Friday, December 21, 2007

I took a picture of our computer stations about 45 minutes ago. There was not a soul using them. I was just about to check out the front windows and make sure there weren't any piles of clothes full of red dust or something in the parking lot. Or a fading mushroom cloud.

Now there are people on the Interwebs. Phew. Civilization continues.

Because it's quiet, I'm going to add a post about last night's gaming group. What I really should be doing is writing something witty to post next week. Banking articles is the key to consistent blogging. But I'm fresh hell out of wit, so close to the holidays.

So I run a game for teenagers once a month in the library. It is beer and peanuts gaming. Without the beer, of course. Because that would be advocating alcohol abuse. Or the peanuts, really. Because of allergies, you know. I have a short adventure with Kobolds, and a longer one that I downloaded from the net. The "plot" involves going from room to room, killing monsters, stealing their stuff. I've been doing this off and on since I got here.

Anyways, it's not the gaming that's the fresh experience. It's always the kids. I like the enthusiasm they have for even simple things. An interesting thing about this last set of games is that it is on the same night, and directly attached to, our Manga club. So I get some young ladies in my groups. One of the young ladies was a warrior with a broad sword, taking great joy in cleaving apart foul fiends.

The kids are fun not just for the way they game. I also like what peripheral bits of conversation I catch about their lives. Some of them were writing books, a personal interest of mine. They have very definite opinions about a lot of subjects. They are bold, and fun, and self confident. They're often a pleasure to be around.

One of my favorite parts of the evening was when a young lady from the other parts of the manga club dropped by to kibbitz. The other kids were talking about their characters. Ms. Kibbitz asked if she could be a "fanciful pony."

There were about a million reasons I found this amusing. First, I liked the language. Fanciful pony is a lovely phrase. Also, she was trying to needle the other players, thinking that "fanciful ponies" weren't "cool" enough for the game. This is just funny to a grizzled old gamer dude like myself.

Also, back when my library group was all young gentlemen, one of my colleagues mortified my group by telling them that we would be playing the "Pretty Ponies Role Playing Game" that day.

Lastly, my own daughter loves My Pretty Ponys and dinosaurs both. When she is of gaming age, and if she shows interest, I would love incorporating fanciful ponies or dinosaurs into the game. Like this guy*.

Hell, I'd do it for my current gamers. I might make them play a pretty ponies game.

I like the juxtaposition, for one. And role playing games are all about the landscape of the imagination. Fanciful ponies are part of that. I liked that the thought of playing magic ponies in Dungeons and Dragons existed at all.

*I don't know if the thread will link consistently, so here's what the OP (original poster) is riffing on. It was a joke, and a funny one. The picture of pretty ponies with polyhedral dice is a hoot. But, it doesn't have to be a joke. OP, by the way, has posted about doing simple LARPs with his pre-school daughter, which I think is hella great.
Earth 250 million years from now - You have to say it with an echoe-y voice. I can't see my house on this map.

Happy Solstice!

I have, in the last five or six years, been big on celebrating the winter solstice. I am not a neo-pagan: the winter solstice is the shortest day of the year. Afterwards, to quote the Beatles, "Here comes the sun."

It's not that I worry that the sun won't come back. But it's always nice to know that I'm on the other side of Seasonal Affective Disorder, of whatever screwy biochemical thing short circuits my personality on the dark side of the year. Excercise and vitamins help also.

Hooray Solstice!

In other news, I have changed my email address. If you did not get an email to this affect, and you wish to keep in touch, do please send a email to one of my old accounts. I will be monitering them off and on for a month or so.

Friday, December 14, 2007

So yesterday we took Poppy to a rather delayed teacher conference (a scheduling conflict voided the first one).

We were pleased to hear Poppy's teacher tell us how much Poppy likes reading, how she was up to pretty much any academic challenge. While we were talking to the teacher, Poppy was working out words on the white board: Dinusor, Tricerutops. Poppy's kindergarten teacher is a great lady. She's affectionate and clearly cares about her kids, and stresses the importance of play in addition to working on academics.

I was more pleased that her teacher said that Poppy got along well with all the other kids. She plays with everybody. I hope that continues.

In other news, I saw 300. Not impressed at all. It's not like I didn't agree with most of the movie's points. Freedom is great, it should be fought for when necessary.

I suspect that sitting in the middle of a battle field and waiting to get slaughtered is not the best route to freedom. If it's the only route to freedom, I guess the only way you can make it upbeat at all is to have the CHARACTERS YELL ABOUT BRAVERY THE WHOLE TIME. It's a matter of aesthetics, I think. I prefer my last stands to be a little more quiet and steely eyed.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Worldly things made beautiful

When I went to China in 2002 I bemoaned American paper money. This was before the era of the Big-Head bill, when the dollar was much drabber than it is today. The dollar still doesn't match the Yuan for color.

The Dream Dollars website makes art out of money, money that is art, every aspect, from the denominations in a irregular sequence to the fact that it changes from season to season. The colors are still muted, but the imagery is rich and detailed. Dreamlike.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

One Short Word About the Bullshit Surrounding the Golden Compass

Ruby was all bent out of shape that the Catholic League is throwing a hissy about the Golden Compass movie. We both very much enjoyed the series, and nobody likes to see a favorite book torn down. I suspected it, although I admit I thought it would be the third movie that drew the most fire.

What bothers me more is the kind of ho-humming that this guy does:

"As for the trilogy itself, I'm no fan, but only because I found the last volume confused, muddled, and dramatically, a dud."

I replied:

I have to disagree. That statement sounds like a kind of curmudgeonry. Pullman's thesis was very clear and I didn't have any trouble keeping track of the narrative. You shouldn't have either.

As for dramatic tension, just becuase Lyra didn't cut the head off of Darth Vader doesn't make it boring. The revelation that the universe is bigger than god is exciting. Unless you've already roped off that particular possibility.

But for someone who hasn't, it's kind of exciting. Especially for a fan of teh fantasy who gets a little tired of wonder being co-opted for purposes of obedience.

I'll add that it's especially irritating because he seems like a thoughtful guy. Dissing the literary quality of Pullman is partisian and thoughtless, ignoring the qualities of the work because it proposes an arguement against what you are comfortable with. I'm used to blowhard special interest groups talking smack about areligious works. But at some point I'd like to see a thoughtful reaction from theologians. Who are supposed to be thoughtful.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Superscience Round Up

Nanoparticles enable surgical strikes against cancer and then give you a face life and clean the plaque out of your arteries.

A Utah-based company is now six years into the development of a unique robot that fits around its user... and then turns into a SUV for your commute to work.

And last: Bow before your robot dinosaur masters!

Pleo is like the antagonists of:

Magnus: Robot Fighter

and Turok: Dinosaur Hunter all rolled up in one delicious package.

Sure Pleo looks harmless now.

But wait until he grows up.

Special thanks to Psychosaurus and whoever uploaded that Magnus pic.