Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Geek ? Read on !

This will be of probably little interest to you 'norms' out there. If you have no kinship with the world of boardgames, you might just want to stick your fingers in your ears and start going 'la la la la la' loudly now.

I'm not sure WHY you might want to do that - because, y'know, you'll still be able to READ this - but it might be a laugh.

Now - to the meat of this entry !

Man - I just saw that some board-game company in Canada got the rights to re-issue 'Titan'. Wow - I never thought that would happen. I'm not sure that Titan would REALLY be my kind of game ... but I'm tempted to get it to sort of have a link to a piece of gaming history.

You'd be bummed if you'd just spent in excess of $200 USD to get a old school Avalon Hill copy though wouldn't you ?

In the 'what the hell?" zone though - I just read on-line that Fantasy Flight Games are going to re-issue the classic "Dune" board-game ( yay ! ) - only it WON'T be "Dune" ( freaking HUH ???? ).

Turns out that FFG, for whatever reasons, can't get the Dune license to do it. Why ? Who the hell knows - most likely reason is that the gaming rights have ALREADY been sold to someone else who is going to do something infinitely more crap with it.

So - instead, they're going to use the same game MECHANICS, only set in the Twilight Imperium universe.

Personally - I don't see that working all that well. Part of the appeal of the old game is to play the warring factions of the Dune story ... I don't think the alien races of TI are really going to cut it ( mind you - I've not actually played TI, so I can't say that categorically ). And I don't think that either sandworms or a quasi-mystical spice played much of a part in the TI game, so I have no idea what they're going to do there.

Sigh. So close to getting a new 'Dune' and yet so far.

I signed the on-line petition in support of FFG, but I doubt it will have much of an effect. You should sign it to ! The spice must flow !

I should just pony up the cash to get a copy on E-Bay maybe. It's not that much more for a present-day game I guess.

/geeky board-game related stuff.

I've been working on a couple of other 'Critical Mass' comic strips - one 3 panel ( already scanned and cleaned up - awaiting colour and text ) and one full page semi-origin story ( 80% penned - would be finished, but stupid arty pen ran out. Feck ). Hopefully you'll be able to see them soon !

Right - tired now. Sleep.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Meet the soldier !

Oh sweet ! The next "Meet the character" video promoting "Team Fortress 2" has just gone on YouTube by the look of things. Watch it ! WatchitwatchitwatchitwatchitWATCH IT !!!

And make sure you see "Meet the Heavy" too - if you haven't already ( and if you haven't - what's WRONG with you ? I mean - do you have some kind of LIFE or something ??? Yeesh ! )

Happiness is Warm Pencil Karma

I forget who is was who first introduced me to the concept of pen karma ( though I get the feeling it may have been the great sage Spaceman Jack Dee ) - roughly the idea goes that you are either in a good or bad karmic cycle with your relationship with biros. When it's good - they just COME to you. No matter what you do - you have a steady supply of pens on hand. Conversely, when you have bad pen karma nothing you do will stop you losing, misplacing or having your pens lost.

Being a teacher is GREAT for your positive pen karma. I am always picking up pens after a class - no matter what it be, or even if we've WRITTEN anything that lesson or not.

I've just been sorting through my secret cache of pens and checking which are worth keeping and which simply don't work or are beyond their prime, and I noticed an interesting thing - pretty much all the coloured pencils I've acquired through the turning of the wheels of fate are in the warm spectrum. Get a load of this colour breakdown :

Orange - 4
Red - 3
Brown - 4
Yellow - 3 ( well - one is more gold I guess )
White - 1
Green - 1
Blue - 1 ( but hopelessly smashed - had to be thrown away )

Weird eh ? I wonder why that is ? Maybe the warm tones are less noticeable on the carpet in the class rooms, or perhaps the warm spectrum colours are more expendable is the world of colouring in these days. I know from my own past that the 'blue' and 'black' were highly prized colours ( blues used for your steel armour and swords, black general shading and outlines ).

For those of you interested - the pens I've gathered so far this year number 27 :

Blue - 14
Black - 6
Red - 7

And that doesn't count the ones I've actively using in my pencil case. And NO - none of them are named ( okay - some of the pencils WERE and I just trimmed off the names with a craft knife, but those were only because they were bastards and I was simply doing the will of karma ).

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

'Abandoned Muffins'

The lights come up on our stage. Seraph stands center, dressed in beatnik gear - complete with beret and sunglasses. There is a figure in a pigeon costume behind him, stage left. The pigeon-person is also wearing a beret and sunglasses, and is, inexplicably, holding a saxophone. It begins to play a mournful dirge on the sax. Stage-right is a third figure in a wombat outfit ( also with beret and sunglasses ) who punctuates the sax with semi-random hits on a set of bongos.

A small Victorian side table is flown from the ceiling. On it is a plate piled with mini-muffins, blue-green with mold.

Seraph :

Egg. Milk. Butter -
With the
heat of



Flour from the thresh-ed wheat
sifted for a festive ...

With powder ( of the baking kind )
and salt - sprink...
ELD ... into the bowl we find
Under the kitchen skin.

Spatula !

SPAT - U - LA !

Fold till moist -
moist -
moist as the mist-draped morning.
... for you ?
Abandoned muffins ?
Puff-balled bites of gall-stained bakery ?

Who knows your passing ?

The penicillin thread needles through your
and dark
chocolate bones -
confectionery white chocolate blood cell count
... into cancerous

No more
where you cats are ...

Seraph pulls a sledge-hammer from behind him, and when a scream which might be rage and might be despair, brings the hammer into a sweeping overhead arc, smashing muffins, plate and table into a mangled twisted wreck.


All three bow to scattered, hesitant applause.

Lights fade to darkness.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

See ya Paddy...

My grandfather died a couple of weeks ago. He got hit with pneumonia pretty hard ( and he'd already had it earlier in the month ) and he pretty much just checked out very suddenly.

It's all very sad. He was the only grandfather I had - my Italian grandfather died with my dad was just a kid, so I never knew anything about him.

I've been trying to think of the things that really stood out for me in his time on this planet.

I remember him freaking out and getting VERY cross with me when I was small for bringing a cow skull into their house ( which, in retrospect, was a fair enough response. I have only vague memories of the skull itself - but I do remember having to mostly dig it out of the ground - so it can't have been a very pleasant thing. I think at the time I had thought it was 'pretty neat, though why is beyond me now ).

I remember him having a fairly minor win in lotto while we were down ( $100 or so - not much ), and when he got the cash he immediately gave me and my sister $20 each - which I remember thinking was very generous of him ( I think I use it to buy the first book of the Steve Jackson "Sorcery!" fighting fantasy books - which came with it's own separate spell book. That was pretty cool ! ).

When I was staying with him and my uncle down South before hitting the Christchurch teachers college, I remember how he used to INSIST that I have a fish fillet from the fish and chip shop when he was getting the order together - because they were SO amazing. I didn't have the heart to tell him that I thought they tasted worse than raw pig uterus.

I do remember that he made freaking awesome sausages. Dear god in heaven, they were the lobster thermidor of the small goods world !

I don't remember what his real voice sounded like though. He got his voice-box removed years ago and had to use one of those buzzer things. It was freaking hilarious when he misplaced it or, even funnier, when the batteries started to go and he'd end up sounding like a darlek going through puberty - all squeaky highs and burbling liquid lows. It took a massive amount of self-control not to laugh when either of these situations occurred ( or at least not laugh until you managed to make it far away enough that he wouldn't hear ! ). South Park was JUST being shown on channel 4 while I was living with him and my uncle, and there was much fun had trying to get him to say "Were you in Da-Nang ?" in the style of Jimbo.

And now he's gone. The ole fella lived to be 81, so he had a good run I guess. He lived to see me and my sister graduate and get our teaching diploma and doctorate respectively, saw me married as well as both of his own kids, and was around for a good part of my little cousins Annie and Grace's lives. Didn't get to see any great grandchildren - sorry man !

I delivered a reading at the funeral mass ( something from the Book of Job, I forget which book and verse ), and was a pallbearer as well. He was buried with his engraved beer jug from the local hotel resting on the top of his coffin, which gave we pallbearers the extra challenge of lowering the casket into the grave without tipping the jug off and smashing it. Fortunately we managed to lower it with jug intact. I kept getting marcarbe images of Tetris flashing into my head as I lowered the suspension straps down inch by inch. I'm not sure what my grandfather would make of that !

The food at the wake was pretty much entirely sandwich or deep-fried, which did nothing to help my current weight loss programme. Still - there are those who would say that this is no bad thing ( right mum ? ;) )

I spent the rest of the time before we drove back to the airport playing weird balloon games with my wee three year old cousin Annie. Then she discovered an even BETTER game which involved running at me from another room, and leaping on me. Fun fun fun ! Normally I wouldn't put up with such abuse - but I cut the kid some slack.

As I said - all very sad, but it just goes to remind you how transitory life is, and how we should dance while the music plays.

See you later Paddy - happy trails.