Previously, in Trip's Life...

30 June 2005 - Thursday

Today I accomplished nothing. I played a great deal of zangband, but that hardly counts.

Once it got dark enough to be time to watch stuff, I admired another disc of Farscape, and the fourth and final disc of Requiem from the Darkness. Yike. That's the horror genre, alright. And still nothing that must absolutely be supernatural, except maybe that cannon.

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29 June 2005 - Wednesday

Yay comics! Not so yay was the quesadilla that had Too Much Carnitas, but oh well.

Eventually it was time for Hounds of Balazar, and we even had a GM! Sadly, we had no Bernie, who this time doesn't even have the excuse of not knowing anyone's cell number. Grr!

We didn't want to have to blow off another session, so we NPCed the shaman and went on with crawling through dark tunnels and beetle guts and chatting up a dryad who surprisingly didn't eat us for camping under her tree. However, we are clearly not going to get out of the elf forest unchallenged, so next time there will be a big fight, or maybe a lot of surrenduring.

Since we put the fight off until next time, I had much evening left to watch Farscape. One episode showed that the writer had in fact been exposed to science fiction within the past twenty or thirty years, so that was good, and the other showed one disadvantage of having a living ship, which was also good. So, yay.

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28 June 2005 - Tuesday

Some of my erstwhile cow orkers will take my stuff from Google to the Taos office, so I can fetch it later.

* * *

I bought a new bus pass. That's about it for today.

* * *

I still like the opening song for Noir, although maybe not as much as the first 26 times I heard it. No one else said anything at all about Noir, though, so I presume they hate it but are too polite to say anything, just like everything else I show. Oh well.

* * *

I meant to go to bed at a sensible hour, but instead stayed up reading old Manly Wade Wellman stories. Not Silver John stuff; apparently he wrote a whole bunch more stuff back in the day. Of the four stories collected in the two volumes I read, three are straight-forward SF of the strong-jawed hero and pretty but only marginally useful love interest sort (hey, it was the 30s and 40s, they didn't know any better, and at least there were some sympathetic non-Anglo characters, which puts Wellman far ahead of, say, Lovecraft). Anyway, they were pretty good; better than sleep!

Noir by marith (Wed Jun 29 21:15:35 2005)

Don't worry, when you show me the first episode (hm, I guess the logical catch-up days are tomorrow or maybe Monday?), I'll probably blather on about it enough to make up for everyone else. :)

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27 June 2005 - Monday

Despite having been up so late, I am not dead! Still not very motivated, but not dead.

After doinking around with laundry and stuff, I went to the coffeehouse with Ayse, and finished reading Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. I think the end of the book makes it clear that the setting is not as unstable as I thought. Plus it is an actual good ending, if not entirely happy, so yay!

* * *

Ayse made me hungry for cheese sticks and chicken strips, so I went to Chili's to get some dinner. The mozzerella sticks were good, but the "Chicken Crispers" turned out to be a lot more battery and deep-fried than chicken sticks, so I was sad.

Paladin of Souls is definitely better than The Hallowed Hunt. I know some people were put off by the reluctance of the heroine, but I seem to have more tolerance for that sort of thing, at least when it's justified. Anyway, Bujold's brain is still on the To Be Eaten list.

* * *

Melody of Oblivion is weird. Not as weird as, say, FLCL, but possibly up there with Utena. After only one disc, though, it's hard to say if it will turn out to be as coherent as Utena.

Actually, if played for laughs, some of the visuals could be as weird as FLCL, but this is not a humorous show.

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26 June 2005 - Sunday

I spent a fair amount of today sitting around reading Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. Although Ayse assured me it is not much like Sorcery & Cecilia, I find it to be so, possibly because it is so very Regency-English. Anyway, I like it, and the faerie magic is very strange and creepy and possibly numinous.

Like Someday's Dreamers, I think this is a setting that would not be stable if it contained real people, but as it is, it's probably okay.

* * *

Some of the sitting around reading was in the coffeehouse with Marith, so I ran over to the bookstore, almost had an accident, but then wrote down all the books I wanted to buy and put them back. Later, I will order them from B&N with my gift card, 'cause, free books!

Okay, I didn't put them all back. I kept the book of short stories by James Alan Gardner, Gravity Wells. So I'm uh not completely screwing over my local bookstore. Yah, that's my story.

* * *

In Ken's D&D game we spent hours playing hide and seek with golems through a labyrinth, which was very stressful, but in a good way. Eventually we managed to get the Ph4t L3wts, which were suitably Ph4t (seven adamantine dwarven axes, four of them also enchanted, plus assorted other sundries), bribed the horrid little rat-creature to give us our horses back, and skedaddled back to town to level. Whew!

* * *

Last disc of Dual! It was an okay ending, if not great.

* * *

Stayed up until 2935629563 o'clock reading Gravity Wells. Oog. Unwise parasite.

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25 June 2005 - Saturday

The first thing I found when I woke up and logged in was mail from Graydon (!!) about magic and space! I sent him the password to comment and asked for explanations of all the bits I didn't understand, which was most of them. We'll see what he says. But, but, Graydon reads my web page! BUH!

However, to keep the day from being too good, the first thing I found when I remembered to check my voice-mail was a message from my Taos staff managers asking me to contact her. When I did, I learned that not only is Google not going to hire me, they never want me on their campus again. Buh.

I suppose if I were a normal sort of person I would be terribly upset, but apparently expecting the worst actually does help.

I will be bummed if Taos takes another six months to find me a job, though, especially now that I know Python and PHP.

* * *

Even if I'm not terribly upset, my motivation to do anything has been severely reduced, so today I mostly played World of Warcraft. Tshenaly is still lame, but at least now she's a level 20 lamer with skill 90 in daggers and the power to turn into a big cat-thing!

* * *

In the evening Marith came over and we watched the last disc of the Rurouni Kenshin TV series. Enh. The Kyoto arc really was the best part. But maybe the OAVs will be good.

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24 June 2005 - Friday

Today's work of utter, twisted genius, from Making Light (John Ford writing), via Earl:

[From Verona Total Breakdown (Liebestod), a forgotten early Infernokrusher work by Bill "Hoist This Petard" Shakespeare]

Ro-Mo Your windows are still mirrored; taunt me not,
But show your colors, dare to challenge me,
These lips are two shaped charges, primed and hot,
That wait the go-code for delivery.
J-Cap The flag is to the deadly, not the loud,
Yet aim as well as posing shows in this;
The worthy throwdown's always to the proud,
And hammer down is how the hard girls kiss.
Ro-Mo My draft is stopped; I struggle toward the clutch.
J-Cap And would a charge of nitrous make thee run?
Ro-Mo Too much; but what else is there but too much?
Let me take arms, and elevate the gun.
J-Cap Small arms but hint what demolitions say.
Ro-Mo Then, gunner, gimme one round.
J-Cap On the way.

I am officially moving John Ford's brain to the top of the "To Be Eaten" list.

* * *

Looking over past entries here, I found some ideas for anime campaigns. The ideas themselves probably aren't any good, but while contemplating them, it occured to me that the Dogs in the Vineyard system, which gives relationships and motivations the same role as skills or equipment, would probably work pretty well for a shojo anime game. I mean, how often have you seen Sailor Moon obviously get more dice from her love for Tuxedo Kamen?

Must consider. Must reread DitV and Hearts Swords Flowers. Must eat brains.

* * *

I completely derailed anime-watching for two hours with a continuation of yesterday's post about magic and space and difficulties, so we only got to watch about three episodes of Sailor Moon R. Sniff!

Sailor Dogs by Carl (Sun Jun 26 10:59:36 2005)

I think Dogs in the Vineyard would work well for an anime campaign, with its emphasis on relationships and illuminating and shaping character through conflict. Probably escalation and the heirarchy of sin might need changing. Someone is not true to their heart, which leads to injustice, which...

Sailor Dogs by Chrisber (Mon Jun 27 12:00:24 2005)

Not only Sailor Moon's relationship with Tuxedo Kamen, but often the relationships between the Sailors and the victim-of-the-week, who are almost never just random bystanders, but someone that one of the protagonists has gotten to know. I'm not sure how to work the escalation, but the hierarchy of sin should, I think, follow the general escalation seen in a season of the show. For regular escalation, there's clearly talking, and powers. Maybe there's talking in Hero ID (after the transformation sequence) between those two?

Re: Sailor Dogs by Trip (Mon Jun 27 16:32:01 2005)

I think there might be an escalation from regular powers to super-duper attacks, too. Or maybe that's just spending XP.

I don't know if the ladder of sin or the other setting-religion-specific ideas translate directly. Most Sailor Moon villains are evil aliens attacking, not normal people who have gone astray.

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23 June 2005 - Thursday

On the bus this morning, I was thinking about why SMS is so awful. Mostly it's because I'm a just plain bad writer, but also I think the world-building suffered because it's hard to write fantasy in space[1].

1: Beyond a one-idea short like "Neil Armstrong, Werewolf", anyway.

The idea that the celestial bodies and their motions are magically significant phenomena outside the human world is deeply embedded in our culture. Even people who laugh at horoscope columns in newspapers know that vampires are burned by the sun, monsters come out at night, and werewolves change during the full moon. No one needs to have "when the stars are right" defined for them.

This breaks down when you have to consider the moon and planets as places you can go, and stars as being like the sun with their own planets (and our sun as being just another star in their skies). Now the difference between the new moon and full moon is like whether you're looking at a mountain from the east or the west: it could be important if it's a sacred mountain, but it's hardly out of your control. Even if you personally have can't move, you know it's possible for someone to walk around to the other side.

Of course it's possible to construct a magic system or cosmology that takes this into account, but it loses a couple of things that are probably important. One is the cultural resonance: even if vampires being able to come out only at night is no less arbitrary than their being able to come out only when the wind blows from the north, most readers find it more satisfying. The other, which is even more vague, and only important to some kinds of fantasy, is the feeling that the world is finite, surrounded by "Here There Be Dragons" territory that isn't really connected. If you can travel, at least in theory, to the planets and stars, the feeling is more "Here There May Be Big-Ass Lizards": obstacles to be overcome, not a completely different order of being.

Okay, that was completely full of self-serving shit. I think I'll shut up and accept my incompetence now.

* * *

Actual line from work IRC today: "Amorphous electro-monkeys from Rome, that'll do it!"

* * *

Penultimate disc of Rurouni Kenshin TV series! After the next disc of that, there are two discs of OAVs, and that's all. Since the OAV discs are titled "Trust" and "Betrayal", I'm sure it will all end in more angst than you can shake a sakabato, thus pleasing Marith.

Then, because I am such a very nice parasite, I let Marith watch the last episode of Haibane Renmei. She mostly agrees with the prevailing theory from Tuesday Night Anime. She even agrees with my explanation for the kid Haibane.

Also, zangband. Boots of speed +8, but the boots I have now are artifacts that give +4 to about five different stats and have a bunch of resistances! Wibble!

cultural resonance and big-ass lizards by marith (Thu Jun 23 23:02:04 2005)

No, I think you're on to something there. If the darkness outside the circle of firelight is just darkness full of comprehensible phenomena, and by the way the fire is just a useful chemical reaction, then you must either a) add another layer to the universe that sets limits on the characters' comprehension, like inscrutable alien gods or dimensional ley lines, so they're back to knowing the phase of the moon matters but not why, or b) swap out mysticism for engineering altogether.

Or am I not understanding what you're saying at all? :)

Re: cultural resonance and big-ass lizards by Trip (Fri Jun 24 09:20:53 2005)

I think you've got it, except that in the fiction it's explorable places rather than comprehensible phenomena (but the one is a metaphor for the other, so you're really still right, just on a different level).

This is, I think, digging near the roots of the science fiction/fantasy divide, but I don't know what it's unearthing. I was going to say something about fantasy universes being anthropomorphized (gods instead of mindless natural phenomena) but that would make Singularity Sky and Iron Sunrise (Charles Stross) fantasy and most Barbara Hambly science fiction, so that's clearly not the SF/F division.

fantasy in space by eyelessgame (Fri Jun 24 10:58:40 2005)

Haven't read your novel, but I know David Gerrold wrote an excreable novel about vampires in space... I put it down partway through and never finished it. It suffered the same way; there was no cultural resonance: you couldn't fear them, because when you have spaceships in the story you need to understand the monsters -- what makes their blood-based biology tick, why it is that they have problems with sunlight, what the deal is with wooden stakes, etc.

Huh. Just came to a political understanding here about magical thinking and understanding being opposites... and I think I'll go now.

Re: fantasy in space by Trip (Fri Jun 24 11:15:39 2005)

Well, you can fear things with big pointy teeth and bad attitudes, but it's... action-adventure fear, not horror fear. (I'm sure a real theorist would be using words like "numinous" here, but I'm just a subliterate engineer.)

Everything about religion vs science that came out of this was much too inflammatory, so I didn't go there. :)

visceral agreement by Jeremy (Fri Jun 24 13:40:08 2005)

Can we come up with any good examples of science fiction horror? I can't think of any. As a counterexample, I greatly enjoyed Stross's Atrocity Archives, but it utterly failed to creep my out the way the original Lovecraft does. Which is to say, I think you're right on the mark here.

Re: visceral agreement by Trip (Fri Jun 24 14:43:05 2005)

I always wanted someone's entrails to agree with me!

I seem to recall "Nightflyers" by George R R Martin as being pretty creepy. On the other hand, it involved psionics, which at least puts it on the fantasy-ward shore of science fiction.

On the other hand, science fiction is supposed to have (and sometimes actually does have) "sense of wonder". How does this differ from what we've been talking about?

All the comments so far have pretty much been agreeing with me, which I find disturbing not least because it means the job of arguing against my position is falling to me. Diligently shouldering (or maybe elbowing) this responsibility, I now wonder what chunk of fantasy my original post refers to, and what science fiction is also included. Certainly most pseudo-medieval Extruded Fantasy Product, but I don't think fantasy wants to admit to including that. Psychic vampire/werewolf sex books. And from there, most urban fantasy, which allegedly takes place in the modern day but generally treats the sky as magic (at least implicitly) instead of places. Lord of the Rings... I dunno, having not read The Silmarillion. Would someone like to chime in?

What other significant fantasy is there? Except for the occasional werewolf, it never really comes up in the Harry Potter books (although I can't believe no young Muggle-raised wizards want to grow up to be astronauts-- No, I can believe it, it just depresses me.)

I don't know that it tells us anything, but no discussion of space, fantasy and science fiction would be complete without a mention of Celestial Matters (Richard Garfinkle).

Maybe I should just give up on this whole fantasy/science fiction thing and write only InfernoKrusher fiction.

Sense of wonder vs. horror by Jeremy (Sat Jun 25 11:23:00 2005)

"Sense of wonder" means that, even though it's going to kill you and perhaps your entire species, it's still pretty cool.

Proper horror, on the other hand, has no redeeming features. IMO.

I think it's to do with fundamental comprehensibility. Even if I don't understand it and can't control it, the notion that it can be understood (perhaps by my post-singularity intellectual descendents) robs it of a certain chill.

Horror In Space by eyelessgame (Tue Jun 28 13:59:02 2005)

Can we come up with any good examples of science fiction horror?

Alien. The Thing. Puppet Masters. Mountains of Madness. War of the Worlds. Even Mars Needs Women or Star Trek's Catspaw. What they have in common is that they don't rely on complex cultural resonance icons (e.g. vampires, werepuppies, ghosts), but on primal victimization of the human body or mind or soul.

Re: Horror In Space by Trip (Tue Jun 28 14:23:21 2005)

I do not dispute what you've said, but I think we may have wandered astray from the original topic. After all, you can have horror with no fantastic elements at all; humans are bad enough on their own.

Magic in Space by Dave (Tue Jun 28 15:03:16 2005)

Where ever humans go, they will bring superstition with them - it's just how our brains work. And, while superstition and magic are not the same thing, I think the share enough of the same space that, where one exists, there is room for the other.

So, if it seems like there would be no magic in space, that's merely because we haven't been in space long enough to have much in the way of superstitions about it, and about things that take place in it. I guess this just goes back to it being hard to write magic in space because there isn't a common way of looking at it.

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22 June 2005 - Wednesday

Someone has not been supplying information necessary for my conversion, but the recruiter wouldn't tell me who, so I can't lean on them. Hmph.

* * *

I picked up the first issue of Shojo Beat for Ayse. It made her happy.

* * *

Ayse had to go to an Impact meeting (but not in Oakland, yay!) and Mike Mittmann is still vacationing in the land of the hantavirus, so when Chris failed to show up for Dragonblooded, we punted and watched some Yes Minister and mocked the prestige classes in the Complete ____ D&D books. I think those of us who bothered to show up should get XP anyway!

Hopefully next time I will remind Ken to remind people about gaming sooner than the morning before gaming, since he apparently doesn't reliably read his mail at work. Something about having to do his job and that of several other people, or something.

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21 June 2005 - Tuesday

Marith didn't come watch the last episode of Haibane Renmei! Now she'll never know what we found out!

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20 June 2005 - Monday

Agh Monday. It didn't help that I had Castle in the Air (the sequel to Howl's Moving Castle) to read and missed the bus, but it's not like I have anywhere in particular to be this evening.

* * *

Yay, Hero system geeking on Al's LJ! It inspires me to think about Antihero (but not enough to actually work on it).

* * *

Still not playing WoW. Interesting.

* * *

The rest of disc 2 of Tokyo Underground is a little more engaging. I will probably continue to make GreenCine send to me when it comes out.

* * *

If I've figured the time zone correction[1] properly, Spiffy Solstice to all!

1: 06:36 UTC tomorrow is 23:36 PDT tonight, right?

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19 June 2005 - Sunday

After finishing Howl's Moving Castle (still excellent, even though I've read it at least twice before), I handed it over to Ayse and scuttled away to gaming.

We started gaming early, since we had multiple people who had to leave early, but still didn't manage to get significantly past the end of the huge fight with squidbots, crazed supervillains, and laser-armed brain tanks in the CDC. We did win the fight, though, and probably not very much biohazard was released into Atlanta.

* * *

Everyone else wimped out, so only Earl and I went to see Batman Begins. It was pretty good! Christian Bale made a quite creditable Batman, there was a villainous plan which he foiled, what more could you want? Other than spoilers, I mean.

* * *

Lazy parasite. Watched disc 3 of Ghost in the Shell: Stand-Alone Complex, in which the thot plickens, and a couple episodes of Tokyo Underground. Sadly, TU is not holding my interest, and unless it becomes cooler pretty soon I will probably move it to the end of my list.

talking around batman begins spoilers by kit! (Mon Jun 20 16:14:17 2005)

Kit was really more like horribly torn over that scene, although I also had the thought that you had regarding genre. :)

Also, yah, Earl's right.

Re: talking around batman begins spoilers by Trip (Mon Jun 20 19:50:10 2005)

Eeep! I hope you got mended!

Earl has a distressing tendency to be right about all sorts of things.

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18 June 2005 - Saturday

No AQoJ for us, 'cause Marith is too unwell to drive to Roseville. Sniff!

* * *

Surprisingly, I did not use my suddenly-available day to play any World of Weasels. I did read the book Earl lent me, Rebuilt, which is Michael Chorost's account of suddenly going deaf, and then getting a cochlear implant and having his sensorium managed by software. It was really pretty cool.

* * *

When I actually got up, I finished writing a silly little thing that uses the Python curses library to make a maze that you can wander around in looking for an opposite corner. If I were 3457349265 times smarter, I could expand it into a rogue-like game!

After that, I played zangband for a while, but then I went grocery shopping, came back, listened to Marith's plaintive pleas, went to Thai City to eat three-season pork while reading Howl's Moving Castle, brought Marith some pad woon sen, and ended up playing six-person Brine Shrimp of Cataan. Despite having the numbers I was on severely underrepresented in the distribution (I'm pretty sure there were more 3s rolled than 4s and 5s together), I managed to struggle all the way to the 8 Gold hex in the corner... which then didn't produce a damn thing until the turn on which Dan (the boyfriend of Ken's sister Jamie) crushed us all like insects. Bah!

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17 June 2005 - Friday

Still sleepy. Curse you, life-force-draining space vampires!

* * *

I was not betrayed by the VTA! In fact, I arrived at the Aquarius first of any of our group, despite stopping at Gamescape to pick up Munchkin Fu 2: Monky Business.

I knew Carl and Angie were showing up, and probably Earl and Cat, but I really hadn't expected the Shieldses to show up. Also Angie brought a friend (date?), who is an old AVer from shortly before my time, so we were nine altogether, and a force to be reckoned with in the struggle for seating! Especially since we were first in line.

The candy-selling girl had a cool dress, but still charged way too much for food and drink. (I did not ask how much her phone number would have been, because I am not CZR.) Fortunately, Dave's brother (who manages the Aquarius and some other theater in the same chain) gave us free popcorn; unfortunately, popcorn is salty. Oh well.

The movie was good! The voice acting wasn't uniformly up to the standards I expect, but it didn't suck, the art was gorgeous, and the story was vaguely recognizeable. I'll put the spoilers over here.

After the movie, Angie and her Arian person split for Jing Jing because they had not dinnered and the rest of us went back to Earl & Cat's place, where the non-parasites were feasted upon brown bread ice cream. (Bah!) Many things were discussed, including Earl's NaNoWriMoing, which reminded me that I should just gnaw off my typing tentacles and die in a pit. Eventually, we went home.

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16 June 2005 - Thursday

Sleepy. I suspect my cow orkers of sucking the life force from my body.

* * *

I should probably have gone shopping today, but was too lazy.

* * *

Failure! The movie passes I won on Tuesday have arrived in the mail, but they are only good for Sunday through Thursday, so Marith and I will have to get tickets for _Howl's Moving Castle_ after all.

* * *

I could have played World of Weasels, but instead I played zangband. Take that, annoying AMHDs! Take that, almost-as-annoying Storm Trolls! Muahahahahaha!

Eventually I got tired of looking at a computer monitor and went to watch disc 2 of Earth Defense Family. It is getting increasingly surreal, which may not be a good thing since the earlier episodes were at a good level of surreality, but I am still entertained.

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15 June 2005 - Wednesday

Hm. I appear to have passed the first (and thus, presumably, weakest) filter that Google has against hiring lamers. This doesn't mean I'm not lame, of course, only that my lameness is so extreme that no one believes it upon first viewing. I'm sure further examine will reveal the awful truth, though.

* * *

I know it's a light week at comics when I spend less than the person in front of me just did.

* * *

We successfully met for Hounds of Balazar, but we did not successfully game, because Bernie never showed up, the bum. I bet he thinks being dead in a ditch or overworked or out of town is a good excuse for skipping without warning.

Instead, we discussed characters for the campaign that Al intends to run when HoB finishes. Each player needs one mighty hero, one smoother-of-the-way for mighty heroes, and one underworld-connected person in Pavis, so there's a lot of discussion that needs to take place. Pending further information that reveals the infeasibility of my plans, I'm thinking of having an Agamori (one of the "man-and-a-half" primitives from the Pavis region) for the mighty adventurer, a Stormbull who has lost the ability to smell Chaos as a smoother-of-the-way (he had to develop social skills and patience to ferret out Chaos...), and a boatman with an intelligent fish sidekick as the contact for the Pavis/Zola Fel region.

No, the intelligent fish will not buy the human character as an Agent.

* * *

I've probably mentioned this before, but it still weirds me out that the first 1-2 seconds of the opening theme to Dual is the same as the first bit of the opening theme to Futurama. (Dual has approximately 100% fewer cyclopes, though.)

RoCers by Image (Fri Jun 17 10:33:27 2005)

I like them. Intelligent fish... Hey, the Agimori could belong to Humakt -- they'll take anybody! Well, anybody disciplined. And he'd rock with a greatsword.

Re: RoCers by Trip (Fri Jun 17 15:18:58 2005)

Hey, you mentioned the intelligent fish first!

It's true, an Agamori with a greatsword would be darn scary. Sorry, make that an Agamori with a GIANT FLAMING GREATSWORD! Muahahahaha! (Dave still seems like the natural person to play the Humakti, though.)

I'm not sure what to estimate for point levels for Rune-level Gloranthan Hero characters. I mean, the Balazarings are up near 200 points, and I don't think they're anywhere near Rune level: they just have 6-8 spells apiece. (It would be much worse if they had to pay for their items too.) I think 10 points may be too much for a spell; is a typical spell worth as much as +10 Str, or a skill at 14-16-? Possibly, but consider Bladesharp IV, current cost 40 points. It gets you +4 DC (20 points if bought as Str/HKA), and +2 OCV (4-10 points if bought as CSLs), for a total value of 25-30 points straight. Sure it's usable by others, but it also costs Pow, which is a pretty big limitation, and probably gets some sort of limitation for only being usable with sharp melee weapons. Etc.

Where am I going with this? Uh, good question. Straight to Heck, probably.

Giant Flaming Greatswords by Dave (Mon Jun 20 09:03:25 2005)

The funny thing about flaming weapons is that they all do the same amount of damage (3d6). So, much more impressive on little bitty daggers than giant greatswords, really. (In fact, it could even reduce damage, compared to a sufficiently egregious weapon & wielder).

Humakti by Dave (Mon Jun 20 09:16:22 2005)

Also, you shouldn't worry too much about what I might be playing. I think the Humakti Agamori sounds pretty amusing (and scary!), if that's what you're looking for.

Re: Humakti with Giant Flaming Greatswords by Trip (Mon Jun 20 19:57:37 2005)

You're assuming that he's using Fire Sword or whatever the 3d6 spell is. What if it's a Bladesharp variant that makes the damage fire, or something even more exotic? I mean, it could be strange Agimori magic!

I picture the Agimori as more cheerful than a Humakti, in any case.

Cheerful Humakti by Dave (Tue Jun 21 14:13:19 2005)

That's a somewhat scary concept (i.e. cheerful death wielder) - you should go with it! ;)

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14 June 2005 - Tuesday

Most unproductive day ever. Okay, not that bad, but still pretty brainless. On another tentacle, I have not yet suffered the urge to strangle the person who occupies the previously vacant space behind me and to my left, so I guess he's an okay guy.

* * *

My L33t Anime Knowledge has won me two passes to see something at a Landmark theater. Like, say, the Aquarius, which is showing Howl's Moving Castle on Friday! Muahahahahahahaha!

* * *

On the bus home from work, I finished I Capture the Castle (Dodie Smith), which Marith foisted upon me. I thought it was only okay, but I can see why she went squee at it. I hear Stacy also went squee, which is equally plausible.

Hm. Who should do the shojo anime version of ICtC? Discuss amongst yourselves.

* * *

Return of Tuesday Night Anime!

Earl randomly showed up, since Cat threw him out of the house so she could bake, or something. I know it's coincidental, but it makes the idea of Monday Night Anime seem even more ridiculous. Bah.

The doom of the end of Haibane Renmei approaches! And we've now watched all the Saikano that I've seen, so next week will be all-new doom there. Week after next, the doom of Noir! Okay, that's not nearly as doomed as HR or Saikano.

Because the alternative was to spend more time trying to kill AMHDs in zangband, I watched another episode of Dual, which is still amusing.

* * *

Earl harshed on Firefly some. He bought up the point that in SF, the world should be a character as important as any of the others, and indeed, world-building is where Firefly falls down. I'm not sure Marith bought it, but she might have if I pointed out that what Earl meant is that every aspect of the background is as poorly-constructed as the Reavers (Ravers? Whatever. The Howling Savages.). It's just not as obvious unless you're used to noticing certain things.

Then Earl talked about Carl's Dogs in the Vineyard game that he's in with Chrisber and Christy, and I remembered that I'm not cool and never will be. Sigh. I guess I should go kill some more hapless orcs and take their stuff.

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13 June 2005 - Monday

My productivity doesn't seem to have gone either up or down now that my boss isn't sitting next to me. I'm not sure what this means.

* * *

No anime tonight, because we're back to Tuesdays, because nobody loves us!

I started a Tauren warrior on Shadow Council, just so I can have a character who actually uses all the mail armor from quest rewards and monster drops. It seemed like he got up to level 7 awfully fast, but I don't think it's less play time than my warlock; I just did it all at once instead of in a couple of different sessions.


* * *

More Kaleido Star. More doom.

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12 June 2005 - Sunday

I spent most of the morning and early afternoon reading Animals in Translation, which was just as interesting as I had expected. Grandin's thesis is that autistic humans think in a way that is between normal human abstraction and normal animal hyper-specificity. Since she is autistic and has made a career of understanding how animals think, I'm willing to at least provisionally take her word for it.

Since she also has a PhD in the subject, Grandin can go into some detail on the physiological basis of various emotions, and how we can tell which are based in the same neural/hormonal systems and which aren't. This is in addition to the many anecdotes from her animal-intensive life, only some of which are horrifying. (It's amazing how fast breeding for one trait and ignoring all others can make animals nonviable.)

The stuff about animal talents, like the small rodent thing that can individually bury 30 000 seeds during the summer and then find 90% of them during the winter, and their similarity to autistic savant talents does support the thesis. I'm not as sure about the prairie dogs with language, or the parrot that can spell, but the tool-making crows have been pretty well verified, so I'm willing to at least consider the possiblity.

Three opposable tentacles up!

* * *

Ken made eleventeen-vegetable stir-fry for gaming dinner, and then had us attacked by wyverns and creeped out by kobolds and overwhelmingly evil dwarves with glowing eyes.

* * *

Watched some Kaleido Star. Doom, doom, all the doom.

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11 June 2005 - Saturday

This time I was justified in making Marith get up and drive me to the post office, because the package was Fullmetal Alchemist vol 3, which she wants much much more than I do (which is not to say that I don't want it; I'm the one who paid money for it!). Also, we bought fans.

Marith felt that food was most important, so she wandered off in search of some, and I went home to lie in a slimy heap and watch Farscape. Sadly it wasn't a very good episode (the one with Maldir(sp?)), but it was okay, and suggests that Zhann might become even scarier.

Eventually there was meeting at the coffeeshop, for the reading of books and the consumption of the smoothies of Sicily. I read Shadows Fall, a random yet quite typical Simon Green. Ayse read Animals in Translation, by Temple Grandin, which she then lent to me, because it sounds very interesting.

No plans for board games or anything ever materialized, so Marith and I watched the new Fullmetal Alchemist. She was sad that there was not angst to equal episodes 7-8, and she didn't like Psiren at all.

That didn't seem to be enough anime for me, so after Marith went away, I watched the end of Onegai Twins!. I am not surprised at the sort of resolution it had, although I am faintly disappointed. It was entertaining anyway.

fma by marith (Mon Jun 13 19:09:52 2005)

I'll admit that Psiren was cute cheesecake, is that sufficient? :) And the lack of angst was a needed break. (But now they can give us episode 13.)

Re: fma by Trip (Tue Jun 14 09:36:56 2005)

You're not under any obligation to think any particular thing about any element of FMA, you know.

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10 June 2005 - Friday

My boss will be out all next week, so no progress is likely on hiring foo. Bah.

* * *

I played my undead warlock for an hour, and got her up to 6th level and out of the starting hamlet. Crush the anti-undead crusaders!

* * *

Yay Sailor Moon R! There were even some cool monsters in addition to the silly ones.

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9 June 2005 - Thursday

Ack! Interview! Ack!

Since Google has only seen my scripting and documentation skills, they are going to give me a troubleshooting interview like they give to people who come in through the usual application process. Hopefully I will not appear too dim.

* * *

That wasn't too bad! I flailed a lot, but apparently not more than expected, and perhaps not as much as the regular applicant Paul interviewed this morning with the same questions. Trouble was, in the end, shot. ("Stay alert! Trust no one! Keep your laser handy!")

The questions were kind of cool, but I shouldn't say anything about them, lest I give one of my fellow contractors an advantage I didn't have. I guess that means I should shut up now.

Interview. Ack.

* * *

As is increasingly becoming my habit, I fired up WoW as soon as I got home and sent Tshenaly forth to er invade the homes of more hapless moonkin and beat them up. Fortunately, they show up red on the hostility-meter, so I can pretend that they are Evil and thus may be slain without mercy, like in D&D, but still. I don't think I approve.

Anyway, she got the 12 magic mushrooms with no more casualties than necessary and then ran around beating up non-sentients and horrible little frog-goblins, which was much more satisfying. Sadly, she cannot defeat the level 20 elite gnomish death robot. And what's with this "elite" designator, anyway? If it's that much harder than a regular level 20 monster (and it is!) why not just call it level 30 or whatever and be done with it?

Southward! Ever southward! Er, except for when the quest rewards are back north.

* * *

Yay more Farscape!

Elites by Dave (Fri Jun 10 11:35:02 2005)

Well, when different level characters have access to different abilities, there's a real difference between a tough monster, and a higher level monster. Well, if monsters get abilities the same way as characters, anyway. ;)

Elites by mony (Sat Jun 11 05:17:28 2005)

If a quest states that it is Elite (look at the rightmost column in your quest log), then the indication is that you should collect up a couple friends and go beat the tar out of the Big Bad Monster. It's basically just meant to encourage some grouping. I think you also get better rewards and xp from it. Chances are there are other people in your zone who also have that same quest, so you probably should have good luck building small groups to take them on.

Elite monsters by Ayse (Mon Jun 13 10:30:48 2005)

An elite monster is a monster of the stated level with (more or less) double hit points and possibly cool abilities or whatnot.

This is different from a monster n levels higher because whether or not you your attacks & abilities work against a monster is very level-dependent. If my level 40 hunter attacks a level 50 monster, she'll die horribly because she won't be able to hit the darn thing & none of her cool abilities will work against it. If my level 40 hunter attacks a level 40 elite, she'll probably die because she won't be able to kill it before it kills her, but she'll be damaging it, stunning it, etc etc.

So a group of level 38-40 people can take a level 40 elite, but a group of level 38-40 people can't take an ordinary level 50 AFAIK, because they'll miss 95% of their attacks.

Does this make sense?



Re: Elite Monsters by Trip (Tue Jun 14 09:39:28 2005)

Meer! It does! I didn't realize monster's stats are all based on level; I thought it was more like D&D, where "level" is based on the stats.

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8 June 2005 - Wednesday

Allegedly this is the week of decision for the contract-to-hire process for contractors who started when I did (ie, me). I wonder if they'll just politely tell me to go away, or earn awards by throwing me into the plasma torch so that I can never pollute the computing industry again.

* * *

When I went into the kitchen to get a drink, I was waylaid by Zack the technical writer and forced to play foosball. I won the first game 5-4 because Zack scored an own goal, but then lost 1-5, so I think it's clear who got the better of that exchange.

Later, Tom and I tried to play carrom after the two-minute summary of the rules by Paul (who brought the board back from India). We succeeded mostly in hypnotizing Matt with our ineptness for the half hour it took for someone to flail his piece into a pocket. Now my fingernail is sore, and the weird white powder used to lubricate the board is probably eating away at my lungs.

* * *

Marith's character Sidonie gave Tshenaly a bunch of the quests she was stuck on, which wasn't all that satisfying, but did clear out almost all of the stuff north of Auberdine. I still haven't done the sunken ships (in part because I'll never be able to do the sea lion quest honestly), there's some sort of gnomish contraption on the beach that needs some monsters killed, and I still need to finish beating up owl-people and taking their magic mushrooms, but then it's all south.

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7 June 2005 - Tuesday

Lying around all yesterday seems to have made most of my sore throat go away. Either that, or I was so tired I slept anyway.

In the morning, I was pretty lethargic and wondered if I had erred, but eventually became energetic enough to do some work. Yay me.

* * *

I would have played WoW, but it's Patch Day today, and while I was waiting for the 50MB patch to install I started watching the Battlestar Galactica miniseries. Three hours later, my patch was long-since finished, but it was time to pass out.

The plot was not imperforate, and what was up with the machineguns? but there were many cool visuals (new Cylon fighters! station inside a gas giant!) and plenty of angst, plus unrestrained use of nuclear weapons. Hm, I shouldn't spoil, so I'll put spoilers on another page.

Anyway, the politician lady was good, and although I don't remember all that much of the old Starbuck, the new one clearly has Starbuck nature.

I wonder if the series will be out on DVD anytime soon? Probably not, since they'll want to milk it for all the sydication bucks they can get first. Bah.

* * *

Maybe WoW tomorrow, since Ken appears to have failed to prepare for gaming while on his honeymoon.

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6 June 2005 - Monday

The itch in my throat has developed to the point where I can't actually sleep. Argh. No work for me. :(

* * *

While lying about groaning, I did read the new Bujold, The Hallowed Hunt. It is set in the same world as The Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls, and follows the same theme of a poor schmoe getting mixed up in the affairs of the gods and strange soul-based magic. tHH delves into the magical traditions of a different land than the first two books, some of which is really strange, but it's all clearly part of the same cosmology.

Possibly I would appreciate it even more if my brain was less mucus-based, but I still go, "Man, why can't I be that cool?"

* * *

Watched more Gad Guard. That's a lot of doom, there.

* * *

No one new showed up for anime, and Neil is now saying that Monday is not good for him, so we may switch back to Tuesdays. Sheesh.

Anyway, Marith and Dave still like ROD the TV, and we started Saikano, which also seems to be going over well. Also, antepenultimate episode of Haibane Renmei. Dooooooom!

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5 June 2005 - Sunday

In the afternoon, Red Room. For a change, we had Jeremy and his house (and his wife's chocolate chip cookies, although that's not as much of a draw for me), but we still couldn't defeat the military squidbots (really horrible cyborg squid-things).

In the evening, I played Thiarkas some, and got her up to level 12. Even with her new improved shaman powers, I don't think she can take on the camp of 11th-12th level bozos at the end of the Canyon of Lightning-Spitting Dinosaurs, but soon!

I wonder if Orgrimmar would be easier to navigate if it weren't lagged to hell and gone. I'm guessing not.

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4 June 2005 - Saturday

Apparently I am the lamest parasite ever. I spent all afternoon trying to play WoW, but getting squished by every quest (at least, the ones I didn't just plain screw up). Bah.

I did okay at eating hamburgers, except for where I ate three of them and didn't leave the buns off, but then we played Space Pirate Amazon Ninja Catgirls, and I came in a distant last, because I am LAME.

Lame, lame parasite, although at least I have some Farscape to watch.

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3 June 2005 - Friday

Yay! Mr and Mrs Shields have returned from the wilds of Vancouver! They were very pleased that their cats were fed, and also by what Dave did to their apartment, and we ate sushi.

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2 June 2005 - Thursday

Hm. Maybe I should sleep half an hour later and remove the reading phase of my morning routine. I like reading, but it has failure modes that go poorly with a schedule.

* * *

Bah! Being later than usual to Lee's has cost me a copy of The New Generation of Manga Artists vol 7. They say they'll try to reorder it, but historically that has not worked too well because their distributor is Evil Incarnate. (I say "their" distributor, but it may actually be the distributor, which would explain the evil.)

* * *

Thiarkas is now level 11, because she did all four adventures in the sandbars to the east of Sen'Jin Village in one swell foop (er, if you don't count the three or four times she died -- stupid voodoo trolls!) as well as beating up various tasty creatures that crossed her path. Except for the pig-goblins (razormanes, they're called), she's now done pretty much all the adventures in the area she's in. Next stop, the Barrens. (Hey, that means empty, right? So how much trouble could she find there?)

* * *

I could have watched Farscape, but instead I finished the disc of Samurai Champloo. Episode 12 is a recap episode, which seems to imply that the season is only 22 episodes, not the more usual 24 or 26. Weird.

Anime, of course by Carl (Thu Jun 9 18:14:48 2005)

Samurai Champloo is a 7-disc set according to this handy list at Greencine so it would be strange if it were not 26 episodes. Maybe they had to do a recap earlier because all that fighting uses up a lot of drawing! Or maybe its just a remix, and the second half of the series will just be remixed versions of the first half, or reversed.

I believe the record is still held by His and Her Circumstances for devoting two episodes to a recap, plus a minute or two of nearly every episode, but then it was by Gainax so what could you expect?

Also, I note that Miyazaki's Howl's Moving Castle hits some theaters tomorrow, and I believe Palo Alto's Aquarius next Friday (6/17), and that Berkeley's Pacific Film Archive is having a Studio Ghibli Film Festival within walking distance of the downtown BART station.

recaps by Dave (Fri Jun 10 11:33:40 2005)

Well, the extra disk for Chobits has three recap episodes (once of which was even at the end of the series, and recapped the ending). No real content (all cut&paste with minimal framing), and not really worth watching, sadly. No idea how they were originally aired.

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1 June 2005 - Wednesday


* * *

How could I not buy a game titled "Space Pirate Amazon Ninja Catgirls" and illustrated by Phil Foglio!?

* * *

Aw, Al is dead again. No Hounds of Balazar for us!

* * *

I played Thiarkas for a few hours and got her up to ninth level without her being bothered by no-life Internet dweebs (er, except the one playing her). She has more shaman spells, but the use of some of the ones she has is unclear to me. I think I need to read the descriptions more carefully to see if they are more useful than I think.

Man, those little pig-goblins to the west of Razor Hill are annoying. Monsters shouldn't have ranged attacks! The lobster-guys in the ocean to the east aren't so bad, though, except when they gang up on you while a level 10 Corrupted Surf Crawler is chewing on your face, and the humans are wimpy.

* * *

The DVD I had from Greencine turned out to have no subtitles, and probably wasn't very good anyway (it was one of those "hey, it's free to check it out" entries in my rental queue), so I used tongs to stuff it back in the envelope and instead watched two episodes of Samurai Champloo. One was funny, the other tragic. Both were pretty good.

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