Previously, in Trip's Life...

31 July 2005 - Sunday

WANT! When I get a job, I may have to go on a binge. And that better be soon, because a lot of these are marked "limited production run" and the like!

* * *

My big accomplishment today: Killing Nodens, Lord of the Great Abyss, who permanently stymied my previous zangband character. Muahahahah.

Okay, it's not as useful as doing laundry, but it's more uncommon.

* * *

Writing: check.

Cthulhu plush! by Angie (Tue Aug 9 13:53:07 2005)

Oh my god, I hadn't seen a bunch of these, and they're quite wonderful. The Moon Beast is extremely tentacular. Though I can't decide if I like the puppet (stick your hand up Cthulhu's butt!) or the slippers (put your feet in Cthulhu's mouth!) better.

Of course, the Killer Rabbit slippers (which kept showing up on the sidebar) also won big points, so the slippers may eventually win out.

Is it wrong of me to think the Deep One is kinda cute? o.o

Re: Cthulhu Plush! by Trip (Tue Aug 9 14:47:52 2005)

Yah, the Moon Beast is the one that really caught my eye.

"Little rabbit Cthulhu, hopping through the woods, scooping up humans and bopping them on the head..."

Deep Ones are famous for interbreeding with humans, so of course they want to be cute!

Make a comment!

30 July 2005 - Saturday

I was thinking more about Madlax, and how although I first thought it was SF or fantasy, I now think technothriller is more likely (but I haven't ruled out the other two). This led me to think about what the technothriller genre is. But first, a digression on genre and the verb 'to be'!

Humans like to think and talk about categories as consisting of everything within certain boundaries, but that's not how their brains really work. Science Fiction and Fantasy aren't boxes, not even ones with fuzzy walls: they're ideals (Platons?) that real stories differ from to a greater or lesser extent, in a semi-infinite number of characteristics.

I'm pretty sure this is why most arguments over whether a particular story "is" SF or "is" Fantasy are doomed: a story isn't ever SF or Fantasy, it can only be pretty close to one or the other. (Or both, since different people will weight the various characteristics differently (ie, scale the axes of the space of stories). This is why recasting the debate in these terms won't actually make people agree.)

However, since the limitations of the English language make it awkward to say all that, I'll probably have to lapse back into saying "X is Y". I wonder if lojban makes this any easier?

My thought about the technothriller genre is that although it's generally at least superficially SF, it bears a stronger resemblence to fantasy in some ways. One rule of thumb is, "Fantasy is 'what if you had three wishes?'; Science fiction is 'what if everybody had three wishes?'", and the Maguffin in a technothriller is almost singular, or has a singular source (one undetectable submarine, one genius building killer robots in Bumfuckistan). "Technothriller is 'what if Sean Connery had an undetectable submarine?'; science fiction is 'what if everybody had an undetectable submarine?'." (This might work for horror, too: "Horror is 'what if there really was a horrible monster in your closet?'; Urban fantasy is 'what if there really was a horrible monster in every closet?'".)

The Maguffin in a technothriller is always a thing, too, or at least one particular kind of thing, not a technology: killer robots, not highly advanced robotics with many profitable applications. By the end of the story, furthermore, the Maguffin has almost always been destroyed, or else captured by the good guys and stuffed into the warehouse with the Ark of the Covenant taken away for study by Top Men, so it has no direct, lasting effect on the setting (although its loss may hamper the Bad Guys and reduce the threat they pose). Both of these characteristics are commonly true of fantasy Maguffins as well.

I don't know if this analysis is any use, but perhaps it is interesting.

* * *

Woot! New Wen Spencer book! I was right to go shopping instead of to the coffeehouse!

* * *

W00t! I have done in Oberon! All that remains is to crush the Serpent of Chaos beneath my heel!

* * *

Yep, the end of the Rurouni Kenshin/Samurai X OAVs was as tragic and doomed as we expected. Perhaps we won't get the post-TV-series OAVs.

* * *

Speaking of tragic and doomed, not only does the Serpent of Chaos have more hit points than you can shake a rod of havoc at, but he also summons all the uniques left, including some I've never encountered in any zangband game, like Nyarlathotep and Godzilla and Morgoth. This might take longer than I first expected.

* * *

I did do a small amount of writing today.

Labels by Dave (Mon Aug 1 11:52:30 2005)

Actually, I think the problem is that labels are not Platons, but rather their antithesis - things that are infinitely changeable. Well, perhaps thaty's overstating the case, but you know what I mean. Labels are learned different by each individual, and are only roughly aligned inside any given community, much less between different communities. And when you can't even agree on the labels, it can be very difficult to agree on assigning labels to objects.

Re: Labels by Trip (Tue Aug 9 14:44:25 2005)

Personalized Platons, like vanity license plates!

Okay, maybe not. But I wasn't sure what other word to use. Exemplar? Ideal?

Make a comment!

29 July 2005 - Friday

Woot! I can apparently be pimped to Google again, so I sent Taos the latest version of my resume, and unless something bizarre happens (seems unlikely, since this resume was good enough last time), I will get phone screamed next week. Yay!

* * *

Successfully wrote some. Might write more later. It's not Transmundane, but that's because I don't know where chapter 15 is going.

* * *

Just completed the quest monster for 4600' and got the Jewel of Judgement in zangband. 8 levels and about 5 quests to go!

* * *

Hah, Oremorj the Cyberdemon Lord was a wimp! Well, relatively speaking. He only summoned three of his minions!

Now at 4800', which is clear. Four levels and three quests to go.

* * *

Because Marith and I were lame on Sunday, tonight we and the Zables took Rachel out to Thai City and fed her many yummy Thai dinners. I was poorly positioned at the table, though, so although Marith got to talk to Rachel extensively about her cool job of organizing the preservation of all human knowledge forever, I didn't hear much of it. :( But Rachel was happy with her birthdaying!

* * *

Yay more Farscape! Okay, the science in that second episode sucked, plus it gives parasites a bad name, but it was okay other than that.

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28 July 2005 - Thursday

Spent most of the day at Taos, but heard of a lead on another job, so arguably worthwhile. Nothing definite before I had to scarper, though.

* * *

Wow! I wrote something! It's not very good, of course, but at least chapter 15 of The Transmundane is started!

Now if I can only do this every day...

* * *

Episodes 3 & 4 of Madlax have not increased my net understanding, although some of the more extreme theories have been tentatively ruled out. I still quite like the soundtrack, and Madlax's battle songs.

Make a comment!

27 July 2005 - Wednesday

Bah, Lee's couldn't find Bleach vol 1.

* * *

Bah, no Hounds of Balazar! Al is too tired to GM, and Bernie is too busy to play.

* * *

Having defeated the Unicorn of Order, I continue to r0xx0r on zangband. Go me.

* * *

The Comics Journal does not appear to have the same opinion of most manga as I do. But I think Marith will like it, because it is Critical. (Plus, in this issue, yaoi!)

* * *

Madlax hurts my brain. Not like Utena, but I really want to know what is going on. However, I must go to bed now, so that I can get up and go bug Taos tomorrow.

Lee's back issues by Dave (Fri Jul 29 10:49:21 2005)

Yeah, I haven't had a lot of luck with them. Milehigh has an okay web site for buying back issues, and making wish lists for things they don't have in stock, and there're probably other sites as well (Milehigh has high shipping rates for small orders, though).

Mmmm, Bleach by Carl (Sat Jul 30 03:51:36 2005) seems to have Bleach 1 (manga) in stock, although shipping costs for just one thing might be troublesome. They have weekly sales based on manufacturer for typically 30-40% off, plus 10% for members of their Got Anime club ($12/year). I've been quite happy with service from them.

Amazon has it (and the $80 for a year of 2-day shipping for everything is quite a bargain, eventually), or if you don't like Amazon, perhaps Barnes & Noble or Borders has it either online or in their stores?

You're welcome to borrow mine when I get back, although I understand that's not at all the same thing as owning the entire series.

Does The Comics Journal ever like anything?

Re: Mmmm, Bleach by Trip (Sat Jul 30 22:54:03 2005)

Eventually I will build up a list of enough things I want to buy that it will be worthwhile to order from B&N or somewhere and screw my local stores.

The Comics Journal seemed to like lots of things, not all of which I liked. (Hot Gimmick? Bleah.) They are critical in the analytical sense, not in the hating-things sense.

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26 July 2005 - Tuesday

Taos, small amount of progress. The person I need to talk to is back from being sick for about four days, and says that the magic 8-ball is favorable about my being pimped back to Google, although she needs to confirm it. I will cut her some slack, because she still looks dreadful.

* * *

Tonight we started Full Metal Alchemist at Tuesday Night Anime. Everyone who showed up (not Earl, because he is frantically packing for Iceland and Glasgow) has at least read the manga, though, so there was not much squacking.

I was accused of horrible anime-related cruelty for only showing the penultimate episode of Saikano, so I feel that I am living up to Ray's legacy.

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25 July 2005 - Monday

Taos, no dice.

* * *

Gave up on UPS ever delivering my copy of the new Harry Potter and bought the damn thing locally.

* * *

More Utena! Ayse was still so tired from teaching an entire IMPACT class in one weekend that she forgot the DVD and we had to send Ken back to fetch it (I feel kind of guilty for volunteering him, but it would have taken a lot longer if I had gone back for it!). We have gotten to the Cosmic Justice in the Form of Elephants (good band name) and Tsuwabuki.

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24 July 2005 - Sunday

Today's reading: We Few (David Weber, John Ringo), cheesy military SF. If you liked March Upcountry, March to the Sea, and March to the Stars, you'll probably like this one. If you have much in the way of taste, you probably won't.

In the afternoon, Marith and I went to the coffeehouse. In a feeble attempt to get exercise, I walked home.

Nothing really happened this evening, except hanging out on Too and talking. Gretchen and Chris were both there, so it was almost like old times, before people got lives and stuff.

* * *

What I should have done today was go to Rachel's birthday party, which turns out to not be next weekend after all. Oops.

Make a comment!

23 July 2005 - Saturday

Reading this article on The 20' By 20' Room has at least given me a name for what Lovecraft Country is lacking. Sadly, that doesn't count as progress toward getting one. I'm pretty sure I want some sort of limited competition, both because of Neel Krishnaswami's thoughts on sports manga, and to provide focus. It needs to be a fairly complex competition, though, and I'm not sure what has enough scope for PC action without losing focus or being the wrong sort of goofy.

* * *

Still thinking about the four fundamental PC actions (learn, influence, clobber, and misc), but I'm not sure how to quantify information for the first one. Possibly I should take a leaf from Neel Krishnaswami's World of K3wlness, and have all attempts to gather information succeed, with the dice only determining the amount of doom incurred as a side effect.

Possibly that should be the case for all four action types? The variables in the outcome would be what/how much you have to sacrifice, and how much of it you know about when deciding whether to do this thing. The ideal outcome would be that you don't incur any additional doom (beyond opportunity cost of the time) and you know this ahead of time. The worst would be that you think there's no additional doom, but actually there is, and there's a lot of it.

I think this leads to the GM having to make all rolls, which might not be ideal. On the other hand, it's a fairly abstract mechanic, so there wouldn't be as many rolls as there might be in another system. On a third grasping appendage, I think a concrete system is better for a humor game, in that it doesn't distance players as much from being IC. On another branch of that same appendage, making up new systems just because you can is morally dubious. Possibly this means I should quit wanking and use TFOS for Lovecraft Country.

* * *

In a (probably futile) attempt to pretend I'm a writer, I tried working out the scene list for the story I've been threatening to write for years and years, because I actually know how it ends. Then I found a scene list/outline I did a few years ago. Fortunately the plot is essentially the same, so I don't need to worry that my memory is completely shot, but the previous version has more character, more romance, and more ninjas (these three things being not unrelated). I think that's all extraneous to the basic story, but possibly subplots are good? I'm not sure there's enough story to make more than a short story, though, so possibly subplots are bad?

* * *

The summary of The Island made it sound like a two-hour commercial for the Bush regime's jihad against biotechnology, so I went to see War of the Worlds instead. It was okay, although it would have been better if the main characters weren't such dumbasses. I mean, sure, it's supposed to be the story of some poor schmoes trampled beneath the metal feet of alien doom, but it would be nice to think that ordinary people have some hope of not being lame! I also don't think I liked the way they handled the aliens' appearance. They should have stuck to drop capsules.

* * *

Because the bus stops running at a stupidly early hour on Saturday, I had to walk home from the theater. It wasn't a ridiculous walk, but it was pretty long, and the local G-type star emitted radiation viciously, so I was not happy to realize upon getting home that I had nothing in the apartment I wanted to eat and that the grocery store closed in half an hour. I gritted my mandibles and went shopping, though, and made it with three or four whole minutes to spare. I don't know how much exercise that counted for, but I certainly sweated enough for a major workout!

* * *

Marith came to watch more Saiyuki. We got to find out a little about the 500-years-previous incarnations of the main characters, which had been hinted about but not explained at all. They were both the same and not the same, which was good.

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22 July 2005 - Friday

I didn't bother to travel an hour to an hour and a half each way to the Taos office in hopes of getting five minutes of someone's time today. Instead I sent email, which got no response.

* * *

Either the gaming industry has failed me yet again, or Gamescape isn't really getting in new stuff any more. They said they would be getting new stuff up until they close, but maybe they changed their mind.

* * *

Ayse's class seems to have gone well for the first day, despite an annoying incident or two! Ken had to flee to vampiregame, but Ayse retained enough consciousness to watch three episodes of Sailor Moon R before throwing us out. First appearance of Chibi-Usa, who is Evil!

* * *

Tenjho Tenge seems to be in the same genre as Real Bout High School (manga version) or Ikki Tousen: high school martial arts and fan service. I'm not sure if I like it enough to get another disc.

* * *

Nameless Magery is pretty good all the way through, and the protagonist keeps her thumbs! Also it seems to have a similar flavor to the Ivory books by Doris Egan, so I must foist it off on Ayse.

Make a comment!

21 July 2005 - Thursday

Bah. Got in to Taos, doinked around looking for the person I need to talk to for a couple of hours, finally asked someone and found she's out sick. Bah!

* * *

Plan to have coffee with Ayse fell through because she had to scurry around preparing to teach IMPACT tomorrow. Ganbatte, Super Instructor Ayse-chan!

* * *

Marith was too flat to come watch more Saiyuki, so I watched the next three episodes of Princess Tutu. Still surreal, still not as brain-hurting as Utena. I wonder if I'm failing to see something in Princess Tutu that other people see, (perhaps due to having seen only five episodes), or see more in Utena than other people see (whether it's there or not).

I agree with Chris's comment about the poor translation choice, but on the other hand, the thing it's a spoiler for is given away in the sleeve blurb on the Greencine disc I have, which presumably is copied from the packaging of the commercial release.

* * *

Let me quote the bit of Nameless Magery (Delia Marshall Turner) that Chris quoted to get me to buy it:

As soon as my thumbs were tied, my captor said something incomprehensible in an admirable voice, put his hands on my shoulders, swung me around, and propelled me back the way we'd come. As I staggered ahead of him, guided by brisk but not unkind shoves, I reflected that there was nothing like complete calamity to take one's mind off the daily grind of starving to death in an inadequately rat-infested wilderness.

See? How could you not buy it?

Make a comment!

20 July 2005 - Wednesday

Comics! Not very many comics, though.

* * *

No employment for me today. I will return tomorrow to see if the labors of the Taosites have borne fruit.

* * *

For no readily apparent reason, I have reread Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary (Pamela Dean). I liked it better this time around, possibly because I was expecting the amount of plot that was actually there. Now I want to read the further adventures of Gentian. Or Rosemary. But probably not Dominic.

I like how much was not said, or not spazzed over, where in another book there would have been much, "You mean-- !!" from an idiot and/or monkey.

* * *

I am saddened by Yotsuba&!, which although cute is not as entertaining as Azumanga Daioh. Possibly the four-panel strip is Kiyohiko Azuma's natural medium.

* * *

I should be writing a new chapter of The Transmundane, but I'm not sure exactly what should happen next, and anyway, after reading JG&R I know that I should never write anything with teenagers in it ever again.

* * *

Other Chris didn't show up for Dragonblooded, but everyone else did, so we explored the Apartment Complex of the Ancients and squished some Anathema-spawn.

* * *

Episode two of Princess Tutu! It still doesn't have the same kind of complex surreality as Utena, but... Anteaterina?!?!

Make a comment!

19 July 2005 - Tuesday

Today, I did get up and go in to Taos. Alas, after several hours it was revealed that no one knows what's going on, or at least the person who got back from a week's vacation today doesn't.

* * *

The Backhoe of Love.

* * *

Finally, We have finished Ai Yori Aoshi, so marith will be happy. Next week, Full Metal Alchemist!

Only two more episodes for Saikano to destroy the world!

* * *

Because the bonus episode of AYA was only about five minutes long, I watched the first episode of Princess Tutu. It is only slightly brain-hurting so far, but I can see the potential for much cerebral explosioning in the future.

Backhoe of Love by Jeremy (Wed Jul 20 23:29:34 2005)

Yesterday a backhoe I'd never seen before demolished the house next door. It seemed so brutishly powerful, I was unnerved. Today it was back, grunting and smoking over the remains, like some callous, unfeeling machine shattering our neighbors's aspirations along with their foundations.

How was I to know? If it comes back again tomorrow, I will apologize whole-heartedly and invite it for tea.

Re: Backhoe of Love by Trip (Thu Jul 21 13:01:43 2005)

Be sure you don't get its hopes up, though. There is nothing sadder than a backhoe expiring of a broken heart.

Re: Backhoe of Love by Jeremy (Thu Jul 21 17:07:35 2005)

Miriam's in primary ballet now, btw, and very much enjoys this video.

Re: Backhoe of Love by Trip (Thu Jul 21 18:54:23 2005)

Oh good! Does she want to grow up to be a backhoe now?

Re: Backhoe of Love by Jeremy (Sat Jul 23 08:23:22 2005)

When the backhoe first showed up (it sat innocently on the lawn (the whole lawn) for several days - now I know to grab the kids and run if one squats on our driveway), I informed Miriam that I was pulling her out of first grade and sending her to a school for heavy equipment operators. She objected rather strenuously.

On the other hand, she regards tractors, et al., quite favorably as a result of early exposure to Bob the Builder.

So, maybe!

Make a comment!

18 July 2005 - Monday

I meant to get up and go in to Taos today, but staying up until 2 reading To Crush the Moon (Wil McCarthy) sort of put a damper on that. Instead I uh something. Flopped around answering mail from Graydon (!), I think. Oh, and rereading The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove (Christopher Moore) because I couldn't find Fire & Hemlock (Diana Wynne Jones). No, that doesn't necessarily make any more sense to me than to you.

* * *

Ah, there's Fire and Hemlock! And it's still good!

* * *

Bah. Stupid UPS hasn't delivered my Harry Potter book yet.

Make a comment!

17 July 2005 - Sunday

No Red Room, because someone is dead or out of town or something. I forget the details, but we haven't been able to schedule a session for before the end of July. We haven't tried to schedule for August yet, so we don't know what our doom there is, but I'm sure it's huge and throbbing.

Marith and I went to see the new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie, starring Johnny Depp and his toothmarks all over the scenery. I haven't seen the previous one with Gene Wilder, so I can't compare, but this one was pretty creepy except for the saccharine "family" episodes. Marith's theory is that just before release, some producer said, "This is supposed to be a family movie! Where's the family? Put more family in!".

* * *

Ayse and Ken lured us over to watch them eat dinner in front of us, but they did provide some Yes Minister for distraction. Then Marith and Ayse talked about Utena for a long time and I interjected unhelpful comments.

* * *

Books read today:

  • Crucible (Nancy Kress): Sequel to Crossfire, with extra bad guys to make things more complicated. The way the bad guys go about things could be read as a commentary on modern politics, but probably isn't, really, no matter what the neo-con pundits would say.
  • The Katurran Odyssey (Terryl Whitlatch and David Michael Wieger): Picture book about a young lemur who is exiled from his home and has travel across a world of sapient animals. The pictures are pretty, but the rabidly anti-science, pro-religion, anti-civilization, pro-back-to-the-cave text is less so.
  • Headcrash (Bruce Bethke): Terribly dated (it takes place in the far-flung, virtual-reality-intensive future of... 2005) but still quite funny cyberpunk spoof.

comments by marith (Tue Jul 19 06:03:52 2005)

Your comments were very helpful! Also, "Akio's American Cafe" is all your fault. No dodging the blame.

Re: comments by Trip (Tue Jul 19 10:25:21 2005)

Okay, okay, I have own up to inventing the phrase "Akio's Cafe Americaine". But that's as far as I'll go!

Make a comment!

16 July 2005 - Saturday

About all I did today was read manga and go to the coffeehouse with Marith. Oh, and we watched the first disc (of two) of the Rurouni Kenshin OAVs, which are set before the TV series. The doom is not here yet, but we can see it approaching like a big honkin' truck.

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15 July 2005 - Friday

This morning I read Thraxas and the Sorcerers (Martin Scott), which is in pretty much the same genre as Glen Cook's Garrett books (the Adjective-Metal-Noun ones) but with a more Ancient-Romanesque setting. It turns out to be the Nth of a series, but pretty well self-contained. The backstory of some of the characters is referred to, but isn't necessary for the plot.

* * *

Friday again. Well, next week the Taos person will be back and I can try to make her get me a new assignment.

* * *

All three of my Greencine discs are ones that I got on Marith's behalf, so I made her come over and watch at least one of them. She picked disc 9 of Saiyuki. Ninja monkeys, ATTACK!

* * *

Finally finished the second volume of Jim Butcher's "Codex Alera" series, Academ's Fury. Our Hero still kicks butt without magical powers, and we get to see more of the strange things that have washed up on this world besides the Lost Romans and their Pokémon.

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14 July 2005 - Thursday

Today I figured out how to use iDVD plus a couple of things downloaded off the web (3ivx D4 and DivX Doctor II) to convert .avi files into .mov files and burn them to DVD. Sadly, this involved going outside (to get the blank DVD-Rs). Looks like another bumper crop of thermions this year.

Now I have a DVD of Full Metal Alchemist episodes 13-17! It plays in my DVD player! It's a little jerky on pans, but not bad for a multiply-converted fansub!

I'd say, "In your face, MPAA!" except that I'm planning to buy the licensed DVDs as they become available anyway. I'm such a failure as a copyright pirate.

* * *

Since all three of my Greencine discs are ones I got for Marith, I made her come over and watch one of them. The Saiyuki anime is not following the manga very closely, but on the hand, it has Attack of the Ninja Monkeys!

* * *

Thinking more about the idea of players being able to choose what's important to their characters, I think I prefer the points gained from choosable things to be temporary advantage points (Fortune dice, karma, whatever you want to call them). Points for permanent improvement should be separate, and be awarded equally to everyone. Someone who cleverly plays up his character bits to get more karma will still reap the rewards compared to one who doesn't, but this way the difference in effectiveness will be about constant and can be made up by the other player improving his gaming skills, instead of being a horrible positive feedback loop of doom.

Er, not that I'm fit to play in a game with actual characterization, never mind run one, but whatever.

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13 July 2005 - Wednesday

Clinton R Nixon, the freak responsible for Donjon, has decided to fix d20, one bit at a time. The first Sweet20 module is a new experience system, which is pretty much ported straight from The Shadow of Yesterday. It's very not D&D, but I think it should work okay. Magic item creation (and the few spells with XP costs) would need to be patched, but it would be easy enough to give every spellcaster magic points equal to 50 × new character every time she levels, which substitute for XP for all magic purposes.

Anyway, I really like the idea of each player choosing what's important to his own character, and I think this is a more interesting way of doing it than awarding points for disads up front like Hero does.

* * *

FATE also lets players pick what's important to their characters, since characters get betterness points by having their aspects invoked against them.

* * *

I should probably have done laundry today. Instead, I played WoW, badly. I wish it were next week when I could usefully hassle Taos about getting me a contract.

* * *

Bernie appears to have dropped off the face of the earth, which leads directly to no Hounds of Balazar. Hmph. I shake my tiny fist at him!

Fortunately, I have backup fun tonight, which is going over to Cat & Earl's to watch some Revolutionary Girl Utena. I have seen it all the way through, but only once, so watching it again with extra geeking will be fun.

* * *

Watching Utena was in fact fun, especially since we have Marith and Ayse, squeeing fangirls of fictional analysis! Also, there was Monkey Bread, and Hyperoeniferous Plum Parfait!

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12 July 2005 - Tuesday

Today I went with Ayse to the coffeehouse and wrote a little tiny bit and saw some of her wedding pictures. Then I went home to let people in for Tuesday Night Anime. Then I played some WoW. Then I went to bed.

* * *

My next level monster in zangband is the Unicorn of Order, who seems to always be accompanied by his little buddy, the Destroyer. Woe, woe is me.

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11 July 2005 - Monday

I have no joke here, I just like saying, "Chocolate feet".

(Tien is such a freak.)

* * *

Al got an idea from or somewhere that is obviously bogus in respect to the real world, but seems like it would make a good bit for a fantasy setting. It goes like this (paraphrased): "Why were land animals in the past larger than they are now? Gravity must have been lighter then, which means the Earth must have been smaller! So the Earth has been growing, and we know this because there are these midocean ridges that produce more planet. QED."

* * *

There doesn't seem to be anything in my fridge that I want to eat. I guess I'll have to go somewhere and make people feed me while I read the second book in Jim Butcher's "Codex Alera" series.

* * *

Tried to play Tshenaly some more, but I still suck at WoW, even when you factor out the lameness of the swimming interface. Bah.

* * *

Hm, I seem to have stayed up until all hours playing WoW badly. I guess there will be no watching of anime tonight!

Make a comment!

10 July 2005 - Sunday

Sunday Sunday Sunday! MONSTERRR TRRR- No, wait, that's the InfernoKrusher version of this page.

I played a little WoW today, and got my Tauren warrior from 7th level up to 10th. It took surprisingly little time and I only died twice (both times when some stupid other monster pitched in to help its buddy). Raar!

* * *

So what are the fundamental tasks that PCs try to accomplish in a game? I can think of four:

  • Obtain Information (grill the suspect, investigate the scene of the crime, do research in the library, analyze the alien artifact, attempt to get the suave master villain to drop hints in casual conversation, etc)
  • Directly Modify Someone's Behavior (get a cop to not give you a ticket, persuade a patron to issue you a fission bomb, get out the vote, get a date, etc)
  • Get Past An Obstacle (climb a tree, sneak past a security camera, pass a note without the teacher seeing, break down a door, fix an airplane, etc)
  • Beat Someone Up (slay the dragon, fight off the ninja, win the football game, etc)

Anything else? If not, apparently an RPG needs four mechanics. They need to be symmetric, of course, so that other people can (try to) do these to the PCs.

I'm not sure where to go with this, mind you. I suppose the next step would be to figure out what possible outcomes each type of task can produce. I must meditate.

* * *

Sniff! No D&D tonight, because Ken doesn't feel up to running. I told him that if he feels guilty about this, it makes him a horrible person, but somehow I don't think that helped...

Instead, Marith brought over her DVD full of .avi files and after some doinking around (who would have guessed that you need the root password to install applications for the whole system?) we watched episodes 13-17 of Full Metal Alchemist on spore. A 12" screen works okay for one or two people, but if we want to show this at Tuesday Night Anime I need to either get an adaptor to convert spore's video output to TV input, or figure out how to convert .avi files to whateverthehell format regular DVDs use (MPEG2?) and get some blank DVDs to burn them onto.

FMA is still pretty good, although I am not a squeeing fangirl of angst like Marith. Perhaps there will be more trauma later.

Conflicts and Tasks by Carl (Tue Jul 12 23:04:57 2005)

Aren't those all "Overcome obstacles"? I'd even go so far as to perhaps suggest the core bits in an RPG are "Make decisions", "Overcome obstacles", and "Modify self" although possibly that last is subsumed in the first two. Dogs in the Vineyard has been a big recent influence in my thinking of gaming in terms of conflict resolution rather than task resolution. In particular, I heartily endorse getting rid of boring Spot checks, Idea checks, and dragging info out of NPCs through tedious grilling. Let the NPCs spill their guts! Down with mystery! Up with Dilemma! As always, I stand ready to run Dogs for anyone who wants to give it a try.

I do agree on the symmetry that all forms of conflict should use the same mechanics and the elegance of symmetry in letting NPCs do unto PCs what PCs do unto NPCs. Dogs has all that, in spades.

Tying all this into the InfernoKrusher Manifesto I leave to the imagination of gentle reader, noting in passing that Stross' Iron Sunrise is now out in paperback.

Re: Conflicts and Tasks by Trip (Wed Jul 13 00:04:10 2005)

It's not clear to me that the DitV mechanic is anything more than a very extended Win With Style roll. This is not to say that extreme abstraction is not appropriate for some games, but I cling to the outmoded and objectively wrong view that there might be more than one interesting way to game. Thus, all right-thinking people should ignore me and play DitV.

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9 July 2005 - Saturday

Marith and I went to the coffeehouse so she could do homework and I could um drink Sicilian smoothies and pretend to do something useful. Cat and Earl showed up so Marith and Cat could conduct some kind of sordid black-market origami deal, but that wasn't like doing homework, so Cat went home and Earl and I went to see Fantastic Four.

It didn't suck. Many of the other recent superhero movies have had better pacing, comic timing, villain motivation, and technobabble, but I don't feel that I was robbed of my ten bucks or two hours of life.

You could probably make a samurai drama about just Ben Grimm, with the whole duty vs love er "thing". (Sorry! Don't hit me! Not in the face! Not in the face!)

* * *

Huge amounts of zangband, although I also updated my resume and sent it to Rachel for Stanford jobs. Plus, I have defeated Artsi the Champion of Chaos and eleven archliches! And some other monsters of lesser standing.

* * *

More Farscape, which is still pretty good. I've gotten up to the first appearance of Chiana, who could be an interesting character but has such weird body language and mannerisms that I can't connect with her.

ben & chiana by kit! (Mon Jul 11 08:34:43 2005)

You could probably make a samurai drama about just Ben Grimm, with the whole duty vs love er "thing". (Sorry! Don't hit me! Not in the face! Not in the face!)

You're in luck. I'm giggling too much to hit you. :) Plus you're right, you could do a good samurai drama about him. Of course, then you probably end up with WOLVERINE VS. THE THING, and I'm not sure that'd be good...

Chiana, who could be an interesting character but has such weird body language and mannerisms that I can't connect with her.

Her body language and mannerisms never become less weird, I don't think, but you do get used to them, which helps with the connection thing. I'm pretty sure it was me adapting to her, not her changing her style.

You gotta give her chops for being alien, though.

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8 July 2005 - Friday

Friday Friday Friday! Oh, wait, I didn't have to go to work this week. But Friday means new stuff at Gamescape (possibly), and that's good, right?

* * *

Apparently this Friday also means another book from B&N! But nothing at Gamescape that is both new and interesting. I did pick up the D&D Ancient Egyptoid supplement, because hey, 20% off!

* * *

The first plot arc of Sailor Moon R has finished, and no one got killed! Plus, close-ups of Sailor Jupiter's breasts!

* * *

Ayse thinks I should get a kitten! Two kittens, really, so that they won't be lonely when I go to work. Er, if I ever do go to work again.

Given that I had like seven different cats when I was a kid and they all died (except the one who ran away and was never seen again), I'm not sure this is a good idea.

pets by marith (Sun Jul 10 11:09:53 2005)

Things that happened when you were young, especially if you weren't the only person around, do not mean you can't be a good kitten parent now.

(If they do, I should never be allowed to have any pet ever, after that thing with my hamster and the stairwell.)

Feline companions by Jeremy (Mon Jul 11 22:49:26 2005)

Whatever you do, don't get cats. Cats get old and ornery and incontinent and pee on the couch. Repeatedly. With icky biological substances that smell bad and don't come out even if you use the expensive natural enzymatic super odor remover stuff.

No cats.

Next time, once Jake and Elwood have gone to the big litterbox in the sky, I'm getting kittens. Kittens are cute and fun and fuzzy and don't do nasty stuff like cats do. And you can rub them on your head and stick them to the bulletin board and they stick. It's really neat.

Kittens. Yeah. Next time for sure.

Re: Feline Companions by Trip (Mon Jul 11 23:21:34 2005)

There's definitely a market for kittens that grow up to be dogs. Minions, get to work!

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7 July 2005 - Thursday

What did I do today? Got comics, did laundry, uh...

Lame parasite!

* * *

Tonight's DVD: Shaun of the Dead. It was actually pretty funny (although also gory), and although it was about people as lame as I am, or even more so, it was not the sort of embarrassment humor that really annoys me.

Almost everybody you wish would get eaten by a zombie, does!

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6 July 2005 - Wednesday

I didn't get up at a truly reasonable hour, but I did eventually go into Taos to make big pleading eyes at account managers and also to get my stuff from Google. My fan wasn't there, and no one seems to know where it might have gone astray, but the big pleading eyes worked pretty well. See, it turns out that only Google as a corporation thinks I'm too stupid; the people who actually worked with me thought I was good. So, the account manager who deals with Google is now thinking she might be able to get my old Google manager to give me a recommendation when she tries to pimp me to a different group within Google.

Wacky, yet reassuring.

* * *

Woot! New Jim Butcher book! Also, Accelerando on dead trees!

* * *

When I got to Ken & Ayse's for Dragonblooded, there were EVEN MORE books waiting for me, because my order from B&N (which is not as Bush-supportingly evil as Amazon) had been delivered to Ayse, who is home during the day. (Okay, so am I, now, but I didn't know that when I placed the order!) Muahahahaha!

Mike and That Other Chris both bailed on us for silly reasons like real life, but we gamed anyway! Our characters reached the City of Ph4t L3wts, found a way in, and were ambushed by death cultists, so it was a pretty good session.

* * *

More Farscape, with varying levels of SFness. The second episode on this disc in particular was kind of ST:TOSy.

hiring practices by gregbo (Sat Jul 9 20:56:27 2005)

I find Google's hiring practices odd. Why would they turn down someone who was arguably getting the job done? It seems as if they place more value on how well someone does on some interview or test than what someone demonstrates on the job. The criteria for hiring should reasonably reflect actual job expectations, IMO.

Also, I find it odd that you couldn't stay with your original Google group as a Taos contractor, seeing as people liked your work and had more than enough for you to do.

Re: hiring practices by Trip (Sat Jul 9 22:24:09 2005)

Google has this thing about only hiring the very best of the very very best. As I understand it, this means that if anyone, anywhere in the company, won't sign in blood that you're the best thing since sliced bread, you don't get hired.

I think the bit where they fling people out the door immediately upon not hiring them is a Sorbanes-Oxley thing. Security, or insecurity, or something.

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5 July 2005 - Tuesday

Still kind of lame and stupid, and since there's no gaming I have no reason to get up in the morning.

* * *

Eventually I went to Gamescape (which is CLOSING! in August, so I will have no local game store at all!) to see if anything that I hadn't bought at full price was more appealing at 20% off, but nothing was. (One D&D book had catpeople, but only a couple of pages about them, and I can summarize that: +4 Dex, +2 Cha, 40' base move, low-light vision, +2 Listen, +2 Move Silently, +1 natural armor, level adjustment +1.)

* * *

Yay Tuesday Night Anime!

Soon we will need to select new serieses. The suggestions so far are Earth Maiden Arjuna (13 episodes) and Fruits Basket (26 episodes).

* * *

Slimy parasite that I am, I remained lethargic in front of the TV while it showed me the first disc of Shingu: Secret of the Stellar War. Although technically about alien invasions, so far it seems to mostly be about teenagers with psionic powers. It reminds me a little of both Shrine of the Morning Mist and Neo Ranga.

Furuba! by Carl (Thu Jul 7 20:22:23 2005)

I highly recommend Fruits Basket! I haven't seen Arjuna so have no opinion. Other recommendations: His & Her Circumstances, and if you don't mind that they're not all out yet, and have a lot of combat in them, Otogi Zoshi and Shura no Toki. I like Shingu very much; volume 3 comes out 7/26 and 4 on 9/27. Have you already shown Kurogane Communications, a cheerful series about the last girl on earth and her robot pals? If not, I recommend that, too. I didn't particularly care for Paranoia Agent but those that loved Serial Experiments Lain may like it more than I did.

Re: Furuba! by Trip (Thu Jul 7 21:38:35 2005)

It's true, I could show His & Her Circumstances! I don't know if Dave would go into convulsions because he's already read the manga, though.

I watched Kurogane Communications, but I'm not sure I liked it enough to buy it, and I don't think trying to get Greencine to deliver things on the TNA schedule would really work.

The first disc of Paranoia Agent was bizarre but might have been going somewhere. I should check out the second disc.

If disc 4 is the end of Shingu, then we might watch it later, but if it's only four discs, it's not long enough to start now.

You know, you could come to TNA! Although I understand if there's this inconvenient body of water in the way, or if you've already seen everything. :)

Kurogane Communications by Dave (Fri Jul 8 10:57:51 2005)

I actually picked this up, after seeing Carl recommend it. It was okay, but I never got around to finishing it.

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4 July 2005 - Monday

Everyone was still around this morning, so we played...

Amazon Quintet of Justice Xa: "Druid King Drew"

Since the dragon no longer seems like an immediately soluable problem, the Amazons decide to apologize profusely to the desert nomads of Karal and continue the diplomatic part of their mission in the distant land of Nööl.

Getting to Nööl is something of a difficulty, but Marika has been there before, and her contacts with the caraveneers lead to an enterprising gentleman who is willing to give Amaryllis the name and description of his agent in Nööl's capital Newburg if the Quintet will take along a few cubic yards of his goods when they teleport there. He also provides the handy information that the Druid King of Nööl likes exotic plants, but that the king's knowledge should not be insulted by giving him instructions on their care. (Servants, on the other hand...)

It turns out that Connor and his party are also in town, and Amaryllis spends a few evenings plying him with drink, but only gets a couple of scrolls with the forcecage spell that she thinks will enable the Amazons to defeat the blue dragon. Furthermore, Connor gets the outline of her dragon-killing plan from her, and may take his group to kill the dragon first. Bah!

While the other Amazons oversee the loading of fresh oysters and dried fish into their pocket dimension, Amaryllis and Alyra visit Karal and Pelagos to obtain some exciting new plants for King Drew's collection.

The merchant's agent in Newburg is quite surprised to find strange people in his office who were in Vikjor earlier that morning, but has no objection to the huge amount of money he's about to be able to collect a commission on, and quickly arranges an audience with the king.

While seeing the sights and feeling out the local situation, Our Heroines learn that it's just as well they came by magic, since someone or something has been destroying caravans on the way to Nööl. One caravan was found as only a burned-out ruin, and at least one other has vanished without a trace. Investigation will have to wait, however, because their audience is that afternoon.

King Drew is impressed by the Amazons' explanation of the necessity of saving the world, but Nööl only takes action according to a majority vote of the eight members of the Royal Council. He invites the Quintet to present their case to the Councillors individually, which they do. The three good Councillors are of course in favor of saving the world, but the three evil ones apparently think they can do better for themselves by sucking up to the Dead God. The two neutral councillors are officially non-comittal, but one, swayed by Amaryllis's charms, admits that someone else has been making the Councillors offers they might not be able to refuse.

On the way back from her dinner with the neutral Councillor, Amaryllis sees a familiar figure entering the temple of the god of tyranny: the evil monk she once went on a date with.

* * *

We broke there so that Ken and Dave and Ayse could make it to Berkeley for the Independence Day barbecue, and since the traffic reports looked auspicious, Marith and I skedaddled toward Mountain View.

* * *

Splut! Tired parasite.

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3 July 2005 - Sunday

Harold and Chris Zable (!) arrived in the late morning, bearing European gifts for all! In Amsterdam, they found me a plush tapeworm. The box says, in part,

Here is the girl with small friends of life present for always. Some irritation she finds with them, but much fun and love is to be shared!

Tickles Tapeworm is a funny friend.
He is always making jokes to tell.
He lives in Holly's tummy and loves good food.

There is also a drawing of the little girl surrounded by her friends Tickles Tapeworm, Dig Dig Head Louse, Zzeezz Bed Bug, and Blinky Eyelash Mite.

This is by far the most disturbing present I have ever received. By far.

* * *

Amazon Quintet of Justice IXd: "Look! An Invisible Dragon!"

Finally, the plan is put into action! Aurmvoris leaps upon the heiracosphinxes on guard at the first entrance to the dragon's lair and rends them limb from evil limb! A couple more sphinxes emerge from the cave, but quickly flee! On to the next entrance!

As Aurmvoris attacks the sphinxes there, reinforcements boil out of the previous cave mouth. The Quintet loose a great many arrows at them, but they stick to their task and pile onto Aurmvoris. This isn't too bad until the half-dragon hieracosphinx, Junior, appears and joins in.

A barrage of spells and arrows puts the flock to flight, and Aurmvoris chases them back toword the first entrance. In the meantime, the Quintet have a bigger problem to deal with, as the blue dragon attacks from surprise with a bolt of electrical death!

All three spell-casters work on taking down the dragon's enhancement spells while Alyra and Marika try to fill it full of arrows, but it turns invisible again and circles around to attack from another unexpected direction.

Since the dragon moves so fast that no method of detecting invisible creatures can detect it far enough away to make a difference, and it apparently is using magic items to protect it from Amaryllis's best long-ranged spell, the Amazons decide to sound the retreat for the nonce. Aurmvoris needs to be rescued from Junior and the sphinxes, who have ganged up on him, but this is not difficult for the Amazons, and they even manage to put down Junior for good before leaving the field of battle.

* * *

Marith was falling asleep, and everyone was disheartened, so we broke there to consider if there was a better plan than "level up before coming back". Of course, with the tiny amount of experience the book said Junior was worth, that could take a while.

* * *

As required in the first week of July, there was Grilled Food. Yum!

While flopping around after dinner, Ayse and I met a cat of pretty high quality, who had orange tabby stripes over a black undercoat, and was as friendly as one could ask of a cat. He liked the Pettersons's empty flower bed a lot, but could be coaxed out with a straw to chase or the offer of some petting. Kawaii!

* * *

Forcecage. Forcecage is the spell to use against this dragon, because the target gets no saving throw and no spell resistance, and we're pretty sure the dragon isn't powerful enough to teleport out.


Tickles! by Angie (Wed Jul 6 21:07:35 2005)

Archie McPhee has an enormous display of the Parasite Pals in their store (though no plush!), and I just love them. I gleefully whip out my Tickles tape measure at every chance I get, usually eliciting "ewwwwwww"s from most people. o.O

Re: Tickles! by Trip (Thu Jul 7 01:04:26 2005)

So. Freaky.

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2 July 2005 - Saturday

No sooner had we dragged ourselves from our pits and fed upon the flesh of swine than Marith and Dave arrived, and then the Pettersons's soon-to-be-ex-neighbors Other Dave and Carrie descended upon us with cries of "Civ! Civ!". Advaced Civilization ensued.

At 22:00, we decided to count up points because Other Dave had to leave for LA at like 4:30 the next morning. Despite complaining bitterly about his oppression and doom in the midgame, Ken won by about 300 points. Despite being almost uncalamitied, and having 7-9 cities for most of the latter half of the game, I came in 8th of 9, about 1200 points behind the winner. The moral of this story is: Never show mercy to Ken!

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1 July 2005 - Friday

Today is the day of zooming! Because Marith and Dave have to work full days, but Ken has to work only a half day and Ayse and I are entities of leisure, we split into two groups and the non-fully-workful went up in the afternoon. We were not as expeditious as we might have been, but the library and bank and Dittmer's were all pillaged by 15:00 and away we zoomed!

Apparently we should have been expeditious, because the drive to Roseville took about 4 hours, instead of 2-2½. And did I mention that Ken & Ayse's car can't run the air conditioning while it's not moving?

Still, it was better to be hot and sweaty and frustrated with friends than not, and we talked about many things besides the stupidity of people stopping in the middle of the road we wanted to drive on. Apparently Mike Mittmann's D&D game has heroquesting, and roleplaying, and all that kind of stuff. Also, we are agreed that Cat is a babe.

I am so not qualified to play in any game ever, never mind run anything.

We got to the Pettersons's about 19:00, and were unable to prevent them from feeding us Thai food. After that was um I dunno. Lying around, just as though we were on vacation. I flipped through Al's copy of the DMG II, which was vaguely interesting but mostly served to make clear that D&D has no metasystem.

Also there was more of the feeding, which became rather a theme.

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