Friday, August 31, 2007

The Mist was one of my favorite short stories when I was a teenager. Although I like some of his recent short stories, I don't think anything has surpased Skeleton Crew in terms of sheer creepiness. The Jaunt still kind of freaks me out.

I like end of the world stories, and particularly liked The Mist because it was such a baroque end of the world story. The world is shrouded in mist. No big deal, right? But there are monsters in the mist. An endless variety of monsters. I've often thought about doing a Mist one shot RPG for Halloween one year, but never gone ahead and done it.

So, in a movie season largely devoid of films I am desperate to see, it gives me the Googly Mooglies to find a trailer for a Mist film. I am so there November 21st.

As I mentioned in my Soap Opera post, I had some very good reading luck. In addition to the titles menioned there, I lucked upon Wildside, an old school style SF novel that postulates an odd technical problem and then lovingly describes the interesting problems it engenders while building a slapdash plot around it. There are a lot of reasons it wasn't a good book: deux ex machina ending piled on top of an explanation for the phenomenon that wanted to be shocking but really wasn't, the author didn't take opportunities for narrative tension (all in all, the book needed more Sabertooth Tigers, I think). Despite all of that, I really enjoyed it. It was short, it moved, it had a Swiss Family Robinson feel that made me remember why I enjoyed Science Fiction as a kid, and the main character was engaging in a Mary Sue via The Great Brain kind of way.

Then I read The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag, a novella in a collection of Heinlein stories. I don't think I've ever read Heinleinian fantasy, but that's what it was. Or, more properly, Heinlein's take on Cosmic Horror. It was very Lovecraftian, despite the lack of shambling horrors. Also a flawed but fun work, full of his wonderfully nuanced writing for adults: beautiful descriptions. I was interested that some of his curmudgitations on the nature of people seem timeless. I shouldn't be: nobody bitches about anything new, except for bitching about everything new. But some times I think we feel like Scott Adams invented workplace dissatisfaction. Turns out, not so much.

Last, I ran across some copies of the Chronicals of Wormwood. This is a graphic novel title by Garth Ennis. As usual for Garth Ennis, it emphasizes the graphic. The novel part is engaging. The story is about Wormwood, the Antichrist, who works as a producer for cable television shows.

Then I had some bad luck with sloppy comics writing. I picked up The World Below because it was by Paul Chadwick, and I like Concrete. And it's about monsters and robots in a hidden subterranean kingdom. What could go wrong? Well, despite its fun premised, and some cool ideas (a monster that reproduces by tearing off an opponents head and sticking an egg on the stump that turns into a new head. Also, the monster swaps limbs with fallen creatures), it's slow and full of little sermons, none of which I found particularly new. I can see why it got cancelled, and only his name got it collected.

Then I picked up Side Scrollers, which is Clerks, with three guys instead of two. It is comical vignettes driven by absurd dialog about pop culture and slacker life. It even has a Jay and Silent Bob duo. Just, none of it is as good as Clerks.

C'est La Vie. I picked up a novel, er, work of non-fiction about the end of the world, which is coming up in 2012. Though lacking in anything like rigor or focus, I'm making my way slowly through it and having fun. I love end of the world fiction. I'm having fun by treating this as non-fiction.

But... I'm thinking it's a good excuse to have a party.

I wonder what apocalypse will come after 2012?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Funnest free game evar.

Bible Fight.

This is Eve taking a beating from Satan. In the Garden of Eden, no less. I really like the art. The moves are really spectacular. I am unimpressed with loaves and fishes, but cross bash is most excellent. As always, Satan's are the most extravagant.

In all fairness, the controls are a pain. But I really dig the art. It makes the bible look fun! Which, you know. The bible has a hard time being for me. Fun, that is.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Ninjas and Leviticus

This and this.

Comic book and RPG collectors of the world, rejoice

Your collections are all incrementally more valuable.

If ever there was a week for blogging, this is it.

On Sunday night, I realized that our basement was flooding minutes before our game was started. So I had to send my gamers packing while Ruby canvassed the neighbors for a water vac and then out to Meijers to buy fans, since ours had died in storage. We got the basement dried, but not before two boxes of books, five or six boxes of comics and magazines, a couple of miscellaneous boxes, and a rolled up carpet got soaked through.

I am not a collector, certainly not a speculator. Sorting through the stuff that got wasted, I was a little surprised at the stuff I kept that I didn't much care about one way or the other. Still, losing my run of Dungeon will hurt. I could have scrounged for ideas in there. And some of the stuff I lost was stuff that I remember fondly, and will never be republished. Like the Warlock 5 series, that was just totally over the top goodness.

Then I spent all night throwing up. Hooray.


Poppy's party went very well. Her presents include lots of new dinosaurs, a pokemon plush, some my pretty pony toys, and some games and puzzles that we can play together from her very thoughtful friends. She's having a great time with them, playing in a frenzy, and we both appreciate the new stimulation. The party itself was a blast. I love Montessori because it's taught her so much, and because she's met so many nice kids there.


I downloaded and created the membership for the 10 day trial of the Dungeons and Dragons multiplayer. It took two days to download the updates, so by the time I started playing last night, I had eight days left. Can't argue with the price, though.

I have come to the conclusion, having tried three, that Massive Multiplayer games are all alike. They are fun as point and shoots or adventure games, but not really enthralling. By the time I finished Neverwinter Nights, I think I had decided that computer RPGs wouldn't ever be more than an occasional thing for me.

The story lines, structurally and inspirationally, are pretty much the same quality across the board. As a game, they are a bad value: ten bucks a month as opposed to fifty bucks for unlimited play is not good deal.

The real value in MMP games are: the look of the game, whether you want to spend time looking at it, and the potential to play with other people. That's kind of fun if you can do it.

I found City of Heroes was pretty friendly, World or Warcraft less so, and after four or six hours of playing DND, it seems like the community is more scarce than stand offish.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Turn and face the strange changes...

All right slugger... walk it off. You can do it. Walk it off.

I, uh.

I signed on to the dungeons and dragons website, and I saw this:

For the uninitiated, this is a reference to the long expected fourth edition of dungeons and dragons. All my current books and notes may go kaplooey, depending on how much they change the system.

It's like hearing that your favorite television show is getting canceled. But more so. Cause, you know. This is like fitty percent of my slack time.

I must needs wait for news, but what this means to me on the fly is:

* I don't think I'll be buying in. I don't really want to drop a ton of cash on a new game system right now. Even if the new system is smoove like dat, I can't see putting the kind of money I'd want to into the game.

* My other blog may be entirely outdated.

* I was looking forward to trying the new digital content utility wizards was working on for D and D. But I'm less inclined to do so now.

* Monte Cook's World of Darkness looks cooler to me, so far. I've been wanting to try something besides straight heroic fantasy for a long while.

* Money for DND books can go to something else. Or I can catch up on some stuff. That might be a positive...

Waily, waily.

update 4:14 PM

Scuttlebutt sounds like some pretty big rules changes coming.

A lot of people on the newsgroups are greeting this positively, and I say good on them. Make it a good think for you. Nothing's going to stop it coming, after all. I'm still hoping that many people stick with d20. I will need new material. Anybody want to trade?

Ah, to be quick and funny.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Soap vs. Pulp

I like Harry Potter. I don't love Harry Potter. I don't memorize the trivia of the milieu. I wasn't waiting breathlessly for the new book. But I liked all the books, and read them quickly. They were engaging reads for a lot of really different people. They are a soap opera, and it surprised me that I enjoyed them so much. For a time, I thought that she had updated the fantasy genre with elements of the soap opera. But the more I read of them, I realized she had simply imported elements of fantasy into a soap opera.

I think maybe there are three viable "modern" methods of story telling: the soap (driven by the interaction of diverse characters), the pulp (driven by violence), and the internal-interrogative, or navel contemplation, novel (driven by talking about how miserable your life is, often in the face of a complete lack of actual physical discomfort).

The old distinction of tragedy and comedy doesn't seem to fit much anymore. Maybe I'm not reading widely enough, but comedy seems to describe nearly all the reviews I see buying fiction for the library.

Anyways. I was chagrined at the idea that I was reading soap opera. I mostly like pulp, in the science fiction and fantasy genres. But I've noticed lately that a lot of the media I enjoy is of the soap opera mold:

Harry Potter, Soap with trappings of pulp.

52, a DC comic which has an ensemble cast of minor super heroes making due in a world without Superman, Batman, and the Flash. More pulp, but still largely soap. The personalities of the characters really shine, I think.

Heroes, the TV show about normal people who start exhibiting classically super heroish abilities. Mostly soap, with a little pulp thrown in.

I picked up one of CJ Cherryh's Atevi books, which are these great SF novels about humans stranded on an alien planet and trying to live with the dominant culture there. I'd forgotten how much I loved reading them, and they're very soapy, with just a dash of pulp thrown in.

Maybe all literature uses both methods of forwarding the plot. It would be interesting for the purposes of reader's advisory to suggest a tool: say Harry Potter is 80% Soap (although the rating for the series as individual titles would be lower in later books). Star Wars is 30% Soap. The Time Traveler's Wife is 98% Soap. I imagine that you could write a program to process the number of dialogs versus the number of actions. What an exercise!

All of them rely to a certain extent on a pulpy method of carrying the story forward. But their primary was of moving the story is soapy. So, after years of being firmly in the pulp camp, I find myself dallying in the soap camp regularly.

Go figure.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Meatloaf was great, by the way. One of my best ever, I think. I would probably just use soy sauce as liquid in the next one, and use a cup of bread crumbs. But, you know, necessity being the mother of invention and all.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

This is what I did for meatloaf today:

2 lbs. Ground Turkey

Couldn't find breadcrumbs, so I started with 1/2 cup of instant potato flakes.

1/4 tsp of garlic salt, 1/4 tsp of pepper, 1/4 tsp of celery seed (a smidge more: I love the smell), and a couple or three of twists of some steak seasoning stuff that's heavy on the pepper.

Put 1/3 of an onion, a ?cup?, maybe a cup and a half of carrots, and a stalk of celary into the blender. Had to hold it in with a ladle to get it all chopped finely.

Lightly sauteed a small package of sliced mushrooms in butter. Saved out the fattest ones, chopped the rest on the ground ice setting and added it to the savory mixture.

That gave me about two cups of filling, not including the potato flakes.

Added 1 Tbsp Soy Sauce, 1 Tbsp Barbecue Sauce

Ground turkey is kind of a moist meat, and when I mixed all that it was a very soft mixture. So I made Ruby find the bread crumbs and put in another half a cup of crumbs. Still kind of wet, but it was all I had to go with.

Stuck the saved out mushrooms on top of the meatloaf.

I'll tell you how it went tomorrow. Could be meatloafaggedon.