Thursday, December 13, 2012

Conquest Vs. Battle Beyond The Stars

* = Is this how it works David?

It has been a rough few weeks. I’ve been sick, I’m sort of disengaging from my family for a while after some post-visit issues and contemplation, I took a nasty tumble while shoveling, and then had a wonderful seizure. And by wonderful I mean at least I didn’t pee or poop myself. It is amazing how that sort of crap, along with the demands on time this time of year has on us, grinds me down mentally, physically, and emotionally. I’m just starting to feel like a human being again, which is good since it isn’t even over yet.

I have to say though Friday night’s “Bobert Birthday Bash” along with the subsequent Midnight Movie at the Parkway Theatre was insanely fun. I have to first off thank Heidi for allowing us to get to know Bob and subsequently Zack, which then led us to the awesome sauce that is Christy. It’s so strange to get to know people who you may have peripherally known through others, especially when I’m pretty sure most of his initial information on me would have been HORRIBLE, and deservedly so. We made our way to Christy & Zack’s place to play some BANG! (**** out of 5) and hang out prior to the sojourn to the flick.
I love BANG!, let me just put that out there right now. It is complicated enough to require some thought, but easy enough that ANYONE can pick up and play. It’s a great choice for a party game. The other wonderful thing about this game is it can be extremely social.  Which was a good thing since with the exception of 'Other Ben' I didn't know the other three folks that joined us.  I've realized that sometimes with new people I can be a bit of a 'tough in'.  I can get quiet, I have very odd body language, and since I'm enormous I'm not the most approachable.  That's why it was brilliant to meet and bond over a game built around betrayal and murder.  Good times!  So after being graced with some insanely fun gifts, watching Bob drink and get humorously loud, and eventually see Cassandra win BANG!, like she always does David, we headed off to the Parkway.

Sir Earl Of The Parkway puts on the Midnight Movie and it is brilliant. He gets a group of folks together in that wonderfully comfortable theatre and allows you to digest film brilliance. That night we were given The Green Slime (**** out of 5) a brilliantly strange Japanese, Italian, American Sci-Fi-Horror flick from the late 60’s.
It has a really strange tone and feeling as there is obviously backstory, but the movie just doesn’t really give enough of a crap about you to tell you exactly what happens. The characters are more archetypes than anything else, a perfect Tabla Rasa to paint insanity upon. Let’s be honest with one another this is a bad movie, so bad it is GOOD! There is something fantastically horrible about the one eyed strangely Lovecraftian beasties that spawn out of the titular Green Slime from an asteroid that threatens the Earth. Oh also, let me just point out that the movie Armageddon (** ½ out of 5) TOTALLY ripped off the beginning of this movie. TOTALLY! Anywho, it’s a fun movie to watch and riff on with friends and Earl was an amazing host. So much so that my lovely wife, who generally doesn’t dig on stuff like that, and most especially dealing with driving in Uptown, LOVED it. I look forward to the next Midnight Movie we get the privilege and the pleasure of attending.

Saturday was my Riff-A-Thon Birthday Gathering. I could write a whole blog on this and about how much it meant to me to have SO many folks just show up, but I won’t. I’ll talk about it on tonight’s Podcast. Instead just let me briefly say Thank You. Thank you to Cassandra, Extra Crispy Dave and his Gal whose name I can NEVER remember, Zack & Christy, Bobert, Cordell, Mick, Rims, Rayne, Honora, Mary, Christina, The Mason Man, Mighty Mike, Elegant Emily, and anyone else whose name is escaping me at the moment because I’m sure I’ve forgotten someone. Your very presence, let alone the thoughtful and touching gifts I received really meant a lot to me. Oh and to David and Jen, who were laid up with Jen just having gotten out of knee surgery ‘THANK YOU’ for calling. The mere fact that you called meant the world. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, when it comes down to life I am unlucky in SO many things; looks, intelligence, employment, facial hair, etc., but in friends I am the luckiest S.O.B. walking the face of the world.

Cassandra had perused my insanely long book ‘want’ list and along with many of my ‘bestest pals’ and hooked me up with a CRAP TON of books for my birthday. One of the many I received was Keith Baker’s City Of Towers (*** out of 5).
For those that don’t know Keith Baker is the genius behind the 3rd Edition D&D ‘new’ setting Eberron. Eberron is a post ‘World War’ setting that is less High Fantasy and more noir meets Indiana Jones. It’s a setting full of magic being used for mundane things like lighting, and not so mundane things like flying ships and ‘lightening’ trains. There is intrigue, exploration, urban strife, and the possibility for conflict galore. It is also the setting that gave us the Warforged, sentient golems with souls so basically D&D ‘Robots’, and Shifters, folks with Were-folk blood in their blood allowing them to ‘Shift’ to a more bestial mode. I dig this setting, in fact I dig it a lot, however I’ve never played or run in Eberron. This is the second book set in this world I’ve taken the time to read, the first being The Queen Of Stone, also written by Keith Baker. I loved that book, and I’m still waiting to find the other books in the Thorn Of Breland stories, honestly I can’t say the same thing here. I wanted to love this book, hell the premise, the set-up, the story, and even the characters were right up my alley. There was just something about it that didn’t click. Perhaps it is that this is the first of a series, perhaps it’s that the characters are a bit too shell shocked after surviving not only the ‘Last War’, but also the ‘Mourning’, or it could just be that the protagonist with a secret thing is done to death. Either way I found Lei, the female aristocratic artificer cast out of her nobility, to be very draining on my patience. I wanted to dig her; the full play out of her ‘power set’ reminded me of how much fun I had reading about the Cobblestone Druid in the book Blood Of The City. It was different, it didn’t fall into your usual fantasy tropes, and it was fun. However her personality, whining, and the soap opera-light thing going on between her and the ‘main protagonist’, Daine, was annoying. Speaking of Daine, GAH! He did nothing for me. To me he felt like a Player Character being role played by someone who really wasn’t into role playing. He was very bland and as the ‘engine’ that was supposed to make the book turn he just didn’t. The two ‘minor’ characters Jode, a Halfling Healer with something to hide, and Pierce, the Warforged Scout who was created for war but doesn’t have one to fight any more, were FAR and away more interesting than Lei and Daine. In fact when we, SPOILERS, lose one of them midway through it really turned the book into a bit of a slog for me. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate the book, in fact I thought it was alright, but I just expected and wanted far more than I was given. Perhaps the sequels will build upon the good that Baker built rather than give me more of what I was disinterested in.

Wow, that came off far more negative than I intended. Let’s positive up this place with the other review of what I devoured and that would be Mike Mignola’s Sir Edward Grey Witchfinder (***** out of 5)!
Whenever Mignola’s involved you can almost, ALMOST, always be assured that I will swoon. And lo and behold did I ever swoon here. This character’s adventures take place in the same one as Hellboy, however they do so in the 19th Century. He is a man in the service of the British Crown dealing with the ‘Things That Go Bump In The Night’, this includes some really cool secret society stuff. The other thing I dug was the art, which while Mignola-esque wasn’t a full one attempt to ‘ape’ a guy who can NOT be duplicated. Instead Ben Stenbeck makes it his own. The fact that two of the main characters are based on Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing respectively made me giddy with joy! The story is fun, and while it’s a riff on Stoker’s Dracula, it is again something wholly its own. In fact it ties in directly to the Hellboy world in a fun way while still being fun, dark, bitter sweet, and action packed. Mignola remains the one true source of Kirby-ness’ in the comic world now. He just spews wonder and fun with his every work both with his tales and his art. Thank you Mr. Mignola and your merry group of men, thank you for hours of enjoyment, and I look gleefully forward to reading more tales of Sir Edward Grey, Witchfinder!

How ‘bout we begin to wrap this up with some…


- I’m not sure I showed this pic on the blog; it’s one of the many friggin’ GIGANTIC minis from the Reaper Bones Kickstarter.
My lord, March and that box full of INSANITY arriving on my stoop can’t get here fast enough.  That little guy there, that is an average 'Medium' sized Player Character type mini.  Gasp in marvel and despair!  Seriously, just look at that Dracolich, it is ENORMOUS!
- Speaking of mammoth menaces, did you see the Pacific Rim trailer? I almost wet myself.
- It looks as if there will soon be TWO D&D groups now, and I’m excited about that. If I get my wish and have a Co-DM for the 2nd group there will be some overall of my ideas I’m sure, as Mick wanted to be a part of the ‘World Building’ portion of DMing, and I don’t blame her it’s keen. I still would like an island hoping more Pirate like theme played in short episodic bursts to be the style as I think that would be a hoot. In the process of getting this off the ground it was brought to my attention that Bob & Zack would like to go back and play more adventures with their Halfling siblings from a previous campaign that sort of fizzled. I dig those two characters a lot, and I’m wracking my brain of ways to get back to them, and perhaps it might be a D&D held in May, where I’ll finally run my sequel to Castle Ravenloft that I wanted to do TWO Halloweens ago.
- Podcast tonight, it is planned and chock full of our normal brilliance.
- Speaking of planning, in February I want to do the next Trivia Death Match, and in March I’m thinking it’ll be a Chili Cook-Off. Between that and D&D, times 2, I think we’ll have plenty on our collective plates. Oh and in June when ‘The Bury’ is done with school it’ll be Contest Of Champions, super hero skirmish, in my basement! Perhaps followed by the often discussed and yet never coming to fruition Sci-Fi Basement/Garage War. For which I purchased, on the DIRT cheap, a ton of weird looking Star Wars Miniatures to serve as ‘Insurgents’. That’s right Alien Insurgents for Mike, myself, and possibly Dave to deal with. That’s just how my Sci-Fi rolls baby! As you can see there is SO much I want to do, who knows, as the possibilities seem virtually endless.
- You know I still want to run some Gamma World.
- An hour a night, at least, continues to be devoured by WWE ’13 on the new X-box 360.
What can I say it is everything I have ever wanted in a wrestling game. The Attitude Era mode is perfect, and I’m now into the Rock Vs. Mankind stuff which I love. The 'Create A' mode is wonderful and almost too much for my feeble skills to do much with. But the crowning jewel of joy has been the My Universe mode where Dave, Mike, and I are the Wolf Pack faction. We have succeeding in basically destroying The Industry faction that was made up of John Laurinaitis, Zack Ryder, Hunico, and the ECW Champion The Big Show. The Big Show has turned on everyone in an effort to hold onto his title, staving off challenges from all of the Wolf Pack, but also Wade Barrett, Alberto Del Rio, and even guys from other shows like Stone Cold Steve Austin. I think we might be headed towards a Title Vs. Title match between The Big Show and David, who is the European & The Internet Champion(s), as they’ve begun a feud. Big Show finally convinced Dave to tag with him only to betray him, so now it’s on. Mike has been teaming with both Justin Gabriel and The Blue Demon Jr. in constant tag matches. All the while my guy has been fighting with the members of the New Nexus. This Sunday I think we’re going to get the $1 deal for a month of X-box Live Gold membership so I can get all the DLC stuff like Gangrel and Ryback, as well as get some Custom CAWs. I’m DYING to get my hands on an Ultramantis Black CAW to get some Chikara up in this mutha’!
Because there is nothing cooler than Chikara, but even more importantly the most devious and dubious master of the Spectral Envoy, Ultramantis Black! Seriously on a side note, if you even are sort of ‘closet wrestling fan’ and like FUN then check out Chikara it is PG Wrestling with a MASSIVE amount of comedy, great matches with guys and gals from around the world, a super hero vibe, and really fantastic long form story telling. Anywho, it has been a fun time and I can literally lose time sitting my chair with a wireless controller just enjoying the mayhem.

You know I think that is all I have in me today, PODCAST tonight, steel thyself!

“Risin' up, back on the street
Did my time, took my chances
Went the distance
Now I'm back on my feet
Just a man and his will to survive

So many times, it happens too fast
You trade your passion for glory
Don't lose your grip on the dreams of the past
You must fight just to keep them alive

It's the eye of the tiger
It's the thrill of the fight
Risin' up to the challenge
Of our rival
And the last known survivor
Stalks his prey in the night”

* = Finn is the TRUTH!

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