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July 04, 2011

Triple-A Triage and My First Geekly Analysis

My work as Punch On Australia's resident Geek on Three Bucks a Week continues with two new artciles:


  • Geekly Analysis: June 23rd – 29th, 2011, where I break down the second full week of three-dollar geekery in terms of what I got up to, what I could afford and what I actually spent.

  • Triple_A Triage, an article on the hard decisions havign a budget can necessitate with specific regard to the mroe expensive end of the video game spectrum.

Please head over, read and comment!

June 29, 2011

Geek on Three Bucks A Week: Introduction

I've already tweeted and posted about this on Facebook, but I've only just re-gaiend access to the blog, so here's the oficial home base update: The first of what I intend to be a regular column on living geek in the days of global financial crisis has gone live on the website of gaming community Punch On Australia. Please head along and read!

June 26, 2011

How Music Can Make Or Break A Sale

The idea of a jingle – a short sequence of notes intended to catch the attention of a prospective buyer – has been around for ages. It's an advertising cliché. Yet I, who prided myself in basing my ultimate game purchasing decisions on review scores, was stunned to discover recently just how much of my purchase and subsequent enjoyment of a game has been due to its music.

The very first game I distinctly remember selling me, at least in part, with its music was that classic of early nineties PC gaming, Wing Commander. The non-playable demo I got off a floppy disc back in 1990 was more like a movie trailer, with shots of space fighters duking it out to the best soundtrack a SoundBlaster could crank out back then. But as simple as it may seem now, I still remember three pieces of music that really got me going: The scramble music where your player ran to his fighter craft after the mission briefing, the post-landing tune where the tech surveys your bullet-ridden ship and says, “Glad to see you made it back alive, sir.” and, of course, the Wing Commander fanfare.

Continue reading "How Music Can Make Or Break A Sale" »

June 13, 2011

Geeking on a Budget

Here's a modified column proposal I just posted in the Punch On Australia forums in response to a call for a new column:

Look in any paper or read a newsfeed nowadays and you'll easily come across articles about how times are only getting tougher. Electricity's going up thirty percent. The RBA is playing jack-in-a-box with interest rates. Carbon taxes. Disaster levies. The Coles / Woolies supermarket monopoly. All these things conspire to bite into our budget for our little luxuries.

Continue reading "Geeking on a Budget" »

May 15, 2011

Picking Yourself

On one of my podcast subscriptions, someone said recently, “Stop waiting for someone else to pick you. Pick yourself.” That dug up a memory from the late nineties, when Mum, Dad and I visited my second cousin Phil and his wife Michelle in Sydney's inner suburbs (started with an E, can't remember what it was now, they've moved a few times since anyway). I distinctly remember having a negative reaction to something Phil said about making yourself marketable.

If you'd asked me to try an explain it at the time I'd probably have put it in terms of making yourself a commodity being a bad thing, but looking back I know that the main reason I felt so strongly against the concept of marketing myself was simply because I didn't believe Robert Farquhar was or could be anything worth marketing.

Here in 2011, I've finally built up enough perspective and confidence to realise that Rob Farquhar does indeed have something to offer, something that I could build a business around.

Continue reading "Picking Yourself" »

May 07, 2011

Accepting the Situation and Dealing With It: Finances

In my last post, I mentioned a pair of simmering issues that came to the boil last week. The first was the trouble I'd been having whilst writing my first draft of Slamdance. The second is finances.

We've been doing pretty good over the past few years; we've got a great house which we've recently re-clad thanks to moving our loan to a new bank and while we're not keeping up with the Joneses, we're certainly not lacking in the mod cons department.

Still, one of the various “gunnas” in my life – you know, those things you always say you're gunna get 'round to some time – is getting to understand and control our finances. Vickie decided a while back that as she'd been handling finances for most of her life she wanted to hand it all off now that she's retired, a sentiment I can certainly understand.

Continue reading "Accepting the Situation and Dealing With It: Finances" »

March 02, 2011

That's Some Mighty Big Talk, Son

You may have noticed that I didn't do another one of those resolution posts back in January. I'll admit this freely: It was mainly because, at the time, I was lazy. But having said that, I can't help but feel like it wasn't a bad thing.

I've got a bit leery of talking big about what I'm going to do. It's really easy to do, especially when I don't know what I'm really capable of or have a firm grasp of everything I'm committing myself to.

Continue reading "That's Some Mighty Big Talk, Son" »

February 20, 2011

Angry Robot Open Submission Month: March '11

Earlier today I spotted a tweet that Angry Robot Books, a print and ebook publisher based in the UK, are opening their virtual doors to novel submissions for the entire month of March. Technically, this is old news - Mur Lafferty blogged about it back in December - but I only just found out about it.

Now, you all know how I've been talking big about making it as a writer. This looks like one heck of an opportunity. Should I take a shot at it?

Continue reading "Angry Robot Open Submission Month: March '11" »

January 11, 2011

Making Choices and Following Through: Tron: Legacy vs Avatar

It probably comes as no surprise that I've seen Tron: Legacy at least twice by now. Although I don't remember it, I'm positive Mum and Dad took me to see the original Tron at the cinemas when I was a wee nipper, and I maintain that it was one of the root causes of my obsession with science fiction.

I've also been browsing the fan forum Tron-Sector.com lately, especially with fans talking about the new film. Earlier today, I found a link to an article that asks why Tron: Legacy has such a mediocre critical response when 2009’s 3D SF darling Avatar has such a positive following amongst critics?

I posted the following:

Continue reading "Making Choices and Following Through: Tron: Legacy vs Avatar" »

August 17, 2010

Spicing Up The Weekly Review

A couple of years back, I bought a copy of organising guru David Allen's seminal work, Getting Things Done (or How To Get Things Done, the name it's published under in Oz). It was recommended in Lifehacker, a book I picked up in the library about using everyday, garden-variety tech to get your life under control. The contributors to the Lifehacker website also make frequent mention of the strategies Allen espouses in the book.

Now, I like to think of this little tome as a Single Player Roleplaying Game where the game is Life, and I've had about as much success with it as I've had with tabletop RPGs over the last few years. The goal of Getting Things Done is that mental state in which, to quote the book, “I absolutely know right now everything I'm not doing but could be doing if I decided to.” This to me is a very worthy goal, and I feel like I'm partway there; I've got a diary system and lists for my action items in place, but I come unstuck on maintenance and projects, big and small.

Continue reading "Spicing Up The Weekly Review " »

August 02, 2010

Free Effin' Time

Have you ever said this about someone, or heard someone say it about someone (possibly you)?

"That (guy/girl) has to much free fuckin' time on (his/her) hands."

I'm sure you have.

So let me ask you this: Is not the aim, the end point, if you will, of the advancement of technology / civilised society / culture, etc. the state wherein everyone has nothing but free fuckin' time on their hands?

If such is the case, why is this state, the very goal of civilisation, looked down on so?

And if not, then what is the point?

(This is why I wanna play and/or run me some FreeMarket sometime.)

July 18, 2010

I Just Want My PC To Work

A little while ago, I wrote about how I'd chucked my Grand Idea of starting my own business doing PC support, and I'm ever more convinced that I made the right decision.

At the moment, I've got a Windows XP / Linux Mint dual-boot set-up. By default my PC starts up under Linux Mint, and it's pretty good. It does the basics well; I surf the web, I organise my e-mail and I write.

But there are certain things I still can't do under Mint:

Continue reading "I Just Want My PC To Work" »

May 06, 2010

New Halo Within Reach

My latest gaming article for The Cairns Post was published today in both the timeOUT lift-out (page 14) and on the cairns.com.au website. It's about the public beta test of the multiplayer component of the upcoming Xbox 360 game, Halo: Reach.

I'll have to find out which Cairns gaming stores are doing the inevitable midnight launch...

May 03, 2010

Shifting Dead Trees and Culling Dead Plans

I might whinge and bitch about hard work sometimes, but it's great for clearing my head.

It's the Labour Day Long Weekend here in Queensland. Vickie and I had some undefined plans, including Iron Man 2 and the local Blues Festival which a friend had given us tickets to. But when my stepson Karl showed up on our doorstep on Saturday afternoon with chainsaw in hand, we seized the opportunity to tend to our yard, neglected and overgrown with all the rain of late. (Remember how I mentioned that the rain had finally gone in my last big posting? Spoke too bloody soon.)

Continue reading "Shifting Dead Trees and Culling Dead Plans" »

April 24, 2010

Stuff This Collecting Malarkey

As you've probably gathered by now, I'm looking forward to the release of Bungie's last game in the Halo franchise for the foreseeable future, Halo: Reach, sometime in Spring of this year. I'm even taking a day off work on May 4th to join the Reach multiplayer beta test (thanks to my purchase of Halo 3: ODST). I'd like to cite some high-handed ideal of helping the game be the best it can, but I mostly want to play the damn thing as soon as possible.

I've been a little apprehensive about the inevitable collector's editions of the game, though. Collector's editions have become quite a rage nowadays. In times gone by, special editions were only made after the game had already sold well (and got good press, hence the frequent dubbing of these editions “Game of the Year Edition”). This tended to frustrate me, though; the Game of the Year Editions I was interested in were of games I already owned, and even when I had more disposable income than I have now I couldn't see the point in buying the whole damned game all over again just for the extra knick-knacks.

Continue reading "Stuff This Collecting Malarkey" »

April 08, 2010

Interview: God of War III Developers

A couple of weeks ago, the Entertainment Editor at work forwards me an e-mail from a PR company in Sydney. Two developers from Sony Santa Monica, the studio that produced the entire smash-hit God of War series for the Playstations 2, 3 and Portable, were in Australia promoting the just-released God of War III and available for a phone interview.

Would I be interested in handling it, my editor asked?

Continue reading "Interview: God of War III Developers" »

April 03, 2010

Pet Peeves

  • Rain, rein and reign.
  • Aid and aide.
  • Sight, site and cite.

And it ain't just the Internet; this stuff is cropping up in print too.

Come on, English writers! How 'bout a little more care and attention?

March 09, 2010

New Networks Keep LAN Alive in Cairns

That's the title of my second op-ed piece in The Cairns Post's Tuesday Digital Life section. There's a first here, though; Angelo "DJ A.N.G" Saliba is my first ever interview subject!

And as the article mentions it, I'd be remiss if I didn't link to CairnsLAN.com, the forum through which Angelo hopes to organise the re-ignition of Far North Queensland's LAN party scene.

Download and have a read!

The Cairns Post 6 Mar 10, Page 13

January 06, 2010

Culling My Gamer Presences

A couple of days ago, I shut my Xbox 360's blog over on 360voice down. The only purpose it was serving was to pat me on the back for playing regularly; I'm sure there are times in the past where I've fired up my Xbox just to make sure the “Happy Xbox” badge stayed on my profile. Although I'd set the site to track a few other folks' blogs, I wasn't really reading them.

Now I'm starting to look at all the other gaming services I'm signed up on and trying to figure out whether they really serve my purposes. Aside from my Xbox Live and Steam sign-ons, I have profiles on Raptr and Xfire (services that track gaming activity and provide instant messaging clients), the Xbox World, Xecutive Order and Dawn of War 2 Community forums, the Gamespot review website and the BigPond GameArena, a review / online game retail site.

Continue reading "Culling My Gamer Presences" »

January 04, 2010

Conquering 2010

I'd like to open this article by expressing my great regret that the Smiggin Holes campaign for the 2010 Winter Olympics venue was unsuccessful. Curse you, you Canucks...

Now that's out of the way, I think the best way to open this post on the New Year is by noting that the ladies at the office have talked about this year, 2010, as a Year of Change. I'm not sure whether this reflects a stirring in the zeitgeist or just some astrology-inspired gossip, but either way I'd like to be down with the idea, and not just in some cheap “hey, everything changes anyway, so if I go with the flow I'll be a new man by the end of the year” fashion.

Continue reading "Conquering 2010" »

Taking 2009 As A Whole

After highlighting some of the more noteworthy blog posts from 2009, I want to try and get some kind of overall perspective. When looking back, it's always easier to remember the past in terms of dramas and regrets. 2009 was by no means an easy year. There were a couple of issues that I didn't get around to blogging about. They related to our car and pets and both hit us hard in the hip-pocket; as money issues do, they put a crimp on the rest of the year. It was also a tense time politically; we're still feeling the effects of some drama that ensued within the LNP shortly after we joined.

Nonetheless, 2009 was a good year in several respects. For starters, I think Vickie and I got out and about more than we have in prior years. The Ever After book club and the LNP were both big contributors to this, as we got to make a whole bunch of new friends through both.

Continue reading "Taking 2009 As A Whole" »

January 03, 2010

2009: A Year In Blogging

As the New Year Long Weekend draws to a close, I figured I'd take a look at my posts on this web log and Facebook over the past twelve months; celebrate the good and reflect on the bad in order to get me on some sort of course for 2010.

Of course, getting Facebook to spit out your old posts for a twelve-month period is an exercise in tedium, so instead I'm going to stick with the IMAGinES web log. This is going to be a combination of "best-of" links and general commentary.

To paraphrase Bartholomew J. Simpson, let me start from the start and then take it away. The first post of the year is a nice piece of contrast:

I was just reading Wil Wheaton's web log and he's gone and done one of those retrospective thingies wherein he highlights some of his posts from last year. I was struck with two things: One, the thought of doing something retrospective-y and resolution-y for my own log, and two, how coherent thought-destroyingly hot and humid it is in Cairns today.

So bugger it.

Continue reading "2009: A Year In Blogging" »

No Prep Month

I managed to do something that I think I've not done before when I have a game session coming up, especially when I game. After dragging it around with me nearly everywhere for a few weeks, I took my FreeMarket beta rulebook out of my bag a little under a month ago and put it up on my gaming shelf. And it's stayed there since; in fact, I'm only thinking about taking it down now so I can give ti a fresh read-over prior to Saturday's game.

Continue reading "No Prep Month" »

December 15, 2009

The Gift of Kindness

I don’t doubt that you’re stressing about Christmas presents as much as we are at the moment. We have local family to buy for; kids and grandkids in Melbourne and on the Gold Coast; parents, aunts and uncles in Sydney and overseas. Plus, there’s the annual avalanche of cards.

While still on my FreeMarket kick, I went and re-read the Guide to Gifting that Jared and Luke wrote for the game. You know what? I found myself wishing that folks worked this way normally. Christmas might be the season to be jolly, but accusations of crass commercialism aside (to me, they seem to miss the point) it’s also the season of emotional blackmail.

Continue reading "The Gift of Kindness" »

December 04, 2009

A Side Note on Taking Characters Out

Since my early days in the hobby, I've always wondered what a roleplaying game where eliminating a player's character sheet wasn't a possibility would be like. See, while most RPGs claim to be avenues for telling stories and freeing your imagination, their rules are often still quite tied to the hobby's wargaming roots, devoted to the challenge of "kill the other guy before he kills you" - possibly because games about action and combat are easier to grasp (and sell to young boys) than games about, well, stories. Naturally, suboptimal tactical decisions aren't good, which is a pain if you want to play out an interesting, compelling character; optimal dramatic decisions, ones that feed into more interesting story, are often suboptimal tactical decisions.

A perfect example can be found in the Dungeons & Dragons podcast of October the 9th, 2009. As an aside, I'd just like to recommend this particular series of D&D podcasts, which feature Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins of the Penny Arcade webcomic, Scott Kurtz of the PVP web comic and Wil Wheaton (yes, Stand By Me and Star Trek: The Next Generation Wil Wheaton) play D&D 4th Edition with one of Wizards of the Coast's staff dungeon masters. They are hilarious, truly. If you don't have iTunes or another client for downloading and managing podcasts, you can always listen to them on the D&D site.

Continue reading "A Side Note on Taking Characters Out" »

November 26, 2009

Modern Warfare 2 Midnight Launch

Here's an article that didn't make it into this Tuesday's The Cairns Post. The editor decided to do a non-gaming article last week to space things out, which meant this article would have ran over two weeks after the event.

Hype, multi-million-dollar budgets and massive sales: All common elements of blockbuster movies and major video games. But there’s another parallel: The midnight launch, an event targeted at an existing fan base that will go out of their way to see/play the object of their devotion as soon as possible.

Retail chain EB Games organised midnight launches of the hotly anticipated action game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 across its Cairns branches on Monday, November the 9th. I decided to check out the one that promised to be the largest, at the Cairns Central store.

Continue reading "Modern Warfare 2 Midnight Launch" »

November 23, 2009

Notes on Session One of Dungeons & Dragons at Simon's

I've been meaning to mention that a couple of weeks ago, I did the first roleplay gaming that I've done in, sheesh, it must be around a year and a half. Simon was the gamemaster – well, actually, dungeon master, which should tell you fellow gamers out there that the game in question was Dungeons & Dragons, specifically 4th Edition. Although I've owned the Player's Handbook for about a year now, this was the first time I'd ever actually played a game.

I like it. After the first encounter, when there was talk of stopping, I spoke up for pressing on to the next encounter. In hindsight that was a mistake, as my fellow players – Simon and Cristel's four kids – can usually only handle a single encounter before getting bored. Simon's talking about setting up an adult gamers' group sometime in the future, although I reckon that'll be after Christmas. And I'd gladly be a part of it (hopefully I can drag Vickie along once she's recovered from her operation).

Continue reading "Notes on Session One of Dungeons & Dragons at Simon's" »

November 10, 2009

Local Gaming Editorial Content

Ladies and gentlemen, I am officially a published columnist. Click on the link below to feast your eyes on my article on what I like to call "got your back gaming"!

The Cairns Post, November 10th, 2009, Page 15

(Adobe Reader required.)

November 01, 2009

Surf And/Or Die

Earlier tonight I watched the lead story on this evening's edition of Channel 7's Sunday Night programme. An American named Jeb Corliss is planning to become the world's first person to land a wing-suit BASE jump without a parachute, a goal with very high odds of fatal failure. This man has been a BASE jumper for years, so he at least has some experience in the matter.

It was seeing this grown man who seems quite rational and understanding of the situation he's in yet still certain of what he's done with his life and what he wants to do with it that made a few ideas that have been rattling loose in my head since Vickie and I talked about Jessica Watson, the sixteen-year-old Australian attempting to set the new world record for youngest person to circumnavigate the world solo via boat, fall into place.

Continue reading "Surf And/Or Die" »

October 31, 2009

There Are The Little Things Money Can't Buy

Copy of Getting Things Done by David Allen: $35.00.
Corporate portfolio with three-ring binder: $60.00.
Filofax with refills: $40.00
Using an A5 diary with a bunch of 5in x 8in index cards I had lying around and a pair of rubber bnads to get my whole life organised? Priceless.

Okay, the copy of Getting Things Done was definitely worth it, but still.

October 11, 2009

A Week of Leave for the Week of Leave

Back in the early part of the year, I had a brainwave: Queue up some holiday time around the major Vickie-and-I dates in the year (my birthday, our anniversary and Vickie’s birthday). I managed to swing a full week for each of our birthdays and a few days for our anniversary. As the beginning of October rolled around, I was looking forward to a nice week of fairly-relaxed Vickie time, including taking her to see Mao’s Last Dancer at the movies.

If you’re one of our Facebook friends and you’ve been checking our profiles recently, you’ll have noticed that not long after joining the Liberal National Party, we both wound up with executive positions on the Mulgrave State Electoral Council. At that meeting, we volunteered our house as the venue for a meet-and-greet with a Federal Senator during her visit to Cairns; that was scheduled for yesterday.

Continue reading "A Week of Leave for the Week of Leave" »

October 03, 2009

Thought of the Day: 3 October 2009

Is it fair to say that I pre-ordered Halo 3: ODST at EB Games because I'm the kind of person who likes to play with his Johnson?

April 25, 2009

A Bit Over Gaming

A couple of weeks ago, I signed up for the chance to be involved in the closed multiplayer beta test of Blood Bowl, a computer game based on the Games Workshop board game of the same name (if you've heard of the Warhammer or Warhammer 40,000 franchises, Games Workshop is responsible for those). Mid-last week, I was notified by e-mail that I was in, so I downloaded the beta game and started playing on Friday night.

Now, as being a beta tester imposes certain legal obligations, I can't really talk about the specifics of the game; it's a beta release, so it's not expected to work perfectly, and any images mightn't reflect the final product. Still, what I have to say isn't a criticism of Blood Bowl – from what I've seen, it does a great job recreating the tabletop game – but is more a point about “gaming” in general, using Blood Bowl as an illustration.

Continue reading "A Bit Over Gaming" »

March 07, 2009

Notes from the Wilds of the Internet

I just deleted a spam comment out of my queue, the first two words of which were, I kid you not, “blender porn”.

Just goes to show there's something on the Internet for everyone...

February 27, 2009

Taking it Day by Day

Now things are starting to cool down here in the tropics, I'm working on getting myself moving on a few projects. The trick in the past has been putting some work in on the things I want to do consistently; most of the time, I'll do something for a few days, then leave it for a couple, which turns into a week, then a month, then a year.

In the last few months, I've been reading a couple of texts on getting myself organised. The first one, Getting Things Done by David Allen, has a neat five-part system for getting all the things I have and/or want to do in some kind of order so that they can be provessed, but it's no good having a system if you don't put it to consistent use.

Continue reading "Taking it Day by Day" »

January 26, 2009

He's Not A Pirate, He's A Very Naughty Boy

A little while ago, I read that in an effort to combat the huge volume of dodgy-quality clips of their shows and movies being uploaded to YouTube, the lads of Monty Python decided to upload high-quality clips of the selfsame material from their archives, along with a request to viewers that they actually buy some Python on DVD.

Which brings me to today, when I spotted a recently posted article on Slashdot about a massive increase in sales of Python DVDs as a result of their YouTube efforts. The article confessed to being anecdotal, so I thought I'd head over to the official Monty Python website to see whether they were saying anything about it. They weren't, but instead they'd linked to an article written by an editor of the myteevee.com website right there on the front page (true, I had to scroll down a little, but still), chronicling an apparent “16,280% increase in DVD sales” as of November 20, 2008.

Continue reading "He's Not A Pirate, He's A Very Naughty Boy" »

January 01, 2009

Happy New Year 2009!

Hi everyone! Welcome to 2009! To those of you who stayed up: Did you have a good night/morning? To those who didn't: Did you get some quality sleep? And to those of you who are still up: Matress... Pillows...

Continue reading "Happy New Year 2009!" »

November 30, 2008

Roads Need Rails

With Cairns steadily growing in population there's a lot of talk about how to make sure everyone has the capability to get where they need to go in town. Cairns needs something serious done about public transport. I've been griping since moving up here about the woeful state of the bus timetable; if I want to get to work on time, I have to get a quarter to seven bus which gets me into town at twenty past; the next bus, which leaves at quarter to eight, doesn't get into town until a quarter to nine.

A month or so ago, we received a pamphlet in the mail detailing a Cairns Regional Council plan to revitalise public transport by instituting a bus network scheme. While any improvement is worthwhile, there's one thing that really bothers me – the Council's reliance on the roads for public transit.

Continue reading "Roads Need Rails" »

September 26, 2008

What Am I Really Looking For?

Maybe it’s a sign of maturity creeping up on me after thirty-one years, but I think I’m finally starting to realise what I’ve really been looking for in my various extra-curricular endeavours. I’ve been trying out various things in the last few years; getting back into RPGs, joining the local branch of the Lions Club, playing games over Xbox Live, participating in the Cairns Youth Mentoring Scheme and Cairns Community Radio. Of the five of those there’s only one I’m doing with any regularity or long-term consistency, and that’s the radio show. I’ve stopped playing RPGs, I’m taking a break from mentoring and have just recently stepped down to Casual status in the PMS|H2O Clan, dropping out of two competitive teams in the process.

So what is radio giving me that Halo 3, mentoring, Lions Club and RPGs haven’t?

Continue reading "What Am I Really Looking For?" »

August 30, 2008

RPG Spring Cleaning

We’re doing some spring-cleaning here this weekend, and I decided it was long past time I made some more room on my shelves. To the local second-hand bookstore went my Dungeons & Dragons v3.5 core rulebooks and the Eberron Campaign Setting, Star Wars Revised Core Rulebook, the Serenity RPG, my Amazing Engine core and supplements, HERO System 5th Edition and the Sidekick supplement, Systems Failure, The Shadow of Yesterday and Nine Worlds. Into the recycling bin have gone Traveller: The New Era, Brilliant Lances (the T:NE starship combat strategy game), Car Wars Deluxe Edition and Shatterzone, as well as reams of character sheets, system summaries, campaign notes and printed PDF rulebooks, stuff I’ll never need to use again and, in all honesty, probably never actually put to any practical use in a game in the first place.

Am I giving up on the RPG hobby? No; I still have almost a shelf full of RPG product, including the D&D 4th Edition Player’s Handbook. Also, John Wick’s latest game, Houses of the Blooded, will be on its way to me as soon as John sorts out some unfortunate shipping issues. But if you’re a regular reader of this web log you’ve probably noticed the sense of gnawing dissatisfaction in my posts about gaming as far back as the Black Talon campaign, especially those games that I’m GMing.

Continue reading "RPG Spring Cleaning" »

August 25, 2008

MLG Toronto: Following the Coverage

Back in April, I posted about how I’d followed a link from the Bungie website and discovered a televised professional video gaming league in the states. I’ve been following the Halo 3 part of the Major League Gaming 2008 Pro Circuit on and off since; I’ve come to know the names of commentators Sundance diGiovanni and Chris Puckett, and I always look forward to the next ESPN/MLG Top 10 (one mistake I made in the last post; MLG isn’t a division of ESPN, it’s a company on it’s own which has a broadcast contract with ESPN). Scarier still, I now know the name Stride Gum about as well as I do that of Powdermilk Biscuits.

I came in at the tail end of the Meadowlands Championship, catching up via the website's online rebroadcasts of the event. Two more events were conducted, one in San Diego in June and another in Orlando in July. A few hours ago, though, the fourth Pro Circuit stop in Toronto came to an end. For the first time I found myself not only following the Halo 3 tournament (there were also Gears of War and Rainbow Six Vegas 2 tourneys) closely across the weekend (when my bloody connection would allow me to load the MLG website and, if I was lucky, stream video) but also barracking for a couple of teams.

Continue reading "MLG Toronto: Following the Coverage" »

June 19, 2008

My Three Blogs

Since I got involved with the PMS Clan, I’ve been thinking about my web presence again; I’ve started getting a bit more active in various places and before Vickie hides my PC’s power cord because I’m spending too much time with it, I’d like to put some thought around my various web-presences and organise my various efforts.

So what are these web presences?


  • The very blog you're reading now. I call this web log my notepad and idea-journal, so it’s home to my thinkings, rants and the rare bout of fiction.

  • The Grin With Legs, my MySpace. I originally intended it as my “social calendar” blog, but after indoor soccer finished I pretty much left it alone. When I started courting the local divisions of the PMS / H2O Clan, I discovered that the clans and their members had MySpaces, so I started sending Friend requests, andmy blogging over there.

  • The PMS / H2O Clan blog. When the PMS Clan implemented its site redesign this week, one of the new features they added was member blogs, and I’d like to set one up for myself.

Continue reading "My Three Blogs" »

April 06, 2008

Vickie's Response to Spam, #1

" 'Do what millions of other men are doing today!' What, wanking?"

January 16, 2008

Goal-Setting and Planning: 4,000 Gamerscore

Around this time of year, people start thinking about things like resolutions and such. Like most, I have some trouble fulfilling my resolutions, so my first and main resolution for this year is to improve my skill at goal-setting. This has been a problem for me ever since the last year of primary school, especially when it came to assignments. I’d get told to make this big thing in this amount of time, and I got so intimidated that I just shut it out of my mind until it was too late. I need to get good at recognising how to break this huge thing into discrete, easy-to-accomplish chunks and then processing those chunks while still managing my overall progress.

There are a few goals I want to set myself to; paying off the mortgage, determining my ideal job, take Vickie on a trip to Cambodia, play more RPGs, etc. Those sorts of goals, though, are large, long term and / or require someone else to make an opportunity available (not the Vickie to Cambodia one, the job one). I want to get some practice at goal setting with something familiar (so I know whether the goal I’m setting for myself is achievable), something easy to measure, something that requires no additional investment beyond time and effort.

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December 21, 2007

Reflections on 2007

As the year slowly draws to a close, I find myself in the mood for a little more navel-gazing. Today, I skimmed the posts I made during 2007 and made some notes on the trends I noticed, and I’d like to do a “state of the me” by summarising them and seeing what I can learn.

I’ll start the trend that was probably the most obvious to the most people: Transformers Mania. A good half of this year was spent in anticipation of the release of this film, and while it was good fun, I think I cost myself the opportunity to enjoy a good few other things in my life by spending time on the Intarwebs looking for pictures and nuggets of news. I knew I was probably spoiling the movie for myself, but I just – I dunno. It just felt good somehow. Now, I don’t think there’ll be a next time; I’m not hunting down rumours about Iron Man (or even the TF sequel) like I did with Transformers. But if it does happen, I’ll recognise it, take a deep breath and recognise the plenty around me.

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October 11, 2007

Living Between Games

Quite frankly, when I think over most of my teenage and adult years, it’s fair to say that I didn’t have much in the way of personal confidence. This might surprise you if you’re one of the folks who’s known me for a long while. I used to carry a lot of nicknames like, “Smiley”, “The Grin With Legs” and “Yoshi”, after the creature in the Mario games that was always happy (a lass at the post office in North Sydney named me that). The odd thing is, although I smiled a lot, I wasn’t ever really happy, especially not with myself. I think I was trying to convince everyone else I was just fine, mainly because, like pretty much everything else, I was doing it because it was what people expected of me – and, as such, I was almost always depressed. I mean, remember how I always used to insist on being called “Robert”? How could someone as easy-going as a Smiley be that uptight?

During that time, I think the one thing I most wanted was to organise and run an ongoing RPG campaign. It was the one idea that dominated my waking time (well, that and sex, I suppose). Vickie once said, maybe a year after we met, that I got into roleplaying games, and perhaps the game master’s role in particular, because the offered me a sense of control that was otherwise very fleeting. She was right on the money. Again, if you played in a game I was running, especially Black Talon or that Primetime Adventures Skype game I tried to set up, you knew how panic-prone I was about the campaign concept, my players’ ideas for characters, how I’d have GM’s Block about the next session, how it was all crap and not going to work. Some of it was because I don’t really think I had an idea of the sort of fun I wanted out of RPGs, but some of it was definitely that need for control asserting itself. Maybe the two problems were really one and the same?

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August 21, 2007

Appointments, Expectations and Apologies

I tried to get a bunch of people over my place at one PM last Saturday in the hope of running a roleplaying game session for them. Of my invitees, three people said they could make it. Knowing how hard it is to get gamers organised, I double-checked closer to time and discovered that one had forgotten about a favour she promised her parents, which meant she could only come after three, another couldn’t get out of work any earlier than five and the third had children’s birthday parties, locking his whole day out. On the actual day, the friend who was helping her folks wound up with a nasty illness and had forgotten all about coming over, so she didn’t call to let us know. Needless to say, no gaming happened that weekend.

Yesterday, I was at work, and the morning had turned into a rolling panic. Amid the flurry of booking slips and having my counterpart tied up organising invitations to a major event, I did a co-worker what seemed a simple favour that ended up in me splitting the seam of my trousers right along the seat. I had to hustle down to the nearest Lowes, a few blocks away, with my jacket tied about my waist (it was still a little drafty) and buy myself some replacements. I got back to work a little after half past eleven and got stuck back into keeping up, figuring I’d have no time for lunch.

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August 11, 2007

If It's Good Enough For Will...

CLAIMER: In this post, I am a cussed bastard who elevates personal taste to objective truth. Keep that in mind when you feel your hackles raising or your gorge rising while reading.

You know, I was never much interested in going to see 300. Mainly it was because Sin City, when I finally saw it, didn't really do it for me. It's pretty much like Pulp Fiction was for me back in the mid-nineties; all the cool kids were talking about it and how brilliant it was, but when I finally got around to seeing it - well, I just couldn't see why such a big fuss was being made. I mean, it was sort of interesting, sure, and I liked the chopping-and-changing narrative, but when I saw all the bits everyone dubbed hilarious and/or shining examples of Quentin Tarantino's cinematic genius, I just went "Er... huh?"

Same with Sin City. The only Frank Miller work I know I've read is The Dark Knight Returns, which is pretty damned good, and I like Robert Rodriguez' Mariachi trilogy. But after seeing the film, I know know I'm pretty uninterested in reading any of the Sin City books. I didn't mind the camera style so much, but most of the rest of it was just so damned OTT that I didn't really enjoy it. Bruce's voice over was devoid of emotion, I wished Dwight would quit harping on about his valkyrie, and although the women were gorgeous I figured it'd be nice if some of them stopped sneering and left their clothes on (come to think of it, one did: Jessica Alba). I liked Mickey Rourke as Marv, but that was about it. (No, From Dusk 'Til Dawn didn't really do it for me either.)

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July 15, 2007

On Trust

A little late night musing for you all, something that's been knocking around in my head for a little while. I find myself in the mood to write it out and see how it reads.

The world is big. It's a fact argued by few, but it took a while for the full implications to really settle for me. See, the world is everything, the weather, the landscape, the trees, the air, the plants, the houses, the traffic lights, the trains, the cars, the planes, the people. Everything. And each individual "thing" in the world (a plane, a tree, a person, a mountain, whatever) can be both subdivided into smaller things and also be seen as part of a larger thing. Basically, everything is part of everything else, even though it mightn't seem that way when you just use your eyes to look at the world and see the empty spaces in between everything.

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Navel-Gazing

The holiday is almost over. Seven hours ago, I dropped Jacqui and Kate, Vickie's eldest daughter and her grand-daughter, off at Cairns Airport for their flight back to Melbourne after spending the week here (we just had a phone call; they're home safe). Forty hours ago I went to bed after a party at our place. In a couple of hours I'll be off to bed and getting up at six tomorrow morning to prepare for work.

And I'm thirty. I've officially been on this Earth for thirty years.

It's odd. On one hand, being thirty doesn't mean much - although I'm a second closer to the septannual (is that a valid word?) rotation of the atoms that comprise my body, I'm still pretty much the same person that I was at ten to midnight on July the tenth. The centre of my being hasn't undergone some radical shift. My self identity is still composed of all the usual bits and pieces; I'm still in love with Vickie, I'm still an SF nut, I'm still more nervous than I'd prefer to be, I'd still like to pay in or run a tabletop roleplaying game sometime and I still have a slightly unhealthy fixation on Transformers.

Yet on the other hand, I find myself reaching for cliched terms like milestone. I mean, I'm thirty. Three zero. There's something there, not mid-life-crisis wise (someone shoot me if I ever get that bad), but something that invites a pause for reflection. I've lived through 262,800 hours. The actions I've taken and the things that have happened to me during those hours have made me the person sitting at this computer right now, and all that time needs some sort of, I don't know, processing so that the decisions I'll keep on making will lead to me being more sane, more able to take the world as it is without panic.

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June 17, 2007

Well, Who Could Blame Her?

It's been an anticipatory couple of weeks, I have to say. Not only are we a couple of weeks away from the opening of Transformers, but not long ago, Channel Ten started running ads for the BBC TV series Torchwood, the spin-off series of Doctor Who (something of a surprise, as the source series is screening on the ABC). Brook seemed interested in Torchwood - most likely because of its strapping leading man, Captain Jack Harkness, played by John Barrowman - so I decided to bring her up to speed by introducing her to Season 1 of the new Doctor Who. On Friday night, I showed her the first couple of episodes, which she said were "weird", and I'd planned to skip ahead to "Dalek", but we were interrupted by the arrival of some of Brook's friends, and she wandered out with them for the rest of the evening.

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May 29, 2007

Wiki Down; Gaming Down

I popped into my Wiki today, fearing that it had become a haven for Wikispam in my absence, only to discover that it seems to have broken down. Every page is giving me an SQL database error message.

I’m not sure if I’ll ask Marcus whether he can fix it up. I think today was the first time in a good couple of months that I’d gone anywhere near it. Also, it’s not really being used as I hoped it would; the various campaigns mooted in the last six months have all tripped at the gate and I lost interest in the last Lexicon game I tried to organise, many moons ago. In that regard, I think I’ll just take it down to make room for more blog posts. (I still have to do some fix-ups on Vickie’s blog…)

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May 22, 2007

What Are The Transformers? Who Is Optimus Prime?

UPDATE 24 May 07 8:30AM: If you're on a low-bandwidth connection and / or are sick of Yahoo's craphouse "Standard" version, the Transformers movie website now has a Flash version of the trailer. Revel in it! Revel, I say!

You may have seen Tycho’s recommendation to bask in the wonderment that is the newest trailer for the upcoming Transformers film. Me, I didn’t even need the encouragement; I was already there last week, waiting for twenty minutes for the 720p version to stream down via Quicktime. I wouldn’t have bothered, save that Yahoo’s “Standard Version” is a heap. But I tell you, that hi-def glory at 1280 x 1024 on a 19” screen is worth every second of the wait.

I mind me another trailer that got me going a couple of years ago. I will confess that Transformers inspires a different sort of anticipation than Superman Returns did, though; I know that Transformers is going to be less a character study and more a straight-up SF action film, and I’m happy with that; as I’ve written previously, as long as it gets the action right, I won’t mind if it has about as much plot as Independence Day or The Rock.

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April 20, 2007

Exchanging Addictions

You know, I noticed that roleplaying games seem to be dominating my waking thoughts much less than they used to. I think my last post related to RPGs was, what, mid-March? Strange, only a month, but it seems a long time ago.

As Vickie recently observed, I tended to filter everything social through an RPG filter. If I were organising a get-together, it would be oriented around the local gamers, and although I liked them, it was our common interest in the hobby that I was organising the meet-up around. I’ve been turning that around recently; David dropped over last night for a good chat with Vickie and I (and, I’ll confess, I showed the 360 off), and tonight we’re off to a mentoring scheme get-together and a dinner with some friends whom I met through work. There’re still quite a few folks we haven’t seen in a while and would like to get together with, and some of them are gamers, but the shared interest is only part of why we want to keep in touch (and no longer the dominant part for me, either). Given half a chance, I’d still love to run a Burning Empires campaign, but I don’t, you know, need to. "Successful Gamer" isn't really tied into my self image any more.

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April 16, 2007

Gamerscore Is The New EverCrack

I just realised yesterday how clever Microsoft were when they introduced the Gamerscore to their Xbox Live profiles. It’s a neat little mechanism of addiction. If you’ve ever played in any game where you have an improvable ranking, you’ll likely know what I mean. The trick is, the Gamerscore is tied directly into each Xbox 360 game you play. Every game has a list of achievements that you can work toward, and each one you achieve bumps your Gamerscore up by ten-point increments. Nail down a particularly tricky achievement and you can find your Gamerscore has suddenly bumped up by thirty points!

The Gamerscore not only encourages you to play a given game, but it also rewards you for replaying it. Gears of War, for example, gives an achievement for completing each act in the campaign (I think there are somewhere between six and eight acts in total) on each level of difficulty, plus an achievement once you’ve completed the whole game on a given difficulty level. With three difficulty levels, this means that you could quite conceivably play the whole campaign through three times. On top of that, there are various achievements for feats, like five perfect reloads in a row, and high scores in multiplayer games.

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March 18, 2007

Axe The Gaming; Let's Just Hang Out

Vickie pointed something very interesting out to me earlier on. Every time I try and orginse a meeting with the folks whom I've met through a common interest in the roleplaying game hobby, it's always gotta be about the hobby. It's either one of the gaming get-togethers or an actual game session. And you know what? Once again, she's right. Outside of birthday parties I've not once organised a "let's hang out" get-together for any of my gaming friends.

The only reason I can come up with that fits with how I've been acting and my mindset at those times is because I've simply been fixated on gaming. The thought of just hanging out with these people hadn't really crossed my mind. It's odd, because I've been readng a lot lately about how the best gaming comes from gaming with friends and roleplaying as a typical, socially integrated practice and agreeing with what I'm reading, but somehow I've avoided comparing the content of those articles to my personal approach to the hobby. I'm trying too damn hard to get a game going; I'm so invested in my self-identity as a gamer that my lack of actual, you know, gaming is driving me up the wall!

The best thing to do about that, I think, is to set it aside for a while and do something else social. As such, I've cancelled my plan to get some fellow gamers together this coming Saturday and hash out campaign concepts for Heavy Gear. Instead, I'm going to try and get as many friends, including gaming friends, as I can over our place on the afternoon/evening of Saturday, March 24th for a barbecue. If interesting, involving discussion happens, fantastic; if it happens to involve the RPG hobby, gravy, but no big deal if it doesn't.

I'd just like to end this post by acknowledging something I don't realise enough - the amount of work Vickie does in helping me stay sane and stable. It's not easy, especially as I tend to over-react and clam up whenever I get criticised, no metter how constructively. But she keeps at it, and occasionally, she gets results! :-)

March 08, 2007

Priorities and Scheduling

Now that I’m past yesterday’s minor bout of depression, let me have a look at what’s on my plate at the moment and how I want to organise it:

  • First and foremost, as always, is Vickie. Our recent lack of readies means we’ve not been getting out much. This weekend we’re turning that around by going out to see Wild Hogs, as I mentioned. I don’t want that trip to be a flash in the pan, though, and after going over our income and budget again, we’ll be able to afford to go out more often. We have some friends who we’ve not seen in a little while, so it’s about time we made some phone calls.

My other priorities are, in no particular order:

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December 30, 2006

Resolutions for 2007

Okay, utterly blowing past the obligatory Christmas post which I didn't write anyway, it's resolution time! Before we start on 2007's resolutions, let's just take a look back at the ones I set for 2006, shall we? Nope, didn't learn to cook. PERL and server maintenance? Excuse me while I overcome a fit of hysterical laughter. Finding and/or making more Cairns gamers I actually managed to pull off, although most of the ones I met last year had just moved into town. Xbox Live, yeah, but didn't use it that much and let the subscription die in favour of buying Christmas presents for, you know, other people. In fact, any spending money on game-related product didn't go anywhere near as planned; none of the games listed in that post I actually bought. System Link Xbox games? Nup.

Well, as my main New Year's Resolution is to clear as much credit card debt as I can, I have the feeling I won't be buying any new gaming product (outside of Dawn of War: Dark Crusade, which will come out of the Christmas money from Dad that doesn't go on four new tyres). But I do still have some gaming-specific resolutions:

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November 27, 2006

A Little Too Real for Reality TV?

In a matter of three days, two "reality TV" contests draw to a close. Last night, the final of the fourth (for some odd reason, I thought it was the fifth) series of Australian Idol drew to a close, with Irishman Damien Leith pipping Territory lass Jessica Mauboy for the crown. This has been the first season where I've been interested enough in the talent to watch through since the Top Twelve was finalised (although I did miss an episode or two). The contestants were good all round, with, perhaps, the exception of Lisa Mitchell; I just couldn't quite hear what Mark, Marcia and Kyle heard when she sang. She had the kind of voice that would probably go over well with the alternative crowd who'd like Kasey Chambers if she weren't so country, but to my ear, she just jarred. On the other hand, I was sorry to see Bobby leave - <bitchiness>at least, before Lisa, anyway.</bitchiness>

My take on the winner? Frankly, I thought both of them deserved the nod, and I was definitely not unhappy to see Damien get the vote.

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November 19, 2006

This Whole Creative Agenda Business

WARNING: This article is still a work in progress. The writing isn't quite as plain-English as I'd prefer, and I think I need some feedback before I can get it there.

If the RPGnet Forums are any represenation of the hobby of roleplaying games, any body of theory that attempts to examine or address the activity of roleplaying is almost always savaged by people who believe that, because they don't understand it, it mustn't be of any utility to anyone with a brain. One of the most oft-attacked targets is a body of theory known as the Big Model, suggested by a gamer named Ron Edwards and hashed out on the RPG forum he manages, The Forge. Now, while I might agree that the model and the way it's presented have their weaknesses, I do believe that a) the model as a whole is sound and b) has helped identify what I want out of the hobby. I chalk the fact that my recent gaming hasn't been consistently successful up to a combination of conflicting schedules and my gaming skills being rusty.

The least understood, and most attacked, part of the model is the part known as "creative agenda", or more commonly, "GNS", the abbreviation of the three creative agendas the model posits - arguments over the utility of GNS have cemented a long-standing animosity between many denizens of RPGnet and The Forge. I read a recent thread over on RPGnet, where a poster attempted to explain her understanding of GNS, and while I had the feeling that she grasped the more readily-evident concepts, there was something fundamental to the three creative agendas that she'd missed - and that the main essays themselves hadn't explained to my satisfaction. That fundamental thing is: What the heck is a creative agenda anyway, and what makes them different to the other agendas or goals others suggest?

Here's my attempt to answer that question. I considered posting it on RPGnet, but thought better of it and put it up here instead. It's probably not complete or as thorough as I'd like, but I believe it's serviceable enough.

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November 12, 2006

More (or Less?) Con Thinking

Well, after getting all ambitious and posting about organising a non-RPGA con in Cairns, I've had a longer brew on the idea and the various points and suggestions made by helpful respondees - thank you, Leefe, Sim, Steve, and Tracey, by the way. I knew that a convention would involve a significant investment of time and money, and the respondees helped clarify what those investments would entail. While there's nothing wrong with the idea in principle, Vickie and I can't really afford to make those investments at the moment (said moment probably lasting for the next twelve to eighteen months). Due to our helping some people out we're in quite a bit of debt right now; one of our New Year's Resolutions is to clear it all by the end of 2007. Also, the practical matter of planning and organising a convention is simply too impractical right now.

However, there's something I'd still like to do, and that's organise and establish a regular gamers' get-together. It's an idea I've had for a year or so now, and after the rough success of the Courthouse meetup in October I think organising a monthly sit-down lunch is going to do more for the Cairns gaming community - or at least, for my getting to know the Cairns gaming community - okay, fine, for the odds of me putting a campaign together - than a roughshod convention.

So, I'm going to start e-mailing people sometime in early December to drum up some interest in another get-together for January or early February, and if that one pans out okay as well, I think we'll be able to make it a regular event.

November 05, 2006

ConStruction Blueprints

In my last post, I listed why I believe the fact that ReefCon is the only fixture in an otherwise fluid Cairns RPG scene presents problems for said scene. It's easy, though, to criticise an endeavour when you've never made or are unwilling to make a similar endeavour yourself. Which means that niggle I mentioned in the last post often takes the form of a little voice in my head which says, "Why not organise your own RPG convention?"

And I'm starting to seriously think about it.

Now I know I'd be going into it utterly blind. I also know that there's at least one subscriber to IMAGinewS who's been part of the organising team behind a con or two, which means I'll probably be pestering those people for advice. I'll especially need help with venue organisation and liability insurance.

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My Whinge: ReefCon, The Cairns RPG Fulcrum

Something that’s been niggling at me for a while bloomed into a full-fledged bother after the October gamers’ get-together. It was due to a comment that Bruce made; I can’t quote it verbatim, but the gist of it was that while there’s a lot of turnover in the membership of the Cairns RPG scene, ReefCon remains the one dependable fixture. On one had, that’s cool; there’s at least one event per year where gamers new to town have a chance to meet fellow gamers.

On the other hand, that presents two distinct problems.

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September 15, 2006

Setting Info and Playing Without Playing

Okay, folks, I've been naughty; I just spent some cash on Yet Another RPG. This one's Burning Empires, written by Luke Crane and using his Burning Wheel system. It's based on the Iron Empires comics by Christopher Moeller, known for his Star Wars comic book cover art and illustrations for Magic: The Gathering cards. A few years ago, Moeller was in discussions with Avalanche Press to do an RPG and setting guide for Iron Empires; it was even mentioned at the back of one of the Iron Empires issues. That didn't work out, allowing Crane, a fan of the comics, to pitch his own system to Moller. Several months of blood, sweat and tears later, Crane and Co. at Burning Wheel HQ put out an amazing product.

One of RPGnet's members was recently reading an old Iron Empires issue, read the note about the then-forthcoming Avalanche Press effort and started a thread asking for more info. A respondent wrote:

As much as I like BE, I wish there was a metric ton more setting info.

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August 16, 2006

Holding up a Mirror to Nerdicultural Society

So I was watching Scrubs at 11.30 on Monday evening (yes, I get Mondayitis on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays). When I first saw bits of the show, I really didn't think I'd like it - it looked as though it was more of that "Trying Hard to be as Surreal as Monty Python and Failing" comedy that those American-type peoples produce now and again. Then I caught a little of it one day after an episode of Boston Legal - and found myself liking it (I think it was something to do with JD imagining a black Leprechaun). It's zany - but in that silly, not-willing-to-grow-up way I wish life could be like now and again - or, more accurately, it's as silly as I'd like to get away with being.

Oh, and Dr. Perry Cox is House's evil twin brother. Vickie and I love him.

Anyway, last episode, Carla's pregnant, and her husband Turk and his best friend JD are working on the nursery, including mural for the main wall. Carla walks in and asks what the hell they're doing. They turn with big grins and present the wall:

Megatron must be stopped at any cost!
With thanks to TFormers.com

I broke up immediately. It wasn't that it was a kids' nursery wall with Optimus Prime and Megatron - okay, maybe it was, but it was also the sheer nerditude of JD and Turk. I mean, I know these guys, these theoretically adult people who just can't let go. They're me. I was laughing at myself. And I'm pretty sure Vickie was laughing at me though them too, but that was cool!

I'm also pretty sure she's glad that kids are out of the question for us.

Still, young Seth has a room of his own...

May 23, 2006

Clouds and Sun

Last Thursday evening, Vickie and I went to a wine and cheese night organised by a friend at work. We had dinner at the Courthouse, and I went to put my briefcase and her shopping bags in the car, which I'd left in the Casino car park as usual.

On my way back out of the Casino, I was looking nervously at the clouds coming in from offshore - heck, the whole sky was pretty much overcast. I'd forgotten to put the big umbrella in the car, so we were stuck with the smaller handbag-size umbrella Vickie had beought with her into town.

Then - I don't know exactly what it was, surely a combination of things - the clouds diffusing the half-light of evening, the wind lightly stirring the palms, the not warm but not cool either night air, the lights coming on around town - I found myself feeling good, and even the slowly commencing rain couldn't dampen the sensation. Now, I count my blessings for being able to live in Cairns on a fairly regular basis, but looking about me that Thursday night as I walked along the Esplanade, I really felt as though I was really here in the tropics, that I'd hit the jackpot.

This morning, I too advantage of morning tea to nip out of the office and get a quick trim at the nearby barber shop. Walking back after my haircut, I found myself minding that Thursday evening. I took another look about me; granted, I was a block-and-a-half away from the Esplanade, but in the bright, warm morning light, I found myself thinking with a mental shrug, "yeah, Cairns."

Isn't it odd that I need an evening with impending rain to really appreciate this place?

March 08, 2006

Indicator of an Unhealthy Fixation

Hmm.

Well, after I put that thread up over on the Forge's Actual Play forum about last Saturday's Dogs in the Vineyard session with Simon and Cristel, I received a lot of reads, but no responses. So I asked whether anyone could contribute some constructive criticism?

Ask and ye shall receive; a Forgite by the name of Belinda K. politely pointed a few things out about my postings that I hadn't seen when I wrote them.

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February 24, 2006

Ya Gotta Keep 'Em In Their Place...

From: Farquhar, Rob
Sent: Friday, 24 February 2006 10:54 AM
To: Ad Reps, Driving Guys, Features Bunch, Writer-y Peoples
Cc: The Boss
Subject: Morning Tea

Okay, you horrible lot, I've been getting some whingeing lately about how you're getting bored with just sausage rolls every Friday and that you want some - what was the word again? - variety, that's it. Of course, if I try to accomodate you whingers, I'm going to get whingeing from those of you who never, ever, bloody ever want anything else but sausage rolls, aren't I?

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January 28, 2006

Too Busy Being Dead To Vote

Of course, the one main downside to the Service Guarnatees Citizenship model in Starship Troopers is that it can create a minority of voters, and as there's no guarantee that you'll actually survive your service, especially if you're in the armed forces, the potential minority shrinks even further. Not only that, the uncertainty of battle may well mean that the people best fit to wield the vote or hold office after they complete their service may well wind up dead on the battlefield.

Elitism? Snobbery? Arrogance? Even more possibility for corruption as Those Who've Proved Their Worth ignore Those Who Haven't? (I imagine a ruling culture of ex-servicemen may differ significantly from the culture within the services.)

I'd hope not, and Heinlein seemed to think that the nature of the service itself plus the Easy Way Out would be more likely to promote patterns of behaviour that would run counter to those tendencies, even after the term of service is completed and citizenship is awarded.

Again, I suppose it's just one of things we won't know for sure until a nation tries it.

Old Men's Problems

I read a line somewhere recently about how war is just young men fighting for old men's problems. While it's easy to get incensed and argue whether Hitler was an "old men's problem" (or an old man himself), it's not hard to be cynical in light of recent, flimsy-seeming and ultimately erroneous justifications for armed conflict.

Part of me is also cynical enough to believe that as long as one human being reckons he or she deserves something more than the other human being who has that thing, you're going to wind up with wars (which usually happen when you replace "he or she deserves" with "his or her people deserve"), and young people, being on average more physically capable than old people, are going to fight and die in them.

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President Halves Pay

Okay, so it's the newly-elected President of Bolivia, one of the smaller South American nations, but boy, do I hope it sets a precedent: Evo Morales made an election promise that he would halve his pay cheque upon election, and when he was elected (as the first indigenous President of Bolivia) - he kept his promise.

(The interesting bit is, it's apparently Bolivian law that no public sector official can be paid more highly than the President, so now that he's taken his pay cut the rest of the government and branches of the public service will have their salaries reviewed.)

I've been reading about this President Evo Morales recently, and there seems to be a lot of hope surrounding him - if there's anywhere in the Americas with nowhere to go but up, it may well be Bolivia. He is a Socialist, for what that's worth, but as long as he is a humanist as well, I think Bolivia will be okay. He's also doing his darnedest to cast himself as a man of the people, even wearing llama-wool sweaters on the job.

Continue reading "President Halves Pay" »

December 22, 2005

Taking Another Tilt At The Windmill

A few years ago now, I made an attempt at explaining what a roleplaying game is, with an intended audience of Someone Who's Never Played One. I've fiddled with it now and again since, but in the last couple of months I thought I'd try rewriting the whole damned thing.

One of my ideals is to avoid simile and comparison as much as possible, especially the overused "Let's Pretend with rules" or "ancient tradition of sharing stories around the campfire" schticks.

The revised article is still a work in progress, but I think it's at the stage where some more attention would do it good (I'm a little worried that I'm getting a bit too wordy). Please, have a look and tell me what you think. Please feel free to comment here or in the discussion tab of the article (you'll need a login, though).

December 16, 2005

I'm REALLY Going To Have To Start Working Out.

A couple of months ago, I discovered that Aquarius Video, a few kays up the road in Edmonton, has a pretty damned decent stocks of science fiction tapes and DVDs, including TV series (yes, even Firefly). Recently I've started hiring the DVDs for the first season of Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda. It's one of those shows that previously I've not paid much mind to, for two reasons: 1) the general buzz seemed fairly dismissive, along the lines of boobs-and-beefcake SF, and 2) it starred Kevin Sorbo.

In all fairness to points 1) and 2) above, there was really a third point: I didn't know any video store that stocked the DVDs. I mean, I really don't have anything against Kevin Sorbo, especially as he's gone from a mediocre actor (singlehandedly putting me off Hercules: The Legendary Journeys) to a pretty good actor (see guest spots in Dharma & Greg). I just wasn't really willing to splash out on a series boxed set (or even the individual DVDs) without trying it first.

The discovery that Aquarius has what looks like most of the series on DVD and the fact that Andromeda wound up its fifth season this year made me curious - after all, any non-Trek SF show that does more than two seasons has to have something going for it. So I started renting the DVDs.

Continue reading "I'm REALLY Going To Have To Start Working Out." »

December 13, 2005

News and Info

Vickie and I were having a chat last night - well, it wasn't a chat, exactly; Vickie was on her soapbox and I was sitting back and listening. The topic was immigration and assimilation, due to the current race tensions and resulting violence in Southern Sydney (EvilHayama's been close to some of it lately).

Vickie pointed out that most of what I was doing was listening and nodding - I wasn't really contributing to the conversation. In fact, I almost always sit back and listen whenever Vickie's on the soapbox. (She really needs a bigger audience, as I've said several times in relation to her using her own web log a bit more often.) I said that I really didn't have anything worth contributing; I tend to avoid keeping up with the news (when I do so, I usually feel like not keeping up with the news afterward) and I don't know enough about history, recent or not-so-recent, to place current events in any sort of context.

Continue reading "News and Info" »

December 04, 2005

They Only Lack The Light To Show The Way....

You know, it's odd; I've not really ever been a big fan of Superman. Never read more than one or two direct-edition comics, bought a couple of the graphic novels. Saw all the Christopher Reeve movies, but haven't been watching Smallville much. Watched with ambivalence as the tiller of the New Movie bounced from Tim Burton to Brett Rattner, and as the Hot Script What Them Internet Kiddies Love award bounced from Burton to Kevin Smith (although, much as I love Nicolas Cage, I was glad that the idea of him in the lead role was ditched).

But... I saw the teaser trailer for Superman Returns and I felt a sense of wonder and anticipation that I haven't felt in a little while.

Continue reading "They Only Lack The Light To Show The Way...." »

November 29, 2005

That's Pretty Heavy.

All the communication in the world cannot solve a real conflict of interest; it can only reveal it.

- Ron Edwards

October 30, 2005

The Bottom Line

The point of Saturday evening's post was that the reasons why we decided to leave Sydney had nothing to do with our friends. We didn't leave because of our friends; our friends are the reason we wish we could have stayed.

Which is why Vickie and I are thoroughly sick and fucking tired of our friends treaing us as though we were casual acquaintances, both before and after we left Sydney.

October 29, 2005

Why I Decided to Leave Sydney

If you head on over to Vickie's website, you'll find a post detailing her feelings on the matter of friendship and staying in touch. She talks about me quite a bit in it, and I have to say, she's spot on right down the line, both about me and about the rest. I don't feel as though I can let it go without some comments from me as well.

Now, in case you're wondering, this has all come out of a rather dodgy day capped off by an equally disappointing evening. You could say I'm being spiteful. You could be glad I'm opening up. You can dismiss me as having a silly rant. Whatever, just read it first.

Continue reading "Why I Decided to Leave Sydney" »

October 07, 2005

Too Heartbreakingly True

From the "Overly Honest RPG Book Covers" thread on RPGnet:

Serenity RPG Cover: Honest

September 18, 2005

You're The Voice

I have this theory.

A few months ago, I was reading an article by Steve Darlington on Has Been, an album of spoken word performed by William Shatner. Yes, that William Shatner. In the article, Darlington writes: "The reason every comedian thinks he can imitate Captain Kirk... is because that voice is so iconic and so compelling. When Kirk talks, people listen."

Continue reading "You're The Voice" »

August 14, 2005

Has It Been A Year Already?

Rob & Vickie's Wedding

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, today is the first anniversary of the wedding of Vickie and I. On August the fourteenth, 2004, a simple ceremony was held in our living room at Fraser Road with family and friends in attendance, after which we all piled down to the Normanhurst Pizza Cafe to meet most of the rest of our friends for the reception.

Continue reading "Has It Been A Year Already?" »

August 13, 2005

From an E-Mail to Military Simulations

"Can't tell my arse from my Armour Class some days!"

- Rob Farquhar, E-mail, Thursday, August 11th, 2005

August 12, 2005

Those Magnificent Men at Mongoose and MilSims

I'd like to take up some of your time with some much-deserved - how do the young people say it nowadays? - "mad props" to a couple of RPG companies.

Now, as any regular reader surely knows, Mongoose Publishing are the company that publish Starship Troopers: The Roleplaying Game, a copy of which I purchased through Melbourne-based mail order firm Military Simulations a few weeks ago now (as I think I wrote not long after we moved up, there are no Friendly Local Gaming Stores in Cairns). Over the past few weeks, people have been posting on the Mongoose boards that the glue in the bindings of their copies of the book had been coming loose; the pages weren't sticking to the spine any more, with only the binding string holding them together. About a week ago, I noticed the same started happening with my copy; first the tops of the pages came away, and then the whole long edge of the page where it met the binding! (I think the symptoms started a little earlier than that, with the residue that usually holds the inside edge of the pages to each other going).

Continue reading "Those Magnificent Men at Mongoose and MilSims" »

July 23, 2005

It's Official: I'm A Husband

As some of you already know, I'm trying to get a game or two of Primetime Adventures running across the Web, ideally using Skype so that we can actually chat rather than using keyboards. Unfortunately, myself and some of my players-to-be have had life sneak up on them lately, so I've been trying to re-schedule for a time when, hopefully, everything has calmed down for everyone.

Continue reading "It's Official: I'm A Husband" »

July 12, 2005

Whomour

In (belated) honour of the glorious return of Doctor Who to our TV screens, I offer this:

Q: What did the Dalek say when it went to the day spa?

A: "EXFOLIATE!"

June 18, 2005

Shades of Boomers

Vickie gets regular updates from National Geographic, and one of the most recent headlines was this article about an ultra-lifelike robot being exhibited at the 2005 World Expo in Japan. Apparently, this device is quite convincing at first glance, right down to tics, shifting in its seat and the simulation of breathing.

Vickie was immediately reminded of the Boomers of the Bubblegum Crisis animated series, and forwarded the link to me.

Whether it can actually communicate on its own instead of giving speeches like the animatronic puppets used in Disneyland and other such places, is another question.

Continue reading "Shades of Boomers" »

June 11, 2005

The End of the World

"See, even if the worst happens, remember there's always mutation."
-- Donald Fagen, KGSR FM radio interview, March 7, 2003.

May 29, 2005

Starship Troopers and Fascism

A few of you probably know that I'm looking forward to the release of Mongoose Publishing's Starship Troopers Roleplaying Game in a month or so. As much as I've been digging all these indie games that I've purchased lately, the idea of playing in or running a campaign in the setting of the Roughnecks TV series is highly appealing. (Even if we have no one to play it with just yet.)

There's a thread over on the RPGnet forum talking about the game's upcoming release and naturally, there's some discussion over the three pre-existing iterations of the theme: the original novel by Robert A. Heinlein, the blockbuster movie directed by Paul Verhoeven and its straight-to-DVD sequel, and the Roughnecks: The Starship Troopers Chronicles computer-animated series.

In that thread, a gent by the name of Participant-Observer wrote:

    I wouldn't say that I enjoyed the movie more than the book, but I certainly enjoyed it. And, frankly, Verhoeven and Neumeier were recognizably sending up the fascist state, whereas ... well, I've always thought that Heinlein might've thought it was a good idea.

    [NB. Long time since I've read the book]

Having read the book fairly recently, I felt the need to respond. I thought I'd put the response up here as, perhaps, a general thinking-checking exercise:

Continue reading "Starship Troopers and Fascism" »

April 17, 2005

Girl from Ipanema

"Well, at least if it's putting you to sleep it must be a little bit soothing..."
- Colleague discussing hold music with client.

April 09, 2005

The Saga of the Notebook

If you know me, then you'll know I like to carry at least one notebook around with me so that I can jot ideas down as they come to me for future use in campaigns, stories and, yes, posts to this very web log. Not so long ago, there was a long period where I carried no less than two 300-leaf notebooks with me almost everywhere; one for general notes and the other specifically for the 25th Black Talon: The Corsairs campaign.

Continue reading "The Saga of the Notebook" »

March 11, 2005

So this is what they call "rain", eh?

I'm writing this at the Cairns Centrelink call centre, between calls. It's twenty past three in the afternoon, and although it's been raining almost constantly all day, right now there's this muted roar coming from the roof. We've had rain noise from the roof before, but no more than a rumble. Now, though, it's as if someone moved the call centre underneath Niagra Falls when we weren't looking. Hell, it sounds like a full house at Wembley up there, all applauding.

Continue reading "So this is what they call "rain", eh?" »

March 07, 2005

The Usual Suspects

Monday, 8.30 PM: Law & Order
Monday, 9.30 PM: Crossing Jordan
Tuesday, 8.30 PM: CSI
Tuesday, 9.30 PM: CSI: NY
Wednesday, 8.30 PM: CSI: Miami
Wednesday, 9.30 PM: Without A Trace (taped)
Thursday, 8.30 PM: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Friday, 8.30 PM: Blue Murder
Friday, 9.30 PM: Dalziel & Pascoe
Saturday, 8.30 PM: The Bill
Sunday, 8.30 PM: Law & Order: Criminal Intent
Sunday, 9.30 PM: NCIS

Sometimes I wonder how my wife does it.

I just consider myself lucky that she allows me to tape Without A Trace in favour of watching Battlestar Galactica...

February 20, 2005

Moving In: Here's to Karl

At the end of all this, if theres one person I absolutely have to give props to (aside from my love and wife Vickie, of course, for all her hard work in getting me to help her get the place in order), its Karl. I will admit, Ive always been intimidated by Vickies son. Hes three years older than I am, a wiry little bugger, very down-to-earth and good with his hands. Sometimes I envy the relationship he and his mum have; theyre both very down-to-earth and practical people, they both love tools and hard work and they both trade well-meant, humorous barbs with ease, something I simply have no idea how to do. From the first, hes been more than willing to help get this place back in order, and has been pretty patient with me as I try to keep up. A more solid cat youll never find, even if Im still not quite entirely comfortable around him.

I guess challenges come in all forms, eh?

January 13, 2005

Tick, Tick, Tick...

Well, now we're almost there. It's three months to the day since I announced on the web log my decision to move Vickie and I back to Cairns. Looking at our place now, you'd be hard-pressed to recognise it if you'd last seen it on October 13th, 2004. Our armchair, rocking chair, dining table and TV stand have gone; in their place are a couch, larger dining table and a big entertainment unit that in which the TV stand out less than it used to. The pot-bellied stove will soon be gone, as will our old 68cm TV. The pair of large old speakers has been relegated to the spare room, and in their place is a 5.1 surround sound speaker set.

Most of our shelves and walls are bare also; we hit eighty packed boxes of stuff last night and we're still going. The electronics and speakers will be packed either on the weekend or on Monday. The kitchen is also largely bare; we have what we need to cook the basics, and we're running down our supplies where we can, but we'll probably be getting a lot of takeaway next week.

I still have a computer room to pack away. Speaking of which, Vickie's 19" monitor, graciously loaned to us by my employer, was returned today, leaving Vickie computerless for the time being. She's logging on via a separate profile I've set up on my PC.

Then there are the grounds, and the shed. I'll probably spend a good chunk of Saturday taking to the lawn with whipper-snipper and mower, then packing the lot, and the rest of the shed, away for transit.

Three months have flown by in a second, and we still have so much to do before we leave on Friday week. It's almost unfair that we've had so much time - which we've used - and still have so much to do. Thankfully, friends will be dropping by next week to help out.

Not much longer now. That's a blessing and a curse if ever there was!

January 07, 2005

In 2005, I Absolutely Avoid Resolving To...

Well, its the beginning of the year, which means resolutions. Ive been thinking a bit about what I want to do with it and myself in it. Im hoping that getting away from some of my troubles down here and moving to a nicer environment will help me focus on what I really want to do; as I (hopefully) wont trying to distract myself from unpleasantness half the time, Ill be able to realise whats really pleasant (like, I hope, hard work).

Being the materialistic sod I am, of course, Ive also been thinking about the things Id like to splurge on should I get some disposable income. These purely materialistic and utterly selfish but god, what fun they are, eh?

Continue reading "In 2005, I Absolutely Avoid Resolving To..." »

December 29, 2004

NYE 04/05: How Dare We Not?

We have the radio on in the kitchen, tuned to 2GB, and being home ill today, Ive been listening to it a bit. Chat host Luke Bona is taking calls on several subjects including binge drinking, but what held my attention were the calls decrying the continuing of the New Years Eve festivities in the face of the tsunamis that struck India and South Asia a few days ago. Several people have called in to say that the festivities should be halted or at least toned down, that to continue would be frivolous or in bad taste in the face of this huge natural disaster.

I wont go into the facts of the disaster, as several news agencies have dedicated web pages to the tsunamis, with ready dates, times, facts and figures. But in my opinion, to call for the cancellation of the New Years Eve celebrations is in itself bad taste, and may well do more damage than good to this nations I keep trying and failing to find a word or phrase less clinical or over-used than psyche or morale at a time when we really need to heal.

Continue reading "NYE 04/05: How Dare We Not?" »

December 19, 2004

Manners Redux

Around this time last year I put a post up on this web log (which has yet to be restored) regarding manners. Specifically, wed sent invitations for our Christmas party out to friends three weeks ahead of time with RSVP ASAP on them.

One week beforehand, we had to chase all but a handful of the thirty-odd people we sent invitations out to just to find out whether they were coming or not. From that post: One or two have said they'll see if they can maybe make it, as they have other things on, and if they do deign to turn up, they'll be late - like near midnight.

Continue reading "Manners Redux" »

December 04, 2004

Righteous Fury

The Penny Arcade lads are taking shots at the sequel to the recent Prince of Persia remake today. In his posting, Tycho pretty much explains why Vickie doesn't like my killing of Grunts (although she'd already done a pretty good job of explaining it herself):

Continue reading "Righteous Fury" »

November 15, 2004

You Can't Take Our House From Me

Earlier today, Vickie called me at work and asked, "So what're we going to call our house?"

Now in all our preparations for moving, that's one of the things I'd simply not thought of. After all, 32 Fraser Road doesn't have a particular name.

Vickie says, "It's got to have 'Cottage' in it somewhere."

So I furrow my brow, then reply, "Well, the first thing that comes to mind is what our friends tell us, that they come here for some peace and quiet. That gives me 'Sanctuary Cottage' and 'Peace House', but the former sounds like a retirement village/resort, and the latter is a little too hippie and definitely too blunt."

And then Vickie surprises me by saying, "What about Serenity?"

September 10, 2004

Intergalactic Overlord's Advisory: Earth

As I have no doubt Gav can attest, some interesting stuff comes out of the RPG.net forums. This, unfortunately, didn't come out of a note from Gav. Instead, Bryant Durrell posted his RPG.net Thread Of The Week over on The 20' by 20' Room, a reference to a crazy RPG setting idea dubbed to by its proposer "Toonpunk".

Now, you're probably familiar with the idea of putting a cool quote in your e-mail or forum signature. Sometimes, the RPG.net folks take their quotes from other posts in the forums, and that's where I found this little gem (I confess, I assume it's a quote from a forum post and not some other source, but the way the signature is formatted makes sense) in rbingham2000's signature, credited to a gent by the name of Mark Mohrfield, that sums up Earth's place in popular science fiction very neatly:

    The Earth is the greatest repository of Bad Luck in the Universe. Even if you've been around for billions of years, this little planet will screw you up like nothing you've encountered before. Your aeons-old law enforcement organization will fold. Your loyal scouts will suddenly start deserting you like there's no tomorrow. If you eat planets, you will not be able to digest this one. The queen of your vast empire will fall for a guy from this world.

UPDATE 2.10PM: Aha! Found the source. I was right; it's another post in another RPGnet Forum thread.

August 15, 2004

A Lesson in Love

Id like to relate to you, my reading public, a life lesson that I learned a week or so ago. The subject of historical murderess Elizabeth Bathory had come up in one of the forums Vickie frequents, and Id remembered that that lovely, well-adjusted gent, Todd McFarlane, had released an Elizabeth Bathory action figure as part of his latest McFarlanes Monsters line.

Anyway, whilst trying to track down an image for Vickie, I saw a notice McFarlane Toys are producing the official action figures for the upcoming Alien Vs. Predator. Now, I know that Vickie loves the Predators, and she loves her Graham. So I showed her the images of the action figures and said, Well, theres your birthday present! And after a little discussion on which ones shed prefer, she says, How come you never get me anything girlie?

You know what? She has a point.

If you know Vickie and I fairly well, you probably know that in the past, Ive bought her as Christmas/Birthday presents Patricia Cornwell books, computer games (including Neverwinter Nights and Law & Order) and even the odd action figure (Graham would have been a birthday present, had he turned up on store shelves closer to October). But I cant remember a single instance when Ive presented her with perfume, or clothes, or shoes, or any other accoutrements of femininity (aside form the odd Tatty Teddy).

I suppose I've taken advantage of the fact that Vickie is a fellow geek in order to make buying pressies easy, whilst forgetting that (a) Vickie is still, and enjoys being, of the fairer sex, and (b) it's nice to actually put a little effort into finding a gift rather than going for the easy pressie.

So I admit my flaw to my love, and start thinking along the lines of a nice bottle of parfum.

Skip ahead a couple of days, and we meet Dan on the way out of I, Robot. While were all headed in the general direction of our cars, we talk about movies were looking forward to, and naturally, Alien Vs. Predator comes up.

And what does Vickie say? Robs getting me a Predator action figure for my birthday!

The life lesson is this, guys: no matter what you do, you cant win.

July 17, 2004

Boys and Toys

Sometimes I think this grown up thing, if I can ever get there, wouldnt be so bad. You know, the whole I put away childish things bit? The out-growing of all those small and not-so-small fripperies that youve always known you dont really need, but keep spending (or wasting) your time and money on nonetheless?

Continue reading "Boys and Toys" »

July 09, 2004

City Vs. Town

I mentioned about a week ago that I've started working in the city again. It's been an interesting change from the usual working day at the main office near Strathfield. If you know me, you probably know that my first full-time IT job was located in the city, so there's a fair bit of deja vu in being back there again for IT stuff.

Continue reading "City Vs. Town" »

July 04, 2004

The Luckiest SOB Alive

Yesterday, I was reading Docs answer to his third Game Dream, where he talks about the character hes created and played thats least like him, Boxcar Bob, a a gun-toting, nine foot tall, cybernetically enhanced Troll who took no prisoners, and rarely asked a question twice. After reading it, I showed it to Vickie and commented that Bobs best friend was probably a Vindicator Minigun.

Vickie agreed without batting an eyelid.

Now, this needs a little explanation. For starters, Vickies never read the Shadowrun main rulebook, let alone played in a game. For seconds, the Vindicator Minigun only appears in one of the supplements (probably the Cannon Companion, nowadays). But Vickie was able to grok my reference (Id say mainly due to the idea of a gun-toting, cybernetically enhanced troll when most trolls arent anywhere near a milieu with guns and cybernetics) and run with it. (Of course, it helps shes a science fiction nut as well, and loves Predator).

Id just like to say, here and now, that Im probably one of the luckiest sons of bitches on Gods green earth.

Continue reading "The Luckiest SOB Alive" »

June 27, 2004

Euphoria

Buckaroo Banzai wasn't the only thing Gav brought over last night. A few days earlier, he'd found a copy of Def Leppard's 1999 album, Euphoria and asked me whether I wanted it; apparently, I'm the only person he knows who'll own up to liking them.

Vickie and I are listening to it right now, and all I have to say is this: Gav (and maybe everyone else he knows), don't you know how to have fun?

June 25, 2004

Shit Happens... And Keeps On Happening

It seems as though theres something up at the moment, some sort of negative vibe going around that, just when youve clawed things back under your control after the last crisis, socks you in the teeth with another one.

Between the two of us, shit of some kind has happened to Vickie and I over the past few months. I cant really go into specifics on some of the kinds of shit that have happened, but its either been work-related, car-related, health-related or property-related, and it just doesnt seem to have stopped.

Continue reading "Shit Happens... And Keeps On Happening" »

June 05, 2004

All I Need To Know, I Learned From...

"Subdual damage fireball? I think I'm taking subdual damage just from the concept."

"Haven't you ever watched Saturday morning cartoons, Andy? I mean, GI Joe and the Transformers clearly teach us that lasers and high explosives never hurt anybody!"

As seen in the Comments of this 20' By 20' Room posting.

May 27, 2004

What I said about Cyclones goes double for Diesel.

Okay, it's pretty common knowledge among the gamer set that movie action hero Vin Diesel is one of us. (One of Us, We Accept You, yadda, yadda, happy, Gav?) But a guy who:

  1. thinks Dame Judi Dench is awesome (as any person who enjoys acting should),
  2. begs her to be in his movie, and
  3. would even love to get her into a game of Dungeons & Dragons?

That's just...

I worship this man. Worship him!

UPDATE 3.50PM: And the bastard owns his own computer game development studio.

January 16, 2004

My Opinion of Return of the King

Vickie and I went and saw Return of the King yesterday evening. I read through Boots and Gav's comments to the IMAGinewS group on it, and gave my opinion in response. In case you're not an IMAGinewS member, here it is, in the same four lines I originally responded with:

1) I've not read the book, but will commence doing so tomorrow.
2) Although it was drawn out in places, I loved almost every minute.
3) The minutes I didn't love, I enjoyed anyway.
4) To paraphrase Manning Clark: If you didn't like Peter Jackson's movie versions of the books, MAKE YOUR OWN!

December 14, 2003

Alcatraz

Yesterday, while we were getting ready for the party, Vickie told me that Vinne Jones, star of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch and Bacardi's latest ads, has got himself into trouble on an air flight. Although it may not be applicable in Jones' case, I started thinking about how stars often get off with lighter sentences than others convicted on similar charges. Part of it, I think, is that at the very least, you can't put a celebrity into a regular jail; they'd be victims of punishment far more severe than the sentence they should have received. Half the time, I understand that logic.

I had the idea of building a "celebrity prison" this morning, although (a) the idea's probably been thought of (and tried) before, and (b) building a new facility just for wayward stars seems a bit much.

Then it hit me. The perfect solution to the problem.

Re-open Alcatraz.

Think about it. Alcatraz is the perfect place. It's a tourist venue as is. You might be able to bring a copule of wings back up to modern operating status with less money than it would take to build a whole new prison (after all, it has to be safe for tourists right now). And you don't need to troop the tourists through the active wings; all you need to do is rotate the prisoners from one wing to another, and people will gladly pay to see where Michael Jackson was just recently staying. "Oh yes, ma'am, he's still here, just not where the public can see him. Not that you'd want to..."

Admittedly, it won't do much for Jones, as it's an English case, but still, it's a good idea, right?

Right?

December 12, 2003

Manners

I'm going to be letting off some steam here on behalf of both Vickie and I.

Nigh on two weeks ago, we sent an invitation out for a Christmas party at our place this coming Saturday. Start time (5PM) and contact details were clearly spelled out in the invitation, as was "RSVP ASAP".

In that time, we've had a handful of the invitees actually bother to get back to us; even if the answer was "we can't make it", we would have appreciated it early. Instead, we've had to follow up with an e-mail and, a couple of days ago, even call a few people. Sheesh, guys, don't you know "ASAP" stands for "As Soon As Possible"?

Continue reading "Manners" »

December 09, 2003

I Think I Finally Get It

As you folks know, Ive been thinking about the negative reaction that the long-standing fan-base of the original Battlestar Galactica has had to the approach Ron D. Moore has taken in re-imagining the show for the SciFi Channel. Ive never quite understood the emotional attachment that the old-time fans have to the show, flaws and all, nor their oft-rabid insistence that any approach to Galactica should at the very least retain the look and feel of the original, if not be a continuation of the original series.

Over the past few days, Ive been reading reviews on the new Galactica by both the press and the fandom. The press reports are split roughly fifty-fifty, while most of fandom is negative. Still, those reviews paved the way for a new perspective on the fans viewpoint. I gained this perspective by comparing whats happening with Galactica right now to what happened but a few years ago with Galacticas cinematic contemporary (and legal opponent): Star Wars.

Continue reading "I Think I Finally Get It" »

December 05, 2003

So maybe they're not lying about the volume...

Ever wonder why the commercials are always louder than the TV shows in between? Ever wonder why the TV stations deny they turn the volume up for the ads?

From the SciFi Channel's Feedback FAQ:

Why are commercials so LOUD?
Compression. Advertisers use compression so that everything in a commercial is about at the same (loud) audio level, close to the maximum allowable levels. This way, you can still hear their pitch even if you get up to go the kitchen or bathroom. SCI FI does not turn up the volume on these commercials they're just recorded and mixed that way. Most of our shows, however, are not in an audio-compressed format so they generally have a wider dynamic range than the ads. Since we can't go back and add compression to our shows, the ads tend to sound a lot louder than the programming.

That I didn't know... Still, one wonders why they can't then turn the volume down.

November 28, 2003

Snivelling Cowardice

I think I've got over last night's malaise pretty well. After my mewling about that BG rant, Vickie saw my posting and made the very cogent point that if it were really as bad as I was making it out to be, the Two-Brained Cylon (who is an intelligent, hard-working, honest cat) wouldn't have posted it in the first place. She then read the rant, and judged that it was actually pretty intelligently written.

So I swallowed my shallow fear, gave it another read-through, and Vickie's right; it's not as bad as I told myself it was. There are some parts I still don't like, but it's a decent opinion piece, and although the info that the CA crew have uncovered on the DeSanto production indicates that it would have been a quality show, miniseries and/or movie, I don't think it quite invalidates my belief that a remake stands better odds of succeeding than a continuation of the original.

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November 27, 2003

My Battlestar Rant at Cylon Alliance

You know that Battlestar Galactica rant that I've mentioned on and off recently? Immediately after I wrote it, I sent it to the moderator of the Cylon Alliance, the Two-Brained Cylon, for possible posting. He was kept busy by a few things and didn't put it up on the CA website at the time.

Since then, we moved onto other things, and on subsequent readngs, the rant began to look less sensical and more bitchy. Also, the Cylon Alliance team has done a phenomenal job of digging up more information on the "Might Have Been" shows - especially the aborted Singer/DeSanto effort - that puts paid to some (okay, a lot) of my argument.

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November 25, 2003

Pub Culture

One of the things that Dad bemoaned about Australia after we arrived (there weren’t many, or else we wouldn’t have moved out here) is that there simply aren’t as many pubs in the average Australian (or, at least, Sydney metropolitan) town as there are in the average British town. Other arguments aside, I think it’s fair to say that Dad simply missed the welcoming atmosphere of your local, something that, I think, British readers can attest to. Maybe it was one of those assumptions that people sometimes make when they move to a similar country; that basically the culture will be identical to the one you left.

The question of why Australian (or, at least, Sydney) towns don’t have as many pubs has been lurking in my mind for a while. The point got raised while Melissa was out here a few months ago – I remember discussing it whilst getting us lost on the way to Parklea Markets – and spending a couple of weeks back in urban England, where you often can’t go a hundred metres from one pub without finding another, helped me organise my thoughts on the subject. I understand that liquor and public house licenses and laws may present more and/or different difficulties to would-be publicans in Australia than in England, but not being familiar with said laws, I want to approach the idea from the perspective of culture and geography.

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Like Afternoon Coffee

I don't know whether you used to have these in Australia, but back in the UK, we used to have this device called a "coffee percolator". Whenever Mum and/or Dad wanted a coffee, they'd plug this cross between a kettle and a jug in, perform motions with coffee grounds and water (don't ask me what they were, I can't remember) and then leave this device to... well, percolate. It'd sit there for ten minutes or so, making odd gurgling, bubbling noises, usually followed by a "click". You didn't have to monitor or tend to it at all, but those weird noises - loud enough to be noticed, but not quite loud enough to distract - kept you aware that some strange process was occuring that would eventually produce hot, drinkable coffee. (I think it was before the days of instant and home plungers.)

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November 24, 2003

Sundown

While Vickie and I were in the UK, we couldn't help but notice the early hour that the sun goes down during winter. We thought, "The sun's down at 4 PM. This can't be right."

Now, we're back in Australia, and I looked out of the window a while ago and thought "The sun's not yet down, and it's ten past six PM. This can't be right."

Maybe I ought to be taken outside and shot.

November 03, 2003

An Odd Sensation...

Over the past day or two, while we've been seriously packing and getting the place in order for Cazman, I've had this feeling of discomfort, as though instead of packing suitcases and going overseas for a couple of weeks, we're packing up and moving out.

I suppose this place really has become something of a haven from the outside world for us. Until two and a half years ago, I don't think I ever really enjoyed going back to the place I lived, at least not without it being diluted by a bit of fear. It makes me cherish this wonderful little home Vickie and I have made here, even if we do get homebody-ish and insular now and again.

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November 02, 2003

Blame It On The Rain

Apologies for any painful late eighties flashbacks the title of this post may have caused, but it certainly sums up the day today. See, I was planning to get the lawn mowed; it's in a sorry, nigh-overgrown state and we want it looking nice when the Cazman shows up to mind the place while we gallivant off to the UK.

So I get out into the backyard this morning after doing some work on Vickie's website, clean our mower out (which it sorely needed), put some new line into the whipper-snipper, get the extension cords plugged in (our mower's a Flymo), start in on the top end of th back yard - and the power goes.

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I'm Such A Big Kid...

It's true, folks: I'm the proud owner of my very own TransFormers: Armada Optimus Prime and Over-Run Mini-Con figures. I don't even watch the cartoon or read the comics, but I just wanted an Optimus Prime to call my own - and I really think that the Armada Optimus is quite possibly the coolest Prime toy ever, the original notwithstanding. (And, as he came without that pesky trailer, I was able to swipe him for $25.)

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October 20, 2003

M4d Pr0pz 2 M4 H0m13z

I was watching this article on 60 Minutes last night on final-year exam-related youth suicide last night. Two sisters were talking about their younger brother who took his life on the eve of the HSC a few years ago; they read some poetry that friends wrote to him after his death. While I was listening to that, my first thought was, "How come no-one wrote this obviously heartfelt stuff to him before he died?" More relevant to this posting was also this selfish little subtext that went, "How come no-one writes poetry to me?"

(Well, someone does write poetry to me, and I really ought to be more appreciative of that.)

But on the heels of that came an even more important question: "How come I don't write poetry to my friends?"

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Band of Brothers

For want of something to read on the train last week, I picked up a book from the boxful Rog gave to us a few months ago, just before work took him to Melbourne: Stephen E. Ambrose's Band Of Brothers. In case you're wondering, it's what the Steven Spielberg TV series is based on. I wasn't sure what the written experience would be like - I usually prefer fiction to historical texts, I have this prejudice that they're boring reads - but it turns out that this book is very interesting. It directly details the experiences of Easy Company of the 101st Airborne during World War II, from training to Berlin, and it's the personal details of the soldiers, from interviews with the men themselves, that make it such a good read.

I'm sure Boots will be glad I'm reading this, in part because it's getting me keen on Battlefield 1942, but also because I wouldn't mind reading up on some of the broader history of World War II after I'm done with it. I don't really remember high school history in any great detail, and Dad's always been dismissive of a lot of the recent American fiction based on WWII. He reckons he doesn't need to see the US taking the credit for winning the war, but Band Of Brothers paints a picture of a very active US involvement in the European thatre, even if it took the Japanese hitting Pearl Harbour to get America's attention. I want to get some more historical perspective on the matter, and I get the feeling Boots will be only too willing to help, just so he can have yet another person to discuss the War with.

We'll probably have to borrow his DVD set of Band of Brothers sometime.

October 15, 2003

Queer Eye for the Secret Life of Alias

Over the past couple of years, it's been hard to avoid the hype surrounding the TV show Alias. Let me be honest here - I've never seen a whole episode. It looked vaguely intriguing when it was being first promoted in Australia, but the reliance on Jennifer Garner's physical attributes were enough to turn me off of tuning in. The proclamations that it was a hit in America only served to cement the notion that the average American was a twerp. (Thank God the U.S. readership of this site aren't average.)

However, I've started asking people who profess to watch and enjoy the show about it, and it's starting to seem that there's more than they readily show off (Jennifer Garner scantily clad and/or looking slutty) in the advertising (to be fair, there are only thirty seconds in an ad). I'm beginning to wonder whether I've actually been missing out on something good.

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October 10, 2003

Popular Licenses = New Gamers? Not Any More.

This editorial has been brewing for a few days. It’s the result of a growing dissatisfaction with the RPG industry that was highlighted in a recent e-mail conversation with Gav (whom I hope is still talking with me) and a trip into Games Paradise on Tuesday, October the thirtieth.

Probably the biggest draw card for any roleplaying product is its use of a “license” – the right to create and publish a game based on an existing media franchise – and the best licenses to acquire are those for popular television series and movies. Existing gamers will often leap at the chance to play in an established universe which they, and other players, are going to be familiar with – and more importantly, a roleplaying game based on popular TV show or movie will have a much easier time attracting people who’ve never been into RPGs (and considering what a niche market RPGs are, the untapped potential here is huge).

With the debut of the D20 System – first seen in Wizards of the Coast’s Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition line and made available to all thanks to the Open Gaming License – companies that have acquired some popular movie and TV licenses have started writing roleplaying games for these franchises using the D20 system.

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June 18, 2003

Multiculturalism & Science Fiction

A couple of days ago, I signed onto the forum of the Cylon Alliance, a web-site that gives information on those SF shows that got left by the wayside (including the original Battlestar Galactica). As I've mentioned in recent newsposts, there's been a lot of heated fan debate over the Sci-Fi Channel's "re-imagining" of Battlestar Galactica in mini series form. I've pretty much completed that "rant" I was writing (which, as usual, has turned out more like reasoned argument than a rant), and will probably be posting it within the next few days, but some crazed personal caprice drove me to visit a collective of actual fans of the original.

One of the threads in the forum is discussing the fact that most of the new Galactica cast was white. Posts went back and forth on colour, other TV shows to feature multiracial casts such as Trek, ethnic typing, enlightened idealism and the like, and I noticed the topic dying down with everyone seemingly agreeing to disagree. It absolutely stunned me that all of them were overlooking the most glaring ethnic typing of all: Where were the really foreign characters?

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April 25, 2003

War

I think it's about time I got around to making my own statement on the war in Iraq. Such a thing scares me a little. Most of you folks know that I'm not much for keeping up on current events. I don't buy newspapers. I don't regularly watch the evening news or read news web sites. What I pick up about world, national and local events is usually by osmosis. As the song says, "Don't know much about history..." Therefore, when historical or topical issues come up in conversation, I usually just sit back and listen, half waiting for something that I can understand, analyse, and add a dollar to the value of the conversation, half because I'm afraid of sounding like a twit (or looking like an ignorant twit when asked about something I know nothing about).

But enough dissembling; lets hold this up to scrutiny and intelligent criticism and see how it holds together. I'll get started with a quote from Heinlein's Time Enough for Love: "I have misgivings about the ultimate usefulness of this war. But regardless of any opinion... the time has come to close ranks and move forward together." Like the members of the IMAGinewS group who've spoken their pieces, and, I think it's safe to say, those who haven't, I have misgivings about the usefulness of the war and the validity of the reasons that George W. Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard have given for deciding to commit to war without the backing of U.N. resolutions. I do not consider myself knowledgeable of the facts, or else I would expand those misgivings. However, these men are our leaders, and have made that decision. They are our leaders because we have, according to the systems of law and rule of our respective nations, chosen them to be. They have the power to make that decision because the systems of law and rule of our respective nations - that our ancestors established and that we continue to uphold (by choosing to live under them) and shape (through referenda and the professionals of law) - give them that power. Because we choose to give them that power.

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March 25, 2003

Do you realise how cool you all are?

I think it was Trent who brought a certain fact to my attention a few months ago: there aren't any flame wars, trolls or generally impolite or unsociable behaviours on the IMAGinewS group. Lately, with an undeclared war commencing, rudeness and ignorance has been pandemic on the Web; some of you have experienced it personally. So far, all I've read in postings to the group have been statements of belief, almost always prefaced by "This isn't intended to start a flame, I just need to speak my piece." It amused me that the posters felt a need to put up such a disclaimer, especially considering the aforementioned lack of flames in the group... but then I realise that the members of the IMAGinewS group are doing so because they care enough about the group - about each other - to actively ensure that it stays that way. I'm also glad that they feel that my little corner of the web is a safe enough place for them to make such statements. To each and every one o' you cats: Thank you for making IMAGinewS what it is.

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January 15, 2003

Third Time Lucky, but Fourth Time...

For those of you wondering that my rants are so un-rantlike, here's one for you:


To: sales@adelong.com.au
Cc: Vickie Bowman; info@adelong.com.au; richard@adelong.com.au
Subject: Very Dissatisfied with Lack of Service (Order 402369)
Sent: Wed 15/01/2003 8:00 PM

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December 03, 2002

I Don't Miss The Dancer

A warning: This rant is fairly personal, so if you're not keen on sorting through some of my emotional baggage, please feel free to stop reading.

This one all started earlier today. John T was playing some Latin music while he was working, which is cool - he's got a good taste in relax-while-you-work music, including some nifty jazz by guys like St. Germain. It makes a nice change from my Steely Dan-dominated playlist. Suddenly, a track grabs my attention - my dance teacher used it, back when I was doing Latin dance classes in the city of a Wednesday night. I kept working, with half an ear on the music as I kept on doing database stuff, and sure enough, the very next track was also one I knew from dancing. I asked John whether he'd taken any lessons; he hadn't.

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