Monday, December 5, 2011

"Novel" is done!

My National Novel Writing Month "novel" reached 70,000 words on November 30. I barely wrote anything on the last day because I had reached the end of my plot a few days before, went back and added a scene, but couldn't think of anything else to add. Attempts to find a place to shoehorn more description or dialog only revealed tons of places where things should be deleted, so I ended up rounding out my novel to 70,000 words and leaving that as good enough.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Otherversary #3

It's been three years since my wife and I started going out. The best three years of my life...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

NaNoWriMo Fan Art

One of my novel's main characters is Aleksander Kolyarov, a Russian Werewolf who looks more like a husky than a wolf. Yesterday, my wife sent me this picture:

 So I decided to use my awesome Photoshop skills to make a picture of a baby Kolyarov:
I figure, if I don't make fanart of my own work, how can I ever expect anyone else to? If you're not lucky enough to have a character who is easy to photoshop (like Kolyarov) and you don't have much in the way of artistic talent (I know I sure don't), then the next best thing is to find a picture of someone else's character who kind of looks like your character and pretend that it's fanart of your character.

But in all seriousness, I actually have received fan art for things I've written, and it is the greatest feeling in the world!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Halfway there!

It's November 15, so I'm halfway through National Novel Writing Month. I currently have 37161 words, though I haven't written today's entry yet. That means that, at this rate, I will be able to reach over 70,000 words by the end of the month! Yikes!

Well, I don't expect to actually make it to 70,000. I expect I'll be getting pretty burned out before then. The first signs of burnout have already started, and I'm sure it'll get worse from here.

That said, I'm still having fun with my writing (usually). My characters have just reached Cyberdome, so now I'm extra excited about describing what happens next! I picture Cyberdome as Thunderdome reinvented as a cyberpunk Dickens Fair. And who wouldn't want to write about that?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fair Warning: November is Coming...

Image from austinevan's Flickr
November is coming, and once again I plan on embarking on National Novel Writing Month. The purpose of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, is to try to write 50,000 words of prose fiction. You have to start the novel on November 1st, and try to have 50,000 words by the end of the month.

I've tried three times before, and even though I made it to 50,000 words each time, I felt like my first "novel" was the best and they got steadily worse from there. I hope to turn this trend around this year, but I guess we'll see how that turns out.

I plan on setting my novel in Berk. If you see me during November, please remind me that the story needs to be more zany! Wacky hijinks are also encouraged. If I'm not having fun writing it, nobody will ever have fun reading it.

This post is called "Fair warning" because I'm going to be trying to do a little bit of writing each day, so my evenings are going to be booked for the whole month. I may also have to use weekends to catch up on writing, but hopefully I won't be a total recluse all month.

But I suppose we'll see...

Monday, September 5, 2011

Write Fifteen Minutes a Day (WFMAD) Challenge So Far

So far this month, I have been participating in the Write Fifteen Minutes a Day Challenge. This is supposed to be done in August, but a friend of mine organized a September version online and invited me to join in.

I have been planning on running a Gamma World RPG campaign, or maybe a Dark Sun campaign, or some kind of campaign, for ages now, but I had never really bothered to think it through. I took this opportunity to start fleshing out some details for my setting, starting with the name.

I have also been asking people for feedback (thanks for the feedback I've gotten so far!), but when I ask people about what else I should write about, but people don't know enough about the setting and what's percolating in my brain to ask for it. So here are the posts I've written so far, and some others I'm thinking about writing. Let me know which of these you'd like to see!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Is there no one who values courage over life?

When some friends came over for a party on the weekend before my birthday, they brought along some awesome gifts. One of the things I got was this:

Tickets for me and my lady to go see one of my favorite bands of all time, The Protomen. I have written about the Protomen on this blog before, so you can guess how excited I was to see them live. I spent the next couple of workdays listening to the Protomen albums back to back nonstop. When it was time to go to the concert, one of our friends gave us a ride. As we crossed the bridge into San Francisco, the sun was setting behind the city, making the buildings look like black silhouettes with shining windows. It felt very much like we were entering the Protomen world.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Happy Birthday!

Every year it feels like my birthday is an overwhelming experience, but this year felt like it was overwhelmingly overwhelming! Thanks to all my incredibly kind, generous, cool, and rockin' friends and family for your gifts, your kindness, and your friendship. Also, happy birthday to my brothers, who share a birthday with me! There's plenty of birthday to go around!

And if I haven't told you already, some of my friends got my lady and I tickets to go see The Protomen tonight. I'm so stoked, you guys. So stoked.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Size Medium T-Shirts

When I was a little kid, I would wear enormous shirts that reached my knees. For some reason, I thought this was cool. It probably had to do with my perception of the hip-hop culture of the day. My favorite shirt for a while was an eye-gouging, neon shade of lime green. Go figure.

By the time I got to college, I was used to wearing size Large t-shirts that fit me a little better. I figured that, even though I was skinny, I was tall enough to justify wearing a Large shirt. Maybe part of the reason I wore large shirts was to cover up my physique. Nevermind that many of them draped over my figure like sheets, especially as they started to wear out.

Lately I have started wearing Medium sized shirts, and I am amazed by how much better they seem to fit. When I think about it, it feels like it's part of growing up. I've started trying to pay more attention to my appearance, and that includes trying to make an effort to at least wear shirts that fit.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Thinking Way Too Hard About: Crossovers

Image by AbyssWolf
I'm a sucker for crossover stories. I'm fascinated by the thought of creating a new story by combining characters from multiple other stories. Sometimes the settings are mashed together with very little explanation, just some hand-waving about dimensional rifts or a magical summons. Other times, there is an elaborate backstory that combines threads of multiple stories to create an amalgam universe. The author can either lift the characters from their original settings as they originally appeared, or re-interpret the characters to match the new setting.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

A Warning About Maxell Stereo Neckband Head Buds

I was on the lookout for some cheap headphones so that I could listen to music while at work. I ended up buying a pair of these for next to nothing:;66;522;0&a=info&pid=193

See those bits at the bottom? If you think that part is where the music comes out, you are half right. That is the part where music comes out as it drills through your ears into your brain.

Seriously, I have never worn a more uncomfortable set of headphones. When I saw the picture on the cover, I thought the guy was enjoying some awesome tunes. It turns out he's screaming in blinding agony as his ears are brutalized by these torture-machines.

I've already ordered a different kind of headphones from Amazon, but I thought I would let you know to avoid these, just in case.

Monday, May 9, 2011

I think I saw a tumbleweed go by...

It's been a while since I've received a comment on this blog.

My other blog, Supervillainous, has the dubious honor of having a grand total of zero comments on it. (There was a comment or two on a placeholder post I originally put up, but that post has since been deleted.)

I'm not writing this post to be bitter (well, maybe a little) or to remind you that I always try to leave comments when I read a blog post (hint hint), but to introduce a change I have implemented: I have turned on "Reactions."

I know that some people read this blog. I also know that it's only around five people, but hey, an audience is an audience. So I figure that the reason that people don't leave comments is that there isn't much to say. People I know tend to be pretty sharp, and not the kind to leave comments like "Yep, I read it," or "Me, too," or "lol." So, to make it easier to give a reaction to my posts, I have added the ability to note whether you thought that a particular entry was "interesting," "weird," and/or "amusing."

Let's see if it works!

PS: Feel free to leave comments, too, if you want.
PPS: If your comment is "First!" I will cry a little, on the inside.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

These words have steel

I stand alone.
I am with you.
We stand together.
Let them come.
Hold the line.
I will not yield.

Li Hing Mui

I should start by saying that li hing mui is awesome. I'm starting there because it's important to know, and because otherwise this post may sound at first like I don't like it.

I was introduced to li hing mui by my wife, who got a package from her parents in Hawaii. Li hing mui is a Chinese snack that's also very popular in Hawaii. It's a dried plum with special li hing powder on it, and it's impossible to describe the taste. Wikipedia describes it as "a combination of sweet, sour, and salty taste," if that helps.

I'm not sure of its correct pronunciation, but saying "leehee moy" has served me pretty well so far.

I can honestly say that my first li hing mui was memorable. I had never even tasted one before, so my wife warned me that the flavor was strong and I may not like it. Naturally this meant that I had to immediately put a whole piece in my mouth. I must have made some pretty hilarious faces.

Now I can't get enough of it. I eat it all the time. I only eat a little bit at a time, because I have learned that one of the side effects of li hing mui is that it makes your burps taste terrible.

My in-laws said that they will send us li hing mango next, and I am eagerly anticipating it.

So if you ever get the chance, give it a try. Only, take a little nibble first, to get used to the flavor. You'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Blood Bowl video game has a hotseat mode

Picture this: a chill breeze blows over a scraggly field as a group of orcs faces off against a group of undead. Steam puffs from the orcs' noses and mouths as they snort the cold air. The undead do not breathe at all. Then a ghoul charges forward, its bony claws tearing furrows in the grass and flinging clumps of grass into the air. It swings its leg, and kicks a spiked football into the air. Both teams leap into action as the crowd goes wild...

Blood Bowl is a tabletop miniatures game created by Games Workshop. It's seen a number of video game adaptations, most recently as Blood Bowl: Legendary Edition, which was recently on sale for ten bucks on Steam. It takes place in the Warhammer Fantasy world, which is a very grim Renaissance-era fantasy setting that features all sorts of terrible demons and monsters. In Blood Bowl, those terrible demons and monsters are playing football.

It's wacky, hilarious, and brutal. I've only played a little bit of the game, but so far I'm loving the sight of orcs, dwarves, elves, and more wearing primitive football pads and fighting over a spike-studded ball. Some of the teams play the game straight, while others cheat for all they're worth or simply focus on grinding the other team into the dirt.

The video game can be played either turn-based or as an RTS. I'm lost enough when playing the turn-based game, so I haven't tried the RTS mode yet. As a turn-based game, it even has a hot-seat mode. This means that two players can share a computer. When one person's turn ends, you just pass the mouse to the other player.

So if any of you have the game, or if you're in the area and want to stop by my place, why don't we toss around the old pigskin? Wait, that leather doesn't look like it was made out of a pig...

Friday, April 8, 2011

Thinking Way Too Hard About: PC Weapon rewards for the Star Wars Roleplaying Game

Okay, so here's a weirdly specific blog post about something that's been on my mind lately. The only RPG campaign I've ever been in that played consistently and reached a conclusion was a Star Wars game that my brother ran. The Star Wars campaign has been on my mind lately because my current campaign is on sort of an unintentional hiatus and I've heard that some of my coworkers are in a Star Wars game.

Looking back, the Star Wars campaign was a lot of fun. I can still remember fighting droids on a hovering platform over lakes of acid, and the forest race whose tribal meetings were held entirely in poetry. That said, I feel like the two areas that could have used the most improvement would have been an overarching villain and some loot to reward the heroes.

This led me to thinking about how best to give weapons to characters in a Star Wars campaign. I've played a lot of Knights of the Old Republic, which in many ways sticks a little too closely to its roots as Dungeons and Dragons in Space. As the characters progress, perhaps their starting "Blaster Pistol" might be traded out for something like a "Republic Blaster Pistol" (a little better) which would later be traded out for a "Mandalorian Blaster Pistol" (even better). The game then had some extra special items that you pick up along the way. Take down a bounty hunter, for instance, and you can pick up his specially customized pistol and use it as your own. This works, but I think GMs can be more creative.

I think that giving weapons backgrounds is a great way to draw the players into the game setting. If anything unites all players in all RPGs ever, it's the desire for better gear for their characters. Players are going to be expecting to get better gear, so if the GM can use the gear to tell a story, everyone wins.

So, mostly to amuse myself, I cooked up a couple of special Star Wars weapons that could be used to reward medium-or high-level PCs in a Star Wars campaign. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

I have no words for how happy this makes me

For a while now I have been jealous of one of my friends, who looks eerily like Christopher Marlowe:

I mean, who wouldn't want to look like one of history's greatest writers? Heck, looking a lot like any historical personality would be downright awesome. I browsed Wikipedia in the vain hope of finding someone I resembled, but my search bore no fruit.

Then today, my brother sent me this picture:
That's a young Leo Tolstoy. While he doesn't look exactly like me, the resemblance is pretty striking, and weirdly seems to grow more noticeable the more I look at it. I think it's especially around the eyes (the mustache and sideburns helps).

It's not just the facial hair, though. My brother sent me another picture, without the sideburns, and it still looks quite a bit like me:

I sat at my desk grinning like a loon for about half an hour after seeing this picture.

The good news: I bear a strong resemblance to one of history's great figures.

The bad news: I guess this means I have to read War and Peace.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Spot of Reading

I'm quite a slow reader at the best of times, and for a while I was so busy letting myself get distracted with video games that I wasn't doing much reading at all. Lately I've been trying to do a bit more reading, with mixed results, so here are some thoughts on the books I've been reading, and some of the books still on my reading schedule...

Monday, March 14, 2011

Beautiful, melancholy, steampunk-esque music video

Follow the link to see "Eye of the Storm," a music video for a song by Lovett.

It's a gorgeous video, but I'm not entirely sure what happens. Not that it matters; I think the mood of the piece is more important than the plot. You should go watch it.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Isn't It About Time I Wrote About Hawaii?

So as you all know, my lady and I visited Hawaii recently, but I haven't written anything about it yet, other than the time I opted out of the Backscatter machine. I've been meaning to write more about Hawaii, though, so here goes.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Watch These Videos

I realize that I may be the last person on the internet to see these, but I just had to share them anyway.

First, the trailer to the video game Dead Island may be on of the best zombie movies I've ever seen, and it's only three minutes long.

Second, watch the short film The Backwater Gospel, a Weird West-ish tale with great visuals. Warning: it's pretty disturbing, and also really quite gory.

I promise I will have actual content on this blog again... someday...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Check Out This Cool Art Show

Some of our friends put together an art show last month in LA. Unfortunately, LA is far away and we weren't able to attend, but now you can read about it here, and see some of the great art:

Taffy-Colored Clouds Revisited

While you're at it, also check out their zine:
Eyeball Burp

You can think of this as my way of apologizing for not having more content by linking you to other people's content.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

RIP Brian Jacques

Brian Jacques, best known as the author of the Redwall series of novels, passed away on February 5, 2011.

When I was in grade school and middle school, I really got into Redwall. I remember our teacher reading the class Redwall and Martin the Warrior when we were in fifth grade. Both novels made our prickly old teacher get so emotional that she had to pretend to cough and sneeze to cover up the strain in her voice.

The Redwall world was my first experience with online fandom. I joined a Geocities site for roleplaying Redwall characters, and I made up a hare named Borian Tenears. I have probably written more fan fiction for Redwall than for any other setting, though I haven't written any in more than a decade.

That said, the best tribute I can come up with for Brian Jacques is to dust off the old hare one last time, and put him to rest for good.

I don't normally post fiction on this blog, but my original stories were on the internet for all to see, so I see no reason to be shy about this story. You don't have to read it if you don't want to.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Advice for Husbands

Hi guys,

Pro tip: If your justification for a habit starts with "But it conserves...," you've already lost.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

This is Why My Wife is Awesome

As all of you know, I have been on a Mass Effect kick lately. The gift my wife got me for our anniversary arrived today, and she left the package at work at the end of the day to bring it home. She also gave me explicit instructions not to open it without her.

Monday, January 31, 2011

A Year and a Day

Shepard and Garrus, by Silberfeder
Yesterday was our anniversary. Happy anniversary, my love.

If any of you would like to know how amazing my wife is, you need know only this: I finished Mass Effect 2 over the weekend, so to celebrate, she baked me a Shepard's Pie. Yes, really.

Artist's rendition. Not the actual pie.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

What Happens During a TSA Patdown?

About two weeks ago, we flew to Hawaii to visit my in-laws and see the beautiful island of Kauai. But first, we had to go through the Oakland International Airport, and that meant going through a TSA security checkpoint. Oakland uses the infamous backscatter device, which the internets have been raging about since the holiday season.

I don't mind a machine that sees through my clothes to detect possible hidden weapons. If it means keeping people safe, I'm all for it. However, I've heard that these machines emit dangerous amounts of radiation, and that made me nervous. There's quite a debate about whether the machines are dangerous or not, but I didn't want to take my chances. So, when it came to my turn in line, I told the security person herding people through that I would like to opt out.

"We've got a male opt-out," she shouted. I couldn't tell who she was shouting to. She asked me, rather nervously, whether I realized that opting out meant that I would receive a pat-down. She paused before saying "pat-down," and I thought that maybe she was trying to decide on a more pleasant thing to call it, but she chose to go with what people called it. I told her that I understood.

"Please stand aside, sir," she said, and moved me next to the X-ray machine that was scanning my carry-on bag and the plastic bin that held my shoes, belt, jacket, and the things from my pockets.

When my bags came through, I asked if I should go get them. I was told, no, please wait there. So I waited.

Shortly, a TSA man came over and the security person pointed me out to him. He asked me if I could see my bags from where I was, and I pointed them out. I assume this was so that I could be sure that nobody was walking off with my stuff while I was being patted down. Then he asked me if I was traveling alone, and I replied that I was traveling with my wife. He asked me to point her out, which I did.

Next, he walked me over to a small mat with the shape of two footprints on it that was located behind the X-ray machine. He asked if I wanted to be patted down in private, but, in the interest of time, I said here was fine. So he explained that he would have to run his hands over me, but he would warn me before touching any "sensitive parts of my body," and he would only use the backs of his hands for those parts. "Sensitive parts of your body" must be TSA code for "private parts," because he used this phrase several time during the pat-down.

He next asked if I had any part of my body that was especially sensitive. I assume this was in case the person being patted down has suffered an injury or has a condition that makes a part of their painful to the touch. I don't have anything like that, so I replied, no, I don't.

He patted down me down from the back first, including feeling inside my waistband. This was honestly the most intrusive part of the pat-down for me, but I can see how it makes perfect sense from a security perspective to check in someone's waistband. It seems like a natural place to hide a weapon. Also, as I wasn't wearing my belt at this point, it wasn't difficult for him to check my waistband (I'm glad I wore loose trousers).

Next he ran his hands over the backs of my legs, and he warned me when he was getting close to the "sensitive parts of my body" and reminded me that he would be touching that are with the backs of his hands. When that was done, he moved in front of me and patted me down from the front, including under my arms. Once again he warned me that he was about to reach the "sensitive part of my body" and that he would be using the backs of his hands, and he finished patting me down and told me I could go.

I was impressed and relieved at the professionalism I experienced. It was the opposite of the horror stories I had read online about people feeling assaulted during the pat-downs. Honestly, I don't think he ever actually touched the "sensitive part of my body," and he warned me so many times that I almost told him to just get on with it. I felt like he did a thorough job that would have found any hidden weapons, had I been a terrorist, while still treating me like a human being.

What this tells me is that the TSA is very conscious of the bad press they've been getting, and they have taken steps to ensure that the people performing these pat-downs do so correctly, at least at Oakland International.

Incidentally, on the way back from Hawaii, there were two lines going through security at the Lihue airport: one with a backscatter machine, and one with a traditional metal detector. My wife and I both chose the line with the metal detector.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

This trailer for the movie 'Priest' is awesome...

...and I strongly suspect that someone I know secretly wrote the script. Seriously, this is so relevant to my interests. I would say more but there is nothing to say. Just watch the trailer at io9.