Monday, January 30, 2006

Complex Sweet Complex

Sometimes, home is just where your stuff is.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Swamp Sweet Swamp

It rained while we were here. Real rain, too- heavy and lasting most of the evening into the night. It's so good to be back home.

Bennett and Leslie got married. In a church on St. Charles Avenue and everything. Most of this weekend we spent in the company of friends, at various wedding-related functions- Sadly, we had no strippers playing Halo at the bachelor party. Almost, though. Cat and I loved seeing everyone: giving hugs, swapping stories, and getting emotional. I have many pictures, some of which even came out decently. I'm a shutterbug, but not yet the best photographer I could be.

Over the course of the weekend, I got in touch with my old Tulane co-workers and the amazing Steve-o dropped off a Linux machine ("toonz") I had with a lot of music on it. It survived its several-week stay downtown. This is a five-year-old MP3 and Ogg collection that tops 100 gigs. I missed the jukebox. Soon I'll want to redeploy its services.

I now have two king cakes to bring back to Austin: one cinnamon filled from Randazzo's, and one cream cheese filled from Dorignac's. I plan to share at least one with those who want. Maybe as a bribe to finish playing 1984 Prime; I need to consolidate my notes and write some mechanics.

Central Grocery was closed on Sunday, so no muffeletta for me. At Fiorello's on Decatur, we had lunch, with fried pickles for an appetizer. Cat and I went halvsies on a roast beef poboy and a french fry poboy. So so good. If you haven't had, you just won't understand.

Also had Indian food one evening while Cat was visiting friends. I love the cuisine, but I never can remember what I'm eating by name, just by sight. I do better at a buffet than with a menu.

We walked the Quarter a bit today. Many places sell amusing Post-Katrina tshirts, many based off Nagin's "chocolate city" comments. Some are quietly inspiring, such as a gold fleur de lis with the word "rebuild," whereas some are over-the-top: a "Girls Gone Wild" gag featuring Rita, Katrina, and Wilma. I picked up a purple shirt today with gold and green writing: "I [Fleur de Lis] NOLA" Things are picking back up again- we saw many tourists.

I have to cut this a little short. We all must get on the road for eight tomorrow morning in order to drop the rental car off on time. Once we get home, I must study the material I missed during work training, as normal Austin life resumes Tuesday.

Cat and I are starting to think about buying property in the city for our return.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Blogging on my cell

In NOLA. About to eat @ Venezia 2 in Jeff parish. Good Family Italian. I miss the original restaurant. Katrina took care of that, though. The smells take me back years. Homesick and hungry. More later.

My thumbs are sore

I'm back in New Orleans.

Metairie, really- but it's the Greater New Orleans area, so it still counts in my book.

We got on the road about 9:30 this morning. It seems that I can no longer make a road trip without drama, so I have an amusing anecdote.

Rumor control has it that traffic in Baton Rouge is awful horrible and very bad. As such, we veered around BR and took a side highway to the city via some smaller cities, notably Morgan City. We stop there for a drink-snack-gas-and-pee break, and I manage to lock the rental car keys in the car. Of course, they fell out of my pocket onto the driver's seat in plain view, and of course I'm locking the back door and only notice them as I'm slamming the last open portal into the chassis.

Before you ask, yes, Cat did have her locksmithery tools with her. And yes, they were now locked in the trunk.

First we called Pop-A-Lock. The less-than-sympathetic phone lady told me that their last guy in the area was gone for the night. She suggested I call another local company, Quality Glass and Lock. I did so- they were closed and the answering machine gave a slightly garbled six-digit phone number to call. I tried the other five listings in the phone book, but all were closed with answering machines. I paged on company, but still haven't heard back from them. (A single pager number as one's only listing in the yellow pages is a bad idea, I think.) Josh had the idea to call AAA, and they told us they would have someone there within an hour. Twenty minutes later, we got a call back from AAA saying they couldn't dispatch anyone. My mom suggested we call the cops to open the car- later we find out that Morgan City police no longer provide that service as people sued the city for damages to vehicles.

Eventually, Cat was able to decipher the after hours number with Quality, and the guy came by in less than fifteen minutes. He got us on the road about as fast as it takes to say it. All told, perhaps an hour's delay.

Coming home this time is so familiar it almost hurts. My driving human skills put me exactly where I need to go with none of the usual mucking about and map-consulting.

After a dinner of pot roast, mashed potatoes, and peas, Cat adn Josh wanted some drive-through daiquiri. Yes, we have drive-through daiquiri joints in New Orleans. We even got a sample handed to us. I'm given to understand that this sort of thing doesn't happen in other places. Cat got strawberry margarita and Josh got Jungle Juice. Later, Cat and I went to visit with Bennett and Leslie. We found them playing Bang! (A cool western-themed card game) with Mike, Daniel, and Kat. We visited and I got to play some Halo 2 and practice my cursing. This is why my thumbs are sore- a few hours of semi-intense console gaming after not playing for some five months.

And now to catch up on my sleep- we are safe and sound and back in the swamp. (Well, a suburb of the swamp, but it's still home.)

Thursday, January 26, 2006

A quickie

Yesterday marked the start of Winter-een-mas, a gamer holiday with growing support. Celebrate the seven-day holiday by playing something!

Today is my and Cat's six year anniversiary! :)

I'm about to be picked up by an Enterprise rep to road trip to New Orleans for Bennett and Leslie's wedding. Soon I'll pick up Josh and the three of us will be on the road!

I need some Dr Pepper, aka magic morning go-go juice.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

A surreal moment

My rave-tastic phone rang today, and I didn't recognize the number. Since I still have my resume floating out and about, I answered it. On the other end, a not-a-telemarketer-but-rather-a-survey-monkey informed me that they were conducting a survey on phone use amongst 12-14-year-old males and if I wanted to participate would there happen to be any 12-14-year-old males in my household?

I told him no and to put my number on their do-not-call list. (Want to learn about stopping junk communiqués? Check out Junkbusters. )

Tired but happy

The Mountain Witch rocks. Much fun. Played with newbies. More later. Must commute and train.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Commute musings

Training broke a few minutes early today, so I had the opportunity to get on the road a little earlier this evening. As such, I saw a slightly different traffic pattern than I usually do. Many of us know how much travel time changes with respect to departure times, particularly during peak commute times. Leaving ten minutes late might put you smack in the middle of a large pack of traffic, putting you more than twenty minutes behind on arrival. Like the air traffic system, small changes propagate throughout the system- a brief delay early can have massive repercussions at the end of shift across the country.

Some places offer Flextime to their employees' schedules, others offer the famous 10-4 shifts of four ten-hour days and a three day weekend. Back when I worked retail at Barnes & Noble, I always preferred the Mid 1 swing shift- 10 to 7. No need to wake up so early that your previous evening is ruined, and not too late to prevent fun and excitement after work.

As you may suspect, my current employer offers no such wiggle room, but that's not why I brought you here.

I'm luckily traveling against the trends of Austin/contemporary traffic- driving from the city to work in the suburbs. While observing the congestion on one side of the highway and my relatively free-moving side, I started thinking about the importance of shifting work shifts, and the resulting impact of lessened traffic, extended work hours (from the organization's position more so than the individual's), improved morale, the ability to actually run errands around the work day, and the overall just damn convenience of it all.

I started thinking about working fewer hours per week, and what that would mean to a person. Since I've come from the perspective of possessing a great deal of free time, it's still a fresh memory. If you only worked thirty hours a week, what would you do with the extra ten hours? I suspect that a lot of folks would spend it selfishly one way or another- either on entertainment, or on taking care of personal business, or finally just getting your very own round tuit. (Get it?) I also figure that a lot of people would press on with their hobbies, probably turning them into a revenue stream when possible. It's like the kind of self-improvement book where you don't need to read, just the title- "Do what you love and the money will follow." Yes, that's a real book.

So with the masses of working America now working less for the man and more for themselves, I would have a veritable army of professional amateurs. My ProAms would then prosper based on their mining the Long Tail as appropriate to their idiom, and we would see the Great American Dream of individualism, entrepreneurism and egalitarianism actualized on an unprecedented scale.

I just want to change the world.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Weekly roundup

Semi-flat aged Dr Pepper from a two liter, albeit cold, does not make the best wake up go-go juice. I drank my last can with dinner last night and did not realize I had none for this morning. I do wanna make groceries.

Regardless, I need to catch up on my blogging and reveal all the significant things that have happened this week.

Most significantly, I had a chance to playtest my award-winning roleplaying game, 1984 Prime. I need to write up my notes and my playtesters' notes into an Actual Play post over on The Forge, but it went over very well. The players really enjoyed the world and took to it very easily, I got some very good suggestions for the next release, and the mechanics worked, though we all saw some shortcomings almost immediately. I'd like to go on record and thank S. John Ross for reminding me of the importance of playtest. Once I collect my thoughts and notes (likely later today), I'll link to the Forge post and bring up more discussion here.


Furthermore, as most of you know, I have taken on a contract gig doing call center work for Dell. Yesterday concludes my first week of training. The group of new hires and I got to tour the floor where we will work. I'd never seen an aggressive division of real estate into cubicles before- I suppose this happens all the time in the corporate world, but it remains alien to my work experience. I'll have to update my ThinkGeek wishlist to include cube toys in order to protect my sanity and my individuality.

Two more books on my RPG to-read list include Jonathan Tweet's Everway and Mike Pondsmith's long-awaited Cyberpunk v3.

I've often wanted to post both a Board Game Geek (BGG) link and a Funagain Games "Buy Me" link in my board and card game news. I'm still working on the format, so please have patience. Last night at Great Hall Games, we played the following:

Ricochet Robots: I've talked about this before. No one had specifically requested it, though I discovered that many had hoped I brought it. (Hello, Yari!) I can encapsulate this game now to "It's a competitive maze game where players bid on the fewest possible moves to get a given robot to a randomly selected location- oh, and by the way, all robots move like rooks without brakes." One player, Sean, commented that the name of the game implied something totally different than the actual "cog game" you wind up playing. I still really enjoy observing players of RR and seeing learning curves across age, gender, and occupation. If I had a degree in cognitive science or worked in some neurological field, I'd really want to use this game as a tool, perhaps even as therapy. I've also discovered that "Ricochet Robot" (sic) is the first edition. [BUY ME!]

Squint: New in the mail for me (hooray for gift cards!) and discovered by Judson back home. Cat had really enjoyed it, so I'm glad that I now own it. This game plays like timed Pictionary using squiggles and images already drawn on tiles. Here's another game that works like a spotlight into neural processes. How visual are you? How abstractly can you represent a noun or concept in order to have others guess it? I'd say it makes for a good light, filler/starter, non-gamer sort-of-party game. [BUY ME!]

Citadels: Not a game owned by the regular group but by a new fellow named Daniel. I'd only ever played the German version, "Ohne Furcht und Adel," (the fish tells me this means "Without fear and aristocracy") so I had a little bit of a speedbump in referring to certain characters by their German names, namely the Koenig (King) and the Baumeister (Architect). This is a competitive building card game where the player roles switch each round. It feels a little like Meuterer or Draco & Co (I think), with a healthy portion of San Juan. Observationally, I think that the art of teaching a game's rules is a (learnable) skill. I enjoyed playing it, but we had three people show up at the first round, so I felt like they had to sit around and watch us play. I also don't know if it was the best choice, mood-wise; it's about medium-heavy. There's also the Dark City expansion with new characters and buildings, but the current version includes it already. [BUY ME!]

HEX HEX: This is a delightful little game of back-stabbing. Really, it's front-stabbing- there's a Hex in play and you don't want it. Much like Hot Potato, you're going to do whatever you can to give it to someone else. The winner of each game (you play n + 1 rounds, where n is the number of players) gets to make up a new game rule that stays with that deck of cards. Fun times. [YOU CAN'T BUY ME YET BECAUSE THE REPRINT/REVISION DOESN'T COME OUT UNTIL MARCH!]

Modern Art: Blah blah bidding blah math blah blah derogatory art criticism blah blah great game blah Knizia blah. Regular readers should know about this by now. Also, I didn't play it this time, so I can't directly comment on how the new guy reacted to it. I know that I helped influence play, though. Greg: "Mischa, tell her to bid $60,000!" Mischa, looking up from Greylight: "Bid 60!" Kelly: "60!" I'm pretty sure the bidding went up past that figure, though. I heard a lot of table talk, which makes me happy. [BUY ME!]

Guillotine: I can't do any better than this game's tagline: It's the revolutionary card game where you win by getting a head. *rimshot* Yep, it's French Revolution-themed. Yep, it's silly. Yep, you're killing off nobles and keeping their heads. Yep, there's a character called the Piss Boy- he's only worth one point whereas Marie Antoinette's worth five. The whole meat of the game revolves around players rearranging the line in front of Madame Guillotine before taking the card for points. Overall, this is a good light filler game where five players can get in a game in a half hour. There's nothing really revolutionary going on here, but the theme carries it a long way. And it's cheap. [BUY ME!]

Odin's Ravens: I didn't play this, but I saw Dan and Kelly playing it. It's another one of Rio Grande's Kosmos line of two-player game that looks like it ultimately is more strategic than it looks like at first glance. (Yes, this does make sense.) [BUY ME!]

Naturally, many other folks at the shop had games going; these six only include those I participated in directly or knew the players personally.

I have a backlog of about a dozen movies I haven't Nickel Toured since the holidays. Please accept my apologies in this. The diligent movie-watching staff of the Non-Waterlogged Blog thank you for your continued patience.

In two weeks, on the first Saturday in February, I should be getting together with other Austin didj players for a jam session. I'm really looking forward to it! If anyone wants to tag along, you're more than welcome. Comment, email, or otherwise prompt me for details.

That's about it for this post- Cat and I need to go car-hunting. Wish us luck!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Why I hate Internet Explorer today

Truthfully, I should have posted this Tuesday, while I still had fresh feelings of rage and anger. Luckily, I had my handy-dandy small yellow pad and took notes.

I hate IE because:

It doesn't have tabbed browsing. I have loved tabbed browsing since I started using it. According to the Wikipedia, the first browser with tabs came out way back in 1994, with a browser called "InternetWorks." (Never heard of it.) I first heard about and started using tabbed browsing with an early version of the Mozilla suite (the Wikipedia puts me using version 0.9.5 circa October 2001). I also used this delightful technology in Konqueror (KDE on Linux), Firefox (Most modern platforms), and Safari (Mac OS X). This means that I have used tabs in my browsing habits for nearly five years now. Since IE currently does not support tabs (allegedly in IE 7 for Windows Vista, Real Soon Now), I can't use many of my work habits. This leads to stress and inefficiency. Also insert rant about screen real estate.

IE is ugly. No getting around this. IE in XP looks like Playskool. You can't change it, since:

IE doesn't really support Extensions. I know this is not wholly true. You can get all sorts of nifty toolbars for IE from Adobe, Google, Yahoo! and so forth- these don't change the functionality or UI of IE as understood with Firefox extensions. And no, spyware doesn't count.

IE doesn't have Find As You Type. Yet another Firefox feature that you'll wonder how you lived without. Basically, if you type in a window, the app assumes that you want to search within the page you're viewing. This saves keystrokes. For me, this just runs in my brain as the way I think. There's no second of hesitation to hit whatever keystroke starts a Find dialog (how passe). From brain to fingers to results. (Note that Safari doesn't have this either. Opera does.)

It's old, it's insecure, it's proprietary, it doesn't follow standards. I feel like I've sufficiently beaten this dead horse.

I haven't regularly used IE since winter of the year 2000- maybe earlier. I feel like I'm taking a huge step backwards- sort of like going to an automatic transmission after using a stick shift.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Full days

Current RPG reading list (abridged):

Gamemastering Secrets, second edition
Marvel Universe Roleplaying Game
Paranoia XP
Wurst of Grimtooth's Traps
Central Casting
Burning Wheel

Active RPG work:
1984 Prime
Greylight version 4 (Word count: 3559)

The sky is falling! Run!


In 32 years exactly, we'll have the Y2K38 bug!

I better go build a bunker and buy some canned water, duct tape, boiled air, and jugs of food.

Are you prepared?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Rat Roam

I drove fifty miles today.

Greylight word count: 3454

Monday, January 16, 2006

First Day at Work

I woke up at 6:20 this morning to ensure I would beat the traffic. I left the house (er, apartment) at seven, and made it to the Dell Round Rock Campus at about 7:30.


I met up with my Dell trainer/manager, my Spherion manager, and about eight other new hire monkeys.


I think I may have found a ninja route for the drive home, as the drive also took only about a half-hour. I hope to find ways to shave a few minutes off this, now that I know my way.

Many things about this gig are new for me. I've never worked for a multinational corporation. I've never had this long of a commute before. I've never had to work in a cubicle. I've never had [DELETED FOR SECURITY REASONS] weeks of training before a job. I've never worked in an environment with several chefs on duty in the cafeteria. Mmm, Szechuan Chicken stir-fry.

Can you tell I read the Dell policy on personal blogs? Incidentally, I'm unlikely to have access to my personal email (much less chat clients) during business hours for the indefinite future, so be advised.

I expect that I will miss my autonomy.

Thursday, January 12, 2006


Today I saw a cockroach for the first time since I came to Austin. It's been four months, and not a single "palmetto bug" yet. Snakes, I've seen. This is what I get for now living in the desert and not the swamp. I suppose I must next live in either grasslands, plains, tundra, forest, or mountains. Did I miss any major terrain types?

For a bit of funny, I heard an amusing song for all you geek widows out there, as performed by the Australian comedy group Tripod. (Never heard of them before.) Guys, listen to this, then play it for your woman. Girls, listen to this, then play it for your man. Single people, listen to this, then laugh at the people in a relationship who have to put up with this.

That New Game Smell

My brother got me Thai food and a gift certificate to my local game shop as a birthday present. Huzzah!

I picked up the second edition of Ricochet Robots, yet another of those clever German board games that play so well. It's almost a competive puzzle instead of a board game. I use the word puzzle on purpose- any number of players can play, searching for a solution.

Players sort of control four colored robots in a maze-like area, trying to reach randomly drawn destinations. Most of the game takes place in the head- everyone must do the mental gymnastics needed to arrive at a solution without touching the board. Also, the robots move like rooks without brakes- the skill comes from imagining the positions of several robots needed to bounce off each other to get the target robot to its goal. The competive aspect enters once players start bidding for who can move the robots with the fewest number of moves. Sometimes you can get outbid by another player with a more efficient solution.

The second edition adds colored diagonal walls in certain locations (like-colored robots pass through while differently-colored robots ricochet off) and a black robot for additional obstacles.

I've seen field data that suggests this game has a male gender bias- be advised. Something to test down the line, perhaps. Also a bias for players of very twitchy console games.

With the rest of my gift certificate, I grabbed a modest supply of poker chips in order to have fewer obstacles to a playtest of 1984 Prime.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

No lottery for you!

I bought a lottery ticket yesterday.

I don't often play the lottery, usually only buying a ticket on my birthday and when the jackpot gets stupid large- say, over $100 million. All told, this puts the price of my incredibly out-of-control gambling addiction at something less than three or four tickets per year. A friend of mine says that he pays his dollar a week for the right to daydream. I don't need to pay to daydream, but like most of us, I have a few big-ticket dreams on how I would change the world given a large chunk of cash.

If I do ever win a lottery, thanks to the Rotten Library (Note that the link is work-safe; as to the rest of the site... not so much), I know how to protect my anonymity- or at least how to start. As the man says, "Fifteen million dollars is not money. It's a motive with a universal adapter on it."

Oh, well. I'll have to put off my travel and charity founding and funding of a few major motion pictures. Maybe next year.

Greylight word count: 2529

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Today is my birthday

Thanks, mom!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Wet Paint

There's an old saying: Show a man a sign that says "Wet Paint" and he has to touch it. Tell him there's a million trillion billion stars in the universe and he'll believe you.

Today, they painted the stairway banisters to match the relatively new paint job of the rest of the complex. The smell pervaded the complex to the point that it even spread into the apartment. Not that I spent the day breathing paint fumes, mind you, but to the point that I noticed it throughout the day. One of the banisters had bright yellow caution tape strung up to prevent people from walking on the paint job. Naturally, I had to touch the paint to see if it was still wet. Like so many times before, no dice.

Walking back up our own staircase, I idly ran my hand along the banister as I ascended. Of course there was no "Wet Paint" sign or caution tape or strobe lights on the stairs nearest out apartment, and of course the paint was still wet.

luckily, I only got a small few touches of paint instead of a handful.

Greylight word count: 2232
Birthday countdown: 1! (presents, e-cards, gift certificates, cash, donations in my name, leave comments even!)

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Recent boardgaming

Between open games night at Great Hall Games and Dan, Dan, the Monkey Man hosting a New Game Show Off day, I've gotten a lot a boardgaming in these pas few days. Here's the skinny.

Dragon Delta

I've already talked about this in a previous post, but I'll give a session recap. Recaps, really- we played this one three times! First with five, then twice more with (two different) sets of six players. I won the first game, I don't remember who won the second (anyone?), and Marc won the third. I really liked playing this with six- took about an hour or so, I'd say. I didn't really like a five-way gang up "let's prevent Mischa from winning twice as he so rightly deserves" near the endgame, but six different people voting Dragon Delta cool and fun makes it all worth the while. I'm such a team player.

Car Wars: the Card Game

I won this from a Steve Jackson MIB at Millennium Con 8 over Halloween. I hadn't gotten the chance to play it, so I got to enjoy That New Game Smell. As a simplification of the original early eighties version, this does the job. We played in maybe 15-20 minutes, with the first kill (sorry, David) in less than fifteen minutes. It works as filler, but really not much else. The color certainly helps the theme, but the simplification (and the fact that you don't build cars whatsoever- the stock cars are mechanically identical) completely removes the immersion and attachment of the original. I'm not saying I want to whip out the original and do some hard core physics sim to throw cars around, but having a new Car Wars video game would rock like a hurricane. Turn-based? Real-time? Both?

At any rate, that's all we played at Great Hall. Much geeking and socializing abounded, of course. David had some sort of surgery sim for his Nintendo DS, but I didn't get a chance to play it. I suppose that I'll have to fire up a DOS emulator and play Life and Death. Hooray for four-color CGA!

And at today's New Game game day:

Apples to Apples

I didn't play this, but rather came in at the end of a four-player game. Two of the players had never played before, one of whom is the "gaming widow," so to speak. I still stand by my recommendation that Apples to Apples works great as a party game, as a non-gamer game, or as a light intro game.

Modern Art

Next, we played Reiner Knizia's Modern Art, possibly one of the purest auction games out there. This is a damn good game that smacks of Knizia's mathematics background. I am pretty terrible at this game, generally coming in second-to-last, and I think it speaks to its excellence that I still have fun auctioning off modern art and selling the most popular.

In a nutshell, three to five players represent auction houses with works from five artists with differing rarities. Each card in the deck features a piece from one of the five artists and specifies one of five different kind of auctions (Open, Sealed, Once Around, Fixed, and Double). Each turn, a player chooses one card and auctions it. Cleverly, players pay each other instead of the bank, which ensures both a dynamic interaction between players and an internal decision struggle: I want this, but do I want to really give my money to so-and-so in the lead? At the end of each auction season, the works are then valued based on their popularity in this season as well as the previous seasons. You then sell your art, including the art worth nothing. Did I mention that you keep your reserve funds secret from the other players?

Very tasty stuff here. If this even remotely sounds up your alley, get it. Mayfair recently put out a still widely available English version, so you've got no excuse.


Tikal is a very clever German game with a deep jungle exploration theme. Each turn, players reveal an additional tile of the jungle and spend ten action points to move their explorers, unearth temples, dig for artifacts, and generally get in each other's way. A little randomness exists in the layout of the jungle hexes, but largely things happen due to the strategy of the players. The game overall has nice art and its components are made of good sturdy high-quality materials. It also very elegantly explains possible actions in a language-free reference card. I think I'd need to play this a second (or third!) time to fully grok it.

Ticket to Ride

I've already posted my thoughts on this game. Nothing new, as I played Tikal while the other three played Ticket to Ride.


The last game I played before cutting out for the evening was Tantrix. This is an older tile-laying game from New Zealand, still in print after nearly twenty years. Each unique hexagonal Bakelite tile has three of four colored lines drawn across it; players compete to make either the longest single line (1 point per segment) or the longest closed loop (2 points per segment). Abstract strategy games appeal to me precisely because of the abstraction, as opposed to (say) miniature wargaming. In the same breath, a little bit of color laid on top of abstract strategy goes a long way, as in chess. This simple game of colored lines has a lot going for it. The Wikipedia article has a great deal of information on the game.

Greylight word count: 2126
Birthday countdown: 3!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Everything old is K-RAD again

First the secret masters decided that we would find cool sixties-era revolution, hippies, tie-die, and so forth.

In the last few years, we've seen the powers that be start to move their reinventing timeline forward, as the seventies started to hit contemporary movies and television, clothing brands, and design trends.

Now even though I've seen the eighties start to pop up at Hot Topic, with kids (and by kids I mean the under-twenty set, mostly) snapping up rediscovered eighties pop culture such as Saturday morning cartoons they've never seen, Nintendo games they've never played, and even as a valid period piece setting for new movies, all this time I've had blinders on, not truly realizing the desperation by those needing to reenvision brands. Maybe you thought the writing was on the wall with new Bewitched movie, but no.

I just read (Thanks for the intel, Robin!) that Disney (You know 'em, you love 'em!) has plans to repackage/redo/revive/remake/remarket classic Devo music with a new band, "Dev2.0" [sic], for the pre-teen crowd. You know, for kids. Disney. Devo.

I have seen the signs- well, I've seen the music video. (Warning: WMV.) Go ahead and look at it- you know you want to, and I'll wait here.

Does it not seem ironic (and I mean ironic, not witty or cool or amusing or any of the dozens of other connotations the word has acquired) that the Disney Corporation chooses to reuse a geeky, punky, irreverent band for this? I mean, it's Devo. Oh, to be a fly on the wall for that meeting.

    "Sir, we want to make more money."
    "Capital idea, Crenshaw. How?"
    "Well, Marketing has this idea to find some brand or franchise — we're thinking a rock group band this time — that nobody else has yet, buy it, then release it as new."
    "Hmmm. Not very imaginative."
    "But wait, sir- I haven't told you the clever bit."
    "Tell me the clever bit."
    "We use kids."
    "We already do that, Crenshaw."
    "Yes, but in this case, we'll use kids as the performers."

I mean, what will we see next? "Never mind the Mickey, here's the Mouse Pistols?

Greylight word count: 2052
Birthday countdown: 4!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Work shall set you free

Woohoo, I got a job!

More of a gig, really. The important detail is that I've got a 6-9 month contract with Dell via Spherion (a staffing agency) to do call center work. I go to (paid!) training next Monday, and there you go.

In New Hire Orientation today, I almost could've played buzzword bingo with the nice HR person- headcount, headcount, headcount. But she is totally awesome and very on the level, so it's all good.

In order to get this job, I had to pass a background check and take a drug test. It wasn't a blood or hair test, either- use your imagination, or not. I've never had to pass a drug test before, and those of you know me as the teetotaler will no doubt get a kick out of the notion. All in all, the whole experience was pretty surreal. And yes, I passed with flying colors, and no, I didn't have to study.

This sort of thing really gets my libertarian hackles up. It's right there with the common regulations surrounding alcohol. I grew up in New Orleans, with its notoriously loose notions about who can drink when and where. I've never had a full drink in my life, and I've tasted an alcoholic drink fewer than a dozen times. Regardless, I still have culture shock when I hear that places close at 2AM, or you can't buy something on a Sunday, or you must store an item in the trunk as opposed to in the chassis of your car. (My dislike of legal shackles shows in my game design. As a player, I want no limits on what I can do.)

There's evidently some sort of sporting game event going on that Austinites care about, so Go Local Sports Team and/or College! (This is a humorously contemptuous statement. Deal.)


I got a job offer via a gaming contact, and my mom admitted that gaming had some merit. Double w00t! More details tomorrow.

Today marked the second session of my Dogs game for the so-called Renegade Roleplayers of Austin. This session definitely rocked in a good way, as we all became more familiar with the rules, each other, and I got over a few of my GMing issues.

I can pretty reliably do about 4-5 minutes of continual circular breathing on my new didjbox. Huzzah!

I borrowed and did not buy two separate games for research. For the curious, I nabbed both Burning Wheel and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (first edition). I leave the focus of my research as an exercise for the reader.

Greylight word count: 1847
Birthday countdown: 6!

Monday, January 02, 2006

Same old stories

We all have a story to tell. Most of us have more than one, and very often, we have amusing anecdotes that we relate to people in our social circle. Like the one about the fast food employee who couldn't make change, or the amusing misspoken word from a colleague at work, or the minor road mishap we saw while driving, or the famous person we once met in a mundane setting.

Why do we humans do this? Yes, we are social animals, but do we tell stories just want to make small talk? Perhaps we strive to make ourselves look better as compared to others, or to turn focus away from our own shortcomings. Maybe we need look no further than the inclination to laugh. Stories, they say, are universal. There's only so many plots (and the exact number remains up for debate), but endless variations on Love, Revenge, the Quest keep asses in seats and books on the shelf.

I have a semi-bad habit of forgetting who has heard a given anecdote, either retelling a story to a person or assuming they've heard it already. I try to think of it as good storytelling practice to re-tell a tale to the same audience. I also enjoy observing seeing how various turns of phrase will change over the history of an anecdote- some will stick, some will go away. I think I read a story by Stephen King that mentioned this sort of occurrence tangentially- words wearing a groove in the mind like a river over stone.

Greylight word count: 1718
Birthday countdown: 8!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy 2006 with my 100th post!

It's the new year. Huzzah! This also marks my 100th blog entry, and I'd like to thank all of you for helping me make this happen.

Don't forget that Winter-een-mas happens in just three short weeks, so get ready to get your game on!

Currently, I'm playing Indigo Prophecy, a very cool video game done in the style of an interactive movie. You control three (so far) main characters, and each action changes the storyline in some way as well as influencing the other characters' stories and options. Maybe adventure games are back?

Birthday countdown: 9!