Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Only Three Years Later...

Okay so I've only let three years slip by without posting.

What has been happening? A lot. When last we left our intrepid blogger, he was waist deep in a tragic and often times frustrating divorce. Well that got finalized and "Crazy" is officially not my problem anymore. I had started a job, was finishing a movie, and trying to find some sort of balance in life. It took a fair bit of time, a lot of support from friends and family, but things did actually turn around.

Today:
Work!
Still have the same joby-job, which is interesting, challenging, and on every third Wednesday very rewarding.

Romance!
I met a girl, dated a girl, and married a girl and she is fantastic.

Hobby!
I ran a DnD 4e game for over two years with a new gaming group. I'm playing in a 5e game that succeeded that campaign. I have taken up playing Fantasy Flights X Wing, which our group has invested quite a bit into a fantastic fleet of ships. I'm back to painting miniatures (mostly my vast backlog of Reaper Bones and my share of the X Wing ships). Since my last post, I have reunited some of my college gaming group and fused them with my current gaming group for an Annual Epic Game! Year 1 (2013) was an eight hour session with some memorable moments and a lot of laughs. The group enjoyed the game some much that it was decided to have another game the following year. So in 2014, in lieu of a traditional bachelor party, I ran the Second Annual Epic Game. It was as much fun as the previous year, and I was almost foiled as the GM by a clever player who completely short circuited my final encounter (I had to improvise...quickly and fiercely). As of this post, I am less than one week out from the next game, and quite excited about the prospect.

Video Games!
They have re-surged in my life. I've jumped on the Minecraft bandwagon, playing and hosting multiple servers over the last three years. I dig Titanfall, am so looking forward to Battlefront 3, and The Division later this year.

Social Media!
I've reduced my Facebook presence (there has been a lot of weird developments in FB-land recently), I am using G+ more (although it my be dying off), Twitter is fun, obviously I'm doing a terrible job blogging, but I've also launched a YouTube channel about gaming. It brings together my friends who love video games, and my passion for creating content (Bad Blogger!!!). So I'll leave you with some Digital MEs! Enjoy...

Illustration by +Joel Poirier
Gaming Avatar



Gaming Avatar

That's all for now...talk soon?
Mike

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Circus of Life...


I really need to have this tattooed on my forearm:  “Bad Blogger”.  Speaking of which...have a seriously strong idea for my tattoo.  But I'll post pictures when I have it done.

Oh well, so what’s new?  Well a lot and then again not so much.  Fun things happening first:  Caught up with Game of Thrones Season 1 &2…4 beheadings out of 5!  Tons going on…in the plot and loads of fun.  Am catching up on the reimagining of Battlestar Galatica, I give it 3.5 cylons out of 5, but I’m only midway thru season 2.  Oh and I picked up on clearance Defying Gravity see my post here about it!
And work is awesome!  Got to see our video wall at Laurie Children’s Hospital up and running before the hospital was open to the public.  Last week, spent the week out in Las Vegas for Infocomm, so good to catch up with former co-workers and industry friends…it’s been too long.  Additionally, I did get to catch a Cirque show while I was out there…and WOW! Pretty amazing.  I am also sucking on the company’s bowling team, but I’ll get better.  Nice getting out with the guys without the pressure of phone/deadlines! 

Oh…and big announcement about VOC coming soon…two actually!

Let’s see…heading out to GenCon this summer and probably going to Seattle to visit the Brooks family…maybe over Labor Day.

Liking the direction of DnDNext…fun fast play.

In other news…still have to deal with Crazy and the clan of freaks.  They are over the top, but hopefully that will be resolved soon.

Well that’s all I got for right now…

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Where does the time go?

Seriously, again...bad blogger!

Well two blog posts in one day...that's not a bad thing right?  Wait, what?  You didn't see the other one...whew....that meant that you weren't one of those flamers howling for my blood and more information on Victims of Circumstance!

Yes!  VOC is in post production right now and it's almost completed.  I cannot believe how much time and energy has been sunk into this project.  It's kind of a relief to actually see it all put together.  Actually, two days from now I am going to review it with Paul before we send it off into the world to get some audio scrubbed and cleaned and packaged up all purty like.

In other random news...most of you know that I was hospitalized after a cat bit thru my index fingernail...and yes that hurt.   Feeling much better now thanks!

I have a couple more Jester's Book entries to type up and get posted, but that's going well too.  I have recently gotten into George Martin's Game of Thrones on HBO and I suspect that's going to color my Jester's stuff with all the dark political intrigue.

Oh...and since almost no one reads this...I can let you in on a little secret:  We are working on two more projects for production.

That's all for today!  Had a great Leap Day and St. Patrick's Day!

Have a wonderful Tax Day!

Mike

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A New Year...

Alrighty then...lots being written and blogged about and I almost forgot about this blog.  I am such a bad personal blogger.

Well it's January, a new year has dawned and it's about to snow (maybe).  I am echoing my fellow blogger in saying that there is much changed.  Old loves are no longer even friendly, new friends are becoming new loves.  Old friends have reemerged and the foundations of our relationships are as strong as ever.

I find myself writing almost daily these days.  Not all of it is good stuff, but some of it is.  The Jester's blog (almost 15 years old now) has a new "book" and several new chapters.  Also, I have added some other lost or forgotten chapters.  So there is a lot of new content on Jester's Book blog.

In recent D&D news, WotC announced that they are working on a new edition.  There is a crap load of excellent coverage on this topic and my two cents aren't going to add anything to the conversation.  Check out Rob's blog or the Lord's of Tyr site for more information.

Not a super exciting post, but it's something better than nothin'

Mike

Monday, December 5, 2011

And here we go...

So it's been a little while since I've posted.  Funny.  I actually have been doing quite a bit of writing, just not here.

So I wanted to take a moment out and say "Hi".  Work is still busy.  VOC is still racing along...it has its own blog now, you should go check it out.  I'll wait.

Okay, what did you think, pretty cool, no?

Believe it or not...The Jester's Book has been in the blogosphere for almost 6 years, I just never published it.  It kind of hung out in virtual stasis.  Well earlier today, I was going to drop a note on there announcing some thoughts on writing more and somehow, like an old friend, an entire post got written.  I am really thrilled.  I looked back at the ending of Book 2 and realized that scarily...I had written in a gap of time.  I wasn't expecting the gap to be like 9 years...but there it is.  You can go read that now too.  I'm good.  Be here when you get back.

Awesome right?

There are quite a few other things that I plan on putting up here when the time is right.  I will probably fill pages...or drop off the face of the earth again and it will be years before I post again...but since this is my corner of the internet to vandalize...I will.

I can say the following:

I am older, wiser, more balanced then ever, more determined, more focused, and driven than I have been in 35 years.  I have a movie to make, a story to tell, a family to protect, and friends, good friends that I owe my life to.

That's all for now...talk soon?
Mike

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


All aspects of life are busy.  Literally everything is in 4th gear right now.  Why am I not stressed about it?

To the history books…work has exploded.  We have more then we have resources available.  We have re-branded our logo and website and that’s about to drop.  We are implementing new standards and operating procedures and there’s a little bit of growing pains.  But in this economy all of this is a blessing.  On the hobby side, Victims of Circumstance is hard charging for a screen near you!  I have lists of lists of things that still need to get done.  It is so exciting.  I just want to see the thing now!  We are some close to sitting in a theater, eating popcorn, laughing about how we met oh so long ago. 

So those two things consume about 90% of my time right now.  I am becoming well versed in legal documents and feel I can just about read them like plain text now.  I don’t know if that is a good thing or not.  My gaming has fallen off due to an unfortunate set of circumstances, I’m hopeful we get back on track in October.  I am out renewing old friendships that I let wither these past 12 years and developing new ones as I go along.  I am finding that I have a much better handle on who I am and what I want to do with my life.  Funny that it would take a series of life altering events to work that out.

Some things that I did not know about myself that I thought I did.
1.)     This may strike some longtime friends of mine as funny, but clearly God has a plan.
2.)    To quote Ronin “When there is doubt, there is no doubt.”  Trust my gut.
3.)    Opportunities are made not granted.
4.)    Try everything in your 20’s.  Leverage what you learned in your 30’s.
5.)    People don’t change.  Don’t try to change them.
6.)    Hope for the best, expect the worst, and you’ll land somewhere in the middle.
7.)    Look at things as though a child.  Innocent and clear.
8.)    Talent is undeniable.
9.)  Learn to identify unbalanced people early and minimize their influence in your life.

So I am wrapping up my little Hallmark greeting card post, but seriously.  What if you weren’t here tomorrow?  What can they say you did?  Who would miss you?  How did you make this world a better place?  I find myself reflecting on these thoughts.  Then I make a plan to get some things done.  If I were to die tomorrow, I know that I will be missed, that I left the world in a better place, and that I am accomplished.  This allows me to sleep at night.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Joy of 35...

On turning 35…

I thought I would be writing a very different post on turning 35.  It’s not the age mind you but the set of conditions that lead up to the day.
You see I should be dead by now.  But clearly I am not.  So I turn 35 this weekend.  My birthday routinely falls on or very near Labor Day weekend and this year it fell on Sunday, smack dab in the middle.  My weekend plans got totally rearranged on Friday.  So Saturday morning I set off from my apartment on what would become one of the most perfect 48+ hour periods of my life.  I saw old family, worked with new family, I saw old friends, I saw new friends, I talked to great friends, I heard from friends very far and very much missed.  I got fed, I got a little baked, a little burnt, a little pickled, and a little wet.  And no, I am not going to elaborate.  You’ll have to sort out which is which and in what order.  I have been blessed to have some many people reach out to me and their love and support is amazing.  So, a year ago I was very retrospective, this year I find myself focused squarely on the future. 

I am fortunate to have the people in my life that I have.  I am wiser now and can see the joy of removing the “crazy” from my life.  I am blessed to love the work that I do and be surrounded by innovative like-minded professionals.

So yesterday I turned 35.  I feel like I am 25 and have truly enjoyed this benchmark in life.  I cannot wait to post at 36.  Thank you everyone.  Words cannot convey the joy you’ve brought to my heart.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A TPK inspires me to do my homework.

Four different events have conspired to bring me to this blog post.
First of all, my usually gaming group (from whom I have been absent these many months) experienced an ATPK (Almost Total Party Kill). The DM graciously allowed the newest player’s character to escape unseen in the fog of battle.
Secondly, Heroes of the Shadowfell arrived on the bookshelves of my favorite hobby store and found its way into my hands.
Thirdly, I was listening to an old Podcast where we were discussing a training aid I used, my 4th Edition Class Matrix. To recap, I had to break down all of the classes into a matrix so I could visualize the roles and power sources of the party composition. In hindsight I guess I should have shared that our party was way too Striker heavy….oh wait, we knew that….probably the reason they are rolling up new characters. Oh well…
And fourthly, I (in my slightly anal retentive way) wanted to update the Class Matrix to add the new Shadow Power source material, which vexed me…because I was confused by several things. So I crack open Google Docs and open up my Class Matrix and start typing away. Then I jump over to the D&D Compendium just to check myself and the search result comes back with 60 class results. So I browse the list and immediately see that they count all of the Hybridizations as classes, so I discount those. Then I notice some name I did not recognize like, Mage, Scout, Hunter, Knight, Cavalier, Hexblade, Thief, and Warpriest. I started to discount them a sub builds or pre-generated solutions for the Essentials books. But then I checked them and started noticing that the sub builds of the Ranger, the Scout and Hunter did not fall into the Martial Striker box. The Scout leans in more of a Primal direction and the Hunter is not a Striker at all…it’s a Martial Controller. What the hell?
Brief aside here…I have actively campaigned for a Martial Controller and have built a few protypes….but for WotC to not only build one but then slip it in to a product I ignored is shocking!
So there you have it…the Matrix is full and pretty well balanced. There are some Role/Source intersections that are overpopulated but I suspect that is because they are iconic and the designers wanted everyone to have a taste of them. What have I learn from this? Well it reinforces my belief that 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons is a terminal edition for the brand. I believe that the Matrix of classes and power sources is an End of Life choice so that they can continue to add accessories without rebuilding the fundamental mechanics of the game. Also, when the Essentials Line was launched I was unclear about its intention and direction. I now believe that it is aptly named “Essentials” because it establishes iconic playable archtypes. Interestingly WotC was retconned the names of the base classes from PHB1. You can no longer play a "wizard", "rogue", "fighter", or "cleric". To see the new names, sign up for DDI and check it out!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Green Bee…..


What the hell? Okay so anyone following the trials and tribulations of The Green Hornet will know that it is a miracle that this movie ever got made. That being said, there is a ton of conflicting blog vomit on the subject. Being a movie consumer myself here is where I come down on the Green Hornet.

Overall this would have been a good, if forgettable summer blockbuster. I probably would have done pretty well too. I don’t know if it would have made enough to justify a sequel, but maybe. It really falls down in one area twice.

It is Seth Rogan’s take on Brit Reid. Brit is written as an idiot. Seriously think remake of Billy Madison, well not far off at least. He is a little kid trapped in a man’s body. Now that would be okay is that was the beginning of Brit development arc. Unfortunately, it isn’t. It is the beginning, middle and almost until the end, more like a short line then an arc. I have to say that I had no investment in Brit the character and grew more disappointed in Rogan as the movie wore on.

On the other hand, the visual style of the film I liked quite a lot. Also, Kato is far more interesting then previously described. I really like Jay Chou’s take on the valet/mechanic/body guard. I even liked the over the top villain of Chodnofsky. Straight out of the pages maniacal. And of course the gadgets were really fun. And yes there are a couple of laugh out loud moments, but all in all not enough to make this a successful movie. I would hope that if by some amazing feat a sequel does get green-lit that Rogan and company take a deeper look at Brit Reid’s motivations for being the Green Hornet.

Rogan phoned it in, but the rest of the gang are worth seeing.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Part time Sorceress, Full time married?


I will admit that my online presence has been lacking of late. I have practically de-Facebooked myself. A long time has past since I checked in on myspace. I feel that I have de-linked myself in. And all in all have not been very successful in updating this little piece of happiness. So would it does not come as a surprise that a friend announced her recent engagement on Facebook and I missed it.

So last night I had a couple of prime minutes when I should have been headed to my bed and instead decided to check in on all of my Facebook friends. I am cruising through my news feed and I catch this comment that read something like “Holy Crap! Hell just froze over!”. No, not really it was more along the lines of “Congrats, you two make a wonderful couple!” And who is this fortunate soul? None other then the Infamous author Shelly Mazzanoble. Those of you who frequent Barnes & Noble shoppers have probably ripped off one of her books.

Now Shelly is one of those people that you instantly like once you have talked to her for more than 18 seconds. But if you read her book or follow her blog you would think she is a complete nut. I will encapsulate the literary Shelly for you: A frantic, Hasbro employed vegan who has serious issues with both her mother and her cat (a battle which I fear she is losing on 2 fronts). Should you ever have an opportunity to interview her or hang out with her on a convention floor she is none of those things. I personally believe she leaves those neuroses in Washington State. She is sweet, remembers pretty much everything, generous with her time, engaging and smart as a tack. So I was thrilled when I heard she had found someone who was willing to do battle with her cat (and I presume Mother, but I could be wrong on that second account.)

Which leads me back to the beginning of my post, about her getting engaged and hearing about it belatedly through Facebook. It makes me wonder…what did we do before we posted our entire lives online and subjected ourselves to comment and criticism?

Congrats Shelly!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Now that’s a bitchin’ tent!


As I am an avid reader, it might surprise some of you out there that I have never read any of J.K. Rowlings’ Harry Potter series. (Stunned gasp…pregnant pause). Okay, now that we are over the shock of this post we can move on to the point. I am however, or more-so because of the above stated fact, a fan of the movies. The Potter films are an exercise in well-executed fantasy. I most recently saw the first half of the finale, the Deathly Hallows Part 1.

At this point I could launch into a sweeping review of the movie filled with spoilers and the like, but there are so many sites out there that can do it much better justice then I can. What I want to talk about is the totally sweet tent that Hermione has for camping. What looks to be a British campaign tent from about the 1870’s that sleeps two, is in fact a spatial rending deluxe multi-level home-away-from-home portable house on poles. I mean this set piece is huge and there are quite a few scenes set in it, from meals, to a brawl, to a dance hall moment of fancy. I could not help but think of how awesome it would be to have a tent like that.

I have some experience with tents. Ten years in Scouting will do that to you. I have slept in almost every style and make of a tent there is. I have survived blizzard conditions in a WWI era mountain tent (reversible brown/white, with sweet tube door you can pull in and tie closed), which turned out to be the warmest domicile I have ever had the pleasure to sleep in to the recreational family retreat (a nylon affair with “rooms” and enough space to sleep 10 with a “porch”) which had the added benefit of providing enough room to stand. Of the close to 300 tents I have slept in, nothing compares to the digs that Harry travels with in this movie.

I know most of you are heading out to see how the story begins to wrap up, but I implore you to keep an eye out for this tent. It really is a wonder.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Long Live Boris!


For those of you who do not know, I loved N64's Goldeneye. It is the granddaddy of the FPS, split screen, trash-talking smackdown that invaded my life for several years in the late 90's. We played every variable in the game. We played story mode, co-op mode, and vrs. mode. We played knives, handguns, rifles, automatics, mines, mines, and more mines...and when you thought you had had enough we played slap fights.

My group of friends played so much we ended up having to play round robin in brackets. There was even the famous "I have a friend who plays Goldeneye and he's probably as good as you" conversation. That led to a meeting, at which the ground rules were established as to who would be crowned the undying King of Goldeneye. The three round match was ultimately decided in a stunning fashion. Round One was a dead heat, 8 to 7 in automatics. Round 2 will go down in history as a clinic round. I mercilessly pounded him to a final score of 12-1 in handguns. (It worked out well that we had decided to set aside all house rules, including my own of No-Gun/No-Shoot.) Once he was put down, I hunted his spawn points and made short work of him, it was the most painful 5 minute round of his life. After that the third round I phoned in. Remote mines...I didn't even have to try. I may even have lost that round, taking a dive to prevent the sweep.

Well now it is 2010 and Nintendo announced that Goldeye makes its return to console life! At first I was thrilled..."Sweetassed! Goldeneye!" Then horror set in..."Oh, no! Rare isn't making it! Activision has the license and the fucked up Roge Agent!"

So here it is...I have laid my hands on a copy (rental!) and played through the introduction and I loved it! It is not exactly like the N64 days, but between the idyllic remembrances and the overall brilliance of the game at the time I do not believe any game will match those standards. What is does do is feels like Goldeneye! I can already see new epic firefights in the near future! Projectors and Wiis abounding! Smack talk and head shots are soon to be in my future!

I put out the call to Goldeneye fanatics everywhere! Suit Up! And long live Boris!

Now for my one complaint...no Hawaiian shirt. Crap! Well there it is, the only thing wrong with Goldeneye Wii 2010!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Finding art in 28 millimeters...


I have always been fascinated in miniatures. I remember my dad building a ship in a bottle, more specifically the Cutty Sark. He then built a 1:72 scale model a couple of years later. It was amazing to see the whole thing com together. Not unlike a jigsaw puzzle, starting with a picture and then taking individual components to create a perfect replica was something that imprinted on me.

Now this minor obsession has cropped up a few times in my life. When I was a preteen I started painting 25mm miniatures for a D&D game that I was a part of. Then in college I took great delight in building scale models of my set designs. Now here is where my Lilliputian fetish flared up a little bit. The requirement was to build the sets at a scale of 1/4" equals 1'. Not bad, a full sized set would be about 18 inches by 24 inches. When I heard that famed Yale professor and Broadway set designer, Ming Cho Lee preferred to work in 1/8th inch scale I could not help myself. My next half dozen projects were done that size. My fingers and eye sight still curse the day I sat in that 400 level Scenic Design class and heard Mr. Lee's name.

Most recently, I find myself enamored with 25mm terrain and props for tabletop wargaming and D&D. In my scouring of the internet I stumbled upon a fallow website with the most amazing scale props.
Hand crafted by a mad Dutchman named Gerard Boom, I was instantly mesmerized by his attention to detail. I did not see any recent updates to his site (the last having been almost 3 years earlier), I clicked on his email link and sent off an inquiry about his status. This correspondence kicked off to date an 18 month discussion about the hobby of scale miniatures. We talk now, via Skype, fairly regularly and I have become almost evangelical in my attempts to introduce his products in as many people in the gaming community as possible.


I have decided that Gerard may be completely insane, but his work is truly inspired. He sculpts from the heart and paints with a clinical passion reserved for the masters. If only to reinforce my point, he has taken to creating cobblestone roads and sidewalks. After trying to sculpt a small sample and then repeat it over and over to create a large surface, he literally threw out the result because you could discern the repeated pattern in the cobblestones. The consequence was he carved every one of the more then 10,000 stones in his "cobblestone base plate". What scares me is that he carved them in less then two days! He has an amazing eye, and put out there a superior product! If you ever have any need for 25-28mm scale terrain, check out my facebook fan page.

The Idiocy of Modern EnterNewsment Broadcasts...


Well I have to apologize to my three readers out there, I have been swamped at home.

Rant of the day:

There is a "news" story going around that has so inflamed me that I have stopped watching those broadcasts altogether. On each of the big three networks, they opted to cover this non-story about a small town religious leader who has elected to burn (Nazi style) holy texts from another organized religion.

Now on the surface I support his right to burn these books, but I have to shake my head in disbelief that he would want to. In my humble opinion, this is a publicity stunt to raise monies by exploiting the emotional overreaction of the small minded. The fact that this moron can get on television for espousing bigoted concepts wrapped in faithful communication with his god is downright appalling to me. This is not news, this is emotional terrorism and hate speak. The best thing would be for this guy to not get another second of coverage from any media outlet!

I am equally horrified that our political leaders even give this guy any credibility by weighing in. Hillary Clinton props this guy up every time she comments on how poorly conceived his motivations are. And I heard General Petreaus voicing his concerns that this action will endanger the troops stationed in the Middle East. What a laughable statement! How about being moved into operational readiness in Afganistan and Iraq? I think putting them there is what places them in harm's way!

How can we, the United States of America, melting pot of the world, place of tolerance, continue if we fail to be balanced and moderate in our understanding of other languages, cultures, religious views, and customs? Now it is my belief, that America is in general a Centrist ideal based nation. So I also believe that extremists in any form will always be in the minority, but we cannot give that minority an unbalancing amount of leverage to move their agenda.


An Update:
Recently released on Der Spiegel, this same Florida moron was booted out of Germany by his previous congregation! Some members are still in therapy trying to rehabilitate from the "spiritual abuse" they suffered at his hands!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Title 34

I find myself in a reflective mood today.

The reason for this is I mark another year of life today and still it baffles me that I am alive. I know that may strike you as a peculiar thing to write, but if you interview any number of my friends you will find that I had a pretty solid feeling that I would not live to be this old.

There is not a hard and fast reason for this logic, I did not survive some horrible accident and I am not overcoming some genetic illness. I have just known that I would not live past the age of thirty. Now that might give some of you a chuckle, or it might just seem fatalistic...but it is what it is...a rock hard belief that 31 was an unreachable age for me.

Now that I am passing the age of thirty four, I am at a bit of a crossroads. Knowing that you are destined for a short life makes you extremely reckless with your life. But now that certainty is gone and I am left wondering what it is I am supposed to be doing.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Give me back some attack Options, please.


Just to give you a little background, I played D&D when I was a kid. I am a survivor of 1st and 2nd editions. I am now entrenched in a couple of 4th edition games and find myself fascinated by the dichotomy of the mechanics. Long gone are the 5/4 attacks and the improvised attacks that required DM rulings. Considering how many things that are available in the game, it strikes me as odd that there are not more "Minor Action" attacks built in. I bring this up because there are many times in combat that I am wanting to deliver a primary attack and slip in a secondary or tertiary attack for minion sweeping or damage multiplying. I find that the required Standard/Move/Minor structure is useful, but even with the ability to downgrade "superior" actions there are few direct damage dealing attacks that are classed as minors.

My hope is that Essentials will resolve some of this issues. Some of the preview materials indicate a differing mechanic for the martial classes which seems to follow along the lines of the psionic augment powers. I am hopeful that this opens up unarmed secondary attacks and shield based bashing attacks. These changes will add a different flavor to the hack and slash types the some of the other classes. I realize that it may seem like an oversimplification of the rules, but I am confident that these new mechanics can be implemented as a build type as opposed to rewriting the entire attack matrix already in place. Of course I could be completely wrong about this and Essentials will turn 4th Edition on its ear. Only time will tell.

5/64

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ramblings and a Reboot.

So over the summer I had this brilliant idea to inspire my friend to reboot his fallow blog. He had some really insightful posts about all things gaming and comic books. His blog approached a nearly epic level as he closed in on a post a day for a month. And then the universe conspired against him and his blog is now only spotted by the rare post. So I proposed to him to write a blog a day for a month. Actually as we are both computer geeks, I picked the nice round number of 64 posts in 30 days. That was about 5 weeks ago and we had agreed to some ground rules. So in that vein, here we go with post number 1 of 64. We have until midnight on September 30 to get a combined total of 64 posts up.

Do you think we can do it? Keep watching to find out. For my part, I will be blogging about game racaps, character histories, interesting news stories, and a short feature I have entitled "The Divorce of Sense". I know that may not be terribly interesting to most folks out there, but that is the great thing about having a corner of the internet to spew diarrhea of the keyboard.

To wit...Check in on aherotwiceamonth.com as well and keep us honest!

Well that is a pretty sorry post, as it does not meet the minimum word count that was prescribed. Now on to the filler:

I have recently discovered a television show that I somehow missed. Well not really I think it originally aired on Showtime and I am not vested in the premium channels. Six Feet Under is an interesting black comedy about a family who owns and operates a funeral home in California. Now, I normally would have skipped by this show completely, if I had not seen the majority of its cast in other projects which I enjoy immensely. Peter Krause plays the eldest brother and is now on Parenthood. Michael C. Hall plays the middle child and is eerily similar to his role as Dexter the serial killer. And finally, quite a split from her current role as a single mom on Brothers and Sisters I find Rachel Griffiths portrayal of the sex driven intellectual very appealing.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Despicable Me....

When you find the time check out Despicable Me. At the outset it seems like a corny villain flick, but it has a lot more heart then that.

It starts out introducing Gru our antihero protagonist. He clearly has some issues, which really appealed to me. As a flawed character he has issues with his dog, his mom, his neighbor, and the Bank (formerly Lehman Brothers). He needs to up his evil mojo to reclaim some of his self confidence.

We are also introduced to VECTOR!, the up and coming tween aged scourage of civilized society. As annoying as I found him, I did love his lair. Anyone with a shark tank in their place is okay with me!

Dr. Nefario is the bumbling version of James Bond’s “Q”. I think they could have written him a little bit differently, but his restricted screen time does not damage the overall story.

The orpahage girls are cute but a bit of a plot device to advance the conflict. But they do have a couple of good oneliners.

The caper is the impossible task of stealing the moon from orbit. All of this by itself would really have left me thinking that this movie is a bit on the lame side. And then I met Gru’s minions. They might look like pill shaped cyclopses, but they steal the show. A lot of sight gags for the kids and a couple for the parents, really made this movie for me. I actually think that the Minions could have their own show. And they might, if enough people go and see it. Not unlike the breakout stars of Madagasgar’s penguins, I hope to see the minions return to the screen soon!

3.5 Minions out of 5

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Network TV pisses me off Part 2

This whole thing about "Defying Gravity" really has left me in a tizzy.

My time is precious and television has to engage me. I look for smart dialog, interesting environments, clean effects, and strong casting. Clearly I am not cut out to be a television executive. Now I know that I do not actually have the knowledge required to run a television network, but seriously, how hard can it be? Maybe it is the need to placate the lowest common denominator in the audience.

Reflecting, I am moving farther and farther from network television offerings. I despise reality competitions, all daytime programming, and most formulaic sitcoms and dramas. I like thinking and being engaged in the shows that I watch. I can only think of two shows that I followed that ended on their own terms, one was Star Trek: The Next Generation and the other was Law & Order...oh wait that spin off maker is still going. So just Next Gen. Wait wait....Sopranos! Ooops that was cable. Okay, just Next Gen. then.

Looking back at the graveyard of shows struck down before their prime for me includes: Everwood (the CW), Gilmore Girls (the CW), the Unit (CBS), the West Wing (NBC), Firefly (FOX), Defying Gravity (ABC), Alias (ABC), What About Brian? (CW), and E-Ring (NBC). If you've never heard of some of these shows, that is okay. Many only lasted a season or two, if they were lucky.

I have wished for years that shows, when it was decided to take them off prime time, would be allowed to finish out on a cable channel. I am starting to see this transition a little at a time. Leaping to mind is Law & Order Criminal Intent making its home on USA for new episodes. Also, Southland was just canceled and then revived to live on TNT as it was too dark for NBC's evening line up. So what happens to other shows. I would love to see full seasons ordered and then if ratings are not strong, given the chance to move into other media, be it cable channels, Hulu, or iTunes. There has been evidence that shows can find audience bases if they are given the time. Would shows like Friends, Sienfeld, Sanford & Son, the Cosby Show make it in the modern programming climate? Would they have made it past episode 3 (the dreaded cut off point)?

What could happen if Joss Wheadon's Dollhouse took flight from FOX's chopping block to find refuge on Mike's Savior Network? Would it build its fan base into something more? Move from cult favorite to rival something like 24?

Speaking of 24, I have to say I loved Season 1. I loved the idea and the presentation, but FOX went and whored that concept out as well....seriously we're on what? season 6? They "Die Hard"'d that one way too much [John McClain is the MOST UNLUCKY cop in the world]. My suspension of disbelief does have some limits.

Interestingly, (to me at least) I have become an actor stalker of sorts. Nathan Fillion is one who steps to the forefront. I became a huge fan through Firefly and Serenity, but ended up following him to Wisteria Lane? What the hell? Luckily my wife watches that show, so I got to tv stalk him while spending quality time with my spouse. Now he has moved on to his own show Castle (ABC) and I am thrilled to find him with smart dialog again. Another one that I have followed is Mark Harmon, now leading the cast of NCIS, but had gotten me hooked by his performance as CJ Craig's secret service detail on the West Wing. In a happy convergence of talent Michael Weatherly I stalked from Dark Angel...

So 10 years ago I had a bunch of shows that I loved. Now I have two different time delay recording technologies that I barely tax to maintain my televsion needs...

As soon as NCIS & Castle's ratings dip and they get axed, I think I'll be done with network programming completely.

Eff 'em, I hope Hulu and iPad put them out to pasture...greedy bastards.

Network TV pisses me off Part 1

So...how to begin. This always seems to happen to me and I never think to rant about it. Well, last week I was shopping for a DVD and came across a TV series I had only caught an episode or two of. It piqued my interest and on a total lark bought it.

This show had been a summer release on one of the big three networks and I had stumbled across it twice before. Now, I never have to opportunity to watch "live" television as my schedule generally precludes that from me. But there I sat chatting with my wife and kids while randomly catching bits and pieces of dialog and plot from these two episodes.

What struck me was the production value. Normally, sci-fi on tv either looks really good or really cheesy and
(to my way of thinking)...this show had to be on solid ground because it looked great and was in a prime slot. So I was looking forward to catching up on it in reruns.

Back to the present: Now it is January and I'm standing in the electronics department and see this show sitting there on the shelf...I'm game. I pick it up and bring it home. I figured I'd watch the Pilot episode and based on its merits decide when I would watch the rest of the series. Again, I was struck by the production value. The casting was good and the story and manner of plot delivery was really enjoyable.

Now before I get too far, I'll reveal that I had had a similar experience once before. I found a movie that looked good, I recalled that it got some really interesting reviews and then it kind of disappeared. That movie was Joss Whedon's "Serenity" and my infatuation with it led me to research as much about it as possible. How was it that I missed a television show by the name of "Firefly"? It was right in my wheelhouse. I was the target demographic. Well some how I did. And I must say that I really dislike Fox for that mismanagement.

So here I am again with a fabulously interesting and well done Pilot episode. What can I do? I watch the rest of the disc, 2 more episodes and I am hooked. All in all, I watched the entire series of 13 episodes in the course of a few days and each episode got better and better. The plot got more twisted, the mystery deepened, the characters evolved (and grew on me), the story was enriched. Now that I have watched the entire first season and as I have come to learn the entire series. I am pissed off again, this time at ABC. ABC also pulled all of the content from Hulu and iTunes, destroyed the sets and released the cast and crew, to add insult to injury I learned they only aired the first 8 episodes! So no second season for me.

Fortunately, I found an interview with the creator, who read from his show bible and revealed (to my eternal thanks) several of the secrets and resolutions of the first season.

So here I rant, cursing ABC and all the other network television executives who cut well written shows mid-season.

Oh, I forgot to name this sci-fi gem for you...it is called "Defying Gravity" and if you get the chance to see it, I highly recommend it.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Halfling Pirate!

Syed was born the younger twin to Bergohand and Roussa Tripplight. The Tripplight clan ran the highly profitable White Star Shipping lines along the Sword Coast. White Star maintains several lucrative contracts with Ahm merchant houses and Waterdeep trade guilds.

Born Wylan Tripplight, he and his older twin and five elder cousins were raised to take over the family business.

For 30 years Wylan lived on or near the waterways. He spent every waking minute honing his craft and exploring the inlets near his home. Any water-based activity was his joy, sailing, fishing, and swimming.

While being close to his mother, Wylan idolized his father and elder brother, Willem. The summer of his 30th year, Wylen experienced a life shattering set of events. Bergo, Willem and three of his uncles were in Athkatla when negotiations turned sour the merchant house had the White Star delegation murdered. In the following weeks, White Star has a rash of arsons and piracies. Wylan was captain of a Galleon en route to Waterdeep with a new crew out of Baldur’s Gate when they mutinied and forced Wylen from the ship. Wylen was able to make it to Mintarn where he was able to discern that the attempt on his life was still an open contract. Wylen decided at that time to adopt the identity of a childhood friend who had died. And so Syed Hylette El was born. Syed found work as a navigator in the Mintarn Navy.

Syed spent a few years looking for the pirates that hijacked his family’s ship, but decided to move into the pirate community to find out more. His skills land him a job as a gunner, but he quickly ascended to the position of quartermaster of “Winged Scourge”. He was elected captain and became a very successful along the Amnish coastline. He currently has two ships in his fleet, both operating as raiders against the Merchant Houses. Although neither ship will attack a White Star flagged ship they have the reputation of being professional and leaving a minimum loss of life. Aberdajinn Firebeard, former quartermaster of the Scourge is captain of the “Hidden War”. Both crews have profited handsomely under Syed’s leadership and are fiercely loyal to him.

Every year Syed renews his vow to find the agents responsible for the death of his family. And every year the anger fades a little bit more.


The Winged Scourge
Captain: Syed El
First Mate: Turuk Mastsplitter
Quartermaster: Luca Bloodstone
Boatswain: Sinead Soiel
Gunner: Boom Boom Velez
Cooper: Bishop Hops
Powder Keg Monkey: Sur ‘resh


The Hidden War
Captain: Aberdajinn Firebeard
First Mate: Vandoa LaRue
Quartermaster: Balan Keelbreaker
Boatswain: Anatole Shipcutter
Gunner: Knurl Hammerson
Cooper: Elder Andersohn
Powder Keg Monkey: Dorn the Younger

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Scales of War Game Recap VIII-July 12th, 2009

Scales of War Game Recap VIII-July 12th, 2009


Stormlords (Present)

Samantha (Halfling Rogue) - Storm Chaser - Todd

Wardren (Half-Elf Paladin) - John

Niles (Drow Bard) - Purple Rain - Brian

Duamerthrax (Dwarf Beastmaster Ranger) w. White Wolf Deifenbacker- The Twin Storms - TJ

Hurricane (Human Wizard) - Starts Out Slow and Ends in Disaster- Tony

Vala (Elf Druid) - Stephanie

Syed (Halfling Pirate) - Mike T

Stormlords (Not Present)

Almirith (Eladrin Warlord) - The Approaching Storm - Robert

Tuldil'el (Genasi Cleric of the Raven Queen) - The Calm Before the Storm - Mike D

Nebin (Halfling Fighter) - Ashby

The party retreated to the camp, to rest for the evening. Almirith remained at camp as the rest of the party prepared to return to the Ettercap room. Moving through the room the party accessed a newer part of the dungeon.

"Von Adrez-Kauthin Crypt Crypt"

Combat Round 1:

The party enters the room to discover five hobgoblin guards and some spitting drakes.

Syed's deadeye opens the round and drops a hobgoblin with a headshot. A sneaky foul smelling goblin launches a vexing cloud obfuscating the party's vision. The party leaped from the cloud and launched themselves against the villians. The drakes spit and snapped and the party slashed and shot until several hobgoblin minions fell. Niles sings a new song (something about a tale of the sea, that Syed took offense to) and is beaten quite bloody for his efforts (Syed seriously considered putting Niles out of his misery, but at the top of the next round decided on another course of action).

Combat Round 2:

To begin, Syed exploded the goblin's head with pistol shot. Vala followed up with a mauling strike against a drake. Warden seeing the tide of the fight turn around, delivers a mighty blow to a drake with his great axe. Duamerthrax creeps up behind the middle drake and attempts to circumcise it (appearently it’s really a circle strike, but it came out…well you get the idea). Niles continues his sea chanty and remains bloodied for his trouble (Syed remained quite annoyed at the landlubber’s blasphemy). To increase the level of iritation he taunts a well-cultured hobgoblin. Rather then gouge out its own eardrums, the hobgoblin stabs itself through the heart, expiring immediately. A bloodied drake snaps at Warden and takes a small bite out of his calf. Another drake attempts to take off Niles hand but chokes on its own tongue, rather then taste the sourness of talentless flesh. Sam blasts a drake with a dazing blow. Hurricane, cowering in the corner, flung his most potent offensive tool, a magic missle, at a drake. A drake seeing its chance to slay the wailing cat-thing drow, spits at him. Niles, in taking a bow, avoids the attack.

Combat Round 3:

Syed kills the stunned drake with a pistol shot to the brain pan. Vala performs another fierce and flamboyant grapsing claws attack, but to no avail. Wardren, his great axe still dripping with the blood of the vanquished, strikes the drake menacing him. Duamerthrax and Deifenbacker move in and with Wardren pin the drake against the wall and properly circumcise it. Niles spits all over himself in some drakish language and the drake is now enthralled with him. Sam, like David before him (her), delivered death by a sling bullet to the last drake. Rejoice! The party is victorious!

Out of combat. Room is filled with bas reliefs of merchant type activites. Sam lifts a key from the goblin corpse and with Syed's help is able to identify it as a shackle master key. The party takes a short rest and then decides to take the left door after staking the other 2 doors closed. Approaching the door, Wardren and Duamerthax hear pleas for salvation. Hurricane, in his cowardly way stepped out of the possible blast range, just in case. Sam steps up to check the door, declaring it free of traps. Then he (she) opens the door, insisting that Almirith would want to rescue whomever was within. Inside the room, the party sees three low sarcophagi (like bas reliefs) and a woman (Jalissa) shackled to the wall. Jalissa asks to be freed. Duamerthax frees Jalissa using the key that Hurricane recovered from the goblin. Jalissa ignores the dwarf, flinches upon seeing the drow and runs straight into the arms of the paladin. After sobbing to be returned home she informs the party that an eight-year-old boy Thurdren (a thief of foodstuffs) is around here somewhere. She also said that the hobgoblins, had abducted her. Syed offers the girl a flask to calm her nerves. Syed also is beginning to wonder why the paladin doesn’t bed the talling girl. Perhaps somewhere within the Paladin’s vows and sacrifices he agreed to give up his …. I mean become a eunuch? Wardren takes the girl back to camp and Almirith's care (no passion there either, the fey don’t mix with the commoners). The sarcophagi are loaded with treasure (2 parcels worth). (695 xp--now listed on the Google Docs XP tab)

The party unpins the middle doorway to reveal a huge complex. Almirith's squire moves forth to investigate. He (she) moves down the stairs to find a very still pool of water. As he (she) was moving back into the hallway, the door to the party's left opened and a horde of undead burst into the halls. Sam stands in the middle of the hallway, eyes wide, and wetting him(her)self.

Combat Round 1:

Duamerthrax critically cleaves through the leading zombie returning it to its unholy rest. Niles sings out a jaunty drow tune, half the party contemplates suicide. All decide that being devoured by the undead is reason enough to fight even with the drow singing! A ghoul bites down on the ranger, sampling dwarf flesh and Duamerthrax is paralyzed with shock. Warden seeing the unholy abominations rushes into the fray, slamming a ghoul back into the room. The ghoul retaliates by grabbing the paladin and ordering the zombies to feast on the holy blight. The partner ghoul's jaw clamps down on the paladin's arm and subdues him. Syed puts a pistol shot between Niles legs (missing the family jewels by an gnat's wing) to punish a front rank zombie (z2). A zombie (z1) sees wolf flesh as a treat.

Combat Round 2:

Duamerthrax takes offense and belts it for touching the wolf. Warden enjoys his time as a ghoul sandwich. Not much fun, but no real damage either. Sam scales the walls and proceeds to pelt the undead with his (her) blinding dagger of death. He (she) slays a bloodied zombie, blinding to zombies, and scaring several ghouls. A zombie (z4) tries to slam into the paladin. Sam falls spectacularly to the ground as his (her) boots fail. [The ghoul rips a section of the paladin's neck out and throws his now dying body to the ground.] {History rewrite} Having missed Niles attack, the ghoul is now insulted and the Wardren receives a surge of health from the drow. The ghoul attacks again, but finds the taste of paladin flesh too rich enough for seconds. The paladin collapses (*again if you believe in time-space travel). Syed drills one of the offending ghouls with another pistol shot. The ghoul with the newly acquired lead accessory (bullet shaped) in his shoulder, steps over the paladin's body and thrashes Duamerthrax. Sam tosses a dagger with flourish and slays the blinded ghoul. In its death throws the ghoul attempts to defile the paladin one last time. Hurricane finding a use for the magical Staff heaves a critical blow against several of the abominations. Drawing upon his reserves, Hurricane presses the attack...

Combat Round 3:

The Ranger slays a ghoul with a mighty strike. The last ghoul's claws bounce off the paladin's mail armor. Wardren, feeling divine inspiration, rises up from near death to separate the ghoul's lower body from its upper. Rejoice the party is victorious again, but not without spilling much of its own blood.

Moving into the room. The party discovered a black sun marking on the floor. Sam walks past the floor mosaic to check the far side of the room. The floor is quite rickety and will require the party to pass one at a time.(162 xp)