Wednesday, September 30, 2009

This is so metal.

While I'm on the subject of college entrance essays, I'd like to share with you one of my favorites. By far the best essay question I came across was the following:

You are in the van on the way to the battle of the bands when you find out the world will end after your set. Your performance could change everything. Tell us what happens in 500 words or less.

Read what I said after the jump.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


A while back, I wrote about my history with games. Sort of. I was incredibly tired and ready for bed. But since then, I've actually organized my thoughts, and made things a little more coherent. So much so in fact, that I'm using this as a basis for some of my entrance exams. Games are an important part of who we are. More after the jump.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Chekhov's Gun Shoots Bullets

So the other day, I watched Jet Li and Bridget Fonda in Kiss of the Dragon. This is a martial arts movie that takes place in France, which if you don't already know, means that it will be one hundred and over nine thousaaaaand per cent awesome. What nine thousand?! Yes, Virginia, over nine thousand.

I call it the French Connection, at least until I get sued. What it boils down to is that France acts as a melting pot, with its brazenness (google French movies and you'll see some brazenness) allowing standard martial arts action tropes to live up to their fullest potential. The movie doesn't even have to take place entirely in France. For proof of this, go watch Wasabi. Right now. It proves my theory so correct I don't even have to replicate it under controlled experiment conditions, so in your face Scientific Method! Huh? What's that? That's right, you've got nothing! NOTHING!

But I digress. Back to Kiss of the Dragon, after the jump.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

In case you were wondering...

This weekend was pretty good, all things considered. There were a few moments which were either scary or boggling, but ultimately it was quite nice.

Friday started off with a bang, literally, which resulted in my rear windshield being shattered, so I had to repair that, which put a dent in the old pocketbook, but I got to go run around the mall with my girlfriend while they were fixing it. What's more, she tried out the Wii at the Gamestop, and actually had fun playing Wii Swordplay, which I think is fantastic. We all know it's a slippery slope from enjoying casual type games on the Wii to pwning n00bs in multiplayer on anything, so woo! It's only a matter of time now! BWAHAHAHAHAHA.

Then on Saturday I got to go up to Battleforge Games and hang out with my friends. I finished generating my Star Wars character, all that's left now is to flesh out his backstory and take him from being a collection of notes to a (hopefully) fun and well-developed character. And even better, I learned some really cool techniques that I can put to use in painting my Tau army. So hopefully soon I'll have some pictures of my painted up models to show you, for the Greater Good.

And today was pretty nifty as well. I was planning on swinging by BFG again to try the Battlestar Galactica Board Game out, as it was being demo'd today, but I missed that. It was okay though, I got invited to play in a one shot with some folks I do not get to see enough of, so it worked out. I played a Half-Elf Historian, who was about as scholarly as Indiana Jones, and fought with two swords. The Tempest build out of Martial Power is quite fun and entertaining to play. I got a lot of mileage out of several of the powers, although if there is one thing I cannot recommend enough regarding that build: take powers that let you attack more than one creature at a time. It will make the world a better place.

Anyway, that was my weekend, I hope yours have been as fun.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

We all need one

A Walker Texas Ranger Lever.

I know if I had one, it'd be roundhouse kicks for everyone!

It's Just Around the Corner

They're putting up Thanksgiving and Halloween decorations in the store. I've even seen Christmas tree displays at the hobby shop. This can only mean one thing...

It's almost Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day!

Get your Event Horizon Calendars all hung up, hang your tachyon flux array by the chimney with care. Only a few months worth of shopping days left, which is like no time at all if you're a time traveler. Or is it all the time in the world? I forget. I stop now. Head hurt from write.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

OMG Star Wars!

Working on my character background for the Star Wars campaign has me thinking about watching the movies when I was much younger. I remember I had a list of things I wanted to do, should I ever find myself in the Star Wars world. It went a little something like this:
  • Become a Jedi.
  • Be best friends with a Wookiee.
  • Fly an X-Wing
  • Talk to Jawas
  • Talk to C-3PO and R2-D2
  • Get to meet other Jedi
  • Ride on a Tauntaun (and see if they smelled bad on the outside)
  • Go to the Rebel Base and be cool.
I am sure there's more to it, but that's about all I can remember right now. Anyway, this list is fascinating because, although I've never done any of these things, I can remember imagining so vividly that I knew what it would feel like to fly in a spaceship or swing a lightsaber (I definitely knew what it would sound like: kssshhzzzsshhwommmmwomwomwwwooommm), and that drops me right into a galaxy far far away.

Actors call this sense memory (I should know), drawing upon memories of sensations you've had in the past to connect you with a world you're pretending to inhabit. For example, if you start thinking about cheeseburgers, and find yourself remembering the smell and taste of them and then getting hungry for a moment, that's recreating the sensation of being hungry, even if you're not actually in the mood for some food, dude.

Roleplaying games are another venue for acting, and while they might not have the audiences of movies and plays... well... most plays,* they do have by and large more awesome plots. I mean think about it? If there were more plays that had evil cultists trying to take over the world by finding the hand of a powerful undead deity, you'd so be there. Or if plays started featuring orcs standing around guarding pies or treasure chests, and now that I think of it, what play wouldn't be better by including a Gelatinous Cube or Sith Lord?

MACBETH: Is this a dagger I see before me, handle pointed toward my hand? Come let me clutch you.

(Macbeth reaches out for the dagger, only to be engulfed by a quivering mass of CUBE)

MACBETH: Aaarblhglubglubaaauughblubglugglub.

CUBE: (Wiggling and jiggling noises as the CUBE trembles extemporaneously)


HAMLET: To be or not to be, that is the question...

(DARTH VADER stands slightly upstage of HAMLET, looking unimpressed and menacing.)

VADER: (After two deep, respirator enhanced breaths) I find your lack of faith disturbing.

(VADER extends one hand, fingers curled as though crushing something towards HAMLET who proceeds to choke and gasp)

HAMLET: Hurrrk! Gaarrrk!

VADER: The power to destroy your uncle is insignificant next to the power of the Force.

(HAMLET'S FATHER'S GHOST appears, shimmering and blue, like Obi-Wan)

GHOST: Run Halmet, run! Use the Force! Trust your feelings!

I mean, I'd pay to see that.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Makes Sense to Me

I went to the book store today and I saw this:

What I love best is the look in his eyes. It's as though he's saying, from the bottom of his heart(s?), "I glub you."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Wham bam update you ma'am.

Painting Experiment: Day Two.

The paint scheme continues to elude me. I fear that I have not seen the last of this occurrence. But I must steel myself for the coming battle. I must remind myself of all I strive for. It is not just for myself that I prime and paint and curse the very pigment I am attempting to apply, but rather it is for the good of the world that I do this. For if I can prove that miniatures can be painted, then shall our mastery of life and death be complete! They said it couldn't be done! They called me mad, but soon... soon I shall show them, show them all! Muhuhuhuahahahahahahahahaa!

In the meantime, I've a quick story to tell you.

Earlier today, I went over to my girlfriend's house to re-hang a tarp she'd put up to give her dogs a dry spot to hang out in. No big deal, I thought, five quick minutes and I'll be done. I think that was where I went wrong. If I'd just thought it would be this horrifically complicated mess that would take all afternoon and, say, catch half of the neighborhood on fire, I'd be fine.*

The tarp was laying on the ground when I arrived. A pool of slightly dirty water had formed in th center of it, but that was easily dealt with. Water ran down the blue material and quickly soaked into the mud all around the tarp, forming a kind of shoe-grabbing, nigh inescapable bog. That wasn't a big problem, in itself.

It was the dogs stomping around in it, and then all over me, that really made the mud pit any kind of issue. But even then, who doesn't like to get muddy every now and then? Again, no big problem. It was when the dogs decided to make a break for it that it all went pear-shaped.

I can only imagine what the neighbors must have thought when they saw me, covered in mud and looking like I'd been that way for days, chasing this HUGE black lab type dog, and this teeny dachsund-esque dog all around the neighborhood. They're running and all excited because they're free, I'm shouting invectives at them for much the same reason, and the big one has slipped free of her collar--a metal chain--which I am clutching, no, brandishing as I corner them in a backyard down a nearby side street. It's worth mentioning a third dog was following me, pawing excitedly at the fracas.

But in the end, the dogs were returned safely, the tarp hung, and no harm done. In fact, the further and further I get from this, the funnier the whole misadventure seems. I expect this time tomorrow it'll be a shenaningan. Maybe a caper.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Today I started to paint my Tau for Warhammer 40k. So far I've only got 4 models painted, and I'm still experimenting with the final technique of painting them, before I start in on the rest of them.

The color scheme I have so far is a dark blue/gray for the cloth, with stark white coloring on the armored plates of their uniform. A metallic copper paint fills in the gun. I'm still not sure what I shall do for the lenspiece on the helmet. So far, I like the idea of painting it either a darker gray or black and painting the inside copper, so as to make it distinct. Although it may well be fine just as white.

Another of my models is drying right now. Once it's painted, I'll post a picture so as to show the progress I have made. I think the colors work out wonderfully, but I've been told (and am finding out) that applying white paint is a pain.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I am not allowed to write a Die Hard Movie.

The Trailer:

The camera fades in on a vaguely European dude barking orders in a thickly accented voice.

European Dude: I don't care who zey send, once ve have taken control of the banks and planted ze bombs in the city's water and orphan supply, they will be powerless to stop us!

Cut to a shot of bombs being lowered into a stream of water, then a shot of bombs being taped to orphans. We can still get away with doing that, right?

Narrator: When terror strikes.

Cut to a shot of those goons from Die Hard 2 looking all tough and menacing.

Narrator: The world is helpless

Have the go
ons open fire, sending policemen or possibly some national guardsmen running.

Narrator: But this Summer one man will refuse to give up. Show a silhouetted figure moving behind a wall, lurking in the shadows near the goons. One man will refuse to lay down and take it.

Cut to shot of someone bursting through the walls, tackling some goons while roaring angrily. Slow pan down to reveal our hero:


Narrator: This Summer, Rasputin will Die Hard!

Cut to shot of Rasputin screaming all angry like while one of the Die Hard Goons shoots him, but it doesn't stop him because he's Rasputin.


He knocks the goon aside with one sweep of his terrible iron fist, only to be stabbed by another g
oon. Again though, he's Rasputin, and so he grabs the other guy by the throat and throws him off of the building that they're totally on top of. Cut to a shot of Rasputin sitting in a cafe, enjoying some soup.

Waiter: Sir, I've been instructed to give you this note. The note reads, "HAHA, I Poisoned your food!"


Cut to the cafe exploding.

Cut to a shot of Rasputin landing, but looking all exploded, and killing a goon buy punching through his heart. Cut to goons talking about him.

Goons: We can't kill him! We've tried everything! We even tried to hang him! He won't die? What do we do? What do we do?


Rasputin bursts through the wall behind him and stabs him a couple of times with a knife that had previously been stabbed into his chest.

European Dude: Who are you? Why won't you die?!

Cut to a shot of Rasputin on the phone, talking to his estranged wife about his daughter's wedding.

Estranged Wife: So you'll be there? She wants you to give her away.


Reveal Rasputin being choked by yet another goon that he destroys. He hangs up the phone. Cut to second explosion.

When the smoke clears, show Rasputin look
ing banged up, but not quite as much as Bruce Willis at the end of Die Hard 3, smoking from the blast.

Rasputin: I'm too old for this sh-- Cut to a third explosion, which reveals the title of the movie:


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Speaking of roleplaying games, the other great thing about this game starting up is that I'll get to create a new character. Breathing life into a character concept is one of the things I love the most about gaming. It's almost more fun than actually playing the game, because when you're creating a character, you are still dealing in the primordial ooze of fertile ideas. Your character has unlimited potential, they can be anything. Here you have the most freedom. Your whims dictate who your character knows, where they've come in life and where they think they're going.

Seeing where the process of creating and fleshing out a character leads is fascinating. There are times when it's as though the character has a mind of their own, and certain things just seem to make sense. Other times, I'm looking at you Shadowrun, you're at kind of a loss for words, aside from, "I DON'T KNOW BLARGHABLAGHABLARGH."

Once you start playing, then the waveform collapses, and your character ceases to exist in potentia... that is another kind of fun in and of itself. You see, I'm also an actor, and I love trying to figure out the personality of another character. It's an exercise in exploration both of the human experience and of the self. Through putting yourself in someone else's shoes, you not only allow yourself to experience things you wouldn't have otherwise gotten to do, you can afford yourself a glimpse into the other realms of your persona, seeing how, for example, the parts of you that glower at the jerkface who just cut you off in traffic, would respond given other stimuli.

It can be kind of cathartic in a way. Sadly, this doesn't happen too often, either in acting or in gaming. I feel it's because we've built for ourselves a kind of ingrained sense of detatchment. This lets us distance ourselves from what is going on, keeping us from feeling foolish if we're caught doing something silly ("Oh, I was doing that ironically,") but it also keeps us from getting to step outside of our own experiences and truly embrace another self.

Either that or we keep cracking bad jokes about the name of the ship, or the fact that the party has a donkey, so it's like unlimited ass jokes time.

Maybe a little of column A, a little of column B. I find though, that I have the most fun, and the characters feel the most vibrant when they go for the gusto. When I say, 'you know what? I'm just going to do this and it will be awesome,' then it usually is. I've seen other people do this as well. My friend Frank has done this a few times. His last character, Edward Bartholomew MacPhail was larger than life. On the surface his mannerisms were completely ridiculous, like something you might expect from an ostentatious Ming the Merciless impersonator, with a more benevolent megalomania, but that's what makes him so completely awesome. He knew what he wanted and was not afraid to go after it.

I hope the character I end up playing in this Star Wars game ends up as much a bon viveur as that. Given the kind of adventure the setting lends itself to, I'm pretty hopeful this will be the case.

Tomorrow, I'll include the backstory for my character, one Jenros Vel, MASTER OF THE well, okay maybe not.

Friday, September 18, 2009

From a Galaxy Far Far Away...

My friend Mike is starting up a Star Wars role-playing game, and I get to be in it.

This is all kinds of awesome, and here's why:

Star Wars is a setting that I've never really played in before but at the same time it's something that is so iconic, because well, it's Star Wars, which means that I get the excitement of something new and the comfort of the familiar at the same time!

Also, seriously, it's Star Wars. Playing in this game means I get to go out and have adventures in space, flying in spaceships, fighting the Empire, shooting lasers, talking to Wookiees... man, that gets me all giddy just thinking about it. I mean come on, who hasn't wanted to make friends with a walking carpet bag and then go flying around the galaxy having adventures and fighting evil?

Nobody, that's who. Star Wars speaks to something deep inside everyone's cultural experience (hell, for most of us it is a part of everyone's cultural experience), because the characters and the story are so universally human. They're archetypal examples of figures that span the human experience time and again. Joseph Campbell wrote about this in The Hero with a Thousand Faces, which George Lucas drew on when making the movies. So Star Wars is something that reaches out and grabs everyone.

And it's such a staggeringly huge setting. It takes place in a galaxy far far away, as well you know, with whole encyclopedias and almanacs dedicated to detailing the various planets, species, weapons, ships, customs, etc. of this universe it inhabits, a handy summary of this is included in every sourcebook for the game! This makes it incredibly easy for me to figure out a place for my character, since there's a rich history to draw upon. And being able to learn more details of the setting means I can build this rich history and add another layer of immersion to the game world, so that I can make a Knowledge check and be like, "Why yes, it was in fact the Sith Lord Exar Kun who, along with Ulic Qel-Droma used the Dark Reaper superweapon to devastate Yavin back in the days of the Old Republic*," instead of having to basically parrot whatever it is the GM tells me is the stuff I know to everyone else. It makes me feel more involved, more invested in the game.

And most importantly... this is the kind of adventure I love. It's so melodramatic. Heroes are larger than life, villains are undeniably evil, and a sense of mystery pervades even the most mundane parts of the setting. This makes for rich, cinematic gaming, and it's the kind of stuff I crave.

Finally: Wookiees. I'm just sayin': Roooorwooorghworgh.

*I am not making this up. That this is a factual statement in the world of Star Wars makes me squee with delight.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

T3h Games!

So today I entered an Essay contest for the ESRB which asked why I thought game rating summaries were important. That got me thinking about why it is that games are so important:

Games bring us together. During childhood, I bonded with my family over games. My dad and I fought off demons together in Act Raiser, looked for the Seven Mystic Runes of the 7th Saga, even stomped around as Godzilla saving both Tokyo AND Outer Space. How's that for being involved with your kids? Nothing quite like beating up UFOs and King Gidorah AT THE SAME TIME to warm the heart and create memories that last a lifetime. We still talk about games to this day, reminiscing about how we never did stop the Warlock in Shadowgate. Freaking Shadowgate.

Yeah, that sad little "you're out of lives" jingle from Mario Bros. has NOTHING on the grinning specter of Death looming ominously on your TV screen, mocking your inadequacies with his silent rictus, and those soulless, all-consuming, ever baleful eyes.

But I digress. It wasn't just father-son bonding that these games fostered. The advent of the n64, and Goldeneye in particular helped me make friends and influence people. Well, I shot them a bunch with the golden gun anyway. It's a kind of influence.

What really made the game great was that it allowed up to four people to play the game at once, so my friends and I would sit there, joking and trash-talking with each other, while we fought to the death on screen. Unless you were a vile screen-watcher, in which case the fighting spilled over into the meat world, and rightly so.

The best thing about Goldeneye, though, was what its success bore: Perfect Dark.

Easily one of the best games I've ever played, Perfect Dark brought my sister Sierra and I together like nothing else. We could spend hours together, fighting bots, fighting against each other, but never fighting each other. This game provided rocket-powered catharsis, and a competitive story mode I have not seen in any game before or since. Also, it had this guy:

It's time to admit it, games are how we relate to each other. My group of friends comes together to play role-playing games, which gives us an excuse to socialize with one another. My girlfriend and I play games of Scrabble together on quiet nights. Earlier tonight I played Warhammer 40k with my best friend, and we spent the whole time laughing.

The point of all of this is that games bring us together. Through them, people get involved with one another across barriers both real and imagined. Anyway, that's all I can really think to say for now. But I do believe I'll write more about this subject soon.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

30 Days of Updates (Save Ends)

In an effort to jam pack my blog with awesomeness, well, really just to see if I can update on a regular basis, I am going to update my blog at least once a day for the next thirty days. Hopefully I can stick to it, rain or shine. We'll see what kind of stuff* this brings.

*I reserve the right to substitute things instead of stuff with no prior notice.

Don't worry, I'm from Space.

So a while back, all of the cool kids decided that they would make web logs, or "blogs." These "blogs" contained the collective thoughts of humanity and were a repository of the wisdom of the ages, a digital Library of Alexandria. However, like the Library of Alexandria, they too were besieged by Nega Beings from the Xth Dimensionoid, hell bent on revenge. Such was the force of this manxome foe, that a blog force had to be created, and even that was not enough. So with the help of a bunch of crackling lightning and some totally sweet theme music, they combined, forming the blog-o-sphere. Even then, if they hadn't formed that energy sword right after the last commercial break we might not be here today.

I know because I was there. I saw it all (from Space, naturally). Now that the world is safe for blogination I'm making one. This is it. I'm not really sure what else to say.