Now, Then, and To Be

This week, I sat down to learn how to make two of my grandmother’s recipes; something I wish I’d had the time and inclination to have been doing all along. Seasoned more in proportion with each other in a web of relationships than any standardized measure, and woefully precise in freeflow adjustments. It really is “the spoon we have in the cupboard” as the standard to which it all comes together. I learned how to make two things: Makgeoli and Kimchi. These are relatively simple recipes, mostly consisting of gathering ingredients together, mixing them together, and waiting for the fermentation to do the rest of the work.

And it made me think about fermented foods as a bridge between the past, the present, and the future.

Continue reading “Now, Then, and To Be”

To You, Back Home

Game Host Rules

You are a child with your body of metal and blood of promise, sent into the depths to see the world. Answer the following, noting answers in your tweet:

  1. Your name is a virtue, a wish for the future given by your parents. What is it?
  2. What as your home like? (Choose 2): beautiful, dying, hopeful, hopeless, prosperous

When you receive a reply, write home in the following format:

  1. date
  2. time
  3. record of encounter starting with “To You, Back Home”
  4. End with “Signing off, [name]”

When you end the game, write home one last time:

  1. “To You, Back Home”
  2. Record Gratitudes and Goodbyes
  3. Sign off for the last time

Player Rules

Respond to the Host tweet with a Prompt Word (any evocative word or short phrase) and wait for a reply.

The game ends when the Host signs off for the last time.

Heaven Piercing Crimson Warlock

For all your life they have told you to never question the walls around you, the ceilings above you, the traditions suffocating you. They told you that because they fear what you hold inside your heart. They fear the power of your soul made manifest, able to rend the very heavens and fold causality over on itself. Your power awakens when you become aware of this, aware that you hold the infinite potential of the cosmos. While others make their pacts with fiends, fae, and outer horrors, you bind your soul to the only one you have ever known, for you are made of starstuff.

1st – Who The Hell Do You Think I Am?!

You have a pool of d4s referred to as Soul Dice. Whenever you take a long rest with less than 1 Soul Die, you gain 1 Soul Die upon completing it. You may have a maximum of 5 Soul Dice at any given time. You gain 1 Soul Die whenever you cast a spell using a Warlock spell slot. Alternatively, you may also gain Soul Dice by choosing to fail an ability check, attack roll, or saving throw before you roll.

You may expend Soul Dice to add the d4 roll to an ability check, attack roll, saving throw, or damage dice.

These dice increase to d6s at 6th level, d8s at 10th, and d10s at 14th.

6th – Kick Reason to the Curb

You may expend 5 Soul Dice to regain 1 Warlock spell slot. Roll all your Soul Dice. All creatures of your choice within 10 ft must make a Dexterity saving throw against your Spell Save DC or take force damage equal to the sum of the rolls, half on a success.

10th – The Magma of Our Souls Burns with a Mighty Flame!

Whenever you take damage, you may use your reaction to expend hit dice to reduce the damage by the number rolled + your CON modifier.

10th – A Real Man Never Dies, Even When He is Killed

The first time you drop to 0 hit points, you may instead choose to remain at 1 hit point. You instantly gain 5 Soul Dice. You must take a long rest before you can use this ability again.

14th – Don’t Believe in Yourself, Believe in the Me that Believes in You!

You have advantage on any saving throw that would cause you to be affected by a condition.

Additionally, you may use an action to expend Soul Dice to end a condition affecting you and/or any allies within 60 ft, with one die per condition per creature. You may roll each die expended and gain the sum as temporary hit points. Any creatures you target with this ability also gain those temporary hit points. At the start of your turn, if you are affected by a condition that would prevent you from taking actions, you may choose to use this action anyway.

The Complex Violence of Han Kang’s “The Vegetarian”

Hey folks! Before we get into the actual post, I wanted to explain what this series is. I wrote a bunch of essays for my undergrad program and I’d rather put them up than forget about them. They’re a little rough around the edges from my current perspective, and they have a lot of literary jargon (since you need to put that in to not fail your classes). Plus I wrote most of them in one straight shot hours before the due date. I’ve done a little light editing to make sure the spelling, grammar, and general flow make sense, as well as changed anything that has become factually incorrect in light of new information. But for the most part, what you see is what I was two or three years ago as a student. I’ll provide a list of materials that you can read or reference, or just have on hand, to know where I was coming from/where the basis of the knowledge I was drawing from when I can.

This first essay is from a class about the writer Franz Kafka and both his body of works and his influence. It is primarily about the forms of violence depicted in The Vegetarian by Han Kang.

Continue reading “The Complex Violence of Han Kang’s “The Vegetarian””

Help I Can’t Stop Watching Hololive

source: https://youtu.be/xrVCRE977fc

I’m going to be completely honest here. The past couple months have been even weirder than I could have ever imagined. And a large part of that weirdness is in the midst of a NEVERENDING PROCESSION of unprecedented historic events, I can’t seem to stop watching hololive content. I’ve been more or less exclusively indoors for an inordinately long amount of time, and to fill that time, among other things, I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos. And of those videos, a frankly embarrassing proportion of them are Virtual Youtubers, generally referred to as “Virtual Livers” in Japanese.

Continue reading “Help I Can’t Stop Watching Hololive”

O Sinner

You find yourself sitting in a chair, around you the interior of a cozy shepherd’s house. A gentle fire sits snaps and pops in the stove, bouncing small sounds around the small space. A small kettle sits atop the black metal case. High-hung shelves hold an array of mugs, jars, and a pair of shears. In front of you is a chess board mid-game, a thinning web of black and white pieces, captured pieces lining the perimeter of the board in eerie lock-step. You note that while black has far fewer pieces remaining, there remains no path for white to take the crown. A perfect draw. 

You hear a quiet rustling, followed by a masked figure walking into the room and sitting down across from you. They sit down, seeming to examine you briefly, before speaking.

“O Sinner, branded exile. Your presence here marks the end of your short, pitiful existence. If you have words to part with before the embrace of oblivion, let them come now.” Their voice is wry grief, tired and mocking. 

You find it impossible to open your mouth. As though something in your throat were holding it shut from the inside. You feel the figure grin behind their mask. 

“Or perhaps you wish for some petty struggle against your fate? As have many before you.” A wicked laughter emits from behind their mask, echoing around a seemingly-expanding room. 

Except the laughter is yours, coming from your throat. Your eyes widen, tears welling, running down your face. Your body trembles under the weight of your voice, all the while the choking laughter ringing around your hollow chest. 

“Yes, yes. I understand. You were meant for so much more. Very well, then.” The figure gets up, sticking an iron poker into the stove fire burning a brilliant blue.

The fire coats the end of the poker, and you watch, helpless, as it’s thrust deep into your chest. The hot iron pierces your broken body, sending flames flashing throughout your body like lightning. You look down at your hands, holding your blood from falling out. Your hands covered in blood. Blood that ceases to cease its flow. Everything outside your body blood. It’s warm. A fire burns in your eyes like memories of fading moonlight. 

 

Your eyes burn as you open them, forcing stuck eyelids apart. All around you, the bodies of the dead, dimly lit by a flickering lantern. Your body refuses to move, at first, broken bones and heavy blood pinning you to the ground. You see others like you as sensation returns to your body, slowly but surely. A towering creature of stringed together flesh given unholy movement lumbers at the edge of your blurring vision, rending bodies to graft onto its own.

Agonizingly, you unstick yourself from the ground, feeling your body lag behind your soul a full second. Your hand reaches for the nearest weapon as you hear the menacing growl of the approaching darkness. 

 

This piece is dedicated to Bluejay, who was gracious enough to support me on Patreon!

Shattering Moon

When the Sun vanished, we ceased to die. 

When the Moon shattered, we lost our names. 

Perhaps you remember

O sinner, branded exile,

when we lost the war

when the darkness gripped our very hearts

and threatened to snuff our our flames

over and over and over and over and over again

each time succeeding, each time repeating.

For the first time in centuries

the rattling chains of death’s door

ringing in our ears

and our hearts.

O child, misguided soul

how could you know our fear

how could you lose when you never had

the sweet ichor

of self-importance. 

You did not choose to be born into this world

You did not choose the circumstances of your birth

Yet here you stand, marked for death

a thousand deaths

for a thousand lives.

O sinner, link your hands

and embrace your fate. 

Lead us to the promised land.

 

This piece is dedicated to Bluejay, who was gracious enough to support me on Patreon!

Falling Sun

You were too young to remember when the Sun lorded over the highest point of the sky. They say we were born from it, they called us the Children of the High Star. Separated by cruel fate and stranded in the cold dirt, we longed to return to the skies, to the star we called our Mother. We built our shelters and honed our blades, stoking the Eternal Flame, the only proof of our connection to the High Star. We struggled with the darkness every night, holding off the terrors that would douse our flame and leave us defenseless while our Mother slept. 

We played music, sang songs, and danced to keep the flow of life from stagnating. We followed the ebb and flow and let the Eternal Flame link us in reverie. Our Kingdom grew, and we prepared ourselves for the day we would reunite with the High Star. We built and built and built. Tirelessly we built, brick by brick, a tower to reach heaven. And just as we began to climb, the sun vanished. 

You were too young to remember when the sun disappeared from the sky, leaving us alone with the lucid silver of a rising Moon. We did not fear the darkness, for the Eternal Flames kept destruction and decay at the final edges of our vision. While others withered away, our cities prospered, warm and magnificent under the brilliant moonlight. They say without the Sun, the Moon climbed ever higher, clinging to newly granted self-importance. 

In those days, we sang more, danced more, celebrated more; we did anything to keep the darkness at bay. It seemed, even without our Mother, we flourished and bloomed in those cold days. You were still too young to remember when we realized we had stopped dying, stopped aging. A hundred Moons rose and fell before we could grasp it. It shocked us into frantic purpose. All the time we had was not enough.

We took up the blades we had since forgotten, sharpened them to razor’s edge, poised against that which would take our birthright from us. We could feel it, in those days, the creeping sense of dread that preceded it. In those times, we spun barrels and put our trust in hot steel, waiting for the day we would have to fight. 

When the Adversary came, we were prepared. 

And when the Moon shattered, we fell. 

February Magic Items

Debonair Hat (Relic)

“Twas the night before Christmas and we see through the village

Not even the bandits were set out to pillage

The adventurers were snoring their heads on the tables

all of the horses and mules in their stables”

A harmless-looking silk hat that serves as the phylactery of an incredibly powerful lich named Phrosz’Chi. He has sworn an eternal vow of vengeance against the wizard who forced him into this form, San’Tah Krauss. 

    • When placed on liquid water or ice, the hat rapidly forms a body made of snow to inhabit. The body has the statistics of the Lich (Monster Manual), except with the following changes:
      • Cold Absorption: Whenever this creature is subjected to cold damage, it takes no damage and instead regains a number of Hit Points equal to the cold damage dealt.
      • Damage Vulnerabilities: Fire
  • Absolute Zero. Ranged Spell Attack: +12 to hit, range 120 ft, one creature. Hit: 6d6 cold damage. The target must succeed on a DC 18 Constitution saving throw or be paralyzed for 1 minute. The target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.
    • Ice Wall: This creature can cast the Water Wall spell at will without needing material components or spell slots. The conjured wall is always made of solid ice as outlined in the spell. 
  • A willing creature may make a pact with Phrosz’chi for greater power, so long as both are willing. When pact-bonded to Phrosz’chi in this way, a creature gains access to all the above features, and may use Phrosz’Chi’s +12 spell attack bonus/18 spell save DC instead of its own when casting a spell. 
  • So long as a creature is wearing the hat or bonded to Phrosz’Chi, it can hear Phrosz’Chi’s voice. His personality is sharp, abrasive, and high-spirited. He laughs a lot, even when things aren’t funny. Has a surprising softness towards children, but will dismiss this if it is ever brought up. 

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Ramen Tatsunoya

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Over the winter holidays, I was dragged on a trip to visit my cousins with whom we got along surprisingly well with. You know those obscure cousins you definitely have but have never met before in your life. I was dragged on another trip to see them only a couple weeks later, and overall it was a fun trip. LA is a really weird place for me for a myriad of reasons. It’s also one of the original bastions of ramen in the United States, so of course I was excited to be able to go. If it had been up to me, I definitely would have eaten at least one bowl a day, but alas, I only really had the opportunity to go to one.

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