Thursday, March 31, 2005

Infinite Crisis (Yes, there will be spoilers)

I have concerns when writers start saying how "Crisis on the Infinite Earths" was one of the greatest comic book stories ever told.

That sound you hear, the one like a bag of rancid fruit splitting apart, is me vomitting.

Blue Beetle is dead. Long live Blue Beetle.

Apparently also now all the members of the Justice League are BAD ASS. Because, if the 1980s taught us nothing, it's unrealistic for superheroes to be anything other than hard edged, gritty, dark vigilantes who don't care about anyone...including the people they're supposed to save. This attitude has creeped into comics yet again. And while it works in stuff like DV-8, V for Vendetta, and others, it DOESN'T work for the fucking Justice League!

Well, ok, it works for Batman. "No Man's Land" was a great plot arc...mainly because it was all about Batman and his former pupils. Some of the grittier Green Arrow stuff written in recent years was good...because you can put a bit of grit into Green Arrow.

But the minute Superman stops caring about what happens to people? That's when everything has gone to hell. Because apparently its unrealistic for superheroes to care. Caring for superheroes in anathema.

I'm not saying that DC should stifle its creative efforts. I'm saying it should BE CREATIVE, rather than rehashing an idea that was new twenty years ago and has rapidly become old.

Also...the Spectre going out to kill every magical being on Earth? How the fuck does THAT make sense? Did God just tell him that everyone using magic is EEEEEEVIL? I really hope the Endless end that plot in the second issue by having Death tell the Spectre that its "his time".

The only sensical plot out of this "new Crisis" is the Raan-Thanagar war. Becuase space wars are always good...except I fear that this will somehow have been engineered by Maxwell Lord who, by the way, is apparently responsible for the Justice League never taking a major stance in world issues. I don't know. I don't care.

The sounds you hear are me dry heaving. My pain will stop when the DC writers return to their senses. Until then my only hopes rest with Warren Ellis, Greg Rucka, Bill Willingham (on Fables), Brian Michael Bendis, and Kurt Busiek.

May Jenny help us all.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Crack in hundreds of 3-D flavours

I got bored on Thursday night when I got home for the weekend to cat sit, so I decided to see what all the hooplah about the Game Cube my brothers got for Christmas was all about. I've played it before with them, and honestly I haven't been all that impressed. I found that I vastly preferred No One Lives Forever and Quake III (I know...I'm old school) to the James Bond first person shooter they bought.

But I picked up this weekend and it was like taking crack. You want to stop, but for some reason you're drawn back. The subject of my current addiction (at least for two days) was Soul Calibur. Now, I haven't played a fighting game in a long time. The last one was probably...hell, I don't know. X-Men vs. Streetfighter? And that was nearly a decade ago. But SC has really grown on me. I love swords, so a fighting game that's all about sticking sharp pointy things into soft squishy things that scream and bleed has a great deal of appeal to me. Especially when one of the guys is a fencer, and one of the girls is dressed like she'd in the British Admiralty circa 1885. Its quite a bit of fun. THen I went on the adventure mode after beating the Arcade Mode on three or four different characters. The "Weapon Master" mode is basically a story that has scripted rules and setups for all the fights, including dungeon crawls, booby-trapped gladiatorial pits, and having to beat down half a dozen monks to prove you're cool. Unfortunatly my brothers don't have a memory card for their machine, so the next time I want to play it I'll have to start from the beginning. Additionally, it can't save the fact that I beat the game with a regular time of 6-8 minutes on Arcade.

Ah well. Now I must work. But I have something to do brainless things with whenever I come home.

Nintendo, Making 3-D Crack For Somewhere Around 20 Years.

Friday, March 25, 2005

The 4400

(ADDENDUM: I went to and found out that The 4400 is indeed out on DVD for a little under $30 CDN. Wonderful. I think I shall go and purchase it.)

Does anyone know if this show is out on DVD?

I saw a couple episodes on Space today as part of a Good Friday marathon.

This show, as far as I can tell, can roughly be described as Taken: The Abridged Version, The Visitor without the manhunt, or Roswell Done Right. It's also got some undertones (and overtones) similar to Joe Strazinski's Rising Stars.

Basically 4400 people who were abducted by aliens over the years are suddenly returned home. Now they have to cope with the massive weirdness that's happened to, and around them. Some of them have powers, some don't. ANd there's some minor conspiracy (not so shadowy, though) going on with the government.

And it has the greatest used of Homeland Security ever. Two guys are stopped from blowing some members of the 4400 up with a car bomb. The agents who nab them slam them onto the ground, put guns to their heads, and inform them that they are terrorists, and are being arrested as enemy combatants. It was wonderful to see Homeland Security actually being used for something other than being an Orwellian Thought Police...but rather realizing that there are plenty of "All American" domestic terrorist groups who have nothing to do with left wing politics, Islam, or indeed the Middle East at all.

Tales from the Way Down (part 3)

How Mimir & Judas Janet Founded the Way Down

Judas Janet and Mimir had been hanging out for a few weeks. She'd slept on the concerete floor of the Way Down till her dust high was gone. She'd shivered and downed rancid brown water until the cops stopped looking for her.

With someone to replace the boy, Mimir had finally shaved. He'd cut his hair, and then decided to shave it bald because he didn't have anything to wash it in. He had ciggarettes, and he had gin. The fermented brown water had turned out to be too toxic, even for Judas Janet. But it did a number on rust, and soon they had a couple rough metal tables.

Booze was a problem, though. They needed booze, but they didn't have the money. They couldn't buy the booze, they couldn't steal it, and they couldn't bribe anyone to steal it for them. A dust head with her thirty pieces of silver, and a cursed bar owner with a sewn on head. Legends in the occult underground, perhaps, but they weren't millionares. Judas Janet had bought wholesale into Mimir's dream of a bar, of having people walk the way down to the Way Down. They needed money for that. And if you needed money in Necropolis, and didn't go to the Bank, you went to one man.


They say that back when Tom was a thug for the mob there was a boss who wanted him dead. Something about the boss' wife and a box of plumbing tools. So the boss sent a dozen goons after Tom. They never made it three blocks. After two were hit by a bus (the same bus, backing off the first guy and onto the second, the driver swore he never saw either), one fell through a sewer grate and broke his neck, and a fourth and fifth ate bad street sausages, the rest lost their nerve. That's how Tom got his name. Anyone that messed with him got dead. Real quick like. And it wasn't anything deliberate, anything that screamed violent intent. Anyone could get a martini olive stuck in their throat, like the homicidal boss. Anyone could mix the sugar up with the rat poison in the middle of the night, like the don's maid (it was so odd, they said, that he never noticed the difference).

And so Tom'o'Troubles became the head of the mafia. And he got into the occult underground. So his gang became the Magic Mafia. You didn't fuck with them. Not for fear of bullets, or fear of knives...but for fear of something worse. Because as soon as Tom'o'Troubles got himself some magic enemies, he got himself a magic bodyguard. But she's got a story of her own, and she isn't real important right now.

So Tom'o'Troubles had money. He had LOTS of money. And he liked to lend it out to the occult folk who weren't activly trying to kill him. And he happened to have a thing for Judas Janet, so, seeing as Mimir couldn't leave the Way Down anyhow, she went out to find him.

It wasn't that hard finding Tom. She knew where he lived. She'd lived there to, once. A long time ago. Before Tom had moved in. The estate had been a bit greener then, but not really. And it definitly wasn't now. Tom'o'Troubles was all high hell for his enemies...but plants didn't like him much, either. The gras was brown, the flowers were grey and dead. There was a stench about the place that only someone with a keen occult nose could smell. Someone's luck had up and died there. Or maybe lots of people.

Tom didn't have regular bodyguards, and the gates were wide open, so Judas Janet strolled right in. She strolled right on up to the front doors and pounded on them. Bam bam bam. And the butler opened. Not a real butler, mind. Tom had a necromancer or twelve in his thrall, and liked his best employees undead, if only because they talked a whole lot less then. The zombie butler led her up to where Tom held his little court. Through rooms of stripping wallpaper, pounding music, and swaying bodies. Tom was having his party night. Necropolis had a lot of big spooky mansions, but if you want a real party, with real danger, and real necro-dust, you went to a Trouble Party.

Tom'o'Troubles held his court in the biggest room in the house. Maybe it was a bedroom once, but now it was a parlour. Tom sat in a tall backed chair with a snifter of something green and noxious resting in one hand. Around him, to the pounding of the music, men and women in leather and lace danced and drank. It's because of the music and the bodies that no one to this day knows exactly what it is that Judas Janet said to Tom'o'Troubles to convince him to lend her money. Some say that she offered him her soul. Others say that she gave him the last remains of the Cup of Christ, some surviving fragment that didn't currently rest on her face. And one dancer swears that they didn't say anything...he knew what she needed and took it for granted that he'd take his price in flesh and blood at a later time.

Whatever it is she said, though, it worked. Judas Janet walked into the home of Tom'o'Troubles without a penny to her name, and when she walked out she was bankrolled by the single most important criminal figure in all Necropolis. Mimir was ecstatic when she got back, or at least as ecstatic as the dour Mimir could get. And Judas Janet was tired of sleeping on pavement. So they curled up in the corner on an old matress she found on the street. Then there was something about a bottle of gin, and some of that fermented brown stuff, and somehow Mimir managed to get inside her pants. And that's how Mimir got laid. And afterwards they started building the Way Down with the money that Tom'o'Troubles gave them.

But nothing comes for free, especially not when that nothing is a favor from Tom'o'Troubles. And the tale of how he collected his due is a story for another time.

NEXT: "G is for Glaistig" (OR "How to Get Blood from a Stone" or "There is no 'bad-ass' in Mimir")

THe only words on the Terry Shiavo case you will ever see here

John Edwards.

John "The Biggest Douche in the Universe" Edwards.

I think the Shiavo case is a very serious matter. I really won't say which side I side with, if only to avoid flames. Those that know me know which way I lean.

But seriously folks. I'm not sure how much I want to live in a world where one of the "expert" commentators to FOX on the Shiavo case is a phony TV psychic. As I said, this is a very serious matter. Turning it into a fucking media circus is a joke. But its so very FOX, and I think it reflects the trivialization of the media that has become so dominant in America these days. This is the sort of thing that happens in a country where a man is elected president because its felt that he has "more faith" than his opponent. Of course, its also, mainly FOX's fault for selling their network news not on actual, I dunno, NEWS, but rather on sensationalist coverage that draws the same sort of people who watch Jerry Springer and believe in the divine power of John Edwards.

It's a sad day when John Stewart's The Daily Show is the least sensational news program covering an issue like this.

Then again...John Stewart is also funny as hell, and his show's great (I'm glued to the set whenever I get a chance to watch it). But it really shouldn't be the least sensational major news program out there. I mean...honestly.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Interesting names

I really like the name "Glaistig" for some reason. I think it just sounds really cool. There will, thus, be a Way Down character with that as a name.

On a different note, the Canadian Camarilla's national fanzine is accepting submissions, especially about old characters we used to have. Yes, boys and girls, Trademark's going national.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The dread might of SYNCHROTRON!


When all the good light/magnetism-based supervillain names are taken...
(Doctor Light, Magneto, Doctor Light, Photon, Pulsar, Loadestone, Doctor Light, The Amazing Strobe, Light-Boy, Bright-Girl, The Deadly Bulb, Dipole-Man, Dazzler, Doctor Light...yeah, there are a LOT of villains named Doctor Light)
...the only name left worth fearing is...


for more information on the dread villain SYNCHROTRON please visit the link above. The Canadian Light Source is an ACTUAL synchrotron, and will explain the deadly, dread light-powered might of these mighty, miniature cyclotrons. "The dread might of SYNCHROTRON!" is a Degenerate Dilletante Production.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Vernal Equinoxial Blues

Some people get depressed when winter comes around. I've gotten the strangest sense of anxiety and depression every since Spring rolled in on Sunday. I'm now going to feel like shit probably until I go to England in mid-July.

I hate school ending. School is my 8 month break from full time employment. Its the the two thirds of the year in which I am intellectually stimulated. Thankfully this summer will give me nine straight months of educumacation.

...I still need to find a job in Oakville for two and a half months come May.

And for your amusement...

...Death rays!

Sunday, March 20, 2005


This weekend I went to CAiNE (The Canadian National Annual Event...the "i" doesn't stand for anything). It fucking ROCKED!

Now, I ALWAYS come away from gaming cons psyched. But this weekend was really special, becuase I got to play the same characters that I'm used to. Rather than playing in a bunch of little four hour sessions, I pumped in...lesse. About 4-5 hours as my Nocker, Herr Doktor Innis Dupoir Nachteltaffen (I've been given a title by one of the other Nockers..."Herr Doktor" as my character is German...kind of), and about 10-12 hours as my Lancea Sanctum Gangrel, Justin Mercier (Deputy Sheriff of Toronto). That's over a period of two days. I think I also earned something like 60-80 national prestige over the course of the weekend by doing photography (I'm an incredibly prolific photographer, I snapped some 230-250 photos in about a day and a half), and donated a whole bunch of canned goods.

I arrived late Friday because I'd had a test at 2pm, so I arrived as soon as I could. I got there just in time for IC registration and to get in a few minutes late to the Lancea Sanctum covenant meeting for Vampire the Requiem (I missed the noon Changeling and Garou games). It was pretty cool. There were players from all different parts (Vermont, New York, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Ontario), and we had a great meeting talking about the problems that the Sanctum was currently facing, and what to do about them.

After that there was the opening ceremonies for Vampire, the basic premise being that the Magistrate of Hamilton was inviting everyone for a "Concillium", where all the Canadian vampires would meet and talk about various issues. It went...interestingly. Apparently Montreal was once ruled by some real nasty Sanctified who tortured and murdered, and were murdered in return, and thus the Montrealers were not allowed to speak to members of the Sanctum, and any Sanctified entering Monteral would be killed on sight. There were a few other issues, but that was the big point of last night's game for me. Also met a lot of other folks from all over, some wearing some AWESOME costumes (which I'd post, except the photography lead accidentally cut all the photos out of my camera). There was one guy who was about 6'4" or so, wearing a leather trenchcoat, leather bondage mask, a hat, and these monster-makeup fingers (gloves I think) which had fingerless gloves and fingers with huge claws coming out of them...he just looked FIERCE. There was a Circle of the Crone girl from New Orleans who was dressed in full Voodoo attire (suit, hat, cane, lots of various bits of bone or little animal skulls strung about). There was a guy in a full Matrix-style trenchcoat with his hair done up and everything. Overall, I had a great night.

There were some problems getting back to Oakville on Friday, but I'd rather not talk about them.

This morning I came in in time for Changeling, which was just fine. THe basic premise there was that Prince Roccoco of Northern Ice invited all the fae to come and attend a ball, or gathering, or something. The costumes there were really something. People went full out. It was really social, and really fun. We even got to declare war on the Fomorians (long story), Abe (a Toronto troll grump) got to duel the moronic Baron of London (who invited dangerous chimera into his domain and gave them a domain of their own...and who then swung a cold iron maul near a balefire to destroy a chimera...he's not too bright that one), and a bunch of other fun little matters. It was just great. I had quite a bit of fun and got to meet some really neat people. I found that, like all Changeling games, costumes ranged from two absolutes. They were either nonexistant, or incredibly elaborate. Toronto had some well dressed people, I gotta say. Mark Shessel came out as the Troll knight, George Lampton, in his full leather armor, his horns, he did his hair gray...the only thing that man DIDN'T do was dye his skin blue. His brother, Josh, came out as Deadbolt, the Nocker Master Craftsman, with his nose and ears, and his best overalls. And Christian...Christian played the Prince. Christian's one of those guys who can either be totally normal seeming, or incredible noble looking. He just cuts the right figure for it, I suppose. But its amazing to see him go from playing some young, moderatly skilled Hermetic to then play a Satyr gangster, then play a royal Sidhe, and to always seem to fit perfectly into the roles. I'd like to think I can somewhat pull that off, but I think the fact that I have these huge glasses sort of ruins it (especially because I often express myself physically simply with how I move my glasses around...and I can't seem to shake the habit...even for characters who AREN'T near sighted).

Changeling broke up, and I had another Lancea Sanctum meeting, where we worked out what we were going to do about the Montreal Carthians. They hated us, we knew that, but we wanted to at least get a tense peace where some Sanctified missionaries could go in. My character, the youngest and the only one in the room without a religious title, was very vocal about the fact that he felt the Carthians ought to all just drop dead, and that the Sanctum was the only Covenant that had an honest spritual agenda (Justin's very intensly religious and tends to ignore his covenant's more overtly political leanings at times for his more personal faith...he's not big on fancy ritual). We finally realized that the best way to start to bridge the gap was to show that we were willing to take the first step towards peace. So we thought a bit, and realized that taking penance publically was probably the best. It was my idea, actually, to crucify someone. It wasn't my idea to crucify three someones. We decided that we would all take fagelation, and that the three bishops would be crucified. After that, we broke up and I went off to go play Sam Seaborne and write a speech on the fly. If I had had a computer and an hour, it would have been longer and cooler.

The speech writing took a bit, and it was a collaboration between myself and a New York player named Marina. Then we had a brief Sanctum meeting, again, just to get clear how the ritual was going to work. And I will describe it as such:

We waited outside the room till the Montreal characters were inside, then marched in. We had 9 Sanctified, so in groups of three we carried the three crosses in, each line led by the Bishop who would be crucified. We laid the crosses on the ground, and I gave my speech:

"We of the Lancea Sanctum are unified under God, and thus when one of our bretheren has sinned in God's name, they shall do penance for their actions. As we are gathered here under the banner of peace and unity in the domain of Magistrate Bell, we seek penance against the sins of our fallen, corrupted brothers of the city of Montreal. As they shed the blood of the Damned, so shall their blood be shed in penance. As they are not present to take penance, all shall take penance in their stead. All shall feel the bite of the lash ten teimes upon their flesh, and the Annointed shall then be put to the cross for one half of one hour, that the blood that falls from them may wash away the blood that has been shed by our bretheren."

At which point I whipped off my suit jacket, made a show of pulling off my tie, undoing the sleeves of my dress shirt, flicking open my top button, and untucking the shirt from my pants (basically indicative that the character, IC, was taking his shirt off). We then nailed the bishops to the crosses. At first, most of the folks in the room thought we were faking it. However, the narrator described how they could very clearly hear the sound of iron spikes being driven into flesh, smell the blood flowing, and hear the grunts of pain from the bishops as they prayed on the cross. THen we lifted them, and held the crosses while the man performing the rite gave each of the characters a scourging (which is to say, the player moved his hand up and down, and counted the lashes...there were no real whips involved). Once that was done, we stood and silently prayed, then carried the crosses out. After that there was some soft RP of a blood communion, then some OOC discussion. After that the night was pretty low key. There was a duel, which was amusing to take photos off (this was about the time that Francois, the photography director, accidentally cut all my photos off my camera and onto his laptop), and a Circle of the Crone ritual (which was annoying....I really hate vampires and Mages who are serious followers of older polytheistic religious sorcery to act like Wiccans out of The Craft). I had some chats with various characters, and also assisted one of the Bishops, and the Magistrate, in trying to explain the Sanctum's view of things to the Montreal Carthians (including my rather frank view that the Sanctified in Montreal reaped what they sowed...they fucked around with the mandate of God, and God stepped on them by using the Carthians to do it). Its funny, my view sort of annoyed the bishop, as I said before Justin's views of Sanctified religion are a touch...unorthodox at times.

At around that point I had to leave. I went home with Ryon and Lisa (both players from my DC Heroes game), and we all took a bus back from Hamilton to Toronto. And that was the end of CAiNE.

Oh yeah, and I picked up the new Vampire the Requiem book today, Lancea Sanctum. It was released two weeks early, only at CAiNE, at a discounted price (US price in CDN dollars, with no I got it for probably $10-12 cheaper than usual...honestly if I'd known this would have happened I'd have held off buying Werewolf earlier this week and bought it today...oh well, hindsight's 20/20). The book ROCKS. It's HUGE, to...its over 200 pages. I recommend it to any Requiem players out there. Its really useful.

And that was CAiNE.

Friday, March 18, 2005

The Weirdness That is Dreams

I haven't had a dream with an RPG-based structure in a while. What I mean by that is that I haven't had a dream in which I was a character in a familiar RPG setting. Not in a long while.

Last night...yeah. I've been reading far too much Werewolf: The Forsaken, because my dream was pretty much a standard solo adventure. I was lured away from my, presumably Wolf-Blooded, family by an old woman screaming about having proof that werewolves exist. So I talk her into showing me. She drives to a park, at which point I realize that something was horribly wrong. That's when the fucking posessed bitch pulled off her skin and jumped me. There was a shape-shifting fight, presumably I won, but everything after I changed shape was rather hazy, and I woke up towards the end.

That's the annoying thing about my dreams. They always have such good plots, but, like a good TV show taped in a shitty VCR, they always end before the plot is finished. The villain is never fully defeated, I never get the damn medal, and the mysteries are never solved. On the plus side, I never hit the ground, the bullet never leaves the barrel, and I'm pretty sure the knife never ends up hitting. I trade a good ending for not dying. Also a bonus, I don't have nightmares. Instead I have recurring dreams where I walk into work one morning and our entire menu's changed and we're in the middle of a rush (I hold that this is the equivilant to coming to school naked on the day you have three exams you never studied for).

Now, I don't really lucid dream. I never realize inside the context of the dream that I'm asleep (except for that one where I realized I was asleep then ran around for what seemed like hours trying to get out). But at the same time, the dreams are normally pretty vivid, and I can almost FEEL the mental switches for things like flight, intangibility, and some weird thing where I vibrate my hands and blow stuff up.

Dreams have also inspired some of my greatest creations. Captain Orion was spawned out of a dream, as was a setting based around him that never really got off the ground. But at the same time, that was the dream that led me to actually understand how the theory of holographic reality works (don't ask).

A dream, actually, converted me to Hermeticism. To put it simply, I attained a brief moment of unit with what some Qabalist scholars call "Ein Sof", which represents the perfect state of being, the pure source of God. It was...indescribable. But very, very white (I mean there was a total absence of shade, color, or was just a whole lot of light). The sensation It was like being linked to EVERYTHING. A sudden understanding of a perfect state of being. Not a sense of God being there, but that the state itself WAS God. Its kind of hard to explain, but basically there is no God to unify with. Rather, humans possess, inately, the potential to attain a state equivilant to that of God. Not throwing thunder and lightning, but a state of perfect peace and unity with everything. Ok, you could also probably call it Nirvana as well. It is by far the most mystical (in the classic sense of the word) dream I've ever had. To be honest, it beats the ones where I learn to activate a variety of different superpowers, or practice high sorcery, or any of that jazz.

JasonK says his life bleeds fiction. That's basically a statement that well describes my dreams.

Why I hate Bell Canada

When I signed up for my cell phone with Bell Canada last year I was essenitally swindled into thinking I was getting a great deal. And I was...for three months. After that they started fucking with me, changing how much I was being charged, bringing up all the hidden fees they'd never bothered to mention, all that jazz. Their store personell, similarly, are utterly useless. They know little about the products they sell, and can't assist you with them once they sell them to you (not entirely true, they can help you with the hardware, but if you need help with your phone plan...nuh uh, off to the customer service phone lines you go).

Things have only gotten worse. For some reason I only sporadically receive invoices, often several months after the fact, their customer service lines are completly unhelpful (when they're open), and their website has no way of actually telling you the breakdown of your billing.

Take February for example. In February I apparently made upwards of 5 hours of long distance calls from my cell phone. Were to, I'm not 100% sure. AlexanderLambert, my mother, all these people call my phone. I don't generally call them for longer than a few minutes. So you can understand why I'm stressed that I'm being charged $71 for calls I don't remember making. And I don't have a printed invoice, or an electronic one, to look at to see WHY I'm being charged these things.

I'd break with Bell, but it's a $200 disconnection fee. I don't have that kind of cash, not really at one time. I'm considering devoting a portion of my tax refund to killing my contract, because I honestly can't stand this anymore.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Segue from a Cook (part 4)

Bread Pudding
(As in Christmas Plum, not "Jello Chocolate")

Often, in the restaraunt business, we're left with large amounts of bread when the day's done. This comes from a variety of sources. There's the loaves we bought to give to guests that weren't even cut (thrown out, what a waste, so we can get fresh ones tomorrow), there's the bread left over from trimming croutons, and the pre-cut bread baskets that were never served. What this means is that we lose money. Bread is not a 100% profit item for two reasons. 1) We give it away for free (on the assumption that our guests will be buying food), and 2) because a lot of it is left over.

Because of these factors, its a bit surprising that you don't see more recipes, and menu items, for bread pudding floating around. When prepared properly, this dish has a wonderful, subtle flavor that is wonderfully accented by ice cream with chocolate and caramel sauce. The dish has three great benefits:
1) it uses leftover bread and turns it into profit
2) you can make it in 15 minutes, throw it in the oven for 20, haul it out, cover it, and forget about it
3) it's virtually impossible to fuck up (it is so fantastically simple)

At Cognito's we used to serve a killer bread pudding. The chef made them in huge rectangular pans normally reserved for lasagna or scalloped potatoes. The bread was cut into huge cubes, and came out wonderfully fluffy (some places you get it its soggy...which blows, but is the side effect of serving it cold). Sadly, Cognito's has been closed for over a year now, so I've had to come up with my own recipe.

The most notable change with this recipe from most you'll find is that it uses apples rather than raisins (which are standard in most other bread pudding recipes). The reason for this is simpler than you'd think: I made up the recipe at work tonight (seriously, this came out of my head as a rough idea of what Cognito's bread pudding tasted like), and we didn't have raisins, so I used an old apple. It came out just fine. The apple works into the texture of the pudding quite nicely, and adds a nice contrasting flavor to the rest of the dish.

Bread Pudding (per individual ramikin)
-60g bread, sliced into thin strips, crust removed
-1 egg, beaten
-2 spoonfulls of liquid honey
-1/2 spoonfull of icing sugar
-a pinch of cinnamon or 5 spice
-a pinch of nutmeg
-1/2 tea spoon of vanilla extract
-1/2 apple (preferably something a bit tart), small dice
-1 spoonfull whipping cream (possibly more)
-a knob of butter

1. Grease the ramikin with some of the butter. Set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 375F.
3. In a mixing bowl, combine the bread, egg, honey, icing sugar, spices, and whipping cream. Stir well until everything's incorporated, and let it sit and soak for about 10 or 15 minutes.
4. In a frying pan or sauce pan melt down the butter and throw in the apples. Add a pinch of salt and sautee them until they're just starting to go soft.
5. Combine the apples with the bread mixture, mix well, and clump it all into the ramikin. Smush it but good.
6. Cover the ramikin with tin foil, and put in the oven for 10 minutes. At the end of that time, remove the tin foil and let bake for another 10 minutes. The pudding WILL rise, rather a lot, but that's ok. You want to get it nice and golden brown on top.

For service, gently slide a knife around the inside edge of the ramikin to dislodge the pudding, tap it gently into your hand (careful, the ramikin will be VERY hot), and put it right side up on a plate. Garnish with some nice streaks of chocolate sauce and caramel sauce, and put a nice big scoop or two of vanilla ice cream beside the pudding. Sprinkle everything with a bit of chocolate sauce. Eat immediatly.

Alternativly, the pudding can probably (not 100% sure) be refridgerated for a couple days, and you can probably microwave it for a couple minutes to heat it up again (if covered with saran wrap).

Some variations on this dish include using raisins rather than apples, putting some lemon or orange zest in, and perhaps adding chocolate. Brown sugar could also be included, especially if its melted when you sautee the apples.

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

Monday, March 14, 2005

Apparently John Cleese is the Reincarnation of Aristophanes

I'm reading Lysistrata for my Greek culture class. This thing is by far the dirtiest piece of literature I've ever been forced to read for a university course.

It's a comedy, but it reads like a Monty Python sketch. The strangest line so far:

Lysistrata: "...and I will not adopt the lion-on-a-cheesegrater position."

...I'm quite sure I don't even want to know.

If These Are Our Heroes, I Think I'll Be Book My Coffin Early

I just finished the first trade of Young Justice. At first I thought the book was going to have a decently serious feel to it. Not serious, ok, but at least on par with Generation-X in its early issues (before the giant talking weasel showed up).

Not so.

The book is one giant fricking PUN! From the New Genesis super-cycle that imbues a random bystander with, and I kid you not, hypnotic breasts so big she can't stand up (but are conveniently hidden by objects, bystanders, or shimmering golden light radiating from them), the constant aside notes that this IS a comic book ("And, by genre convention, ever so conveniently five miles away..."), and the stupid character names ("Agents Fite 'N' Madd" who get to their secret base by going through the nostrils of one of the faces at Mt. Rushmore...)...the book's a pun. Some of the dialogue is amusing ("...overall I feel the incredible urge to smack all of you. Impulse in particular."), and the appearence of a New Genesis/Apokolips reference was amusing...but overall the book just doesn't hold up.

To be honest, I keep waiting for Darkseid, or someone like him, to show up and kill them all. That can't possibly be good...can it?

Thankfully I borrowed this book from Lisa. I will be returning it as quickly as I can. I'm just happy I never shelled out cash for it.

A Humble Retraction in the Name of Justice AND On the Nature of Super-Hero's Fathers

I retract my previous comment about Jakeem Thunder. He's fine, he works. Honestly, he's basically a Changeling character. He's a kid with a magic genie who can do whatever he wants, including taking him to what amounts to a fantasy world (being a super hero). And Mr. Terrific makes a great point, Jakeem SHOULD help out at shelters and suchlike, becuase he should help out the underpriviledged kids who don't have the luck to have a magic genie to wish all their troubles away.

And the character STILL has troubles. What can I say, I'm a sucker for stories involving superheroes and their fathers (notice that heroes and their mothers don't come up often). Probably because I had a relationship of forced distance (we were on opposite ends of the country) with my own father for a large portion of my childhood.

On that earlier statement, there are very few heroes I can think of to whom their mother is as important, or more important, than their father. Most heroes seem to come from families where their mothers are dead or divorced, and their fathers are the legacy heroes they look up to. The notable exceptions being people like the Black Canary (for obvious reasons), Spider-Man (sort of, Aunt May takes over as a mother figure), Superman (where both parents are equally important), Daniel (Dream's replacement, who's main living relative is his mother, Hippolyta Hall), Tesla Strong (who's mother Dallujah is just as important as her father Tom), Atom-Smasher (who saves his mother in one of the first JSA trades), and Promethea (who's father ran off and thus her mother becomes a more important character later on). There are probably more.

Still, the narrative of the father-son superhero legacy is a big one, especially in DC, and often carries a lot of pathos. My favourite, of course, is the relationship between Jack and Ted Knight, though Hector and Carter Hall, and Rick and Rex Tyler are also notable. Hector and Carter have a weird relationship, what with Hector being physically older than Carter thanks to weird time stuff, and I think the time bubble that Rex is trapped in makes his relationship with Rick all the more poinant. Jack and Ted had time...they had time to talk about life and that sort of thing. And Ted's funeral at the end of "Grand Guignol" is quite moving.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Twinges of Old Injuries

Perhaps I ought to see a doctor. I pulled a muscle, or possibly some ligaments, in my right shoulder last month when, while riding my bike back from my favourite Thai restaraunt, I attempted to perform a 90-degree turn on slush and went flying, and managed to haul myself off the road just as the lights turned green. When I hit the ground, though, I distinctly felt my shoulder pop halfway out of its socket, and then back in. Hurt like a son of a bitch at the time. My arm was numb for a good 5 or 10 minutes or so. But after that it just started aching when I moved my arm too high. It went away for a few weeks, now it seems to be back, somewhat.


Tales From the Way Down (Part 2)

How Mimir Met Judas Janet

Mimir had been in the pit of the Way Down for months when he first met Judas Janet. He hadn't eaten in days. The boy who normally brought him food had been hauled in for trafficking in necro-dust. It was unlikley he'd ever been seen again, or indeed that anyone else would venture under the rusty sign of the Way Down. At one point Mimir had pondered venturing as far up the stairs as the golden one would allow. Hanging out a sign. Perhaps telling fortunes. He had a talent for that. He had seen the future reflected in the golden world, and what he remembered was more than most knew. But always he stayed instead in his pit.

He had begun making a bar out of old wood the boy used to bring to him. The room was large, but empty. The darkness lurked in the corners like a skittish beast. It withdrew from the light but its presence was still felt. A bulb had burnt out shortly before the boy's last visit, and it had not been replaced. That made ten out of dozens, but their loss was conspicuous. Mimir had a bed in a small room he had carved out of the back area, behind where he built the bar. He was aware that he must have looked awful. The stitches around his throat itched maddeningly at the worst times. His previous razor had grown dull and the boy had not brought him a new one. He had learned to ferment the brown water that came out of the taps, and the resulting alcohol would have killed him had he not already been cursed with eternity.

In his time there, he had made several sets of rough tables from rusted iron hulks lying about the room. He hadn't a clue what the place's old purpose had been, but it had the materials he needed to make his club. The bar was plank wood, the tables and chairs of rusted metal. Still, there wasn't a sharp edge in the house with which to scrap the scraggly hair off his face. He longed for a good pair of scissors to cut oily locks out of his eyes. Maybe a bar of soap. A bottle of gin. A pack of ciggarettes. God, how he missed ciggarettes.

A few days before the boy had vanished, Mimir had put an ad in the paper for further help. He wanted to start his bar. But he needed people to work it. His name carried weight in the occult underground, but apparently not as much as he'd hoped.

She changed that. She ran into the Way Down one night. Strung out on necro-dust. That insane, corpse-powder grin on her face. Cheeks white like bone. Silver piercings gleaming around her head like a bent and broken halo. She shivered under a ripped black coat, fishnets, and the last remains of a top. Her boots were covered in blood, old and new. Judas Janet was already a minor legend in the occult underground, but this was the real side of her. The one the stories didn't mention. Not Judas Janet the archaeologist, the grave digger, the corpse robber...but Judas Janet the necro-dust junky. Fix after fix to kill the voices of the damned in her head. Flesh that broke and died and returned to life under the power of blood infused with the cup of Christ. Not a mark on her arms.

The cops were after her. They hated her. Excommunicated by the Church, wanted for six counts of theft, three counts of murder, two counts of extortion, and that one charge involving a judge, the mayor's daughter, and a video camera. The cops hated her, chased her, and the only place she could go was down to the Way Down. She didn't know it at the time, she was too busy chasing the ghosts of past love. Her eyes were red and black from the dust, vision addled to the point of fantasy. If she'd known, if she'd seen, she might have avoided the stairs. Instead she face-ground her way down the stairs, two floors worth, into the basement of the Way Down, right into the scraggly haired Mimir.

At first she thought he was a ghost. Scraggly hair, all oily and gnarled. Stitches around his neck, red and raw, leaking blood that wasn't quite the right color. She didn't look too great either, the necro-dust tinge to her flesh. The stairs hadn't helped. She had broken bones, a punctured lung, and her nose was practically gone. But the piercings fixed that. The Cup of Christ studs reconstructed her flesh from nothing, but they didn't clear the dust. That was pure devil's jizz. Bonafied necromantic powders cut with cocaine and rat poison. Guaranteed to give you a sight of the bleak afterworld shortly before you joined it courtesy of a blown out heart. But Janet...she was alive. Thanks to the piercings. So she managed to get out the words, "Hi...I'm Janet..." before she collapsed.

And that's how Mimir met Judas Janet. Of course, how they set up the Way Down is a whole other story, and a far more interesting one.

NEXT: How Mimir & Judas Janet Founded the Way Down (or "The Torrid Story of Juda Janet and the Brief and Sordid Affair With the Necro-Dust Kingpin, Tom'o'Troubles, and the Resulting Aftermath" or "How Mimir Got Laid")

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Justice For All

I borrowed Lisa's entire JSA (Justice Society of America) TPB collection yesterday, and I've gone through three already (Justice Be Done, Darkness Falls, The Return of Hawkman). Its fun stuff. It is, without a doubt, a fight comic, and some of the plots are just a tad odd. But its also well written at times, with some nice characterization. Jack makes an appearence, and Wesley Dodds showed up in the first issue. Its also serving as a bit of a crash course in the various wacko villains of the DCU, from Johnny Sorrow to Mister Bones to Blackbriar Thorn. I'm digging Dinah and the new Doctor Midnight, as well as the sordid family tree of the Hall clan (mainly becuase I'm a big fan of Hippolyta Hall from her appearence in The Furies).

On the downside, I think someone should drop an anvil on Jakeem Thunder. The kid is useless. His pen should go to someone useful, someone who could actually use the Thunderbolt properly. I dunno who...but there's someone out there.

The other thing I dislike is how massivly cosmic the plots are. They're a touch too focused on saving the world, and I think there could be a lot more internal storylines going on (the Injustice Society stuff was great, up till Johnny Sorrow tried to destroy the world). And is it me, or does the King of Tears remind anyone of something out of Morrison?

Still, overall, I'm enjoying it. Got another two or three books to go.

Yesterday's game

(second time writing this, as a link eliminated all my posting information)

Yesterday saw the finale of Issue #2 of my DC Heroes game, and the introduction of a fifth player, Heather (who I jokingly refer to as "The Fifth Man" despite her being a woman, mainly in homage to Planetary's "The Fourth Man"), who NPCed the Spark. The scavenger hunt finished in about the first two hours of play (which was good, because Nick had to leave early...a fact he neglected to mention until about half an hour before he had to go), with some judicious free forming, and the fact that the players decided that 10 points (out of a potential 100) were not worth getting mangled by the alien monster that lives in the pond in the woods. The Alphas came out on top with 80-85 points, with the Omegas coming in a close second with about ten or so less. The Omegas were powered pretty proportionatly to the PCs, though Conquerer Wyrm, who's built on quite a few more points to account for his super-slugs, showed to be a touch more powerful than I was comfortable with.

The PCs earned a friend, even more so than before, in the form of the Omega named Irving "Hoar-Frost" Statler, nephew of the cryogenic supervillainess Frau Frost. They were nice to him, and didn't beat on him, and in return he didn't beat on them. Truth to tell, he has something of a crush on Lisa's character, the winged air controller, Maria "Storm-Hawk" Sinclair.

James also got an earful from Ms. Amanda Lakefield (the super-intelligent, hypnotic White Queen sub-in) for his rather brutal and unsubtle use of telepathy against the other students. It figures, after knocking out a charging lion and a charging gorilla, both of whom have above average mental stats, he failed to mentally mess with the heavy set geokinetic, Crash. That had something to do with rolling doubles 1s, I think...but still.

After that the game broke up a bit, as half of us went back to Lisa's for drinks, food, and movies, and the other half went off to do school work. The players chose their classes, and got set up for the next game (entitled "The First Weekend"). After that the game broke up, but it seems to be going very well. Heather has me working up a gravity manipulating character for her, so Conquerer Wyrm will probably get shuffled over to the Omegas or outright expelled. I'm leaning towards the latter, as he heavily unbalances things in a fight.

Next game will also feature the cast's first meeting with an actual, factual supervillain, and their first look at Victory City. I have cameos in mind, lol.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Epic Mistakes

Troy sucked. I have no hope for Hollywood epics anymore.

I rented Christopher Lambert's Beowulf with the understanding that somehow good ole' Chris got zapped back in time to save Hrothgar from Grendel. Nope. The closest I can figure, its set either on an alien world, or in a less magic/psionics heavy version of RIFTS. And yet again Christopher Lambert returns in the only role he knows how to play: a guy with a bad dye job, a worse accent, and a katana. I credit the character's supernatural powers as the only way he could actually carry all his weapons...the bastard was loaded up heavier than your typical D&D party. Twin repeating crossbows (repeating from WHERE, I have no idea), a retractable morning star (complete with a really nasty looking blade in the handle that, as far as I can tell, serves to make it more difficult to hold), a hunting knife, a hunting knife the size of a short sword, mini-dart throwers built into his gauntlets, an axe, a throwing knife, and a huge katanna with its iron studded sheath.

Of course, there were the unruly evil border people trying to kill the prostitute with their giant straight razor, full body guillotine. With executioner dressed in a death's head and bondage leather.

The movie even has a token black guy! Well, after Beowulf arrives, the first person to die is black, and the secondary token black guy is never seen to die...but its inferred by the fact that everyone else in the room is dead, and he never appears at the end of the movie. He DOES, however, have one good line. He walks into a room, and some jumpy bastard nearly skewers him. "Man, you could have KILLED ME!" "I thought I heard a noise." "Yeah. You heard ME!"

Not only was there a token black guy, but there was a token scantily clad woman who came and abused the king in his dreams. Mind that she later on turned into a CGI monster that looked like she ought to be in a Resident Evil game (though the monster form was nicely non-bipedal). And had a token badly delivered speech about wanting to have sex with Beowulf becuase he was part monster.

I will say this for the movie: its a classic RIFTS concept. An outpost in the middle of nowhere, that happens to have a Rift underneath it. A monster, god, demon, or powerful sorcerer comes out, and menances the town before the PCs show up to deal with it...PCs probably just looking for some grub, clean clothes, and maybe a spare e-clip. It works equally well as a Gamma World concept, except in GW the monster would be in hibernation or cryo-sleep underneath the building that used to be a genetics lab, and then it'll break out. And the PCs come by horseback looking for food, and possible iodine pills.

The movie was, without a doubt, crap. It sucked. Some of the costumes were nice (though I keep wondering why some of the soldiers were wearing what looked like life-support encounter suits, while others were wearing balaklavas), and some of the weapons had a nice "battered hunk of metal turned into a sword with the aid of a high powered motorized sanding stone"...but that was it.

Frankly, for film adaptations of Beowulf, The Thirteenth Warrior was one of the best. It was loose, but filled things in well. Especially the fact that it turned Beowulf (Bolvi, son of Hygeliac...who was the father of Beowulf, going to save King Hrothgar) into a secondary character. Beowulf was not this.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Think iFruity!


I finally gave in. I'm weak. I have no will.

My name is the Bard, and I own an iPod.

To be honest, its something I've been debating for a while. This month the prices went down to something reasonable, so I started really thinking about it. Especially on Friday, over lunch with my father, mainly becuase I was tired of having to take my Discman and book of CDs out with me to go skiing. Funny story, my discman was a present for my 10th birthday. In 1995. Possibly earlier. I need to check when the first Beatles Anthology came out, because that was the gift that came along with it. There's also the fact that I've been wanting to get one before I go to Oxford this summer so that I won't have to haul my CDs along with me.

The clincher really came when I realized I was getting an extra $260 from Il Posto in May as my yearly vacation pay. So that's over two and a half hundred smackers I hadn't counted on. Mom, who wanted to get me an MP3 player back in BC, said that she'd throw in a hundred. And thus the total cost to me, out of pocket, is about $70. Mainly becuase I carefully plan all my finances, and the nice little windfall from my vacation pay was utterly unexpected.

Now, over the weekend I'd been intending to buy an iPod Mini. With 4GB storage capacity, the things are decently hefty (they've got more room than my old PC). The plan was to buy a mini and then spend another $70 or so on getting the third season of Farscape (which would have cost around $170 total after tax). Then I realized that I could spend the same amount of money ($70), and get a full, 20GB iPod. AlexanderLambert pointed out that I could always save up for Farscape, but it wasn't often that I'd have the disposable cash lying around for an iPod.

So today I went out and bought mine. My father is forwarding me the cash for a month or so on my VISA bill, so all's good. I also picked up a free iSkin, which has a built in mail-in-rebate for it from CompuSmart. Unfortunatly its the opaque white one that glows in the dark, but seeing as how its primary useage is just making sure the small machine inside isn't damaged, I have no real issues.

So I've loaded nearly 2 gigs of songs on so far. All my radio drama (ranging from Dimension X from the 50s to Hayward Sanitarium), and loads of music. I'm not done loading the music. I've still got another 80 or so CDs to go. Things ain't even close yet. AND after that I can use the iPod as an external harddrive, which will save me a small fortune in burnt CDs when I do system backups.

My only real complaint so far is that I haven't been able to burn in the Anti-Flag song "Fuck Police Brutality", becuase the iPod gets its information on album, artist, and song names from an online database...which I presume doesn't stock titles with such nasty names. Or something like that.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Why Werewolf the Forsaken Seems to Rock More Than Werewolf the Apocalypse

Ok, first off, any game who's basic setting is all along the Rockies in Colorado just rocks. Because the Rockies are cool, and becuase Twin Peaks was a good show. Secondly, any game who's demo advenutre is set in a small town in the Rockies that makes the town of Twin Peaks look normal rocks to another major degree.

Finally, any town that makes Jillian's Ford, of fame from my Buffy the Vampire Slayer game look normal is...well...just spookily cool.

Overall, the game looks nice. There seems to be a lot more emphasis on packs than in WtA, which is good. More to the point, there's a lot more emphasis on the pack as friends and relatives and...well...pack-mates tahn in WtA, in whcih packs were equivilant to military units half the time, and it was feasible for a pack to live in different houses across the city and only see each other at rituals, moots, and Wyrm hunts.

Also, the seeming lack of the Wyrm is a big, big plus now. Werewolves are no longer fuzzy ecoterrorists. You can use modern technology without someone in your Sept telling you that "such things are tainted by the Weaver!" (which often got the reply, "But its just a flashlight!") Also, Primal Urge and Renown replacing Rank, also Renown having an actual impact on the game, seems to rock quite a bit. There's no longer such a thing as a Cub who is not allowed to perform rituals, or contribute positivly to the pack in any way other than which point he will be buried, umourned, becuase...well...he WAS just a cub...and thank god the veteran Ahroun wasn't the one who bit it.

But then again I'm bitter. The Cub I played in a LARP for nearly a year spent most of the time being screamed at whenever he tried to make himself useful (when I mean useful I mean actually going up to the leaders when they were telling people what to do and asking if there was anything they needed me for), and being activly insulted by other PCs and NPCs once I DID go through my Rite of Passage, because all the characters felt it was far too soon. I dunno, I think WtA engendered a certain lack of empathy towards new players and new characters. I doesn't seem the same in the new stuff...I hope.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

A weekend "roughing it"

Went up to the family cottage this weekend for what I assumed would be some great skiing. The place normally has fabulous cross country skiing well into mid March, as its further up North than Toronto, and generally can get between 2 and 4 feet of snow over the course of a typical winter. Unfortunatly, I'd come up a week too late...high temperatures in the day had caused the snow to melt and then refreeze at night, so skiing was not to be had.

Still, spent the weekend lazing around the cottage. Watched a lot of MacGyver, which my father bought on DVD and I've now started borrowing. It's a fun show. Cheesy, absurd, and badly filmed at times, but quite amusing. Its fun to contrast Richard Dean Anderson's performance as MacGyver then to his work as Colonol (now General) Jack O'Neal now in Stargate SG-1.

Generally had a good time, though. The place is an old, 19th century stone schoolhouse converted into a cottage, and my family added a small, one story, one and a half room bunk house about 5 or 6 years back. The bed in the bunk house is a queen sized thing that's just fantastically comfortable, especially in the winter. Also got some writing done. I'm almost done re-editing the first issue of Project Beowulf, and am about a quarter of the way through issue #2. I really need to write up a treatment for it, though, before I can submit it to a company. Still...there is hope yet.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

The Ministry of Space

Warren Ellis's sci-fi comic Ministry of Space came out in trade paperback yesterday. I've never read it, but I will commonly buy any trade written by Ellis on general principle. I have never been dissapointed.

I'm still not. Ellis wrote something new, and interesting. He's been playing a lot over the past couple years with the idea of comics that aren't about superheroes, but still retain sci-fi elements. His Apparat books (Frank Ironwine, Angel Stomp Future, Quit City, Simon Specter) were single issue presentations that looked at comics as if they'd been created in a world where superhero comics had never gained prominence. A brilliant idea, and something I've stolen liberally for the Winthrop Academy setting, where there are compartivly few modern superhero books (most of them liscensed, fictional adventures of real superheroes), and signifigantly more horror, mystery, romance, drama, and crime comics.

Anyway, Ministry of Space. It's basically a time line book. It looks from the beginnings of a British space program in the 1940s (an alternate world where the British managed to capture the German V2 rocket scientists before the Americans), and up to the the future. The book bounces evenly between a continuous scene set in 2001, and various vignettes of important events in the history of the Ministry. Some of the scenes (especially Elizabeth II's coronation, and the kids with heli-packs) are very reminiscent of scenes from his work on The Authority in the "Shift Ships" storyarc, most specifically stuff taking place in Sliding Albion.

It rocks. Ellis has a real grasp of how to develop a setting, temporally speaking. Events build on events, and he infuses them with a real emotion and energy. You get to know the characters. And the penultimate page in the last issue...jesus. It completly changes your perception of the book. Or at least it did mine. The secret of the Ministry's funding was one thing...but that page was a doozy for me.

The book is a touch pricy for its size, but the art is quite nice and the story is great. While its definitly not Orbiter, it's definitly top notch. It's not Orbiter mainly becuase the comic isn't about deeply understanding why all the characters WANT to go to space. Rather Ministry of Space is about actually going TO space.