Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Origins Nominations

Ah, the Origins Nominations are making their way through the Internet this morning. I'm very pleased to that a) it is a strong year for design and writing, b) I have a lot of friends up for awards, and c) I've actually got something that I wrote in the list (well, 1% of something - Hobby Games: The 100 Best).

Miniature Or Miniatures Line
Skarrd Raze #2 by Dark Age Games
George R.R. Martin Masterworks - Premium Miniature Line by Dark Sword Miniatures, Inc.
Titanius Fury by Dragonfire Laser Crafts Inc.
Bronzeback Titan, HORDES: Evolution Miniatures Line by Privateer Press
Dark Heaven Legends Fantasy Miniatures by Reaper Miniatures

Miniatures Rules
Classic Battletech Published by Catalyst GameLabs, Created by Jordan Weisman, Edited by Michelle Lyons, Diane Piron-Gelman
Saganami Island Tactical Simulator, Second Edition Published by Ad Astra Games, Created by Ken Burnside and Thomas Pope
Forces of WARMACHINE: Pirates of the Broken Coast, Published by Privateer Press, Created by Brian Snoddy and Matt Wilson
AT-43, Published by Rackham, Created by Arnaud Cuidet, Jean-Baptiste Lullien, Nicolas Raoult, and Jerome Rigal
Song of Blades and Heroes, Published by Andrea Sfiligoi, Created by Andrea Sfiligoi

Publication, Fiction
Astounding Hero Tales, Published by Hero Games, Edited by James Lowder
Dragons of the Highlord Skies, Published by Wizards of the Coast, Written by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
Frontier Cthulhu, Published by Chaosium, Edited by William Jones
The Orc King, Published by Wizards of the Coast, Written by R.A. Salvatore
The Time Curse, Published by Margaret Weis Productions, Written by James M. Ward

Publication, Non-fiction
40 Years of Gen Con, Published by Atlas Games, Written by Robin D. Laws
Confessions of a Part-Time Sorceress: A Girl’s Guide to the Dungeons & Dragons Game, Published by Wizards of the Coast, Written by Shelly Mazzanoble
Grand History of the Realms, Published by Wizards of the Coast, Written by Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood
Hobby Games: The 100 Best, Published by Green Ronin, Edited by James Lowder
No Quarter Magazine Published by Privateer Press, Nathan Letsinger, editor-in-chief; Eric Cagle, editor; Josh Manderville, art

Roleplaying Game
Grimm, Published by Fantasy Flight Games, Written by Robert Vaughn and Christian T. Petersen
The Savage World of Solomon Kane, Published by Great White Games/Pinnacle Entertainment Group, Written by Paul “Wiggy” Wade-Williams (with Shane Lacy Hensley)
CthulhuTech, Published by Mongoose Publishing, Written by Matthew Grau and Fraser McKay
Battlestar Galactica, Published by Margaret Weis Productions, Written by Jamie Chambers
Faery’s Tale Deluxe, Published by Firefly Games, Written by Patrick Sweeney, Sandy Antunes, Christina Stiles, and Robin D. Laws
Aces & Eights, Published by Kenzer & Co., Written by Jolly R. Blackburn, Brian Jelke, Steve Johansson, Dave Kenzer,
Jennifer Kenzer and Mark Plemmons

Roleplaying Game Supplement
Legend of the Five Rings: Emerald Empire
Published by Alderac Entertainment Group, Written by Shawn Carman, Richard Farrese, Douglas Sun and Brian Yoon
Pirate’s Guide to Freeport, Published by Green Ronin, Written by Chris Pramas, Robert J. Schwalb, and Patrick O’Duffy
Delta Green: Eyes Only, Published by Pagan Publishing, Written by Dennis Detwiller, Adam Scott Glancy and Shane Ivey
Pathfinder: Rise of the Runelords, Published by Paizo Publishing, Edited by James Jacobs, Art by Wayne Reynolds
Ruins of the Wild: Dungeon Tiles 4, Published by Wizards of the Coast, Written by Bruce R. Cordell
Codex Arcanis, Published by Paradigm Concepts, Written by Team Paradigm

Game Support
Dungeon Life: Bendy Walls Published by by Z-Man Publishing
Gamemastery Flip Mat: Tavern, Published by Paizo Publishing
Crystalline Counters, Published by Three Sages Games
Hollow Earth Expedition GM Screen, Published by Exile Game Studio
Dr. Wizard’s Patented Elevation Indicator, Published by Stratus Artworks
Call Of Cthulhu Dice Set Published by Q-Workshop

Collectible Card Game
Bleach Published by Score Entertainment&nb sp;Aik Tongtharadol (lead designer), William Harper (rules editor)
Legend of the Five RingsPublished by Alderac Entertainment Group, Mark Wootton (lead designer), Charles Urbach (cover artist)
The Spoils, by Tenacious Games, Inc., Josh Lytle (lead designer), Patrick Meehan (lead artist)

Board Game Or Expansion
Pillars of the Earth, Published by Mayfair Games, Created by Michael Rieneck and Stefan Stadler
Kingsburg, Published by Elfin Werks, Created by Andrea Chiarvesio and Luca Iennaco
StarCraft: The Board Game, Published by Fantasy Flight Games, Created by Corey Konieczka and Christian Petersen
Last Night on Earth, The Zombie Game Published by Flying Frog Productions, Created by Jason Hill
Battue: Storm of the Horse Lords Published by Red Juggernaut Created by Jim Long

Traditional Card Game
Lifeboat Published by Gorilla Games, Created by Jeff Siadek
Cutthroat Caverns Published by Smirk and Dagger Games, Created by Curt Covert and Justin Brunetto
Bankruptcy Published by Tangent Games, Created by Geoff Habiger and Coy Kissee
Zombie Fluxx, Published by Looney Labs, Created by Andrew Looney
Infernal Contraption Published by Privateer Press, Created by Matt Wilson, Jason Soles, Kevin Clark, Erik Breidenstein
Race for the Galaxy Published by Rio Grande Games, Created by Thomas Lehmann

Hmmm, is it possible to split a trophy 100 ways?

More later,

Monday, April 28, 2008


And then I pitched backwards, head over heels, and landed in the wet grass. I took it as a sign.

OK, let me back up. At the office, our personal phones are our desk phones. So we have a lot more mobility, and when we get a personal call, most of us walk out of the design room. And since it was a nice day, when I got this particular personal call, I walked out into the business park itself.

I've mentioned this place before. We're just south of Bellevue, in the lowlands between the town and Mercer Slough. We have a lot of wildlife, and the waterways were particularly high today as a result of some heavy rains that swept through in the morning. So I walked and talked and eventually came to the bench behind one of the buildings.

It's an old bench, the elements have stripped the wood to its bare varnish and the cast iron supports held together by black paint and memory. Still, its in a nice area, and I sat down. And as I talked, I leaned back. Did I mention that we had heavy rains that morning?

Near as I can figure, the ground was soft beneath the bench, so when I leaned back, I just kept on going, sprawling backwards and in the process sheering off one of the cast-iron legs (It was orange with rust all the way through - I think that's bad). I apparently made an interesting noise as I tumbled over, according to the person I was speaking with.

So the question is - why is the phrase "Head over Heels", anyway? You head is always over your heels. In this case, it was Heels over Head.

Anyway, the ground was soft, and there was little damage done except for personal embarrassment and wet elbows and knees as I pulled myself up. And I went back to my office and had them informed that a) the bench was broken, and b) I had done the breaking. So nothing more on that front.

And now, late in the evening, I've got a bit of a twinge, probably from the tumble. But a hot tub should be able to fix that. Oddly, this was the highpoint of the day.

More later.

UPDATE So STAN! provided me with a link in which a breathy, busty, Russian supermodel explains english words and phrases. Safe for Work, but then, I work at a place where they've been playing GTA IV on the big flatscreen all day (and speaking professionally, I am SO jealous of their opening credits).

Obligatory Dandelion Post

So this weekend was clear and warm, a rarity in spring in the Pacific Northwest. So I spent it writing and playing games (Civ and Legos Star Wars), but mostly I spent it in the backyard, in hand-to-hand battle with dandelions.

Whenever anyone or anything really bothers me, to the point that I would say "I hate that!" I ask myself if I hate that person or thing as much as I hate dandelions. And the answer is usually no. I think I have a mania about them, a red-hot hate that burns deep within me. So I am out in the back yard, puncturing the mossy soil with my yard weasel (a cane-like device with a gripping ring of nails at the base), uprooting the evil plants and cackling, literally cackling, as I ripped them from the soil.

And I can't explain the hate. It's not the color, since in three weeks buttercups of the exact shade will come up and the lawn will look nice. And its not the invasive plant thing, since there are worse offenders in the lawn (but then, they're green). And its not just being a dandelion, since there is usually a later crop in high summer, when the grass stops growing, which are taller and have woodier stems. Them, I do not hate. But these dandelions? With their hollow, milky stems and bright yellow heads? Them, I hate.

And I have paid for that hatred, in the form of a small blister on my thumb from uprooting the plants all day. But still, its a good pain, to be cherished and nourished as a reminder of the hate - which will last until the next sunny day, where I will be confronted with another crop of them.

More later,

UPDATE: Apparently, my plight has moved Colin to thoughts of vivid political imagery and revenge.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

I'm Ready For My Close-Up

Well Crud. I've become Bill Murray in my old age.

Your Score: Sofia Coppola

Your film will be 69% romantic, 31% comedy, 29% complex plot, and a $ 32 million budget.

With few films under her belt (The Virgin Suicides, Lost In Translation, Marie Antoinette) as a writer/director, she's already highly respected and connected -- her dad, Francis, directed all The Godfather movies and Apocolypse Now. Sofia's good at making the romantic drama that is your life with poignant sullen moments of introspection. You saw how she stylishly handled Marie Antoinette's life, no? And who didn't have at least a lump in the throat at the end of Lost In Translation? She's already won one Academy Award for her writing, now she'll be the first woman to receive one for directing -- YOUR FILM!

Link: The Director Who Films Your Life Test written by bingomosquito on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test
View My Profile(bingomosquito)

Friday, April 25, 2008

On The Road Again: Road Elves

I am going to sound horribly ungrateful here, but would it be possible to leave ONE route from my house to my job that isn't under construction?

I know, I should be appreciative about the large amount of road repair that's been going on all winter, often in difficult circumstances. I come from Pittsburgh, which is legendary in regards to the depth of its potholes and the non-responsiveness of its pothole-fillers (Many, many years ago, a local station ran a "Pittsburgh's Deepest Pothole" contest - The winner was one that went completely through a bridge deck and 100 feet further to the ravine below).

And Seattle and WSDot have been positively PERKY about road repairs, ranging from restructuring the exit at Coal Creek Parkway to replacing drains along Lake Washington to widening I-405 in Tukwilla. And then there are teams of what I can only describe as "Ninja Road Construction Elves". They are there one day, with their florescent orange witch hats, rodeo clown barrels, and Stop/Slow paddles, and the next day they are gone, leaving only a patch of hardening asphalt and an appreciative community.

But I have four ways off the hill, and the standard commuter's bag of tricks with back ways and access roads to get to work, and for the lifeof me, this past week, ALL of them have had construction on them. I went from plan A to plan B to plan C, and each day, there was a closed lane and the industrious fury of the Road Elves.

Like I said, I'm trying to make their lives easier and find alternate routes so they can get a much-appreciated job done (so always drive safely when they're working). But they GOTTA leave at least one exit free. Right?

More later,

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Life In These United States

The Bad News: LIfe Expectancy in the US is down

The Good News: I live in one of the places where life expectancy is going up.

The Bad News: This really isn't going to help if I insist on eating that third cheeseburger.

But in a more serious vein, the maps provided with this article are instructive. I would expect higher mortalities in more urban populations, but our life expectancies are dropping away in more rural and red areas. And not to scare anyone, but one of the biggest drops is concentrated in Oklahoma, where the Sonics are going. Not to make anyone nervous, but its just worth mentioning.

But in the meantime, put down that cheeseburger and back away.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Java Jive

I've mentioned dreams before on this page, but for the first time in a long time, I had a dream of such vividness and emotion that it woke me up.

I've woken up with fright before (attackers made entirely of worms) and with happiness (balloon trips) and even with anger (someone hurting our cats) , but this was the first time I awoke with an overwhelming degree of sadness. The dream itself was unremarkable - I had in my hands a collection of coffee beans, and was frustrated by the challenge of turning them into coffee. I didn't know how, and I awoke feeling very sad and melancholy that I had failed.

I don't drink coffee (I prefer tea and cola), but I lay there, working over in my mind all the ways to prepare coffee. I remember the big red coffee-grinders at the A&P stores and my parent's old percolator with its steel basket and the drip machine we keep in the house for guests and the existence of freeze-dried coffee crystals and espresso machines. But the sadness remained, a melancholia that kept me awake for about a half hour before I finally surrendered to Morpheus and burrowed into sleep again.

Strange. More later,

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Comics: Skrullwatch

So since I've been bashing on the continuity of the major comic comics of late, as they grapple with mega-crossovers, it seems only fitting that when one looks promising, I should call it out as well.

Marvel announced its "Secret Invasion" event, and I was dubious - the universe has been in non-stop crisis mode, going from one event to the next for a couple years now with barely a breather between one catastrophe and the next. Things have been changed forever and changed back again so quickly that confusion reigns (As an example - Spiderman, who gained new powers, got an armored battlesuit, moved with the Avengers and revealed his secret identity to the world has now done none of those things and now unmarried and living with Aunt May once more). The core concept this latest crisis is that the Skrull, shape-changing aliens from the dawn of Marvel, are infiltrating earth, and have been posing as heroes, so no one can trust anyone. So the potential for additional confusion is wracked up even further.

But actually Secret Invasion does a pretty good job of an opening Act, which can be summarized as "Chase the hero(es) up a tree". Protective spaces stations are blown up, SHIELD Helicarriers are knocked out of the sky (again), the Baxter building falls into the Negative Zone, Iron Man's armor is fried, baddies are let out of various prisons, and a space shift crashes in the Savage Land of Antartica and lets out a bunch of what looks like Heroes from the '80s - are they the original or are they skrulls?

So, a grand tour of the Marvel Universe, filled with perils and mystery.

And there are the heroes that are being impersonated by Skrulls. For the continuity fans, this is actually pretty good, since the game is now - "When was the switch made?". A lot of characters are Skrully (Electra, Dum-Dum-Dugan, Black Bolt, Yellowjacket, and the Avengers' Butler, among others, and it adds a nice bonus to the regular crisis. Lord knows that a lot of character haven't been acting like themselves lately.

So this one looks like a good start, and worth checking out, particularly if you've fallen away from the MU because of its recent weirdnesses.

More later,

Friday, April 18, 2008


So you guys know that WotC is about to release a 4th Edition of D&D, right? So as part of the promotion, they are taking one of their iconic characters, the beholder (also known as the Eye Tyrant) on the road. He's popping up in locations around Seattle, frightening the populace and causing traffic accidents.

Here is a shot of the beholder in front of the Seattle Public Library, which is an appropriate building, since the structure looks like it should be mounted on the back of Darth Vader's Star Destroyer. Good nerd cred, there.

The image has been ganked from joandirk's flicker set. The Slog article refers to the Wiki reference to beholders as xenophobes.

There's an interesting story about that. When we were doing Spelljammer, the artist, Jim Holloway, was did a wide variety of spaceships. I said "I want something that looks like a nautilus", and he created the Illithid Nautiloid, and I had to figure out how it worked. So when I asked for for beholder ships, he gave me a wide variety. And we decided to use ALL of them, and since they were radically different we decided that beholders were xenophobic and hated other beholders. And since various artists over the years made beholders look doughy, crab-like, tentacled, and a variety of other shapes, the idea of different species of beholders (all looking different) made sense.

So that's your D&D history lesson for the day.

More later,

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Sonic Bust

I'm not a big basketball fan - I remember my dad taking me to Pittsburgh Condors game at Civic Arena before that ABA team was disbanded in the early 70s. But as a Seattle native I must note the end of the regular NBA season, which was the Seattle SuperSonics worst and probably last.

Here's the tale for those with better things to do: the Sonics were owned by a large group of investors headed by Howard Schultz, the guy behind Starbucks. They sold it to a group of investors from Oklahoma City headed by Clay Bennett. At that time there was many promises of how they were not planning on moving the franchise to Oklahoma. This was followed by a series of outrageous non-negotiable demands (such as building the most expensive NBA venue in history in Renton), at which point, sadly, Bennett's bunch decided they had to move the team, and are currently waiting only for NBA approval, which they should get, since Bennett is a big fan of NBA head David Stern and vice versa.

It is all such a pity, they said, and oh, can you let us out on the rest of our lease in Seattle? Thx Bye!

Well, of course, now it turns out that the new owners were always planning to move the team, as revealed in a bunch of emails that have been turned over in a court case between the city and Bennett's brood, And these emails show an almost-Enron-level of glee in the fact that they were lying to everyone outside the group while giggling amongst themselves about how they were putting one over on the rubes in the Pacific Coast. And they are not wrong - everyone who believed them got bamboozled. So Schultz (remember him?) is now suing to get the team back, since the Oklahoma group failed to negotiate in good faith.

Good faith. That's going to be a hard one to prove, since some of the new investors are from the energy industry. They can use the argument "Well, you knew we were scumbags when you made the deal with us," and offer ample proof.

Anyway, the Sonics have gone through a horrible season. There are 82 games in the regular season (Before going to the playoff season, which rivals the Stanley Cup in that it lets almost everyone in). The Sonics won 20 of them, less than a quarter of the total, many in late-game swoons that made it appear Key Arena was equipped with a diving board. Surprisingly, this is NOT the worst record in the NBA - that belongs to Miami (This just in - Miami has a basketball team). And its now becoming pretty clear that no one involved in the actual game - fans, professionals, announcers - wants the team to go.

So stay tuned, it will continue to unspool in the realm of the rich people. At least we got the Storm back, and they managed to break even this year.

More later,

UPDATE: The NBA owners voted 28-2, to approve the Sonics moving to Oklahoma City. Voting against were the Maverick's Mark Cuban and the Trailblazer's Paul Allen.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

View From the Street

So I just saw that my old neighborhood is on Google Street Maps, where you can move down the virtual street and see the houses in the neighborhood. And yeah, I went buzzing through the area, checking out the homes and former homes of friends and family.

And I'm not sure how I feel about this. I mean, on one hand, we get reports of large corporations getting real nervous when people take pictures of THEIR structures. But here's a large corporation taking our pictures, or rather, the view from the street.

Seems to me it should be all one way, or all the other. That's all.

More later,

Monday, April 14, 2008

Comics: Eagle

So at our semi-irregular poker night, it came up that Girl Genius was up for an Eagle Award. The Eagles are British fan awards for comics, and have been around for practically forever - my first exposure to them was when the early Byrne/Claremont X-Men carried a "Winner of an Eagle Award" blurb on the cover (And that was probably a lot of other Yanks first exposure to themas well).

Anyway, I was surprised that a) The Eagles were still with us, and b) That they had advanced to the point that web comics are included (Gods, I feel ancient writing that). Most of the nominees are British or Brit-style comics, and some understanding of the current comics universe is helpful. But it turns out that two other regular strips PVP and Order of the Stick, were also on the list for webcomic. That's really nice to see them get the attention, so congratulations to all the nominees.

But go check out the ballot here and vote for Girl Genius, anyway. I said last week that it was the best of the group, and I stand by my statement.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Theatre: War and Remembrance

The Cure at Troy by Sean Heaney (based upon the play Philoctetes by Sophocles), directed by Tina Landau, Seattle Repertory Theatre through May 3.

The Rep's season closes on a strong play that requires a little work from the audience to grok. The original was only written about 2500 years back, so there's that problem with both language and time. The performance consists of a six-man cast, half of which serve as the Chorus, an concept familiar to that time but a little more difficult to grasp today - a group that echoes the conflict, stresses the hard parts, serves as all the bit players, and speaks for the gods. Oh, yeah, there is singing, but its really more like an epic poetry slam. But pay attention, and you'll get a cookie.

The original play is by Sophocles, and this version is faithful as far as my wiki-ized knowledge allows me to research. Philoctetes (Boris McGiver) has been stranded on a desert island for ten years, left there by his comrades, including Odysseus (Hans Altwies) when Phil's god-injurred leg made him a bad boat-mate. But Philoctetes has the bow of Hercules, and the Greeks now need that bow to wind up the Trojan War. So Odysseus is back, with young Neoptolemus (Seth Numrich) in tow as his catspaw. Neo's job - get the bow from crippled archer and take off.

And that's what the play is about, at its basic level, how the young man gets the bow, and how he manages to do so without sacrificing his own sense of values and morality. Odysseus is all patriotism and cunning, willing to go to whatever lengths are needed to attain the goal. Philoctetes is crippled but noble, hobbled by both his physical wound and his refusal to get past it. Neoptolemus has to rise above both men in order to succeed.

And it all works. The main actors are strong, and the chorus (Guy Adkins, Ben Gonio and Jon Michael Hill) are fantastic, serving as the permeable layer between audience and actors, gods and men. The chorus is three parts that make up a greater creature, and are a delight to watch.

The set itself is Phil's desolate island, done in a style that only be described as "Early Mordor" and with enough rocks and boulders strewn over it to make it as much of a blocking deathtrap as the padded rotating disks of the recent Moliere. And at a climatic moment, the entire thing threatens to go off the rails as the spirit of Hercules speaks and the lighting evokes Close Encounters of the Third Kind. That was a wincible moment, but to be honest, the original uses this plothammer to wrap things up.

All in all its a challenge of a play, and a good challenge at that. Well worth taking up.

The Cure At Troy is also the last of this season's plays from the Rep, and in general, it was a pretty good season. Best of the lot for us were the comedy Murderers, the monologue How? How? How? Why? Why?, and in particular The Cook. Following that were the two "big productions" of Twelfe Night and The Imaginary Invalid, with the Moliere edging out the Shakespeare. Less successful? By The Waters of Babylon, Birdie Blue, and The Breach, all contending for various levels of pretentiousness. (OK, The Breach was probably the worst of the lot).

Add The Cure At Troy to the win pile for plays I would recommend to others, and that gives us four "A" productions, a couple strong Bs and three clinkers. Much better than the Sonics most recent (most likely final) season.

More later,

America's Choice

So you've made up your mind about which of the three Democrats you want to support this fall. Yes, you have. You may just not realize it yet.

Answer for yourself this question: Which candidate is the media being unfair to? Similarly, which candidates are getting a free pass from the press, their myriad difficulties glossed over or sent to the back pages?

The answer to the first question is your likely choice. The answers to the second question are those you've already written off.

Mind you, the media DOES spend a lot of time and effort going over in agonizing details the little stuff (bowling scores, foul language, sniper fire) at the expense of issues (The War, the Economy, the Future). It's human nature - the big issues are too big to consider, so we devolve into flag pins and first wives, trying to read in these portents how things will work out. We are already parsing out what parts of the past we want to think about (veteran, law professor, diplomat) and what parts we don't (S&L Scandal, former preacher, Monica). And in doing so we're setting out own boundaries, which, once set, will follow through the election without further reflection.

You may say that you don't agree with Candidate A on the War or Candidate B on the Economy or that Candidate C's position on biofuels gives you pause. But the truth of the matter is that in our reptile-portion of the brain, the flight-or-fight area, we've already made the decision, and all we're doing is looking for the justification (provided by a 24/7 media that has it own agenda) to confirm it.

That's just something else to think about.

More later,

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Wild, Wild, Life

So for the past few Saturdays, when the Lovely Bride has been going into town for her Tai Chi classes, I've been taking hikes down along the old Black River to see the heronry there. I've talked about these dinosaur birds before, and I wanted to check on them before the cottonwood trees came in too thick.

They're still there, and I counted about fifty nests, though some of these may be abandoned from previous years. The colony itself was less raucous than I've seen in other years, but that may just be the time of the day. There is a lot of nesting and still some nestbuilding. The eagles are back as well, across the way, near the still-empty office buildings they put in a few years ago. But the remains of the Black River were dominated with geese, ducks, and other waterfowl.

There are herons up at my workplace as well, as we border on the Mercer Slough, and some of them may be making a similar commute to my own from the south during the day. We also had a mink show up at the office's front door last week. Definitely smaller than an otter (we have those too), and with finer, less shiny fur, the small creature nosed about the front door before the mass of people watching spooked it and it loped off.

If it had hung around another five minutes we would have given it a programming test and see if it could work in an office environment.

More later,

Thursday, April 03, 2008


Spending $80 Million on the flood ravaged reaches of Lewis County? I'm good with that. Spending $150 Million to help a bunch of wealthy businessmen to keep a pro basketball team here, despite the best efforts of the NBA to make an example of us? Not so much.

Also, the governor signed the Toxic Toy legislation into law, with two changes, one that was rational (exempting electronic components sealed away inside the toys) and one that doesn't defang the bill, but does blunt a few of its teeth (allowing the timetable for implementation to be changed). Of course, that doesn't stop the Seattle Times from issuing scary warnings that you'd better stock up now on all you dangerous toy needs!

More later,

Funny Pixels

So as part of the general futzing with the page, I'm chosen to engage in the most dangerous subject first - messing around with the comics page. Any dead-tree newspaper person can tell you, you can move news of national importance to page A5, or hire a troupe of syphilitic baboons to run the editorial page, and the readers won't care. But drop "Marmaduke" and watch the pitchforks and torches come out.

The general rule - is "I read this stuff, you should too", but I recognize that some of it will offend more delicate or reasonable sensibilities. So I'll add both ratings and how frequently they update.

Girl Genius is the best of the lot, from Phil and Kaja Folgio. The comic is a steampunk adventure where the world is divided into Mad Scientists and the rest of us. The strip melds both outlandish inventions with interesting characters and tops it off with some of the best dialog in the biz (Rated G, Three times a week, regular like clockwork)

PVP started off as a gaming strip but has gotten more about the characters over time, which I guess is a mainstream move if there were comics that still did character-based comedy (OK, outside of Crankshaft). Saga of the staff of a computer game magazine and their mascot troll (Rated PG (fart jokes), daily, pretty dependable, misses occasionally, and sometimes relies on "guest artists" (like now)).

Penny Arcade is still a gaming strip, which means is will be impenetrable for those not nose-deep in the industry. This is why I post to the blog page, which often gives some sort of framework for the strip. Local guys, incredibly successful, darn funny (Rated a hard R for language and topics, three times a week, incredibly dependable).

Order of the Stick is a D&D strip that plays deeply inside the beltway, with references to various rules in the game. A party of Fisher-Price style adventurers get involved with larger epics. If you don't know about Flumphs, you may get lost.(Rated G, Supposedly three times a week, but pretty erratic. Server clogs up every time they launch a new strip).

xkcd is stick figures, philosophy, the Internet, advanced math, and code. Yeah, its pure geekdom in its unrefined form, but it is hard not to spend an afternoon just going through all the previous ones. (PG, three times a week, dependable like the radioactive decay of a strontium atom).

Sinfest is a religious/philosophy comic with an anime style and the occasional hot babe. Jesus, God, the Devil, Buddha, a dragon, a horndog, a heartbreaker, and a drugged out pig. Best recent strip: Punxsutawney Jesus (PG-13 for substance abuse, language, occasional hot babe, Daily, pretty dependable).

Darths and Droids is a photostrip telling the Stars Wars story as if it was an RPG. Start from the beginning (Rated G, Three times a week, As dependable as R2-D2)

Diesel Sweeties is weird, since it has a paper version (which auditioned in the Seattle Times and is now auditioning in the Seattle P-I). Both are about young hipsters and robots who are drawn like primitive computer graphics, but the online version has more sex and drugs. Don't know how this plays with the traditional comic page crowd. (Rated PG-13 for drugs, sex, robot sex. Weekdays but they miss occasionally)

Don't Forget To Validate Your Parking comes out of the recent writer's strike. Mike Le writes on his laptop and takes phone calls. That's about it. Just got a gig with WRITTEN BY magazine. Yeah, I shortened the name so it could fit on the blogroll. Deal. (Rated PG-13 for language, Weekly, pretty regular, but also pretty new).

Freak Angels is the closest thing to a traditional comic book, in that it shows up in five and six-page chunks at a time. In the near future, a group of teenagers have destroyed the world. This is what happens next. (Rated R for occasional nudity and the British cursing that Americans find cute. Every Friday, regular so far).

Doodle-A-Day, also called Doodlestan, is last but not least - the daily sketches of Stan!, who is a really cool guy and always makes me smile (Rated G, Daily, Hasn't missed a day)

More later

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

All Fools Plus One

So yesterday was April Fool's Day, and there were mild pranks. Guild Wars turned everyone on the server into stick figures, while WoW announced its new character class, the Bard, which uses a Guitar Hero interface. One friend got me entirely by announcing she was leaving for Africa, and since she is usually such a level-headed individual but we haven't talked for a while, I bit on that one totally.

And I discovered Rickrolling.

OK, I'm going to spoil the joke right off the bat - it is a long-standing Internet tradition to send your buddies a link with disturbing information, or a picture of a duck. Over the past few months, this has evolved into sending people links to Rick Astley's one-shot hit Never Going To Give You Up.

So yesterday, the meme went completely viral, and everyone sent links about it. My first warning was when the wall to the art department started vibrating with the song. They loved it, and every time they got a link, they cranked it. But the best one caught me, labeled Hilarious Muppet Bloopers made me laugh.

Future generations will look back to this era and wonder how any work was actually accomplished in those carefree days before the robots took over.

More later,

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

My Bloggy, Bloggy, Life

So the hail was still on the ground when I got up this morning, sublimating into a thick, "can't see your hand in front of your face much less drive" kind of fog. But instead of talking about that (and its April Fools Day, so who's going to believe it?), let me just talk about the state of the blog.

I think I've mentioned before that I do blogging absolutely wrong. Apparently, the trick is to get a subject, and bang away at it continually, which creates a pool of individuals who tune in regularly. If you write about comics, write about nothing but comics (OK, and movies based on comics). If you feel strongly about a political policy or official, slam away at that. Your market self-selects, and will come back if they agree with you, and expect a certain type of mental meal each time.

I don't do that. I'm all over the joint. Collectible Quarters. Local Politics. The Commute. Comics. Weather. What I'm working on (usually LONG AFTER I'm done working on it). I could do nothing but push the latest cool thing I've been working on, but that's kind of boring. Ditto for the idea of covering politics - god knows that talk radio and the cable channels have seized a political viewpoint and just keep beating the drum.

But the other cost of being so wideband is that I have a lot of things I've been MEANING to say that I haven't gotten around to yet. I have a pile of books that I've been meaning to review. I have politics that I've meant to comment on that have now moved into history. I have a handful of half-written articles on holidays and imaginary states (Franklin, Kawana, and Sequoia are all on my to-do list) that have been waiting their turn. And it has been increasingly obvious that, while I don't have any great theory of game design, the old stories need to be told, to pass on to a new generation how we got here.

Another trouble from broadband coverage - I want to be as accurate as is reasonable. I have no problem being wrong - I just want to make sure I'm not obviously wrong. So I check out net links and consider sources, which takes time, which slows me down even further.

So what to do? For the moment, I'm going to try to keep up a daily dose, and not feel bad about posting multiple times a day (I have been trying to keep it to once per day, just out of consideration of my other deadlines). I need to restructure the blogroll on the side, since some of my comrades have changed their setups or fallen by the wayside. I want to find a better way of posting photos. I don't think I'm going to mess around too much with the presentation, only because, after all these years, people are used to it.

In the end, I'm pretty happy with what this blog has done - it allows people to find out what I'm doing and what's bothering me without actually having to buy me a beer.

And I'm good with that.

More later,