Topic: Star Trek
Thanks to Rodger for the tip!
Thanks to Rodger for the tip!
Good Lord, I'm beat! It's been a long, hot day full of chores and the weekend's brimming with 'em as well.
Don't get me wrong.
It wasn't a bad day. Just exhausting.
Today was our quarterly off-site meeting. These events about team building and chill-laxin' with co-workers. In the past, we've gone bowling, shot some pool, and played laser tag. Today we had a bbq.
I was designated grill-master.
Before heading out to the park, I slathered myself up in some SPF-45 sunblock. I have two skin colors, you see: Fish Belly White and Fire Engine Red. I have spent my entire life in the neverending flight from melanoma. As I applied the don't-get-cancer-and-die lotion, I observed that it had expired back in 2006.
My pharmacist friend Libby would be so upset to know I have expired product in the house.
I completed my application of prophylactic ointment, deciding to take my chances. The grill wound up being smack dab in the center of a clearing. No shade to be had. I manned the grill for almost two hours, baking in the 94-degree afternoon sun.
No sun burn, so it's all good.
I grilled tons of sausage, ribs, chicken, fajitas, and hot dogs.
By the way, when I was picking up the charcoal last night? I met my new grill, the Char-griller Duo. She's got a side burner to heat your sauces or beans or what have you, a chamber for gas grilling, a chamber for charcoal grilling, and a side fire box for smoking. 1260 square inches of grilling space. Look at her! She's beautiful!
She'll be mine... soon... very soon...
There were deviled eggs at our off-site.
I have always maintained that all social settings are improved by the presence of strippers. I amend that statement thus: All social settings are improved by the presence of strippers and deviled eggs.
After running some errands post picnic, I returned to the house where I proceeded to clean the garage. Tomorrow's trash day, so my goal was to get as much crap to the curb as possible. Man... I did it, too. I went through a bunch of stuff I've been holding onto for God knows how long. I've cleared up a lot of space. Hallelujah!
Now, I'm showered and in my Superman PJs enjoying the coolness of the air conditioning...
We've got a litany of chores planned for this weekend. The Wife and I have agreed that if we're far enough along on our task list on Sunday, we'll go see Indy IV on Monday. Hello, motivation.
But other good stuff happens this weekend. Our great and wonderful friends, Mark and Libby, move back to town this weekend. They've been gone too long! He and I have an appointment to go visit Fry's this week. And we're already chatting about sitting on the porch, drinking wine and smoking cigars. Can't wait.
I've nattered on long enough.
Back to chores.
Robocop, the first one, is an Academy Award winning film that was both an artistic and commercial success. The movie made more than $50 million during its original domestic run in 1987. It made buckets of money in VHS and DVD, cable and broadcast TV. And don't forget the funny books! And I know it seems strange to think of it as an artistic success, but it totally was! The violence and mayhem in addition to the portrayal of politics and media were cutting social commentary. And the public sopped it up with a biscuit.
Any way you slice it, Robocop was a success. Why then would you ever greenlight a remake? A sequel, yes. But a remake?!? I don't get it.
And Red Dawn...? Red Dawn was just bad. Oh, it had promise. Neck deep in the Cold War, the notion of a Soviet invasion of the American heartland was thrilling. Sadly, the movie just wound up being lame. But let's ponder a remake...
Who really wants to see the Soviets (which, y'know, don't exist anymore) invade anything now? We've got scarier bad guys these days. Ruskies and their conventional warfare? That's not nearly as bone chilling as dirty bombs and airplanes in skyscrapers. Those terrorist guys lose points for Richard Reid, though. Shoe Bomber? Really? You follow crashing a plane in the freaking Pentagon with a guy who can't light his shoe? Huge PR blunder.
Perhaps it's a Chinese invasion? That seems unlikely. We're their biggest customer. In 2006, the United States imported more than 162 billion dollars in Chinese goods. Who's gonna buy their crap if they invade? Going to war with your customers is spectacularly bad business.
So the Chinese are out.
I don't think the Cubans or the Venezuelans are up to it either.
Perhaps then it is a total reimagining of what Red Dawn means...?
Chilling isn't it?
Suzanne went to Washington D.C. last week. In her many excursions there, she visited the Washington National Cathedral immersing herself in some hardcore Episcopalianism. Travelling beyond the confines of the ass-backwards, freak show of the Diocese of Fort Worth, she shared Anglican fellowship with living, breathing lady priests. I am green with envy.
At the Cathedral, she saw the Space Window.
The Space Window commemorates the Apollo moonlandings and even incorporates a fragment of lunar rock. The Wife was mightily impressed. At first pass, a stained glass depiction of manned space flight might seem an odd subject for a piece of church art, but the building is not just the National Cathedral of the Episcopal Church. It is also the Congressionally delegated non-denominational National House of Prayer. Thus, the cathedral is full of memorials to events or persons of national signifcance.
Suzanne bought me the Space Window tie (nattily modeled to the right), which I wore to church this morning.
It's my new favorite tie.
After church, I took our Rat Terrier Walter up to Petsmart for a little bit of grocery shopping. Walter is all wiggle. In fact, I am convinced that all of his brains are in his tail. His tail seems to control him.
With a 40-pound bag of kibble in the cart, we headed to the register.
A woman passed by us and said, "Hello, Cutie."
I smiled and with a bit of swagger responded, "Well, hello."
I have rarely been provided such a harsh, eat-crap-and-burn-in-hell look as was provided to me today.
It is possible that she may have been talking to Walter.
Suzanne coordinated a docent-led tour of Fort Worth's rather magnificent Japanese Gardens for our church's Adult Fellowship. It was a beautiful day for the tour. The weather was abosutely perfect.
I've loaded today's pictures to my flickr account.
Work continues on my SF setting. The game I'll be running in my new universe is tentatively set in the year 2707, nearly seven hundred years into the future. I say "tentatively" because I suspect I will find that I don't need such a wide expanse of time to develop my the universe in which I'll run my game. I may only need 400 years. We'll see.
I've been crafting the timeline and have the next two hundred years pretty well documented in my notes.
Here for you future history students is an outline of the milestone events for the next two centuries.
More to come!
I rolled out of bed this morning and took care of a number chores around the house. I cleaned the kitchen, vacuumed, took care of some things in the yard, cleaned the gutters... those kinds of things.
Before lunch I ran over to Kinkos to scan a few legal documents that I neeed to send off. I'd have done it at home on my new wireless printer/scanner/espesso machine, but I haven't figured out how to adjust the resolution in the software that drives it. It's scanning HUGE files.
Anyway, I went to Kinkos.
I had two documents requiring scanning. The first was twelve pages long, the other two pages. I handed them to the lady at the counter.
"I need these scanned," I said, "And placed on this jump drive."
I handed her the jump drive.
"Can these be scanned together?" She asked.
"No," I answered, "Two separate documents, please."
"OKay..." She tapped at a calculator, "That'll be $6.99 to set up each document and $1.39 for each page..."
"Wait," I stopped her, "I paid $3.24 to scan a twelve page document on Sunday night."
"Then you were undercharged."
"No," I shook my head. "I don't think I was undercharged at all. I think you're fucking me."
I took my documents and headed to the office to co-opt company resources for a personal activity. I figured it was lunch time. I wouldn't run into anybody.
And that's almost correct.
I only ran into our CEO. Did I mention I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt and haven't shaved since last Thursday? I was quite a picture. She chatted with me the whole time I scanned my paperwork.
Afterwards, I went over to lunch at the corner pub to smoke a cigar while enjoying a couple of frothy cold ones and a plate of fish and chips.
While there, I started a fire.
They serve the fish and chips in the traditional newsprint. Cigar got too close. Flames!
I watched a terrific movie tonight... I'll tell you more about that tomorrow.
This is huge.
Paizo Publishing®, LLC today announced that Monte Cook, the co-creator of 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons and author of the 3.5 PHB and DMG as well as the PtolusTM campaign setting and the recent Book of Experimental MightTM, has joined the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game team as a Rules Consultant.
"This is going to be a lot of fun," said Monte Cook. "Pathfinder is a fresh spin on a rules system that I love and the guys at Paizo are great to work with. They produce nothing but the highest quality products."
"Monte Cook is a legend of third edition and of the Open Gaming movement," said Paizo's Publisher, Erik Mona. "He's also a great DM, and has the best mind for mechanics I've ever seen. To have one of the original third edition designers helping us with the Pathfinder RPG is like a dream come true. With Monte's involvement, I am certain that the future of the edition he helped to create will be very long and very fruitful."
"I am really excited to be working with Monte on this project," said Paizo's Lead Designer, Jason Bulmahn. "His advice has been a great help to the Pathfinder RPG. When it comes to rules design and knowledge of the 3.5 system, there is absolutely no one better."
Monte Cook is well known in both inside DnD and out. Monte Cook's World of Darkness is fan-freakin'-tastic! He is expert at flipping established concepts on their heads and delivering fresh, new interpretations. I have to tell you, it has been a long time since I have been excited about sword and sorcery games like Dungeons and Dragons. The guys at Paizo have me jazzed about Pathfinder.
The addition of Monte Cook to their team has moved me from curiousity concerning the upcoming Pathfinder RPG to definitely purchasing the Pathfinder RPG.
Monte Cook will also be contributing an introduction to the final Pathfinder Roleplaying Game hardcover, scheduled for an August 2009 release.
Dig the picture to the left. It's a sad state of affairs when George W. is the most photogenic in a picture. I mean, what the hell are they all looking at!?!? I had no idea that daughter Barbara (left) was so hideously malformed by scoliosis. Seriously, stand up straight for God's sake!
That out of the way, I've been giving some thought to this marriage. I've no doubt that Jenna - her portrayal in ROBOT CHICKEN aside - is a wonderful woman and will make that Hager boy a fine wife. Yet there is more to mate choosing than simple compatibility. One must consider the inlaws.
George and Laura are whackadoos. I mean, George sees things that aren't there (WMDs) and is given to bouts of unprovoked rage (declaring war on Iraq) whereas Laura is a man-killer. I can only imagine how stressful a visit with these inlaws might be.
Which George do you get on that visit?
Good Time George with beer in hand?
Or bomb you back to the Stone Age George?
Perhaps John McCain would be a better fathere-in-law? He seems an agreeable sort, but I doubt that you could ever complain about your day to him.
"I had the worst day ever," You might say to him.
"Oh really?" He'd ask. "Were you tortured while suffering from dysentery?"
"Nossir," You'd mumble in response, "I just had a lot of phone calls."
Yeah, I don't think I'd want McCain for an inlaw either.
I think the guy to have as your father-in-law has got to be Bill Clinton. He's got a sense of humor, likes to eat, likes to drink. I can totally see myself sitting on the porch drinking beer and smoking cigars. Note: Always bring your own cigars to Bill's house.
You have no idea where his have been!
Last night I ran chapter three of my zombie apocalypse role playing setting, "...And a Little Child Shall Eat Them" using the All Flesh Must Be Eaten game system with a few twists borrowed from Savage Worlds. In the first session, the players were caught up in the outbreak. The crisis started with children of all ages vomiting up gobs of black ooze as the little darlings transform to feral, horrifically fast and strong monsters with a curious taste for "the sweet, warm screaming flesh of man." If bitten by one of the feral children, or Growlers, and the victim is fortunate enough to survive the encounter, he can expect to succumb to an infection that will render him a zombie as well. This type of zombie is a shambling, slow moving, stupid sort called a Moaner. At the end of the first session, the players escaped the Calhoun town square.
In the second session, the players picked up two new player characters and Jim Adler, the Texas Hammer. The survivors navigated traffic jams, blew up a hospital, and found themselves at last on the calm waters of Calhoun's Lake Ramsey after losing one of their number to the zombie infection.
The Players and Their Characters:
Last night's game started where we left off last time. The survivors had ventured out to the center of the lake to catch their breath, get some rest. As dawn broke across the water, the warning tone of the Emergency Alert System blared over the radio:
"This is a message of the Emergency Alert System. In accordance with Executive Order 12656, a national emergency has been declared and a state of Martial Law exists. All food, fuel and energy resources are under the control of Federal authorities. A national curfew of 4:00 pm has been assessed. Violators will be shot. Looters will be shot. Stay in your homes. Avoid contact with strangers. Remain alert for further instructions. This has been a message of the Emergency Alert System..."
Paddling toward their boat in a canoe, the survivors were joined by former local DJ Gary Ventura. Ventura had been camping in the woods when the zombie apocalypse started. Since then, he's been paddling for a clear shore with no luck. Moaners had lined the shores.
Despite the EAS warning, the players decided to seek out provisions. Thus they set about looting a lake house chosen for its pier-style dock and absence of zombies. This scene didn't roll the way I thought it would. I thought for sure that the guys would get bogged down in the lake house, that they'd make a loud entry thereby attracting all those darling children.
But they surprised me, choosing a quiet entry from the roof. Inside, I described a bloody scene where some terrible feast had been consumed. Evidence available suggested that a Growler entered through the round, stained glass window over there front door. Blood and viscera scarred the living room.
"There are bits and pieces of flesh and mismatched body parts littered about," I said, "But not enough to assemble an entire, complete person."
"Should one be so inclined," Josh added.
In the carnage I had anticipated, I planned on splitting the party. You see, Aaron (aka Sgt Fielder) and Jamie (aka Sean) were unable to attend the session. Thus, I figured I'd have them disappear...
But the scene didn't roll out that way and the party stayed together.
Back on the boat with zombies - both Growlers and Moaners - on their heals, the party escaped with additional provisions including a two-meter handheld radio. They were able to pick up some additional news...
"...Ardmore's a complete loss. There's been no communication out of there since yesterday!""...We were caravanning... eight cars and trucks along with a Greyhound bus... those, those... children came out of nowhere ... more than a dozen of them...they hit the bus! They flipped it over! A Greyhound bus! Flipped over by babies! They tore everyone inside apart!"
"...Ardmore was declared a quarantine zone."
"A CDC field team is in Calhoun...""...Dallas has been declared a quarantine zone..."
"They're bombing the quarantine zones!"
On the shores of the lake, the throngs of Moaners grew larger. Growlers were occasionally seen and while the Moaners might wander and disappear into the water, the precious babies clearly did not care for the wet.
The following morning the players awakened to another EAS message:
"This is a message of the Emergency Alert System. Effective at 4:01 pm today local time, the city of Calhoun will be designated a quarantine zone subject to sterilization protocols. Evacuation procedures for the city of Calhoun have begun. Proceed at once to The Rockin' M Ranch located north of County Road 49 on Cattleman's Drive. The final evacuation transport will depart at 4:00 pm local time. This has been a message of the Emergency Alert System."
With quarantine zones being bombed, the survivors were in immediate agreement that they needed to make haste to the evacuation site. The problem then was the number of zombies on the shore line. Much discussion followed.
The boys decided to go the route of the public boat ramp. To draw off the zombies, they set the boat on a slow course close, but parallel to the shoreline. To attract attention, they cranked up the radios and sound systems while rigging the horn to continuously blare. The survivors then loaded onto the canoe and paddled away to land as the larger boat puttered away drawing the attention of the undead.
Only one of the characters had any experience in a canoe, Gary Ventura. The rest were all amateurs. More than midway to the shore, several were flipped into the water: Sgt Fielder, Sean, and Jim Adler.
All three were attacked by zombies lurking beneath the waves. Jim Adler, beset by two Moaners, disappeared under the dark waves of Lake Calhoun not to be seen again.
Sean evaded the creatures and rushed up onto the beach where he sat, waiting for the others.
Remember, Sgt Fielder and Sean's players were not present. I was running their characters as non-player characters. Sean is autistic, but has the ability to enter a savant trance enabling him to perform highly complex actions. Regrettably, I couldn't get him a successful roll allowing him to enter said trance.
Sgt Fielder was a having a devil of a time dealing with his aquatic assailant.
I have to admit being terribly surprised that the other players rendered aid. Really, it would have been easy for them to land the boat and get the hell away. Their diversionary tactic had worked brilliantly. The Moaners and Growlers on the shore were distracted by the other boat. It made sense for them to leave their mates.
But these guys turned back to help, much to my amazement.
It wound up being a rather dramatic scene. In fact, one of the moaners landed a successful bite onto Sgt Fielder. Had Josh not reminded me that Fielder was wearing body armor (aquired in session two), our sharp-shooting marine would have caught him some zombification. As it was, the kevlar replled the zombie's bite and Fielder avoided infection.
And of course, he was lucky that he fell from the boat in a fairly shallow area. Otherwise, he'd have sunk like a stone!
Fielder hurled the biting, legless zombie away from him just as the rest of the survivors noted that a pack of Growlers had spotted them. The precious, darling children raced towards them. The survivors splashed their way to shore, sprinting for the parking lot. Gone were any plans for some kind of sports utility vehicle. All they wanted at that moment was any kind of locomotion that could get them away.
Hitting the beach, Sgt Fielder hauled Sean to his feet by the collar, dragging him along.
Gary Ventura reached a Volvo station wagon. The door was open, and with his mad mechanic skills successfully hot-wired the car (GM's Note: it is a well established fact that all auto mechanics can hot-wire a car. In fact, most auto mechanics get their start in the trade as car thieves. That's why most people feel robbed after visiting the auto shop. Additionally, due to their early years of crime, many mechanics have prison in their background. Which explains the sense of violation one generally feels at the auto-shop. Sad, but true).
Ventura, Mr. Badger, Chef Jacques, and Professor Pettigrew all made it into the car. Sean wasn't so lucky. He fell to a couple of the Growlers. Try as I might, I couldn't roll successfully to get him into that savant trance.
Sean will be missed.
Gaming at my house, I use a cigar box in which I roll my dice and I provide another such box for the player's table. Last night, my cigar box was regularly referred to as "The Death Box."
Sgt Fielder again had problems, rasslin with some Growlers. Again, the survivors paused their escape to help their chum, but not without some dissention.
"Leave him!" Mr. Badger urged.
Professor Pettigrew boiled out of the car, firing on the zombies.
"Dammit!" Badger growled, following suit to assist.
Car door open, Chef Jacques fired on a few before being attacked himself, a Growler chomping down on his tender, supple flesh. With a cry of both alarm and horror, the Chef threw himself and the zombie out of the car just as a Growler landed on the hood of the Volvo smashing its hand through the windshield clawing for Ventura.
He narrowly escaped the wee one.
Fielder, Pettigrew, and Badger dispatch the Growlers on their side of the car. Two of them hustled back into the car while Fielder charged after Chef Jacques, firing on the creature atop him.
He pasted the annoying biter.
The marine hauled the Chef up, legs churning the way back to the Volvo as the Moaner horde approached...
"Open the trunk!" He cried, "Open the trunk!!!"
Fielder dumped the Chef into the back and climbed in after him while laying down covering fire to aid in their retreat, Growlers and Moaners close behind.
Ventura at the wheel, they sped out of the parking lot.
Navigating the roads leading up to the evacuation site, they encountered much of the same problem as they did in the earlier session. Burned out and wrecked cars littering the streets serving as an obstacle course. The way riddled with barriers and their vehicle not the most maneuverable, it was slow going.
Along the way, they came upon a van bearing magnetic signs identifying it a CDC vehicle. Of course the Centers for Disease Control have a way to address the zombie infestation. Right?
The boys stopped to check it out.
The van had been attacked. A bloody, broken driver's side window was evident. Gobbets of flesh remained in the seat. Otherwise the van was vacant of passengers (undead or otherwise), though it was full of equipment, samples, and serum.
The boys resolved that something here might be valuable. They took the van and abandoned the Volvo.
Motoring on, they passed subdivisions consumed in flames.
Moaners and growlers pursued them, but they were able to stay ahead of the monsters. As they approached a group of survivors moving quickly on foot, the boys realized they will have led the zombies right to them. There were eleven pedestrians.
"We shouldn't stop," Badger urged. "Just keep going."
The group's decision was to the contrary.
Four additional passengers could be accommodated in the van. But no more.
The Chef, shoulder wound bandaged, and the DJ decided to run over to the neighborhood ablaze and grab another car to meet the demands of their transportation needs.
Zombies fell on the party, reducing their number and thereby the size requirement of whatever additional car they would boost.
Putting his mechanic skills to work, Ventura hot-wired a Toyota Celica. He, Jacques and their new guest all hopped in and fell in behind the CDC van.
Arriving at the Rockin' M Ranch, the evacuation site, they found a compound well-defended by Texas National Guard troops. The grounds leading to the ranch were littered with the bodies of slaughtered Moaners and a few Growlers. Sentry posts were stationed all about the ranch's game fence.
Heavy lift transport helicopters were positioned about the acreage with lines of people boarding.
The survivors, all but Jacques, were directed to the helicopter lines.
To Jacques, one of the Guardsmen said: "Sir, we need to get that bite taken care of. Get him to the medical tents!"
He was escorted by a soldier and medic to a tent where his wound was treated and provided with an IV.
The other survivors were all lifted into the air.
Jacques looked about observing a curious lack of medical personnel... or any personnel for that matter.
And that's when the bombs fell, consuming Calhoun, the ranch, and Chef Jacques.
I'm pleased with the way this resolved, though sorry that two of my original players couldn't make the game. These three chapters set the stage for the larger story I want to tell. And there are actual survivors to carry forward intp session #4.
Everyone had a good time.
From all three of these sessions, we lost three player characters to the zombie hordes: The Doctor (played by James in session #2), Sean (Jamie's character and NPC'd by me in session #3), and the Chef (played by Josh in session #2 and #3). Rest in peace, boys.
I'm already making notes for the next chapter in the zombie apocalypse, but I don't believe I'll be running it for the next session. Nope, I'm really wanting to run my SF setting, THIS EMPIRE EARTH. I think that'll be the next thing I run.
Of course, James is also talking about running something. He wants to run... wait. I'll let him tell that secret. He's working up something for the next Fear The Con that he wants to try out on us. Can't. Wait.
I've got some personal business I'm taking care of, so we're taking off the month of June. We should be back at it in July.