Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fingertips

“I’ve always wanted to work at a club.”
“As what, a bouncer? Bartender?”
“No. What I do now, just at a club.”
“…”
“I like the atmosphere.”
* * *

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Playing Favorites excerpts, pt 41

Every Most Tuesdays I post excerpts from best selling at not selling super blog, Playing Favorites.

Okay, I’m on this thing now.  I know Dean Cain’s Clark from “Lois and Clark” did some petty things that I don’t think of as super(though I can’t think of any specific examples), but maybe that’s part of his relatability? I mean, wouldn’t we do some petty things against people who are jerks if we had Superman’s powers?  Most of us would go beyond ‘petty,’ which is strange because I’ve used that word so much to describe super-villains. They aren’t petty, they’re petty and they won’t let it go. Oh, man, with the exception of the hairpiece thing, I’m not really sure what I’ve got on Superman doing that kind of thing. I’m sure it was common in The Silver Age. On the one hand, I get that Superman is a persona; he is that guy of course, but he’s also Clark Kent, average human reporter who doesn’t carry the weight of the world on his shoulders all of the time. Someone who does relax, who has fun, and enjoys the life that he works so hard to preserve for others. No, again Clark Kent is a reporter who’s clumsy and awkward. He doesn’t exude confidence or enjoy the company of others. Again, I’m thinking is the guy who can bench press planets and have quiet evenings with Lois Lane is someone else entirely, someone who can do all the things I listed two sentences ago. A guy who misses his planets and a family he’ll never see, but enjoys baseball and his mom’s apple pie. A guy who talks to his wife about the burdens of being a living icon while causing some occasional mischief with his god-like powers. Again, I think of Superman as really being Kal-El, Last Son of Krypton, Clark Kent by day, Superman…also by day.

Monday, November 28, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011: Rejected Excerpt

Ah, The Spider, come in. I’ve been told so much about you. 

That’s nice to hear. Thanks for seeing me; I’m looking forward to working for your lab. 

Tell me a little about yourself.

I’ve got doctorates in physics, engineering, biology, and mathematics. I was Head of Research in Denver University’s Biology Department for seven years. I was Interim Dean of Sciences for six months. I ran my own research company for ten years. I’m UNITY certified. And I am widely regarded as a ruthless shadow of the night who prowls the rooftops of my city as a merciless spirit of vengeance.

Thank you. Can I ask you, as an unholy abomination of man and arthropod, can you make an antidote for your own poison…if you bite yourself by accident?

I’m…not poisonous.

Theoretically.

Theoretically, yes. Provided I had enough remaining venom to use as a basis.

Can you spin a web? If so, of what size or sizes?

I don’t do Spider-Man jokes.

I understand. If you used the teleporting device of Seth Brundle, but there was a common house spider in there with you, would you become half spider, half man-spider or would it not make much difference at all?

According to the movie, half my DNA would be overwritten with that of the spider, so yeah probably. Are we going to talk about my qualifications as a biologist, an engineer, and an administrator?

I’m sorry, the remainder of the interview will consist of The Spider questions. Now, are you attracted to spider women or human women?

Neither, I guess; male spiders often put their seed into a tiny web, which they then move to their pedipalps, which they then inject into the female’s genital opening.

So, what about a human woman who was wearing a fake spider vagina? Would you put your seed web into that?

Would you have sex with a monkey that had a human vagina?

This interview isn’t about me. What about The Outlaw?

The shapeshifting super-criminal with delusions about being my arch-nemesis?

What if you were somewhere, say a club or a bus stop or something, and there was a beautiful red head there giving you the eye.

…uh-huh…

She offers to have sex with you, but you think she might be The Outlaw.

Why? Can I tell she’s a meta or something?

No. You’re just feeling paranoid that day.

I don’t know. It’s hard to say.

She guarantees it will be the best sex of your life, and you’ll never know if it was The Outlaw or not.

I don’t know…yeah, I guess. If I’d never know.

It was The Outlaw.

Aw, c’mon!

It was The Outlaw. Deal with it. What’s spider porn like?

Pretty hot, but remember that depending on the species, the female will liquify and drink the male after.

Fair enough. When people dress in spider costumes and have sex, are they still called furries? 

I don’t know.

Because you have those little hairs on your legs.

I…still don’t know.

That’s all the questions I have for you today. Thank you for coming.

Did I get the job?

No, we don’t hire dirty spiders.  

With thanks to Saturday Night Live and Christopher Walken.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Friday, November 25, 2011

It's the Magic: Attack Bears Coming to Grips With the Size of the Job Before Them


Huh, That’s Funny
Alright, so I have two plans on how to address the issues I talked about last week: adding more cards to my hypothetical lands-and-vanilla creatures format or making stuff up.

Adding Cards
Additional cards let the format address the issues without making it just another way to play Magic, but with dumber creatures. However, the criterion for including cards must be simple and, obviously, include cards which address our problems.

Instants
Pros:
-Offset the sorcery-speed, summoning sickened creatures that make up the core of game play.
-Don’t always support the format. Jace's Ingenuity, for example, does address the issue of drawing out, but doesn’t add much, to the centrality of creature combat to the game.
-Do not provide a permanent effect, so they don’t complicate the board state.
-Evens the playing field for non-Green decks.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Timewalking Archive Trap: Nerd Points

TrackerMoonl: What did yall talk about?
VanVelding: Dukat, initially.
VanVelding: The badguy from DS9.
VanVelding: I'm like, "everyone has a stake in kicking his ass at the end."
VanVelding: Relatively speaking, Sisko was indifferent towards the bastard.
VanVelding: Their only beef was professional. Sisko was Jesus, and Dukat was that kid from The Omen.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Playing Favorites excerpts, pt 40

Every Most Tuesdays I post excerpts from best selling at not selling super blog, Playing Favorites.

Throughout this all, Doctor Doom is reserved, almost reactionary. He doesn't go looking for fights, but finishes them utterly once they start. He doesn't commit genocide against other alien invaders, just wrecks their ability to make war. He doesn’t go out looking for a fight with The Celestials, he just stops them from interfering in the affairs of lesser civilizations because they interfered with his. He gains the Inifinity Gems because he's confident that he can and should wield this power. While I haven't read any of the “Infinity Gauntlet” that wasn't written by Brian Clevinger, I'm pretty sure there was a lot of fucking hand-wringing over what to do with the Infinity Gems once Thanos was defeated. A lot of “that's too much responsibility for one man”s being thrown around. While Doctor Doom doesn't doubt the morality of his actions, once he can surpass his petty desires to rule the world, avenge himself on Reed Richards, and save his mother's soul, his moral compass points as well as any superhero's that doesn't doubt itself and eagerly agrees to ignore The Prime Directive if someone else does first.

It's strange that Doctor Doom's actions in this story still aren't heroic; they're responsible. He doesn't have that moral myopia that only lets him hit the guy in front of him. He'd rather the job be done definitively than to keep bloodshed at a minimum. The exception is that he doesn't concern himself with the massive consequences of fighting the most powerful beings in the universe because he is right and they are wrong. Indeed, that kind of moral myopia isn't foreign to Doom, it's actually his normal level of petty elimination of people who oppose him. He will change the status quo of existence itself because it inconveniences him. That the consequences destroy Earth are no matter; he uses the last of his power to give the Earth a glorious rebirth. Of course, Doom himself is given a rebirth as a simple human, so much the better to begin his quest anew.

Doom must strive. Doom must oppose. It's only in adversity that Doctor Doom finds his calling. It's only by punching so far above his weight class that he can find the challenges that a genius—nay, a man—of his caliber requires. The central point of his character isn't to protect others or even to take his petty vengeances, it is to seek, to strive, to find, and not to yield (Yes, Tennyson). It’s the same unquenchable fire that drives heroes, but its direction is totally inward, pushing Doom to test and prove himself. Doom must be the best, he must be worthy of his own image.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

A Lone Post Emerges From a Desolate Wasteland

Hey, I spend most of last week being the only clerk on the barge and not getting a lot of sleep and not even being in the office during the hours where we're allowed to be on the internet and it was a real drag and I even took a few days off of NaNoWriMo so I'm behind on that too. Super-swear, I'll have some stuff up this week.

But hey, at least the weekend music is still updating.

Oh, November's theme seems to be the uplifting topic of domestic abuse.






Well...enjoy that then.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Weekend Music: "Independence Day" by Martina McBride


I know two things about Martina McBride:
1) She also does "Concrete Angel," so I'm assuming her full bio references the fact that she's a robot from the future programmed to rip out my #$&@ing heart with country music.
2) How to link her website

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2012 Update

We’re at the halfway point. How is everyone doing? Good. I’m actually halfway done. It is fucking eerie to be halfway done with a writing assignment halfway to the due date. That shit has not happened in a long, long time.

Speaking of ancient history, Monday and Tuesday officially marked the last week of Quinius. I messed it up again this year, but the things I got right were clearly great moments where I entered the very heart of my holiday and felt it beat. I wish I could be less douchey and vague about it, but that’s what I gots!

Back to NaNoWriMo. I’m at the halfway point, which should mean I’m halfway done with the story I wanted to tell. Not so! Let me demonstrate how behind/off track I am here:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Playing Favorites excerpts, pt 39

Every Most Tuesdays I post excerpts from best selling at not selling super blog, Playing Favorites.

In the What-If, however, Doctor Doom detects The Beyonder's survival and doesn't fall for his trickery. The heroes are not revived and Doom is free to master his new powers and return to Earth.

He does, and pwns heavily. He is opposed first by Tony Stark and Doctor Strange. He simply adjusts Tony's Blood Alcohol Content to make him permanently drunk (bypassing the 'bottle' part of “Demon in the Bottle”) and though Doctor Strange has spent time in a hyperbolic time chamber preparing new spells for the battle, Doom simply
Silences him and punts him elsewhere in the multiverse. Then the other heroes rally; pregnant Sue Storm, Daredevil, Ghost Rider, US Agent and...seriously, they are fairly unmemorable from that point forward. It's the C-Team plus S.H.I.E.L.D versus deus ex Doom and in the end...well, Doctor Doom only knows how to rule worlds and defeat that Accursed Richards, and he left all of his Richardses on WarWorld.

Monday, November 14, 2011

7252 - Just a Diet Coke Nerd




 Tweets are great. My tweets are better. And these tweets are the best of the better.

DIET COKE AND POP TARTS
Okay. NOW my pop-tart gauge is full. I'm grungy, on a road trip, and full of diet coke. Space-lizards on pulsars aren't this lizard happy.
Friday, March 12, 2010 11:11:43 AM

Saw the Coke guy putting up cokes. Just gave him all of my money. Those are the rules.
September 17, 2010 5:47:20 AM

Just like how you give Jesus all the gifts if he shows up for Christmas. Same thing.
September 17, 2010 5:48:23 AM
     
Deprivation is good for the soul. Pop-Tarts are good for the tummy.
September 06, 2010 8:39:01 AM

I left pop tarts from my last time off. Did I ever tell me I'm my hero? I'm everything I wish I could be? I could fly higher than an eagle.
August 06, 2010 7:23:58 AM

NEEEEEEEEERD
Reading the Monster Manual section entitled 'Zombie Hulk Tactics.' It's longer than you think. #dnd
July 24, 2010 9:42:43 AM

Mage: the Awakening. Matt isn't supposed to be this jaded to the rulers of the world of magic, but remember that he is tenured.
July 09, 2010 3:08:37 AM

You've never heard of us. We're a dwarf band; we're totally underground.
Tuesday, July 06, 2010 7:56:43 PM

vs. Necrons: Are you dying?! That's desertion! You'll be shot! #necrons #40k #darkcrusade
June 25, 2010 1:56:34 PM

So...Eres Badlands has a different victory condition. Glad I went for broke instead of all that 'defend my base' crap. #40k #darkcrusade
Thursday, June 24, 2010 5:48:34 PM

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Weekend Music: "Never Again" by Nickelback



I know two things about this band:
1) I like them.
2) How to link their website.

Nickelback probably isn't a great band and they even have a few songs I hate. I'm sure they're technically terrible, but I never personally got how they get the flak they do. Well, not entirely, anyway.

Moving along, the next seven weeks will mostly be country music. Also, because Brooks and Dunn's "When She's Gone, She's Gone" isn't on YouTube, I guess I'll slap together a video for it (if I can) so I can share it with you guys. If you have any imagery to suggest, let me know. (Yes, I know that link leads to MySpace. That's what I'm trying to fix here.)

Friday, November 11, 2011

It's the Magic: Highly Trained Attack Bears

Huh, That’s Funny
I have a bear problem. I have bears in my collection, but until the Hanna-Barberra set comes out (scheduled for 2015 under the code names "Scooby," "Dooby," & "Doo"), there just aren't enough picnic baskets to really do much for them.


Before I continue, I have to lay out a few pieces of terminology:
Vanilla Creatures – These creatures only have a power and toughness. For most purposes, they are tokens creatures printed on a card (with a cost, name, etc.). Unless they're big, and maybe not even then, their game play value is very limited.

French Vanilla Creatures – These creatures are like vanilla creatures except that they have one or more keyword abilities, like flying, trample, haste, lifelink, deathtouch, etc.. They're often more useful, and can often turn a game around, but don't always see a lot of play either (Hey Flensermite. Don't worry; you're a staple in Kris tournaments.)

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011: The Denver Five excerpt

Eric Roberts had been working with UNITY from the very beginning. When the Lassick Incident broke, no one knew how to handle a mentally unstable, highly-manifested metahuman. He was a psychologist specializing in anxiety disorders at the time He had an office and estate in New York state, paid for with his empathic abilities, telling people about how the world wasn’t the harsh and unforgiving entity they’d imagine it was. He convinced people to trust in the innate kindness of others, to believe that most people wanted to help others.
When he’d seen the Lassick Incident, he’d been comfortable saying those words while hiding his own meta abilities. He’d been comfortable telling himself that discretion was a reasonable route when so much of mankind was still coming to grips with the implications of metahumanity, all too aware of how easy it was for people to focus exclusively on the dangers life’s changes presented at the loss of those opportunities.
Stopping Lassick and saving his victims cost Eric Roberts more than a comfortable practice and a nice house, but now, after helping so many metas become bearers of that message, he didn’t doubt it was the right thing for him to do.
None the less, there were less rewarding days, like today, when an invisible metahuman walks into his office, stands on his ceiling, and asks to sign up for UNITY training.
“I assume that your abilities consist of enhanced strength and the ability to mimic the coloration of any toaster pastry.”
“Um, no. I can turn invisible.” The voice sounded nervous and serious; either too stupid to get the joke or too serious, “I can also fly.”
Young too. Anxious. He took a moment to chide himself for trying to turn everyone into nails for his particular specialty of hammer.
“I think I, um, might have a selective ability to channel fundamental forces around my Ehm-field.”
Roberts leaned back. Definitely serious. And anxious. Middle class. Male. Not stupid.
“That’s certainly a thought. How much do you know about Ehm theory?”
“Just a little bit. I, uh, read about on net-uh, the internet.”
Definitely middle class and smart, but he’s pretending not to be. He wants to be the type of average citizen that doesn’t use net-plus.
Not everyone liked UNITY. Some people didn’t like it because they didn’t like metas. They didn’t like the idea of individual people randomly manifesting super human powers, they didn’t like the culture of acceptance that had largely grown up around such different people, and they didn’t like the thought that it was now slightly more likely that the person next to them in line at the grocery store could incinerate them with their eyes. There were also people who thought metas were all fine and good up to being the saviors of humanity, but who didn’t think that UNITY should be the default organization for training them. While not as vociferous or violent as the others, they did tend to be tenacious about undermining UNITY’s credibility at every turn.
Up to, and including, putting a sympathetic meta undercover at a UNITY facility.
“Go ahead and tell me what you know and I’ll fill in the rest. You might save yourself a few days of class time if you know what you’re talking about now.”
Dr. Roberts spent the next five minutes listening and nodding while filling out paperwork on his terminal. Yes, Ehm Theory was named for Doctor James Ehm, an Australian researcher believed to be the first person to manifest seven years ago. Yes, He created the first map of trans-atomic biocircuit structures created by human consciousness and how they could potentially store and release energies according to preexisting neural pathways. Yes, almost every human had an Ehm Field, but it was only manifested metas who could control and project theirs. His young visitor did a remarkable job with the dates and technical names, forgetting about his not-so-smart cover story in an effort to impress his audience.
“I am impressed,” Roberts told him at the end, “I just need your name and I’ll have your file all set up.”
“My name?”
“Yes, if that’s not too much trouble.”
There was a slight pause as Doctor Roberts considered the possibility that his visitor spent weeks practicing his approach, studying UNITY, Ehm Theory, and perhaps even Doctor Roberts and the Denver facility itself, but had never thought about the pseudonym he would use.
“I…uh, it’s just that I’m…” he was faltering badly. Roberts was worried that he’d bolt, not because he was eager to take a malcontent into his charge, but because UNITY training was a massive boon to every meta who received it and every human they interacted with thereafter.
“Take your time,” he put on his best professional voice of patience, “you can use an assumed name if you like. Most metas do.”
“I just don’t like having my name in computers. I don’t want to be shuffled around in some electronic system.” He was rambling now, too busy stalling for time to come up with an answer or a next step.
“Look, you can make something up. No pressure.”
“I’m just…cyber-paranoid.”
“That’s fine.”

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Field Manual Kris: What's Getting Written

I'll level with you guys; I'm a bit burnt out. Having problems with the internet at work is a convenient excuse, but even before NaNoWriMo, my ability to sustain this blog the way I have just isn't there. I've taken a couple of emotional blows lately and I'm getting to the end of this streak where I just pretend that I'm going to get back to school and getting around to where I forsake it forever until I'm an obnoxious fifty-year old or I just go back and finish the fight. I'll keep putting stuff out, but it'll probably be MWF for a while until I get a better long-term plan going.

Everything after this is incoherent rambling.

I'm reading Robert E. Howard, which is a trip. He wrote the series of short stories that becomes the Conan the Barbarian mythos (Yes, he apparenlty knew Lovecraft, now fuck off about that forever unless you can--right now--give me detailed reviews of five Lovecraft works and why they're relevant beyond being a mechanism to relieve hipster nerds from their money. In fact, fuck off about Lovecraft altogether unless you can do that.). I think Conan is pretty fundamental geek reading, and I've actually picked up a collection of Howard's Conan works, along Asimov's Foundation, LeGuin's, A Wizard of Earthsea, and Hadleman's Forever War, because fuck it, my next series of reviews will aquaint me (and thusly, you) with the fundamentals of nerd literature.

It's not right that I don't do a full ten, and to that end I'm also eyeing Ender's Game, Downbelow Station, Dragonlance (yes, that dragonlance) and 2001.Also considering a quick reread of A Fire Upon The Deep, because hive-mind wolf packs are awesome.

Yes, by the end, I may even be permitted to talk about Lovecraft (though it's not bloodly likely).

Oh, right, but I was talking about how Robert Howard's work was trippy. Not a pyschodelic, jump-dolphins-ate-the-script-so-make-something-up-last-Episode-of-The-Prisoner trippy, but just strange to read about and to read. According to a number of people Howard is a great writer. His work is "highly charged" and "fast and furious and girm". Ignoring quotes from the cover of his collected works, it has at the very least stood the test of time. However, upon reading "The Phoenix on the Sword," "The Frost-Giant's Daughter," "The God in the Bowl," "The Tower of the Elephant," and "The Scarlet Citadel," I have noticed several things about Howard's Conan stories.

I That shit is economical. Seriously, "The Phoenix on the Sword" uses broad charicatures to give us all six antagonists in two pages. There's a side story about a ring; that shit totally pays off. It seems contrived, but then there's not too much room for being cutesy and sparse with your Checkov's Guns.

II Conan does not impress me much. He's great at killing. Alright, he's bad-ass at killing, but he's just sort of 'meh' at everything else. Somehow, I expected more. But I'll admit that his less-than-badass qualities do make him a more grounded character.

III A magical guy will solve everything. This is pretty common.

IV These villains certainly like to exposit. I mean, they tell you what's going on, but they might as well have a sign up when they're telling you.

V That magical guy was a dream...or was he? He wasn't.

VI Don't be black, fat, or even a little gay. Seriously.

VII Wizards are assholes. Always. Even the good ones are 50% scary and 100% asshole.

VIII There is a well-formed universe here and its heavens are populated by some freaky shit. If you read this before learning Lovecraft and Howard were contemporaries, the subsequent revelation of that fact will not faze you in the slightest.

IX Conan is awesome, but far from omnipotent. He gets his ass kicked sometimes. At very specific times. See point number II.

X Yeah, it's pretty good.

It's especially good because what I'm doing for National Novel Writing Month is creating a series of short stories with similar characters that develops over time. If I aim larger, will get bogged down with trying to connect everything and keep it going, I'd much rather work on making each event I want to cover into something self contained. It reduces my perfectionist overhead while still succeeding at making the pieces of a larger story that I can edit into something more cohesive later. Of course, with the Conan stories actually being economically told short stories that are part of a larger connected universe, it's very helpful for me to look at Howard as a model to see how he does it, even if "how he does it" consists of Exposition, one line to describe a character, exposition, character openly says his motivations, fighting, bad guy dies.

I'll add the magical dudes in post.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Weekend Music: "Goodbye Earl" by...ugh, really?


I know two things about this band:
1) How to link their website.
2) Really, I don't think their music is bad or that their remarks about President Bush were unforgivable. I just wasn't impressed with how the feud was handled. There are reasons I try to never know too much about bands and the celebrities that make them up.

Friday, November 04, 2011

It's the Magic: Innistrad


New Hotness
Innistrad is good. It's always a bit harder to be nice about something than to be mean. If Innistrad had missed, I would have had plenty of snark about racist human tribes, vampires liberated of conventional sexual/gender norms, and using "furry" as a creature type for werewolves.

As it is, it's good. The tiny, devout human tribe has a hard time getting the feel of an angry mob, but then, there's a scale to Magic that makes that inherently difficult. Playing werewolves is tense and highly interactive. My gut impulse is to say that they're a bit too strong, but my actual play time with them is limited. Ultimately, they're fun to play against and I can't think of higher praise than that.

Spirits are 'meh,' and I haven't really hit the right chord with vampires yet. The Zombies seem like fun, though the self-milling blue zombies have a tendency to put you on a clock that hurts blue in a long game. That said, I still like the cards and I'm sure that there's going to be a self-milling zombie archetype that starts rocking some serious socks soon.

The flavor is top notch, giving us a whole universe--moon to shoreline--that works by its own rules while still evoking a particular place in the player headspace (northern Germany, c. 1700?). All that, and we're given a big, but subtly-played, mystery that remains elusive about betraying any secrets of things to come in the next two sets.

Huh, That's Funny
Speaking of that mystery, I was wondering if anyone else caught the similarity between a certain "central religious figure is missing" story for Innistrad and a more conspicuous "central religious figure is missing" story by a certain writer named Ennis. Huh, vampires too. If there's a human who can command Avacyn because he's super-posessed, I'm going to choose a vampire to be his BFF and go ahead and break my Vorthos cherry with a theme deck. Suggestions for which Magic card gets to be The Saint of Killers?

Thursday, November 03, 2011