Foxmom Niamh

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About Foxmom Niamh

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    Your Foxmom

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    Chicago, IL
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    @sjontofa on Twitter
  1. Mouth Feel - The Summer Wizard Cocktail Jam

    Today is the start of a mini vacation for me, so I'm back at it again with another concoction. This one is named after the third episode of Idle Thumbs. I reached way back for this one! (Blueberry) Field of Dreams —A handful of blueberries —5 basil leaves —2 sprigs of mint —1 tsp raw sugar (or more if you want it sweet) —3 oz blueberry gin (I used New Haven Blueberry Gin) —Juice of 1 lemon —Sparkling white wine or club soda —Another sprig of mint and some blueberries to garnish In a cocktail shaker, muddle the blueberries, herbs, and sugar. Add the gin and lemon juice, plus a few ice cubes, and shake. Strain the liquid into a tall highball glass filled with ice, then top up with sparkling white wine or soda water. Garnish with another sprig of mint and some fresh blueberries. As always, it's fully drinkable (and quite nice, really, although I used sparkling white wine so it's definitely a heavy hitter). Photo on my Twitter account:
  2. Mouth Feel - The Summer Wizard Cocktail Jam

    Blame Jake for this one: A Pulpable Dream 1 oz blood orange liqueur (I used Pür Likör) 2 oz gin (I used Knickerbocker, which has a stronger juniper berry flavor than most) 1 oz dry vermouth 2 oz strawberry purée .5 oz lemon juice 4 oz ginger ale Ice Pour all the ingredients except the ginger ale and ice into a tall highball glass and stir until the purée is well incorporated. Fill with ice and top with ginger ale. Photo here: Note: Of the drinks I've named after Idle episode, this is definitely the closest to a tiki bar drink.
  3. Mouth Feel - The Summer Wizard Cocktail Jam

    TGIF, Finally 2 oz bourbon 1.5 oz Pok Pok Som tamarind drinking vinegar Juice of 1 lime A few dashes of Peychaud's bitters Shake with ice until the shaker is frosty, then strain into a small rocks glass with a few fresh cubes of ice. The inspiration for this comes not only from the fact that it's a nice tart drink with which to celebrate the weekend, but also from Danielle's move to Brooklyn (where Pok Pok NY is located, and where I had a whisky sour similar to this when I visited earlier this year). It is most definitely drinkable. Photo posted on my Twitter:
  4. Idle Thumbs 266: Memeify McCree

    Here's a link to that video series about card shuffles and coin flips, for anyone interested: Some quick notes for those who don't want to watch it all but are interested in some of the takeaways: Card shuffling: —Most people do not shuffle their decks nearly enough —Generally speaking, seven shuffles is the threshold point at which a 52 card deck will most likely be truly randomized, though obviously shuffling methods can affect this —Bigger sized decks are obviously harder to randomize, because it will require more shuffles —"Neat" shuffling (where you're dropping one card alternately from each hand) is actually less random, because it's a fairly orderly system that, if perfectly "neat," would actually loop back around to resemble a completely "unshuffled" state —If most of your players aren't shuffling enough, it may actually affect the way the game is played (as in the Bridge example mentioned on the podcast), so if you're designing a game that uses shuffled cards, keep in mind the disparity that might exist based on how your players shuffle Coin tosses: —A coin tossed and caught in the hand is almost perfectly random, although there's a fraction of a chance that it will favor the same side it was at the start (i.e. if it starts heads up, it's just slightly more likely to be heads than tails, and vice versa) —You cannot "weight" a coin to prefer a particular side like you could with dice, if the coin is being caught in hand —However, coins that land on the floor/table are more likely to have biases to one side i.e. uncaught coins are less random and could be weighted to cheat —Of course, whoever is catching a coin might be able to cheat using some sleight-of-hand trick, so the "caught coins are more random/fair" only applies if you don't have a cheater catching it Also, on the topic of Tarkovsky games, I 100% thought of Shadow of the Colossus. There's the long journey to the colossi, the drawn out battles that test your fur-gripping endurance, the slow build-up of "charging" a stab, plus the minimalist repetition of it all but with a finite ending. I don't think it's any coincidence that that game inspires the same kind of awe from fans, as well as the same "these people think they're so cool and smart and deep just because they love this boring thing" reaction from its detractors. And now that I think of it, Journey also has a similar sense of rhythm as motion, and also has received these kinds of reactions. I guess in general, these slow "meditative" games which often have finite, contained stories told through minimal dialogue feel like the closest Tarkovsky analogue, to me.
  5. Mouth Feel - The Summer Wizard Cocktail Jam

    A Chill Hell 2 thin slices of a crisp, tart apple La-yu chili oil A splash of absinthe or akvavit 2½ ounces of rye whisky ½ ounce of apple brandy Ginger beer (or a stronger ginger ale like Vernors) Curry bitters Crushed ice Dried chili pepper (for garnish) Put a few drops of chili oil on both sides of the apple slices and fry in a very hot pan or on a grill until just beginning to char. Dropped the fried apple slices in a rocks glass and muddle with the splash of absinthe or akvavit. Fill the glass about one half to two thirds full of crushed ice, then add the whisky and brandy and stir. Top up with ginger beer and float 10–20 drops of curry bitters, plus a few drops more of chili oil, and garnish with the dried chili. This cocktail is a more piquant version of my Apple Curry cocktail and is totally drinkable, if you're okay with spice. Edit: I posted a photo of the cocktail on my Twitter:
  6. I was really honored to have my letter read on the podcast this week, and I'm glad it's generating thought from both Rob and Danielle as well as from listeners. I wanted to go a little more in detail about some of what I'm talking about when I say that mechanics express an idea, how that relates to notions of cultural specificity, and also how that relates to ideology, and I'm going to use cooking as a comparison because I think it's helpful, and because cooking is very much a cultural thing and regional cuisines do express certain worldviews even if it's in subtle ways. So when I think about "a mechanic" I think it's a fairly small element in the same way that "an ingredient" is also small. So let's take, for example, cumin. Cumin is a spice used in a lot of different cultures, and for simplicity's sake, I'm going to just talk about Mexican and Indian cooking (both styles I'm familiar with). Cumin is commonly used in both, and yet I would still say cumin is "cultural," in the same way that a mechanic might be used in both a AAA game and a queer game but still have a sense of culture attached. Now if I just look at cumin as a single ingredient, I can't easily point to a single culture. None the less, it's already narrowing down the list of "possible" cultures. Whatever is being made with this probably isn't culturally Icelandic, for example (another style of cooking I'm familiar with which uses almost no spices outside of salt). And then if you start adding more ingredients, it will begin to narrow down even more. And chili powder, oregano, and pork and I'm going to guess this is maybe Mexican or some other Latin American dish. Corn dough narrows it more, just like plantains would take it in a different direction. Add cinnamon, cardamom, mace, cloves, and lamb and you're definitely moving more towards India. We could even just look at rice and wheat. These are used in A LOT of cultures, but still... they carry cultural significance. So I think, as we begin to add up individual ingredients, we can start to see something specifically cultural appear. So just because cumin is used in a lot of cuisines doesn't mean that cumin isn't still a cultural element of Indian cooking, and doesn't in some way express culture even if just in a broad sense. So I kind of take issue with Rob's claim that you could take the mechanics used in Queers in Love at the End of the World and use them anywhere. Like, okay, maybe. I could add some cumin to my lamb when I'm cooking a dish that is otherwise a very Icelandic dish, but that doesn't make cumin Icelandic and the way it's functioning in the dish might begin to feel at odd with the rest of the food. So the mechanics of Queers in Love is still very much a cultural thing to me. The time limit that marks the automatic "end" might also be seen in something like Guitar Hero or the timed stages in Alphabear, but then it's also being combined with an absense of scoring mechnics (which are present in Guitar Hero and Alphabear), as well as the mechanics of textual choices. Most important, for queer games, the mechanics in Queers in Love are creating a system that you fundamentally cannot win at, or get "better" at. And this kind of system—where you are doomed to "fail" but within that failure can come to your own sense of meaning or value, is something queer games do that (at least most) AAA games don't. And so this is how I think mechanics are cultural and are expressing culture, in the way that ingredients do the same thing. Similarly while A Place to Fuck Each Other may share some mechnics with Dungeons & Dragons or Apocalypse World, there are different mechanics (no dice to determine the outcome of events, a lack of continued "ownership" over individual characters, etc.) that are already expressing ideas that are independent of the textual element that says, "This is about two queer women trying to have sex or move in together, rather than killing orcs or surviving the apocalypse," and I think the ideas expressed in those mechanics are culturally queer. And so ideas, at the smaller level, go on to express ideology at a larger level. The presence of absense of a scoring or grading metric expresses an idea, and as we add this to other mechanics to create a more complete system, we can begin to see an ideology. Cart Life may share a lot with other games that try to model the economy, but there are some differences, and those differences create a system that is inherently designed to fail or be unstable, rather than a more "pro-capitalist" game system where it is designed so that you can more easily succeed at mastering that system. There is additional textual elements ("content," as Rob put it) which re-inforces the ideas expressed, but those ideas are still in the system as well. And you can see games where the ideas of the system and then the ideas of the textual "content" are at odds. This is kind of what people mean when they talk about ludonarrative dissonance (as much as that term may be overused). Think of criticisms of Hotline Miami that the system is all about how much fun killing is, and how rewarding it is, and then the text says, "You're bad for liking this." It's like the gam intentionally made this model of killing people that is really fun, and what you're getting about of this system is entertainment, but then the text is like, "Haha! don't you know killing is evil? So it's wrong to like this." The system never really shows you how killing is bad. A lot of people don't like that game precisely because the system is expressing an ideology that is at odds with what the game claims to be about. Of course, part of my original email was also that I think cultural specificity in still new to games, but I think it is there and it's growing. I think it's even there in the differences between JRPGs and Western RPGs. I don't think the names are entirely a misnomer. And yeah, a Westerner can make a JRPG. I can also cook Indian food and I'm not Indian. The food I'm cooking is still culturally Indian even if I've given it my own personal meaning as well. And I guess as one last thought, since I mentioned it in passing, I do think food carries ideas and possibly ideology as well. Compare the vegetarianism important to a lot of Indian food with the beef-laden diet central to a lot of American cuisine, or the communal nature of many restaurants in China with the "everyone gets their own plate" nature of most American restaurants. These might not in totality express all the complexities of "capitalism" and "communism," but they still express cultural ideas about how the world works that are also expressed in capitalism and communism. Even just the complex spice mixtures of Indian food compared to the minimal ingredients in Japanese cooking express cultural ideas that you might also seen in Indian and Japanese art. Of course, there are a lot of ideas I'm throwing out here, many of them as just seeds for thought I hope to continue to develop as I do my own work in games, but I'm adding it here as (if you will pardon the pun) more food for thought.