Favorite Days

11/28/05: Fans of Risus may be amused (not to say a little perplexed) to learn about the Risus softcovers I've made available in Print-on-Demand form (including the hefty 200-page version that even includes Kringle)! Worry not; Risus also remains in its natural state (a free, six-page PDF) over at the Cumberland site.

That bit of news aside ... I'm back to health after nearly a week of icky illness. My sweetie shepherded me through it, and I needed a lot of shepherding (I slept through as much of it as possible, though; I'm a big wuss). The stretch of ickitude included Thanksgiving (I was too sick to really enjoy the feast, so we delayed our own holiday 'til Friday, and Sandra shouldered a lot more of the cooking than usual since her hubby wasn't 100%) and our wedding anniversary (sick or not, there was snuggling and smiling and sighing a'plenty, but such is us). It's good to be in love, and having Sandra around makes even a "sick week" a week worth being very thankful for, indeed.

Dog Days of Autumn

11/13/05: Sandra and I saw Serenity on the big screen for one last time, catching it at the Alamo, with all the special-extra-goodness that entails. It was our fifth Serenity outing, and the film still packed a full wallop, with that bonus side-order of subtle detail that comes with repeat viewing. Now we can just hunker down and wait for the DVD to arrive on December 20th (and look forward to the new crop of winter movies, too).

It's continued to be a good boardgaming season. We did a Veteran's Day run of Robo-Rally with some friends (an excellent five-robot race), and then did more Talisman yesterday (I got to pay her back a bit for that drubbing she gave me a few weeks back). Gamma World (4th Edition) has been the RPG of the moment for the weeknight games, which I hope to get back to this week after a brief break (our GM was away getting married).

Still no progress on the mysteries of RSS. At this point I think I'll just have to wait until someone finally comes out with a handy-dandy fill-in-the-blanks-and-click-here bit of freeware; the idea of actually learning how to write the file is too techy to contemplate with all the projects I'm juggling (heck, I still haven't learned HTML, which you might reasonably assume I'd pick up at some point).

Given its rise in popularity, though, I figure the RSS fill-and-click apps will soon arrive by the teeming dozens (or that they're already there but that I've just managed to overlook them ... the search is complicated by the number of aggregators available). When that happens, I'll probably jump feet-first into podcasting and lord knows what else.

Some recent things worth mentioning: Risus: The Anything RPG has made headway into yet another language (Croatian, this time), bringing the total up to a dozen, I think (not counting that Pig Latin translation a few years ago). Some other fan-links of late have also been Risusy, with this nifty solitaire card game and this nifty map thingy well worth your clicky-time if you number among the oddball legions of Risus-friends.

I got the Free Font of the Month up a week late, but I did finally post it (and it's pretty spiffy if I do say, what with the alternate set and all).

And in other news, it's still a hot summer here in Texas. If you're anywhere with snow and cold breezes, send some by email!

Mmm, Cranberries

10/29/05: As I type this, I've got the season's first pot of fresh cranberry sauce beginning to bubble nearby, which is kind of the official kickoff to autumn for Sandra and I (well, that, and the first autumn batch of pumpkin custard, but that'll come sometime soon). The cranberries showed up in the supermarkets here a week or two ago - a bit earlier than usual, I think - and this time around we were so well-stocked with frozen cranberries from last year that it didn't signify the end of a "cranberry drought" for us! I'll chill the sauce before I turn in tonight, and then tomorrow we can have it with some pork loin chops we've got in the fridge (it's not just for poultry ... it's also great as a fresh jam on toast or a bagel, especially if you've got some cream cheese to go with it).

Of course, it's been autumn for a while in most of the country ... We've only had a few cool days (very nice, very welcome cool days), and this weekend has been nice so far. We did a game of Talisman tonight that came right down to the wire, with Sandra and I doing the titanic-battle-for-the-crown thing at the end. Sandra whupped me, but it wasn't an easy whupping!

Since Halloween is almost here, it's traditional to remind Blue Room visitors of the most appropriate Sparks set for this time of year, and of my Punkinhead free font (scroll down a bit on this page; you can't miss it) which includes not only jack-o-lantern templates, but also good advice on getting the best from your fresh punkinhead.

And if I could dress up as anything I wanted this year, I think I'd want to be a vending machine, because that's just something you don't see every day. On the other hand, I'm not sure I'd look good in skirts.

I've been pondering doing a podcast of some kind, but the whole RSS thing has me stumped. If you know how to make it easy, drop me a line, please.

I hear the soft popping of the cranberries getting more insistent. Time to go, but more soon -

Beyond the Storm

10/3/05: I'm happy to say that it's time to click here and learn more about Beyond the Storm: Shadows of the Big Easy, a Hurricane Katrina relief project I played a part in. I've mentioned it before, but it's now available to the public in electronic form; you'll be able to order a softcover version soon (maybe by the time you read this, maybe a few days more). Despite the large number of volunteer writers, artists and others involved, we managed to make our deadlines and get it out within 24 hours of the initial target date for release, which is, as they say, Not Too Shabby. Download the free sample version and give it the double-oh; all proceeds go to the American Red Cross.

The book weaves through and around the edges of a number of New Orleans-inspired themes ... There's voodoo and swamps and food and jazz and all the things you might expect, in a number of forms you might not. There's funny stuff and reflective stuff; stuff by veterans and stuff by newcomers; science-fiction stuff and fantasy stuff. There are essays and poetry and stories; there's a Shadowrun adventure; there's some new Champions/Mutants & Masterminds material (from Scott Bennie, no less), and even a some short-subject RPGs (including one about food-service by Mischa Krilov, an indie designer displaced from New Orleans and relocated here to Austin, where I've introduced him to some of the best enchiladas this end of town). One of the book's standout features is certainly the Shambling Tour of New Orleans by Vicky Picker, serving up the Big Easy from the zombie perspective (read it with the Kingston Trio version of "Zombie Jamboree" playing in the background).

My own contribution is a fragment of heaven's grave in adventure/setting/something-or-other form called Spider Meat. It's about a roguish Stew God's romance, and the High Dreamer's secrets, and a swamp witch and gumbo and gators and dancing and shouting and the kind of secrets that lie in a place called the "Black Bayou," at the southernmost edge of the civilized world. It's game-writing with its hair down, so I'm pretty pleased with it; grab it and GM it for some friends. I was tempted, for a fleeting moment, to write a historical piece about Huey Long for Fly From Evil, but considering that FFE still doesn't have a release date, I figured that'd qualify as an evil tease well worth flying from. Still ... one of these days, I do need to write about Huey Long ...

Sandra and I saw Serenity twice this weekend, holding tight and snuggling close as Joss' film took our breath away. I'd gush about the movie in detail, but then I'd just be gushing (dancing around spoilers would be nightmarish writing, anyway). It's a great, great time to be a Firefly fan right now, and if you're not a Firefly fan it's a great time to start. Stuff like this is why we have movie theaters.

Dry Land

9/24/05: Well, as those following the news will know, the hurricane kept on veering northward and hit around the LA-TX border. The Austin fallout has mainly been some stiff breezes ... a relief, no doubt, for many Katrina and Rita refugees sharing the city today with music-festival-goers and the rest of us. So, Sandra and I will save Talisman for later and maybe go snuggle up at the movies, instead. Corpse Bride has been pulling in some good notices and we've got lots of matinees playing ...

Floods, Part II

9/23/05: You'd think one city-emptying hurricane would be enough for the Gulf Coast in a single summer, but this year's weather system seems to be an overachiever. We're still not sure how much Hurricane Rita will affect Austin ... predictions from the weather pundits have varied from hitting us as a lingering but still deadly Category 1 to brushing past us as a tropical depression to anything in between with a danger of spin-off tornadoes. As of this morning, it seems to be veering more northward than the original projections ... The maps no longer show it sitting in Austin's lap in a few days, but rather somewhere in north Texas along the Louisiana border, with Oklahoma dragged into the mess (speaking of spin-off tornadoes; Oklahoma gets plenty of those already - eek).

Austin's still in the danger zone, though, so we may suffer power outages, flooding, etc., tornadoes or no. Sandra and I did a little stocking-up yesterday just in case the utilities take a powder for a while. We expect the worst of it to be snuggling and listening to wind and thunder, or huddling over a table in the dark playing Talisman by battery-powered lamp ... but there was a very big and mighty tree outside our window once that a tornado twisted and shredded, so we're hoping for the best and preparing for something other. Here's hoping those closer to the coast are somewhere safer by now.

Speaking of storms, the Beyond the Storm project seems to be ticking along well, and I think I can say with confidence that it will meet its release deadline and be available by the 1st of October. I've had a chance to peek at some of the other contributions now, too, and it'll be a very eclectic little mix ... there are at least three mini-RPGs in there, for instance, as well as source-material type stuff and other oddities. I've heard rumor that Gamers For Hope is finished and should be available any day or hour, now, but I'm not 100% sure on that.

While the conditions that create these gaming anthologies are miserable ones, the anthologies themselves are something I'm really happy to see ... It's almost like having gaming magazines back for a visit from the mists of past gaming eras.

Floods

9/11/05: It's been forever again, I know. Sandra and I are still doing that snuggling-smooching-living-in-Austin thing we do. Had a nice little game of Robo-Rally tonight. Been watching the whole hurricane thing and feeling helpless and upset about it, but otherwise we're fine. A quick update on current/recent work projects for those keeping score at home:

There are a million other things I'm overlooking, some of them on purpose because this has become too long an update! Hope this finds you all well, or if not well, on your way to healing. It's been a tough year, folks. Be excellent to each other.

Play

8/02/05: Just checking in, as it were, to say hi and let you know we're still kicking and things are much the same. I've had word from Steve Long over at Hero Games that Pulp Hero is all proofed and approved for print, and that they'll have it ready to go for Gen Con (including a limited run of hardcovers and promotional decoder rings)! I wrote a few thousand words of Pulp Hero ... a guest cameo in Steve's book, which will be the largest Hero supplement to date (and if you've been following Hero supplements, you know what a scary thing that is to type)! I'm looking forward to seeing (and hefting) that sucker.

I got the new Free Font of the Month uploaded over at Cumberland the other night, and I've got the next couple of Cumberland releases rapidly approaching final-playtest (I think). The scary thing about playtest is that you can never be really sure if it's final (well, not without compromising more than I prefer to) but I'm pretty confident in these particular titles. More on those soon.

Since I'm on break from GMing Fly From Evil right now, the weekly campaign has been a fun and offbeat pulp-adventure rollercoaster GM'ed by one of the FFE campaign regulars. It's been a nice break, just kicking back and getting into character as a player ... all the better since two of the players in the current run are new to the hobby. We've been using Savage Worlds to handle the mechanics; it's nice. Does the job without much fuss, keeps its head low most of the time.

Sandra and I have been playing more boardgames than usual, lately ... steady favorites like Talisman 2nd Edition, old favorites that haven't been steady in a while (Robo-Rally), and odds and ends (Scrabble, Stratego). We've even done a little Lost Worlds; it's been ages since I'd played any of that. Sandra kicked my butt pretty soundly in it. We've also been enjoying Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and thus simultaneously enjoying the curious distinction of playing something that others have seen fit to ban/recall. I won't bother wasting energy on a rant, but suffice it to say that if I were in an energy-wasting mood, I'd offer a piece of my mind to those in need of a few such pieces. The wisdom of old age tempers the keyboard, however (I'm a doddering old 34-year old nowadays!) and I realize there's not much point. Here's a toast to Rockstar Games, however, and here's hoping they weather the storm safely and eventually see fit to do Liberty City Stories for the PC, because there's no way we'll be able to afford a Playstation Portable anytime soon! Yikes. Besides, we're GameBoy people :)

If you're a Uresia fan, be sure and see Charlie & the Chocolate Factory to more fully understand the Slimish attitude toward squirrels. Not that any of us can really understand much about the mysteries of Slimes, but we can at least, through that scene, share a moment of bouncy kinship with them, and thus with one another. Good fun. Especially for the squirrels.

Ships, Drives, and Islands

7/03/05: Sandra and I had a fun day today, poking around at the mall and Central Market ... the heat's been pretty oppressive, lately, so the atmosphere of the Central Market produce section (chilled by every means at hand, including tons of fresh crushed ice piled around the produce) always feels incredibly good when we're fresh from roasting outside! The mall was a little warm, too, so we ended up slipping into the movie theater more than an hour before the movie, claiming the one token table they had hidden back behind the snack bar next to the video games, and settling into the only really comfy spot to sit in the building. As we waited for showtime, Sandra put herself to the task of conquering Final Fantasy II on the GBA (which she did, kicking bad demon backside) and I filled several more pages with spaceship deckplan sketches, still refining Points in Space 2 in its finishing stages. We were there to take in Hitchhiker's for what's probably the last time on the big screen (it's down to just two shows a day, and with several salvos of summer movies still to come, I figure it won't last long at this point). So we had a good snuggle, and hunkered down for one last flight on the Heart of Gold before we have to settle for the DVD.

In site-update-news, I've got all sorts of new things up and in the works for Uresia, lately ... There's a new article around here somewhere (in the same vein as that last article I posted a month ago), and a new special and a new font. I can't keep my mitts out of my Uresia notes ... I think I've become physically addicted to heaven's grave (just like the folks who live there are, ironically). A lot of this is buildup, of course, since I've got a new Uresia title called Elegy in Ice bubbling alongside my other projects, and it has me very jazzed. It's not even a front-burner project at this stage (I have at least four other titles that skunk it in priority) but ... Uresia keeps sucking me in. There's a sane, businesslike part of me that tells me how stupid it is for me to invest so much affection and energy on a marginal little fantasy world ... But that part of me's never had much sway.


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