but don’t expect much. As always, YMMV.

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