The 2013 Annual Greed List!

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 7.236% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

The time has come for my Annual Greed List – the large (and, yes, uncut) list of things I desire for Christmas in 2013. Why do I do this? If you’re really interested, here’s a brief history of the Greed List.
The briefer version, however, is that I think “What you want” is a reflection of “Who you are” at this moment – your music, your hobbies, your fandoms, who you are as a person.  I find it fascinating as a history, watching how what I’ve desired has mutated (the shifts away from physical objects is so bizarre, as I used to want tons of CDs and DVDs and now that’s mostly a computer file somewhere), and remembering what I thought I wanted so badly but turned out to be too much effort to turn into a hobby (last year’s fire poi), and the things I did want that became habit (last year’s straight razor).
And while I guess I could just toss all this on an Amazon Wishlist and send you over, why bother?  I want you to know who I am in this moment, and so I not only list what I want, but explain why I want it.
So here it is.  Here’s who I am this year, expressed in what I want, in descending order of most-lust to least-lust.
The Xbox One.
I’ve gone back and forth on this one, as I want to like the XBox One, but have listed the reasons I probably won’t buy it right away.  And it’s early in the days of the Console Wars, and maybe the XBox One will turn out to be the Nintendo Wii-U – an embarrassing, underpowered platform.  And that’s why I won’t drop $600 on the sucker.
But if someone wanted to get it for me as a gift….
I don’t know who would, honestly.  The only person who might conceivably splurge that much is Gini, and she’s made it clear she won’t.  (I can’t blame her.)  But if someone out there has a spare $600 and wanted to drop it on a random blogger, well, I’d definitely play it.  Probably.  I promise I’d be extremely excited about it.  At least on Christmas Day.
Okay, maybe not your best idea.
The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made, by Greg Sestero
At our house, we have a tradition: we lure people into watching The Room, the worst movie ever made.  Most of the so-called “bad movies” are a little sad, and a little monotone – I don’t like MST3k because they mock guys who were doing their best with no budget, on one-joke films.  After about ten minutes of these bad movies, we get that they can’t act and there’s no SFX budget and oh ha ha I am bored.
The Room, however, is a chameleon of suck, mutating into an entirely different terrible movie every ten minutes.  When you think you can’t take enough terrible soft-core porn, it becomes an incomprehensible drug family drama, and then a crime thriller.  Sorta.  It’s amazing.  And they had $6 million to make this fucking thing, and it looks awful.  I have watched The Room at least ten times, and its charm has not faded.
So an inside story by one of its lead actors?  In a book that is well-reviewed?  Be still, my beating heart.
The Black Guardian Trilogy, on DVD
This is where I fell in love with Doctor Who.
I hadn’t really seen Doctor Who before, but my friend Mark Goldstein had them all on tape.  And I watched this show where a man in a weird suit woke up in the cellar of a ship, a big 17th-century schooner, then walked out on deck to discover that the ships were sailing through space.
That is an iconic image for me.  It is all of sci-fi for me, this wonderful blending of tropes.  And I hadn’t really known you could do that, until Doctor Who showed me how.
And it is not a good series, Lord knows.  Even in terms of mid-1980s Doctor Who canon, Peter Davison fighting the Black Guardian isn’t his high-water moment.  But this is out on DVD now, and I want to recapture that magic, even if as with most old-school Doctor Who it is wrapped in tons of padded storylines and recycled “Oh, the Doctor has been captured again” moments so they can get the most usage out of the few sets they managed to build.
I do not believe in guilty pleasures, only indefensible ones.  My heart longs for this.  I know it’s not good, but it is fundamental to me, and I must have it.
Tangled, on Blu-Ray.
One of my favorite movies of all-time, right up there with The Princess Bride.  And we have the boring old regular DVD, which has no extras.
I wish to see the extras for one of the best movies of the last decade.  (Frozen may be better, but it’s not our on DVD yet.  I’ll just sing along with all the songs until Gini bashes me in the head with a frying pan.)
Elliptical Bike.
I don’t know a better way to put this, but it’s the kind of bike that has two handles so that you can work your arms out while you work your legs.  I use one of these at the cardiac rehab center, and it is so much better than a stationary bike.  And it’s so much better than a real bike, where you have to go outside and get sweaty and have people watch your ugly flabbiness carted around town, when I could just stay in my basement and watch Batman: the Animated series that I got last year for Christmas.  (Thanks, Dad!)
This doesn’t have to be new.  One suspects we could pick one up on Craigslist for $75.  I’d be happy with that.
Better Angels, by Greg Stolze
One of the unexpected benefits of getting into podcasts – which I did because we got a dog, and to walk the dog for an hour a day involves needing some auditory distraction – is getting back into RPGs.  And so I discovered this gem from one of the creators of Unknown Armies, which may be my all-time favorite RPG (and a larger influence on my current novel than I’d like to admit).
Better Angels asks the question, “Why are supervillains so evil and so smart yet so incompetent?”  And the answer is that there is a secret organization that imprisons demons inside the bodies of the noblest men.  These noble men (and woman!) agree to harbor the demon so it will do the least amount of damage – but the demon needs to be appeased.  And so these poor sacrificial lambs enact huge plans they know are doomed to fail, big splashy things to make a demon happy yet easily toppled by the right people.
They are the supervillains.  They are the heroes.  And you play them.
Three Parts Dead, by Max Gladstone
Again, listening to a lot of podcasts – which are mostly roleplaying and book-related ‘casts for me – puts me in touch with a lot of really good books I want to read.  Max Gladstone was nominated for the Campbell this year for his debut novel, which mixes law school with magic.  That’s an interesting combo I hadn’t seen, and so I want to read it in the tub.  I need physical copies of all my books, man.  The tub is where my reading gets done, and I can’t risk my iPhone in there.
…Okay, I can.  And do.  But I like being able to put my electronic instruments of text-distraction aside for a while to just turn pages.  There’s a quiet beauty in that that I still like to experience.  It’s a joy that will doubtlessly be old-fashioned in another twenty years – is now, I guess – but I’m not willing to give it up, and so I want the dead tree editions.
Hamlet’s Hit Points, by Robin D. Laws
Robin Laws is one of the better RPG designers out there, and he wrote a book on plot structure – from an RPG point of view.
Now, I’m actually terrible at plotting.  Or, actually, I’m good at it, but I can’t outline to save my life, and I don’t think like other plotters do; I’m very organic.  I stumble across all my plots, and when I hear people saying things like “A scene is where two people walk in with conflicting motivations, and one is successful in achieving that,” I think of my own stories where that often happens, but it’s inevitably by accident.  I don’t think in terms of setting people up like some sort of mechanical clockspring.  I just put them in a room and they do things, and mostly those things result in a story.
And so I’m fascinated by the people who do get the internal structures of plotting, as Robin does.  I’d like to see his take on it, because I don’t know that it helps me write but Holy God is it neat to see.
Yurbuds Ear Plugs
My earplugs fall out all the time.  These come recommended, and I can wear them under my sweet hat.
Shadowrun 5th Edition Rulebook
Shadowrun is one of the classic RPGs, a mixture of fantasy and cyberpunk.  It’s known for being intensely flavorful, and almost utterly unplayable thanks to FASA’s traditional love of really complicated rules for little upside, and also for having characters interact in planes where the rest of the party is utterly useless.  (You’re a hacker, huh?  Well, you get to go play in cyberspace, where none of the other PCs can venture!  Oh, and the mage has kipped off to the astral plane, similarly masturbating!)
Still, I have a lot of fondness for Shadowrun, and they brought it back thanks to a successful Kickstarter, and I would love to see what they’ve done with it.  Maybe the rules don’t suck quite as much!  Maybe the guy who drives the car can do something other than cowering in every firefight until it’s time to peel out!  And even if I never play it, it’s still fun to read!
Beyond The Rift by Peter Watts
Peter Watts wrote the most mind-blowing novel I have read as an adult: That would be Blindsight, which is actually a cleverly-concealed argument that mankind is…
…oh, I’ll let you read it.  But really.  It changes your view of life.  Itself!
That’s because Peter Watts is a biologist, and so his aliens are really alien.  And unsettlingly plausible.  And his story “The Things” is also awesome, and so this short story collection of his is something I covet.
But don’t read Blindsight unless you want to know something about your biology you may not want to know.  It’s that good.
The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson
Brandon, I know mainly for being very nice to me at a convention when he didn’t have to.  He’s a big author, huge, and yet was very nice to this short story writer and offered to play Magic with me.  So I like him.  And he’s great on panels, as he would be because his podcast Writing Excuses (well, his podcast with several other smart writers I admire) is awesome.
He’s also famed for really consistent magical systems, so much so that his fans have actually hypothesized (and correctly!) what had to happen in future books because according to the physics of his spells, X would have to happen… and it did.  So when I hear he has a YA book out with a new magic system, I want to try that.
The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu
Speaking of Writing Excuses, I heard Wesley talk on there, and his background as a martial artist and stuntman sounded fascinating.  The only other guy I know who is a martial artist who writes is Joe Lansdale, and Joe is one of my pantheon of Godly authors.  So that’s intriguing.  Then you throw in the idea that Wesley wanted to write a story about a pudgy, middle-aged nobody who, via alien possession, becomes a badass, and that character arc snapped me right into “interesting.”
Muppets Animal Underwear
Do I really need to give an explanation of my deep need for this?
Cloud Atlas on Blu-Ray DVD
Cloud Atlas was a very underrated movie about reincarnation – while it’s beautiful and ambitious, the horrible makeup pretty much killed it.  Yes, you can turn a South Korean woman into a ginger, but the results are kind of eye-searing.  And I know, they were trying to show how people can change races and sexes through their various lives, but by God that horrible yellowface makeup on Jim Sturgess did not help.
Still, I have a long habit of loving movies that are more about the idea than the execution, and this is no exception.  Cloud Atlas has been on HBO several times, and I’ve enjoyed it more on each watch; I’d love the bonus features, and I’d love to watch it whenever I see fit.
Dishonored, for the Xbox 360
I’ve heard good things about this game, and I need a shoot-’em-up to occupy my time.  (Note: Good games are thin on the ground this year.  This may be the first time in recorded history where a videogame didn’t make my top four.)
Microphone Pop FilterI’m getting into podcasting, and I’m told this is nice to stop all my plosive “P”s from bursting people’s eardrums.  Though the first podcast I recorded sounded pretty good to me.  Thankfully, this is cheap.
Hereville: How Mirka Met A Meteorite, by Barry Deutsch
The first book in this series promised: “Yet Another Troll-Fighting 11-Year-Old Orthodox Jewish Girl.”  And lo, they did fight.  This quirky little graphic novel was charmingly unpredictable, and I’d like to see if the second in the series is as good as the first.

1 Comment

  1. Mark D
    Dec 4, 2013

    If you’re looking for a good sneaky shooter for the Xbox, I would go with Far Cry 3. I recently finished it on PS3, and it is a blast to play and has some really interesting characters.

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