Saturday, August 25, 2007

Dragon Wars

Only three short weeks left until 500-ton reptilian awesome is unleashed upon Los Angeles!

I've been wanting a movie like this since the empty promise that was Reign of Fire. I guess sometimes something better than annoying anime does come out of Korea once and a while.

Hat tip to Thiel-o-vision.

Monday, August 20, 2007

GenCon 2007

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So I'm back. GenCon was totally sweet. Let's take a look...

That's right, life-sized dice! As well as life-sized giant monster tokens. I recognize those last two sentences don't make any sense. However, I know what I mean, and if you game you do to.

Oh, don't you worry, that's not all.

I flew out to Indianapolis on Wednesday, and the airports were full of GenCon attendees, as I could determine by their "Sith Happens" and "Magic: Leviathan Ascendant" T-shirts. On my second flight I sat next to two dudes from Salt Lake City named Allen and Jared, who were also going to GenCon and were actually really cool, and they ended up playing True Dungeon with us Thursday night, to fill in for people who canceled at the last minute. We also all drank a lot of beer and Thai whiskey every night (I brought the whiskey).

True Dungeon was a blast and we all survived like the champs we are. Fields played the Monk against my wishes, and actually ended up stunning the Beholder at the end. This epic stunning gave the party the chance to lay waste to the beast without us taking any beams of disintegration or inflict critical wounds in the process, thus vindicating Fields' choice of character. I will humbly acknowledge the Monk's value from here on out.

The convention floor was huge. We're talking bigger than PittCon huge. Many many dealers trying to get you to try their games and tons of demo opportunities out the yin-yang. Want to play a card game based on the show "24" (with Jack Bauer)? Available. Want to play a game about pirates that fight lizard-ninjas in space? Its called Encounter Critical, and it already exists. Also, plenty of comic book stuff for us Marvel and DC fans.

Delp spent a lot of time hanging with the staff folks at the Conan: Hyborean Age MMORPG booth. The booth was "NC-17 only" due to graphic nudity and violence in the video game demo, so it had to be curtained off from the rest of the "family-friendly" crowd. This meant Conan-fans like me had to wait a long time to get in. Fortunately, Delp was willing to wait at the booth, so he snagged me a staff T-shirt while he was in there.

Speaking of MMORPGs, they had a whole video game section added this year at Gencon, full of beta MMORPGs and demos of other games that haven't been released.

Plenty of Stormtroopers and other costumed folks.

The whole convention floor was a blast, and there were a ton of deals on new and old games to pick up. Fields was particularly enamored by the new Battlestar Galactica RPG, and not only picked up the very new core rulebook, but also was able to meander himself into a game run by one of the writers! Meanwhile, Devin, Delp and I found a ton of super-cheap Star Wars miniatures and proceeded to have tiny but epic battles in a galaxy far, far away...

For some reason "the Chads" wanted to check out the My Little Pony (or something like that) MMORPG. They had a huge setup and Fields even got a demo (note the average target demographic playing the game in the background).

Paul and I coincidentally dressed in accordance to one another on one of the days, so had to get a picture. Paul played GenCon Survivor and a bunch of other games he signed up for. He probably signed up for and went to more official events than anyone. On the other hand, I probably signed up for and skipped more events than anyone.

Besides RPGs and video games, there were plenty of boardgames to try out. I'm a fan of board games, especially those from Fantasy Flight Games. Unfortunately, the games from FFG tend to be overly-complicated for the non-gamer, and thus I don't get the opportunity to play them that often. Knowing this, I signed up for a demo with Fields for Taanhauser, a sci-fi/cthulhuesque WW1 boardgame, where Chad and I teamed up as the technologically-superior allies against two other dudes who played the occultisty Reich (evil germans).

The game is freaking excellent. It was especially great that the last man standing was my dynamite-wielding ninja girl character. I thought about picking it up, but its $50 and that's a little too much dough to own a game I'll never get to play outside of GenCon.

On another day of the convention the whole six of us decided to get together and play another Fantasy Flight Game, the World of Warcraft boardgame.

Holy Christ is that game complicated. We got all the pieces out and everything, read the extremely long rules, and tried to play the game for a few turns. New strange questions kept popping up, and at one point I got frustrated and said (pretty loudly) "Where the fuck is the designer of this goddamn game so he can explain to me what the hell these symbols on the quest cards mean?!" I must have said it a little TOO loudly because an actual designer of the game came over from Fantasy Flight, and walked us through it!

I was pretty embarrassed because I don't really expect the nebulous subject of my ire to actually be in the same room when I berate them (even in a general 3rd-person "Who made this POS!" sort of way), but at least he told us what the esoteric symbols meant, and we played a few more turns. As soon as he left (he was pretty nice and didn't mention my comment), we called it quits on the game because it was actually pretty boring. It took us 2.5 hours just to set it up and play 5 turns per side (3 players per side). That's too goddamn long. I'll stick with Taanhauser and Arkham Horror.

I know that we are all going next year we had such a good time. I'll probably post more pics as I get them from the rest of the good time gang. Also, check out the Brandodojo for more coverage of the event!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Gone to GENCON!

Cyberninja has left the building!

Don't worry folks, regular updates about D20s, NES trivia and Wookie lifestyle choices will resume August 20th, unless I see some real sweet stuff at the 'con and feel compelled to post it "on the road." In the meantime, Cybermaster Mary will take over the posting on the Technodojo.

Peace out and Game on!

Monday, August 13, 2007

End of the World as we Know it?

So the news has been totally off-the-wall lately, and not making a bit of sense.

Barrels of oil are at record highs (down a little today, but $84 just yesterday), and swing oil producer Saudi Arabia released its annual report which shows that it produced 8% less oil in 2006 than in 2005 (where it produced 6% less than its "peak" production in 2004), suggesting a permanent decline of oil production from here until the end of time (which should raise prices dramatically), while gas prices have fallen (its was $2.87 yesterday here in Oregon, which is a mega-drop from the $3.25 its been the rest of the year).

Also, the subprime housing market, which was a "bubble" I guess, has finally collapsed and all sorts of important-sounding businesses are going belly-up. Jim "scream at you about stocks or something" Cramer on TV has been seen crying on air for the Federal Reserve to pump more money into the market, hyper-raise in the inflation rate, and bail out the banks and stuff. (As an aside, its always interesting that these financial dudes like Citibank and MBNA are all "Capitalism is the only way to go and I earned my $1,000,000 by myself today!" when things are going well, but when things are starting to suck they're all "The public should bear the burden! We love socialism!"). On top of all of this, I understand that in some homes, dogs and cats are living together.

Mass Hysteria.

But that's not even the most bizarre thing that's happened this week. The man who could not be touched, and he who should not be named, actually resigned from his post today: Karl Rove.

A significant number of folks have been trying to get Karl Rove to be fired, resigned, or jailed for about 7 years now, and he's weathered a number of investigations, including the one where Sam Fisher was "outed" from the CIA (Splinter Cell division), and the Gonzoles attorney thing that I don't really understand. In all cases, he would give a big middle finger to investigators, democrats, liberals, news reporters and, from the reports I'm seeing, tiny helpless kittens on tree branches that are pleading with you to "Hang in there."

So now he retires out of the freaking blue. In his speech, the explanation he gave was "to be closer to my family." Which all of us in professional political news reporting know is total bunk most of the time. But there's no other explanation. Why would Karl "Bring It On" Rove actually step down?

Then it occurred to me, the only explanation that makes sense...
The Stars Must Be Right!

Rove must be a decedent of the original Mythos-tainted people of Innsmouth, and he finally can't hold off the call any longer. He must join Father Dagon in the city under the sea so they can prepare the Deep One invasion. Think about it...

Just look at him. Here's a pic of Rove next to a recorded case of "the Innsmouth Look:"

Can you even tell which one is Rove? (psst, he's the one covering his gills with a collar and tie). I don't think there can be any doubt. Rove is a Deep One, and has returned to Father Dagon and Mother Hydra in the Fish-man city on the sea-bed of the Atlantic Ocean. The market must be coming to a crash, which will cause hyperinflation because the fed will bail out subprime loaners, then the oil energy crisis will hit, lowering our ability to defend ourselves from aquatic/mythos beasts, and then the Deep Ones will invade our coastal towns for their occult sacrifices!

Its all so clear now. Its only a matter of time ...

I welcome you to comment about any other explanations for these events, even though I have clearly presented the most plausible one.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Wars or Trek? What your Star choice says about you as a human being.

You're in for a treat today folks. I am going to do a little mixing of blog genres today. In today's post I am going to take a big, delicious scoop of Scantabulous, mix in a teaspoon of the Brandodojo, add a dash of the Adventurepan, and present to you:


Hopefully we can not only educate you today on the Scanventurepandojo, but can also convince you of our point of view being the most superior with a fair presentation. We're going to present both sides of the question: "What does your choice of intergalactic space opera say about your political leanings?"

Star Trek:

For those of you who don't know, Star Trek is Gene Roddenberry's vision of the far future in which humans have not only colonized space and met thousands of other intelligent alien species (all at nearly the exact same technological level), but it is also a future in which every person in the militaristic "Federation" has a specific job and lives in a cornucopian society of brotherly love and constantly press their beliefs' onto other species (who are usually 99% human-looking with perhaps green skin or forehead bumps). Right off the bat this gives us the hint that fans of Star Trek are communists, and who would love to live in a militaristic nanny state where smoking is considered a federal crime punishable by death.

The show likes to pretend it revolves around something called "The Prime Directive." If you do a google search for "Trek Prime Directive," you'll get a million hits of green-on-black websites featuring crappy MIDI music and pasting the directive at the top as if it were the Word of the Lord (Lord Q, that is):

"As the right of each sentient species to live in accordance with its normal cultural evolution is considered sacred, no Star Fleet personnel may interfere with the healthy development of alien life and culture...blah, blah, blah"

Basically it just says: Thou shalt not mess with other species' civilizations. Spock constantly repeats the warning about the Prime Directive in every episode, as if Kirk cared. Here's the basic script outline of a Star Trek Episode:

KIRK, SPOCK, BONES, and HENSEN REDSHIRT beam (teleport) down to a previously uncharted planet full of [roll a d6: 1> Green people, 2> Blue people, 3> Humans with forehead bumps, 4-6> Regular humans] dressed in priestly robes.

"We must...find out if these people...know of the dangers my ham-fisted acting will have on...their blue women!"

"We cannot break the Prime Directive captain."

HENSEN REDSHIRT is killed by a [roll a d6: 1> Energy Phaser, 2> Nazi Energy Phaser, 3> Religious Nazi Energy Phaser, 4-6> Fanatically Religious Nazi Energy Phaser].

"Dammit! He's dead, Jim."

"I just need to contact...the ship. They can...send assistance."

"We cannot break the Prime Directive Captain."

(to Nazi Alien citizens) "You don't need to be enslaved any longer! Fight for your freedom, the freedom to join the Federation!"

FIGHT SCENE commences with Kirk knocking out the leader Nazi with a two-handed super-punch.


As you can see by that outline, in every episode they break the Prime Directive, without fail. What does this tell us about fans of the show? That they are self-delusional nimrods who live in a fantasy world of rules they never actually expect to follow.

Need more proof of their clear unsuitability as members of a realistic society? Let's talk about Holodecks. On the Holodeck, all your dreams can come true. Its a magical wonderland of 3-D interactive holograms that are indistinguishable from the real thing. So indistinguishable, in fact, that at the end of approximately 20% of the wierder (and usually cooler) episodes, they reveal that it was all a Holodeck exercise! Or a Holodeck malfunction! With the exception of Moriarty, the entire Holodeck syndrome is extremely stupid, and only reveals that Star Trek fans like to be tricked by their superiors. They prefer to be lied to about everything they see and pretend that their way of life is the best possible choice. In short, they are ripe for any charismatic leader to take control of and conquer the earth with his army of socialistic pinko commie zombie minions.

That brings us to the other side of the coin...

Star Wars

Everybody knows what Star Wars is, because it is so radically awesome that it has been able to penetrate the mind of even the most stupidly devout follower of the Way of Kirk. Unlike commie heaven Star Trek, where money has been abolished and all food comes from magic coffee maker machines, Star Wars is about revolution, rebellion, and saying "Fuck off!" to the Man. In short, Star Wars is the Rage Against the Machine of Space Operas.

The galaxy is controlled by an Evil Overlord who controls an Evil Empire, and Luke Skywalker, who is the Zach De La Rocha of the Force, takes a goddamn LASER SWORD and decides to take on the Empire. Who decides to help him? Harrison fucking Ford, that's who. Also: Gold Bikini.

The Star Wars galaxy has almost no humans with just bumpy foreheads, but instead has an entire menagerie of crazy alien species, like the Hammerhead guy from the Mos Eisley cantina and the crazy long-snout lip singer of Jabba's band. Now that's an open-minded galaxy that doesn't possess the ethnocentricity of the Star Trek Federation. The military leader of the Rebellion: A hyper-intelligent squid guy. If you were to put a squid guy anywhere near the Enterprise Kirk would be two-fist punching him before you could say "Prime Directive." Star Wars is all about freedom of the individual.

Now, some would soil the blessedness of the Holy Trilogy by bringing up the "Prequels" and immediately point to Mannequin Skywalker. As if that were enough to drive someone away from the Galactic Battle for Freedom and into the arms of the People's Democratic Republic of North Korea... er, I mean "Galactic Federation." While the "Chosen One" of the Star Wars universe was not much more than a complaining whine-o-bot, at least he did flips around SUPER BATTLE DROIDS and chopped up Dark Jedi with a LIGHTSABER. When was the last time Captain Kirk, Picard or DS9 reject Sisko did a flip? I think it was back in nineteen-ninety-um-never. But they sure look good in their matching militaristic uniforms!

In conclusion, Star Wars fans are wicked awesome freedom fighters and love to kick the Man's ass, with or without the taking of the names.

Here I have presented the two primary choices of genre for Space Opera fans, and presented the resulting quality of citizen you can expect to enjoy each choice. I hope you take away from this lesson a better understanding of the nuances of each type of fanboy. So take this nonbiased review, and carefully consider your choice as to what Science Fiction Epic Universe you want to represent you.*

Oh, and to Lower Decks,, and the Brandodojo: Consider the Gauntlet thrown, communists.

*Paid for by the Friends of Luke Skywalker and Campaigners for a New Republic.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

RolePlay Tournament

This is a re-post of a previous movie I posted a while back that Brando reminded me of today, and I felt it was worthy of a re-post with GenCon so close so... enjoy.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Red Lights of Death!


I got the flashing red lights of death on the 360 as I tried to put in my new/used copy of Lego Star Wars 2 I recently traded in for (traded in Call of Duty III -- Hey, by the way, did you know there was a big invasion of Northwest Europe by the Allies against the Nazis in 1944? I know, like, I was totally surprised too as I played through it for the fifth time). I just got the 360 in December as a gift from my buds and wife for graduatin', and I already have the "burn out" lights? I only play this thing maybe once or twice a week! Jeepers Creepers!

Ya see, the original Xbox 360s have a design flaw that results in three flashing red lights (denoting a "hardware problem") appearing after so many hours of use. Back when the 360 came out (Xmas 2005) they only had a 90-day warranty, so anyone who didn't play the hell out of their 360 to get it to die before the warranty was up was S.O.L. Fortunately, Microsoft extended everyone's warranties in early 2006 to one year. Then, just last month they extended all warranties to THREE years because of this problem, and finally admitted it was a design flaw with the system (at the same time releasing the new and improved "360 Elite" console), though they had already screwed a lot of early adopters by waiting so long.

I went through all the troubleshooting on the website, and then called 1-800-4MY-XBOX, listened to the voice recognition tree complete with goth/emo rock background music (it was totally X-treme), and finally got to a guy who took my name and address. He said that they'd be sending a box to me "ASAP" to ship it to them where they can fix it, but then explained the details and I found out that "ASAP" evidentially means 4-6 weeks. He didn't ask for any "date of purchase" or bullshit because as of the announcement last month, their warranty on the very first 360 sold isn't even up. Let's hope this baby comes back to me soon.

I guess you never know how much you'll miss something until its gone. I thought we had more time before the end...*sniff*...if I had only known... I never would have wasted all those hours beating Dead Rising six times...or...or playing through Gears of War multiple times to get all the COG tags...*sniff*...

...but wait, what of my Halo III preorder? It comes out in only a little over four weeks from now!

That means that I won't be able to ...


Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Rollin' d20s 4 life!


This is for those going to GenCon with me. Here we go boys and girls, refresher courses:

True Dungeon (8:00pm on Thursday Aug 16)

True Dungeon main page

Event Locations

Because you can't trust professional gamers (or many regular gamers) to actually edit or proofread their own work, all the event ticket locations you got in the mail have the wrong location on them. To get the real locations, log in here and then click "view purchased event tickets" at the bottom after you've logged in, that'll give you the updated list of where your events are. Print out that page so you have it.

What to Bring

Dorks have been listing things to bring to GenCon on their blogs for years, so why should I be different? Only, I'll just link to other people's lists. Also, check your email often this week as I'll be sending you each a "what to bring/do for the group" list and other important info.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

The Forest Moon of Endor

Finally! I convinced Mary to go camping with me this weekend, and we went to a new place; Fall Creek in the Willamette National Forest.

That's some big skunk cabbage. Yum?

The place is magnificent, and only about a 35 minute drive away. I will be going there a lot more, as there are tons of things to see all over the gigantic state park/national forest (they are next to eachother). Interestingly enough, just 30 minutes out of Eugene and into the mountains comes the blessed Forbidden Zone:
First I had to organize my stuff for just a single night stay for the two of us. Since everything is constantly packed ready to bug out from the zombocalypse, I had to actually UNpack and REpack a bunch of stuff, to take only that which we needed (an extra set of utensils instead of the EMP-proofed handcrank weather radio, for example).
You're welcome Muncher.

First thing after choosing your campsite, gotta set up the tent. This is a tent that I've never used outdoors before that we got from the Field's for our wedding. Normally I take my single-man army tent my pop got for me for my birthday a long time ago. That tent only has enough room for me and a jar of peanut butter.
This tent, on the other hand, is freaking huge. And just because I'd never gone camping with it doesn't mean I haven't practiced putting it together in the living room (of course). With Mary's help we got this sucker up in less than 15 minutes, rain fly pinned down and all.
Spacious thing had separate compartments for pots and alternative access on the side to put your shoes and pots. A real class-act tent.

Next on the agenda is hiking. The trees and plants are huge in this forest. Also, a nice stream made for some good wading, where Mary found a big crab (alas, no pics of the crab as we were wading and didn't bring the camera out into the water).

There was a nice fallen tree that made a perfect bridge across the creek, and it wasn't even on the path. Clearly a trap for stormtroopers protecting the shield generator.

This is where the Ewoks set up the log-sweep trap.

Last on the agenda is making a fire and eatin some grub. My secret is cotton swabs slathered in vaseline. Then with a little magnesium and flint you're good to go.
Real men start fires with knives! And flint. And Magnesium.

Was that a Sasquatch? I think I just heard a Sasquatch.

The only picture I was able to capture of the elusive wild Marilynn Smallithicus.

Mary quickly acclimated to the oppressive forest environment, and we drank beers (root) while she cooked us up some hot dogs and german sausages. I even heard her say: "If this is what the apocalypse will be like, it won't be so bad." I, on the other hand, decided to try out some of my newer emergency equipment just in case, including my used Esbit german military emergency stove with trioxane heating tabs. These are cool little cigarette-pack sized metal things that fold open to hold a pot and you can put a fuel tab in them. I tested one out to see if one tab could boil the 2 cups of water needed for the big Mountain House spagetti and meatballs freeze-dried entree two person dinner ration.
The insanely hot purple burning means you know its working.

One trioxane tab almost got the 2 cups boiling, it definately could have handled 1.5 cups of water. Not too bad, considering the whole setup costs less than $2.50, with $0.23 per trioxane tab. Anyway, I had to switch to the campfire to finish it off (here I got to use one of those metal grills for the campfire that fold up -- when we went camping in Wisconsin Cullen had one and I was totally jealous). I also cooked up another german sausage to add a little spice to the spagetti.
Dinner of Champions.

We also ate a metric buttload of smores, which we were unable to take pictures of due to marshmallow-fingers. Next mornin' we had some Mountain House scrambled eggs and bacon, which was slightly better than I expected it to taste. I'd have to say that the Mountain house entrees taste much better than MRE entrees, but you don't get that instant coffee packet or plastic spoon.

All in all, totally awesome weekend.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

+10 forage bonus to Survival checks

So its definitely berry season in Oregon.

For the last week I've been stopping partway on my bike ride home from work and eating boatloads of blackberries. Blackberry bushes are everywhere in Oregon right now, but there's a sweet spot just off the bike path where no matter how many blackberries I pick, there's been a metric crap-ton more the next day.

Blackberry bushes have a boatload of thorns, but that's okay because the berries are huge so its completely worth it.

You can see the Willamette river just across the bushes where they grow like crazy.

For the last few days, I've been eating as many as I can stomach and then filling my ziploc sandwich bags from lunch (I have a sandwich and carrots everyday) with blackberries.

Then I go home, lift, and then make a blackberry protein shake. Its been great eating. Nice change from the blueberries (of which we still have about 10 pints in the freezer).

Last night I decided to surprise Mary and made blackberry chicken for dinner. I didn't really know how to incorporate blackberries and chicken so I looked up some stuff on the internet and mixed-and-matched recipes until I didn't have to go get any ingredients.

Here's the recipe breakdown for Scantabulous Berry Chicken:

  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock (or water)
  • 2:2:1 ratio of sage:thyme:rosemary (dry in this case)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar (probably optional)
  • handful of blackberries (mashed - you can use any berries)
  • 2 small cloves garlic (minced)
  • chicken breasts
  • olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rub down chicken with olive oil and then season with sage:thyme:rosemary mix. Pour 1/4 cup white wine and 1/4 cup chicken stock into glass or ceramic oven dish. Toss seasoned chicken breasts into dish and bake for 35 minutes, occasionally spooning wine/stock mix onto chicken every 10 minutes or so. Mix brown sugar, vinegar, blackberries, and garlic (for serious!) into a thick paste. After chicken's been cooking for 35 minutes, take it out and spread the blackberry spread all over the top of the chicken. Pour the second 1/4 cup wine into the pan. Put it back in the oven for another 10 minutes. Make rice in the meantime if you're bored. Take chicken out and pour remaining white wine/stock mix from the chicken pan into a stovetop pot and get it boiling. Put chicken on a plate with rice. Reduce the wine/stock mix to about 50% starting volume and spoon over chicken. Toss on a couple of whole blackberries for effect.