Thoughts From a Friend   

Star's friend Christine writes:

I have been thinking and thinking, since I heard the news, and reading
everyone's blogs. I™ve been trying to gather the courage to sit down
and write about my relationship with Star. But how the hell do I condense
almost twenty-three years of knowing Star into something short? And not
depressing? Because I m still in shock and probably will be for some
time and waver between functioning through tears and anger at the
situation. But I will take up the challenge, because if there's one
thing Star taught me, it was not to fear putting myself out there. She was
one of the bravest people I knew, in more ways than one.
I met Star completely through chance. She drew the short straw and had to
show the new girl with the funny accent around in Mrs. Bobby's fourth
grade class. I didn't realize at the time that I had met my best friend.
I can't remember NOT knowing Star, now. I think, until we went to
college in two different cities, that Star and I talked almost every day.
(And we did the first few weeks of school, until that first phone bill.)
Star and I were very much alike, in interests and talents; but Star was
much more of an extroverted, people person than I. Star knew
everybody—and got along with them! I'm still not entirely sure how or
why she put up with my much less personable personality.
She was there for every major event in my life: from the end of the Texas
exile, through the nerve-wracking planning of a wedding, to the deaths and
illnesses of parents and stepparents. Indeed, she was often the architect
of many of the minor events, even if she didn't realize it. We both got
drafted to write for the grade school yearbook .(our first taste of
publishing and a public reading audience). She's the reason my first real
concert was the Monkees. She got me into my one and only organized
sport (bowling) and early on Saturday mornings, no less. Blame her for
my teenage metal fixation and pages of bad glam girl-band lyrics we wrote
(Rock on, Vudu Dahl!). Her fault I thought I could sing in public (even as
part of a large group of equally untuneful voices)! Miles apart, we both
ended up with the same college major/minor and graduated equally
unemployable. She even introduced me to my husband, way back when in high
school, and put up with all the years of angst until we actually got
married. People who know me but had never met Star knew who she was,
because whenever I talked about something in my past, her name came up.
Hell, I'd even talk about my friend and what she had talked about on her
blog lately…
It hurts that she won't be in any more of my stories.
Even though Star and I hadn't been as close in recent years as we used
to be, it was comforting and empowering to know that she was always there.
Adult life doesn't lend itself easily to friendships like childhood
does. Husbands and kids, jobs and houses, time gets eaten up. I fault
myself, mostly, for that. I am misanthropic by nature, and difficult to
get along with. We reconnected periodically, but not often enough. Our
last conversation was a short e-mail about Halloween costumes and
attending/not attending our fifteen-year high-school reunion. I was going,
Star wasn't, and I didn't understand why she wouldn't want to go. I
didn't press her on it, let it drop; I wish I had harassed her a bit
more, so that I could have seen her in person. I did, however, read her
blog regularly; even if we couldn't hang out or catch up easily, I liked
to hear what she was up to. Whatever her latest adventure was, it was
certainly always interesting! Star did things I would never have the time
(or bravado) to do, but would really have liked to. (Except diving with
sharks. I never wanted to do that. Irreparably scarred by a Jaws viewing
as a child.)
It was only after she was gone that I realized just how far apart we had
drifted. I never even knew about Michael until I met him at the funeral.
And I am struck about how big and how small that space between us was. My
connection to Star was there, and will always be there. I regret some
things now, but I feel very lucky to have had her at all, any way that I
could. She was one of the special souls that touches all who know them,
even if it is only to make gentle fun of you (or not so gentle fun, on a
few rare occasions).
And that is the positive that I am trying to take out of this negative.
Make the time for things, for people, for experiences that matter. Don’t
get caught up in living and doing the things you do just because you are
supposed to do them. My children won't remember if my kitchen floor
never got swept; they'l remember that I played dress-up with them even
though none of the outfits fit me and I was never allowed to be the
And every time Lily wants to be a pirate, I'll think of Star.

Posted by Star on Wednesday, January 31, 2007
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Just A Word   

Hello everyone. I have been thinking of all of you , wondering how you are doing and what is new in your lives. Many thanks to those of you who shared some memories of Star with the rest of us. The floor is still open, to that, and for anything else you might want to say. I think that Star would like to know that we are all still hanging out together, here , at Sarcasmo's Corner.

So leave a comment so we can catch up. Or send me a post at and I'll put it up.

While I'm waiting for you all to chime in thought I would leave you with the link to Star's very first post on this blog.

Here it is. The one that started it all.

And folks, don't forget to write!

Posted by Star on Sunday, January 28, 2007
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The following is a eulogy to Sarcasmo, written by her friend Dan. It appears in SPAG, an ezine for gamers.

Dan writes:

A EULOGY FOR STAR FOSTER by Daniel Ravipinto-------------------------------[Most of us in the IF community know Star Foster as the co-author with Daniel Ravipinto of 2003's Competition winner Slouching Towards Bedlam, one of the most played and discussed IF works of the last five years. It is too easy to forget, though, that there is much more to the people behind IF than the games they create, that IF is just an enjoyable hobby and distraction from real life for most of us. Here then is Dan's tribute to Star Foster the human being, who passed away on December 10, 2006. --JM]There are no words to sum up the life of Star Foster, but words are all I have. Words, and stories, and anecdotes and small slices of fact assembled into some whole that will, of course, come far from encompassing who she really was, and how much her passing will leave us without.But words are a start.So much of Star's life was a love affair with the written word. Both words in the abstract, their meanings, ideas, etymology, and words as physical, living things. She loved the sound, shape and tone of a turn of phrase, the feel and smell of books. She loved words as vibrant, living things existing at the intersection of mind and body, the cognitive and the emotional.She read voraciously and never alone. She was a member of a monthly book club and was always lending and borrowing books with her friends, always ready to share another new favorite.Writing (though not the writing process) was her passion, but she never thought she wrote enough and she never thought of herself as a 'real' writer. She was wrong about that, as she was wrong about few things.It's not surprising that she was endlessly delighted at the success of Slouching Towards Bedlam, her first foray into interactive-fiction, for it meant she could truthfully call herself an award-winning writer.Slouching was in many ways an intersection of many of Star's passions: Victorian language and society, weird and interesting technology, language and meaning, and most importantly, a solid story. Star had always been fascinated with games, especially those that told tales. As a child, when she couldn't find anyone to join her in playing Dark Tower (one of the first electronic board games ever made), she sat alone in her room for hours, imagining adventures between the canned noises and the blinks of LEDs.Of interactive-fiction, she once wrote, "It's a phenomenal art form, full of creative possibilities, that allows a truly intimate exchange between the writer and the player. Too often these games are shadowed by their graphic-rich cousins, many of which can't be bothered with intricate details like plot, pacing, and story. Interactive fiction is more than just another kind of game; it's another kind of literature."Literature was one of the lenses through which Star viewed the world.Another was the lens of her camera.She loved Philadelphia, her life-long home, as I have seen few places loved. She knew the city inside and out, and yet was always discovering new secrets, new surprises which she shared at every opportunity.During her many winsome wanderings around the city she would take photos of whatever caught her eye: doorways, statues, gravestones, historical sites, and even hastily taped-up flyers admonishing the viewer to vote for John Kerry.She'd post them on her blog (, and to a long-time city dweller these places were usually familiar, yet through her lens they seemed somehow new.Again, Star never did anything in a vacuum. The most important part of her journey was the sharing: the stories and anecdotes told afterwards. Her stories were always a part of her community, told to her family and friends as she encouraged them to share their own.Star found adventure everywhere.She once wrote a children's novel for National Novel Writing Month about a boy who steps through a small door in his school and finds adventures on the other side. Star was fascinated with doors, always curious about where they led, about what was on the other side.I've since come to learn that these doors, constructed to provide access to ductwork and plumbing, are called "trouble doors", and they were a perfect fascination and metaphor for a woman for whom safe was never quite good enough.Star had more stories and more adventures than anyone I've ever known. She'd been a pirate and scream queen. She'd joined a secret society just to find out what they did. She'd been to Japan. She'd gone swimming with sharks. She'd sung in a piano bar in a boa.Star knew where all the trouble doors in life were, and although she sometimes doubted, worried, and was scared, none of that stopped her from venturing through them.And I was sometimes lucky enough to go along with her.On December 10, 2006, Star Foster stepped through another door, and this time I can't follow. I hope that someday, when my adventures are over, I'll meet her on the other side and find her, waiting and impatient, with more stories, more adventures.More words.

Posted by Star on Thursday, January 18, 2007
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Re: 100 Things About Sarcasmo   

Tom writes:

26. I like to dance, but I'm terrible at it.""64. I like long walks in the rain, but hate to admit it because it makes me sound like a parody of a dating advert." "94. I don't sing well enough to front the band.""95. This does not stop me from enjoying karoke with friends."101. Star was modest.After a long, pointless, danceless 36-year preexistence which I'll admit to vaguely remembering (something about the birth of my child comes through clearly, the rest is fuzzy), I finally took up latin and ballroom dancing early in aught-six. In July, Star joined me for a salsa lesson at Brasils, a nightclub here in Philly. Though we had both discovered Sex Dwarf, DJ Robert Drake's incredible 80's club event, she had never "really danced" before. Apart from dancing with her sisters - and, she explained, as the eldest she usually had to lead. But hey, why not give it a whirl? It was something new to try, a scary and exciting experience in a new and different place. Which is to say, she took right to it.And she was wonderful. She was wonderful because she threw herself into it with a will. Because she smiled. Because she was warm and enthusiastic. Because she paid attention to what she was doing and learned... very quickly. And because she was fearless. If she misstepped, then she laughed it off and went right on. If she wasn't sure how something worked, she asked. And she let me lead. Though I had only started salsa lessons two months before, she admired the flickering flame of my sorry little candle of salsa knowledge and made me feel competent and graceful and... well... generally badass. Afterwards we walked to her bus stop, and a block or two past Brasils the sky opened, drenching us both. That might have been frustrating, but with Star it was the opposite. The night was warm and as the summer squall somehow crossed the line between the torrential and the biblical, we found ourselves both staring straight up at the sky and laughing. And then we had an attack of common sense and hailed her a cab.Soon after she started taking dance lessons of her own. At the Academy of Social Dance. Featuring the "saddest prom ever," in Star's words - a Thursday night dance party with her fellow students. She enjoyed it very much. I never did make it to the saddest prom ever. I was studying at Society Hill Dance Academy... with its own parallel Thursday night mandatory-fun dance party. Putting the two of us in the same room took an act of congress, or the promise of a piano bar. We were both busy doing a million impossible things in a given day. Which was why we liked each other, of course. I'd hoped to get together more often, but instead we developed a Spirit - Opportunity relationship. And it worked. It made me happy, just knowing she was over there on the other side of the Red Planet, investigating cool new rocks. If we got to actually see each other, hey, that was a bonus. One of my last Star Encounters came at my 36th birthday party. I dragged everyone to Moriarty's for a karaoke-fest.Star brought Michael along - not yet officially dating, mind you. This did not fool anyone, or anyway not me. The two of them had that fabulous together glow... you know, the glow your onscreen avatar gets in "karaoke revolution" when you're really kicking ass? I hope the simile isn't too literary. Of course, as the birthday boy, it was my honor and privilege to make people do stupid things. I made Star sing "Brass in Pocket," by the Pretenders. And whaddaya know? It wasn't a stupid thing at all. It was glorious. We danced just once more, just after that. And in fact it was the last time we saw each other. It was early October, in her tiny little kitchen. We didn't quite fit together, dancing any one particular step.I knew salsa, and tried too many new steps too quickly. She knew the foxtrot, and mine needed serious mending. She taught me the rhumba, and maybe that worked best, because I had the chance to listen and watch and learn for a change. Star was always beautiful in motion. She had all of our attention. There was nobody else here, no way like her. There still isn't.-Tom Boutell

Posted by Star on Sunday, January 14, 2007
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Re: 100 Things About Sarcasmo   

Matt Fragale writes:

Dearest Sarcasmom,

I have been checking in occasionally, (as I have been for a year or so) to see what, if anything would happen with Sarcasmo’s page. I considered writing a blog post for Sarcasmo’s blog when you first asked for guest posters, but I felt that since I did not know Star other than from her blog that it would be better if some of the people who really did know her and were touched in more meaningful ways than I were the first. I’m so glad to see that people are doing so now. I imagine they may all have had different reasons for not wanting to be the first to jump in, too.

Funny that you challenged everyone to write about the 100 things about Sarcasmo page. They are kind of all over the net, and I think most people discount them, as you suggest you thought Sarcasmo would. But whenever I see one on a blog or something, it is the first thing I look at. Why? Not necessarily because in itself it gives you any great (or even true) information about the person (though in some cases, it does). What it does do is give you a pretty good idea of where they are coming from. Their humor, writing style.. general bent of their personality. When I read Star’s 100 things, there were a few that particularly resonated with me. And so, here they are, my “Best of” list of Star’s 100 Things (with parenthetical commentary):

#/20: I like cheese, monkeys, and naps; one equally as much as the other, but rarely in conjunction with each other. (I too am fond of cheese and monkeys, though not necessarily naps… but I love that Star made sure to point out that monkeys, naps and cheese don’t go together well. I shudder to think what a monkey might do with cheese while I was napping)

#38 and #39: Halloween is my favorite holiday.
This is followed by Free Comic Book Day - which is not a sanctioned holiday, but should be. (BUAHAHAHA!)

#56: Even though I am allergic to most furry animals, I'd like that bookstore to have a cat (see #55). I'm a firm believer in the institution of the Bookstore Cat. (There is a used bookstore near my house.. okay, not really near, but close enough that I go there a lot because it’s that cool… anyway, they have a bookstore cat. His name is Page. On the window by the door is a sign. The sign has a picture of Page on it, under which are the words “Hi, my name is Page. I am the bookstore cat. I really like to bite and scratch when people try to pet me.” #56 reminded me of the day that I went there and Page let me pet him. Just for a moment. Before he tried to scratch. And bite. Man, he’s fast.)

#61: I resent modern ideas about brevity of thought and language. Words should be allowed to stretch and breathe and roll off the tongue and/or on the page. (Me too, sister. Me too. And throw in #62, as well. See everything I’ve written above for proof.)

#99: I think people who say "and this is where the magic happens" when showing off their bedrooms lack a great deal of imagination. (I have never been, nor met anyone who said that. Based on my own personal experience then, I am assuming this was directed at a specific individual and/ or incident, and I found myself wondering about this encounter. Unless maybe it’s a Philly thing? Do a lot of people there say “and this is where the magic happens”? I bet not. So anyway, I can only envision this happening on a TV sitcom, so it HAS to have been a funny story. In my head I picture a second date gone horribly awry. #101 maybe should be: “I keep some amusing things to myself, perhaps to protect the partially innocent, but also perhaps just so I can keep that laugh for when I need it later”.

That’s all from me.

Posted by Sarcasmo on Thursday, January 11, 2007
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Re; 100 Things About Sarcasmo   

Rae writes:**

63 - Someday I mean to have a deep, claw-foot slipper tub, preferrably in cast iron. Then I shall fill it will bubbles and possibly never leave.
69 - I long for the day the lounging pajama is considered the height of fashion.
I think I found #s 63 and 69 the most interesting; especially as they are exactly how I feel too. Sarcasmo's corner was the first blog I read religiously, and as I read and chatted with Star via email over the years, we discovered a similarity in many of our thoughts, feelings and lives. We joked on a few occasions that we were each other's personality doppelgangers.
Until this challenge, I didn't read the 100 things list very closely. Sure, I skimmed it, as you do with such lists, but with the challenge came the chance to sit and read through the list fully to see what was in there and what was so familiar about Star.
63 reads about having a deep claw footed bath. I can just imagine Star lolling back in the bubbles and indulging in a good book while the water, unnoticed, slowly goes cold.
69 states about lounging pajamas being fashionable. If I had've read this one earlier in the year, I'd have organized a set of Peter Alexander PJ's for Star's birthday present. I like to imagine that she'd never have taken them off, until the very last minute of leaving home. And only then with a pang of regret that she couldn't wear them outside the house unless it was her favourite holiday; Halloween.
I didn't know these things about Star until I read the list fully, but now that I do know them, my imagination allows me to share some time with a friend.

**Update- I originally linked to a different blog for Rae. So if you went to visit, please go back again. Oh-- and congratulations are definately in order!

Posted by Sarcasmo on Monday, January 08, 2007
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Re: 100 Things About Sarcasmo   

Sarcas-sis writes:

Mom, this is something I was working on for my own blog, but you may have it :

I was pleasantly surprised the first time I read Star's top 100 that I knew pretty much everything on it. Star and I struggled a bit to define our relationship as we became adults. We spent to much of our early 20's focusing on the ways we were different, instead of embracing the things we had in common, which it turns out were greater in number anyway. As we learned to appreciate and respect each other, we became friends. Great friends. But I often wondered if I was not privy to the real her. Much like everyone who knew her, I longed to be in her inner circle. Unlike most people who knew her, I had been longing for that for most of my life. I learned, of course, that I was. That our friendship was real, and not simply because we are sisters. But it was stronger for the fact that we are.

12. I am prepared to accept sponsorship to be a world traveler.
I chose this one because it was something that we talked about often. We had plans, Star and I. We were going to convince a travel magazine to pay us to travel the world. She was going to write and I was going to take the pictures. This of course was not to be confused with the plans to start our own marketing firm, or write music together (this one was when we were kids), or the variety of cockamamie plans we came up with on a regular basis to escape from the drudgery of our dull lives. Except our lives weren't dull. And maybe that's why we never seriously pursued it. Or maybe we were just too busy to do anything about it. I always held out hope that someday this plan would be the one that would pan out.

Posted by Sarcasmo on Friday, January 05, 2007
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Re: 100 Things About Sarcasmo   

TrackerNeil writes:

Looking at #70 of the 100 things, I'm reminded of an RPG I GMed a few years back, in which Sarcasmo participated. She used a gnome (a three-foot-tall bearded critter, for the uninitiated) named Aloysius who was into books and learning, but was also surprisingly truculent when the situation demanded it. Unfortunately, this didn't make him all that good at actually fighting, but was Sarcasmo deterred? No way! I remember one session in which Aloysius and another character ventured out behind their inherited manor house one night (don't ask) and encountered a vampire intent on mayhem. When Sarcasmo realized that there was no way Aloysius was getting back to the house before the vamp was on him, she sent the redoubtable gnome into battle, dagger in hand. The vampire, amused but uncowed, let loose with a mighty punch that, I announced, sent Aloysius flying four feet. Without missing a beat, Sarcasmo rapped out, "Towards the house?"That's not what reminded me of #70, though. In another session, the characters discovered this coded message I'd spent a good long time composing, creating my own code and everything. I handed the message to Sarcasmo, and she and Peccable got to work while I turned to deal with the goings-on among the other characters. I'd figured the whole group would have to get involved with the decrypting, but before I could say, "Roll for initiative" Sarcasmo chirped. "Got it!" I resolved that the next time I came up with a secret code I'd make sure Sarcasmo's character was struck temporarily blind so the code might actually STAY secret for, say, five minutes or so.Sheesh. Who said players were supposed to be so damned smart?

Posted by Sarcasmo on Monday, January 01, 2007
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