Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Twilight Unmasked

It's the next issue of Buffy Season 8, isn't in which the Big Bad's Secret Identity is revealed?

His name is Twilight, so that's a pretty good name for the enemy of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Twilight is the opposite of dawn. The Ex-Key Dawnie hasn't been herself lately--and even now that she's been returned to her usual shape, she's not acting quite right. What's all this smoochy business with Xander?

Well, I'm not going to predict that Twilight will be revealed to be Dawn. I'm not going to take the bait. But who else could it be? Is there anyone important left? Cordelia? Jessie from the pilot? Kendall Casablancas?

Anya. She would be my choice. I mean, I hate the temporary deaths of comics as much as the next guy who buys the death stories anyway, but if Spike--whose final exit was my greatest source of joy in the whole series--didn't stay dead for more than a few weeks, why should the delightfully odd ex-vengeance-demon who didn't irritate me at all (unlike any number of cocky over-sexed leather-clad contrarian types in the Whedonverse)?

Twilight is Anya. It's settled. Anya is also my favorite character in A Song of Ice and Fire. Any ya' see a pattern? Whoops! Her name is Arya. Man, I wish he would finish that next book.

Monday, November 30, 2009

More things in heaven and earth

Than are dreamt of in my philosophy, anyhow.

How am I ever going to play all these games?

I'm studying up on Twilight Imperium. I hear you have to do your homework before you play that one. It has common DNA with the games I have hated most so there's a good chance I'll want to set it on fire, but I'm going to tough it out. It looks like a ripping good way to spend 10 or 12 hours in a stinky room with 7 other guys.

I want to play both the Serenity and BSG RPGS from Margaret Weis Productions. They run on the Cortex System, right?

And I have all these frakking HackMaster books. And now they're out-of-date.

I've never played a sci-fi RPG (I was a very fantasy-centric kid). What's best--Star Frontiers, Gamma World, classic Traveller, Mutant Future, Metamorphosis Alpha, Star Ace? I've got 'em all.

I ran Dangerous Journeys for a year or two in the 9-tays. I still have the tattered old books. Maybe I ought to give the rules-lite Mythus Prime version a shot. I thought it was an dumbed-down embarrassment back in the day, but now it's just the way I wanna play.

And GDW also made all these Space: 1889 books that I still think are about the coolest concept ever.

Gah, I've never even played GURPS.

I have print versions of Cartoon Action Hour and its supplements, but the Season Two version seems more up my rules-fearing alley.

Star Wars D6. Or BESM?

Swords & Wizardry or Labyrinth Lord. But I have books for all the versions of actual D&D!

And I'm pretty excited about Shadow, Sword, and Spell.

That's it. I'm going to have to give up sleeping and leaving the warm circle of honeyed light from my reading lamp. You can't make me!

Oh, I'm going to need some players. Drat!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Let's Get the Band Back Together

First, a piece of personal communication that has no place in a stately public forum such as this blog: Alan (our first first violist and first second side drummer) told me last night at band practice that he read MY WHOLE BLOG.

I want to apologize for having wasted his time--or, worse than wasting it--like, actively abusing his time, like a cheese-grater of the mind's eye or something.

Anyway, I placed an order for Swords & Wizardry from my friendly local game store (All About Games in Boise) today. I hope you'll do the same. I hear that kind of thing is good for the hobby. I'll just have to take their word for it.

I guess this means I should play some S&W. Hear that Tommy? Maybe you can get some use out of the lovely rules booklet that you had so painstakingly spiral-bound!

Pretty soon I'll have me a copy of Raggi's The Grinding Gear. I wonder, is there a connection here? That title sounds like this adventure might be something of a meat grinder, which might just suit the kind of gaming groups I've experienced: abortive fits and starts.

Fine. I hereby assemble a gaming group and purpose to run them and dozens of their hapless 3x5-sized S&W characters through PITS OF RUTHLESS CRUSH.

Also, we'll graft on the soap opera rules from Amagi Games.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

In loving memory of an opinion. . .

I'm finally coming around to an appreciation of Obituary's 1990 record Cause of Death. (I was prompted to revisit it by the chapter on it in the new collection of Decibel magazine's Hall of Fame features, Precious Metal).

It's practically musical in one or two places--and downright groovy in plenty of others, a welcome change from the dull pummeling of most early death metal reocrds.

Plus, the vocals remind me of Blaine Fart (of my favorite-band-in-high-school, The Accused) and that's always a good thing.

And one more capper: the first Lovecraft paperback I ever bought had that same Michael Whelan painting on the cover.

Looks like I'll have to hit up the corner record shop for The End Complete next.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Seriously, the trailer for the new Twilight film looked kinda awesome

Now, I didn't read the whole thing (spoilers for I show I've already watched but am re-watching right at the beginning of the article's subject) but there is an impressive post about Willow and Tara's relationship (starting in season four of Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and the relationship's relationship to doors, here, at a kind of astounding blog called This To Say About That that I learned about today through whedonesque.com.

In the post (which surely deserves to be called an 'article') I encountered the word liminal for the first time. Yes, I am a little embarrassed about that. Turns out it means, in part, threshold, which is pleasing Anglo-Saxon looking word that I wanted to know more about--I wanted the Anglo-Saxon roots to be transparent to me. This is how I am with words.

The etymology of threshold is murky and doesn't really offer up its secrets, but the American Heritage 4th ed. does send us to the Indo-European root (that I don't know how to display properly) that is pronounced just like Tara.

I know, right? But that's not all. The first definition for that root is to rub, as in tribade--as in the the band Tribe 8, or as it appears in Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun (where I learned it), tribadist.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Yes, I will post everytime anyone on the internets compares something to Proust

Here's the latest Proust-parison, from Sunday's When Will the Hurting Stop:

"I will reiterate that neither comic is very good at all, but it's still pretty remarkable how they managed to sneak onto the stands on the very same day. It's like they're just trying desperately to see if anyone is awake at this point. It takes a lot of work to make Jeph Loeb look like Proust, but I'll be damned if his Red Hulk book isn't eleventy-billion times better than any of this shit. "

It's about two Marvel comics out last week. Who cares what they're called?

Monday, October 26, 2009

New Year's Resolution: Read 100 Comic Scripts

You've heard of fiscal years--well, this is a spiritual year (ignore for the time being the fact that the regular year probably has its start as a spiritual year): Halloween to Halloween. Let's hope it fares better than the Metal Year.

Okay, so it's yawningly trite. That's how you know it's Rooted in Tradition.

I started this blog a little over one year ago for no other reason than to follow Occasional Superheroine--then I discovered the Old School Renaissance and (sort of) focused on writing about that sort of business. I do still read to you from dictionaries from time to time. (Check out byronic--dude should be a vampire. In comics.)

That's about all the retrospection I wanted to do. To the Future!

There is an artist who personally requested that I write a comic that said artist would draw. Am I going to ignore this opportunity? It's likely, but this old post by Gail Simone has stirred me to action (I love the part about putting truth in a scene, and after reading Welcome to Tranquility I believe she can do it, but it's what she says about seizing opportunity that I'm high on right now). Read the 'part two' too, about civet-stink.

I know nothing about writing comics, natch. This will be no surprise to long-time readers, who are well aware I know nothing about writing anything.

So--READ 100 COMIC SCRIPTS. Gail Simone posted a few that will make a fine start.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Hong Kong Phooey as Reverse Don Quixote

Aside from the kung fu movie stereotypes that might possible be offensive to an entire hemisphere, this Hanna-Barbera cartoon from the mid-'70s has a premise plenty sturdy enough for a Saturday morning short-form cartoon from the mid-'70s.

And the lead is voiced by this dude:

(Scatman Crothers)

Who was also the voice for this dude:

(Jazz the Autobot)

So that's pretty sweet.

Anyway, I gathered you here today to talk about that premise: the Reverse Don Quixote. Hong Kong Phooey's alter-ego is a hapless janitor who believe he has learned super kung fu from a book but who is in fact a totally hapless lunkhead who's only success is that he doesn't notice how much damage and mayhem his lunkheadedness causes. Presumably, everyone else has mistaken his obliviousness for the transcendent grace of a sublime master and that his why the whole city holds him in reverence, worship, and awe.

Right--that worshipfulness is the Reverse part of Reverse Don Quixote--whereas Don Quixote's delusions of grandeur are obvious to everyone else, in Hong Kong Phooey's case his windmilling kung fu chops (that's for Choya, a kung fu nerd, who would be shouting "There are no chops!" if read this blog) are celebrated as the greatest way to save the day. So everyone is suffering Phooey's delusion, so maybe it's not so much a Don Quixote in reverse as a Everyone's Don Quixote. Let's just ignore that, hmm? While we're at it, Phooey also has a cat, Spot, who acts as his Sancho Panza, an overlooked and unappreciated partner who actually saves the day, by freeing Phooey from the file cabinet, or rolling him down the street when he gets stuck in a garbage can.

But I bring all this up because I suspect this premise has been used before--I mean the Reverse Don Quixote, not the forwards kind. That was in Don Quixote.

Surely it wasn't a Saturday morning show from 1974 that originated the premise of a bumbling hero who nevertheless saves the day and is treated like a hero despite his constant cock-uppery.
It's been reused by Pamela Anderson's V.I.P. ( I think--I haven't seen it), and to some extent in the USA network's Psych (haven't seen that either).

So, have you seen this before--before 1974--in something besides Cervantes?

Crap. I shoulda just gone to TV Tropes.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Horror-Themed Board Games?

The group ran through a print 'n' play zombies game last Friday--didn't catch the name but it wasn't much of a game, though a little better than Zombies!!!

And I'm sick of zombies anyhow. Y-A-W-N.

There's Arkham Horror, but I want to unleash steaming streams of pee on the smoldering ashes of every copy of that game.

I have The Hills Rise Wild --it's actually the same foundation as the print 'n' play game with more equipment rules and such, and a pick-up-and-deliver objective laid on top. Let that stand as Exhibit 2 in my case that a Lovecraft theme is no signal of good game play inside that box. The opposite, even.

I've got Finstere Flure (that's for Holger, who doesn't read this blog), I mean Fearsome Floors. A better game than those, but not so much with the horror beyond the Universal Monsters type of Scooby-Doo type Count Chocula level 'horror.'

Of course the ultimate in gaming horror is A Game of Thrones, but that's entirely the wrong kind. I hate that game so hard it gives me stones. And a rhyming curse, I guess.

Boy I hate a lot of stuff. So, give me your suggestions of horrific (or just horrible) board games. I need 'em by tomorrow at 5:00 and don't make 'em anything I will hate.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Holy Hell! There was a Karate Kid cartoon?

And you can watch it on Hulu?

How did I miss this one back in the actual Ay-tays?

Oh, '89? Yeah, I lost touch with pop culture for about five. . . or ten years starting in '89.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

(Several) Dollhouse inteviews hit the tubes today

One with Miracle Laurie at the Buffyfest blog (it's probably still on the blog roll to the right), one with Dichen Lachman on the SFX magazine site.

And one with John Cassaday, the Astonishing X-Men artist during Joss Whedon's run who is about to direct an ep. of Dollhouse, in which he says this:

The Beat: I’m with you on both of those! Do you have any thoughts on the cast and characters going in? Any favorites?

Cassaday: I like the relationship between Echo and Ballard. There’s a strange dynamic there. They’ve grown into something very different than where they started out. Ballard has become part of the machine he swore to take down in order to get the job done. He’s no longer CIA. It’s a personal mission for him and that mission is embodied by Echo. I enjoy the back and forth between all the employees and the actives. I’m fascinated with the trickiness of the technology and how it can be applied to anyone to serve any purpose… The possibilities are endless and mind-boggling.

The Beat: What’s your biggest challenge, do you think, going into this?

Cassaday: I read a script and have specific ideas as to how I want to tell the story. When I draw, it’s me and only me– essentially a one-man show. One challenge comes in dealing with a crew of a hundred people waiting for and watching me… I’ve met most of them and they really know their jobs. I’ve watched the crew at work and feel I’m in good shape. Another issue is working with actors. I’m excited about this as much as anything. I feel lucky in a sense, that with it being a television series, the actors will have been playing their characters for roughly 22 or 23 episodes by the time I hit the set. We won’t be forming their characters from the ground up. They know their origins. They understand themselves and their motivations. I also look forward to dealing with any day-players, so I can get those creative juices flowing there too… Constructing personalities. So very Dollhouse!

Causing me to think about that 'construction of personalities' as it is done by the director, yes, but more so by the writers and creators (and of course the actors, at a later stage). I'm focusing on the writer's role because you have to consider aspects of the Dollhouse to be metaphors for what the TV writer does--but be careful not to let such a discussion collapse into a black hole of infinitely reflected self-representations. You'll be sucked into your own navel and become an ultra-dense singularity of wankery.

Then there's Paul Ballard's character arc: he tries to bring the Dollhouse down but ends up inside it. Sucked in like it was a belly-button. It reminds me of a problem a friend had once about the author's voice: a voice that is trying to be genuine, honest, free of stylistic affectation and rhetorical artifice is in fact using that stylistic choice in the same way as the other stylistic devices, the ones it's trying to avoid, are used. There is no escape from choosing a self-representation. Likewise, a parent organization, like the CIA, won't let you pursue a crazy quest to defeat something like the Dollhouse, and you certainly can't defeat it by becoming part of it. You might think you can outfox the foxes but that just makes you an even foxier fox.

I don't know. I thought I had a thing there.

So as a director or a writer, you're creating everyone's self-representation, and trying (sometimes, I hope) to show a true representation of the world as you see it--but it's all make-believe, and make-believe about deception and false identities. And if you're Dollhouse, you're doing it on Fox (but maybe not for very long).

Oh man. See the note above about ultra-dense wankery. I'm really sorry.

Friday, October 16, 2009

If Caroline is all of us

As Echo accumulates more and more echoes of the people that have been installed in her, she becomes less a metaphor for how we are shaped by the powerful than for how we have to hide elements of ourselves, or maybe that we can hide elements of ourselves and lead double, treble, whatevs-ble lives. She has to keep the memories she's retained secret from the Dollhouse so that they don't prevent her (by sending her to the Attic) from finding her true self, and in that secrecy she stands in for the impression management we all have to do.

It's with that in mind that I embark on Erving Goffman's The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life hoping it will carry me to some grounds for an argument about what Dollhouse has to say.

I'm so sorry about trying to make that sailing metaphor work.

I haven't seen many examples of the show presenting Echo as intentional impression management, but I'll be on the lookout. More sailng? Sorry.

I heard once in college that Chekhov's story 'The Lady With the Dog' was about the leading of the double life, so go check that out (beware of cruddy ads).

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Who do you trust?

I dropped all the Marvel comics titles (except Runaways, even though it probably deserved it for its own weaksauce-itude) from my pull list this year because of Secret Invasion--because it proved that MArvel was willing to sell me garbage in $4 monthly installments, wasting 8 months of my comics consumption. In one-issue-a-month chunks, sure, but still.

But this post isn't about that, other than to say that the basic emotional hook in Secret Invasion (Who do you trust? Is he a skrull? Am I?) was copied from Battlestar Galactica (Is she a cyclon? Am I?).

And to some extent the same thing is going on in Dollhouse, or was during the first season (Joss has said they'll back off that element, since it gets silly if it goes on too long*). Who is a Doll? Are you?

I'm not going to call this concept tired or accuse anyone of conceptual bankruptcy (except Secret Invasion)--I'd rather look at this a case of an idea with a great deal of emotional resonance that a lot of people want to write about and watch about. Watch about? Yeah, it's the dopest new extension of a prepositional semantic scope or whatevs. Get hip.

But I'm not going to do any of that looking today. Just making note of something I might someday do some thinking about.

*Man, I really should start book marking the web pages I know I'm going to make reference to. Sorry, I don't know where I read that.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I haven't read Ibsen either

Not that that's relevant to today's generally irrelevant-to-anything post: a quote from an interview with Joss Whedon (on forbes.com) from before Dollhouse aired:

Forbes: This show is more cerebral--and perhaps more niche--than we're used to seeing on the broadcast networks today. Is there room for shows like this?

Whedon: Well, I don't want to be accused of saying, "I'm so much smarter than Fox." The concept is tricky, but it's not exactly hard to follow. It's not like we're shooting Proust. But whether or not it's niche, depends on how many people respond to it. And I assume it probably will be because most of the things I do are, but it's not like we set out and said, "Which people do we want to alienate."

Gee, I hope they're not shooting Proust--that's the plot for me 'n' Josh's comic book idea about Baudelaire! (Actually, it was Rimbaud, you know, as in "Rambo.")

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Oh, you Pretty Things--I had no idea your name was so naughty

While I work up my next Proust post, here's an article with some background on the Chaucer business on Dollhouse episode 2.3, that I wish I had already known all about because I studied Chaucer in college--or, hell, even because I've ever read Chaucer at all, even in translation (or maybe I should say modernization). But I didn't.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Mellie and Madeleine

So I had a joke I wanted to write after finding today's quotation: the connections between Proust's ideas about sleep and psychology have so much in common with the Dollhouse that I'll be surprised if they don't show us a character named Madeleine. Oh wait.

Topher and Mellie/November/Madeline found on Tvsquad

So, here's what I found yesterday (It comes after a fun description of dreamy sleep that I would like to quote but would not like to type, from the 'Saint-Loup at Doncieres' section of The Guermantes Way):

That kind of sleep is called 'sleeping like lead,' and it seems as though one has become, oneself, and remains for a few moments after such a sleep is ended, simply a leaden image. One is no longer a person. How then, seeking for one's mind, one's personality, as one seeks for a thing that is lost, does one recover one's own self rather than any other? Why, when one begins again to think, is it not another personality than yesterday's that is incarnate in one? One fails to see what can dictate the choice, or why, among the millions of human beings any one of whom one might be, it is on him who one was overnight that unerringly one lays one's hand? What is it that guides us, when there has been an actual interruption--whether it be that our unconsciousness has been complete or our dreams entirely different from ourselves? There has indeed been death, as when the heart has ceased to beat and a rhythmical friction of the tongue revives us. No doubt the room, even if we have seen it only once before, awakens memory in which other, older memories cling. Or were some memories also asleep in us of which we now become conscious? The resurrections at our awakening--after that healing attack of mental alienation which is sleep--must after all be similar to what occurs when we recapture a name, a line, a refrain that we had forgotten. And perhaps the resurrection of the soul after death is to be conceived as a phenomenon of memory.

This time the emphases are mine, so young can call me obnoxious, if you don't already.

But, come on, doesn't that sound just a little like the Dollhouse?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I ain't got no soul

I'm a materialist, though I'll cop to being pretty ignorant about what that means. Still, because of my beliefs I find it hard to see any value in discussing the soul in a serious way (rather than as dramatic-license style handwavium, say), which is why I'm not sure about the value of Ramon Fernandez's essay* 'In Search of the Self' beyond providing the quotation (from somewhere in the Search--exactly where, I don't know) you'll find below.

The quotation, which I had to chew over several times before I could get anything out of it, is worth your time, particularly if you view it as similar to the point of view of a Doll being wiped and imprinted. I'm uncomfortable with all the wiping too.

At whatever moment we consider it, our total soul has only an almost fictitious value, in spite of the numerous tally of its riches, for now some, then others, are unavailable, and this, by the way, just as much whether they be actual riches or those of the imagination. . . For to the cloudiness of memory are linked the intermittences of the heart. It is doubtless through the existence of our body, similar for us to a vase in which our spirituality might be enclosed, that we are induced to suppose that all out internal goods, our past joys, all our sufferings, are perpetually in our possession. Perhaps it is just as incorrect to believe that they get away or come back. Anyhow if they remain in us, most of the time they do so in an unknown domain where they are of no service to us, and where even the most usual ones are pushed back my recollections of a different order which exclude all simultaneity with them in consciousness. But if the frame of sensations in which they are preserved is caught again, they in their turn are endowed with that same power of expelling all that is incompatible with them, of installing solely in us the ego which lived them. Now as he whom I had suddenly rebecome had not existed since that distant evening on which my grandmother had undressed me upon my arrival at Balbec, it was quite naturally, not after the present day which that ego was unaware of, but--as if there were, in time, different and parallel series--without any solution of continuity, at once after the first evening of yesteryear, that I was adhering to the minute in which my grandmother had leaned towards me.

A few comments:

The emphases are Fernandez's rather than Proust's. They do help you find your way through the paragraph.

There's nothing hinky going on with the grandmother--just think of the narrator remembering his experience as a little boy.

The bit about the 'ego which lived them' being 'installed in us' is pretty on the nose for what happens in the Dollhouse chair, isn't it? I wonder what kinds of things were installed before software. Paintings mostly, I guess.

Isn't it funny that the 'different and parallel series' might make you think of Buffy and Angel?

An essay by Marguerite Krause, available for the next week on smartpopbooks.com, about Angel's soul, reminds me that all this business of soul-swapping and Doll-wiping and soul-seeking (not just soul-searching) can be thought of as one continuous meditation on the nature of the self.

*found in Proust: A Collection of Critical Essays, ed. Rene Girard, Prentice-Hall 1962

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Just what does Proust have to say about the Dollhouse?

You watching the Dollhouse? Yeah, most folks aren't.

The hook here has got to be memory--which weirdly is the word that just went through my headphones ('Burning Memories' by Ray Price).

Memory, especially involuntary memory--in Marcel's case, the return of his childhood, then the whole of his life; in Echo's case (in season 2) flashes of, what, the 23 personalities dumped in her, plus the one that she came in with, and how those give her Slayer powers.

What? No slayer powers? Didn't you seen her pwning in the Jamie Bamber episode? I was all "WTF's with all the Slayer fighting powers. Evs."

Srsly, that's how I talk to myself.

The theme of Dollhouse seems to be that we're all programmed by the influential to be what they want us to be*. I recognize that in my experience, all the way from learning to stand in line in kindergarten, to binge drinking in high school, to my present-day pop-culture-obsessed consumerism.

A theme of In Search of Lost Time is that these memories that reappear to us unbidden, with all their force and vividness, are different in kind from things that we purposely remember or seek to recall.

So, if we equate Echo's Caroline personality, the one she came in with, to an involuntary memory, once that sticks with her even though it's supposedly been removed from her body and stored on a hard drive; and we take that equation to mean that it's different in kind from the 'voluntary memory' of the Imprints she takes out on Engagements, a difference seems to be more real, more genuine, just because it is her natural personality, then we have arrived at a rather vacuous connection of Proust and the Dollhouse.

I'll come back tomorrow and see if I can do any better. Why would I do that? Well, there's an essay contest that I really wish I was the kind of person who would submit an entry for. Hey, my brother got something like this published (just a chapter, not the whole book, this one too), why not me?

*okay, I didn't think of that on my own--Joss said as much in an interview I read recently, but I didn't find it with the slightest effort, so no link for you.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Horror! The Horror!

It's the 1st of October and round here that means it's time to kick off the Season of Blood: 31 days of non-stop horror movies to prepare the soul for the only feast day that I enjoy celebrating--that's right, CANADIAN THANKSGIVING.

No, that's on the 12th, but since my job requires I attend an in-service on that day every year, it is pretty faughing horrible.

Anyways, I want your suggestions--there's no need for them to be good movies, as I care very little about quality. I generally prefer supernatural horror, and I think I'll start this year with Nosferatu, which I didn't get to last year. From all y'all I want a bleeding, screaming, weeping, flesh-rending stack of cheap thrills deep enough to keep me occupied until November.

And. . . go!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Spondee & Me: After the Flood

If you ever get the chance to fill in as a drummer for a pop-rock band at very good show for a very enthusiastic audience, I recommend you take it. It ain't half bad.

It's FAUGHING RAD, actually.

But I've never gone out of town with a band (listen to this pretentious wind bag, he's been 'out of town with a band' exactly twice) without regretting that I didn't have a dictionary with me. Last time it was all about eyebrows leading to the pubic bone, and other adult discussions of hair; this time it's a plethora that's got me prurient.

I just want to quote the Oxford American (2nd ed.): "(a plethora of): an excess of something."

I'm not "literally" waving this in anyone's face--I'm just saying that if you tell this certain someone to grab you a plethora of unicorns before those 40 days of rain, don't expect that famous rainbow to be farted out by no horny horse.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

ThunderCats Writer Could Use Your Help

Tom Spurgeon draws our attention today to a plea put out a couple of weeks ago by Steve Bissette that a writer, Steve Perry, who worked on ThunderCats and Silverhawks (among other things, such as a comic called Timespirits) is in desperate need. Follow those links for details--the short of it is that he has terminal cancer and no support. Donations to him (I'm just repeating what those guys report) need to be postal money orders as he doesn't have a bank account to cash checks. Tom Spurgeon has also volunteered to act as electronic middleman, if you're unable to do the money order thing.

Donations can be sent here: Steve Perry, 38046 8th Ave, Zephyrhills, FL 33542 USA

His scripts are still entertaining me today as I work through my ThunderCats DVDs (and those Silverhawks discs I'll get to someday)--and the Mutant Earth is crawling with Thunderans, so the legacy grows, if only in the tiniest way. He isn't credited on the IMDB for ThunderCats, so I don't know what specifically to thank him for--so the existence Ro-Bear Berbils shouldn't sway your decision to give one way or the other.

Show your gratitude to a man who brought you some treasured childhood memories.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

What if armor gave you hit points?

Clash's post about front loading, particularly the part about armor-as-damage-reduction, got me thinking. First it got me thinking that maybe my ignorance is my only strength, since it has never occured to me that armor doesn't make you harder to hit. Well, armor only exists in D&D as far as my experience goes, so what do I care. Never mind that. It also got me thinking of how that front loading might be made more back-loady by having armor grant hit points, leaving your AC at 9.

Following Delta's mechanic (d20+fighter level+AC>=20=WIN), a first-level non-fighter hits AC 9 on 11+ or 50% of the time. In OD&D average weapon damage is 3.5, so for 100 swings an unarmored combatant would, after waiting patiently to be swung at all afternoon, take 175 points of damage. I guess they used to call the damage hit points, but that will just confuse today's readers and I prefer to do that through garbled writing.

So, moving up the scale of armors, leather will protect you from 10% more blows, resulting in 140 damage on average--as savings of 35 hp. For chain the savings is 70, for plate 105. How's my math? That would make normal shields worth 17 or 18 hp, which pleases me as a convenient way for them to be rather quickly destroyed.

Now what do we do with these imaginary 100 blows? Is that a useful number? How many hit points should the armor provide over its life and the life of an adventurer? How about arbitrarily saying the armor is destroyed after 100 blows? Make it one hundred and one, as that's more folklorish.

Wait a minute, nobody's going to count 101 blows! They will of course be represented by the hit points. Whew. I almost missed that one.

Then again, nobody on the Mutant Earth is wearing any armor yet, and when they do it will probably be force fields, so I don't have a good (that is, requiring no extra work) way to try this idea out, not this week anyway. I'll put it in the hopper.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

English is a Sausage

I'm back from my first Rock 'n' Roll Toor. It was great to play to an appreciative house in Portland, with some of my family there, who made the hour-long (even when they're not trapped in traffic) drive to see us. It was fun to jump and bray like a jackass all day in Nick's car and half a day in Josh's car, and all night in the sweaty European style sheets of my room in Seattle.

But that's of scant interest to all of you, I know. Unfortunately I don't have anything to say about D&D today either. I've got a load of ideas for my Mutant Earth Megadungeon, but I can't share them until my players have encountered them--and they have killed the living crap out of my players.

Travelling the Pacific Northwest I was reminded of all the bizarre (to my ear) words English acquired in the course of taking all this territory from its natives--many of which I can't really see as strange, as they are so familiar, like Massachusetts and Mississippi. No, I can totally see how bizarre those are in English vocabulary, even more so with the placenames in Washington state: Snoqualmie, Walla Walla, Puyallup . They're a definite spice in our word-sausage, added to the bulky, knobby Anglo-Saxon, and the broad veins of Norman French and chunks of Old Norse here and there. But surprisingly little of Celtic origin considering how long speakers of the two language families have lived side-by-side. I wonder if any of my UK-native readers might share their feelings about these weird American placenames. Hi, Chris!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Here's Yer Bodyguards, Space Castaways

(The Mutant Earthers are travelling in the company of two Gorns from the pirate vessel they were aboard when it crashed after having most of its aft section vaporized by a Big Woofer tactical nuke fired from a Mutant Enemy vessel. And in a fine bit of synchronicity, this shows up on the internets.)

Handily electron-o-fied for me by Mike Sterling's Progessive Ruin (and megomuseum.com).

First the thoroughly retro version, with clothes:

And because that's obviously WRONG, the spankin' new version:

I'm reminded that there's too damn much Star Trek in my Mutant Earth. I'm taking steps to fix that

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

How's That Ghostbusters Retroclone Comin' Along?

Well, first off, the system really is so simple that this review on rpgnet has enough right there for you to play the game, so there's not really any need for a clone. But I feel like undertaking a crazy project that will be a shipload of work.

I've read the Training Manual and taken the rules out for a test flight. That's progress of a sort.

Should anyone still wish to support this "effort" in a pdf fashion, I can still be reached at velocipedestrian there on the gmail. Both books (but none of the extras, like the character and equipment cards, and the reference sheets) are available, one jpg page at a time, on gbfans but that is no good for printing--if you're a lazy cuss like me.

Hey! I would swear that that these weren't up last time I looked, but now everything from the box is available on Ghost Busters International. Get it while it's hot!

I noticed (in the preview download) that Steve Jackson's Toon had a chapter about an example series called Witchdusters and it looks like it came out during the original Ghostbusters mania. Don't ever ask me to tell you about the time two friends and I made proton packs out of aluminum foil and paper cupcake cups and lip-synched to Who You Gonna' Call? in the school talent show. Anyway, Witchdusters is a great name, but I'm leaning toward something like Ectospasm!

Friday, July 17, 2009

It is good to learn you are ignorant

I've heard it said that dorks don't know. I don't know where, or what significance it has in the popular culture (though I would not be at all surprised if there is a site by that name on which you can find cell-phone video of me dancing). Do tell.

And I'm pretty sure Donald Rumsfeld once meant to say "We don't know what we don't know."

So, I should look at this feeling of being an ignoramus as growing pains--and of a common enough and even healthful sort. Still smarts though.

What am I on about anyway? I just learned--just in time for the first Mutant Earth session--about Original Edition Delta and the clearly-better-better-in-the-Tweetian-sense resolution mechanic found therein: To hit, roll better than 20 with d20+AC+Fighter level+bonuses. That's with traditional AC, natch. Thanks a infinity, Delta!

Next, I was combing around for other games that deal with Mutant Earthly subject matter and discovered that not only was there a supplement for BESM on the subject of Space Fantasy, it was written by my favorite blogger and yours, Mr. Grognardia himself. And so I feel like an ignoramus.

Sorry about not linking to anything, but you don't need a bunch of links--hell, you're not even reading this.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Refinement of The Four Classes

This is a news update for the Mutant Earthers. YE GODS! We're going to play on Friday? I've got some work to do.

Thanks to xkcd, the scales have fallen from my eyes in the fiery light of tvtropes.org. I am forever changed, and my games likewise.

Therefore, let it be known that the four classes of the Mutant Earth shall be, now and forever,

The Omnidisciplinary Scientist and
The Metafaceted Humanitist and
The Panarcane Reconditist and
The Multibelligerent Uberpugilist

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Random Awesome Generator

This is dumb little, very-girls-on-the-playground-y toy I came up with night before last. I've been calling it the Random Awesome Generator--and that tells you pretty much all you need to know about what it's for-- but for you, my adoring public, I'm christening it The Random Awesome Generator of Gaming Items of Infinite Variety, in honor of the man whose idea (and fine gaming supplements) it is built on.


Column A
  1. Fire
  2. Lava
  3. Death
  4. Forbidden
  5. Hated
  6. Fearsome
  7. Last
  8. First
  9. Day
  10. Night
  11. Sun
  12. Moon
  13. Lost
  14. Endless
  15. Forgotten
  16. Ruined
  17. Shining
  18. Lightless
  19. Power
  20. Omen
  21. Orphan
  22. Widow
  23. Star
  24. Thunder
  25. Madness
  26. Plague
  27. Blood
  28. Lust
  29. Wrath
  30. Weird

Column B

  1. Mountain
  2. Sword
  3. Book
  4. Forest
  5. Tower
  6. Wall
  7. Well
  8. Tree
  9. Stone
  10. Gem
  11. Pearl
  12. Crown
  13. Flute
  14. King
  15. Maid
  16. Horn
  17. Claw
  18. City
  19. Beast
  20. Eye
  21. Hand
  22. Heart
  23. Wolf
  24. Ghost
  25. Demon
  26. Dragon
  27. Cup
  28. Seed
  29. Flower
  30. Song

Then you stick the two items together, whether as an unadorned noun phrase, or with a preposition--try to find something sensible besides 'of.' Here are some other fine choices (though I have a hard time making some of them work most of the time): in, upon, at, before, after, above, below, with, without, among, beside, around.

I like to add numbers and color, say d4: --, indefinite plural, numbered (2-13), colored (1d8: white, black, red, green, blue, yellow, purple, gray). Those are the only awesome numbers and colors. However, getting 'the 8 pearls of rage' and the 'the 4 power maids' 25% of the time gets tedious, so it probably shouldn't be so common.

Take your results and try to make something sensible. Could be an artifact, a character or a place. BUT IT WILL BE AWESOME.

So now it's yours. I'll be around the three vanished cities of the moon, seeking the madness among beasts.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Poisonous Laser Rifles of the Snakemen

That's all there is to say: the Snakemen (both the green variety of Eternia and the red ophidians of Etheria), in addition to the ability of some to breathe out a venomous (but oh-so refeshing) mist, have developed the technology of delivering their neurotoxin through a laser beam--a poisonous laser--and it is standard equipment for their space solidiers as well as their home-planet forces.

Not to worry, though, these are slow lasers. Laser blasters even. Plenty of time to admire the neon green beam as it speeds creeps past your space helmet visor.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Thank Krypton for Comic Book Metaphysics

As I will now reap of that fertile garden a handful of ripe new possibilities for PC backgrounds:

Man-child: a la Lion-O, a child developmentally, but a man physically due to an adolescence spend in cryogenic storage.

Wish-refugee: Often the wisher himself, the lone rememberer of a the reality that existed before the present one came to be. Somehow, the inhabitants of the new reality always seem to know that it is 'alternate' and temporary. Won't it be fun to prove them wrong?

Marooned time-traveller: This can also result in reality-warping ripples of causality, paradoxes, and maybe even mutual annihilation of different time-selves. I haven't watched Lost season 4 yet, so no spoilers, please.

Last Son of Planet X: I include this only because I suggested it in the title.

I Am The Egg-Fu of Earth-11: As above, but seriously, I hope someone plays this.

Sorcerer's Soul Trapped In A Slot Machine: This is from an episode of Thundarr. The slot machine will require a mode of locomotion--probably a levitating saucer of some kind. Self-mobility is a hard requirement for PCs, at least in my game. Unless. . .

Haunted Animal Skin: As in the Paul Kidd novelizations of White Plume Mountain and Descent Into The Depths of the Earth.

Victim of The Curse of Muppetflesh: As in the Angel episode 'Smile Time', and my post from yesterday.

De-powered Demon Imprisoned in Manflesh: Like Anya in Buffy. Could be orcflesh, ThunderCatflesh, of Skunkmanflesh, of course.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Race of a Whole World Accurst

The Gonzoids:

A diminutive, blue 'skinned' birdlike folk of unknown origin. Some say they are a kind of speaking bipedal flightless bird, some that they are victims of a hateful curse that reduced a once proud and charismatic people to ridiculous, plushy-fleshed chimerae with a truly corn-fed sense of humor.

Characters of this race on the Mutant Earth will most often be Technicians, as their soft bodies are ill suited to war and their ticking-stuffed heads little equipped for the recondite studies of spell-play and sorcery, to say nothing of this rootless folk's detachment from their divine patrons, in any there be.

Gonzoids cannot fly, being wingless, though most show no fear of being launched from large bore explosive-propellent type war engines.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The World Is Chock Full of Awesome

Don't jump off a lake just yet, oh ye despairing! For such wonders await, to wit:

The AWESOMEST SESSION REPORT IN THE HISTORY OF FOREVER. I know it's old news to the blognards and fellow travellers, but some of my meatspace friends don't read the blognardoshpere, and they'll appreicate it too. Thanks Booberry! I hope my Mutant Earth games are half as frakking rad. I'll be adopting much of the Encounter Critical rules. More belated thanks for Jeff Rients's urging of that game on readers of Fight On! No. 3

Second, more old news: I have just now discovered Sea Dracula. I can see the light again, and I won't have to drive my bus under a train after all. I have some thought to do before I can incoporate this finest of all games into my OD&D rules for the Mutant Earth, but a labor of love truly will it be. You can get it for free here.

So, by Rientsian Alchemy The Mutant Earth now stands as ('80s Animation + Flash Gordon + The Dark Crystal) in a blender with (OD&D+Ghostbusters+Encounter Critical) poured into the kitchen sink and ladled out onto the Outdoor Survival map, or something similar, with this as a recurring set piece (from Geekstir, though I think I saw it somewhere else earlier last week):

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Dinosaucers Have Landed!

My dream of Dinosaurs From Space made real, 20 years ago. It's canon.

Click through to see many more relics of the golden age of advertising to children. It's as good as time travel--No! Better: no crushed butterflies.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Suppose D&D had 15 Ability Scores

And they were also a sort of skill:

Str+Dex: leap, somersault
Str+Con: withstand
Str+Wis: grapple
Str+Int: lift or bend
Str+Chr: flex or flaunt
Dex+Con: run
Dex+Wis: dodge
Dex+Int: throw
Dex+Chr: dance, sing, act
Con+Wis: abstain
Con+Int: persevere
Con+Chr: seduce
Wis+Int: strategize
Wis+Chr: lead
Int+Chr: impress

Suppose further that you grafted on (in order to get a skill check mechanic out of these 15 abilities) the Ghostbusters (or Risus) system by treating each full 6 points of an ability score as one die to roll to match the Target Number assigned by the Ghostmaster or referee--that is, 3-5 (+0), 6-11(+1), 12-17(+2), 18(+3). That distribution isn't very good. I'll have to sit down and look at the numbers with a Mathmagician friend.

Why, then they you'd be on your way to playing D&D the way we do on The Mutant Earth.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Important Fuel Sources of the Milky Way

Stupid as it may seem, just about every planet has a unique mineral which is both harder than diamond and excellent rocket fuel (since most of these civilizations still use primitive chemical-fueled spacecraft). Often, the mineral is also named after the planet it comes from. Is this a result of each civilization's ethnocentric worldview, or does it suggest a deeper meaning to the minerals, as sort of planetary personality expressed through geology? Yeah, I'm yanking your chain.

You can bet your last cred that the hunt for fuel will figure in plenty of plots on The Mutant Earth.

And here's why, thanks to Zack Handlen of the A.V. Club: Another planet, another scientific survey--this time, Spock, Kirk, and a few red-shirts are investigating Argus X's tritanium deposits. (Side note: it's generally used either as a MacGuffin or background detail, but I love the references to Starfleet's insatiable quest for minerals. It makes good sense; one of the reasons we're going to have to leave this planet eventually is that we're just going to run out of natural resources, no matter how politely we use them. Star ships must take an incredible amount of material to construct and fuel, not to mention colonizing new worlds, so it's a nice nod to realism that the Enterprise, in addition to its other duties, is always on the hunt for good rocks.)

Wikipedia's list is here.


The Most Powerful Mineral in the Universe, so of course the home world of He-Man leaves it to be guarded by the Widgets, who are exactly what the stereotypes called to mind by their offensive name would suggest. Put 'em on the Race Master List.

This is the mineral found in the Eternian crust, not the shards of Shazam's Rock of Eternity. I think a dopey-looking dragon in a helmet sits atop a great pile of it.


Most common on planets whose cultures are undergoing civil rights movements and produce televised action/dramas about Lady Super-Men. Sometimes called Amazonium, but not by the Awesome.


The sole reason the inhabitants of New Texas brave its harsh climate and infestation of evil sorcerers who smoke tobacco.


Let's see if we can't get this one done somewhere in plans 1 through 8, this time m'kay?

What else are you going to put in the fuel tank of the Thunder Tank after Panthro, in his spare minutes, converted it to underwater drivablitiy?


Everything is better when you triple it. Don't forget to Tri-cord it, Triplicate Girl.


What is it with the BSG writers and using 'y' for a short vowel? Why try?


I'm sure somebody makes holy symbols out of the stuff.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Another Hogwild Fever Dream

Yesterday I read a old post at Mike's Amazing RPG Fun Pad calling for a retro-clone of Ghostbusters (International). I heartily agree--I think it such a good idea in fact, that I WANT TO WRITE IT.

This idea is firmly in the Awesome/Stupid camp for several reasons:

1) I don't have a copy of the game.
2) I have not read the game.
3) I am not in the least qualified to write RPG rules. (Well, I have an English degree, but it's from a state school. I have 20 years familiarity with D&D and a few other games, but I've only really played for a year or two. And that was faughing d20.)
4) I have a job, two bands, and a tutoring gig, which doesn't even leave me time for the lame ass blog posts I already do, or to prepare (let alone PLAY) my Mutant Earth campaign.

Alright, so who can help me out? I'll do all the work, but who's got pdfs? I'm velocipedestrian and you can find me with the Google brand e-mail service.

How much do you think I can get from the West End Games Star Wars RPG, which Wikipedia says was built on the Ghostbusters foundation?

What advice do you have for me?

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Weefolk vs. The Borg:

Irreconcilable differences?

Fairy stories are, in my imagination, rooted in an Earth-centered universe--visitors from beyond the world come out of moonshadows and thistle dew, through hexes and conjurings and toadstool rings--not from metal tubes in the night sky.

Stories of space travellers, on the other hand, don't seem to have room in them for fey folk. There seems to be a fundamental incompatibility in these two kinds of fantasy worlds. Take for example the leprechaun: does he peek from under the shamrock leaf under the twin suns of Tatooine? Surely his fairy door or rainbow road can reach distant stars (distant from Earth, that is) just as easily as our own Sun, right?

Or are Earth's fairies bound to the earth, and not from Another Realm at all? Then could every world have their own weefolk and nature spirits? Well, of course they could. Thinking it through, the mismatch seems less now, but I welcome any discussion about how this issue has been treated in the past, in the games you love that I'm ignorant of, or in the forests of your own fancy.

Monday, June 15, 2009

To D&D or Not To?

It started with my perceiving a necessity to revamp the original classes to better suit my vision for the Mutant Earth; next I was turned on to several among the befuddling kaleidoscope of game systems that seemed to better match that vision than the swords and sorcery oriented ancestor of them all (from Risus to Ghostbusters Int'l; Two-Fisted Tales; most especially Cartoon Action Hour, which I was thrilled to learn was revamped and streamlined as Cartoon Action Hour Season Two and which I encourage all of you to buy; Jeff pointed me to Arduin and its Techno class, and his write-up of it got me hungry for T&T); and all that left me gaping at the wilderness of work, the endless hours of pruning and planting, required before I'd even have a game to play.

Not to mention the money I'd have to spend (or figure out how torrents work, I suppose).

But I remembered that the inspiration for my hogwild fever dream of a campaign galaxy was a line in one of Sham's posts about the OD&D rules in which he lamented the missed opportunity to 'make D&D D&D,' by which he meant, I think making D&D encompass any wild flight of fancy you please. (I have no faith that I remember any of that correctly, so please right my errors in the comments.)

And lo! The correct and answer returned to me: the game I want is the one I don't have to spend money on. Thus, it's OD&D. The most valuable lesson I've learned since I discovered Ye Olde Schoole Renaissance, is that I need never spend money on gaming supplements again (though I will, as a gesture of gratitude to Fight On!, Jim Raggi, Geoffrey McKinney, Goblinoid Games, Mythmere Games, Brave Halfling Publishing, Elf Lair Games, and the rest of our friends).

I need never spend money on game supplements again. The game I want will come from my head. God, how I wish I had realized that before I bought EVERY BOOK WotC PUBLISHED FOR 3.5.

Where was I going with this?

The Mutant Earth will run on OD&D, right, with the addition of a Technician class as well as Carcosan Sorcerers (though with slightly less ickiness--this is children's programming, after all).

Meanwhile, though I know I can find it myself with the slightest effort, I'll ask any of my readers to help me out with locating a reasonable replacement for Outdoor Survival, seeing as how it's integral to OD&D--all the more so in my case, as the Mutant Earth itself is all wilderness. (At least on this hemisphere. . . shh! Don't tell my players!)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Fabled Artifacts of The Mutant Earth

EDIT: I've learned Crystar's evil brother is named Moltar, but he's been Magmar to me for 25 years, so that's his name on Mutant Earth, got me? Another consequence of my new knowledge is that Lava Axes, Shatterpults, Magma Maces, and the Skull of Danzyg have now been added to the list of Fabled Artifacts. Danzyg is, of course, a vile Demon Prince. Maybe even Live Demonsweat?

You already know these items, though perhaps by different names.

But before I begin, a word about the name of my campaign: though it does seem like the kind of setting that would work well with Gamma World and the neo-retro Mutant Future (both of which I will consider as rulesets. . . eventually), the name Mutant Earth comes from a game I made up in '87 or '88 or '89 to play with my brother and friends. It was a grab bag of ideas from games I wanted but couldn't get ahold* of: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles mainly, but also D&D itself, and, though I didn't actually know it existed, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay which I encountered through GW's Combat Cards, which we adored.

Now, On To The Artifacts:

The Sun Sword
A plainly wrought hilt that springs to life as a blade of thrumming light at the wielder's command.

The Sword of Power
Truly the legendary blade of Eternia, is said to transform the wielder (and even his steed) into a great hero, provided the proper incantation is known--and the bearer is pure of heart.

The Sword of Protection
As above, but for girls. You can comb their hair!

The Eye of Thundera
Said to give the wielder Sight Beyond Sight. Might require possession of the Lion's Paw as well. I'll get back to you on that.

The Havoc Staff
A ram's skull on a stick. Shoots beams of Pure Evil. Also freeze rays.

The Serpent Cowl
Worn by sorceress queens and demi-goddesses of the Eternian Age of Legend. Nothing is known about its powers.

The Armor of Nakedness
Is is sorcery or pure willpower? Either way, possession of this gift allows warrior-women to beat off hordes of slavering beasties clad in no more than a mail bikini or a white one-piece swimsuit. Fighting-Men can do likewise in nought but a fur diaper.

The Ruby Spears
Artifacts of weird far-future technology that has come unstuck in time. Well remembered but neglected.

The Star Sword(s)
A godly weapon split into two powerful halves. An easy story hook for the battle of good and evil.

You know what? I want Crystar and Magmar (you may know him as Moltar) up in this bitch. What series advertised their toys? Visionaries?

The Weapons of The Children
Only two of this collection are actually weapons: The Thunderclub and the Story Bow. The former is an earthquake bound in wood, while the latter always seems to do exactly what the wielder requires, and with a lovely beam of golden light. The other members: the Arrogant Shield, The Thigh-High Boots of Stealth, the Collapsible Vaulting-Pole, and the Rabbit Hat speak for themselves.

The Crimson Pearl
Lusted after by the Mermen of Eternia who know the secret of unlocking its power--through blood sacrifice--to gain mastery of the creatures of the deep. Like Aquaman.

Alright, that's long enough for one post. I want to do another one, so come on back soon.

*I see Blogger's dictionary is ahold-ophobic, like most folks I know. It's obviously a perfectly fine word, but nobody has the balls to use it in writing. UNTIL NOW.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Doesn't the Ring Cycle Belong in Appendix N?

Well, no, not if you weren't influenced by it, right.

I finished Proust, so I guess the next mammoth I need to eat is Der Ring des Nibelungen. Says on Wikipedia that Wagner wrote the four operas over the course of TWENTY-SIX years.

Of course, some dumbshit also wrote in that article: "Although individual operas are performed as works in their own right, a full understanding of the story of the Ring cycle requires attendance at all four operas, which was the intention and expectation of the composer."

Nerds. You gotta love 'em.

Still, even though it's probably bullshit, 26 years is a whole nother time scale--Proust wrote for 13 years, Tolkien and Joyce for a similar amount of time. But TWENTY-SIX. Rock stars is dead by 27!

Rhinegold here I come!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Easily the Awesome/Stupid -est thing I've ever experienced

Last night's A Gun That Shoots Knives show (at the VAC). I really should mention it, take a moment to savor it, and not forget it without appreciating how individual it was.

Talking portrait of The Devil? Check.
Matching home-made Satanic Uniforms? Check.
Copious use of 'motherfucker'? Check.
"Don't you feel lame that when the dinosaurs return they won't know your name?" Check.
A song that namechecks THREE DIFFERENT Balrogs? Check.

And there was even a rubber Flash Gordon helmet.

Never has anything been so Awesome/Stupid. My life henceforward is nought dumbshow and shadow-play. Why didn't I tell them how much I loved what they do? Cuz I'm chicken. Bgawk, bawk.

My Four Classes

The Mutant Earth will stick with the 3 original D&D classes (almost totally because I hate the personality of thieves, not because of the mechanics. Ain't that silly?), but I'm going to need another one to cover all this new technology in my game world--The Technician.

My first plan was to give The Technician a growing number of dice to roll to reach a target indicated by a piece of technology's Tech Level, modified by alieness. But that means I'd have to give every piece of tech its own score. The hell with that. I think I'll go with something like the Thief's straight percentage chance to succeed (though with target numbers instead)--success in this case indicating that the Technician can operate the new tech. Prismatic Death Ray, Matter Transporter, Space-Bender Drive, or what have you.

I'm also considering chucking the Vancian spell system for Magic Users and replacing it with something less bound to books, though I'm guessing it will still be firmly rooted in European folklore.

Clerics need to become less Christian--and since I imagine Space Fantasy games as godless (except for demons and Great Old Ones, of course), maybe the class will deal with spirits, energies and ghosts instead of the Divine.

And Fighting-Men are pretty much the same wherever you go in this vast, cold universe. They just have rayguns sometimes.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Dinosaurs From Space

I think my galaxy needs some spacefaring dinosaurs. Just giant thunderlizards with their dinosaur-sized spacecraft.

Turn the RAD UP on this MUTHA.

Something like this guy, with a heap o' AWESOME SAUCE on top:


That's an Awesome/Stupid Nine Lives Stealer.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Reavers & Blooddrinkers

A race of revolting fish-men --plunderers and pirates from beyond the void between the Milky Way and whatever cesspool of stars spawned them, scours the starways in this part of the galaxy, dragging with them their corpulent, barely intelligent pig-men slaves.

Of all the hazards of star travel, none is spoken of by hardened space jockeys with more fear in the voice than the Gungan Reavers. Old timers sometimes say that the Gungans wiped out a galaxy-wide police force of mystics, psychics, and matial artists unmatched in skill with the energy blade.

Now the disgusting fish-men terrorize our own worlds, preying on simiod and feloid alike for their blood-drinking rites, which rites are said to induce in their warriors a frothing, burbling war-madness surpassing even the bear-sarkers of the Lionmen of Mongo.

May the Void have pity on any world whose skies are darkened by the BlackFin Star Destroyers of Old Otoh Gunga.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

New Species Spotted on Mutant Earth!

I learned yesterday that Third Earth, the ThunderCats' new home (and the model for my Mutant Earth), is also home to a group of gentle, gelfling-looking unicorn shepherds with blue stars on their noses. Across their noses and onto their cheekbones, actually.

That means there's also unicorns, and skinny-legged little unicorn foals.

We'll keep you updated with useless information as it arrives and allows to fill up the air time between commercials.

Monday, June 1, 2009

I don't know why there's a word for it. . .

. . .but I'm sure glad to know it:

amplexus: the copulatory embrace of frogs and toads (and, one assumes, frog mutants, mermen, toad-bat-demons, etc.) in which the male fertilizes the eggs released by the female (or by himself, in the case of Huxley's Proust-Monster).

The best part, though, is that it literally means 'embrace'--so won't you put your loved one (consenting adults only, please) in am amplexus tonight?

Saturday, May 30, 2009


Awesome and stupid have become pretty much the same to me. I don't mean that I say 'awesome' ironically, or that I think awesome things are dumb; I mean that I think everything stupid is awesome. It's a kind of surfer-like Zen type elimination of oppositions or something stupid and awesome like that.

For that reason I keep a list when I'm watching TV on DVD, most of which is stupid and awesome, or listening to NPR (less awesome and usually less stupid) of Stupid/Awesome things I see and hear.

Let me show you it:

-a brainwave amplifier (for telekinesis) which is an oscilloscope
-rocket exhaust=save vs. Dargon Breath or raygun, er, Death Ray
-tofu is the elixir of immortality (The Elixir would do, I suppose) and can make you gay
-giant chickens can be herded to provide ammunition for dung catapults
-white rhino-apes with venomous fangs and razorbacks (mugatas/mugatus, Star Trek TOS)
-Sorceresses called Cunutus (same Star Trek ep.)
-a butler who is not snooty
-mosquito torpedo
-a Howitzer that blasts out fresh blueberry scent (why the hell is that on the list?)
-this one was written by J.M. Straczynski: a mound of melted glass and Giger-stuff housed in a bell-jar room that can INCREASE TENFOLD the EVIL of anyone stepping inside. How many EVIL points do you got? TEN TIMES AS MANY. Oh, and it's called THE EVILGIZER.

-eyes pressed and laminated like flowers
-glowing green HULK RAGE serum (that's from Buffy)
-bloated, hermaphroditic toad-bats spooning their own juices over themselves (that's Huxley on Proust)
-Drownies (they come out in the Witching Hour to drag you to duck ponds and strangle you in the murk)
-a shark bazooka
-chimp-o-rillas (purple monkeys with pink Asimov hair)
-Gators with shells

And the capper: the slothtopus: eight three-toed arms in a ring around a bear-like body with a wide-eyed and beaky head, each tawny-green arm lined with doubled rows of toothy suckers, dental openings, each with a hungry gullet of its own. (I made that one up.)

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Wages of Sorcery

This is a riff on a table James Maliszewski did at the always excellent Gorgnardia. I'm just gonna spitball my ideas for the sorcerous disfigurements that might have caused the Filmation magic-users to get all villainous looking.

Roll when a Magic-User (Thunderan Jaguar, Etherian/Eternian Sorcerer, Etherian Ice Witch, Mongo-oid Ming-Ling, New Texan Dreamwalker, Trollan Retarded-Mage, Gungan Blooddrinker, Shianti, etc.) levels up:

1-SKULL FACE (roll again for color: d4, white, pus, pus with neon green, red)
2-BRIGHT YELLOW SKIN (or list your own colors, be sure to include the Carcosa colors, fuligin and squant, and other colours out of space)
3-REPTILIAN ECZEMA (this is why Hordak's court magician Shadow Weaver is all covered up. I can't tell you why she still looks so hot.)
4-STUPID-LOOKING ROBOT/SKULL FACE (sometimes the results of disfigurement are lame--tough break Hordak)
5-HOUR-GLASS EYES (It's from Dragonlance. What's that? No, I'm pretty sure it's rad)
6-MONEYEYES (Harlan Ellison. Haven't read it, but I'm sure it's rad) TEETH-EYES (thanks, Chris!)
7-BLOOD ADDICTION (maybe this is where vampires come from)
8-TORMENTING VISIONS (like the voices of schizophrenia, but prophetic)
9-MOONLUST (werewolves, ho-hum, but also Lunatic elves. What? Elves? I don't think so)
10-CHAOS GIFTS (a la Cthangband, could also be drawing the attention of devils and mischievous godlings)
11-OCTOPUS FACE (this is probably the reason I'd take up sorcery)
12-NEUROSIS (Y-A-W-N, but if you get it again, it goes up to PSYCHOSIS)

So, this table is crap right now, but if I put it out there maybe I'll be ashamed enough to come back and get it ready for use.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Donkey Skin

or, Peau d'Ane (Po' Dan).

I ain't read no Balzac (yet), but the featured article on Wikipedia today tells me that he's got a book about "a magic piece of shagreen that fulfills [one's] every desire. For each wish granted, however, the skin shrinks and consumes a portion of [one's] physical energy."

I can't imagine this hasn't been used in our game before, and it's gonna be used again. By me. What I dig is, as Wikipedia also tells me, that shagreen (chagrin in French, how's that for a suggestive name for a magic item?) is leather from a horse's back or an onager--a wild ass. And nowadays from shark or ray skin. It keeps getting AWESOMER.

That reminds me of the Donkey Skin story, about the princess who, to avoid marrying the king her father (what the fuck kind of fairy tale is this!), insisted that he first make her a dress the color of the weather--and the dress of blue had cumulus clouds drifting across it--then the color of moonlight--and the dress shone silver--then the color of the sun--and the dress made everything around it shine. I don't remember how it ends. I hope it's with the old bastard in the dungeon.

I guess there should be a donkey skin in the story somewhere. I forgot that bit. Anyone remember? I know. Wikipedia.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Playable Races of The Mutant Earth

EDIT #3: It's supposed to be Gamorreans! The Gungans enslaved the Gamorreans!

EDIT #2: I can't believe I forgot the Trollans and their Retarded Magic--hold up, I'm not using an insulting term that used to refer to mentally handicapped people--no, Trollans, like Orko, are unable, when on worlds other than Trolla, to use their magic to its full potential--it's retarded. Other than that, they're floating goblins.

EDIT: I forgot the Mutants of Thundera! (Frogmen, Baboonmen, and the other one. Also Turtlemen and Ratmen, if you know what I mean.)
And there have to be Skunkmen of Eternia. A bunch of 'em. Skunkmen.

These races will be used in my OD&D and Swords & Wizardry campaign.

All Mongo-oids can opt to begin play with knowledge of Mongo-oid space piloting.

Hawkmen (3-D bird-person worldview)
Sharkmen (underwater shark-person worldview, water-breather)
Space Vikings (Lionmen) (bloodlust)

All Thunderans have a Beast State power, a sort of lycanthropic double-self which embodies the idea that "knowledge can't track experience to its lair," except Jaguars who instead have a Spirit Shape and Haunt powers, and other Jedi mind tricks and shit.

Snarfs (see Hobbits)

Can opt to begin play with knowledge of Eternian/Etherian space piloting. Equally proficient with Science and Magick.

Beeman (3-D bird person world view)
Beastman (psychic dominance of beasts)
Merman (underwater shark-person worldview, amphibious)
Snakeman (spitting or gas breathing)
Lizardmen (tail slap, rending claw and jaw)
Mossman (Swamp Thing or Man-Thing)

Can opt to begin play with knowledge of Eternian/Etherian space piloting.

Rebellion races are proficient with Magick
Ice Witch
Talking Furniture (worship a god not made of meat)

Horde races are proficient with Science (by which I mean technology)
Mantennoid (giant head, annoying voice)
Grizzloid (wolly coat, rending claw & jaw)
Horde Robot (worship a god not made of wood, I guess these 'robots' have Cylon software)

New Texans
Can opt to begin play with knowledge of New Texan space piloting.

Robot Horse (built-in raygun)

Gungans (originally diaspora from the wreckage of Naboo (Death Star III), they conquered the Gamorrean homeworld and enslaved the natives)
Gamorreans (the Gungans of the Gungans)
Gorns (tail slap, rending claw and jaw)

Why not?


Bored and/or unserious players (wait a minute, did I even read the rest of this list?) can play one of these races:

Prairie People

They're all essentially Goblins.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What Haunts the Goreswamp?

Wayfarers and wayward wanderers would do well to wear a wary eye when venturing into the throbbing heart of the Kingdom of Putrefaction, not least of all because of these horrid fairies: The Gackers.

They are the carnal, carnation-skinned, incarnation of the ill will of the accursed Living Gore itself, and their stinking hearts squirt suppurating gloor. With luck you'll never experience that first-hand, but still you are now unable to un-know it.

Reports of their appearance are as varied and wild as the fevered minds of all those of fate unhappy enough to have met them, though common to many tales is the power of their mere look to make a doughty fighter double over and puke.

Steel and fire are said to harm them none, nor arrow through the eye, nor the Gods' own lightning. Never has one been said killed, and none can imagine it being so, but there are seers and lunatics who say certain incunabula of Old Atlantis speak of a way to shoo them off: in the Goblinskin Grimoire, rumored to have fallen from the Silver Chain out of the hand of Moonmad Kyyrel himself, one line only mentions The Gacker:

"Of no avail was either of my tricks, the keening spade nor the limpid kiss, and despair I did of ever seeing the Clouds again, till a starflash stuck me that I must unburden and abase myself before my companions of all my sins against them, of thought will or deed; only then did the lumpen gristle-fairy leave off, cackling, seeming overcome with glee at my shame, as it had gorged on the finest meal of starshine and moonfroth."

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Man, those Aussies steal my heart

Merriam-Webster.com's word for today comes from Oz-English, and what a wizard word it is: bludge. To avoid work or responsibility.

Henceforward, I am a self-described dedicated bludgeon. Bludger? Bludgerer? Devotee of bludgery?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Mouldering Vulture Lords

. . .of the gloor-shrine besmirched Swamp of Living Gore.

I think I'm reaching too far with that one--of course, I like it, so what do I care if it's over the top?

So, my new game world is full of anthropomorphic animals and I feel like I need to justify that; I don't, but I feel like I do, so I'm going to anyway. Sure, there absolutely are not anthropomorphic animals from space. But that's the whole reason we don't set our games in the real world, right? And people with animals heads have appealed to a lot of people through the ages, to an extent approaching universal--though I don't mean by that anything broader than 'people like them.' Then again, the sources for my game galaxy would have the place full of animal people who speak English, so maybe there would be an explanation involving extraterrestrial visitors in ancient history.

Who are the Vulture Lords and why do they moulder? Do they come From Space? Or Beyond?

How can it be that, among cultures separated by light-years, whose members can detect no commonalities in their religions other than primal archetypes, that these revolting shrines of gloor can be abominable and blasphemous to them all?

I pose that question from the PCs' point of view--but now I realize that I actually have to answer it in a concrete way.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Now this is my kind of game

This is on The Hotness list at BoardGameGeek right now, a solo-play dungeon crawler designed to be played when you're supposed to be doing something else.

As the Welcome file explains, it requires "Slacker attitude and a real commitment to avoiding work. "

The price is right, and I'm imagine it's of interest to some of you. I apologize for posting about it before actually trying out, but I'm at work.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

My Merit Badge, please

I don't remember when (maybe it was in the fall), on a lark, because it was huge and always sitting on the shelf right at eye level, right outside the door where the 'backstage' of Boise Public Library lets out into the stacks, because I had this idea that he was the Ultimate Aesthete--a sickly French mama's boy fainting into his weak tea beside the foggy coast of Normandy--I started to read Proust, but I've finished the six-volume Modern Library edition of In Search of Lost Time. Where does the time go?

When I googled 'Proust Merit Badge' I discovered this:

I think I will read it, but I'm more likely to use the image on Zazzle to make my own damn badge and wear it on my suspenders.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Marooned on the Mutant Earth!

My next campaign:

YOU are a shipwrecked space traveler from Thundera, Eternia, Etheria or Mongo.

YOU've crashed down on a water-rich planet with a N-O2 atmosphere like your home. The whole planet is wilderness. The only natives who even have language, let alone know anything about tools, are small bands of hunter-gatherer simioids.

But someone crashed here first! The Mutants of Thundera, the Horde of Etheria, the Hawkmen and Space Vikings of Mongo, maybe even some Decepticons. And who left behind all these mazy ruins and abandoned temples of blasphemy?

Stay tuned, Space Wanderers!

The Shiny Beast of Thought!

And now, to celebrate Poetry Month in a slightly more awesome fashion, a relentlessly anti-female frustration rant from Doc at the Radar Station (which I never cite as my favorite Beefheart record, but it's easily the one I listen to the most). It's both a poem and a song, so it has quite a few more repetitions than is felicitous on the page. Just listen to Don screaming it thru the canyons of your mind:

~Don Van Vliet

The shiny beast of thought!

If you got ears, you gotta listen.
Old woman sweat; young girls glisten.

The extract you thought
is the ex that you got.

Harpin' a thought.
You hear me?

Hope this art drops,
Grooves you right.

Drop by drop,
light by bright,
night by light.

There ain't no good and there ain't no blame.
Not a hip. Ain't no lame.

You make the fault, you cause the blame.
Devil the same.

Harpin' a thought.
Shiny beast of thought.
You hang up, now you caught.

If you got ears, you gotta listen.
Old woman sweat; young girls glisten.
There's more than what you thought.

Harpin' a thought.
The shiny beast of thought!

Stand there bubblin' like an open cola in the sun,
Back is achin', work is never done.
She's swingin' a sponge on the end of a string.
Right on the brink she spills the ink
down the sink.

She's not bad, she's just genetically mean.
She's not bad, she's just genetically mean.

Oh! Don't you wish you never met her?
Don't you wish you never met her!
Don't you wish you never met her?
Don't you wish you never met her!

Dirty blue Gene.
She's swingin' a sponge on the end of a string.
Don't you wish you never met her?
Don't! you! wish! you! never met her!
Don't you wish you never met her?
Don't you wish you never met her!

She's not bad, she's just genetically mean.
Ah, ah, dirty blue Gene.
Dirty, dirty, dirty blue Gene.

She's. Not. Bad.

Friday, April 24, 2009

It's difficult to get the news from poems

yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there.

(Thank you, W.C. Williams.)

Here's something about dying, misery, and the news:

~Philip Larkin

I work all day, and get half drunk at night.
Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.
In time the curtain-edges will grow light.
Till then I see what's really always there:
Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,
Making all thought impossible but how
And where and when I myself shall die.
Arid interrogation: yet the dread
Of dying, and being dead,
Flashes afresh to hold and horrify.
The mind blanks at the glare. Not in remorse
--The good not done, the love not given, time
Torn off unused--or wretchedly because
An only life can take so long to climb
Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never;
But at the total emptiness forever,
The sure extinction that we travel to
And shall be lost in always. Not to be here,
Not to be anywhere,
And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true.

This is a special way of being afraid
No trick dispels. Religion used to try,
That vast, moth-eaten musical brocade
Created to pretend we never die,
And specious stuff that says No rational being
Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing
That this is what we fear--no sight, no sound,
No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with,
Nothing to love or link with,
The anaesthetic from which none come round.

And so it stays just on the edge of vision,
A small, unfocused blur, a standing chill
That slows each impulse down to indecision.
Most things may never happen: this one will,
And realisation rages out
In furnace-fear when we are caught without
People or drink. Courage is no good:
It means not scaring others. Being brave
Lets no one off the grave.
Death is no different whined at than withstood.

Slowly light strengthens, and the room takes shape.
It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know,
Have always known, know that we can't escape,
Yet can't accept. One side will have to go.
Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring
In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring
Intricate rented world begins to rouse.
The sky is white as clay, with no sun.
Work has to be done.
Postmen like doctors go from house to house.

Like in the Yeats poem from the 1st, I'm interested in the adjectives modifying verbs, in 'grow light' and 'stands plain'--I'm not sure if those are both 'predicate adjectives' but I think they are. Seven hundred billion bonus points to anyone who can tell me I'm wrong.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Drummers social-network too

Whaddya know? There's a rather new social netorking/original content site for drummers! Drum Channel. As of right now there's a tiny picture of me on the home page (because I just singed up), from 11 years ago when I was playing with Central Boise Library (R.I.P.)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Groove is the Green Fire

That drives the shoot of music through the soil. (My apologies to Theodore Roethke and the rest of the English-speaking world.)

I'm late to the party, but as I understand it, my new favorite drummer--my new idol of groove--the master professor of my new study of laying the fatback down--the pattern I pin to the fabric of my funky butt to cut out a new, deeper pocket--Joseph Modeliste, is, in the Fraternity of Beat, viewed as a demigod.

This pleases me for one self-serving reason, related to my epicfail at playing to the click, out in the shed, with Mr. Z.--namely the cut from the Meters's album Rejuvenation (of 1974) called 'Jungle Man.' It's the kind of song that you listen to once and grab the little slider in Windows Media Player and drag it back to the beginning as soon as the fade out starts--once you hear it you can never let it end. Although 'Hey Pocky A-Way' is next, and that song should never end even more neverly.

But when you do drag 'Jungle Man' back from the fade out to the beginning, you can't help but notice, so deep are you in Modeliste's pocket, that the cut starts out--unless I'm seriously misunderstanding something--a little bit slower than it ends.

I will follow in my master's footsteps, whithersoever they shall lead.

Monday, April 13, 2009


Is the Mr. Show theme inspired by Lumpy Gravy?

EDIT, for Mr. Smitty: the Mr. Show theme was written by Mark Rivers drummer for the Cavedogs, who I'm now interested in; also, you will someday fight cavedogs. You can buy a recording of the Rock Coaches (funny name) playing it here. Or you can listen to the whole track instead of buying it.

Lumpy Gravy is a Frank Zappa record and song. You can listen to a snippet of Keith Emerson playing the title theme from Lumpy Gravy here (track 13). And it's track two here, on the new album that I covet most in the world.

Friday, April 3, 2009

For Bejar Disciples Only

Today on the AV Club a new column begins, the first installment about a box of paperbacks of The Destroyer series.

In the comments a movie based on the novels is mentioned--Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins. It features Wilford Brimley and Kate Mulgrew, but that's beside the point.

That movie brings up a list of "Movies Most Like. . ." which includes Big Trouble In Little China.

Adding Big Trouble In Little China to your queue leads to the suggestion that you try another movie: