Monday, July 31, 2006

Whatta Weekend!

Wow. I'm tired.


Last night, Liz and I went to our first big concert together: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers at nearby White River Ampitheater.

What a fantastic show. Tom played for two hours, covered all the major songs, hit a couple of Yardbirds covers and a Travelling Willburys' cover.

But wait, that's not all.

Halfway through the show, Stevie Nicks came out for a few duets. That's when the energy really started to take off.

Then Stevie took a rest, and Tom said "we did this song back in 1981, and lots of people have covered it - but no one has covered it better than Eddie Vedder." And then, Eddie Vedder came out and sang.

The finale ended with Tom, Eddie, and Stevie all singing "American Girl."

The show was amazing. Liz loved it. I loved it. And I need some more coffee.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Things I'm Drooling Over

Even though I work with video games day in and day out, I don't really talk much about them here. However, it's worth noting that there are currently four games slated for release in the near-future that have kicked my saliva response into overdrive.

Dead Rising
Zombie games have been done before, but rarely have they looked this promising. A sandbox game (of sorts, since it takes place in a mall), Dead Rising places the player in the shoes of a photojournalist who can live out the end of the world as he sees fit. The game takes place over a 72-hour period (each hour gametime corresponds to about five minutes real time), and you're supposed to be able to replay it several times to get all the pieces of the plot. I'm looking forward to the zombie action, and the OCD-friendly collectable bits.

Just Cause
Just Cause looks like a GTA clone at first glance, but it's got a lot of interesting stuff going for it. Plot: you're a CIA operative in a South American country trying to overthrow a dictator. Sandbox: 250,000 acres of environment to explore (almost ten times what San Andreas had.) Hundreds of vehicles, a grapple and parachute combination, over 300 missions. If executed well, this could be a real gem, and it'll tide me over until GTA4.

Star Trek: Legacy
Command starships from the Enterprise-era to the Voyager-era. Squad-based strategy of sorts, but with starships. Customizable ships. OK, it might not be great, but it's the most promising Trek game in a long time. We'll see how the reviews pan out.

Everyone was in awe after E3 when this game did so well. Me: it's by the same crew that did System Shock 2. No shit it's gonna do well! BioShock actually looks like what might happen if SS2 and Fallout went out behind the woodshed, loved each other, and gave birth to some kind of awesome bastard child. It's got the pulpy, 50s feel of Fallout and the plotline looks like all kinds of stuff-gone-wrong a la SS2. This one can't come soon enough.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Court Rules Against Gays, for Breeders

The Washington State Supreme Court says that two people who love each other can't marry, because the 1998 ban on gay marriage "encourages procreation."

What the fucking fuck?

"Encourages procreation."

Like the goddamned world needs more people in it.

Conservativism: the philosophy where logic and facts don't matter.

Gays?? In SEATTLE??!!

Today the Washington state Supreme Court will vote on whether to overturn the gay marriage ban. If they do, Washington will be the second state after Taxachusetts to allow gay marriage.

Fingers crossed for an overturning!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Awesomely Awesome of the Day

Here's your awesomely awesome for the day, and possibly one of the coolest tools since Wikipedia: Wikimapia. Using Google Earth, Wikimapia works like Wikipedia, except instead of encyclopedia entries, you're identifying points of interest on a map.

Thankfully, my house has not yet been identified as the Beer Nest.

Tulsans: someone has labelled 71st Street from Memorial to 169 "the seventh circle of hell." Sounds about right.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Movie: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

I'm about a week behind on this blog, but today is a Writing Day for Fallout d20 so I reckon I'll be able to do some catch-up.

Last weekend we took in Pirates 2, starring Johnny Depp, that elf from Lord of the Rings, and the future-ex-Mrs. Mical, Kiera Knightly. The movie had been getting mixed reviews: fans seemed to dig it, but critics not so much. They thought the same of the first one, too, so I wasn't too concerned.

I liked it. A lot. And I like it even more now that I've had a week to mull it over.

Pirates 2 is very much an Empire Strikes Back or Back to the Future II film. The original was done as a stand-alone in case the series didn't take off. Then the producers decided to make it a trilogy (because all good film stories are told in trilogies), so the second and third films will have to relate to each other quite a bit, all the while referencing the first. Pirates 2 pulled it off. They kept the swashbucking, pulpy fun but turned the gloom up just a tad, and the dialogue tended to turn towards the serious rather than the funny. Which isn't to say I thought it was the bee's knees; there were certainly a few things I'd do differently, but considering what else is out there this year, Pirates 2 is what we've got as far as fantasy-action-adventure-fun, and it serves its role well.

I'll be there for Pirates 3.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Quote of the Day

A president ought to know enough not use an expletive in a fairly open meeting and almost any male alive today knows that you don't offer uninvited massages to any female, much less the Chancellor of Germany.

- Larry Sabato, professor of politics at the University of Virginia, quoted on

Because frankly, you wouldn't like the Germans when they're angry.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Seattleite, Okie Relations Sour Following Kidnapping of Sonics

Bothell DMZ, SPS News. Relations between Seattleites and Okies reached their worst level in twenty years yesterday as violence erupted between the two factions over the kidnapping of Seattle's NBA and WNBA teams by a group of Oklahoma City-based investors. A series of airstrikes rocked the Will Rogers International Airport outside of Oklahoma City, while Seattle tanks rolled into the South Tulsa strip, supposedly aimed at rooting out Okie guerillas in the ORU area.

"The kidnapping of our sports teams is a grave concern to all Seattleites," said Seattle Prime Minister Bill Gates. "We have the right to defend ourselves, and we plan to exercise that right." Seattle's Chief Army Commander Kurt Cobain added that the Okies are "on the run," and even as cross-border violence escalated, he was optimistic about Seattle's chances for victory. "We are fully aware that Texas and Arkansas are funneling money to the Okies, and ultimately their cooperation will help us put an end to this bloodshed."

Meanwhile Okie rockets tore through sections of downtown Seattle, reportedly spilling lattes and killing a civilian Schnoodle puppy. Okies also unleased a violent EMP pulse, disrupting Bluetooth and wireless communications for almost an hour on Tuesday, causing Seattle's economic productivity to nosedive and its drivers to suddenly pay attention on the highways.

"The Seattleite attacks are tearing my country apart" Okie President Garth Brooks told SPS News. "I have repeatedly asked these investors to return the Sonics and the Storm to Seattle, but [Mr.] Gates seems intent on destroying our entire way of life, and thousands of civillians have been displaced because of it."

US President Bush declined comment and noted that it was "too early to tell if a ceasefire would have any effect."

Added Bush: "Oranges are delicious."

More on this story as it develops.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I'm Fourteen Again

I recently picked up The X-Files Seasons 1 and 2 on DVD on the cheap, and we've been slowly watching the first season an episode or two at a time on weekends. I'd forgotten how good those shows were - and the series didn't even get really good until the third or forth seasons. And then yesterday, a whole day early, what's waiting in my mailbox but the complete Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. on DVD!

Brisco and The X-Files came out at the same time (as I recall, I think they even debuted in back-to-back timeslots) during my freshman year of high school. As much as I cited graphical adventure games as an influence in my development as a writer, I'd be completely remiss if I didn't give these two series at least the same amount of credit. Brisco's mix of futuristic pulp, good-guy (but not too-good) heroics, and classic storytelling played as much of a role in how I see stories as X-Files creature-feature and vast-conspiracy plotlines do (and, as anyone who has read anything I've written that's over 1000 words in length can attest, I milk both of those things shamelessly.)

What began as a tribute to pulp has in turn influenced a new generation of writers. And so the circle turns.

Poetry Spam!

Gmail does an amazing job of blocking out spam email, but every now and then something gets through its defenses. This morning, I received an email with the subject line "appliance," containing a bunch of seemingly random words followed by an attachment imploring me to buy some stupid penny stock. The stock is not important to our story; the random words, on the other hand, are like some kind of microwave popcorn version of Jack Kerouac. Dig this, cats:

    impenetrable collaborate piranha a the teeter insensitive windchill factor suicide this! German measles at ebullient commercialize egregiously to naughtily, frostbitten doormat the outgrew underside beloved replica the! inhabit to contraceptive ESP recreational combative cocky as stairs kite no-no. by as noble muted.
I should print some of this out and go read it at a poetry slam. Maybe I could be the Next Big Thing in the literary world?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Homeward Bound

There's nothing like going home to see old friends.

This 4th of July, we skipped the neighborhood re-enactment of Fallujah by heading back to the Tulsa/Springfield area. Liz spent a week with her family, and I came back for a couple of days to hang out with my parents before we both drove up to Drury to hang out in their alumni B&B for a couple of days and laze around town. Arch was there, Roger, Crabby and Angela came in, Bob and Heather dropped by, and even Karissa and Michelle made appearances. A good time was had by all. Sitting down at Milles on the first night was about as close to old times as we've gotten, and it was like we just picked up the conversation from where we left off in 2001. We're a little older, some of us (like me) are a little thinner, but it's the same bunch and that felt good.

I also had a great time with my parents; it was really low key (we saw "Inconvenient Truth" together, and I set up Guitar Hero for them to try), which was exactly what I needed. Who needs to go to Hawaii for a vacation when you can go home with no agendas?

Now, what did I do with that MP3 of "Yakity Sax"?

Interview With The Best

Of all the things that have influenced my life and career as a person and a writer, I can honestly say that the graphic adventure games from Sierra On-Line were among the most important. They certainly had a very strong impact on how I view story, fantasy elements, and what games can be.

Roberta Williams was one of the pioneers of that genre, and possibly the most successful (and one of the first) female game designers of all time. Check out an interview with Roberta Williams to see where she's landed eight years after Sierra finally closed its doors (as an adventure game studio, anyway.)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


I have been duped. Bamboozled. Taken for a ride. Hoodwinked. Conned. And I would like to share my experience with you, dear readers, in case you encounter something similar.

While I was gone to Springfield, a couple issues of Maxim magazine arrived for me in the mail. Addressed to me, with my name spelled correctly. I'm not a big fan of Maxim (airbrushed girls do nothing for me), and it was a mystery why the magazine would have been delivered to me.

A couple days later an issue of Men's Journal arrives. Curiouser and curiouser, my wife and I think. So she calls the magazine's subscription information and discover that we have been signed up for the subscription by a company called National Publishers Exchange. OK. So wife calls that number, and they inform us that we have been signed up by United Family Circulation, a company that my wife and I had never heard of.

But pumping United Family Circulation (linked to help the process) into Google produces a litany of company aliases and BBB complaints. It also provided some phone numbers, and after a few calls we finally discover what has happened.

In April, a kid came by our house claiming to be raising funds so his high school baseball team can go to some championship. He's selling magazines and books. The books are kind of expensive, but whatever, I remember having to debase myself hawking shitty Tom-Wat for Cub Scouts, so I feel bad for the kid. He's good. He says that they'll just donate the books to a children's hospital (awww) and all will be good. Sure, whatever. At the time, it seemed pretty inocuous, which is, it turns out, how all good scams work.

The kid basically took our money and ran. There were no books or children's hospital. Some asswipe probably made him go door to door selling that stuff. And the only way I knew is that a magazine subscription showed up.

In retrospect, warning bells should have been going off all over the place. This is why I fear I might become a good poker player, but never a great one: because I tend to take things at face value more than I should. I will say this, though - I can learn from my mistakes. Unfortuntely, I won't be buying things from door to door kid salespeople anymore. Or any door to door salespeople for that matter. Which really sucks for the kids out there hawking the Tom-Wat for their Scout Troops - but I was scared shitless that these little bastards had my account number, routing number, and address from my check.

Luckily, Bank of America were good sports about the whole thing and I have total account protection in case there was something bad, but I still feel like a dipshit.

I hope this helps some other Puppeteer avoid my fate.


Seth directed me to a MeFi post about a car buried for 50 years in a time capsule in Tulsa. Interesting reading - I'd love to see what it looks like after they dig it out.

Book: The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril by Phil Malmont

So what do Walter Gibson (author of The Shadow and Lester Dent (author of Doc Savage) have in common with HP Lovecraft and Joe Kavalier - other than the fact that they're all pulp writers (except the last one, who's a fictional pulp writer?) They all converge in The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril. A love letter to the genre of hardboiled detectives, superpowered heroes before they splashed into four-color, dames and damsels in distress, great escapes, and "lies," Chinatown Death Cloud Peril pairs Dent and Gibson - assisted by a rather undead HP Lovecraft - in a mystery-thriller where the stakes are none other than saving the world.

Malmont really did his research, and it shows. What could have ended up as a genre parody instead turns into an appropriate homage, and worth reading for the sheer pleasure and fun of it, just like the pulps themselves. It's rare that a writer sets out to accomplish something like this within a genre he or she so clearly loves, and Malmont delivers from the first page to the last. I normally don't rave about books without a little criticism, but there is very little to be had here. Check it out. Also, if you'll be in San Diego, it looks like Malmont is going to be on a panel called "The DaVinci Clones." Might want to drop in and say "hi" if you pick up the book and read it on the plane down (hint hint).

Monday, July 10, 2006

Work Explained

So I've got a writing contract! A bona-fide RPG writing contract, that promises some nice pay. And as I mentioned before, it is a subject very near and dear to my heart.

Glutton Creeper Games is doing an official, licensed d20 Modern translation of Fallout. I am one of four developers working on the project. I am unbelievably stoked, because (little known fact) I already did a Fallout PnP project back in college. Now, I know better than to write 180,000 words I know I'll never be paid for - but at the time, it was great fun and an excellent way to hone my RPG writing skills (which sadly, still do not pay the bills.)

So it's going to be consuming some of my free time moving forward, but I'm hoping to have my name on a hardcover gaming book by Christmas. Heck yeah!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Things Were Simpler Then

Via Boing Boing, photos in the LA library showing an early morning atomic blast on April 18, 1953. Pix are numbered 1-6 at the bottom of the article, before the update.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Five that Fell

Gaming site Next Gen posted an excellent article about five now-defunt game studios titled Five that Fell. It covers three of my favorite game studios: Sierra, Black Isle, and Looking Glass. Definately worth a read for the trip down memory lane.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Towards and Understanding of the Socioeconomic Distribution of Kobold Wealth in a Dungeon-Infested Pre-Empire

Via The Monkey King comes a link to The Dungeonomicon, geek humor that is so well done it circles around from being a spoof and becomes interesting for its own sake.

The gamery comments below it can be skipped.