Thursday, December 31, 2009

He's the Greatest!

He's Fantastic! Wherever there is Danger he'll be there...
He's the Ace!
He's Amazing! He's the Strongest; he's the quickest, he's the Best!!!

Inspired by this deviation; I've been on kind of a Danger Mouse kick since Christmas. After watching Series (season) One and half of Two, I had to see what I could do with it.

Up next, Penfold! Colonel K! Agent 57! Baron Silas Greenback! Stilletto! Nero! The Mark III! Count Duckula! and J.J. Quark.

'Danger Mouse' is a registered trademark of Cosgrove Hall Productions Ltd.. The 'Danger Mouse' logo is copyright Cosgrove Hall Productions Ltd. no copyright infringement is intended.

Monday, December 28, 2009

An atypical ride home

Bear with me here.

I'm a little worried for my sanity. There was a good three or four minutes on the bike ride home when I was Davik Ryn, former Jedi turned Swoop messenger - slash - data-smuggler (think Johnny Mnemonic with a broken lightsaber and "Lobot" deck stuck in his head) piloting my restored Bespin Motors JR-4 Heavy Swoop on an high-value mission - and on the run from the empire. The shadows and debris on the sidewalk, the plasteel jungle of Coruscant - buildings, speeders, aircars and other speederbikes. I was weaving in and out of traffic, down alleys and through air vents.

I was even making "vwoom - verrrr -clik- vvvvvvvvmmmmmmmmmm" sounds as I flicked intangible switches and dials on my swoop - er, bike - handlebars.

Luckily enough, I'd stopped all that by the time the Empire actually caught up to me.

Huh? Wait a minute.

Luckily enough, I'd stopped all that by the time the cop flagged me down and had me pull over for a talk. Poor pudgy bastard was waiting for me (I don't actually think he was a bastard, but I'm not smart enough to say pudgy -something else- that sounds right in my voice).

Can you imagine that? Uh, Officer Whatever'isnamewas? We need you to drive out to the island and wait next to your car for some guy who bikes by there every night at about 11:30 - 12.

That would've been my last day as a cop. Whatever'isnamewas was a better cop than me. He'll probably still be a cop tomorrow. Though I need to bring up something funny.

After I took off from work, I realized how cold it was for a bike-ride up A1A, so I pulled over and put my jeans on over my work slacks - extra armor, you know. That's actually how I got into Swoop-jockey-mode. As I was pulling up my second pair of pants, I laughed a little to myself and actually said out loud "I'm sorry officer, I do have ID; but I'm gonna' have to drop my trousers to get it."

Officer Whats'isnamewas smirked when I said it to him, and answered, "no, that's alright." He ran my license over the radio with my name and birth date and let me go. I got stopped because - a couple nights ago, some poor schmuck got creamed on his bike up on the north side of town. He told me I needed to have lights, because of a city ordinance. I could be fined up to $100.00; but not tonight. My ID came back clean and he let me go.

All in all, a pretty dull encounter; but funny to me, considering how I'd been playing smuggler on the run just eight minutes before. And for half a second as I rounded that corner, he was an imperial stormtrooper standing beside his armored transport ready to blast me to dust with his blaster rifle.

Gonna watch the new Star Trek, then go to bed. Night.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Gaslight & Brass

Look out that window and tell me what you see. No, don't be shy about it.

London? Yes, but what else?

A Jäger? Really? Point it out to me. This close to the Palace...

Amazing, truly; but slightly off topic I think. What else?

A dirigible. More. People? Feh, what else? Mecha? The Lightning Rail? The Steam Engines? The infamous Towers of London?

Can I tell you what I see? No, don't flinch. I'm not going to hurt you.

Marvels. Miracles. We live in an age of Wonder, friend. An age of Triumph. The empire stretches across a full third of the known world. The Queen has laid claim to the Moon itself; and I am not alone in believing it possible to actually travel there. We have dragged the savage world around us, kicking and screaming into the modern era; and we have given them - even the Jägerkin - Utopia.

I awake each day and I am honestly and perpetually astonished at the marvels of the 19th century. We are gods of the Earth, my friend. And we will be gods of the Moon, if the Queen's Education Pope is to be believed. What?

Yes, I know about the Aether quandry and I've read McCrarey's - what was it called? "The dispersion of Solar Heat in the Outer [whatever]." I think it's poppycock.

They told Galileo he would never measure the speed of light. They praised Newton for his physics, but laughed him out of Cambridge when he claimed to be able to transmute base metals. Da Vinci almost never flew because of the skeptics. Can you imagine a world where that never happened?

Because I can; and it's horrid. We overcome. Science, I mean. Men of Knowledge, of Wisdom and Reason. Men with the SPARK. We overcome. Even if McCrarey is right about the - what did he call it? Radio-what? Ah, Radiation. Well, fitting. We'll overcome it. We always do.

We live in the Age of Science! The Age of Reason. As I've said, the Age of Wonder.

Do you know what they call it in the pubs and common houses? Shall I tell you? You must already know.

When they're being polite and a little less blasphemous, they call it the Age of Iron. Euler's Eyes. Iron! Half of what's useful isn't even made of iron any more. What?

Oh, well. When they're well into their sauce and their tongues are good and loose, the call it the Age of Absinthe. Feh.

They think the SPARK has gone out of us. They imagine - in their depraved commoner imaginings - that we no longer create of our own talent. They say the Empire is doomed because the Science has gone wrong.

And I'm so afraid that they're right.

Already there is open talk of dissent in the American Colonies, perhaps stirred on by this remarkable Tchaka fellow in Africa, I don't know. Maybe it's been brewing for a long time.

Rumor alone of the Queen's mighty intellect was once enough to cow even the most fervent anti-royal assassins. I haven't had to bring one of you poor bastards up here for nearly fifty years.

No, don't start blubbering now. You've done so well. Stiff upper and all that. It's distasteful to me too, you know. Not to mention untidy and unseemly. But the law is.

Here. I hope the noose isn't too tight. It's got to have enough slack in it so that your head doesn't come loose when you hit bottom.

I'm sorry.

Listen. I deplore this; but an example must be made.

How's this? I promise you, on my honor and the Queen, after two days, I'll find some excuse to bring in your body. I'll put it in the ground. I'll even have a preacher speak for you if you're a religious man, no?

Oh well, a priest perhaps. I nice eulogy about the forgiveness of time and the persistency of energy or some such. I'm better at understanding things, really, than talking about them. If you've family, at least they'll get to see you buried properly. Not in one of the Queen's mass graves.

Ah well. I've other duties to attend, my friend. I hate to treat the advent of your end in so ignominious a manner; but I'm afraid I must depart.

Be grateful we're not in Paris with King Louis's deplorable Glass Cages. This will be quick at least, if you show yourself out the window.

Please do. I know the Beastmen Her Majesty employs for the job enjoy cleaning up after those who can't or won't and instead starve themselves up here in the Tower waiting for rescue that never comes; but they smell horrible for weeks afterward. And if you don't end this quickly, I cannot collect your body to bury it.

So you see? It will be better for all if you just get on with it.

Ah, the doom bell. That'll be our Jäger, I suspect.

I must be off. Two in one day...

Goodbye, friend. It really was an ingenious plan. I am quite beside myself with amazement. I suppose it's just lucky for the Queen that not all of us must rely on the Absinthe to see through to the heart of things, yes?

Oh. You've already gone. That's good, at least. Maybe there's a next life, like the Celestials say. We'll have a drink down the pub in a few years. My treat.

It started out as a Star Wars story. It wasn't that I particularly really wanted to run Star Wars - I like it, really - but my main draw to Star Wars gaming is that I don't have to create the setting.

Now don't get me wrong. I love creating campaign worlds. I love it too much. I'll put together a game based on some new setting or gimmick; and that will be it. The story will fall flat because once the newness wears thin (pretty quick sometimes, because I find it hard to articulate certain things "in-game") the story is just another "Go there, fetch this, bring it back and defeat the villain with it" deal.

So I started putting together a Star Wars story because (like a number of my players), I was tired of not finishing anything. My D&D game isn't one that can be finished. It's just adventure. A sandbox. So I wanted something with meat. I put it together and I was ready to go.

And then we didn't game. We haven't played in - more than a month. Months? I miss it.

But I didn't want to give up on this story. I didn't want to start working on something else. So I started flailing around a bit for my gaming fix.

And then I discovered Girl Genius. It's sweet as hell (won a Hugo); and got me interested in Steampunk. In Victorian England. In Jägermonsters and Brass Mechs and Dirigibles. Then I remembered the Steampunk Star Wars, which was awesome. And then I remembered why I was using Star Wars in the first place. So I wouldn't let the story get bogged down in my love of set design.

Only now I had a story. A pretty awesome story I think; and I very intentionally tried to steer away from focusing on Jedi things because Star Wars is (or was before the Prequels) about so much more than the Jedi. So I started working out the setting. 19th Century London with Steam-tech and Clockwerks thrown in, a rabid Protestant church and a Vatican City given over to Science.

A world where men of Intellect may have "the Spark" - that special something that spurs genius and allows for the fantastic in the Age of Science. Science so advanced, it may well be magic. A world where, sometimes that Spark falls flat, and can be spurred by the Green Demon, Absinthe (a very similar, but very different concoction than our own history gives us). A world of Science and Sorcery and grand adventure in the tradition of the old Pulp Fictions.

It's pretty much an Operatic, Swashbuckling adventure of Good vs. Evil set against the backdrop of a corrupt Empire bent on the subjugation of all life amidst a ragtag band of rebels fighting for independence. So... Star Wars. In the 1840's.

Hope someone wants to play.

No image used with permission. I pretty much just yoinked 'em.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

My Last Twilight Post

(Until the Breaking Dawn movie comes out)

To paraphrase, I know this is the Optimus Prime of young adult relationship-abuse vampire romance stories; and I know nothing I do or say will stop it. Or convince you that it's trash. That there are better stories out there. Better characters. Better writers. Better young adult relationship-abuse vampire romance stories. But here's my top 10 (or so) reasons why Twilight sucks, for those of you just going on instinct, and who didn't torture yourself with the actual reading.

SPOILER ALERT. There, you've been warned.

10. Vampires don't sparkle. No. That's too easy.

9. Every rule Meyer (and every better, more esteemed author who came before her) set up for vampires is broken by the end of the series.

8. Bella has no goals and no future. Her life revolves around Edward.

7. It's predictable and childish. Also, Edward is HOT, we get it.

6. Zero. Character. Development. I guess perfect characters don't really need that much development though, so - okay; I'll let that slide.

5. Flawless main characters (clumsy isn't a flaw if it's endearing and there's always someone there to catch you) result in too little actual conflict. There were actually a couple of interesting characters (Jasper and Alice, anyone?) who were ignored to focus on Mary Sue (look it up) and her perfect boyfriend.

4. If Bella is so "plain," why do so many guys fall for her within the first two chapters?

3. Bella can't do anything without Edward; and when he leaves she attempts suicide. If she leaves, he will. That's a co-dependent relationship, and it's not healthy.

2. Bella teaches women to let the men handle everything, which is pretty much a huge step backward for women everywhere, who have fought for equality.

1. "T.Pain would totally win Bella's heart and beat up Edward because he's on a boat."

And falling in love with a baby is just fucking creepy.

A lot of people are saying, "at least it's got kids reading." But it's no excuse. It's got kids reading sappy pap that has no business on my bookshelf. Here's a short list of books that are better than Stephanie Meyer's:

Not Eragon.

There you go. Go out and get you one of those amazing stories and have a blast. What? Okay, okay. For those of you looking for something along the same lines as Twilight but written by someone who wasn't a halfwit (as in "no one who reads my blog so why am I adding this link anyway?"), Amazon suggests Five books better than Twilight.

Of things that I've read and can actually recommend, the Narnia series are actually great books. If you haven't read Harry Potter, do it. Much better than Twilight. Stephen King's Dark Tower series is remarkable, there are even a few Vampires here and there. Snow Crash, Lord of the Rings, His Dark Materials, Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow, Wheel of Time, Three Musketeers, Redwall, Dune, Neverwhere, the Scarlet Pimernel, The Color of Magic, The Last Unicorn, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass, Good Omens, American Gods, hell, even the True Blood books, Anne Rice, damn man, Dracula, any other book who's main message isn't that a regular girl cannot protect herself without her supernatural stalker hanging around - that perfect relationships contain no anger or disagreement, and that it's perfectly okay to feel so utterly attached to someone that you accept it as your fault when they hurt you utterly and irreversibly, A Game of Thrones. Like I said, not Eregon.

Les Miserables is a very hard book to read but is really quite good and one that I think a Twilight fan would really get into once Cosette shows up and starts batting her eyelashes.

Anyway. I'm done complaining about this abortion of Literature and her all to serious dalliance with pop. I'm actually very sorry that I read these books; and that's saying a lot. I read a book once in the 80's that was about giant green space bunnies who crashed their ship in the grand canyon ten-thousand years ago and it wasn't that bad. My only consolation is that I pirated the e-books instead of shelling out my all-to-limited funds for this trash.

I'm done ranting. There are probably a hundred other (maybe better?) books I could have added, and I feel like I'm just wasting bandwidth here now that I've reread this; but I wrote it and now you've read it.

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