Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Monday, April 29, 2013
He was really into it as a young man, spending hours practicing every day and competing at the state level. He saw Howard Hill shoot on one occasion. Howard Hill was the guy who did all the trick shooting for the Errol Flynn Robin Hood movies. He killed an elephant in real life with a single shot from a bow. (Howard Hill, not my dad.) His website has a list of the animals he's killed with a bow and arrow, and it includes 40 sharks. I have to wonder about the circumstances surrounding that.
On the day my father saw him, Hill was doing Annie Oakley trick shots, like shooting thrown coins out of the air. Not only was he doing it with a longbow, he was doing it with a borrowed longbow because his was being repaired that day.
How cool is that?
So he dug out the old bow I had used as a kid, and we arrived early for the family picnic.
|"Oh mama, I'm in fear for my life from the long arm of the law..."|
Sunday, April 28, 2013
really weird in this piece from
the visual guide.
I generally really liked the pictures of the royals, but something seems wrong with the proportions in Fiona, and I can't quite put my finger on it.
Saturday, April 27, 2013
Local friends, the show is still going on tomorrow! Stop on by!
And a little bit of promotion:
Garden Variety Eggs
Garden Variety Eggs - Facebook page
Garden Variety Eggs - Etsy page
Friday, April 26, 2013
Thursday, April 25, 2013
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Another really strong episode of Gravity Falls!
We open with Wendy and Dipper performing some voice overs for security camera footage in the Mystery Shack. Mabel interrupts and begins a happy dance (Dipper initially thinks she got into the Smile Dip again, which was a nice bit of continuity) about the upcoming concert featuring her favorite Boy Band, Sev'ral Timez.
|"We're not threatening!"|
|Note Pacifica in the background there.|
Meanwhile, Mabel, Candy and Grenda have arrived at the concert, but find it sold out.
Undeterred, they sneak backstage to find that their favorite boy band is a bunch of vat grown clones, something, I think, we all suspected in the 90s.
They sneak the clones back to the Mystery Shack. Dipper and Stan notice, but they're so wrapped up in trying to uncover the subliminal messages that they ignore the five clones living in their attic.
|"Have you seen any perfect boys around here?"|
"Only when I look in the mirror. Up top!"
He leaves, but not before the goat eats his rear license plate.
They find the hidden message, and take off for Lookout point, while Mabel learns that Ergman Bratzman, the manager, was arrested for driving without a rear license plate. Heh heh.
Mabel doesn't want to let them go, having become accustomed to having her own personal boy band,
and she orders them to eject Candy and Grenda.
Stan and Dipper roar into Lookout Point.
|"Kid! Mister Pines!"|
"That's MISTER Pines to you!"
"That's what I just said!"
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
For their son's birthday, they had the party at Medieval Times. I'd never been before and the only thing I could tell you about the place would be Janeane Garofalo's "There were no utensils in medieval times, hence there are no utensils at Medieval Times" line from the Cable Guy.
We went to the one in Lyndhurst, which is about an hour and fifteen minutes away. Lily didn't want to go at first. She was distraught, because "They tell you which knight you have to cheer for!" and she didn't want to cheer for a bad knight. We told her that those were just recommendations and she could cheer for whomever she liked.
The first thing that struck me was how much booze there was. A guy was walking around selling shots. I hope he was affiliated with the restaurant. People brought their flagons of beer into the bathroom, which seemed a bit much.
Then it was on to the main event. A guy in garb laid out some ground rules, including asking us not to use the pewter dishes as noisemakers, because it would spook the horses. Fair enough, but he instead exhorted us to "Just clap your hands like normal people," and I was thinking "Normal people? I'm not the one dressed like Prince Valiant up there, dude."
We took our seats. We were in the yellow and red knight section, but Lily decided that we were just going to cheer for all the knights. We liked the blue one best of all. He had fleurs-de-lis all over his costume. He died later in the tournament, probably because Jen wasn't cheering hard enough for him.
There were no utensils in medieval times, hence there are no utensils at Medieval Times. There were moist towelettes, however.
Monday, April 22, 2013
the book, "Lord of Light" seemed such
a poor name for it.
Sunday, April 21, 2013
Saturday, April 20, 2013
I don't think my opinion of Eye of Cat has changed that much, but I'm not happy with the review, and I've slowly been returning to books that I think I didn't do justice the first time. Here's my revised Doorways review, which I think is much better than the original. My existing review of Eye of Cat is just this Ulysses-esque stream of consciousness argle-bargle, and while I didn't especially care for the book, I think it deserves better than that.
Friday, April 19, 2013
We're a family of readers. Jen has always loved reading, and so have I. My mom used to punish me by making me go outside without a book. (And now my daughter begs me to play tag with her outside, so I suppose I'm never going to escape being forced outside against my will.)
I've written before that learning how to read was one of the last completely new things that she's going to learn and everything that comes after this is going to be a refinement or a new application of stuff she already knows.
She's a voracious reader. She reads the jokes on the milk cartons to her friends at school, because they can't read yet. She reads so well that I can't take her into Spencer's Gifts. Give her a book and she's content for a car ride and quiet enough that we'll forget she's there.
One day this week, when I was getting ready for my morning shower, Lily knocked on the bathroom door. I opened it and she looked so scared. I kneeled down to her level and asked, "What's wrong?"
She bit back her tears and said "I was reading the book from the library and I was trying to be very careful, but the bottom of the page ripped when I turned the page."
I gave her a big hug and said, "It's okay. It was an accident and you're being very brave in telling me. We'll write a note to the librarian and explain it was an accident. If the librarian is upset, you tell her to talk to mommy and daddy because we'll always stand up with you when you do the right thing."
And Lily is like me in that the absolute worst thing in the world is someone being mad at you. And she knew she could have gotten away with it if she didn't mention it. And she was really scared to tell me. But she did.
We knew we were raising a smart kid. I'm glad we're raising a brave one. And a good one.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
I've had quite a few posts on why I'm an unapologetic fan of Superman, and I don't think I have anything new to say on the subject today, so here's the new trailer for the Man of Steel movie, which looks outstanding.
“Can't I just keep pretending I'm your son?”
"You are my son."
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Monday, April 15, 2013
Sunday, April 14, 2013
Saturday, April 13, 2013
Friday, April 12, 2013
Lots of people have spent lots of time trying to pin down what's wrong with the Phantom Menace since its release in 1999. I might as well add my voice to the chorus.
I'll admit that I felt some gnawing unease when Dave was visiting in the period between when we had decided to show Lily the movies and when we actually did so, and Dave, unprompted, shook his head and said "The first two movies were so, so bad."
This is all your fault, Dave!
I remember the first time I saw the movie. I was working at the comic store back then, Star Wars mania was at an all time high in the run up to its release. Everybody who came in to the store wanted to talk about it. And the early reports were not positive. The best anyone seemed to have to say about the movie was some variation of "It's not as bad as everyone is saying." Those of us who worked in the store occasionally got together to do stuff. It was movie night and Bill had already seen the Phantom Menace and his review was....unfavorable. When we were deciding what to see, I was pushing for Menace, Bill said he couldn't bear to sit through it again, and wound up seeing the Matrix. I recall mocking him for this decision: "Oh, enjoy your stupid 'Matrix' movie that nobody's going to remember by this time next year. I'm off to see Star Wars, bitches!"
In retrospect, Bill's decision may have been the right one.
Holy fucking shit, where to start? The experience of watching this movie compares unfavorably to a two-hour episiotomy.
Not even Lily liked it and she'll sit through some of the most dreadful shit imaginable. Though she did like Anakin.
I don't think Jake Lloyd was terrible. He wasn't great, but neither was Daniel Radcliffe in the first Harry Potter (particularly compared to his co-stars) and he certainly wasn't the biggest problem with the movie.
|Just a softy|
It seems that Audible is having a sale that includes some of Roger Zelazny's works. I happen to prefer the older versions, where he reads his own stuff, but Audible's books are usually very well put together and this could be an opportunity to pick some up if you are so inclined.
Also, they are offering Deus Irae on April 16th, and I've never encountered that in audio format before.
Thursday, April 11, 2013
I've finished reading the second and third books in the Matthew Stover's Acts of Caine series, Blade of Tyshalle and Caine Black Knife. (My reviews of the first book are here and here.)
Wikipedia describes the audience for his non Star Wars books as small but loyal, a statement I can absolutely believe. The books are some of the best modern genre works I've ever read, but Jesus Christ are they depressing. Listening to Blade of Tyshalle was like getting kicked in the stomach for 31 hours in a row.
I ran an RPG group for almost ten years. Near the end of the campaign, the PCs had a sizable power base, but had accumulated a number of powerful enemies. My philosophy in running a game is that PCs with sufficient resources can win most encounters, if they're willing to pay the price. And this group won every battle, but often at the cost of making unnecessary enemies, and squandering long term assets. I hinted that this wa going to catch up someday, but the pattern continued, and there finally came a time when I drew the campaign to a close rather than demolish them or fudge things so they came on top.
I'm going to include some spoilers here:
Again, my favorite character is one of his villains. Avery Shanks is a nasty piece of work. In the last book, Avery's son Lamerack betrayed Caine and Pallas, but not before Pallas becomes pregnant with his child. Caine kills Lamerack for what he did, and winds up raising Lamerack's daughter Faith as his own. Shanks gets word of this and just to spite Caine, she has Faith removed from his custody by force and in a very public fashion (In front of Hari's fans at a convention). She's mean, she's petty, she's the worst this caste society has to offer. And yet, when Faith is threatened, Avery is willing to die for her. She kills a man with her hands and feet and teeth to protect her. And when it's all over, Avery is not magically transformed into someone less nasty. She remains who she is. And that's what I like about Stover's characters. Even the blackest villain is capable of acting in a selfless way in the right circumstances. I don't believe in people who are all good or all bad.
I do like the interaction between Hari's father Duncan, the libertarian intellectual and Tan'elKoth, the deposed authoritarian emperor. I would guess that Stover's politics are more closely in line with Duncan's, but I admire that he can get inside Tan'elkoth's head and write arguments for him that are more than mere sophistry.
"I respect what is respectable " Tan'elkoth replied. "To ask for respect where none has been earned is childish maundering.And what is respectable in the end, save service? Even your idol Jefferson is, in the end, measured by how well he served the species. The prize of individualism--its goal--is self-actualization, which is only another name for vanity. We do not admire men for achieving self-actualization; we admire self-actualization when its end result is a boon to humanity."
Stefan Rudnicki is an astounding narrator. One thing I love about audiobooks with good readers is when the listener can identify a character just by the voice the reader uses.
In the third book, Hari mentions that his father thought highly of an LDS author active in the late 20th/early 21st century, and I think that must be Orson Scott Card. It's funny, because the scene in the bathroom immediately struck me as a repudiation of the parallel scene in Ender's Game. Being hassled by a bully? Murder him! Problem solved!
The book places the characters in similar situations (so similar that I'm wondering if this was deliberate), but when they maim (not kill) the bullies, the school headmaster, who had previously been shown as nothing more than a petty, social climbing cipher, is honestly horrified, not only that they would do this to other children, but that it was the first and only plan they considered.
I was reluctant to read the third book without a break, because the second was such a bludgeoning. I saw that it was in large part a prequel, so I thought we might something more upbeat.
One of things that should have tipped me off that the story was going to suck was the fact that Caine wises off to a border guard at checkpoint. It's established in the very same scene that he's immune to the truth-sensing magics employed by the Khyrl, but instead of just giving a plausible lie, he gives a literally true but smartass answer, claiming to be looking for his adopted brother the serial killer. He's taken into custody for questioning, which certainly seems to be a reasonable response under the circumstances, where somebody shows up just to be evil. Caine beats him up, but an innocent guard is crippled in the ensuing fight and chooses euthanasia and a pension for his family rather than life without the use of his legs. Caine berates the Order for this, but that's just bullshit. He's sine qua non for the whole thing.
At the very end, Hari "reasons" that the only reason the Social Police has taken him alive is so that they can give him the reins to their nation so he can sort things out for them. It's such a WTF moment, not only because it turns out to be the correct conclusion, but because it's presented as the answer to which logic inescapably points. It reminded me of a scene from the Adam West Batman movie.
Batman: One: "What has yellow skin and writes?"
Robin: A ballpoint banana.
Batman: Right! Two: "What people are always in a hurry?"
Robin: Rushing people? Russians!
Batman: Right again! Now, what would you say they mean?
Robin: Banana... Russian... I've got it! Someone Russian is going to slip on a banana peel and break their neck!
Batman: Precisely, Robin! The only possible meaning!
Caine had talked about his eye for weakness, which is fine, but Jesus, in practice, it's Caine just mumbling a few predictable cliches which compel the listener like cross between the Jedi Mind trick and Hannibal Lecter convincing Mason Verger to cut off his own face.
That's not even the worst part about the ending. While in prison, Caine gets a visit from a man who hates him so much that he sold Caine out to the Social Police. Except he doesn't really hate Caine. He just hates himself for not being as awesome as Caine.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
She mentions that she'll be spending the night with Candy and Grenda, and Dipper is disappointed that she'll be gone and then horrified when he notices Calling All Boys: Preteen Edition and realizes that the sleepover will be taking place in the attic.
Dipper gets fed up and leaves as the sleepover kicks into high gear. He passes on Soos' horrifying death trap of a break room, and winds up sleeping outside where a wolf gnaws his leg
but he still finds it preferable to being inside.
The next day, Mabel and her friends awaken after their sleepover bender.
Dipper returns to find their attic golf course in ruins. They fight and decide they need separate rooms. Which works out, because Soos discovers a hidden room within the Shack.
I didn't catch this on the first viewing, but a friend pointed out the date circled on the calendar probably has some significance. Based on Dipper's expression, he certainly seems to think so.
Grunkle Stan says he'll award to room to whichever twin accumulates more Suck-up Points, so the kids fall over each other to see who can perform the most dangerous and/or demeaning chores.
This goes on for a little while, until Dipper is in the new room. He builds up a static charge while walking across the carpet, and when he touches Mable, the electrical shock causes them to switch bodies.
They waste no time sabotaging each other. Mabel had previously made Stan an omelet that looked like his face, now Dipper, in her body, makes a sandwich filled with rocks.
Right after that, Mabel as Dipper sings "Breaking stuff is so much fun, I am Dipper and I stink!"
I liked this bit. Pleasantly ridiculous and they move on to other things before it wears too thin.
Soos switches bodies with Waddles and that's pretty entertaining too.
|"Yes! I should do out loud wishing more often!"|
A bearded witch chasing a talking pig! My horoscope came true!
Meanwhile, the body switching is starting to backfire. Dipper as Mabel is conscripted for another slumber party where Grenda reads age-inappropriate romance novels and Stan thinks that Mabel as Dipper's odd actions mean that he's going through puberty, so he reads to him from "Why am I sweaty?"
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold. As the situations collapses, Dipper and Mabel find themselves in the secret room, but so do Sheriff Blubs and Deputy Durland, Candy and Grenda and Soos, Waddles and Old Man McGucket. Madcap bodyswapping ensues for a while, until everyone winds up in his or her own body.
|My horoscope didn't say anything about this!|
The post credits scene is Soos talking to the woman to whom he became engaged while Waddles was in his body.
Another solid episode. I think the seeds for future developments have been planted here, between the date circled on the calendar and the carpet being number 78 in a series of experiments.
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Monday, April 8, 2013
Sunday, April 7, 2013
Saturday, April 6, 2013
Friday, April 5, 2013
Thursday, April 4, 2013
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
A friend sent me this link to a kickstarter for the Lords of Gossamer and Shadow Diceless RPG. It's based on the rule system for the Amber Diceless RPG and designed by one of the writers for Shadow Knight.
My impression after reading the blurb and the preview PDF is that this is very much ADRPG with the Amber-specific terminology stripped out.
The setting is a clearly an analogue for Amber, with one to one correspondences for the elements in the original, and the impression I get is that it's as close as they could get without using the specific terms.
I'm not sold on the need for the game, since the original RPG is still fairly widely available, but it's a project by fans of Zelazny and Amber. I thought I should at least give bring it to the attention of the folks who read this site and let you make your own decision if it's right for you. I'll probably throw in enough money for the PDF, because hey, Amber fans gotta stick together.