August 2006

OK, you must check it:  the new Mac Pro.




OK, so two quick things:

Went to see Snakes on a Plane on Saturday night.  If you go, and you live in the Triangle, you simply must go see it at the Starlite Drive-In.  Cheap admission, cheap concessions (with corndogs on the menu!), sit in your car, laugh your butt off.  It’s the world’s stupidest movie, but it’s a lot of fun in the right circumstance.  One of those circumstances is definitely having the windows down, enjoying a breeze and listening to the people in the car a couple of spaces away yell at their kids to avert their eyes during the T&A bathroom-booty scene.  A mom would shout, “Eyes closed!  Eyes closed!  Eyes closed!”  Then, a pause.  Then, “EYES CLOSED!  CLOSE THOSE EYES!”  It simply made everything even better.  For those who know me, and thus know how I get antsy and slightly violent when someone talks in a movie, this should tell you everything:  the drive-in is so much fun that I didn’t even care that I could hear someone yelling at their kids.

Second, The Boyf taped a mini-marathon of Life on Mars, which is currently playing on BBC America.  If you get BBCA and you like the cop dramas, you simply have to check this out.  A time-traveling (or comatose) modern-day detective winds up in (or hallucinates) 1973, trying to apply current police procedures – highly developed techniques such as “avoid police brutality” and “don’t plant evidence on someone just because you have a hunch” and “build an evidence trail to secure conviction” – in a setting which doesn’t have much time for them.

Get it?  Time!  Ha ha!

Anyway, good watching.  And seriously, Starlite is now my preferred place to watch popcorn movies.  Yowza!  It’s awesome.

Finally, I have gotten them up in my gallery.

  • That Store Which Still Cannot Be Named – ultra-tacky stuff. Like, you just wouldn’t believe. It’s arguably less tacky this year than it was last, but wow. It’s still bad. Tack-o-rama.
  • Clarksville Antiques – I love this place. And the inventory, um, well, it’s basically the same, down to the highball glasses I still really want. If they’re there next year, they are mine.
  • Gino’s Pizza – A few pictures of their interior.
  • Mariposa Cafe – It’s either dead or dying, and that makes me very sad.
  • One Cat – Just a random snapshot of Gogo laying on the bed at the lakehouse. I kept trying to get shots of Didi and Gogo perched on the steps into the living room, but they’d always move.

Update:  If you’re looking for them, here are links to last year’s pictures and my gallery in general.

Cutting to the chase, a discussion on the mailing list for my guild eventually included Pants Wilder joking that what might turn us away from wanting to ally with another guild for the purpose of doing big raids would be if a guild were to, for example, say grace before every pull (a “pull” being when the group positions itself and then attacks a specific target creature, or “mob”). It led me to write this, which non-WoW-nerds will probably find unintelligible, and which has been lightly edited from the original:

THE SCENE: A ten-man group hides around a corner in UBRS, waiting for Jed to approach.

Raid Leader: Oh Lord, we thank you for your generosity in providing this rare spawn elite, and we ask that you shield our tank –

Priest: Wait, I thought I was shielding the rogue so he could sap…

Raid Leader: (It’s metaphor, shut up) (cough) We ask that you shield our tank and guide the poisoned daggers of our rogue, claws of our druid and spells of our casters –

Warlock: Actually, according to the backstory of the world I’m probably not hip with The Light, or vice versa, FYI.

Paladin: Wait, shouldn’t I be the one leading us in prayer if the priest isn’t? Or if they’re in, you know, Shadow Form. (pause) Cuz that’s almost certainly sacrilegious. (pause) If you think about it.

Raid Leader: SHUT UP WE ARE NOT AN RP GUILD – spellsofourcasters (waits for objection) sothattheymayDPSthefuckoutofthismobENDOFDISCUSSIONamen.

Druid: Cat durid don’t talk about fite


Druid: Also, eqwul time 4 Cenarius plzkthx

OK, I’ll say it. I haven’t seen it said anywhere else, but all that means is that I’ve probably missed it, but I’ll say it anyway.

Hands up, everyone who thinks this whole Liquids On A Plane business smacks of nothing more serious than someone – either would-be terr’ust or “security” “professional” – having watched Die Hard III too many times.

I’ve got my hand up.

Lake Week is always a festival of eating.  Too many people who love to cook being in one place at one time means nonstop buffet action.  For most lake-goers, being out on and/or in the water all the time leads to constant appetite.  Last year one of our hostesses lost two pounds despite said nonstop buffet action.  I, on the other hand, not being much of one for swimming, tend to just eat anyway.  By the end of the average lake week, I’m kind of tired of food.  That sounds stupid, yes, and it probably marks me as a bad liberal to be so bourgeois, but whatever, it’s the truth.  Come Sunday morning, we were dividing up the remaining food and somehow The Boyf and I ended up with all the desserts.  There’s a red velvet cake (minus one slice eaten for the noble purpose of verifying it traveled back without incident, of course) in our fridge and, on the shelf above it, a big tub of this absurdly delicious pseudo-eclair stuff Bascha made.  I’m feeling much better now that I’m eating like a normal person again, however.  Ugh.  Looking back on all the delicious food – grilled chicken, pesto ravioli with chicken and mushrooms, homemade salsa, homemade bean salad, eclair stuff, fruit trifle – I am just thrilled to death that my pants still fit.

Also, can I continue using this space to write love letters to Raymond Chandler?  Seriously.  Also Hammett.  The Thin Man may be one of the best books I’ve ever read for sheer entertainment value.  I’m convinced Robert Altman must have read Hammett and said to himself, “One day, I will make movies where everyone talks like this.”  I got more reading done in one week at the lake than I’ve gotten done in the last six months.

To finish out the brief lake roundup, we made it out to The Store Which Cannot Be Named again only to find that Jesusland had gone under.  I got one picture of a t-shirt with a faux logo revamped to evangelize, but that was pretty much it in that department.  I did get a bunch of other pictures, however, and those will go up sometime this week.

Just a test post, as I appear to be having issues today.

Another awesome week at The Lake has passed, and I feel much refreshed.  My laptop died on Friday, with a series of grinds and screeches coming from the hard drive and the CD drive refusing to shut properly then refusing to open properly.  One sale item at Best Buy later, I am writing this on a new laptop that is scaled to my mobile needs – it can play games if it has to, but it would rather write.  This is a good thing.

Speaking of writing, the sad news from my laptop woes is that I lost a great character background I’d written for a new World of Darkness game and I lost the 2nd zombie story, which I worked on while at the lake but didn’t have a chance to offload anywhere given the lack of interwebs.  Ah, well, you win some, you lose some.  This just gives me a chance to rewrite it, after all.

See y’all in a week!

Every gaming character I have falls neatly into one of two types: the moody bruiser and the flippant, charismatic iconoclast.

Really, it’s just that simple.

To call the latter “The Roderick Line” is actually a misnomer, because it started with Whitten some nine years ago. These characters are largely sass & flirtation, rebels eschewing social norms and blowing kisses the whole way home. They tend to be deeply moral but utterly unethical in their behavior patterns.

Whitten (1997 – Present): Half-Elf bard, originally a fanatical follower of Charess (the Faerunian demigoddess of pleasure). He tends to back-talk and blow things up when he doesn’t understand them, despises propriety but values genuine innocence and good faith.

Roderick Surrett (1996 – 2000?): Hippie Malkavian living in Seattle, WA. He was a vampire for 30 years before he made it to his first local conclave. Living on a large inheritance, he tended to back-talk and shoot things when he didn’t understand them, also despised propriety, had real issues with authority and reveled in immoral behavior when he felt it served a greater good (he frequently sought out and fed from book-burning conservatives, primarily because he took pleasure in their suffering but also because he felt society was better off without them).

Roderick Calhoun (1996 – 2002?): Malkavian Prince of DC in a large, long-running online game of 20 or 30 players. Yes, I am shit at coming up with new names. He was a burned-out drag queen megalomaniac, obsessed with destroying anyone who didn’t hold him in high regard and climbing the ladder of authority. In that regard, he was the diametric opposite of Roderick Surrett, who had zero tolerance for those who sought power for the ego-trip of its pageantry. Roderick Calhoun’s only concern was for pageantry, for feeling worshipped, for holding power over others. He was terribly evil and I loved playing him and I honestly don’t think anyone figured out his derangement.

Charles Fitzgerald (1998 – 2000): Electrokinetic member of Aeon Trinity. He was officially a member of Aeon’s PR wing, but in truth he was a highly trained agent for anti-Aberrant and anti-Chromatic activity. He was a 1/8th Chinese hacker kid from Southern California with at least three different identities that had all the proper, official paperwork available to them. His favorite thing to do was break into the lairs of his enemies and steal something from them. He was utterly unethical but deeply and sincerely moral and hated to kill humans. Charles may actually be my favorite RPG character; stripped of all powers, he was the star of two of my entries in NaNoWriMo.

Banilas (2001 – 2002): A very minor noble and Chosen of the Sun who actively fought against the Jade Empire and hoped to displace its leadership. He (and each of his companions) were reincarnations of an ancient ruling cabal, and he sincerely hoped for a diplomatic solution to the rebellion but focused his gifts solely on destructive powers. Prone to throwing snits. At the very least, when I tried to draw pictures of him to go in my gaming notebook, he always came out looking annoyed.

Maxwell von Frank (2005): A mad scientist I played in a game of Deadlands. He built ghost-rock-powered robots called ‘Frankenmen.’ It was a one-shot, which is a good thing, because by the time the night was over I was so thoroughly disgusted by the Deadlands system that I actually requested that a bad roll kill him instantly so I could stop having to deal with it. Still, I made a brochure for his robots and everything. Yes, I am a huge nerd.

Leeritan Vaz (2004 – 2006): High Elf druid/thief/wizard. Eventually I ran a one-shot in which everyone got to go through the Re-Leveler and he came out just a druid/thief. His main mission in the desert empire of Mulhorand was to study what bizarre life might be native to the desert. To kill time between caravan journeys, he would take jobs doing landscaping in the capital city and then plant invasive, destructive species which accelerated the decay of man-made structures. He was not above resorting to more direct acts of demolition if he felt they were warranted. He also ran a small gang on the side.

So, there you have it, since I just know you were dying to hear about all these gaming characters. The Roderick Line is perhaps best summarized by saying they are troubled troublemakers. Each of them felt powerless in some way, despite each of them being very, very powerful, and they tended to express it through violence or, at the very least, trespass. This tends to be the most interesting thing about any character, for me: setting them up to have tremendous capabilities but putting them in a circumstance where they feel their s00per p0wrz do not, in fact, help at all. In that way, the character isn’t all about “I attack with fifty dice!”* or whatever, but about exploring their psychology and trying to unearth their motivations and goals. I like to get at the people behind the powers, and have found that a good way of doing so is to somehow negate or minimize the powers themselves so that only the person is left.

Lots of gamers who put hand to heart and swear that they’re in it for the roleplay, not the rollplay, will say this, yes. I will be among the first to admit that one of the reasons I loved Charles was because, gods, he was just absurdly powerful by the end of that Trinity game. On the other hand, the resolution of the Seattle by Lava Lamp chronicle, our extremely-long-running Vampire game, was a handshake between characters. I’m not sure many games can say that.

The other main branch, of course, is The Withrow Line. Withrow was Roderick Surrett’s fat, brooding, bruiser cousin. The number of characters who fall into The Withrow Line is pretty absurd, especially if I include the Withrow-variants I played in a succession of MUXes-in-decline.

No time for that tonight, however.

* However, it is worth noting that one of Mr. Pink Eyes’ characters, who actually would attack with fifty dice, was very emotionally complex and he is an excellent roleplayer.

Here’s what I need to get done:

  • Finalize lake playlists, one for going there, one for coming home.  The theme for Going Up is going to be “Chill Out” this year.  Suggestions?
  • Take the kittens to the vet on Friday for their first annual check-up
  • Pack
  • Do the undergrad taxes
  • Check the comic book store for anything new in my bag and anything I cannot resist taking lakeward
  • Hit the bookstore to use the coupon I got
  • Decide whether to leave the laptop at home
  • Write back to that guy who wrote to me about the zombie story (if you read this, That Guy, sorry I can’t remember your name and have been slow to respond – this is my typical MO, frankly).

Getting a haircut is going to be an impossibility, but hey, the couch is out of my yard, so progress is being made.

Is it wrong of me to admit that one of the things I’m most excited to do this coming week is go back to this store?

Spent the weekend trying (and largely failing) to deal with things that needed dealing with. There’s now a dead couch in my yard. I am that trash. At least it’s in the back yard, and not the front, and at least it’s going away Thursday morning.

The best thing about the weekend was easily getting to go play blackjack and shoot the breeze over at Katastrophes‘ and Mr. Pink Eyes’ place. That I came out ahead on the night didn’t hurt one bit.

I did, however, get a Huge Project done that had been a major stumbling block for a long time. Now there are just all the other frickin’ things that have been waiting, oh, y’know, since I bought the house, or shortly thereafter. And of course I still haven’t replaced the shed. Maybe next year. The one I have may be crumpled, but at least it’s there.

Work this week is a huge clusterfuck because my boss, who is normally fantastic, decided it would be a good idea to ship 3/4 of the team off for training for the week, leaving 1/4 of us here to actually do everything. My brain is very tired, and yet there are hours still to go. Vacation starts Friday and I cannot express how fucking glad I will be to get the fuck away from the office for a few days.

Now, let’s see, between everything exploding at work, and having zero time at home this week because of said work, I somehow need to figure out a way to fit a haircut, checkups for the kittens, doing the undergrad taxes, paying the bills, going to the bank, packing, checking my comics bag and checking the PO box into Friday afternoon, since that’s the only day between now and Lake when I’ll have a free moment.

Also, memo to the planet: online dramas of all sorts (such as blogfights) are just so played. The very last of novelty was wrung from the genre many years ago in the depths of Usenet, and there hasn’t since been even a whiff of original indignation. I just have no stomach left for when people get giddy over Internet people having a slap-fight.

The good news: I’ve decided to play a mage in the next City In Flames tabletop game. He falls into the Charlesian branch of the Roderick line of pop-culture-savvy iconoclasts, for those who know my characters.

He’s going to be a travel agent.

That’s not some weird euphemism; I mean that his profession will be arranging trips for people and charging a fee and he will have brochures that I will probably fashion myself because I am a freak.

I really, really like the new Mage.