Monday, December 27, 2004

Segue From a Cook (part 3)

Bard's Festive Chicken

Ok. This is not a very original dish. Just about every restraunt I've ever worked in has had some variation of this. The cheeses change, the fillings get shifted around, but its a safe bet that any restaraunt that offers chicken on the menu offers some sort of chicken supreme stuffed with cheese. This can range from the often overdone chicken cordon bleu to Sharkey's Wolfgang Chicken (with goat cheese and spinach as I recall) to whatever the hell we called the one we served at Il Posto (with gorgonzola). Suffice to say, its a classic. But it WORKS. There's something magical about chicken stuffed with a nice, soft cheese. The real trick is finding a stuffing combination that complements both the chicken, and a sauce that brings it all together but doesn't overpower things.

This dish uses goat cheese. Not feta, but just simple goat cheese, preferably the softest you can find. The flavor of the goat cheese nicely holds all the other flavors together, and heated it has a fantastic texture that's nearly a sauce in and of itself. The stuffing is also great for a fancy spread, or for stuffed mushroom caps.

For the balsamic vinegar, just about anything will do. But it MUST be balsamic. I suggest, however, using the highest quality stuff you can find, because you really DO get what you pay for.

This is a FANTASTIC dish to serve for parties. The prep work is virtually nonexistant, taking up maybe 20 minutes of your time, and aside from a short spin in the pan (maybe 2-3 minutes a side), you can just toss these suckers in the oven and ignore them.

4 chicken supremes (plain, deboned breasts are fine as well, but the supremes have the first joint of the wing bone still on and look nice...also, try to get them with skin on)
1 large palmful of goat cheese (just buy a nice big tube of the stuff and cut off as much as you end up needing...goat cheese is nice to have around anyway)
1 medium sized palmful of dried cranberries, and the same of walnuts
4 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tabelspoons of roughly chopped parsley, and the same of finely chopped chives
1 cup balsamic vinegar

1. Roughly dice the cranberries and the walnuts. Don't turn them into mush, but give them a nice, good chop.
2. Throw the cranberries, walnuts, herbs, olive oil, and some salt and pepper into a bowl and mix well until everything's incorporated. It helps if you've warmed the goat cheese slightly before doing this.
3. On the inside edge of the chicken breasts make a small incision. Make it near the top, and wider on the inside. Use a paring knife if you have to, though a boning knife is preferable due to the overall size and shape of the blade. A chef's knife is just overkill, unless your a deft hand with it.
4. Stuff the cavity of the breast full of the cheese mixture. Don't worry if the hole you made comes out the other side a little bit, or onto the bottom of the breast. Its not that big a deal as long as the holes aren't too big.
5. In a large, metal (no teflon here) frying pan heat some oil and add the breasts once the oil is heated. The breasts should go top down ("prestentation side" down) first. Give them 2 or 3 minutes, until they turn a nice gold color on that side, and flip them over to the other side and repeat. After this, transfer them to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil. Put in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until cooked throughout and showing little or no pink inside. Remember that poultry (along with hamburger) cannot be served rare, and must be 100% cooked.
6. While your chicken's in the oven, add the cup of balsamic vinegar to a sauce pan and heat to boiling. Let it boil down and reduce by about one half to two thirds. This doesn't need any seasonings at all. It should be nice and syrupy at this point. If you want to be fancy, throw some peppercorns in while its cooking.
7. Plate the chicken with some steamed veggies (spinach is also nice) and drizzle the balsamic over it. If you want to be real fancy and have a really sharp chef or carving knife, cut the chicken into medallions, making sure that the last medallion still has the bone on it.

This dish is dead easy. To be honest, cutting the pocket into the chicken is the hardest part, and its a lot easier than it looks. You may want to buy an extra chicken breast or two to practice on (and then perhaps grill with some BBQ sauce, or maybe slice up and turn into fajitas...or whatever) beforehand. After that, its all easy as pie.

I'm going to be trying some odd recipes this week. If they work, they're going to get their own Segues. Until then: Eat good food. Enjoy good food. And at some point, cook good food.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

The Filthy Monkey, It Plans

A few days ago, Warren Ellis made a call on his blog for people to send in photos of themselves, mainly in odd and frightening poses or costumes, with the words "The Filthy Monkey, It Plans" somewhere in the picture. Warren keeps a "punhumanviewer" with those pics in it, and apparently he ran out, so he asked his readers for more.

I shrunk down a pic of me as Rebis for Halloween, wrote on it, and emailed it in.

So I went to his blog today to see if he'd posted anything new, and lookee what I saw.

"I Am Jack's Raging Latent M-R Node"

I looked him in the eyes. I didn't care what he was saying. "I am Jack's raging latent Mazarin-Rashroud Node. Any moment I will Erupt, irradiating the room in a spew of quantum particles, annihilating all life." There is a reason I no longer have a job.

"I Am Jack's M-R Node"

I looked up at Tyler over the cover of the magazine as he stomped through the water worn halls. "I am Jack's Mazarin-Rashroud Node," I read, "I irradiate Jack's body. But in a good way."

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Christmas Day (in the morning, moving into early afternoon)

Well, the presents are unwrapped and doing fine. I picked up more DVDs than I have binder space for, a Global carving knife, rather a lot of condiments (don't ask), and a picture frame with twelve clay pipe heads framed in it. Somewhere in there I also picked up a 3.2MP digital camera with x3 zoom. Not state of the art, but decent for a casual photographer who still prefers black and white cameras from the '70s. Yeah, I like stuff that was invented before I was born.

I also somehow managed to get a small fortune in gift cards to Chapters and Future Shop. So by tomorrow I should have copies of Encylopedia of the DC Universe, A Gentleman's Game (the Queen & Country novel by Greg Rucka), The Maltese Falcon (by Dashiell Hammet), and The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler. Also heading over to Hairy Tarantula to cash in on their Boxing Day sale. Probably go over to Futureshop as well, grab me Spiderman 2, and maybe the third season of The X-Files. And Resident Evil: Apocalypse comes out on the 28th.

I am now also in posession a wonderful shirt, who's caption read:
I Love Animals
They're Delicious

My mother is a sick, sick individual, lol.

Happy Christmas to all, and to all...a good day, and probably a good dinner. Cheers.

The ice tried to murder me

Christmas is here. Complete with cookies, candy, relatives, turkey, and ice. We had an ice storm last week. While chipping ice off the window today, I nearly took a sizeable chunk out of my finger. By sizeable, I mean that if I hadn't pulled back I could well have taken flesh off to the bone. This is mainly because the cut happened at the joint. It bled for a bit, then stopped. It'll be good by tomorrow.

In other Christmas news, I was informed at work yesterday that we will not be getting Christmas bonuses or a Christmas party this year. Rather, in lieu of this Frank is giving several thousand dollars to an African family so they can buy a farm. Apparently the government will be sending me something, but I have a feeling the adress Frank was giving them probably was in relation to the frat house I was living at this summer. So if anyone reading this is from the Toronto chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon and you happen to get a weird card for some guy with glasses who lived there during the summer, please let me know.

As a final note, I have opened one present tonight in respect to Czech Christmas. The Czechs, like many Eastern European countries, open their presents in Christmas Eve, accompanied by schnitzel, fried fish, and potato salad (and, so my Czech friend [and Changeling ST] Veronica tells me, some sort of fish stew that sounds delicious). This is a tradition that's kept up back in BC with my mother and Jerry, my stepfather. Jerry's Czech, so every year he gets his traditional Czech Christmas dinner. Last year we were particularly fortunate to have his parents out from Edmonton. Anyway, I called my mother today to wish her a happy Christmas Eve (and figure out where she'd be tomorrow so I'd know where to call), and she ordered me to open a present from her fro Czech Christmas.

So mom, if you're reading this, Dark Angel season 2 is an awesome gift. Thanks, mom!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Revenge of the 1980s

Has anyone else noticed that the global media is flipping back to the late 1970s/early 1980s lately? We've practically got a redux of the Cold War (only a lot hotter...but a very similar attitude of paranoia). Return of the blaxploitation flicks (I think I saw previews for at least three before the movie tonight). ANd return of the 1980s popular products...just in time for Christmas.

Today I've seen ads for Chia Pets and the Clapper. And they weren't even new ads. These were the same ones I saw as a kid. Its eerie. My past is coming back to haunt me. Soon I'll be seeing the return of such shows as Dinosaucers, Centurions, Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future, and GI Joe. Not GI Joe X-Treme, but honest to god, good old GI Joe.

Lady Jane and Flint are coming to get me. I just know it.


National Treasure

Possibly one of the best movies I've seen in a while. The clues were very clever, and the writers have obviously done a lot of research into American history. My father says it was very indicative of The Da Vinci Code. I wouldn't know, as I have yet to buy or read said fad book. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrel is the current novel holding my attention at the moment. That and re-reading Powers. Not to mention Exalted: The Fair Folk.

I am additionally considering making an issue of Project Beowulf every odd week, and a progressive 7r4d3m4rk story every even week. We're gonna see. I'm just getting kicked around by scheduling at the moment. On an interesting note, PB #1 is now at nearly 9000 words. It'll be ten thousand before I'm done. I'm pondering, thus, trying to put out 10000 words of 7r4d3m4rk every even week.

Monday, December 20, 2004

7r4d3m4rk in: "Wynt3r W0nderL4nd"

The snow made the city look like a TV turned to static. Black shadows of people moved about the streets. Somewhere a child was crying, and a woman screamed. The neon signs of the buildings turned the night as bright as day. And through the midst of it all walked 7r4d3m4rk. Hottest of the hot. Coolest of the cool. 'Leetest of the 'leet.

The snow didn't touch him. Corporate logos like an armor over a black leather long coat. Mirrored sunglasses, tinted yellow, a red light blinking on the right frame. Black hair slicked back, like obsidian. Face bare, hands in the thinnest of black leather gloves. Steel toed army boots on his feet. His breath didn't steam. He looked like he was powered by an internal furnace.

Suddenly hands grabbed him. Someone threw him into an alley. He began to reach for his gun.

"Trademark! Man, its me! Spyder!" Spyder. Pale as the snow. Red hair like fire. Black parka. Balaklava on his face. He looked like a goth commando. He held 7r4d3m4rk to the wall for a minute. "Dude, don't shoot!" He let go.

7r4d3m4rk pushed off from the wall, shaking his coat a bit. He gave his head a roll. He pushed the shades back up his nose. "Spyder, you keep doing that, one of these times I'm just going to shoot you."

"Dude, due, sorry. Shit. Listen, I've got info. Fucking LOADS of info! This is big shit, man. Fucking ENORMOUS!" Spyder jittered. Too much caffeine. Not enough sleep. He smelled like a cigar box.

"Then lets talk," said 7r4d3m4rk, heading for the alley's mouth. "Lets talk somewhere warmer." Spyder shut up and followed obediently. He followed 7r4d3m4rk all the way down to Omega Squared.

The neon omega in red was like the devil in the night. Even in the snow there was a line. But 7r4d3m4rk, coolest of the cool, walked right past it. He looked the bouncer in the eye. "Ramone."

"Trademark! Man, you standin' outside like dis? Come on in an' get youself a drink. On de house, man. On de house." Ramone smiled. Like a basalt statue in a black turtleneck. He looked like he could take on the world with one hand.

7r4d3m4rk and Spyder walked inside Omega-Squared. Holograms ran up glass panes in the floor. The music burst over the speakers. Beats, riffs, beats. People swayed and screamed. Everyone was in black and silver. Silver suits and hologram shades. The Techno-Elite. The Cool. And they looked at 7r4d3m4rk like he was Jesus Frackin' Christ.

Heads turned as he walked past. He was a god among men, 7r4d3m4rk was. People had heard the stories. Spyder followed at his heels, but all eyes were on the main attraction. By the time he found a seat, three women and a man wanted him. By the time he found a seat, he could have drunk the house dry without spending a dime. By the time he found a seat, he could have partied till he was dead. But he found a seat in silence, and people knew he wanted privacy. Heads turned away, sighing. Everyone wanted him, but right now he didn't want anyone.

Spyder didn't sit. He jumped from foot to foot. He swayed back and forth. He jittered. "Man, I got info on the World Council. Just like you asked. Man, its big. Its big, fucking HUGE! They've already won, man! Game fucking OVER! They're EVERYWHERE!"

7r4d3m4rk sighed. He flicked his glasses back up. He sat back in calm ease. "Spyder, no one's won yet. The world's not their clay. I will personally ventilate every last one of them before that happens."

Spyder shook his head, "But somethings going down TONIGHT, Trademark! Tonight! Its big. I mean...fuck, I know you get all philosophical, but how can you remain so fucking CALM?"

7r4d3m4rk shrugged, "Because I have my shit together, Spyder. Now take a seat. Jesus, someone's going to think I just broke up with you. You're going to draw too much attention. You're going to-"

He was cut off. Spyder exploded from the head up. Gore flew in the air. Red mist, white dust, gray pus. There wasn't even a bang, just a pop. A whistle.

7r4d3m4rk was out of his chair before Spyder hit the ground. He rolled as he hit the ground. Rolled and pulled his gun. 7r4d3m4rks gun was sleek, death machine perfection. It was long and black. Thick at the end from a silencer. Bullets half the size of a finger. But balanced like a feather.

"This is the police! You are all under arrest!" Someone screamed. Then the gunfire started. 7r4d3m4rk saw the men in black. They were like clones. Six of them. All dressed the same. Black hair. Black suits. Black shoes. Black shades. Black guns. Big guns. Submachine guns. Hosing down anyone that got in their way.

7r4d3m4rk didn't even think. His gun came up. Three red dots hit the central power box on the ceiling. A whistle. The box exploded in a rain of sparks. Omega Squared went dead. No lights. No sound. No holograms. Just gunfire and screams. 7r4d3m4rk's shades went green inside and every man in black was lined in red. Then his Head-Mail rang.

He activated the link. "What is it?" he thought at the sender.

"Trademark. You know me. I'm the big guy who hits shit. Listen, I have something I need to show you," the man on the other end said. 7r4d3m4rk looked up over the tables. The men in black weren't coming his way. They were too busy shooting clubbers. The Techno-Elite, the Cool, were now just the Dead.

7r4d3m4rk shook his head, "I don't have time for this," he thought at the sender, "I've got six agents. I'll call you when its safe." He cut the connection. He didn't need distraction. Those men weren't police. The Union had sent them. That meant They knew where he was. He swore. Someone must have ratted him out.

But 7r4d3m4rk was cooler than ice. He had no fear. He had transcended fear. Fear wasn't for the coolest of the cool, the 'leetest of the leet. 7r4d3m4rk stood and raised his gun. An agent turned his way, and stared in surprise. He didn't even notice the three red dots on his forehead. Then his head was gone in a spray of gore. "Dust to dust," 7r4d3m4rk muttered as he ran for the side doors.

He fired off as he went along. Two more agents went down. They fired back. The bullets hit the wall around him. They landed near his feet. You just couldn't hit someone that cool that easily.

7r4d3m4rk booted the side door. Boot hit metal and the metal gave. The door swung into an empty alley. The agents were in hot pursuit. But 7r4d3m4rk's world was wider than theirs. He didn't have their boundaries. He ran at the other wall and leapt onto it. He bounced off the wall and onto a dumpster. He rebounded off the dumpster and grabbed onto the fire-escape, twenty feet off the ground. 7r4d3m4rk scaled the fire escape like it was the easiest thing in the world. He had the Edge. Gravity couldn't stop someone that cool. Bullets couldn't either.

7r4d3m4rk bounded along the rooftops for a few blocks, getting some distance. He cloaked himself in information. He wasn't seen. He wasn't heard. The snow blew around him, but no one would have noticed. Finally, he came to the side of a building and leapt down the fire escape. He slid down the ladder to the ground without ever touching the rungs. He hit the ground and holstered his gun.

7r4d3m4rk sauntered into the Hotspot Cafe like he'd been relaxing all day. Cool as ice. Every muscle relaxed. Not a care in the world. There were geeks sitting at iMacs on the walls. Hackers in black. Weekend hackers. No real conviction. They all wanted to be him. All they were was pathetic. But they looked at 7r4d3m4rk like they knew him. They tried to be cool. But they were all amazed. It showed on their faces. Amazed, scared, hopeful, pick one. But none of them approached him. How could anyone that lame approach someone that cool? How could you even open your mouth in front of him? You'd just embarras yourself. 7r4d3m4rk walked past them like they weren't even there. He didn't care about weekend hackers and casual revolutionaries.

He walked up to the owner. "I'll take a booth. I just need a few minutes." The man looked awed, but tried to play it cool. The look on his face said that he wanted to worship 7r4d3m4rk. Instead, he said:

"You want a booth, you must pay. This is not place for freeloaders. How do I know you not fuck with network?" His voice was thick. He came from one of the 'Stans, probably. 7r4d3m4rk shook his head and sighed. He tried to slip the man a bill, but the guy wouldn't take it. He was determined to face him down.

"If I wanted to fuck with this network, it'd be fucked. I wouldn't need to be on it to do it. I just need to borrow it for a minute. Besides, c'mon, man. I have no problem with you. You're cool. But its cold outside, and I'd rather not have to go somewhere else right now. Cold is fucking cold, you know?"

The man looked gruff. He began to relent. Stronger men than he had broken in a few minutes with 7r4d3m4rk. "You call this cold? Back in Khazackstan, we have winters three times as cold! The piss freezes in the cow!"

"Yeah," said 7r4d3m4rk, "I'm sure its pretty cold." He sounded bored. The man bored him. The weekend hackers bored him. He worked his mind and accessed his computer with a thought. He broke through the man's shit security with a thought. He ran it all through his shades. As he talked, he hacked.

Hackers around the city came to 7r4d3m4rk's call. The message? "Spyder is dead. Keep your heads down. Find me info on the World Council." And across the city, hackers began to converge. They met in chat rooms. They emailed. They worked together and wedged open systems long thought secure. Information trickled back to 7r4d3m4rk within minutes.

The owner relented before any of this was more than a minute old. He gave 7r4d3m4rk a booth with a view of the door. And that was when the coolest of the cool, the 'leetest of the 'leet, the hottest of the hot realized that They had found him. And that's when he began to wait and plan.


Mage LARP tonight

Tonight's LARP was seven shades of fucking AWESOME. My Virtual Adept got thrown into Quiet (as illustrated in the previous post...which was essentially his quiet until the other PCs intervened) where he was a cyber-punk action god. My character with 3 Physical Traits killed several Technocrat hobgoblins and managed to do a roof-top running scene (in addition to some great uses of Forces 2). He also got a gun, provided courtesy of his Quiet.

Unfortunatly I was broken out of it. I really enjoyed it, and frankly the character seemed a bit lackluster in the 15 or 20 minutes of game afterwards (but I'm assured that next game, the last, will be fucking AWESOME).

My friend, Ericka, also had a great Quiet. She got to become a full Marauder, with her own little Dashiell Hammet/Raymond Chandler universe. Funny thing is, though, her adventures were like Sam Spade, with the simple change of Sam being a woman. So basically it turned into a lesbian detective story at times. It was great to listen to.

The Storyteller than ran both our scenes, Stephen Near, is a fantastic guy. He has an incredible grasp of Mage and the way that different folks' paradigms work into it. He's been the mastermind behind many of the subplots that have made playing 7r4d3m4rk so fantastic. He has this fantastic understanding of literature, to the point where both Ericak and myself were talking to him in the language of novels and movies. He started describing the way the city looked, and I said "So like Jennifer Government meets The Matrix?" And he said "Yes! Exactly!". And there were other things. Bruce Sterling, William Gibson, Max Barry, Neil Stephenson...all my favourite cyber-punk writers made it into the night in one reference or another. 7r4d3m4rk's little fantasy world ran like Neuromancer meets Snow Crash meets The Matrix meets several Sterling novels whose names I can't remember. Fucking FAN-TAS-TIC!

Steve, if you're reading this, major major kudos. It was great.

Sunday, December 19, 2004 I lied...

Yesterday was hectic as all hell. SO was today. So you only get three pages. THe other three are coming tomorrow, before I go to Mage.

In other amusing news, I now can use my family's wireless network from the basement. Hurrah for the miracles of modern technology. W007!

Thursday, December 16, 2004


Remember how I said yesterday that one of the few TPBs I will pick up immediatly without even opening in the store is anything involving Powers? Well...funny how the universe worked. I went to the Hairy Tarantula (my big FLGS, or at least the main one I frequent) and, lo and behold, there was a new Powers TPB: Powers: Forever. The seventh tradepaperback, second under the Icon label, "Forever" chronicles the history of Christian Walker. Which is...unique among superheroes, to say the least.

Lemme put it this way: Vandal Savage has NOTHING on Christian "Diamond" Walker. The guy is one of, literally, the first superhumans. Back before there were neanderthals, and there were only a bunch of apes drinking around a small pool of water. Back when Red Stripe the ape decided to rape White Stripe the ape's favourite female ape, and when she resisted he...well, Red Stripe melted her by looking at her funny. And then White Stripe got superpowers as well (who even back when he was an ape looked a bit like Christian) beat the shit out of him. This more or less set the tone for the two immortals over the next few million years, as they eventually evolved into big, tall, strapping homo superiors.

It also explains how Christian lost his powers, talks about where Zora GOT her powers, shows a monastary of superpeople (including a Boxer Rebellion-era Retro Girl), and shows us what "Wolfe" can really do in a super-fight (he was a badass back in his old super-villain days). We also get to see Johnny Royalle in a super-fight (the guy's a damn good teleporter, I gotta say...he slowed down by the time Deena accidentally ripped his arm off), and we learn that Triphammer's power was the armor. Triphammer wasn't a gadget hero, he was like the Engineer. He grew his armor out of his skin (or possibly conjured it out of nothing, Sc-RY-ed style), and all the guns he pulls out, and the other shit...he grows all that as well. He's ALSO a super-scientist (he built the first power nullifier), but his main schtick is the armor. I like Triphammer a lot more now.

I'm going to be buying the Powers Scriptbook as soon as I can find a copy (or just order one off First 11 issue scripts in 324 pages...just what a guy needs to brighten up his holidays.

Speaking of scripting, I've seen a lot of script styles lately. Neil Gaiman has one in the back of the 1602 TPB, Warren Ellis has one in the back of Absolute Planetary, I've got Greg Rucka's stuff in the Queen & Country Scriptbook, and Bendis script at the back of Powers: Forever. I gotta say that, overall, I like Warren and Greg's stuff the best, in terms of scripts. Greg's scripts are really nicely organized, and you know where everything's coming from (and is also the reason why I started numbering dialogue that occurs in Project Beowulf). Warren's stuff has some really nice, concise description. You know what's going on, even if he only spends a couple sentences on it. His descriptions automatically conjure up pictures. That's what I want.

This isn't to demean Bendis or fucking way. Those guys are AWESOME. But just the way the scripts have been presented, perhaps. I dunno. Jason tells me that I script somewhat like Warren...I dunno. Maybe. *big ol' shrug* Perhaps.

And yes, expect those last 6 pages to issue 1 on Friday. I already know where I'm going with this. Issue 2's coming together in my head nicely, but I'm not writing anything down because I'm partially doing this as a stream of consciousness exercise to see if I can get my brain into spontaneously thinking in script.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Queen & Country

What can you say about a comic like this? It's honestly a comic unlike any other. A spy comic about people. Not about action, or gadgets, or wooing foreign scientists into your bed, and definitly not about vodka martinis-shaken-not-stirred. It's a comic about people. People who happen to be involved in the dead serious game of international espionage.

Frankly, Queen & Country is a comic that reads like it should be a television series. The dialogue is snappy, the action is fast moving...but pauses, when pauses need to be made. I had one woman look at my book and say to me today, "What is that? One of those comics without words?". She was looking at two pages in the first TPB in which the main character, Tara Chace, is fleeing from several soldiers. Without words or cartoony sound effects the scene perfectly captured the speed, drama, and emotional weight of a scene in which the main character flees for her life.

Now, don't think I'm coming at this comic as a newbie. I've been reading Q&C for a couple years now. Only in TPB form, true, but I've read all seven of them (Broken Ground through to Dandelion, as well as Declassified), and I look at the Scriptbook as a true masterpiece (it and two or three comics are what I generally look at when I'm stuck on how to script a page or panel for Project Beowulf). So this is all to say that I've had time to let my thoughts on Q&C percolate.

It is probably one of the most personal comics I've read. That is to say, one that focuses solely on the emotions of the characters. The plot behind each arc revolves around a given mission, yes, but the real focus is on the characters. The entire second arc was built around Tara recovering from her first assasination job...not physically (she was physically ready to go before the end of the first arc), but emotionally and psychologically. The spies, the Minders, of the SIS don't just walk into a room and gun four men down with a signature Walther PPK. Every death has its own set of repercussions, even when the person was killed in self defense.

It's easily one of my favourite comics out there, and one of the few that I will purchase a TPB for without looking inside (the others being...well, Planetary, reprints of Morrison's Doom Patrol, Powers, Astro City, Fables, and Girl Genius). If you haven't read it yet, the first book is Operation: Broken Ground, and can be found in the Oni Press section of your FLGS/FLCS. If not, you can probably order it off Amazon.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Changeling LARP

Well, I almost didn't make my Changeling game tonight. I got a frantic call from one of the guys at work last night informing me that the guy who normally covers my station on Sundays is apparently being deported (I have no idea, so don't ask). So I was pretty depressed last night when I heard this, because I've been spending two weeks putting together the perfect costume for Changeling and now I wouldn't be able to wear it...

...but I got to go anyway. I'm about two and a half hours into my shift, we've been open for about an hour and a half, and we had no one with reservations tonight and had done 4 people so far. So Frank, the owner, comes onto the line and asks me if I'd like to go home, because its so slow (and he probably realizes I really don't want to work Sundays). I believe my answer was "Dear god yes". So...I got to go home. I figured I'd been half an hour or an hour late to game (since it normally starts at 7). But it started at 8, so I got to play the full thing. In my full, pseudo-Dickensian costume (I got a vaugley great-coatish looking thing from my father, I'm going to have pictures soon, I promise).

Game fucking ROCKED! It was all the sweeter because it was the ultimate stress relief from exams. I'd been feeling off all day, but Changeling brought me right back to my feet. Changeling's generally a hit-or-miss game, where I either have a fantastic time or I get really bored. Tonight I had a fantastic time. To give the highlights:
-Innis got an apprentice, a newly Chrysalised Nocker who I've been set to train (...he's everything I despise...he's an aristocrat, with a big I'm going to turn him into a weird Morlock, I think, just like me)
-Innis asked, and was more or less accepted, into a motley
-I made schemes

Unfortunatly my scheme to be the Grinch and steal Christmas from the rich isn't going to work, because I was an idiot and asked a couple people for help, and they thought it was a horrible plan. So I can't do it now, becuase I'll be caught for sure. But I'll think of some other way to get my kicks. The monkey, how it schemes.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Blade: Trinity

Saw this earlier today. Well...most of it. I lost about three minutes due to a call from work (ug).

Overall...its not too bad. I don't mind the reinterpretation of Dracula, since he comes off looking, at least his bite does, like the Reapers from the second movie, who had their blood derived from a fantastically ancient vampire.

Aside from the UV bullets (obvious Underworld ripoff there) and the "UV Arc", I loved the various gadgets.

Now, I'm not too up on the Blade comics, but the Nighstalkers...I seem to remember. In Blade Trinity the team is:
-King, the former vampire-turned-hunter (Hannibal King was apparently an original Nightstalker, according to JasonK)
-Jessica Biel's character who's name I can't remember, sexy (very sexy) archer and martial artist
-the uber-geek tech head who's name I can't remember, who wore the Fantastic Four t-shirt
-the black guy who got no characterization beyond three or four lines
-Summerfield, the blind geneticist who cooked up a new serum for Blade and a wonderful little anti-vampire weapon (...ok, she was hot...I like science chicks...what?)

The main non-Dracula vamp was amusing. To get a good idea of characterization: Take Marla Singer from Fight Club (the movie, not the book). Turn her into a vampire. Make her really rich, and spoiled. That's pretty much the main vampire bitch of the piece.

Dracula (Drake as he was more often referred to in the movie) had a nice suit of armor, though the actor playing him was...barely adequate. Dracula's a complex character who I feel is very seldomly cast correctly, and while the actor (Dominic somethingorother) managed to pull off a great bad-ass attitude, he didn't deliver many of his speeches with the fire that should have gone into them.

There are so many things to talk about in the movie, of course. It did not live up to the first, but sadly there are very few that can bite (pun intended) so deep into the vampire-action genre as the original Blade did. It encapsulated every perfect little thing you hoped for. The movies after that, like Underworld were just ripoffs. Van Helsing came close, with a rather unique interpretation, but got mired in its own cast and mythology. There is only so far you can take the portrayal of the monsters in a movie when one of the main ones serves a totally minor task, and another is a slavering beast. Van Helsing could have been great...but it settled for just barely mediocre (so many possible good scenes if the writers hadn't gone for gags).

The natural evolution of vampire society has been neat to watch over the course of three movies. Going from Deacon Frost and his blood parties to the cool vamp-ninjas in the second, to the huge blood factories in the third. There has also been a progression in the weaponry of the vampire hunters. Blade's gadgets in the first were pretty tame by comparison to the UV bombs of the second and the "UV Arc"/"UV Bullets"/anti-vamp-bio-weapons of the third.

Plus...I found Summerfield by far a cuter science-chick than the hemotologist from the first movie...

Thursday, December 09, 2004

I salute our future evil rodent overlords

The rats, they plan. They fly.

Soon we shall be subjugated by giant rat brains that control the world's weapon systems.

Remember, children: the only thing worse than a Red with a tac-nuke is a rat with a tac-nuke. Those fuckers are CRA-Z! more sane and sensible news, I wrote 4400 words on my Roman Civ exam today, and was able to actually write and discard two essays out of the four I wrote (I only needed two) to get the best work I could out of them. I pray for good marks.

Warren Ellis

Warren Ellis, of Transmetropolitan, The Authority, and Planetary fame is one of the greatest writers in comics today. Honestly, this isn't that difficult, though. He could write comics about deep sea turtles with yellow capes who fight bipedal mutton shanks for control of the seven magical soup spoons, and it would still prove better plot fare than "I shall have absolute power once I make Superman into a vampire!"

Anyway, the point of all this is that one of Ellis' big, cool comics at the moment is Global Frequency, which tells the story of 1001 agents of a global rescue organization. The agents are all the best in their field (which, for several dozen of them, appears to be computer hacking)...fields that range from urban siege warfare, memetic programming, theoretical rocket propulsion theory, and advanced quantum mechanics. It's wonderful to watch a dozen geeks work together to save the world, rather than three guys in capes, spandex, and their underwear on the outside.

I picked up the second GF TPB today, Detonation Radio. Ellis' work is often disturbing, with very visceral imagery, but some of the stuff in here...gah. The scene with the Japanese mental hospital where doctors worship the beauty of the vivisected, mutated, and mutilated human body...dear god. I may have nightmares. The two page shot of their "altar" is honestly one of the most disturbing scenes I have ever found in a comic book.

GF has also been optioned off as a TV show. Ellis talked on his email blog, Bad Signal, about how the pilot is done, they just have to shop it around. The fact that the original material's writer endorses the show based off his work makes me very happy, and is quite encouraging.

And I continue to babble on, and on, and on. I'm tired, and I have an exam tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Yes, Legolas and the Hulk would have made it better

Sadly, not even the Hulk and Legolas could save Troy, as Gabe and Tycho over at Penny Arcade so aptly observed.

My Classical Myth course on the Trojan War had a screening today of Troy tonight. Now, I will first talk about the screening and the class, and then the movie. Becuase these three things are all totally different.

The Class
CLA204H1F L5101 taught by Professor Alison Keith.

Professor Keith is cool. She has an incredible degree of enthusiasm for the material she teaches, and it shows. You can teach the Trojan War mythos in a lot of ways, from a dry, academic discussion on it to "WOO! Go Achilles! Kill those Trojan pigfuckers! Show 'em all for stealin' Menelaus' ho!". Professor Keith finds the perfect balance between these two extremes, showing a phenomenal knowledge of the material, and an honest passion for it.

My only dissapointment with this class is that it wasn't the class I thought I was taking. It is the secondary section of a general Classical Greek Myth course, which teaches the Trojan War mythos rather than the general mythology. The main problem with all this is that I bought a hundred dollar textbook package that was nonrefundable for it...and then I needed to go out and buy three other textbooks. But all in all, it was a really, really cool course.

The Screening

We got this screening early, months before the official DVD release. Victoria College apparently has some swing with the various film companies, and we were able to get it at some ludicrous expense to the Classical Civilizations Student Associations. But Proffesor Keith pushed for it, and we got it.

Two problems arose:
1) It started out widescreen, and was very bleached out thanks to some shoddy projectors.
2) The subtitles (whcih were tagged onto it for some reason) were...wonky. EXTREMLY wonky. Like "all your base are belong to us" wonky. At times characters would talk and what they said wouldn't get any subtitles. At other times, what they said would be accurate (normally very short, simple sentences). Other times, you would get things like this:

Agamemnon (actual line): "Damn him! Ready the ships and pursue them!"

Agamemnon (Subtitle): "Get my ship, buddy!"

Boy (Actual Line): "I am afraid of him."
Achilles (Actual Line): "That is why no one will remember you."

Boy (Subtitle): "I won't fight him."
Achilles (Subtitle): "That's why I'll forget about you."


Man (Actual Line): "I saw her board the Trojan ships!"

Man (Subtitle): "I saw her abort that ships."


Agamemnon (Actual Line): "I should have you whipped for your impudence!"

Agamemnon (Subtitle): "I will work for that incident."

And on, and on, and on. It's a pity I didn't have my laptop with me so I could capture the sheer cheese that were the subtitles. No one's sure why they were there, but we cracked up for about the first half hour until someone talked to the tech people and the movie was put on full screen, without subtitles. I will rent the DVD when it comes out just to see if they're still there.

The Movie

I loved The Iliad. It is a fantastic story.

I hate Troy. It's just a plain god-awful movie. The acting is wooden, the accents are horrible, and the plot makes no sense to those that have read the original work by Homer. Agamemnon can't die, he has to return home to Mycenae to be killed by Clytamnestra for sacraficing his daughter, Iphegenia, to Artemis at Aulis. Where's Diomedes? Where's Aeneas' great duel with Ajax? Where are the fucking GODS???


Suffice to say, I really dislike the movie. The fight scenes are quite nice, and well coreographed, and its nice to see non-Asians with non-rapiers doing good, acrobatic sword fighting. That, in and of itself, captures the martial power of Achilles. The rest of the movie doesn't do the epic justice. Homer's bone particles are vibrating in their grave.

There is only a single saving grace to the plot: Aeneas. Aeneas gets a single three or four sentence exchange with Paris at the end as he helps an old man, presumably his father Anchises, down a secret passage under the city. I predict that Aeneas is already in the works. And that we will similarly see no gods.

Now I need to go study for Roman Civ. And forget that I ever saw Troy.

An post of pointless narcissim...

JasonK wrote the following about me today in his blog. And, as Oscar Wilde said, the only thing worse than being talked about is NOT being talked all is well.


Here's why Bard's cool:

He's debonaire


1. Suave; urbane.
2. Affable; genial.

What the boy does, he does with flair. But moreso, Derek's a guy who brings a real enthusiasm to everything he does. He's creative, yes. He's imaginative, yes. He's got talent, yes. But it's really his enthusiasm that gets to me. He gets an idea in his head and an hour later he's written up a new two-thousand word rpg. Every conversation is a conversation with gusto! Every new book is a book with talking about!

That's why Bard is cool.

Segue From a Cook (part 2)

Many people like pork/weiners-and-beans. It's a classic, down South American dish, great with bread of any sort, hot, sticks to your rips, and its damnably filling. It also only takes about ten minutes to make, all things considered. Any old bread is nice with this, plain or toasted, but needs fucking enormous hunks of butter spread into it. Cornbread is a really nice alternative, but its near impossible to find good stuff. I suggest either stealing some from your local Montana's when they bring you your bread basket, or to go get some for a buck fifty at Whole Foods (if there's one nearby). For hotdogs to use...just about anything will do, so long as it doesn't have any extra flavourings (what I mean is no "Cheesy'n'Hot Franks" or "Jalapeno-Dogs", or whatever). I personally tend to overdo it on the weiners a bit, but I just happen to really like them.

The one reason that I talk about this recipe is because mose people just chuck the beans into a pot and simmer them, then chuck some pieces of hotdog in, and let that it that. You can make them taste so much better with another three minutes work. And it WILL be an extra three or four minutes work.

Bard's Baked Beans
(warning: note that this recipe involves absolutly no baking what-so-ever)
1 can baked beans (typically I use Libby's or Heinz with Tomato Sauce, but with Pork or Mollasses works just as well)
1/2 of a white onion, rough dice (cut it into squares around the size of between your pinky nail and your thumnail and you're good to go)
1/2 of a green pepper, seeded, rough dice (same size of chop)
2-4 weiners, boiled, cut into 4-6 pieces each
2-3 tablespoons of mollasses or maple syrup (interchangeable, mollases works best, though)
2-3 tablespoons of ketchup

1. Chop up the onions and the green pepper. Throw them in a lightly oiled pan on a medium heat (around 5 or 6 on an electric oven), and start stirring. Stir, leave it alone for a minute or two, stir again. What you want to do is sweat the liquid off of them so that it gets into the beans. Sweat them off for about 4 or 5 minutes till the onions are starting to go translucent, and the green pepper has turned near neon green (but not going mushy).
2. Throw the weiners into a pot of water that just barely covers them, and set it to boil.
3. Throw in the can of beans and stir them together with the veggies. Now let it simmer for a couple minutes while the beans warm up. This will look kind of watery, don't worry, its supposed to do that. Just let it simmer.
4. Throw in the mollasses and the ketchup, stirring them into the beans. Reduce the heat to around 3-5, and let this simmer, stirring occasionally just to make sure stuff doesn't stick to the sides. You want to let it simmer till it starts looking goopy, not watery. If you don't have mollases, and a lot of people don't, use maple syrup, real or fake. Mollases just adds a nice color to the dish that you don't get with syrup.
5. Let the hotdogs boil for a minute or two, take them out, dry them, and cut each into 5-6 rough circles. Throw them in with the beans, increase the heat a bit, and let them simmer for another few minutes.
6. Remove from heat, plate. I suggest using a bowl, but I know people who like plates. The plates make it easier to scoop up with the broad, while the bowls are particularly good for dipping.

This goes really well with a big glass of milk. I have no idea what, if any, wine you would drink with beans and weiners. It just seems kind of hoity-toity to me.

For desert, if you have it, throw some Lyle's Golden Syrup on a piece of buttered bread. Lyle's is a brand of English sugar cane syrup that comes in a jar, is the same pure golden color as good whisky, and tastes fantastic. Its especially nice on white French or Italian crusty bread with a light coating of salted butter before the syrup goes on (otherwise it crystallizes to the bread). Be careful when using it that you clean the knife before putting it into the syrup, as the stuff will grab anything on the knife and keep you end up with cloudy syrup with bread and butter flakes stuck in it (which doesn't hurt it...but the syrup's just such a beautiful color its a shame to ruin it).

And remember:

Eat good food. Enjoy good food. And at some point, cook good food.

(dear god, I have a culinary catchphrase...)

You might just be from Hellenistic Macedon if...

...every family gathering involves uncles with the same name as you, married to cousins with the same name as your sister.

(the greatest trouble I have reading about Macedonian history is the fact that you get situations like the following (which is similar to a situation where Alexander's sister, Cleopatra, was going to be married off to his uncle, Alexander...and all this was the result of some trouble with his cousin, Cleopatra...):

"Pausanias had quarreled with and been insulted by another man, also named Pausanias, both of whom were suitors of Phillip. The second Pausanias told Attalus of the insult, and also confided in him that he could not bear the shame and planned to kill himself. He did this by stepping in front of Phillip in battle as the king was attacked by King leurias of the Illyrians, giving his life for the king's. Attalus blaed the first Pausanias for the second Pausanias' death..."
-Demand, Nancy. A History of Ancient Greece. 1996. McGraw-Hill Companies, Boston. Pg.297)

...just a little bad Classics humor there. D'ya think I could write for History Bytes?

Monday, December 06, 2004

I take back what I said about Exalted: The Fair-Folk

Exalted: The Fair Folk is by far one of the most complicated RPG supplement I have ever read. Next to it, Nobilis is a children's book, and Continuum is a high school textbook.

The basic problem I have is that the rules are...well frankly, the rules are just damnably complex, and there are a lot of them. There are a lot of terms used chapters before they are ever explained, and a lot of things that require examples that aren't given them. Mainly, it would have been really, really nice to see a full example of several rounds of Shaping Combat.

Ahhh, Shaping Combat. It's...complex. In a head-hurty kind of way.

...but at the same time its very cool. It's literally illusionary combat. Which is nifty. More later as I read on.

Oh, and I also finished Max Barry's Jennifer Government. Fantastic book. Very odd, but also very cool. It's a touch nihilistic at times, though, as seemingly innocent characters become stone cold bitches bent on killing, maiming, threatening, and swindling anyone just to get what they want.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Segue From a Cook (part 1)

I really can't understand people who have an aversion to the kitchen. People just seem fucking TERRIFIED of going anywhere near a stove, or cutting board, or trying to prepare anything more difficult than fried eggs. Food is EASY, people. Don't get intimidated by, oh...hell, I don't know...salmon cakes.

Bard's Benificent Salmon Cakes
1 can of tinned salmon (remove skin)
1 potato, cut into small pieces so it boils quickly
1 egg
1-3 pinches cumin (literlly pinch a bit and throw it in)
1 small palmful of fresh dill, finley chopped (dried will do)
1-3 pinches of chili powder
1-3 dashes of Worchester Sauce
1-3 dashes of tobasco sauce (to taste)
fine bread crumbs (see recipe, this is really a thing of testing the consistency)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Boil the potatoes until they're a bit past fork-tender (a fork sticks easily, and softly, into them). Mash finely, without butter or milk, and set aside to cool (you may want to just run the potatoes under cold water before mashing them).
2. Chop the dill very finely. Don't bother taking it off the stalk, just chop it all up till you have a rough palmful. If you really want to, do the same to a single leaf or two of sage. For the stoners in the audience, you could, in theory I suppose, add in some pot, but I can't guarantee on the taste and you'd probably be better off just making hash-brownies with it if you're intent on incorporating it into a meal.
3. Mix the potatoes, salmon, spices, sauces, and egg together in a mixing bowl until everythings well incorporated. Test the smell and the taste (a little crumb or two will do), and consider adding another pinch or two of one spice or another. For this you don't need a fancy masher, a big ole fork will do just fine. Don't be too worried if it looks really, really mushy or goopy once you add the egg, that's fine...there's nothing to worry about. This is natural. Its OK.
4. Now, start adding bread crumbs. The object of this is to soak up some of the moisture and give some texture and binding to the cakes. Start with a few palmfuls and see how it looks. The mixture should allow you to form rough, slightly fragile cakes in your palm with very little effort. It should not be dry, and it should not be goopy. Feel free to experiment, because you can always solve either problem with more bread, more salmon, or more eggs.
5. Take balls of the mixture and gently shape them until they fill the middle of your hand (so a very large palmful). Cover each on both sides in bread crumbs, gently patting to make sure that they stay in.
6. Heat some oil in a pan, and fry the cakes. They should be golden brown, slightly going towards black, on each side. Be careful, as they make come apart. Don't worry too much about this...just fry the pieces. Lack of presentation doesn't destroy taste.
7. Serve with a sauce made from cocktail sauce and balsamic vinegar. One part balsamic to two parts cocktail sauce.

This is a simple recipe that looks intimidating. It looks tough to do, but its not. Do it once or twice, and becomes second nature.

The key to good food is to make it taste good. Forget presentation. You don't have to make every meal look like Wolfgang Puck took the day off to help. Simple food is good.

My best advice to those with a phobia of cooking:
Don't be afraid. You'll fail. Probably a lot. All of us did. No chef was born with a silver knife in one hand and a steaming hot platter of home-made beef tenderloin with fois gras and a truffle-port sauce. First thing I ever cooked on my own? I microwaved bread with butter, garlic powder, and dried sage powder on it when I got home from school. I've botched a few major dinners that I cooked for the family (I will never live down the horribly failed attempt at jambalya). But everyone makes mistakes. Move over them. Start simple, not complex. Don't worry about sauces on pasta, just give them some garlic in olive oil, a bit of lemon juice, and maybe a dash of white wine. Throw some coarsly chopped carrots, zucchini, and asparagus into that and you're laughin.

Anyway...yeah. That is the end of my fantastically sage advice for the day. Remember:

Eat good food. Enjoy good food. And at some point, cook good food.

Anthony Bourdain

Ok, first tip when attending book signings: get there an hour early. Second tip when attending book signings: realize that book stores want to make money by only letting you get the books you bought that day be signed, but most authors don't seem to give a damn.

Now then...

Anthony Bourdain came to Toronto today to do a short speech and book signing at the Chapters on Yonge & Eglinton. He's a really good speaker. I mean...he's hilarious. He has this vague Thompson-esque flavor to his stories, and he just has some great tangents that he goes off on (most notably was the utterly fictisious story about smoking crack with Emeril, Jamie Oliver, and Martha Stewart, Emeril breaks the pipe and Martha makes a new one out of a toilet paper roll [Martha is, I think, a bitcher incarnation of MacGuyver]).

He encouraged people to try new food, especially when they travel. Try whatever the weird local delicacy is, rather than just going for the standard stuff. He also expressed his utter hatred of vegan food.

Anyway, then came the book signing. The line was long. Really long. Longer than it would have been if I'd stuck with the plan and arrived at opening (rather than an hour and a quarter later). But still, I managed to wind my way there. I had to contend with Chapter's staff, most of whom had no idea what he was letting be signed, and though I only actually purchased a book today for my dear mum, I also managed to sneak in my own, worn, yellowed copy of Kitchen Confidential into the mix. Didn't manage to slip him a card for Il Posto though, but I DID slip it to a woman in line behind me who I'd been talking to.

But I had a great time. He's a really nice guy, witty, and funny. I hope one day to scam a publishing company into paying me to go on a world tour and eat food as well. Ah...the dream...

Friday, December 03, 2004

I look damn snazzy

The title says it all.

Mandatory end-of-work-day reflections

Today we served 60 people. This is not special. What IS special is that tonight Il Posto hosted a dinner for the Culinary Institute of Italy.

60 portions of carpaccio, 60 portions of fish, 60 portions of duck, large amounts of limoncello ice, and meringue cake later, the night ended. We all got marched out in front of the people in our pristine whites, and got an applause. It felt good...for the five or ten seconds that it lasted. It was nice, people recognized me afterwards when I was going home, patted me on the back, and said the food was superb. It's good to be appreciated.

However, for years now, on and off, someone has given my family panatone, or Italian Christmas cake. Every culture has something like this, I believe in North America the simple term is "fruit cake" (or possibly "building materials"). In Czech Republic, they make a walnut cake (of walnut flower) with raisins, that's almost more of a bread (my babicka [grandmother] makes this PHENOMENALLY well...but I can't for the life of me remember the name). In Italy, they make a moist cake that tastes of lemons, cinnamon, and brandy with bits of cherry and raisin in it. By the time my family ends up digging into it most years, the panatone has attained the state of matter that usually presages bread becoming croutons for caesar salad.

But GOOD panatone. Moist, chewy, just beautiful. It honestly brought the magic of Italian food back to me, which is something I haven't experienced in a very long time. Oh, I get good Italian food, for sure. The guys at work make some phenomenal stuff (hell, I make some damn good pasta as well, though I don't do the pasta station), but in general the Italian restaraunt industry is inundated with cheap schlock that's billed as authentic. I'm sorry, but East Side Mario's just doesn't cut it, nor do many other of the franchises. Sure, many of them are decent and cheap (actually, ESM does amaze me sometimes with the quality their kitchen manages to put out, but it does tend to vary from franchise to franchise), but they don't...hell, they don't have that magic of a really really GOOD Italian restaraunt.

One of the key signs to a good Italian restaraunt is something run by an Italian (not to say that all those run by Italians are good, as Tony Bourdain so aptly shows in his novel Bone In The Throat), or posessing an Italian chef (once again, not to say that this is an absolute prequisite either...seeing as how most of our kitchen is from East Asia). I's hard to define. A really good Italian restaraunt has this quality to its thats often not visible. The food is often plain looking, acting in and of itself as presentation (maybe with a sprig of herb or a bit of lemon). Its in simplicity that the true nature of the food is found.

Really, when it comes down to it though, its hit and miss. Like any restaraunt, Italian places vary from place to place, and even from night to night (I am reminded of the day we got HORRIBLE liver in and didn't realize it till the first plates started coming honestly couldn't tell there was anything wrong until you put it in your mouth). But the good places have that magic to them that all really good food has, that feeling of utter contement, that you've done just the right thing by coming here.

To segue into a story:

My best frind Ian and I went to the opera one night, and went out for dinner afterwards (or possibly before...I'm not entirely sure which). We went to one of my favourite Greek restaraunts, Penelope (for Torontians, its the Greek place across the street from the Hummingbird Center, right next to Biff's). Its entirely possible this may have been the first time I ever went there (I really can't remember). This place is owned, run, and crewed by Greeks, and the food is seven shades of fantastic. I ordered my usual lamb shank (always spectacular), and Ian ordered moussaka (kind of an eggplant lasanga). His moussaka came with these potatoes that they put with most dishes, that are done with garlic and lemon and some other herbs.

Penelope is one of those places where the food's got magic to it. I've never been dissapointed...and neither was Ian. Conversation was a touch difficult at times as he was shivering in pleasure at the table when he tried the potatoes. To be honest, that was my first reaction to them as well. Just...beyond words.


...and this is all just a round-about way of saying that panatone returned the magic of Italian cuisine to me. The fact that I hadn't really eaten all day may have contributed to this as well.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Now all I need is a top hat...

I now have a top hat. I now have a swagger cane. Mind that my top hat looks like I ought to be perched atop the driver's box of a coach and four, and my swagger cane looks more like an elongated stage magician's wand (and WHAT is wrong with that?). But the important thing is that I have them now.

Now then...with some $16 pointy ears, some spirit gum, a few candles, some makeup, and maybe a pointy latex nose my costume for Innis Dupoir Nachteltaffen (...who's gotten the rather unfortunate nickname "Nocker-Toffy") will be complete. Oh yeah, and a doctor's bag...which I checked into, and new start around $120. I'm sorry, but I feel bad even parting with $20 for costuming, let alone six times that.


Also, I picked up Exalted: The Fair-Folk on Monday and started reading it yesterday. The fiction pieces are marvelous. The system looks like the typical sort of convulted, cool, mythic weirdness that follows any game created by Rebecca Sean Borgstrom. There's only one real problem...

...the text flows only slightly better than the Nether-World source book I wrote when I was about 16. Which isn't to say its bad, I was still a pretty damn good writer at 16, but at the same time it contains some common textual mistakes that really irk me (perhaps because I see them a touch too often in my own writing). Its a good book, but there are times when the text is a bit rough (the repetition of "these aerial forests" springs to mind), and there's a tendency towards avoiding general information about Rakshastan and replacing it with specific examples (I think it would have been more useful, for example, to hear more about the general sort of stuff you find in the Eastern forests [perhaps aligning with the main two elemental poles the East touches, Fire and Air], than about two or three very specific forests within it, who's locations aren't given).

Of course, there are a lot of cool stuff suggested in what I've read already. Using tiny manikin soldiers to stage mock battles in supernaturally formed miniature cities is just so damnably cool, as is the idea that a Fair Folk's Freehold is his utter and absolute domain. I think that there are some definite elements borrowed from Nobilis in the game, which is good because they could have done a whole lot worse. One really great thing that I quite liked about the "Source Readings" section of the Introduction was that it didn't list any books. Rather it suggested several very broad sources, mainly "Arabian Nights" and watching 1960s Bugs Bunny cartoons. I actually could imagine doing a very odd, more modern Fair Folk game that would end up like a more supernaturally powered version of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. Toontown is a great example of an enormous Freehold in the middle of Creation (its even hidden), and if you put only the major characters as actual intelligent Fair Folk (Bugs Bunny, obviously, but also Judge Doom, the Weasels, Jessica, Roger Rabbit, and...errr...whoever else).

Enough weird talk for now. The book also has an absolutly fantastic cover (it's wrap around, with no back text, instead showing an illustration that's carried over from the front to the spine to the back). The boys and UDON really did good this time (what the hell am I saying, they ALWAYS do good with this stuff)...and I'm not just saying that because I've RPed with Jim Zubkavich and know that he's a cool guy.

The "Traditions 7" t-shirt

Well, I went ahead and made a promotional t-shirt for what happens when seven Traditionalists complete botch a bank job. The front of this lovely shirt informs you of the name of the program, while the back lists just how many people were involved, and to what Traditions they belonged. I'm pretty sure there was a third Hermetic in Quinn's car.

I swear its a novel idea, not some weird cult I founded

The following is a Original Idea(tm) from Bard. It is not meant to start a cult. If you want to start a cult about Christ's nanite enriched blood because you feel you may be the descendent of one of the apostles side affairs or the people they infected, remember that the iron content in your blood is perfectly natural. Continue eating Canadian beef. If you are a Christian and are offended by it, please remember that Jesus never said he WASN'T the super-nanite-infused spawn of 7-dimensional aliens. He just said he was the son of God, and that he wanted peace on earth. Those last three words are the most important part of that sentence.

The following is an explanation of a comment I made over at Bleeding Fiction, the blog of JasonK (or most often just "Jason", because the only other one I know is an undead axe murderer...or it might be the same one...if so his spelling is amazing for someone wearing gloves).

Most people know what the Holy Grail is. Its the cup that Christ drank from at the last supper. Some stories hold that its the cup that caught the blood of Christ after Loginus the Centurion (who's feast day I was born that a good thing or a bad thing?) stabbed him with a spear (which would become the Spear of Destiny). Christ was the son of God, and we apparently know this because angels visited the manger where he was born, a star guided the wise men, and at one point God appeared in the form of a glowing dove and said "This is my son with whom I am well pleased".

Of course...what if angels are actually extra-dimensional, or hyper-terrestrial, aliens who impregnated poor Mary with a super-child to meld their nanite-ravaged DNA with humanity to create a super race? Unfortunatly, not properly understanding human religion at the time, they didn't realize that the poor sod would think he had to be celibate, and would also attribute his ability to use his nanite-enriched blood to alter the properties of matter (water into wine, a handful of dirt into bread and fishes, walking on water, etc.) as miracles sent by god. The nanites altered his dimensional template to allow him to exist simultaneously in 11 dimensional space (the four we know, plus the other 7 that the "angels" naturally exist in), and also did the same (to a much lesser extent) when he infected his apostles, and they infected other people who's descendents would become saints.

Thus when the Holy Grail was not actually a cup, but a multi-spectrum containment unit used to store nanites in between transitory infection periods. The result of this is that, while it appears to be a cup, its actually a 7-dimensional storage medium that is embeded with the 11-dimensional blood of Christ.

Finding the Holy Grail, thus, provides a pure infusion of Christ's 11-dimensional genetic code, courtesy of the nanites, and thus may either:
a) convert you into a being of pure light
b) give you loads of cool superpowers (possibly involving a silver or neon green body sheath and guns growing out of your arms)
c) expand your brain out and let you thus conceive the full order of existance
d) turn you into a puddle of highly dangerous goo.

Remember: When drinking from the Holy Grail, its either the cup of a carpenter or the slick black glass thing with the glowing red light at the center. If it doesn't convert you into a god, it probably kills you.

Isn't it funny how no one who's ever found the Holy Grail has returned to say that they've found it?