This is a newsletter by Christian Sager that comes out every other Tuesday. In it I attempt to make sense of the chaos of the world. I try to sort that information along the model of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. This issue I write about my dog's health, Portland's threshold for opening emergency homeless shelters, a murderer, some newsletters I recommend, the future of Corridor and my current roleplaying game.
Essie Blue’s still struggling. The vet determined she had multiple strains of bacteria in her nose, including E. Coli. She’s been on a battery of antibacterial medicines to zap it out of her system, but a couple of days ago she stopped eating. A closer look revealed a bleeding growth on the gum of her lower jaw. Now she's having trouble breathing. We went to the vet today and were referred to an oncologist in Vancouver, WA, where she's currently spending the night.
Many signs point to this being a form of cancer called lymphoma. We're hoping there is a a decent prognosis tomorrow and, if necessary, she'll be able to begin chemotherapy quickly. Keep her in your thoughts today.
I can’t recall a local weatherman weighing in on the homelessness problem. But here in Portland, KGW’s Rod Hill interjected during a morning news story about the city’s “threshold” for opening emergency service shelters in the winter. Apparently temperatures must be 25º F or below. Alternatively they’ll open if there’s an inch or more of snow on the ground or if the temperature is below 32º F with heavy rain. On Tuesday, Nov. 15, Hill chimed in how ridiculous those parameters are, given that Portland rarely reaches them.
It’s been consistently frigid enough the last week that even my cold, dead heart needed to bundle up. Walking to work the other day I passed a man sleeping on a bench while I was listening to Chat Pile’s “Why.” The lyrics drove home horribly:
Why do people have to live outside?
In the brutal heat or when it’s below freezing
There are people that are made to live outside
Why do people have to live outside
When there are buildings all around us
With heat on and no one inside
As I’m writing this another American committed a mass shooting, this time in Colorado Springs. The news says he’s 22-years-old.
I have difficulty when I try to imagine this human — who was 0 years old when I was his age. I can't picture this human who was so pumped full of hate that he murdered those people.
In Oregon we just passed a new gun control law. But a group of our elected sheriffs are refusing to enforce it.
I don’t have a lot of reflections this time, so I decided instead to share some of my favorite newsletters I’ve read since we last spoke.
- Corinna Bechko wrote on her Patreon about storytelling and genre-hopping.
- Leah Sottile wrote on Substack about Twitter and why it’s a toxic relationship she no longer wishes to participate in.
- Annalee Newitz wrote on Buttondown about Twitter and how it’s proof that the singularity is no longer a helpful model for thinking about the future.
- Jonathan and Melissa Nightingale wrote on MailChimp about how Instagram and LinkedIn are like in-person trade shows, where everyone pretends to be a “Disney Princess.”
- Nick Cave wrote on The Red Hand Files about good faith conversations and looking for common ground.
The following message is being sent to all of Corridor's previous supporters. We're also going to publish it on our site and social media channels. I'm sharing it here as well.
Dear Corridor supporters,
Above you should see the cover we commissioned from artist Tyler Crook for the second volume of Corridor. Tyler finished this back in September of 2021, so we’ve been sitting on it for almost a year at this point.
We’re sharing Tyler’s cover with you now for a few reasons. Like us, we know you’re always hungry for new, weird horror art.
Secondly, we’ve decided to put Corridor on hiatus for the foreseeable future until the landscape is a little friendlier to projects like ours. Hopefully in a few months, there will be more stable, alternative options on the table.
Our reasoning for stepping back falls into a few buckets: media landscape, resources, and fulfillment.
It has been an uphill battle with this project, ever since we launched in 2020. While at times this felt personal, it is really because we’re living through a period of immense destabilization right now.
The media landscape is bleak. Crowdfunding isn’t the same as it was when I started back in 2010, and there is no viable alternative experience for our minimum budget of $21,000. Similarly, between Twitter’s Elon Musk fiasco and Facebook’s navel-gazing into the metaverse, we can’t rely on social media channels to promote our campaigns either. So while we have looked at other options, none seem to be a good fit for Corridor given our funding goals and overall mission.
On August 30, 2022, we hoped that grant funding would be an alternative funding avenue but after some research, we realized it would be even more work that we don’t have the resources to make happen. Given that Corridor is a three-member team, it became a capacity issue that was unsustainable for our families and careers.
Finally, but just as importantly, fulfillment remains unstable and issues abound. How many times have you heard the phrase “supply chain issues” lately? It’s because the economics of freight transportation are completely upended. (While I thought we were the only ones dealing with this, Christopher Sahlén’s November 2, 2022 update for the immensely popular Cy_Borg and Mörk Borg roleplaying games reported on their own fulfillment nightmare which is eerily similar to issues we have faced.)
Rather than continue to bang our heads against the wall that is capitalist disruption, we’re going to step back and take a breath. Then in about 6 months, we will check out the landscape and see how we can plot and scheme the best way to get more weird horror from your eyeballs into your brains.
In the meantime, look with awe at the cover Tyler Crook created and wonder: What stories might spin out of the prompts he provided us here?
My weekly gaming group finished our Invisible Sun campaign this week. If you’re unfamiliar, I’ve been describing Invisible Sun as the Cones of Dunshire mixed with psychedelic, surreal occultism. It’s both complicated and weird in a way that ticks all the right boxes for me.
I played a version of an antagonist I’m working on for a novel, an immoral man with the ability to imprison souls and make them play out his dreams. The game not only helped me understand how to approach this character better, but it allowed me to continually make “utterly realistic fake corpses” of any creature I touched.
We’re segwaying from one Monte Cook ruleset to another by picking up the Cypher System for my long talked about “Planejammer” campaign. Using the mechanics of Cypher (which are pretty similar to Invisible Sun) we’ll be mixing the Spelljammer and Planescape settings together with Cook’s own Planebreaker game and a dash of Numenera for fun. If none of that means anything to you, we’ll be flying spaceships between dimensions to explore more sci-fi/fantasy weirdness.
- Essie Blue's fierce determination
- Kevin O’Neill