Friday, August 29, 2014

Gamers Are Dead. Long Live Video Games.

In The Academy, I had a great history teacher. Captain Veggeberg, USMC. He brought knowledge and a personal interest to the subject. You ever see a story about an ageless history professor who's described as talking about history "like he lived it" and then thought, "no one describes anyone like that"?

Captain (now Lieutenant Colonel[Congratulations!]) Veggeberg talked about history like he lived it. He infused every class with passion and his description of the Battle of Midway is indelibly etched in my mind. Maybe that's why I think about The Battle of Camden to this day, especially lately.

Rules of Life: #10

Rule #10: To control perception is to control.
Corollary: This is untrue.

Rule 14 covers this a lot better. Sometimes, y'all will see gaps in the Rules of Life. Some numbers get removed because they suck. Other gaps exist because of the lack of a single set of Rules early on. During that time, rules were added according to an Um numbering system, “This is um...Rule 35, right? 34 was the last one? I know we're in the thirties. Definitely.”

From here to the twenties there are one or two numbers, like ten, missing because they didn't stand the test of time and pithiness. After that, the gaps are usually from forgetfulness. Certainly, I can't remember which is which.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Edere Vir: D&D Implementation

So a few weeks ago I started talking about a monster type I made called the Edere Vir. Originally envisioned as a part of the World of Darkness, they were humans that preyed on other humans for power and advantage within society. I'm still turning the idea over.
As a D&D monster, they wouldn't be a monster so much as a template applied to a species already found in the Monster Manual. A few regeneration abilities, a severe bite attack limited to members of their own race, and an attack or two that induces a status effect would probably be enough.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Ferguson for My Family

On August 9th, in a Missouri town of about 21,000, a police officer stopped 18 year-old Michael Brown and his friend. It was one of 5,400 stops the Ferguson Police Department conducts every year, but at the end of it the unarmed Michael Brown was dead, shot several times by Officer Darren Brown.

Accounts vary. According to the Ferguson Police Chief, Brown lunged for the officer's gun and was shot in the ensuing struggle. Dorian Johnson, Michael Brown's friend and the only surviving witness says that the officer attempted to choke the victim and proceeded to shoot him when Brown pulled away.

Locals were upset after Brown's body was left in the street for four and a half hours. No ambulance was called. Detectives weren't even called to the scene for over an hour. That night, police armored up, assuming the worst from passionate, public protests. The next morning it became obvious that the meager trust between the police and the community was thinning. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Houma Movie Club: Carlos (2010)

We watched the 2010 movie Carlos this week.

By the end, we were all rooting for cancer.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Houma Movie Club, Phase 6

So Phase 6 is upon us. We've decided to do a Robin Williams theme. Given the sparse selection available on Netflix and Hulu, we've waived the originality requirement. Richard has indefinitely bowed out, so we're down to four participants and four movies.

Remember, everyone gets two votes, whether you're in the club or not. Poll closes Monday, so vote quickly.

The Fisher King (1991, 137 minutes)
Robin Williams supported homeless causes. In one of those things you see going around the internet, there was a rider in his contract stipulating that when he was hired for events, a certain percentage of the staff had to be homeless folks. 

It's not surprising that he opted to positively portray homeless folks in The Fisher King. I always thought it was something like Good Will Hunting, so now that I know it's an uplifting comedy, I'm excited to watch it.

Hook (1991, 147 minutes)
I saw this as a kid, but I'm looking forward to it because allegedly Bob Hoskins and Dustin Hoffman played Smee and Hook as gay. It apparently made Steven Spielberg livid, so I'm looking forward to it.

The Survivors (1983, 107 minutes)
My dad's mom had a lot of movies on VHS: Support Your Local Sheriff, Blazing Saddles, Smokey and The Bandit, and a few others. I never really got around to watching them until after she died, but The Survivors was one of them and it's surprisingly good.

The Birdcage (1996, 117 minutes)
I love Nathan Lane in The Producers. Watching him don high heels and savagely kick the line between homosexual and transsexual makes me anticipate puking. I've never seen The Birdcage all the way through but I hope Robin Williams, Hank Azaria, Gene Hackman, and Ally McBeal can mitigate the worst of the damage.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Rules of Life #09

Rule #9: No one can be known.

A social twist on my poor understanding of philosophical zombies goes something like this: there is no external difference between a real, thinking human in a social environment and a human which simply learns and mimics behaviors beneficial to them in a social environment. I don't mention it to insinuate that someone or anyone is a beast imitating mankind, but to show the ocean of vague qualities which comprise every real human person you've met.

Much as our own planet's oceans remain “mostly charted,” we're rarely privy to our own deepest trenches, much less that of others. Have you ever noticed how condescending people become once they think they have someone else all figured out.

Or hey, maybe that's just me.
Far more likely is that we think we have someone figured out. People go deep, even when it seems they don't. We like to believe tha tothers are something we can identify, type, and know the minute we see them. That's why racism and bigotry exist; believing every black teenager you meet is a dangerous criminal provides a weird kind of security because it comes bundled with a set of feel-safer actions which give the racist in question a sense of security and control in an otherwise unremarkable but potentially ambiguous social situation.

Even when we innocently write someone off as an idiot, it denies not just the fact that they have just lived every moment of their own lives—every second just as we have—but the truth that they've experienced these seconds. They've interpreted and emotionally reacted to them. They've connected them to earlier events and experiences. The lives of others aren't a series of energy exchanges occurring in a haze of visual agnosia, force applied, and chemical reactions taking place over a delta-t; they see and feel events just as we have done and they've done it and will do it far outside of the tiny window where we're around each other.

The thought that we could know someone else—really know them—should be a punchline, not a common assumption.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Red Letter Media: Best of the Worst: High Voltage, Death Spa, and Space Mutiny

I really like Red Letter Media. From Mr. Plinkett's Star Wars and Star Trek reviews to Half in the Bag to Best of the Worst.

Best of the Worst is like Cliff Notes for Mystery Science Theater 3000. It's pretty good.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Edere Vir: Powers

So two weeks ago I started talking about a monster type I made called the Edere Vir. Originally envisioned as a part of the World of Darkness, they were humans that preyed on other humans for power and advantage within society.

What could the Edere Vir eat and what could they use those body parts to do?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Rules of Life #08

Rule #8: We don't want what we want

"You may find that having is not so pleasing a thing, after all, as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true." Spock, "Amok Time"

The things that some of us strive for are not the things we're working towards. Others strive for something only to gain it and realize it is not what they desired. Time is cruel in that we never know until we've climbed the mountain if the view is worth the cost.

If life is the journey and not the destination, it's a good thing indeed. On the other hand, there's something to be said for loving the one you're with.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Tabletop: Dixit

Tabletop is a pretty good series. I kinda trailed off after Wil Wheaton started losing it in the D&D game. Dixit may not be the most exciting episode, but it looks like a pretty cool game.

The Last Night on Earth episode is great because I'm pretty sure Felicia Day is trolling by the end of it and that's beautiful. There's also the Shadows Over Camelot episode with the Penny Arcade guys.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Edere Vir Part 2

So two weeks ago I started talking about a monster type I made called the Edere Vir. Originally envisioned as a part of the World of Darkness, they were humans that preyed on other humans for power and advantage within society. I tried to adapt them to a D&D mileu without success.

Initially. In D&D, the Edere Vir would be the town baker who finds a wounded traveler with a broken leg and is overcome with a taboo desire. They give in and find their old bum knee is healed. Much to their own horror, they feel neither revulsion nor remorse.

Time passes and their small village sees travelers savagely attacked. The local mayor--a former baker--reluctantly calls the party in. The adventurers eventually discover the baker-cum-mayor has been quietly trying to cover the entire business up. That the limping baker is suddenly more than fully ambulatory is a surprise. That they can bite through the fingers of their fellow elf as though they were made of butter[1] is downright shocking to the party.

The party triumphs and the baker is publicly hung by the neck until dead and interred with all appropriate rituals. The party calls it a side-quest and rides off into the sunset.

Monday, August 04, 2014

The Rules of Life #07

Rule #7: Trust compliments from enemies and criticism from friends.
Corollary: Regardless of the source, good advice is good advice.

Some things are hard to come by. People tend to spew compliments pretty easy as social lubricants. O'course, as soon as the chips are down, most of those same folks will vomit forth a lot of criticism. No judgments (okay, some judgments); people sit on a lot of toxic shit to make civilization work.

The result is that honest, compliments and objective criticism are hard to find. Now, friends can tell you all about your strengths and foes can monologue about your shortcomings. There's no rule against either one.

Once they each break type and start the real talk, it's worth listening though[1].

The corollary is perhaps truer, if less useful. If advice is good, it's by definition worth taking. Odds are pretty good that if you could recognize a good idea as such, you'd want to use it anyway. But humans are humans and a reminder that the source shouldn't stand in the way is worth posting.

[1] Always listen to your friends.