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April 29, 2004

Battlefield Australia Website Is Live!

After long and mostly unknown hours of toil, Plunkotica of the Battlefield Australia forum has re-established the official Battlefield Australia web site! Won't you do the clicky thing and check it out?

April 28, 2004

When's [DA]? Wednes[DA]!

I just wanted to use that sometime...

Anyway, if you're online and feel in the mood for some Battlefield 1942, come track Boots or myself down; we'll probably be spending most of our time on the Xtra servers. Or, just look us up on Xfire!

The Whisperers At War

I've set up a page for the first of hopefully several Jake Robinson Lexicon games. It's called The Whisperers At War and it needs YOU. As of ths writing, we have four players, and I've noticed that a Lexicon works best with somewhere between six and ten.

If you'd like to take part, put a post up on Jake's Bar or Robinson's Place just get in touch with me. You can even create your own login to the Wiki with no trouble.

Old Comments

Tried signing up to Wiki. I created an account, but whenever I try to update it, or move beyond the initial scren, it gives me an error that an account has already been created.

Can I be a geologist?
Either that or a religous history nutter, who fancies himself as a socialologist and a Philosopher.
... but I think a geologist would be funnier.

Will there be a section created for in-character slander?

Posted by: Simlauren at April 28, 2004 09:02 PM

Hi, Lauren,

Have you tried logging out and then in again?

A section for in-character slander? Tempting...

Posted by: IMAGinES at April 28, 2004 10:30 PM

"You didn't just, you know, scribe all of that, did you?" - One of the few things that have made me laugh today.

yeah, logged out, logged back in, got upset at it. left it a day, logged in again, still no dice... My email is typoed as aimlauren@, it won't set the date format, and it won't let me add clickys...

On a lighter note, I actually READ the list of formatting tags at the bottom of the edit screen, felt like a doilt for about a minute, then had lots of fun playing with the flavours.

Posted by: Sim at May 4, 2004 06:57 PM

April 27, 2004

First WAN Party [DA] A Success

WAN Party [DA] went off with nary a hitch yesterday (barring a cable drop-out or two in the afternoon/evening). It started slow, with some forgetting to set their alarm clocks and not getting up until ten, which was the start time (well, the approximate start time, anyway). Gaming started with Battlefield 1942, of course, staying mainly on the Xtra servers in New Zealand. TeamSpeak and Xfire yet again proved their usefulness as aids of team organisation, the first being extremely useful within the game and the second invaluable for getting people into the game. It was also nice to actually chat with the people I was playing with. The Cazman came along for a while before he went to work, and brought his mate SuPR@, a.k.a. The Other Rob with him.

At around one thirty things began to tail off a bit as people went to get lunch, and I used the opportunity to set the Unreal Tournament 2004 Demo up on Vickie’s PC. With my connection it turned out to be a rather handy dedicated server for a small volume of people. Unfortunately, we never had more than five people on – we were down to myself, Boots, Gav, Dan and SuPR@ - and that made the team-based modes like Assault, Onslaught and Bombing Run rather unbalanced. Still, it was fun, and I noticed that the high-speed visuals weren’t making me sim-sick as I was expecting. I’m thinking of investing in UT2004 before my birthday, especially as it’s $20 cheaper than Battlefield Vietnam at retail, but it depends on general interest within Dad’s Army: I’d prefer to be able to play alongside/against people I know, and the [DA] crew are a pretty damned good bunch.

After a couple of hours of UT2004 Demo – the same maps over and over get a little boring – we switched back to Battlefield 1942. There was some talk about playing some “mods” – fan-developed modifications to the basic Battlefield 1942 gameplay – but as some of us either didn’t have the mod software (and some of the mods in question were over a gigabyte to download) things started to tail off. I pretty much left when Vickie got back home from work, and Dan dropped by to pick up the Forgotten Hope total conversion mod, which I’d burned onto two CDs for him. Still, we’d had about six hours of gameplay. I’m still trying to figure out whether it was worth the lack of exercise, but it was definitely fun, and I’d like to do it again sometime.

Anyway, tomorrow night is Wednes[DA] Night, of course, so if you feel like some more Battlefield 1942 action, look for the users with the [DA] clan tag on Xfire or check out the Battlefield Australia forum.

April 25, 2004

The Wiki is Online!

In an earlier posting, I made mention that I wanted to run a Lexicon game for a couple of fora that I frequent. It was dependent on either finding or setting up a Wiki - a web site that anyone can edit - and I'd like to announce that, thanks to the tireless efforts of my webmaster Marcus, he of infinite graciousness and kindness, I now have a Wiki all of my own! It's a little spare right now, but if I can get that Lexicon game started (and would any of you be interested?) it'll get updated quite quickly!

[EDITOR'S NOTE September 04: Although the Wiki and its contents were lost during the server move, I'm keeping the posts relating to it up for historical purposes.]


I'm interested!
As long as it is accessable from work.
My home connection suxxorz

Posted by: Lauren at April 27, 2004 05:53 PM

I think it would work best if the moderator supplied a list of words with a dictionary definition for each letter, and assigned them to players every turn.
This would be the easiest way for players to keep track of cross-referencing, and means that all loose ends get tied up.

Posted by: SimLauren at April 27, 2004 06:01 PM

Hi Lauren! We'd love to have you on board! Sign up at Jake's or Robinson's and contribute to the creation of the topic!

The Wiki should be accessible to you over dialup; it's pretty much text only and the individual pages are fairly small. If not, I doubt access via work will be a problem.

As for cross-referencing: trust me, the Wiki has some pretty natty tools to help with that. Loose ends shouldn't be a problem either; there are only as many slots per letter as there are players. And wouldn't giving out words sort of nullify the point? How would you work things like people or places in as entries?

Posted by: IMAGinES at April 27, 2004 10:19 PM

April 24, 2004

Happy Birthday 2004, Gav!

Last night, Vickie and I went to Soup Plus for an evening gig for the first time in a while - in fact, last night and Rog's farewell dinner-and-drinks late last year have been the only times Vickie and I have been to Soup Plus in the evening! The occasion was Gav's birthday party, the date and venue chosen because it was the Moods Band's monthly Friday Night Soup Plus Spectacular.

We turned up on time, and were rather surprised to find not just Gav, but Gav and Dan and Boots there before us! JP (formerly known as Baz) and Mandi's mate Kerin turned up later on, and a fun night was definitely had - helped, and I apologise to any smokers reading this, by the fact that there's no smoking in the Soup any more. Seriously, virtually any time I've been to the Soup before, the smoke has made enjoying the evening a little difficult, and its absence was definitely an asset (even if Vickie had to go up the steps once or twice for a quick ciggie, unfortunately).

I'd not actually been to a Moods gig in an little over three years, mainly as Vickie was working the Wednesday and Friday evenings when they usually play the Soup, and when the place closed in late 2002, I thought I'd lost the chance to attend a Moods gig at the Soup permanently, so although the party was for Gav, it was something ofa triple treat for me - (a) a Moods gig, (b) at the Soup and (c) introducing Vickie to the wonderment of a Moods gig at the Soup! Fans will be glad to know that the Moods were on form; great music, awful jokes.

It's interesting to note that one of the Harris Brothers - Nigel, who plays trumpet - has left the band to seek fame and fortune, and taking over from him (very capably, I might add) is Todd Hardy. Joern Harris is still there, as are Shane Cranney and Chris Perry. The Moods website still lists Duncan Archibald as being the drummer, although he was absent last night, with another drummer whose name I didn't catch filling in (I assume - no offense to the drummer who was there, but I've always liked Duncan; he was the most approachable of the band, and I appreciate how cheerful and polite he was to the person craving attention and approval that I was a few years ago).

We, of course, made sure to let the band know there was a birthday boy in the crowd - Joern kept calling Gav "Brett", though. Anyway, Joern told Brett - er, Gav - that he had to get up and do the "birthday dance" (to the tune of "Happy Birthday" Moods-style, of course), and Gav - er, Brett - grudgingly obliged. I have photos, but under threat of retribution from Gav or Brett or whoever he is, am keeping them private - for now.

Dinner was very nice, helped along by the pitchers of Hahn Premium Light that Dan and Boots splurged on, and Dan, Vickie and I had a go at Gav for buying himself one of the presents we'd originally bought for him.

Today, we're relaxing and recovering, saving up all the housework for Anzac Day (as a sort of remembrance to the fallen, I suppose; no slouching on Anzac Day, lads). I picked up Vickie's pre-order of the Love, Actually DVD (which came with the DVD of Four Weddings and a Funeral as a pre-order bonus) and we'll probably watch it this evening. Monday, of course, is the big Dad's Army WAN Party. I'm definitely looking forward to it!

Counting the Posts

If there's one thing I like about Movable Type, it's how easy it is for me to cuustomise broad swathes of my site by just modifying two or three bits of code. For instance, you may have noticed how the links on the main page to the various Category pages have suddenly got entry counts by them - or, just today, how both the Monthly and Category archive pages now have entry counts above the list of entries on the right hand side. This is all thanks to the MTArchiveCount tag and its many uses.

I'm also going back and slowly adding in my 2002 news posts from the old IMAGinES website. I covered December and November today, and will slowly add another month or two until I finish with October 2001 (when the re-vamped IMAGinES site went live on my BigPond webspace).

April 23, 2004

Galactica Day, Take 2

Well, I now own the new Battlestar Galactica miniseries on DVD; nipped down to HMV the day of its release and snapped up a copy before they'd had the chance to put it in the store shelf!

So, the last time I ried to organise a screening, I know I had expressions of interest from SimLauren, Trent, Dan and Christian (even if to do the tortured martyr bit). Would you guys still be keen if I organised it for, say, the evening of Saturday, May 22nd? Anyone else I've forgotten? Anyone else intereted, or changed their minds? Gav? Boots? We can always watch some Red Vs Blue as well - well, if Trent brings my DVD back! ;-D

Oh, yeah, by the way, Christian: Have you heard? Richard Hatch, the original Captain Apollo, will be guest-starring in the new series!

Wednes[DA] and Anzac WAN Party [DA]

It looks as though Wednesday evenings have become the game time of choice for the Battlefield 1942 clan known as Dad's Army. Pretty much every week has seen a fairly regular crew of four to six players join up on a server and kick some arse.

It's actually been quite easy for us to do so and more fun than I would have expected, thanks mainly to two free programs:

Xfire is an instant messaging client for gamers. What it does beyond ICQ and MSN (or even Trillian) is to let you know who wants to play what (or who is playing what), and if someone is in a game, the server details are listed on that person's profile. You don't even have to copy-and-paste the IP address of the server into your game client - just click the "Join" button in Xfire and your game will fire up straight into the server!

Not only that, Xfire also hooks into the other freeware application, TeamSpeak, a voice-chat program that allows you to join a server and either enter an existing chat channel or create your own! Voice chat makes co-ordinating strategies and just generally chatting with your fellow players so much easier, and TeamSpeak will run in the background regardless of the game you're playing. If an Xfire user is running TeamSpeak, Xfire will display the server and channel they're in - and, just like the game server "Join" button, click "Chat" and Xfire will start TeamSpeak and take you straight there!

In fact, it's TeamSpeak that gave the top man of Dad's Army the idea of actually organising what he called a "WAN party". Rather than going through the combined hassles of carefully packing our PCs into our cars, hauling them to one place, carefully unpacking them and connecting them up on someone's router (and then doing the packing/hauling/unpacking jazz all over again going home), we're instead using our broadband internet connections and TeamSpeak to have a "LAN party at home", if you will.

As everyone pretty much gets the day off on Monday the 26th, that's when we've decided to give the WAN party idea a shot; we'll probably be starting at or after ten AM. Needless to say, Battlefield 1942 is on the list of games we'll be playing, but we're also considering other games, including Real Time Strategy (probably WarCraft III). We're probably going to sort out who can play what over TeamSpeak on the day.

We'd love to have some more players around - hey, the more, the merrier - so if you're interested, grab Xfire and TeamSpeak, set yourself up an Xfire account, and go looking for [DA] IMAGinES. Hope to see you online!

Old Comments

56k me hates your cable-riding arses!

Posted by: SIm at April 23, 2004 01:09 PM

Ahhh, Loz, what can we say but :-P

Seriously, though, I remember you talking about internet access at your party last Sat... did you mention anything about whether you could get broadband there?

Posted by: IMAGinES at April 23, 2004 01:27 PM

Sounds like you guys had a great time without me - do I detect mutiny ?!?!

Posted by: bugga! at April 26, 2004 11:21 PM

You'd have to speak with Corporal-Captain Boots about that, sah! He was the one giving the orders! :-D

Posted by: IMAGinES at April 27, 2004 10:34 PM


Some more changes to the archives today. I got to not liking how my notes on PCs and computer/video games were lumped in with the RPG notes, so I decided to separate the RPG stuff back into its own category, and rather than just dump the computer-related stuff into Breaking News again, I created a new category, Computers & Games, which has everything form my Xbox adventures to my upgrade agonies. I think it works a little better.

April 19, 2004

Orion's Arm

I'd like to direct your attention to an amazing site called Orion's Arm. It's a huge, collaborative online work of writing, fiction and graphics. Its goal is the creation of a hard science space opera setting that allows for grand human drama and strange happenings while remaining thoroughly grounded in science fact and plausibility. The amount of work that has been done in the (I think) four years since it first went up is incredible - they even have an Encyclopaedia Galactica filled with histories, relevant facts and extensive topical coverage. It's all throrughly hyperlinked so you can explore to your heart's content. Frankly, if you have an hour or two to spare and like science fiction, I heartily recommend you have a read - and if you find your creative muscles itching, why not put something together and send it along?

If you're a gamer, you'll probably want to check out the Orion's Arm message boards, where they discuss assembling a pen and paper roleplaying game and a space-trader style computer game.

Thanks again to The 20' By 20' Room for stumbling across this site and linking to it.

April 18, 2004

If Someone Had Told Tycho And Gabe...

... back in mid-November 1998, when the first Penny Arcade strip went online, that in a little under six years' time, they'd be hosting and running their own industry convention, how do you think they would have reacted?

April 17, 2004

If It's Good Enough for Batman and the Aliens...

Here's a half-formed first part of a new episode of the Slamdance series. It's a little bare right now, and the narrative is broken in placces, but I'm going to fill it out as I work on it and the other two or maybe three parts. I think it makes a great first fiction fragment for the site.

And yes, in case you're wondering, this is a double fanfic/crossover. It's just something I wanted to write recently. You should be able to guess who the guest villain of the piece is here.


“The goods have been procured; shoppers are checking out right now and will be heading home soon.”

“For the record, I hate it when mercenaries get involved in local market disputes.”

“Shit! Mister Reiger, Shopper Four is under attack!”

“What do you mean?”

“I don’t know, sir, but it’s getting battered; telemetry shows a sudden fifty-percent reduction in operating capa – my God…”

“What’s going on?”

“Shopper Four’s off line. No telemetry.”

“Get me a status report on the rest of the expedition. Now!”

“We can’t go in. These guys are mercenaries, and haven’t been packing anything more advanced than some assault rifles and a couple of hotted-up cars; regular SWOS wants the collar and someone’s leaned on the deputy commissioner to give them priority.”

“Great. So we sit on our duffs while we wait for SWOS to get here.”

“Well, it can’t be too bad. The way I see it, we’re getting paid some pretty decent overtime to sit on our duffs.”

“Uh huh. For starters, it's almost forty degrees out here."

"Yeah, but the interceptor has air conditioning. Nice, cool air conditioning..."

"And for seconds, who do you think Macklesea’s going to chew out when these guys get away because we sat in our nice, cool interceptor and didn’t pursue?”

“Oh. In that case, forget what I said overtime. No bonus is worth that.”

“Shopper One is requesting weapons free, Mister Reiger. Shall I authorise?”

Jeff Rieger’s lips tightened. He didn’t like this. Granted, the three remaining Shoppers could get to extraction without being seen, especially given the terrain, but there was always the possibility. Still, two of them had been eliminated – from full operating capacity as well – within the space of two minutes. It seemed as though they’d need all the help they could get. “Affirmative. Give Shopper One the green light. Authorise uplink protocol as well; I want to see what’s going on.”

“Yes, sir.”

The balaclava-clad head of one of the mercenaries turned toward his comrades. “All right, team, there’s our sign-off. Let’s take care of this and go home.”

The clothing of the three mercenaries bulged, stretched and tore. Backpacks, fragments of fabric and what might have been skin fell to the floor as three massive combat cyberdroids – Boomers – sloughed off their human guises. The three reached down to their backpacks and removed bulky tubular devices, which they affixed to mounting-points on their assault rifles. They began to move again, striding through the darkness.

Jeff Rieger frowned at the three live monitors on the console. The space he could see through the Boomers’ eyes must have been a warehouse of some sort. Soot, engine exhaust and industrial pollutants caked the skylight, and what fitful sunlight from the raining sky above was tinted blue. Rippling patterns of light, refracted through the raindrops on the skylight and the catwalks that crisscrossed the roofing space, dappled the roofing supports and stacks of disused, moulding crates and cargo pallets that littered the floor.

“Boss, this is Two. Clearing twenty metres ahead; looks like a good place to make a stand.

“Defensive posture Alpha; power up your weapons and sensors. It’s going to be a tight engagement, so keep your posture efficient.”

A break in the dirt caking the skylight brought the curved grey armour of the three Boomers in stark relief as they moved out into the small space, perhaps ten metres diameter, between clusters of crates. Breaking file, they took up positions covering each other’s blind spots, each watching a hundred and twenty degrees. Metal antennae extended from around their eyes, whirring and probing the air.

“What’s the shopping expedition doing, Marks?”

“Well, their main priority is to ensure no-one follows them to the extraction point. They’ve made a tactical decision based on that priority, sir; I think they calculate that whoever’s engaging them has a better chance of following them to extraction.”

“So they’re eliminating the risk.”

“Yes, Mister Rieger. They’re covering all ways in and out of that area, so that when whoever it is that’s attacking them makes another move, they’ll be ready.”

A loud clatter brought the Boomers swinging around, aiming their rifles in the direction of the noise. Something far off within the warehouse snapped and echoed, something falling from the top of a crate and bouncing off wood and packing plastic to slap down onto the concrete floor.

In unison, the three Boomers thumbed a button on their rifles. With a whir and click, the underslung launchers each fed a grenade into their breeches. They spread out into a triangle, two forward, one rear, making sure each could shoot without hitting its companions – and a leaping form fell from above, breaking the light and casting its shadow on the three Boomers, holding aloft a spear as it plunged toward them…

“Holy shit!” Chao said as the explosion ripped out of the industrial district. “I thought those guys were packing assault rifles! What the hell did that?”

“Heavy rifle-propelled grenade, Jared,” Morris replied. “Must’ve attached them to their assault rifles once they were out of a populated – did you just see what I saw?”

“Yeah, I did,” Chao said, gazing intently at the warehouse roof through his binoculars. Two, perhaps three beams of blue light had speared up out of the warehouse roof. “Boomer mouth lasers, or I’m Greek.” He threw the binoculars into the back seat of the interceptor and leapt into the driver’s seat. “Come on, Morris!”

Morris blanched. “Oh, great. If it's Boomers, MARS gets priority back over SWOS, don’t we?”

Chao rolled his eyes at Morris as he started the engine. “Don’t you want to earn that overtime pay, Morris?”

Morris swallowed hard, but got into the interceptor just as Chao gunned the engine and flattened the accelerator.

“God damn it! What the hell is going on there?” Jeff Rieger’s eyes were riveted to the telemetry monitors.

Chao squinted into the darkness. Four massive shapes hung from a metal support beam. As his eyes adjusted to the light, Chao could make out the glint of metal. Taking the risk, he reached down, unclipped his torch and aimed it at one of the hanging forms. With a click, the torch beam swept over the shape.


It was a Boomer. Or at least, it used to be. It was hanging by its ankles from some sort of high-tensile metal line attached to the beam. Its entire outer tegument had been stripped away, leaving semi-organic musculature, actuated pistons and tendons, coated in white circulatory fluid that dribbled off the Boomer and fell in milky, clotted drops to the cconcrete. The dull metallic sheen of the skeleton and reinforcing framework could be glimpsed underneath. Chao had seen Boomer anatomies, and guessed that these had to be combat Boomers, probably BU-55C; what confirmed it was the large chunks that had been gouged from the machine’s chest and forearms.

Chao played the torch beam over the two other shapes. Exactly the same…

“These must be our guys,” Morris said. “So it's Boomers, all right. But what happened to them? And where are the other two?”

“I don’t know,” Chow said. “But it looks like something skinned them – stripped off every inch of their armour plating somehow – and took their weapons. I get the feeling that Doc Newbury’s going to find their mouth lasers missing as well.”

“Why would anyone do that?” Morris said. “Product research or something?”

“No,” Chao replied. “Doesn’t make sense. Why not take one whole unit instead of the same parts from three? Why not take all of them? Hell, those things must weigh, what, a quarter-tonne apiece. Why haul all that dead weight up, what, twelve, fifteen metres, just to string it up from the rafters, for us to find?”

“What’re you saying, Jared?”

“Only what I already said – it doesn’t make any sense…”

Old Comments


I hate it when you do that to me, Rob! At the risk of repeating myself, where's the rest?!

Posted by: Peg at April 18, 2004 03:21 PM

On its way, Peg, on its way... ;-)

Posted by: IMAGinES at April 18, 2004 03:35 PM

So's Christmas, boyo! Oh, hey, wait a sec. It's coming your winter, innit? Cold, nasty weather that prevents you from gadding about all night... There is hope, then.

Posted by: Peg at April 19, 2004 08:23 AM

Indeed there is, Peg. :-D

Seriously, though, I want to knock this part up into something readable over the next few evenings while Vickie's at work. I've also got another fragment in the works, one that should eventually become the beginning of the climax. I think I'll have the fragment ready for posting by the time this first chapter is fully completed.

Posted by: IMAGinES at April 20, 2004 04:33 PM

April 16, 2004

Shrinking the Archives

Two more tweaks to the site today. As some of the Category archives - Breaking News especially - have got pretty large through showing complete posts, I've changed the code so that it shows a forty-word excerpt only. This should make the pages load more quickly.

I've also modified the calendar in the Monthly archives so that when you click on a day that has entries, it'll take you to that day on the archive page rather than to the last entry's individual page. I'm thinking about changing the Monthly archives so that they only show excerpts as well - for consistency's sake if none other - but they do look fine the way they are, as there are usually only moderate postings in a month.

Let's See What The Shouting's About...

The local Electronics Boutique stores are shifting some of their old stock in a 2 for $50 deal. Most of the heavy bargains have probably been snapped up by now, but you might still find something for the PC, PS2, GameCube or Xbox you've had your eye on for a while now going cheap.

As for me, I thought Brook would like one of The Sims' expansion packs. I checked with her, and she doesn't have Superstar yet, so I snagged that - and after humming and hawing over Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell (Xbox), Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 (Xbox) andd Freedom Fighters (PC), I decided to investigate the cause of all the controversy lately and picked up Grand Theft Auto III for the PC. Yes, I know there's a double-pack of GTA3 and Vice City out for the Xbox, but I got one game for $25 instead of both for $100, and I can always wait for the price to come down on Vice City - assuming I like GTA3 enough. (Heck, I'm already starting to wonder whether I should've scooped Freedom Fighters instead.)

I'll probably post my impressions in a week or so.

April 15, 2004

Major Site Reorganisation

Well, I finally did it; in one sitting, I've re-worked both my web log and the static site. The larger articles, including all the short stories and most of the RPG stuff, have gone back over to the static pages - which have been re-named from Side-Projects to Showcase - and I've re-jigged the web log categories so they make more sense when applied to the journal-type entries rather than the full articles. Breaking News, formerly News & Musings, still takes the lion's share of the posts with just over a hundred and twenty by itself. The category page needs around thirty seconds to fully load!

I'm a little more comfy with how things are right now.

In related news, I'm trying to set up a wiki on the herstik.com webspace for the Lexicon idea I mentioned in the previous posting, but am having some trouble getting it to work properly. I've e-mailed Marcus about it, and hopefully he can figure out what's not working and why without too much trouble.

I wonder whether he's getting annoyed with my loading all these weird little apps up to the server...

April 14, 2004

History's Written By The Winners

A while ago, I was an active member of the online fora, Robinson's Place and Jake's Bar. Since then, they've been rather neglected. Vickie and Peg have been trying to inject some new life into them for a while, and I figured it was about time I pulled my weight and added a suggestion of my own.

I've already made mention of The Toothpaste Disaster, the Lexicon game run by Allen Varney to drum up interest in/material for the upcoming new edition of Paranoia. I'd like to do something similar for the members of those boards - set up a Lexicon game as a way of kick-starting activity on the forums and getting us all writing with each other again.

I think the Lexicon idea is well suited to these fora; the membership consists mainly of SF / fantasy fans and (generally) amateur writers, and the collaborative nature of the Lexicon - not only do the players create entries in an encyclopaedia detailing a period of fictional history, they have to reference each other's entries in doing so - would allow for a great deal of interaction and literary play.

It's not gone beyond the proposal stage on either board, but I thought I'd get the word out; not only are some of the members on the IMAGinewS list, but we always welcome more members! Why not come on board as part of this fun activity?

April 11, 2004

50 First Dates

Henry Roth (Adam Sandler) has a life any bachelor would kill for. He’s a veterinarian for a Hawai’ian aquatic park, and is refurbishing a boat for a trip to Alaska; in the meantime, he’s romancing gorgeous tourist women, then ditching them when they get clingy.

Things suddenly change when Henry's boat breaks down off the coast; taking his dinghy into shore to call the coast guard, he meets Lucy Whitmore (Drew Barrymore) at a local café and is immediately smitten, departing with a promise to see her at the same place the next day. But when Henry returns, Lucy acts as though she’s never seen him before. She lost all short-term memory retention a year ago in a car accident, and her family and friends, including the café staff, conspire every day to make sure she’s happy, even if that means pretending it’s the same day over and over again.

Lucy’s protective father (Blake Clark) and brother (Sean Astin) warn Henry to stay out of Lucy's life or else, but he just can’t go back to who he was before, and must come up with ever-crazier schemes just to spend a few minutes in Lucy's company each day…

Now, I know what you’re thinking. The plot I’ve outlined above sounds like a neat fit for the down-and-dirty slapstick of Happy Gilmore, and while it’s lighter and friendlier than that film, the first half-hour of 50 First Dates doesn’t give much more. Sandler seems true-to-form, with acting that’s at turns wooden and hammy; the supporting cast deliver the usual selection of cheesy one-liners (especially Rob Schneider, who delivers the majority of the obligatory sex jokes, and Luisa Strus' gender-ambiguous Alexa); there's at least one major gross-out; Lucy’s condition looks like a Groundhog Day-type excuse for god-knows-how-many jokes on the first date riff.

But trust me, stay in your seat, no matter how much you’re tempted to get up and leave; after about the first third of the film, the repetitive gags and “Ouch!” jokes stopped, and I was being treated to a heartfelt, well-performed (yes, even by Sandler) story of first love in the face of a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. The chemistry seen between Sandler and Barrymore in The Wedding Singer remains and deepens in this film. While trying to give much away, if you’ve seen these sorts of movies before, you’re expecting the cheap deus ex machina at the end, but 50 First Dates manages the considerable feat of delivering a solid and satisfying pay-off without resorting to a miracle.

On a more general note, it’s great seeing some familiar faces, each playing solid parts well, including Dan Aykroyd’s jocular clinical psychiatrist and Sean Astin making sure we don’t just remember him as “Sam from Lord of the Rings”, playing Julie’s muscle-obsessed brother with hilarious charm. Even Rob Schneider plays outside of his “whiny wimp” type under long hair, mo’ and dodgy eye as the lascivious Ula (I didn’t even realise Schneider was in the film until the credits rolled). The movie also breaks half of the "never work with children or animals" rule, with a penguin and walrus giving wonderfully cutesy performances.

Go and see 50 First Dates at the cinema. It’s worth the price of a ticket, especially if you like romantic films and can stand a dash of gutter humour; if you'd prefer not to risk it though, I wholeheartedly recommend it as a new-release rental.

The Quick Tour of Sydney

Morning all! How's your Easter Long Weekend been so far? Got your Easter eggs yet?

We're having a bit of a relax before we head off to Taronga Zoo. It looks like it's going to be a nice day out; the forecast is for sun, so it should be very pleasant.

There's still talk of late showers during the week, but it looks like it might clear up by Wednesday - I hope so, as we're going to have to get to the show next Thursday. Turns out Thursday's the last day, not Friday as we thought. Vickie and I are going to have to try and re-jig our work schedules - I doubt I'll have much trouble, but Vickie has to switch shifts with someone.

The trip to the city was nice yesterday; Brook wasn't particularly interested in the landmarks a great deal, and did a little nit-picking (the Harbour Bridge is an ugly grey, it should be painted white; the Opera House is too dirty on the inside of the shell, and the brown window-tinting is ugly, not to mention the restaurant's interior decor and green carpet). We spent a fair bit of time at the Rocks Markets and the bead-shop in the Metcalfe Arcade, then took in lunch at the Swagman's Post and wandered over to Darling Harbour via the Opera House and the Monorail. On the way, we learned something that could've made Brook's visit easier had someone thought to tell us beforehand - she likes museums. Sydney is literally packed with museums, and we could've taken Brook to half of them instead of sitting in and waiting for the rain to pass, but we didn't know! We even tried to call Brook's mum and ask her what Brook liked to do, but she'd changed phone numbers and - guess what - hadn't told us. So we couldn't reach her before Brook arrived.

Oh, well. At least we know for next time. (And next time we might actually have some money to spend on trips and outings.)

After that, it was a quick trip on the tram from Darling Harbour to Central - flat-panel TVs have been put in the trams now, a move I'm not particularly fond of; the additional aural interference isn't exactly pleasant if you're just trying to enjoy the ride - and then back home to get ready for the Cazman's party at his place. It was nice seeing him and Linda again, and we got to catch up with EvilHayama and Pirotess, which is always nice. As Brook and I had attacked the leftover pizza from Friday night, we ate sparingly (Brook actually didn't have anything).

Brook and I did go and see 50 First Dates on Friday, and there's definitely a review coming, but let me tell you two things right now: (a) it's not your typical Adam Sandler movie - I think it outdoes even The Wedding Singer, although personally, that's not too hard an ask - and (b) I'm taking Vickie to see it as soon as I can. Yep, I enjoyed it that much.

April 09, 2004

Brook's Visit, Week 1

I'd like to start this post with the obligatory linkage. You've probably seen one of those "All I Ever Need To Know, I Learned From..." lists at one point or another. Allen Varney, game designer and main contact point for the development of Paranoia XP, has one of his own, "All I Ever Need To Know, I Learned From Roleplaying Games". Yes, Gav, I'm fully aware of John Kovalic's one; I find Allen's a little more poignant and broadly appealing.

It's been almost a week since Brook arrived, and we've already had to cancel a couple of our plans for her, as I mentioned in Sunday's post. I've switched my day of annual leave to the coming Friday; with any luck, the weather should be fine for a trip to the Easter Show then.

In the meantime, Brook's spent the majority of her time here watching evening soapies, Popstars (she's voting for Don) and our DVDs; not exactly the Sydney holiday experience we were hoping to give her, but Brook doesn't seem to mind. Although Brook's quite intelligent, she has the tastes of the fifteen-year-old girl she is, so it's safe to say she wouldn't be particularly interested in a game session - heck, she reckons all computer and video games are boring, even The Sims (so between the weather and Brook, around eighty percent of our ideas for entertaining Brook while Vickie was out at work have been scotched). She's not too fond of SF either, but will watch it if nothing else is avaiable.

Vickie's working a day-shift today, so after dropping her off at work, Brook and I are going to catch 50 First Dates. I'll confess, I'm not the world's biggest Adam Sandler fan; Happy Gilmore was only intermittently funny (not helped by watching it with someone who'd already seen it and kept saying Sandler's good lines a second before Sandler) and Billy Madison, Big Daddy and The Waterboy haven't even made my "Might Rent" list. However, The Wedding Singer was quite enjoyable, and (a) it looks as though Sandler's not playing a thug or a dumb-arse and (b) Drew Barrymore's back as well, so it might be fun. I'll be sure to write a review up.

Tomorrow, we're making another trip into the city, after which we have a friend's birthday party in the evening. On Sunday we're taking Brook to Taronga Zoo (she immediately chose it over going to Manly; she hates the beach). I have the feeling Brook might find it a little underwhelming compared to Melbourne, but it should be a good day out anyway.

Gotta go; Brook's just put Alien in the DVD player! Woohoo!

April 07, 2004

The Beat Goes Ever On And On

After a hiatus of at least eight months, the Steely Dan tribute band known as the Bodacious Cowboys (after a lyric from the song "Gaucho") are once again playing the Basement on the fifteenth of May. Needless to say, Vickie and I have tickets for dinner and show, and as I get paid the day before, I might even be able to splash out on a good bottle of vino.

On a general news front, I'd like to direct you all to SimLauren's new LiveJournal, Simulated, where she's already committed excessive acts of postage. All I can say is this: "Hi Loz! Fun, innit?" :-D

Making a smooth segue to gaming, Dream Pod 9 have announced their Book and Miniature Release Schedule for the year. I think I've finally discoverd a must-buy Third Edition product: what they call the "Storyline/Black Talon Companion", due Winter (our Summer) 2004. Only seven or eight months to wait...

While you're there, I must direct you to this lovely image of a painted Vortex-class Landcarrier miniature. Is that not cool? I want one...

And finally, to bookend this posting with references to the header (the Bodacious Cowboys used to be known as The Beat Goes On, while they were still doing a combined Dan and Toto tribute), I'm sure there are some of you out there who will be pleased to learn that I finally finished J. R. R. Tolkien's mammoth work, The Lord of the Rings, today. Yes, I liked it. While I don't think I could do a Christopher Lee and slog my way through it once a year, I have to read through it again a few times at least. And, frankly, reading it takes little away from the movies - in fact, I appreciate the differences in format better now than before. Worth reading? Yes. Would I recommend it? You betcha.

April 06, 2004

Mo' Linkage and a Campaign Idea

It looks as though my commenting over on The 20' By 20' Room hasn't gone unnoticed - if you check out the Blogs By Gamers link list down the left hand side, you'll see IMAGinES there!

While you're there, might I direct you to their newest posting? It's about starting a campaign off with a one-shot mission. The idea is, you hand out pre-generated, disposable characters and run what amonts to a prequel session, ideally setting up events to be used in the actual campaign. It gives everyone a chance to get used to the world and the system (especially its level of lethality), and as none of the characters aren't going to be around for the actual campaign (well, not as PCs, anyway), there's little angst if they get killed off during the session. In fact, the idea is that by the end of the one-shot session, every PC should be dead, preferably horribly.

I think it's something that could work well for Black Talon, even though the campaign has already started. I'll expand the thought in the GM & Player Notes section of the BT website.

April 04, 2004

Yet Another Redevelopment Binge

We picked Brook up from the Central coach terminus yesterday; the bus was running late, so we nipped off for a coffee and some food, and when we got back, Brook had arrived and had been waiting for five minutes!

We were planning to take her into the city today, but the rain that moved in on us overnight pretty much put paid to that. It�s also largely scotched our plan to go into the Show tomorrow (although I hold out hope that it�ll somehow fine up, the weather forecast says showers), so instead I�ll be going into work; I�ll see if I can get that day of annual leave moved to Friday the 16th. At least I�ll be paid by then, so we can have a good day out with Brook.

I�ve been thinking of re-jigging the site again. If there�s one thing that bothers me, it�s that the News & Musings section is huge � the category page takes full minutes to load � while everything else seems minimal. That's been bothering me for a while. The Editorials, FAQ, Reviews and About IMAGinES sections would still work as part ofthe blog, but I�m getting the feeling that the Short Stories and the full article content of the RPG Stuff section should really be shifted back to my BigPond webspace. They just don�t get updated that often to warrant them being part of the blog, and when they are updated, it�s with developed material that takes longer to write than the average blog post.

Once that�s done, I can split the News & Musings section out into more valid blogging categories: RPG Stuff could be the container for the RPG news/linkage posts and meanderings on our current campaigns that I put up; News and Musings could be broken into two separate categories, keeping News for the day-to-day updates on what�s happened and what�s going to happen and using Musings for the small ruminations that aren�t big or developed enough to be full-fledged Editorials; and I coudl even add a category for posts like this, containing thoughts on the blog itself and various plans to redevelop it.

The good bit is, I have fairly recent versions of the old IMAGinES site with most of the older content on backup discs; restoring them and adding the newer items, like those optional rules I did for Dan Bayn�s Wushu Guide to The Matrix, shouldn�t take much time.

April 03, 2004

Atomic Batteries to Power, Turbines to Speed.

Check it out.

Me, I'm ambivalent. I mean, it looks sort of cool... and yet a little too ugly, if you know what I mean. The Aliens APC was ugly, but cool. This... I think it's that front end. It's hard to see, of course, but - for my taste, I think the front end needs a little more covering. I don't like those exposed wheels; it looks like someone took the nose of an F1 racer and bolted it on. Just doesn't look quite right. Heck, those levered plates on the back could almost be a mutated rear airfoil from an F1, too.

UPDATE: The back end doesn't help either. You'd think the Batmobile, being a street vehicle, ought to move fast and handle well. Not with those four huge tyres, it won't. And come now, does the studio think it needs to establish its hip retro cred by tacking the jet exhaust on in a nod to the TV series? It looked appropriate on the Michael Keaton "Stingray/Salt Flats Racer" Batmobile, but it just looks extraneous on this brick.

Actually, you know where this design ought to be seen? In a movie based on Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash. Seriously - you folks who've read the novel, isn't this damned close to how Stephenson described the Deliverator's car, massive tyres and all?

April 01, 2004

Group Paranoia In Amber

Few new things on the roleplaying front:

  • I'm tempted to say it's yet another RPG Resurrection, except it's more a revitalisation; the game's never really gone out of print, it's just sort of faded into obscurity a bit. I'm pretty sure there are a few Amberites on this list, and after reading the positive comments that the posters over in The 20' by 20' Room kept making about the Amber Diceless RPG (based on Roger Zelazny's Nine Princes in Amber novels), I was tempted to get a copy myself. However, publisher Phage Press (owned by the RPG's author, Erick Wujcik) is planning to transfer its Amber Diceless publishing operations to Guardians of Order, home of the Tri-Stat system, the Big Eyes, Small Mouth RPG and Silver Age Sentinels. GoO prez Mark MacKinnon plans a second edition and has mooted various options, including D20 support alongside the original diceless rules (which are a firm lock for the 2nd edition).
  • Back to the actual resurrection: Things are bubbling along on the Paranoia XP front. Developer Allen Varney has started off an interesting little correspondence roleplay project called "The Toothpaste Disaster" as a way of generating content, garnering interest in the line and scouting for new writing talent. It follows Neel Krishnaswami's Lexicon format, which I'd be tempted to emulate if not for what appear to be steep technical requirements (i.e. implementing a PHP application on your webspace). Several High Programmers (played by various luminaries and not-so-luminaries of the online gaming world) have gathered to compile a report on the Toothpaste Disaster, which rocked each of their respective sectors; they're only just finishing up the As and Bs, but what they have so far is hilariously skewed, especially if you have any familiarity with Paranoia.
  • Finally, Gav's plot plans encompassed some potentially strong character moments for Trent's PC, and with Trent unavailable, Gav suggested taking a raincheck on Friday night's Star Wars session. With Brook arriving the day after, Vickie and I have leapt on the suggestion as an opportunity to take a post-work breather before all hell breaks loose. This gives me a little more time to ponder Gav's campaign questions; it's an interesting taste-of-my-own-medicine experience, as I've been nagging my Black Talon players for suggestions and plot ideas for ages. The least I can do is give Gav a considered reply...

Isn't It Always The Way?

Here I was, planning to put an April Fool's gag up on the IMAGinES site, only to discover that Marcus' server was down. I e-mailed Marcus, but in the hope of getting the site back up so I could post something before the traditional midday deadline for pranks I tried to call him also. Unfortunately, his mobile was off and no one answered his home phone. (Sheesh, Marcus, what sort of personal secretary is Nell if she doesn't keep regular office hours?) And wouldn't you know it: when I checked at quarter past twelve, the site's back up.

Oh, well. There's always next year.

Speaking of the site, I've been doing a little looking around at solutions to the comment-spam problem Vickie and I have been having lately. I must confess, I've not been looking too hard, as Six Apart are working on options for Movable Type Version 3.0 (no mention of a final release date, but they're about to release a beta test version) and I'd prefer nto to put a third-part applet in that ends up conflicting with the new version.

Six Apart's main thrust is TypeKey, a universal blog-comment sign-in hosted on one of their servers. It reads interestingly, and I reckon I'll include support when it rolls out, but I'd also like legitimate commenters to be able to add their thoughts without having to go to another site and step through the "your user-ID is already taken, please enter a different one or select one of the options below" process we're all familiar with whenever we go somewhere new that has cool stuff on the other side of a login text box. You know what a pain in the clacker that can be, right?

(An aside: Someone once told me that, to some, "clacker" meant a woman's front-bottom rather than the meaning I thought it had, i.e. the gender-neutral rear-bottom. So ladies, please don't be offended - well, no more than you would if I were making a colloquial reference to the anus. Which I was.)

This merits some serious study (anti-comment-spam devices, not anuses), but I have a lot of rented DVDs to watch before they go back on Saturday, and Brook's going to keep us both hopping for the next couple of weeks (oh, yeah, and the guys are going to be charging over for Star Wars Episode II - ahem, I mean Sesssion 2, tomorrow night), so you can expect an update on this hot issue sometime near the end of the month - and a bit more comment-spam in the meantime.