Kickstarter Goodness

So, I've recently come across a few Kickstarter projects that I've backed. Perhaps they'll interest you as well. I'm only going to mention the live ones I've backed, of which there are 4. The first one is for Magnetips. They're refillable, magnetic color pens. If you like to sketch, draw, or are into costume design, I think these would be a great addition to your art kit. They'd also be fantastic for the adult coloring book craze. (5 Days to Go)

The next one is Littlest Lovecraft. I have backed these folks in all of their Kickstarters. They produce gorgeous quality illustrated Lovecraftian tales. You have the option with this project to get back-editions of their books as well. I've enjoyed all of the books I've gotten from them. (36 Days to Go)

The third is Joking Hazard, a Cards Against Humanity style card game based on the Cyanide and Happiness web comic. If you like any of those words I just said, you will probably like this project. (4 Days to Go)

And last, is a project to create an audiobook of Harlan Ellison's original script for "The City on the Edge of Forever", often considered the best episode of all the classic Star Trek episodes. I'm a huge fan of Ellison - he is one of my top 3 authors. If you have any interest in him or Star Trek, please consider backing this project. (13 Days to Go).

All of these projects are fully funded already (or nearly so), so if you back them you will get the goodies they are offering.

Back in the Saddle Again

Hello folks. I know only a few of you have kept checking here since I went on hiatus. I think I'm finally ready to come back. And I'm going to change the format up a bit, with regular topics posted on regular dates. Look back in about a week when I've got the graphics all updated and stuff. I'm thinking Geek Mondays, TV Tuesdays, YouTube Thursdays... something along those lines. Still muddling it through. Last year (on Mardi Gras, 2014) I had an unexpected death in my family. My six year old cat named Random, in the prime of life, was gloriously healthy one day and the next he was dead. We're still not entirely sure what happened. It hit me pretty hard and kind of shut down all my creative processes. Then late last Summer, my 19 year old cat Tasha, who had been in declining health for a while, passed on. I think of 2014 as a bad year for cats in my house.

I've still got 2 cats. Corwin, who was Random's brother, had a really hard time for a while but is great now. Harry, who lives in a sectioned off part of my house, was unaffected.

I wrote a poem about Random the week after he died. It still makes me tear up to read. I want to share it with the world. It'll help me, and I hope you enjoy reading it.

Random

Today is Fat Tuesday. Eating jambalaya and king cake. Beaded necklaces. Laissez le bon temps roulez.

You died today.

It was too quick. Two days ago, you sat on my lap on the couch. You stood with a foot on my waist and tapped my back Wanting to be draped over my shoulder and held.

I can’t catch my breath.

Yesterday, your tummy hurt. The vet said don’t worry, Things are looking good, Here is medicine for pain.

Twelve hours later you were gone.

Running an errand to the store, I can’t understand how everyone around Can’t see that you are gone. There is a cat shaped hole in the middle of me.

Isn’t it obvious to everyone?

Remembering your weight, Holding you, I lose track of what I am doing. I hold back tears in the grocery aisle.

I still smell you everywhere.

On my hands. On my sweatshirt. In the whole house, I can’t smell anything else.

Your musk was unique to you, Muskeegee.

Watching your brother move from spot to spot, Everywhere you used to sit, Everywhere you stopped in the last few days, Sniffing, flehming, wondering where you are.

I wish I could explain.

I no longer have to be careful. Back door escapes were your specialty alone. Sniffing the outside air through the crack in the door. Running around from back to front door if you succeeded.

I want to have to be careful.

I no longer have to crack the tops of windows in the Spring when the air is warm. Your knife-claws cut through the screens If you could get to them. Ruiner.

I want to have to be wary of escapes.

I will no longer hear the thunderous trumpet of eight furry legs as the game of Chase was played Up and down the hall in the early morning.

It is too quiet without you here.

What if I had stayed awake and not gone to sleep last night. Would I have been able to save you? Would you still be with us?

I tried to be a good cat mommy.

You are the only one who came when called. Answering a high pitched nickname Waan Waan with your own high pitched mewl in return.

I miss your baby voice.

We named you after the Prince of Amber, Supporter and helper to his brother, Chosen by the unicorn As the best of his siblings.

I didn’t know how true your name was.

You crawled into my purse With your brother tagging along And I knew we had to have you both. You led him into so many adventures.

I miss your bravado.

You are the only one who loved laps, Disrespecting the personal space Of anyone who spent any time around you. Oozing yourself across any pile of limbs.

I miss the way you would put my legs to sleep.

You were the central monstrous cat creature On our gaming table. Showing your hind quarters To everyone.

I miss your disruptions.

You were the baby of the house. Never cleaning the others Always being cleaned by them. And you loved crumbs on a plate.

I miss my baby boy.

I lay down to rest, after we put you in the ground. Your brother curled on one side The other side empty.

I miss my baby boy.

Tomorrow, the two you left behind will notice you are gone. Two bowls instead of three. Food left uneaten. They leave your share in their bowls.

I wish you were still here.

Corwin loves string. Chasing it. Catching it. You always took it from him with ease, Understanding that mouths are stronger than feet. He looks for you around corners and down halls.

I look for you too.

The old lady has lost her napping buddy. Your brother has lost his best friend. We have lost the best, sweetest, trusting, loving, Mischievous giant panther I’ve ever known.

I wish we’d had more time with you.

Your absence was too sudden It still feels unreal. I keep looking outside Irrationally hoping to see you at the door.

Your name was too much like your death.

Random

This Week Online - May 27, 2014

Hello readers. Been away for about a month. Don't really have an accounting for myself. Time passed. Things were done. Other things weren't done. Back now. Happy birthday to Harlan Ellison who turns 80 today. He is my absolute favorite short story writer and the most adorable curmudgeon out there. Read a story or ten of his to celebrate.

Many things have been piling up on my desktop over the last month. I hope you find them amusing!

This Week Online - April 26, 2014

Hey all - Hope you've had a good last week. Amusingly enough, I didn't have a whole lot to post from last week so I had to wait a few extra days before some goodies came to my attention. I hope you enjoy these!

  • Do you enjoy literature? Do you enjoy comedy? The perfect melding of the two is at Thug Notes on YouTube. It's simply fantastic.
  • Are you a Patrick Rothfuss fan? You should be. He announced on his blog today that he is coming out with a new book which is not the third book in the Kingkiller Chronicle. Yes, I'm a bit disappointed, but it's set in that world so that'll be a nice consolation.
  • Stephen Colbert is closing down The Colbert Report and taking over The Late Show from David Letterman when he retires at the end of the year. As a result, Stephen has been making the rounds on shows this week. Here he says goodbye on The Daily Show. And he was also on The Late Show this past week.
  • John Waters filmed a no-smoking PSA? Yes!
  • Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen being adorable, AGAIN.
  • A fantastic fan film featuring Harley Quinn.
  • Short film following two astronauts on a ship that can travel back three minutes in time. Simply great.

I'm still trying to find the time to finish the Berlin installment of the latest Shadowrun Returns game in order to review it properly here. So far it's great, but I'm only about 10 hours of gameplay in.

Also, I picked up a game for the iPad (and other systems) called Dragons of Atlantis: Heirs of the Dragon. It's a "free to play" city-building-in-a-pvp-world type game. I played Evony back in the day for a while until the pvp stuff eventually drove me away from it. The interface on a touch screen is great. And it has neat added features like building mythical troop units (minotaurs, dragons, ogres) and you can raise an epic dragon to defend your city. If you like this sort of game, give it a try.

This Week Online - April 14, 2014

Hola all - please enjoy some amusements I found online in the past week!

Lastly, you know I'm a big fan of Tabletop, the Geek & Sundry web show hosted by Wil Wheaton on YouTube. They've decided to crowdsource the third season of the show over on Indiegogo. Check out the campaign and give if you can. If he can reach $1m, we will get a third season of Tabletop with 20 episodes AND a new spin-off show all about roleplaying games. THAT is something I really want to see!

Enjoy your week!

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

ca_wintersoldier I caught Captain America: The Winter Soldier last night, and it is a fantastic film. (spoiler-free)

I wasn't a big fan of the first one. Sue me. Superman doesn't appeal to me for the same reason Captain America doesn't appeal. Do-gooders are boring.

This film, however, takes Cap and makes him interesting - which is a thing I never thought I'd see. There's plenty of action in the film, as one would expect from a Marvel superhero film, but the thing I noticed the most were the quiet scenes. And there were a good number of quiet scenes.

These scenes allowed the viewer to reflect, to appreciate the growing relationships between various sets of characters. You don't see a lot of quiet in action films these days.

Yes, Cap is still a do-gooder. But he agonizes over that fact. The fact that he is constitutionally incapable of taking the easy way, doing things expediently, taking missions which are morally grey, makes him agonize over his place in the world. As Nick Fury says early on, Black Widow has no such compunctions. That's what makes them such a great team. It certainly doesn't hurt that Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson have great on-screen chemistry.

Marvel fans will get a number of happy moments, none of which I'll spoil here. Suffice it to say - there are two "extras" at the end of the film. One mid-way through the credits and one at the very end of the credits. Stay for both!

If you are watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., you should get out to see this film within the next day. Marvel is doing an unprecedented thing by having Cap2 impact Agents starting tomorrow night. They've given fans opening weekend to see the film so that you're up to date.

If you want your spoilers, there are a couple of articles that have been written that do a far more exhaustive job pouring over the film than I would be able to do.

  • All the Secrets and References in CA:TWS (i09). This is a great article which goes into a lot of detail about the comic book history of all the various characters encountered - a lot of which I didn't know. Two things I'll comment on which aren't really spoilers but that I learned from this article. I didn't know Ed Brubaker was in the film! He wrote the Captain America - Winter Soldier comic storyline. Completely missed noticing him in the scene in which he appears. Also, I think it's great Cap's to-do list has been customized for each country in which the film is shown. I think Doctor Who should've been on his list for the UK!
  • CA2 Spoilers: Every Easter Egg in The Winter Soldier (moviepilot.com). This list makes me want to go back and re-watch the film!

Saturday is Tabletop Day!

thumbs_tabletopday_logo Yay! Saturday is Tabletop Day!

From game stores to individual households, Saturday is the celebration of all things tabletop gaming. Get out and check out your local game store, or invite some friends over to play a game. There are SO many games out there worth checking out. A few of my current favorites are:

The Tabletop Day website is where you can get information about game stores and events near you. Check out this video where Wil Wheaton talks about the day and some fun swag Geek & Sundry has worked hard to get out to participating stores.

Play more games!

This Week Online - April 3, 2014

Ok, to be honest, it's more like the last couple of weeks online. Getting back into the swing of things here. Hope you enjoy these things I found!

This Week Online - March 10, 2014

Been a rough last couple of weeks, folks, but here's a list of amusing things I've found while I've been gone. Hope you enjoy them!

  • Star Wars prequel movies? Yeccccch.
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron! There's going to be an hour long special on ABC on March 18th. You have been put on notice.
  • Steven Soderbergh edited together the original Psycho and the remake. No, really.
  • An infographic which shows how everyone dies in Shakespeare's plays.
  • Had you heard that Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton are going to be in a vampire movie that is released in the US on April 11th? Yeah, me either!
  • While watching the Oscars, I discovered that Martin Freeman was in a nominated short film. Apparently it'll be touring with the other "Oscar Shorts" in the theaters. It's on my list to see.
  • An infographic of the 42 essential 3rd act twists from literature.
  • Fallon and Timberlake continue the History of Rap series on The Tonight Show with the fifth installment.
  • Ricky Gervais has put out a series called "Learn Guitar with David Brent". If you like his humor or his character from The Office, you'll find this enjoyable.
  • For everyone who has worked in corporate America, here is an example of what conference calls are like in real life.
  • Want to see a four minute scene from the upcoming Captain America: The Winter Soldier? It's pretty darn squeee-worthy.
  • Have you heard about Oculus? It stars Karen Gillan (of Doctor Who fame) and Katee Sackhoff. It looks pretty creepy!
  • i09 created a list of 30 Cult Movies that they consider "must watch". I've actually seen twenty-one of them. Apparently I'm a cult movie fan!
  • The Sarlacc Toilet. I really kind of want this.
  • Bill Nye tells the story behind the selfie he posted of himself, Neil deGrasse Tyson and President Obama.

And, if you didn't catch Cosmos last night, you should try to catch it tonight. Or on streaming from your cable provider. Because, you like science, right? Right?!

Game Reviews - Gone Home and Papers, Please

I recently had the opportunity to do a bit of traveling, which afforded me the time to play through a couple of Steam games I hadn't gotten around to yet. Gone_Home

 

Gone Home is a well-crafted story-based game where all you do as the player is wander around an empty house. You never encounter another person. There is no violence. The game is all about finding clues about what is going on and piecing the story together yourself. You are a college-age girl, who has come home after spending a year abroad in Europe. You come home to an empty house - your parents are missing as is your younger sister. Your family had moved into this house while you were away, so you are unfamiliar with the house. The main story focuses on your younger sister, but there are stories about your dead great-uncle (who left the house to your father), your father and your mother as well. All of the stories are excellent - the main story is compelling and will keep you engaged throughout the gameplay. The side-stories aren't critical to completion of the main story and one of them is quite subtle; I found it worthwhile to take the time to find all of the stories available in the game.. The entire gameplay took me about 4 hours to complete.  I don't want to ruin anything about this game - but if this sort of game appeals to you I highly recommend it.

Papers_please

 

Papers, Please is a game called a "dystopian document thriller". I admit, I'd never run into a game quite like this one before. The music is fantastic and the graphics are crude but support the overall sense of Soviet-era repression and scarcity of resources. You are a border inspector and it is your job each day to review the papers (passports, passes, work permits, etc.) of people requesting entry to your country. You approve or deny their request. Sounds simple, doesn't it? With each passing day, the amount of things you have to remember to check on various documents increases. You are paid by the person that you review, so the slower your review goes, the less you get paid. You have a family at home for whom you have to pay rent, food, medicine, etc. I enjoyed playing this game a couple of times. The first time I didn't make enough money, my family got sick, and I messed up so much I was thrown in prison. The second time I got through about 15 days of story and discovered the game was starting to feel more like work than like a game. You have to keep track of a LOT of minutiae related to the documents.  I appreciate the story, and how awful a bleak, repetitive job like that would be -- the game does a great job conveying that. I didn't find the game particularly fun.

This Week Online - February 24, 2014

I would like it if fantastic comic legends would stop passing away for a bit. This last week has been rough. We lost both Sid Caesar and Harold Ramis in the last two weeks. Both men were legends and influenced generations of comic talent. Here are some things of interest I found online in the last week:

RIP Mr. Caesar and Mr. Ramis.

This Week Online - February 15, 2014

Hey all - I'm getting ready to head out for a short vacation to Miami, FL, so I wanted to toss the things I've found so far online this week up on the site. Enjoy!

Have a great week!

Tabletop Thursday - Fortune & Glory

Yesterday’s Tabletop episode featured the board game Fortune and Glory. The players are Felicia Day, Ryon Day, Wil Wheaton, and Brandon Routh. My first exposure to Fortune & Glory was on the game review site Shut Up & Sit Down. They did not favorably review the game, saying that there isn’t much strategy to the game and that if a player happens to roll poorly on a consistent basis they can end up not having a lot to do for the duration of the game. My favorite quote from their review is "This game, this beautiful game, this landfill of components, cards and color, this crush of cliffhangers, is everything that's wrong with Ameritrash."

As a quick aside, Shut Up & Sit Down is a fantastic gaming review site and I think it’s a great compliment to Tabletop (and On The Table) for gaming news. They’re raising funding to keep their website/content production going, so if you feel like tossing them some monetary love I think they’re worth it.

My thoughts about the game from this episode of Tabletop… well, 7 minutes in Wil cuts in and admits they got the rules all wrong throughout their gameplay so the episode isn’t really a representative sense of how the game plays. So, it’s hard to gauge. They certainly seem to have fun playing the game. But there are a LOT of bits involved… games with tons of bits can be a headache. There also seem to be a TON of rules and rules variants.

I think this is a game whose theme (Indiana Jones-style adventurers traversing the world to gather artifacts and fight Nazis) is very appealing. I will probably rent this game from my local game store to give it a try before thinking about purchasing it.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/rQMuu_7jn2I width="400" height="300"]



If you take the time to watch this episode, I recommend you take an additional 10 minutes to watch SU&SD's review as well.

Today Is the Last Day of Worldbuilders

worldbuilders Today is the final day to participate in Patrick Rothfuss's Worldbuilders charity event for Heifer International. A donation as small as $10 will enter you into a lottery full of awesome books and you'll help Heifer fight hunger and poverty across the world.

There aren't many charities out there that I regularly give to. A limit on funds available to donate is always an issue. But Heifer is one organization I try to give to every year. They make a difference in the world. And it's neat to be able to give someone a beehive or a flock of chickens or sheep or a cow or a water buffalo. You can also give irrigation pumps, clean water, stoves and the like.

Patrick Rothfuss is an author of a great series of books called The Kingkiller Chronicle. I don't know him personally, but from his posts on Facebook and his blog he appears to be a great guy who really cares about doing good for people. He runs the Worldbuilders event and gets donations from authors and artists to auction on eBay for the charity as well as to put in the lottery for contributors to win. The items in the lottery are mind blowing - lots of rare editions of books, autographed books, things you can't get anywhere else. And the items that have been sold on eBay have been really neat too - there's a listing for Len Peralta's Geek-A-Week card sets that it breaks my heart I don't have the cash to bid on myself - and there's lots of other neat books and prints currently up for auction as well.

So, if you have any interest in checking this great opportunity out, please do so. It's a great cause, and you'll get a chance to win something really neat as well.

Dresden Files and Old Man's War

I just recently finished reading books 3 and 4 in Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series (Grave Peril and Summer Knight respectively), and the first book in John Scalzi's Old Man's War series. I reviewed Old Man's War over on Goodreads, but suffice it to say I found it enjoyable. More enjoyable than I had expected it to be, given the subject matter. I recommend that you check it out.

The Dresden Files series is enjoyable brain candy. Highly formulaic, it's light hearted fantasy-meets-real-world with some detective stuff thrown in for good measure. I find it nice bedtime reading as it doesn't require much brain power. His formula is reliably engaging, if a bit predictable after 4 books. There are 15 books in the series so far. I'm still finding them entertaining enough to continue to purchase upon occasion. I just hope that series doesn't jump the shark like the Sookie Stackhouse (True Blood) series by Charlaine Harris did.

To round out this post, I've found a couple of amusing things on the internet that I wanted to share before the weekend comes. One of them is a fantastic Superbowl commercial. Enjoy!

This Week Online - January 27, 2014

I hope everyone is enjoying the Winter weather across the country. I know I'm glad the kids are back at school today. Here are some fun things I found online this week:

Please enjoy, and check back often!

Tabletop Thursday - Ticket to Ride: Europe

Happy Thursday! Today's episode of Tabletop features Ticket to Ride: Europe. [youtube=http://youtu.be/Bk8X2fn9a4I width="400" height="300"]

Players are Emma Caulfield, Anne Wheaton and John Kovalic. The chemistry between the players is very upbeat and positive, despite Wil and John's initial competitiveness against each other. Still, this game basically plays just like the original Ticket to Ride from last season with very small variations.

Hope everyone has had a good week. The kids in my area got the entire week off from school due to snow, and this was also my son's birthday week. So happy birthday to him, and yay snow! I feel like I've gotten some proper Winter now.

The big project at my house is painting a bathroom to look like the inside of the classic TARDIS. It's turned out to be a lot more work than expected (as all painting projects do). I'll be posting pictures & details here when it's finished!

Don't miss Tabletop Day 2014!!! (April 5th)

thumbs_tabletopday_logo I don't know what you did for Tabletop Day last year, but I had a fantastic time going to my local game shop and playing games. Dragon's Den in Short Pump, VA is my store of choice, and they put on quite a game-filled day for last year's Tabletop Day.

I got to play Cthulhu Fluxx for the first time, and discovered that the rules for that variant of the Fluxx games are far more complicated than most. I also saw people enjoying wonderful games like Gloom, Sentinels of The Multiverse and Dixit, to name a few.

Here's an ad that Felicia Day and Wil Wheaton did to promote awareness of Tabletop Day on the USA Today website.

Take your family to your local game store and check out some new games. Tabletop games are all the rage right now, and there are tons of fun games out there. Your local game store owner will be happy to introduce you to them. You can also check out my link on the left for the full run of Tabletop episodes (Geek & Sundry's YouTube show), featuring wonderful games and how to play them.

If you need help finding a Tabletop Day participating store in your area, check out the official Tabletop Day website!

To quote Wil Wheaton, "Play more games!"

This Week Online - January 20, 2014

Hola everyone! Hope you're having a warm & relaxing MLK day today. Here's some fun stuff I've seen online in the last couple of weeks:

We're expecting snow here tonight, which would be a nice change from the relatively mild temperatures and lots of rain we've had so far this Winter. Have a good week and check back soon for more posts!