Monday, January 31, 2005

"I'd like to thank the poeple at CompuSmart..."

Well, $57 later I now have a working Ethernet card. Huzzah.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

We Four Freaks: Casting for Winthrop Academy

So, my four players have finally made their characters. Ryon, Lisa, Nick, and James have all made their PCs for my DC Heroes game, and things are looking amusing. Lisa and James are both going with the motivation of Unwanted Power. Lisa with her air controlling bird winged mutant (who's also vulnerable to powers that would affect birds), and James with his "son-of-a-superhero" character (nanite powered and wire controlling...who unfortunatly has no built in "surge protector"). Ryon and Nick are both going with Thrill of Adventure for their motivation. Ryon is playing a chameleon-type character with a reptilian mutation (and the same major weakness as Lisa), and Nick is portraying a mystical illusionist with a rather ill-defined power source.

The game will start the Friday after next (as next Friday is my birthday), and probably run two fridays a month.

We may also be getting a fifth player, though Paul's still got to look at his schedule and character/power concept.

I've also begun reading Jack Kirby, mainly in the form of his Fourth World books (The New Gods, Mister Miracle, and The Forever People). May God help them all.

"Nocker-Toffy, before you kill me there's just one thing I HAVE to know..."

A volcano fortress. A loyal midget henchman who used to be a monkey. A theoretical army of illusionary Storm Troopers as guards (all with conveniently bulky helmets limiting head movement). Maniacal laughter and long monologues.

It was decided today that my Changeling LARP PC, Innis Dupoir Nachteltaffen (Nocker Wilder), is well on his way to becoming a Bond villain. Considering that his Seelie Legacy is Paladin (he lives by the "Villain's Code", which throws good into contrast), and his Unseelie is Bogle, he was well on his way already. But today I was talking with the STs, and we made the decision. I'm going to get Fae 5, Prop 5, and Legerdemain 5. And I'm going to become a villain. With death traps. Nocker-made death traps in which I will drop the heroes and then go off and do something else, safe in the knowledge that they couldn't POSSIBLY find that one important flaw.

You see, the true villain exists to challenge the hero. He exists to throw good into contrast so that those that hold dear to their ideals will feel exalted by them. The fun in playing a villain is not found in victory, but rather in the amusement that leads up to losing. It is the villains JOB to fail.

So I also intend to cultivate a healthy level of Wayfare (probably 5), and the Time Realm, as well as Metamorphosis and the Disguise Ability. And then, I will appear to die...only to return as another character. This may all be theoretical at the moment, but its the way I think I'm going to go.

I'll tkae over one of the Nightmare Islands once its been cleaned out, and my chimerical companion monkey, the Maudlin, is going to begin evolving into its gremlin butler form, very reminiscent of Hobbes in the comic Fables.

Such fun!

Jellicle Cats (a possible spelling error)

I always love those Romantic moments. Not in the sense of love, but in the sense of the movement. Those spontaneous moments of true beauty found only in nature. I love those, perhaps becuase they happen so rarely these days. There's a way of looking at the world that's become less and less common. Just the ability to sit back and see something as being mind blowingly beautiful simply because of its very nature. For me its storms and blizzards...

...and apparently stray cats. I like cats. I like cats quite a bit and, generally, they like me. I was quite surprised last night when I came upon a small family of homeless cats living just outside the Burwash Hall residences on the Victoria College campus. A black cat, who I got the distinct impression was the father ("he" had this great dignity to him, like he was a lion in a street cat's body), a fluffy gray and white mother (who I seem to have given this slightly June Cleever-esque personality, I dunno why), and two kittens (a black and white that takes very much after the "father", and a fluffier gray and white that hangs around the "mother" most of the time). They're just...beautiful. Its the only way I can put it. I get the distinct impression the kittens are still "learning the ropes", so to speak. I really don't know just quite what it was about them, but they wowed me. So I ran back to my residence and grabbed my camera, and shot a good twenty or twenty five shots of them. Some are better than others (with no light and just a flash to work off of, most of the time the cats weren't in the they have glowing eyes thanks to the flash), but I'm really happy with them. I hope I see more of these cats. I've named them, as a family, after those weirdos portrayed by T.S. Elliot in Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, and in the musical, Cats (which I am perhaps not so fond of, I just didn't enjoy it).

I think this is one of those urban epiphany moments. I'm still not sure why.

Friday, January 28, 2005

A movie rant

Star Wars: Episode II, Attack of the Clones

Aside from its title, there are a great many things I dislike about this movie. The reintroduction of Jar-Jar Binks, who should have been run over by low flying speeders along with the rest of his stupid CGI frog race. Another thing is the romance subplot between Padme and Anakin, which was a pale attempt at the weirdly nuanced semi-romance between Luke and Leia before they...y'know...found out they were related. And Kiddie Boba...because...well 1) the Fett-man (to name him as by Peter Griffin) just doesn't work as a evil minded child, and 2) it seems a stupid attempt to pander the movie more to children.

There are other things. The decision to make Yoda (and 99% of the other aliens) CGI rather than a muppet (and people in rubber suits with good makeup). The splitting up of the cast that reminded me more of a Robert Jordan than anything else (though perhaps somewhat like the original Star Wars movies, but not quite so much). And the constant references to the original three movies in such a cheesy manner.

STill, there are some things I enjoy about this flick (which I recieved used as a Christmas present, which is why I own it along with Men in Black II). The light sabre fights are fun, and the opening shots of Corescant are beautiful. The sets on Tattooine are nice as well. And the big desert assault by the Storm Troopers. Gotta say...white uniforms in a desert is almost as bad as Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar wearing sparklingly white uniforms in the midst of, say, a green forest. Also, I think that Anakin's theme music changing to Darth Vader's music was a nice touch.

The greatest crime the film made, however, was in its refusal to use good animatronics or puppetry. Farscape came out top notch, fucking TOP NOTCH, with a good use of muppets. I was overjoyed when I saw Alien vs. Predator with the simple fact that the queen alien was done with animatronics rather than CGI. It warmed my cold, frozen heart (but did NOT make it grow three sizes too big). Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow was a true masterpiece of CGI, but that was ALL CGI. It was actors holding props taking their cues off little green balls against a green background. It was the movie equivilant to the fucking polar bear in an igloo in a snow storm!


So few good movies out in theaters right now. I never did get to see A Series of Unfortunate Events, which sucks because I'm given to understand that its quite good. It sure LOOKED good. After Dark, Alone in the Dark, or whatever the hell its called apparently sucks, but I might go see it anyway because I'd like to get a chance to see a cheesy monster movie. I rented the remake of The Stepford Wives a few days ago. I really do enjoy that movie, mainly becuase of the wit that shows up in it. Its cheesy, I know, but its fun. I'm thinking of picking up a used copy of The Village for $20 in the next week or two, becuase I really do want to pick up a copy of it but I'd like to shell out as little capital as possible for it (I'm a cheap bastard). Ah well, we shall see.

Now I'm off to game! Wish us luck!

Thursday, January 27, 2005

X-Men and Wild Cards: The Interwining Tastes of the Mutant Sensations

I consider it paradoxical that, after stealing so heavily from the Marvel universe for so many years, the wheel has finally come around full circle for Wild Cards. How? One word, one letter. District X. Basic premise? Cops in New York's city's "District X" aka "Mutant Town" aka "Freakville" aka...

...well, frankly, Jokertown. Full of freaks, geeks, monsterously weird mutant powers, and folks who have no control over abilities of minor utility. Like the woman who grows an apparently impenetrable defensive cocoon...but only while she's asleep. Or the guy who's power is that he smells really bad (I assume this is a smell on par with Foul Old Ron of Discworld fame).

All in all, suffice to say that this is all Jokertown without Doctor Tachyon or any of the other regulars. There are even the obligatory freaky strip clubs, and clubs where the only people there are mutants. And I won't even get into the drug that causes horrible spontaneous mutations that are utterly uncontrolable in normal humans...becuase...y' one ever messed with the Wild Card virus after its delivery.

Still, its proving a decent read, and the art's nice. Its definitly the more low-key X-Men stuff that I prefer. Never was into the big superfights. If I want a big superfight, I'll re-read the Authority pupling Sliding Albion or the Gamorran supersoldiers. These days I'm really more looking for interesting story than anything else.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Fantastic Falacies

Far be it for me to insult a movie that my family actually knows someone involved with, but I have my doubts about the new Fantastic Four movie, set for release on July 4th (who didn't see THAT coming?).

These doubts center around things like:
-complete lack of dialogue in the trailer, except for "You know that looked cool" (a phrase bound to make me want to get the tire iron)
-the fact that the Thing looks like he was dressed in papermache...or possibly some nasty skin disease
-Jessica Alba and the guy playing Johnny Storm look NOTHING alike. I mean, even less alike than in the comics.

They do, however, appear to be using Ellis' portrayel of Doctor Doom as done in Ultimate Fantastic Four...well, y'know, except this one has electrical powers rather than being able to vomit poison gas (which was a nice touch). I hope for some degree of super-science.

Also of note, to further pay tribute to Ellis (well, more to John Cassaday), Jessica Alba in her pre-superpowers costume looks more like Kim Suskind from Planetary than Sue Storm.

On the upside, Mr. Fantastic's effects look nice. But then again, I can make a photo of Mr. Fantastic easily enough with Photoshop and the Smudge tool.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

"A Gentleman's Game" (the Queen & Country novel)

Greg Rucka can write. Not just comics, mind. THe man has some genuine, quite outstanding talent for writing a spy story. His style is an interesting one. Very personal, very descriptive, very fast and loose. I'm enjoying A Gentleman's Game far more than I enjoyed Tom Clancy's Op Center novels, or even Rainbow Six (which I thoroughly enjoyed). Rucka has a very descriptive format in his scripts, and it carries over into his prose. Its also very nice to see the dialogue expanded.

But by far, what really amazes me is Rucka's portrayel of Muslim extremists, specifically those dedicated to the idea of jihad. The man's done his research. He knows shit. It's fantastic. He really gets inside the guy's head and, as horrible as what the little shit is doing, he manages to make it sound reasonable. That's the big thing that takes Rucka's writing to a whole other level: his villains are sympathetic. You deplore what they're doing, hope they die, but the villains make sense, and their rhetoric is completly sound to them (like where a suicide bomber's interior monologue is rationlizing the subjugation of women in Pakistan as protecting them and keeping them from being made into sex idols). You want these characters to die, because a realization occurs that this is about the only way they're going to stop, and they DO deserve it.

But none the less, Rucka's work is just outstanding. I am very glad that I bought this book. However, I think you'll probably need to have read at least the first couple story arcs of the comic to really get it. It keeps referencing an op in St. Petersburg which I can only assume is the storyarc that's currently on the way to being the next TPB.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

And a slight revision

I retract my statements about Wordsworth, I was completly wrong. The poetry he wrote was indeed in tetrameter with rhyming couplets, but constructed so skillfully that you don't tend to notice in many of his works. My other views still hold.

In other news...

The blizzard roughly coincides with my new ownership of the TPB of the first 5 issues of Ex Machina, a nice, innovative book about the world's first, and apparently only, superhero giving up his tights and running for Mayor of New York City. Its a good read. But the central plot of the second through fifth issues are a huge blizzard paralyzing New York City. Coincidence...perhaps. Probably. Yeah, its a coincidence. But a fun one. Anyway, the book's great, check it out. I highly recomend it.

In computer news, things look up a bit. While I may need to reinstall Windows on my laptop to figure out if I really do have a hardware problem, I can recover most of my data thanks to having all the programs ready to reinstall, and about 2 gigs of backed up files. I am also looking into getting an external ethernet card that I can jack into my laptop, which would cost me $50 but also would mean I probably wouldn't need to reinstall Windows again. I am currently in consultation with some extremly computer saavy friends of mine about what to do. I hope to have a solution before the week is out.

I'm using a library computer right now, as I'm having problems accessing the network at the moment (which may be due to my installation of Zone Alarm, which may help, or may screw me over, I'm not sure). So postings of stories and other largely creative works are stalled for the time being. Time will tell what the future holds, I suppose. But I am getting fucking BORED!

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Well, the snows have come, my friends. Winter has finally, truly, come to the city of Toronto, and its come with a vengeance, ready to make up for lost time. Its been snowing pretty much constantly now, from around 10pm and straight on through till morning...and then past morning. And into the early afternoon. And pondering staying for dinner. Its turned the city into the proverbial winter wonderland (only without Trademark and his band of merry cyberpunk monkies). Standing at the corner of Avenue Road and Bloor Street, the corners of Bloor and Bedford (to the West) and Bloor and Bay (to the East) are invisible behind curtains of milky white. On the way to work this morning I saw a car nearly pull a 360 in the Southbound lane of Avenue Road, heading down towards Bloor. Mind that I didn't actually end up working, but was an interesting education in the physics of red sports cars driven out of season.

And its coming down even harder now. Snapped some nice pictures of it last night, looking up and down Charles Street. I'll upload them sometime once I've cleared them up a bit. They're a touch blurry, as I was shivering with cold and didn't have my tripod on hand.

If I were a good Romantic poet, I'd compose an ode to the snow. Ode for a Crisp Winter Morn, or something like that. But I'm not in quite the right environment to compose such a piece. More's the pity. I could do with a bit of iambic tetrameter right now.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

A Poem with No Name

With yesterday's post slamming free verse poetry, I thought I'd present a bit of my own that is utterly devoid of meaning. I just liked the imagery it conjured up.

I'd just like to reiterate that I don't hate all free verse poetry (Neil Gaiman wrote some especially nice stuff in his anthology, whcih I believe is called Smoke & Mirrors). So here's me putting my money where my mouth is. Enjoy.

This poem looks so much better with indents in certain lines. I really need to figure out how to do those in HTML...

Light splatters sidewalks,
Neon lavender rain
Collects in gutters
(Don't look up
You'll go blind).
The power of
Grand preciptate light.

Temple of the Buddha of the Razors,
Empty in the lavender glow,
Empty at all times now
(Though police emptied it
Just last week,
Monks screaming
"Om, but the flesh is dead
Hom, the razors must be fed").

Passing through the tube tunnels
I spot the Craven-Jack
(Lord of the Tube
King of the rails
Our Lord of Imperpetual Dark)
Eyeless, sockets seek cleared sight,
Eyes I dare not meet
Less I should be his meat
(In nominis Patris,
Et sanguine...).

Eaters of the dead,
Ghouls by "Our Lady of Perpetual Torment",
Doctors eating the dead,
I wonder what they learn?
Cannibal ghosts whisper hymns
"Don't go near,
Don't come here;
Flesh and blood,
Sweat and toil;
Aesculapias perverted,
What dreams we could..."
(Don't listen,
You'll go mad).

Cuthroat king,
Leather clad and mad as hell,
Holds court beneath Marrow
Bridge where corpses float
Up the river and through the
(Sorry, lad, tis flesh again tonight,
She's not too rotten yet).

(Here we go dancing
'Round the bend.
Watch out,
Little one on Kitcher's End,
The rats'll get you
Just you watch out,
They'll pick you dry).

And in the spires the jack-crows roost.
(Didja hear? They e't him all up!)
A craven lot of beasts,
They feast on the dead,
They feast on the living,
They feast on the half dead yet.
The jack-crows are friends to the doctors,
The jack-crows are friends to the morticians.
The jack-crows are never the friends of the children
(Don't you go playin' there, boy
Don't you go bein' the jack-crow toy!)

Why are there predators here?
It wasn't always so.
It was a nice city once,
Before the priests came,
Before the doctors came.
Before the best lawyers got out've the ground,
Before the jack-crows got out've the walls.

There's a hole under Boston Bridge,
There's a troll under every manhole cover,
There's a beastie under every bed.

The hole's plastered down three thousand feets with ads.
The troll's a security guard.
The beastie's got a paycheck in his pants,
But don't ask to see his liscence,
Or you'll be in his belly.

This is the end, my friend.
Not a dream to spare,
I'm afraid.
Not a shilling to give,
Not a pence to spend.
But its ok,
It's not really the end.
Its a beginning,
Why not?
If it was really the end,
Wouldn't we all

Post Weirdness

Posts went wonky yesterday. I'm dealing with some computer virus and wireless network issues. I hope to have time tomorrow afternoon to bring my laptop to Futureshop and get the new card that I need, or see about repairs or a whole new mchine (which would be a bitch and a half to use, since I'd have to reset a whole lot of the defaults, and install a whole lot of programs).

Houston, we have a DC Heroes game, AND the Bard rants on poetry

Got 6 players now. And a cast of people looking to NPC once and a while. Should be amusing. First game will be Orientation Day, then maybe a scavenger hunt, then a few more games, then a field trip to...OUTER SPACE (cue obligatory echoes)!!!!!

I'm on the second Wheel of Time novel now. Jordan's an OK writer, I suppose. Good beginnings, good endings, but his middles tend to be boring and have a bit too much filler for my tastes. The novels could be cut down by a hundred to a hundred fifty pages, I think, without reducing them too much.

The following rant is something I expect will get some people pissed off. Please, feel free to post and tell me I'm an ass, that I have not one whit of poetic joy in my soul, and that I'm a barren, lifeless corpse walking on two legs only because he is under the power of some malevolent, potent, pulsing star that spews out dark light like malign tentacles into the very depth of my being. Or whatever. What I'm saying is that I encourage people to argue with me about this. Because I love a good argument (as those that know me are fully aware).

I've been reading a lot of Canadian poetry for my English class lately, along with a good amount of the classic poets like Wordworth and Yeats. Honestly, I prefer the old guys the best. The poetry I've been reading by Canadian poets is this newfangled "free verse". Not open verse. Free verse, wherein it doesn't even nessecarily need to be a poem, and the more incoherent it becomes the more it is praised. I prefer the powerful images of the 19th century poets. Not dry, not nessecarily rhyming, but posessing of an incredible power and energy while still holding to a coherent setup.

Now, I shouldn't disparage free verse too much. I've used it myself, a time or two. So have several authors I enjoy, such as Gaiman and De Lint (at least I think De Lint has used it at one point or another). But much of the stuff that tends to be publish today lacks the coherence of those authors. I find that a lot of poetry today is rooted in expressing your emotions in a sort of Freudian poetry wherein you just keep on talking while the psychoanalyst (in this case the reader of the poem) attempts to decipher what you're saying to get a better look at your inner workings. The problem here is that I am a very firm believer in the fact that literature doesn't have to MEAN anything. Or if it does, it doesn't have to be a window into what you're feeling, or deep social commentary. I very much believe in shallow and ephemeral motivations behind authors and poets. I, personally, write for my own enjoyment. I don't write to express some deep emotion, and I generally don't do social commentary (though the one time I DID I won $200 and first place in a writing perhaps that should tell me something). So when poets write some indecipherable gibberish that tries to express their inner turmoil centered around not getting a date for their senior prom, interpreted through the lens of a backhoe, a spruce tree, a dove, and a water melon, I tend to sigh and shake my head.

Don't think me shallow here. I very much enjoy reading poetry, and reading into the symbolism and depth of the great poets. I just find a lot of today's stuff, especially the poetry being used by many Canadian poets to express themselves especially as being "Canadian", to be everything I have previously stated.

Monday, January 17, 2005

The End of Mage

The last game for Leo's Mage LARP was last night. It was Yeah. Any game that starts off with all the PCs being brainwashed so they think that they're from the 1930s (all cleverly inserted into roles very similar to their normal lives) is just cool. The casting was great. Trademark got stuck as an Analytical Engineer with a paradigm for using communications as a means of control. So I spent most of the time as that character placing primitive radio bugs around the room (small pieces of wire in tiny vaccuum tubes with crystal antennae that transmitted to a receiver he built). It was damnably cool.

Then we all realized we'd been brainwashed, which prompted Trademark to go on a short tirade in the vain of "...he did it again! Again! Not just once, the bastard mindfucked me AGAIN!". Yeah. It was Phace. Again, lol. But it was great. The first scene gave a great deal of history to the setting (the group of mages that had gotten together to try to bind the Thing in the Lake to the lake, the reason for Phace's insanity, the dark secret's behind the Blake family line...oh yeah...heh heh).

It was a very dynamic game. Everyone was moving about, talking, yelling (there was a period where two of the characters were jumping up and down and giggling at each other [I have no idea]), and the like. Stephen got his PC, St. Schematica, cast as a Nazi Etherite (which was hilarious, because Trademark spent a good deal of time over the rest of the evening apologizing to Elias for wanting to get him arrested for it).

And Trademark Ascended. That was the one part of the game I was a tad fuzzy on (I had been under the impression that the Ascended state we were entering was actually a construct made by Phace to lull us didn't quite fight it the way I should have). However, the notable point of Trademark's Ascension was getting a date. It's sad, and pathetic, but he actually asked out the Technocracy mole he had been working with in previous games. It was hilarious, including the scheduling conversation:

Trademark: "How's Wednsday?"
Ms. Smith: "Hmm. No, I have a meeting with the Syndicate. How's Thursday?"
Trademark: "Sorry, hacking the World Advisory Council that day."
Ms. Smith: "Tuesday? After 9?"
Trademark: "I can do that."
Ms. Smith: "Then its a date."

This is about on par with one of the stories out of the end of New Bremen, where one of the Etherites found Ascension in a fully stocked referigerator.

Anyway, it was a great game, and a good run. I've been playing this character for almost a year now, and I haven't been dissapointed. Every game has been a fantastic experience, each with its own excitement, its own intrigues, and its own air of magic. It's been utterly amazing. A big shout out to the STs who made this game a hit. Look forward to future games with you guys. Now...if only Steve would join my DC Heroes game...

Sunday, January 16, 2005

My first live action DC Heroes game in over a decade!

Alexander, on his last full day in Toronto, ran a DC Heroes game for myself and three other members of the University of Toronto Role Playing Club. He did a FANTASTIC job of running the first three issues (put into 3 acts) of "The Shroud", the game he normally runs for me. This time we had three of the NPC heroes being played by PCs, plus myself, so things went pretty well. I even have some pictures of our crazy group.

This also allowed me to find a player base for running a DC Heroes game at the University of Toronto, in lieu of the Wraith: The Oblivion game some folks had been pressuring me to run. I'm probably going to run something that's kind of a mix of New X-Men: Academy, Harry Potter, and Gen-13/DV-8. I've already statted out about a dozen members of the student body and faculty (ranging in power level from x1 to x3), and I'm quite happy with it all so far. I also have a preliminary map of the grounds of the school, and an idea of how the dorms, teachers, students, and the like are layed out.

Still haven't gotten a new Network Interface Card yet, probably going to go into Futureshop tomorrow to get them to look at things. The diagnosis from the ResNet guy should help, though, since its all a hardware problem and not software. Also backed up somewhere around a gig and a half onto CD last night, grabbing all my really important files in preperation.

Last Mage game tonight. Technocracy has been pushed back to March, which is probably good since we only have 5 players at the moment anyway. Talked to a friend of mine who's in the Canadian Army, and did some reworking on James. He is now Lt. James Aleister, and he'll be getting a regiment number, serial number, and some medals soon.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Week 'O the Weird

AlexanderLambert came up from the US to visit this week, so it's been cool. We've done a lot of development work on Zero Point, a vampire/sorcerer game I've been working on, and various other RPG stuff. Also been hanging out, reading comics, and watching movies.

My ethernet card broke on me yesterday. I'm relegated to walking to the library to use the wireless network (which brings up the question of "What's the point of a wireless network if you need to go somewhere specific to use it?") until I either bring my laptop in for repair, or get a weird card thing that slots in permanently and acts as a new ethernet card. This is really a no-win situation.

I picked up the latest Birds of Prey TPB yesterday, along with The Powers Scriptbook. I am now basking in the glory of another BOP story, and 11 scripts from the Eisner award winning comic, Powers. There will be more Project Beowulf soon. Its almost done. I've just been so busy and distracted lately. On the upside, I've mentally scripted out most of the first arc, including the rather climactic "Death of Peter Yarber".

That is all for now. There will be amusing photographs later.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Sandy Bruce R.I.P.

Sandy Bruce died today after fighting for over a year with cancer. She leaves behind two children (Robert and Leslie), her life partner (Eric), a granddaughter (Sarah), three sisters (Debra, Sherry, and Lisa), her parents (Doris and David Jones), and her two nephews (Derek and Michael).

Sandy was a fighter to the last. She took what life had to throw at her, and refused to give in. She worked tirelessly as a nurse in the small, remote British Columbian town of 100 Mile House. She was there for her family through thick and thin. She enjoyed the beauty of the British Columbian forests, lakes, rivers, and fields. She skiied, hiked, biked, canoed, swam, and lived life to its fullest.

She died seven minutes after midnight, January 7, 2004. She lasted seven minutes past the stroke of midnight, avoiding dying on her son Robert's 25th birthday. She went peacefully, with a smile. She will be dearly missed. May she rest in peace.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

M5.5mith in "Wynt3r W0nderL4nd"

The sedan slid through the snow like a black shark. It drove down the street all black and sheen. Its engine purred electric glory. It oozed menace. It oozed authority. It was a Union car. Everyone knew, even if nobody said. You didn't invoke the Union out loud. Not unless you had the Edge.

In the back sat M5.5mith with legs crossed. Black suit and Mirror shades. Black hair back in a tail. Thin black gloves, and a barely noticed bulge under each arm. M5.5mith was on the bleeding edge, a sleek deadly servant of the Union. The Devil in a black suit. A turncoat in mirror shades.

The subvocal tranceiver hummed, and M5.5mith answered. "Smith." She nodded to a voice no one but M5.5mith could hear. "Yes. Of course. Yes, sir." She tapped on the window separating her from the driver. "Omega Squared. Now."

The car spun at a corner, tires gripping the snow. The white air became whiter. No color, just blur. All electric engine purr, menace beneath its black shark hood. A chariot carrying M5.5mith to Omega-Squared.

The scene was still fresh when they arrived. Two black sedans, twins of the black shark, sat outside. Empty except for the smell of circuits. The doors to Omega-Squared flooded people onto the streets. Screaming masses, those who had been Elite transformed into the Scared. There might never be a way back, and there was no salvaging the image now. The sedan's door opened for M5.5mith without her raising a finger. She stepped out, immune to the snow and the screams. Red lips on a white face, dead pan, eyes like black pearls behind the shades.

She walked that calm, precise Union walk. Her shoes crunched the snow, but came up dry. The crowds flowed around her. At the door she was met by three of the Brothers Black. Each one identical, and not a hair out of place, not a button undone. The Brothers Black, failed attempts to clone the Edge. The perfect soldiers. The clone servants of the Union.

Brother Black-One put away his gun. He holstered it like a samurai sheathing a sword: with rote honor and deadly precision. "Miss Smith. We had not predicted your arrival."

"No backup is required," continued Brother Black-Two, "We have this investigation well under way."

"This is not a job for the Eye," added Brother Black-Three.

"This is a job for the New Order," finished Brother Black-One.

"Really?" sighed M5.5mith. "That is not what it looks like."

"And what does it look like, Miss Smith?" asked Brother Black-Two.

"It looks like the New Order sent the Brothers Black in to be a hammer when the Eye recommended subtle action. The Bank will not be happy about a machine of this high profile. You will have trouble clearing the use of ammunition in your expense reports," M5.5mith replied. She stepped past the Brothers Black and into Omega-Squared.

No holograms danced up the walls and no neon lights shone. Omega-Squared, haven of the Elite, dark as a tomb. Bodies strewn on tables, and bodies strewn on floors. Bullet casings crunched underfoot, side by side with broken glass. M5.5mith walked her precise walk, her Union walk. Behind her shades the world was lit in green. Mirrored shades and blank face looked to the ceiling. "A bullet to the power node. Very good, Trademark. Very tricky."

M5.5mith turned to the Brothers Black. "You three are dismissed. Collect your siblings' corpses and leave. The Eye is taking over this investigation."

"We will lodge a complaint," said Brother Black-One, slinging the body of Brother Black-Five over his shoulder. Brother Black-Five, victim of 7r4d3m4rk. Sent to death by the man in whom the Information Rebellion was made flesh.

"Do so. That is your right. I am sure that Control will happily recieve it. But for now, you are dismissed." With the Brothers Black gone, M5.5mith got to work. A small case came from a pocket. A case with lights, a case with a screen. A Trinity-series computer. The Maybe Machine. The weapon of the Union. It was deadlier than a gun, sharper than a sword, faster than a car. The blade of the Union's best and brightest. The weapon for a woman with the Edge.

It strapped to her wrist with black straps, fixing firm and tight, the moldings perfect. Fitted to M5.5mith, and no other. Boxes of data flashed code faster than the eye could see. Patterns formed in the code, while variables were included and processed. Futures revealed and disproved. The fate of the world swirled into the box on the wrist of M5.5mith. M5.5mith, alone in Omega-Squared except for the corpses.

M5.5mith walked to the door to the alley behind Omega-Squared. She plotted a path up the wall. 7r4d3m4rk had jumped it, twenty feet to the ladder. An impossible jump, unless you had the Edge. "Very tricky indeed, Trademark," said M5.5mith just before she tapped her throat.

Subvocals reached the driver, who sat in the sedan in electric envy. He was a fish out of water; even the Brothers Black were above him. "Of course, Miss Smith. Yes, ma'am. Right away, ma'am." And so he drove to the side of the alley, drove to meet M5.5mith. She got in the back and told him to keep moving. Her computer still calculated, still pulsed. In the green electron glow, the Truth unfolded before her eyes. The Truth made manifest.

And so the driver drove at M5.5mith's bidding. Drove all the way to the Hotspot Cafe on the advice of the Maybe Machine upon her arm. The great computer that told all and knew all. That cut through lies like a sword. That swept away uncertainty. That killed falsehoods and left only the Truth standing. And that was M5.5mith. Before she served the Union, before she killed for the Eye. Before any of this, she served the Truth.

So M5.5mith walked through the doors of the Hotspot Cafe to find 7r4d3m4rk. To find the scion of the Truth, the man who would save her from the Union, and save her from herself. The one, thin, fine hope that went beyond the lies of the Union, and the lies of the Council. The grain of Truth that would set her free.

"Iteration-X Wants YOU!"

To save the world from Reality Deviants!

So...I got an email the other day from Christian, informing me of what convention good old Sgt. James Aleister has been recruited into. I am now a proud member of the Nation of Cyborg. Chromed and proud, baby!

James was already a "super-soldier". Well, perfect soldier, physically and mentally speaking. My Abilities are spread a bit too thin at the moment for that, but since my Traits are maxed out at the moment Abilities are about the only place I have to put anything. But with Enhancements, and Christian's It-X advantage...James is now just a plain super-soldier. 12 Physical and Mental Traits. Plus Ability Aptitude (Psychology), plus Concentration, plus Confidence. The man is practically a Manticore soldier from Dark Angel. With built in night vision, and a reinforced skeletal-muscular structure. And very possibly either built in nanite healers, telescopic vision, jump enhancer, strategic analysis computer, or claws. There's a lot I can do with 2 more dots of implanted devices. Maybe an implant radio?. I'm reluctant to spend on another Physical or Mentral Trait, though, since I like James being balanced. But we'll see.

I'm also reading Neitzsche in preperation for playing James. Beyond Good and Evil and Thus Spake Zarathustra. I'll probably also snag someone's textbook on psychology. Read some Machiavelli, Sun Tzu. Re-read Band of Brothers maybe. Definitly give a few more viewings to some of the early season 1 stuff in Dark Angel and Andromeda. Also probably read the Iteration-X Conventionbook, and Guide to the Technocracy again. The character isn't just about having some cool powers, he's about personality, philosophy, and tactics. He's a soldier-philosopher.

I'm really looking forward to playing him. It should be seriously neat.

Sunday, January 02, 2005


Well, character creation is done and over with. I am playing an Exceptional Citizen, which is all well and good. I am playing 1st Seargent James Isaac Aleister. Well...former 1st Sgt, as his tour came up last year. Should be fun, especially considering that all the other players I met tonight are looking to make scientists.

James is based on a character for Alexander's Wild Talents game, "Glass Hammer". In that game, James (aka Ronin) was a teenaged daredevil who was physically and mentally the perfect human being. He knew no fear, and was a rabid anarchist and political philosopher. In the Technocracy, James is a former seargent in the Canadian Army now going to university. He is still a superb physical and mental specimen, with high Physical and Mental traits, though he still expresses the original character's superb intelligence, tactical thinking, and sheer acumen. However now he tempers that with the discipline of a trained soldier, rather than the undisciplined recklessness of a super-lucky anarchist.

As far as I've seen of the other characters, there's also a geneticist and a chemist. Not a lot of player turnout, but I'm hoping that more showed up after I left, or that more will contact Christian later on.

But man...I got an interview from the leaders of the local Conventions. They even put a spotlight on me. In a dark room. It was GREAT. Each asking their own questions. Some questions were normal (state your name, what is your age?, do you have a good credit rating), and some of them were just plain odd (what word do you think of when you hear the word "Moon"?, were you ever a bed wetter?, etc.). Was fun, though. I was still a bit shaky on the character, so my answers weren't quite as fast as they ought to be for him, but I think things went well, overall.

It'll be fun to see where things go from here. I'm hoping for either the Void Engineers or the New World Order, but the character is pretty flexible and all the conventions need soldiers and enforcers.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares

I saw about 15 minutes of this show tonight. It's good stuff, in that Ramsey is great. He's sarcastic, passionate about food, and very human-like. I will probably never watch the show again, though, if the quality of the restaraunts he's being sent in to save are the same as Bonaparte's.

As far as I can tell, the basic premise of the series is that this big, English chef gets sent on rescue missions to fine dining English restaraunts that are utter shit holes. His job? Save the poor fuckers from their own stupidity.

In the episode I saw, he was sent in to save some poor shit restaraunt called Bonaparte's (which seemed to be going to way of Napoleon) which seemed to have trouble getting competent head chefs. The fact that their new hotshot was my age, and didn't seem to know how to organize a line was not promising. Oh yes, his presentation looked good, but I have my doubts about anyone who talks about wanting to own three restaraunts and be a TV chef when he's 21 and working in some dive that he activly hunted out.

By the time he attempted to prepare his signature dish, only to discover, at Ramsey's expense, that the scallops he used in it were rancid...I turned the TV off. I couldn't stand it. I have a very low threshold for idiocy. This fucker was about on par with the moron who nearly put a knife through my head back when I was a part time Culinary Arts student at Humber College (I was bending down to tie my shoe when he moves the knife, almost in a stabbing motion, over my head to put it on the table...if the chef hadn't told me to stay down I probably wouldn't be posting this right now). I love kitchens. I love working in kitchens. I love watching cooking shows that take place in actual line kitchens. But I can't stand idiots in kitchens., to get back to my point, I don't think I'll be watching anymore of this show if Ramsey is continually confronted with chefs that idiotic. Still...Ramsey is almost reason enough to watch it...

Happy New Year 2005

My New Years Eve 2005 was a non-event. I had two bottles of sparkling wine, a terrible glass of red, and watched Andromeda for half the night. Hurrah.

I'm slagged at the moment. No school has made me bored and lethargic. I'll try to update Project Beowulf tomorrow.

I also did some New Years cleaning. My closet, once a solid mass of boxes, has been reduced to two boxes of comic books, and a bit of junk, freeing up a whole four feet of space. My gaming shelf is now also completly full. Its a good thing I won't be moving home this summer, else I'd never be able to FIT all my books onto the shelves.

I'm planning another couple 7r4d3m4rk stories, mainly as an exercise in writing cyber-punk and getting action sequences down. These stories are more set around fleshing out a setting with some other major protagonists (like Rebecca Smith, the rogue Union agent) and antagonists (like Mirr0rr0rriM and J0n_H4w7h0rn). The nerd level will be set to MAXIMUM on this stuff...its not meant to be good; its meant to be so cliched that you either laugh your ass off or shatter your monitor.

I think this year I'm going to try and do a weekly Segue From a Cook. Give out recipes, further develop my own style of writing about food. Some of them may not include any recipes (I intend to do a rant on Japanese food and my trip to Tokyo a few years back), and some of them may be nothing BUT recipes. If anyone actually tries to cook something out of a Segue, lemme know how it turns out for you.

I have very few New Years resolutions this year. I've never been big on them, but this year there are very few things that I want to change (and perhaps that's a bad thing).
-get a date (how nerdy is that for a resolution?)
-raise my GPA towards 3.0 (its sitting at around a 2.5 at the moment, thanks to the idiocy of me taking Czech last year and absolutly bombing it)
-pump out the Project Beowulf stuff and start trying to submit
-do some essay writing not related to school at all, and still make them good, well thought out essays
-stop using TV and DVDs as a distraction and instead use them as actual entertainment

I'm going back to Toronto tomorrow, as school begins Monday. I guess Monday I'll also have to buy all my text books. I should also begin taking some pictures of the Victoria College campus, as we have some beautiful architecture and I now have a digital camera (not to mention my copy of Photoshop 6.0). There are afew other things in the city I want to take pictures of, I just have to get the Photoshop's gray-scale filter working.

Finally, tomorrow marks the beginning of Christian's Mage (Technocracy) LARP. With Leo's Mage (Traditions) LARP ending later this month, Christian is going to be providing me with my Mage: The Ascension fix. It should be fun. His ideas look fantastic, and the folks he has helping him run it are top notch people who know a lot about Mage, and have a huge level of enthusiasm.