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July 29, 2008


I must admit, I've not been following the buzz from this year's Comic Con. I usually don't, not being much of a comic reader. The odd bit of cross-media promotion grabs my attention now and again, but by and large, Comic Cons pass me by.

But it's one of those cross-media promotions that grabbed my attention by the short-and-curlys this morning as I read the latest Sci-Fi Weekly news summary. At the end of a Disney panel promoting the next Dwayne Johnson film, Race to Witch Mountain, Disney came out with a "surprise presentation" - which turned out to be no less than a three minute test reel for the sequel to one of my favourite movies.

That's right: after years of speculation and months of rumours, Disney has just announced, in spectacular fashion, that it's working on Tron 2 - or, as the trailer would have it, TR2N. I watched a very dodgy bootleg of the video, complete with light cycles, refashioned identity discs and no less than Jeff Bridges himself.

It's rumoured to hit in 2011. I cannot wait.

July 20, 2008

We totally had sex.

Be warned. Act III of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is live.

I tell you what - The Dark Knight last night, now this. Ooof.

July 17, 2008

She called him sweet, how is he sweet? ... Right. Freeze Ray.

It's a brand new day, and Act II of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is presented for your enjoyment!

July 16, 2008

The Day needs my Saving expertise...

Act I of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is up.

Go and watch.

July 04, 2008

The Host and Red Seas Under Red Skies

The first of my book reviews to appear on the Cairns.com.au website! The Verdict: Does without SF’s usual toys and doesn’t need them – a gripping, heart-wrenching read.

Actually, sorry, it's the second: the first is here! The Verdict: Less pacy but more characterful than the first (book in the sequence); a great sophomore work for (Scott) Lynch.

Bringing the Silly in D&D

I’ve been trying to find a post on Steve Darlington’s LiveJournal for the past ten minutes (this is one of the reasons why I don’t blog on LiveJournal; there’s no way to search someone’s archive). Some time ago, maybe a year, maybe three, he was posting about a D&D campaign he was in. He wrote something along the lines of the inherent silliness of the setting, and how he couldn’t help imagining cavalry charges straight up castle walls whenever he read the spiderwalk potion description.

In the meantime, I found a more recent post where he relates his reactions to D&D 4th Edition, which is just as relevant. Oh, sorry: The reason I’ve been ransacking Steve’s LJ is because I’ve been listening to the podcasted Actual Play recordings of Tycho and Gabe of Penny Arcade and Scott Kurtz of PvP playing Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition with Wizards of the Coast’s GMs. The recordings are pretty damn fun. All three of the players are witty, creative guys – which, as they’re behind two of the most popular webcomics out there, is no real surprise – and they attack the concepts of the session and the results of their rolls with gusto. Probably the most hilarious moments come from Mike Krahulik, who has never played a tabletop RPG before, and his character Jim Darkmagic, to whom he always refers in the third person – “Jim thinks you guys are pretty fuckin’ lucky to have Jim”, “Jim casts Jim’s Magic Missile”, “Jim goes to the bathroom and deals 5 damage.” It seems like an example of the kind of silly that Steve was advocating.

This is the kind of fun I reckon I want out of a D&D game. Leave the characterisation, plot and drama for games with rules that explicitly support them; give me a character, a dungeon, some dice and some people witty enough to see the absurd in every encounter, creative enough to come up with something more than a Monty Python reference and willing to simultaneously respect the rules and not take the game seriously. I like me a bit of tactical crunch and juggling, but I like levity too, and it seems these guys have found the magic balance point between the two extremes.

Still, that balance requires a bunch of guys as intelligent and witty and as Tycho, Gabe and Scott, as it’s not one that the D&D rules support or encourage – I’ll grant you that the text might, but the actual rules in action, as far as I can see, encourage only tactical thinking in response to tactical challenges. I'm of the opinion that without people with the wit and willingness to create and maintain that fine balance of tactical oomph and witty improv, D&D play would otherwise degenerate into dry discussions of abilities, feats and powers interspersed with dull moments of "I roll then you roll" (neither of which are infrequent in those podcasts).

Maybe I ought to just stick with InSpectres. Heck, I’m sure a podcast featuring the Penny Arcade/PvP guys playing InSpectres would be comedy gold.

July 01, 2008

Joss is the Boss

In case you didn't already know - and I didn't, I only just found out about this today via the SCIFI Channel - Joss Whedon (yes, him) is experimenting a little with alternate modes of broadcasting after the writer's strike. His effort, starring Neil Patrick Harris (yes, him) and Nathan Fillion (yes, him too), will be webcast for but a few days from July 15th to 19th.

It's called Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.

Support it. Or know the taste of DOOOOOOOMAH!