Daniel Quinn

There was a little pinprick of joy near the end of this horrific year, and it involved a homecoming to a form of gaming that’s been a part of my life since I was thirteen. It’s a type of gaming that’s breached the mainstream nowadays (due to the rising popularity of the 5th Edition of the “world’s most popular roleplaying game”), but for me, it’s always held a sacred place among the social activities that have shaped the sort of person that I am.

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A mining operation and a shittily-drawn airship

To be fair to my local gaming group: I’ve been playing pretty much weekly for many years. So it’s not like roleplaying games have been absent from my life entirely-my friendly neighborhood Dungeon Master is also the showrunner of our little podcast Worldbuild with Us, and we used to get together regularly before COVID. But what was different these past few months is that I finally decided to get back into the Dungeon Master’s chair, a chair that’s been vacant for me since I left Florida over a decade ago. …


So this post will be a weird one, because it’s one part quarantine fitness, one part tech review, and one part a (really, really late) thumbs up for Netflix’s Cobra Kai, which is due to drop season 3 on January 8, 2021.

First of all, why should I listen to you about fitness, nerd?

Listen, I’m writing this at 3:22 am while eating a bag of Sour Patch Kids. I’m 35 and I spend a good six to eight hours a day sedentary in front of my machine. My diet is not outrageous, but it’s certainly not great, either. As a freelancer, I’ve already been living the quarantine life for almost a decade, so I’m no stranger to living like a Morlock under the grim haze of a monitor. But I can assure you that if I hadn’t adopted some kind of fitness routine to combat this lifestyle earlier on in life, I would probably not be able to carry on as I do. …


For aspiring authors like myself, writing workshops are the Limbo to every manuscript’s descent into revision Hell — the first place where you can get unbiased criticism of your work from other human beings. They can be positive and illuminating, or they can be oppressive and discouraging, and the outcome depends entirely on what personalities are in your workshop. In this post, I’d like to talk about the sort of workshop personalities you should avoid. These are the people I’ve seen reappear time and time again in workshops, like a recurring cancer. …


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Lately I’ve been encountering a recurring credo among fellow writing workshoppers and conductors of said workshops that goes something along the lines of “you’ve got to hook your reader in the first paragraph” of whatever it is you’re writing, hit them with the premise, the conflict, and the protagonist’s goals, or else you’re gonna lose that reader and the whole intro to your book.

I mean, the advice is valid. I don’t have any beef with the substance of what’s being advised here: give your reader something that piques her interest, as soon as possible, and usually what piques interest is a conflict or a motivation or an interesting premise. I attended a seminar recently that purported to be about upending the old adage “show, don’t tell” — a liberating three-hour session where we were shown examples of writers doing a lot of telling up front that situated the reader just as effectively as any amount of showing might. But what the seminar really was about was writing hooks without a scene — how to write a hook with purely “telling” prose rather than “showing” prose. The difference might be that you open with a few sentences that straight up declare your premise or theme, the exact nature of which the reader is going to learn over the course of the story. …


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(Credit: Annie Truong)

Freelancing can be a solitary enterprise, even for creatives who work in shared spaces. The strategies we use to survive, however, are common. In this series Web Design at Work, I interview my colleagues in marketing and advertising to learn how they live, work, and thrive in this constantly changing field.


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(Credit: Yurij Lojko)

Freelancing can be a solitary enterprise, even for creatives who work in shared spaces. The strategies we use to survive, however, are common. In this series Web Design at Work, I interview my colleagues in marketing and advertising to learn how they live, work, and thrive in this constantly changing field.

Creative developer Yurij Lojko, of Lojko & Co, based out of Medford, MA. Yurij is an avid bicyclist and the host of Riding the Norse Horse at WMBR when he’s not writing code.

First, send me a picture of your office setup. No — stop! …


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(Credit: “Arrival Trailer 2016,” Paramount)

Half of Arrival is great scifi. The other half is Hollywood doing its best to stretch a short story into a feature film. …


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(Credit: “Stranger Things | Trailer 1 [HD],” Netflix)

Despite its 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Stranger Things doesn’t have a whole lot going on that moves the scifi/horror genre forward. The new Netflix series is yet another instance of Hollywood cashing in on the pre-millennial glory days of original ’80s cinema — you know, back when we had films that weren’t just reboots of existing franchises or long-awaited sequel-trilogies. Stranger Things has been widely praised because it gestates our nostalgia for Close Encounters of the Third Kind and The Goonies and ET and Steven King in the belly of a First Edition-Demogorgon, the same way that The Force Awakens, made up almost entirely of homages, feels OK, familiar, and safe — as a follow-up to the Original Trilogy. I’m not a fan of the Duffer Brother’s cinematic strategy: to manipulate us with emotional beats that resonate with our pop culture roots instead of wow us with originality. Maybe that’s just the new methodology for the J.J. …


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(“The X-Files: The Event Series”)

I’d probably cite shellshock as the reason why I didn’t write this review as soon as I finished watching the conclusion of the six-episode X-Files revival, but the real reason is that I’ve been too busy to write this quarter: client work got the best of me in the past few months. So here I am, late as ever, but still incredibly disappointed by what could have been a brilliant return to form for the scifi series that started it all. To be totally transparent, I was too young to watch the X-Files when it was airing, so I didn’t get to sit down and fully grasp the scope of the series until much later in life. …


This review contains spoilers, so stop reading right now if you haven’t yet seen the film.

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(Star Wars: The Force Awakens Official Trailer)

I’ve had mixed feelings about Star Wars: The Force Awakens ever since I learned J.J. Abrams would be helming the kickoff of the third trilogy, mainly because I hate him for trouncing the spirit of Star Trek with his reboot. (It’s just not fair for one man to direct both franchises!) Star Wars is a cultural phenomenon across three generations, and I feel like it has suffered enough through all the Special Edition edits and the creation of the unmentionable Prequels. This anxiety of difference among fans — our collective fear of being alienated again as an audience — no doubt drove a lot of Disney and Abrams’ decisions to produce something safe and familiar to what came before, more so (I bet) to comply with commercial imperatives than creative ones. …

About

Daniel Quinn

Web designer, RPG hobbyist, scifi writer at dquinn.net. Cohost of worldbuildwithus.com. My favorite holiday is Halloween and I believe in Oxford commas.

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