Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Misfortune Cookie

Fortune I received in a fortune cookie yesterday:
An admirer is too shy to greet you.
...Which, I just... I mean, so what? Who cares? Even if the information is absolutely true, unless you're naming names it does me absolutely no good to know this.

Monday, December 29, 2014


Nothing for this morning. Quiet day at work, so I'm updating some licensing and going over web pages. Wrote a little last night; this time it might work, but I need to re-read it and make sure I can keep going before I'm sure. You'd think that the holidays would offer more writing time, but they don't. If anything, they offer less: the boys sleep in, and then stay up later, and there goes my quiet time.

I'm currently reading Hive by Tim Curran, which is not just Lovecraftian but explicitly building on Lovecraft's work -- and doing an excellent job of it into the bargain.

I'm currently listening to the Soundtrack for The Hunger Games: Mockinjay, Part 1.

...And that's about all I've got right now. How about you? Reading, watching, or listening to anything you think people should know about? Doing something fun? Get any particularly cool presents you want to brag about? Consider this an open thread.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Writer's... Um... Clutch?

I have an idea. I've been slowly fleshing it out in my head. I like the ways it might go, and I like the things that are falling into place as interactions and events, and I love the setting.

I don't like my opening. I mean, it's not bad, but it just isn't quite working. I wanted to use it to introduce the main character and set him up in his Ordinary World. And it does that, sort of, but it keeps trying to veer off into dull exposition or some long chain of unrelated events -- either way, wasting space until I can maneuver the poor fellow to the start of the Main Quest. (Yes, I'm kind of thinking of this in video game terms. Not sure if that's a good thing, but I appear to be stuck with it for the moment.) It's not the only one, either; I have at least one other opening scene for this same project, but it's just as much of a false start. Only I can't seem to get around either of those two approaches well enough to move on to something that actually works.

It's sort of like when you're trying to remember someone's name, and your brain fastens onto another name that you know is wrong -- but which is so similar that your brain can't move past it to the right name. It's just... arrrgh know?

I think it'll be an awesome little story, if I can just start the benighted thing.

Zombie Christmas Joke Song

Q. What do you get with a Zombie Christmas?

A. Rudolph the Dead-Nosed Reindeer.
Rudolph the Dead-Nosed Reinderr
Had a very shiny nose
And if you ever saw it
You could watch it decompose

All of the other reindeer
Used to groan and call him names
They never let poor Rudolph
Come with them in search of brains

Then one foggy Christmas Eve
Santa-zombie said:
"Rudolph with your nose so dead,
Won't you help me pull my sled?"

Then how the reindeer loved him
As they shouted out with glee:
"Rudolph the Dead-Nosed Reindeer,
Eat a brain or two for me!"
What? That's not enough? Need more Chistmas zombie songs? All right, here:

Friday, December 26, 2014

We survived Christmas!

The boys got basically everything they wanted, and they were extremely well behaved through the entire Crowd Of Visiting Family section of the day, as well as the movie we all went to see afterwards.

(It was Night At The Museum 3: The Secret Of The Ooze Tomb, and it was actually pretty good. Firstborn had been worried that it would be too scary, but there's a funny thing there: "scary" for my eight-year-old means waiting for things to happen. Once we get to a battle scene -- even against a big, scary monster -- he's fine.)

Beautiful Wife is still recuperating from being sick, and I'm beginning to think that I could use a break myself. (I worked Monday and Tuesday, had Wednesday and Thursday off, and am back at work today.) Still, we made it through and we made it work. So, y'know, go us.

Here's hoping everybody's holidays went well, and everybody's next year will be even better.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

I'm very disappointed in the Internet right now.

How is "Ambrose the Amber-Assed Antelope" not on youtube somewhere? The closest thing I can find - the absolute closest is a variant version of the lyrics, featuring Adolph the Amber Assed Antelope, in text on somebody's blog. Okay, fine, here goes:
Ambrose the amber-assed antelope
Had a very shiny ass
And if you ever saw it
You would say it was made of glass
You would think that it was brass. [updated 2015-12-13 - see the comments]

All of the other Antelopes
Used to laugh and call him names
They never let poor Ambrose
Join in any antelope games

Then one foggy Christmas Eve
Santa came to say,
"Ambrose with your ass so bright
Won't you be my backup light?"

Then how the antelopes loved him
As they shouted out with glee,
"Ambrose the Amber-Assed Antelope
You'll go down in history!"
I can't possibly be the only one who's heard of this, can I?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

We Three Kings

Abney Park:

If this sounds like something that ought to be in your collection, you can find the album here. They have a lot of other good stuff, too, so take a prowl around their site.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Comic Books or Parenting?

It's time for another exciting round of everyone's favorite quiz show, Dialogue. Join us today as our contestants try to figure out whether the following exchanges came from comic books, or from parents and small children.
"It was... pretty horrible. Body parts everywhere. And their heads... where were their heads?"

"No, it's okay. I just hurt my foot a little when I kicked that car out of the way."

"Just put the elemental sword down and surrender, okay?"

"Oh my God. You're trying to kill me. You own loving father, dead of asphyxiation -- that's your evil plan, isn't it?"

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Friday, December 19, 2014

Confidential File Transcript: A Santa Letter

Taken from a classified ad in The Times, published December 18, 2014.

Dear Santa Claus,

You know, I may be persona non grata up in the Arctic Circle, but I still hear things. So I have to ask... did you really open up a whole new assembly line just to produce a Corvette? I'm sure she's a really Nice girl and all, but do you have any idea how petty and corrupt that sounds? Maybe you thought you could keep it quiet, but... no. Just, no. It's a small village. People -- well, Elves -- notice these things. And we all remember the last time you did something like this. The One Horse Open Sleigh Incident? Remember that one? Remember how that turned out?

Does Mrs. Claus know about this? I can't believe she'd be okay with it. You want to spend another century sleeping in the guest room? I guess it really isn't my business, but I still think you ought to consider the probable consequences.

Speaking of business, what are we up to now? Fourteen workers injured this season? You can set aside an entire assembly line for your playmate, but you can't install basic safety equipment? Or provide your workers with a decent amount of rest and food, so they aren't making stupid, clumsy mistakes out of sheer exhaustion? I wish I could say I was surprised.

I know, I know. I'm making myself a target... again. I also know just how much trouble you had getting your oldest friend back into his lair after last year. (Don't bother looking for a leak on that one; I scried it myself. You were too busy to notice.) And I know how busy IntSec has been, too. So send your minions after me if you can spare them, but consider this: the easiest way to shut me up would be to tighten your red suspenders and do the right thing. Safety equipment. Reasonable working hours. That's all I care about. That's all I ever cared about.

As Ever,


Preliminary investigation (as well as the internal evidence of the letter itself) suggests that this is a genuine communication from the renegade elf, Snowblossom Smith. Add it to the file. -ES

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A new stage of life...

Apparently I've hit a new point in my emotional development. I was watching Lethal Weapon the other night (because, y'know, Christmas movie) and I suddenly realized that Martin Riggs, the troubled younger cop played by Mel Gibson, just doesn't resonate with me anymore. He used to; that was the character I identified with. This time, though, it's Danny Glover's character - Roger Murtaugh, the fifty-year-old with the house and the family, the guy who has to put up with all this - that I find myself connecting with.

I guess I really am too old for this shit.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I awaken my child with a song!

The light was out. The comforter was warm. The room was quiet. The boy was deeply asleep.

...Until Daddy arrived.
Deck the halls and buy a Slurpee, Fa la la la la, la la la la,
'Tis the season to be derpy, fa la la la la, la la la la.
Time to rise and put on clothing, fa la la la la, la la la la,
Though we'd rather all be dozing, fa la la la la, la la la la.
Have to turn your homework in, fa la la la la, la la la la,
And you get to see your friends, fa la la la la, la la la la.
{Pause to pull comforter off sleeping boy and toss it on the top bunk.}
Now your comforter has fled, fa la la la, la la la la,
Time to climb out of your bed, fa la la la, la la la la.
That was about the point where my wife came in and asked, "Is daddy torturing you?"

Firstborn said, "Unnk."

Monday, December 15, 2014

While we're dwelling on unpleasant truths...

I am a white person.
I am occasionally a little bit clueless.
I am sometimes a bit racist.

Okay, now, hold on, everybody! I’m not, like, proud of that statement. The only people who are proud of that statement … I actually don’t know anyone who is proud of that statement. White supremacists? Hitler youth? No one wants to be racist. That’s why people begin statements that are usually super racist with the phrase “I don’t want to sound racist, but…”

(Tip: If you start a sentence that way, you are almost always going to say something incredibly racist).

I don’t want to be racist. No one actually wants to be a racist.

But I have been known to say or do clueless, ignorant, or hurtful things before, because of a subconscious prejudice against people who don’t look like me.

Do I enjoy the experience of owning up to that fact? Hell, no. It feels fucking terrible to admit that.

But I know it to be true. I have unpacked some of my past shitty behaviors and understood them for what they are. And I’m afraid — no, I mean it, actually afraid — that as educated as I am, as hard as I try to change this about myself, some of that subliminal bias is just never going to be completely erased.
Read the rest here: Race Ya.

Holidays not depressing enough?

DailyDot has converted the CIA Torture Report into 11 helpful (and fun!) memes. I'm not sure I can actually recommend reading them -- even 11 slides condensed from the entire 525-page report is hugely depressing -- but this is us; this is our government in action, folks.

Author Walter Jon Williams offers a cogent summary on his blog, also. Which, again, is about as much detail as I'm prepared to take.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

'Tis the season (for illness)

Got hugely, horribly sick on Tuesday. Like, "I don't trust myself to drive a car, and I probably shouldn't get out of bed." That kind of sick. I have antibiotics now, but I've dropped pretty much everything -- including updating the Blog o' Doom, here -- in favor of getting as much rest as humanly possible. I'll be back when I'm sure my brain is working again.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

It's not just children's movies...

Okay, so, apparently it isn't just children's movies that make me cry uncontrollably. Frickin' Guardians of the Galaxy, which certainly takes a subversive approach to anything sentimental about the idea of heroism, also sets me off. I'm beginning to suspect that beneath this gruff, tough, masculine (and unbelievably attractive) exterior, I'm just a big ol' softy.

I will thank you all to either nod or grunt to indicate your understanding, after which we shall never speak of this again.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Great Moments in Gaming

"I immediately turn and slap the Cleric with the flat of my blade, to show the dragon that it's just a form of affection among friends and allies."

"The dragon considers for a long, long moment. Then he slaps you on the shoulder with his claws in a show of solidarity. Roll 6d10 for damage."
(Picture Source)

Friday, December 5, 2014

Secondborn Makes With The Art

So, Secondborn found the chalk and a little chalkboard to draw on:
Those are robots, by the way.

He's also taken to asking profoundly disturbing questions as if they were perfectly normal. Last night's example was, "Daddy, are bandits good guys or bad guys?"

Me: "They're usually bad guys, kiddo."

Secondborn: "Why do bandits take people's hearts? Why do bandits take people's hearts, which are usually their heads?"

Me: "Um... Uh... what?"

I swear, that child is responsible for half of my most colorful nightmares.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Christmas Music: Pentatonix

I don't usually post Christmas hymns. That's partly because I'm not really a Christian anymore, but mostly because a couple of years of working retail in my brilliantly misspent youth left me with a... deeply ambivalent ...relationship with Christmas music. In this case, though, I'm making an exception.

Also, this:

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

My poor dentist...

So I'm sitting there in the dentist's office, because I need a crown, because I stupidly decided not to take care of my teeth back when I was a teenager. I've had a temporary on for about a week, and it's done fine; but now it's time to put the permanent cover on.

My dentist is a very nice lady of Indian descent, and she's working with a dental assistant. I'm laying in the chair, which is tilted almost flat, while the dentist is doing a little poking and prodding and cleaning, to make sure we get a good fit and nothing nasty gets trapped under the crown when they put it on. They have, at this point in the process, removed the temporary; so what's left of that tooth is rather exposed.

Being solicitous of my comfort, she asks: "Are you sensitive?"

"I cry at children's movies," I tell her. "Does that count?"

There is a long, long pause. Then she chuckles. "I've never had anybody say that," she admits.

"It doesn't count," puts in the dental assistant. "Those things are designed to make you cry."

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Time to break out the Christmas Movies.

Right, so, it's finally December. I get to start playing Christmas Music at my co-workers. I get to break out my black Santa hat. And, of course, I get to watch Christmas movies:

1. Lethal Weapon
2. Die Hard
3. Saint (or Sint)
4. The Long Kiss Goodnight
5. Rare Exports

What are you watching? Are you doing anything in particular to help you get in the holiday mood?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Borderlands The Pre-Sequel

Since is the first time (in years!) that I've managed to play through a game when it was still relatively new, and since I just finished the game (in the sense of "went through the entire storyline once", as opposed to, say, "went through the entire storyline in super-ultimate-instant-death-vault-hunter mode" or "maxed out my character"), I thought I'd throw up a few thoughts here:

1. It's really fun, and -- as I rather expected -- it's extremely well done, from the playability to the settings to the storyline to the voice acting to, um, everything else. I'm not sure it's quite as awesome as Borderlands II, and in some ways it seems a bit... smaller? shorter? ...with the result that some of the side-quests seemed a little forced to me. That's not to say that the side-quests aren't fun and interesting; they are. It's just that... well, in Borderlands II there's so much going on that it seems like there should be some down-time when the characters might reasonably take a couple of odd jobs and just knock around for a bit before getting sucked back into the main storyline. In the Pre-Sequel, the storyline doesn't really have any of those sorts of breaks; so most of the side-quests were things that, realistically, my character should have been putting aside until after the world-threatening dangers were dealt with. Doing them as they came up in the game was still fun, but it kind of "broke the frame" for me. (That may seem odd, given the level of meta-references throughout the Borderlands games, but there it is.)

2. Athena may well be the Vault Hunter I've most enjoyed playing. In the original Borderlands, I wound up playing Mordecai; I'd basically just sit waaaaaay back with a sniper rifle and pick things off, then switch to a pistol if something got too close, then call out Bloodwing if I got in trouble. With Borderlands II, I figured I'd follow the same strategy, and tried to play Zero; I wound up very frustrated, and switched over to Axton instead. Then the Psycho Pack came out, and Krieg became my character of choice - basically the same strategy, except that when I got into trouble I'd go into a rampage and start smashing things with my buzzaxe. (That said, while I preferred playing Krieg, it was mainly for the character; Axton actually suits my play style better. I like having something that'll actually protect me when I get in trouble.) Athena, though... that combination of making enemies bleed (for continuous damage), making enemies explode (if they're bleeding when they die), that dashing attack (which makes getting into melee range sooooo much easier), and the Aspis (which actually tends to keep you from dying when you get in trouble)... Well, Athena's pretty awesome. She manages to be melee-oriented and suit my play style. Win-win-win! Sir Hammerlock would say.

3. The handling of "Bad Guy Perspective" is nicely done. (In Borderlands II, Handsome Jack is the enemy. In the Pre-Sequel, you're working for him.) He starts out seeming reasonably heroic, and becomes more evil (and crazier) by degrees as the game progresses. Basically, the Pre-Sequel does an excellent job of making Jack seem like someone you might reasonably be willing to work for, without contradicting his role as the Big Bad in Borderlands II.

4. Speaking of Borderlands II, one of these days I need to write a post about how Roland is actually a direct reincarnation of Aeris (from Final Fantasy VII).

5. I'm really looking forward to the expansion packs. Partly, that's just because I like playing Athena and I like playing the game; but it's also because, as I said earlier, this game seems a little smaller in its overall scope than Borderlands II was. I'm looking forward to having new things to do and new places to poke around. Hopefully one of those missions will finally, actually resolve the problem of the infection on the space station... Also, does Athena still have bugs in her brain?

6. Having enjoyed Athena so much, I'd also like to try out the other characters. The only other one I've tried is Claptrap, and he(?) is fun, too. Completely random and annoying, but fun.

What have you been playing?