Sunday, November 30, 2008


Well, there goes another Thanksgiving.

It was largely uneventful. I had turkey with all the trimmings with a group of friends, as I was unable to get back down to California (though I will be returning for Christmas).

The ninjas did come 'round, though I never actually saw them. The left-over turkey was eaten and the mashed potatoes were gone, so I'm assuming it was them. Well, that and the poisoned dart someone shot me in the butt with. Luckily, the poison was counteracted by the stuffing and aside from a few minutes where I was concerned that the ceiling was melting, not much happened.

A new page will be up on Tuesday and look for the usual blogs throughout the week!


Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving Week

Hey all,

I just wanted to say that I will be taking this week off from blogging. I realize that many of you will feel that your week will be incomplete without a steady stream of inanities about stormtroopers and zombies. However, I need to wrap up some stuff at work, what with taking part of the week off for Thanksgiving.

We will be posting a new page on Tuesday and the usual blogging goodness will return next week.

So, until then, here is my favorite clip from the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Special:

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

New and Improved: Part 2

These hip, sleek zombies would lurk near Apple Stores, waiting to pounce on unsuspecting iPod and iPhone users. With their stylish good looks and ease of use, the average Apple-enthusiast would be helpless before them. They would also play MP3s, movies, act as a phone, and allow you to surf the net while being eaten.

The only defense against the iZombie is to look like John Hodgman and shout ‘I’m a PC!’ This should stun them sufficiently to allow for an easy escape.

Alert reader Kammorremae (which I think I spelled right) has suggested Zom-Babes. These rather attractive zombies would troll internet chat rooms and Craigslist, looking for a nice man to take them out to ‘lunch.’ They would be well-versed in the arts of flattery and faking interest, and would use every advantage to charm their unsuspecting victims.

“Oh, wow! You were the first level 80 DK on your server and you love to go to Southshore and gank noobs? You sound soooooo cool!”

J. Alexander Van Belkum suggested that a Zom-Babe could be used to distract a Nerd-bie. I would agree with that, but once they figured it out, they would team up and divest you of your gold and brains, more or less in that order.

In a typical zombie movie, the zombie bites a human and after dying, the human turns into a zombie and begins wreaking havoc. The details change from film to film, but the basic transmission of being bitten tends to remain the same.

What if (he began gleefully) you had a Reverse-Zombie? That is, a human that when he bit a zombie, turned it back into a human? The basic question, of course, is why would a human want to bite a zombie, but stranger things have happened.

The idea is not perfect. What if a zombie bit the reverse-zombie? Would it then be a reverse-reverse-zombie? What if the zombie being bitten had missing limbs or had most of its torso removed with a shotgun? Would it turn back into a human only long enough to scream in agony and then die (again)? Could a zombie and a reverse-zombie take turns biting the same target, bouncing it between zombie and human?

The mind boggles. Well, at least mine does.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

New and Improved: Part 1

Thanks to Left 4 Dead, zombies are once again a hot topic in the gaming world. This got me thinking (as much as I ever do) about the different kinds of zombies. There are, in essence, two:

Slow zombies, who move, well, slowly. They tend to say ‘Brains’ a lot.

And fast zombies. They move quickly and don’t tend to say ‘Brains’ at all.

Granted, Left 4 Dead has Smokers, Boomers, Hunters, Witches, and Tanks as well, but they’re not really accepted as ‘standard’ zombies. They’re in a special class all their own (it’s like Special Ed, but you get to eat people for lunch).

As you can see, there’s not a lot of variation in zombies. They’re more-or-less dead and want to eat you. Mummies can curse you. Vampires get all the babes. Ghosts do . . . things. Okay, I don’t know what ghosts do. Moving on.

I have therefore decided to spice up the ranks of zombies with some new, more interesting versions of the walking dead. Please feel free to use them in your video games, movies, and television shows (assuming you give me money, of course).

Habeas Corpus (aka Law-Zombies):
Combining the horror of the walking dead with the sheer malevolence of a lawyer, Habeas Corpuses are generally found lurching around courthouses and upscale bars, muttering things like ‘Tort’ and ‘Martini.’ They won’t immediately go for your brain, preferring to first sue you into submission, so as to avoid having to chase you. Once you’re good and stunned by their devastating legal arguments, they will then dine on your grey matter, generally with some sort of Hollandaise sauce.

NOTE: I realize Habeas Corpus is a terrible, terrible pun. I did it on purpose (and am unashamed).

The risen corpses of gamers and other sorts of nerds, Nerd-bies aren’t particularly interested in your brain. What they really want is all your WoW gold. They can often be found lurking in Game Stops and other similar stores, hoping to scare you into giving them your account information. Even easier to defeat than traditional, slow zombies, all you really need to do is point behind them and shout ‘Hey, it’s William Shatner!’ and then wander away while they’re distracted.

‘Leonard Nimoy’ also works, as will ‘Hey, that guy works for Blizzard!’

Tomorrow: Part 2

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Left 4 Dead

I played quite a bit of Left 4 Dead today at work. One of the benefits of being in the game industry is that you sometimes need to do 'research' on a competitor. Of course, 'research' can take a while, as you really need to get to the heart of the game to fully evaluate it.

Needless to say, I love 'research.'

So, what do I think? The single player campaign is a solid B or B+. The AI is generally rather smart and can competently deal with the rampaging zombie hordes. They help you out, kill things, and are generally solid.

The Co-op campaign is a more difficult one to judge. I played a couple hours of co-op and it was a blast. However, not all players are created equal, so your mileage may vary. I can honestly say that with a coordinated, competent group that worked together, co-op would be an easy A or A+. However, I can easily see playing in a pick-up group being a nightmare, especially if you happen to fall in with a group of, how shall we say, 'dickwads.'

A few quibbles:
The areas are loosely populated with random undead, which are easy to pick off with pistols. Every so often, a 'horde' attacks and you get ten to twenty seconds of mayhem. Once the horde is dispatched, you go back to picking off strays. This cycle repeats throughout the game and once you get used to it, it's fairly predictable. 'Hey,' you might think, 'I just cleared a farmhouse, bet a horde will show up' and it will.

The gatling guns which are scattered about overheat and have a really limited firing angle. They're practically useless, though they can do bad things to a Tank if you get lucky. And honestly, gatling guns don't really overheat. That's why they have six or more barrels (that's why they're so widely used).

The shotgun seems to be the uber-weapon. You can take down any number of zombies in the blast area, so if you time it right, you can eliminate an entire horde in two or three shots.

The other weapons are okay, but I don't see a reason for the hunting rifle. The action tends to be close and fast, so sniping doesn't seem to be particularly useful. I haven't tried it yet, but I will.

Good things:
The characters look amazing. They have great dialogue and seem to have real personalities. I would occasionally forget they're AI and start trying to give them orders.

All the guns I've used so far are fun and do the job. I especially like the M-16 and the combat shotgun.

The sound effects are great. You eventually learn what sounds each of the bosses make, so once you hear it, you're instantly on guard and scanning for them. It's a great and subtle way of conveying information to the players.

The two movies I've played have been varied and fun. They've kept to their 'milieu' well and are believable environments. Sometimes, I'm not sure where exactly to go, but I've never gotten lost and actually, it feels believable in the situation.

Overall, I would totally recommend Left 4 Dead to any FPS fan. And even if you're not, download the demo and play with a couple of friends, you might be surprised at how much fun you're having.


Water - No, Really

This video made its way 'round work the other day and I thought it was extremely cool. It's of a very hi-tech fountain in a Japanese mall.

It's not completely obvious what's happening initially, but give it a minute, it gets very, very cool.


Sunday, November 16, 2008


If you happen to be one of the last people on Earth not playing WoW, you may be surprised to hear that Wrath of the Lich King, the most recent expansion has come out. We nerds have been waiting breathlessly for it and can now quest in North Rend to our hearts content. Assuming we can actually get on the server that is.

I haven't actually gone there yet, though I did install the expansion. I'll give it a few months, so I'm not fighting over spawns with everyone else. I'll wait even longer before I make a Deathknight. I just don't need another character right now.

Anyhow, there should, barring major accidents, explosions, ninjas and/or Godzilla attacks, or the implosion of our sun, a new page on Tuesday. And, as an added bonus, I'm just about done with Tales from the Fireside #6! That will be going up this week at some point, just as soon as I get a few last minute edits done.

Expect the usual blogs and weirdness the rest of the week.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Same Old Stories

There comes a time in every relationship when you realize that you’ve heard all the other person’s stories. This happened to me the other day with Leigh. We were having lunch at our favorite Chinese restaurant (Peking in Redmond) and we our conversation pretty much went like this.

Me: “Oh, I talked to my buddy Bob yesterday. He was the one who did that thing with the goat-“

Leigh: “Oh yeah, and the plastic army men!”

Me: “Right! It was when-“

Leigh: “You were throwing the discus at the swimsuit competition!”

Me: “Yeah. Guess you heard that one before?”

Leigh: “You tell that one every other week.”

Me: “I do?”

Leigh: “Yep. Though that reminds me of the story where-“

Me: “The bees, the Ford Focus, the three pounds of cheese, and the guy with the wig.”

Leigh: “ . . . yes.”

Long pause.

Me: “I guess we’ve pretty much tapped the conversation supply. Our Small Talk Waterloo, as it were.”

Leigh: “You said that last week.”

This is not necessarily a bad thing. Leigh and I have known each other since college and frankly, it’s not like we’re international spies, where we’re having death-defying adventures every week (well, I am, but it’s a secret). We basically move in the same circles, share the same friends, and pretty much do everything but trade recipes. It says something I think, that we still enjoy hanging out, even though we don’t necessarily have anything new to say.

Though, I swear if he tells that story about whacking that mime with a ham hock again, I’m gonna kill him . . .


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Signs: Part 2

The other sign occurred in Texas, at the Dallas/Ft. Worth Airport (which, as far as airports go, was quite lovely). I needed to use the bathroom, as occasionally happens, and noticed a red and white sign near the door. It was a red circle with a white twister on it and the words ‘Severe Weather Area.’

I happened past three bathrooms and the sign was posted at each one. I did not see it anywhere else in the entire airport (or in the tiny bit of the rest of the state I saw).

This, of course, raises the question: what sort of natural disasters occur in a Texas airport bathroom that they felt a need to post a sign warning people about it? Do hurricanes occur in the bathrooms on a regular basis? Floods? Stampedes? Plagues of locusts? Hordes of Leprechauns?

Part of me really, really wanted to come tearing out of the men’s room and yell ‘Twister!’ before running off screaming. It would have been hysterical (to me, at least), but I would probably have been quickly subdued by several hundreds of pounds of TSA agent. Repeatedly.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Signs: Part 1

As you may or may not have noticed, Leigh and I attended the Wizard World: Texas con this last week. This entailed that we get on a plane, which involves an elaborate ritual known as ‘going through security.’

Now, I am fine with all that. I will happily remove my shoes, belt, cell-phone, necklace, titanium skull plate, and Kryptonite toe (in case I have to fight Superman) and pass them through the metal detector like any other good citizen. This is not a problem, though I do take extra effort to ensure that my pants don’t fall down when I’m walking through the metal detector. Trust me, you only need to have it happen once, especially if you do it in front of a bus-load of Japanese schoolgirls on a vacation to the US. Schoolgirls who happen to have their cameras out and aren’t shy about pointing and laughing.

Moving on.

Anyhow, as Leigh and I were in the Disneyland-esque winding maze of partitions that lead to the metal detectors, holding up our pants with one hand, I happened to notice a sign. It read ‘Thank you for participating in security.’

This struck me as odd. The sign was somehow suggesting that we were voluntarily choosing to partially disrobe and allow strangers to wave metal devices at us (which I would do happily, assuming the people with the wands were attractive women).

It was just the idea that we were somehow not obligated to participate. Obviously, we didn’t have to, but we also wouldn’t be allowed to get on the plane. I would also bet that if we tried to get on the plane anyway, many hundreds of pounds of TSA agents would attempt to subdue us. Repeatedly.

So what am I saying? Let’s just call a spade a spade and point out that a more accurate sign would read ‘Thank you for cooperating with security.’ A sentence which happens to have the same number of characters (I checked).

Now, I am in no way shape or form suggesting that we shouldn’t have security in our airports. I am glad measures are being taken to prevent bad people from doing bad things while very far above the ground. However, let’s not mess around with an illusion of choice. You want to get on a plane? You allow security to do their thing.

Now I’m curious if the IRS building has a sign that reads ‘Thank you for cooperating in paying your taxes.’

Tomorrow: Part II: Texas bathrooms are more dangerous than they appear.

Updates, err... update.

Hello folks, this is Leigh. I just wanted to say “Hi” and also apologize for the lack of updates over the past two weeks. What with the virus that tried to eat my computer and preparing for the convention, as well as some work related deadlines I’ve fallen behind in my Wayfarer’s Moon work. I expect to have a page up next week, and to be back on our regular schedule from then on until life intrudes again.
Thanks for bearing with us, thanks for reading and thanks for letting us know you’d like to keep reading!


Monday, November 10, 2008

Texas! The Return!

Well, we survived Wizard World Texas. All in all, it was a pretty good con, though Texas triggered my allergies like nothing else. I pretty much felt dehydrated the entire trip and drank enough water to float a small ship.

Half the fun of going to the cons is just meeting other professionals and we met a slew this time. Randy 'Rantz' Kantz whom we met before was there. To our left was the talented team from Mediocre Militia, behind us was Pepe Melan of Permanent Muzic, across from us was Amano Jyaku (may not be work safe) and Mark Henry. Also in the area were the brothers from HB Comics, Frank Cho, Talent Chadwell, and many others. Leigh also got to meet Matt Wagner (I didn't :().

I also have to say that the Texas con-goers were very polite and we kept having to tell people it wasn't necessary to call us 'sir.' I don't know if that's a Texas thing or just general Southern manners, but it made for a very pleasant trip.

Well, I got in at 2 am last night, so I'm going to hit the hay. Expect the usual weirdness during the week :)


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Rock the Vote: Part 2

The table was a dense mass of pamphlets and printouts that rose almost four-feet in height. The table was bowed slightly in the middle from all the weight.

“Name?” came a quavering voice from somewhere behind the stack.

“Jason Janicki, Grand Acolyte of the East, Master of Earth and Keeper of the Left-Hand Dragon.”

“One moment,” came voice again. There was the sound of paper rustling. A stack of paper quivered and then another, as if tiny paper moles were creating a serious of caverns beneath the piles in preparation for their inevitable attack on the surface world.

A paper emerged, held by a thin, old-person hand. “Here’s your ballet sheet and envelope. Deposit it in the black box when you’re done.”

I took the sheet, chest swelling with pride at the opportunity to vote and also from the liter of Coke I’d drunk on the way over. I made my way to a voting station and began to decipher the arcane symbols on the ballot. Apparently, I had to fill in some sort of ‘circle’ with a ‘pen’ using my ‘hand’ or ‘teeth’ next to the candidate or measure I wanted to ‘vote’ for.

I began the laborious process, trying to keep within the little lines. I erred, letting the black ink trail out and I cursed loudly, my vehemence melting part of the partition. I kept on, gritting my teeth as I filled in bubble after bubble. I started to sweat, which made my notes difficult to decipher. Soon, a small puddle of ink had formed under my arm and it occurred to me to remove my jacket and long underwear. Quite a show was had in the voting area that day.

After nearly ten-minutes of battle, I at last finished. I sealed my ballot within the provided envelope and dropped it in the large black box. A girl gave me a sticker, which I proudly displayed on my forehead. Making my way out of the building, I noticed Steve lingering by the door.

“Yo,” I said.

“We meet again,” Steve replied.

“Uh, yeah. What’s up?”

“I am, as the youth say, ‘waiting for my ride.’”

I stood in silence for a moment, letting the cool morning air rush across the cuts on my freshly shaved face. “You didn’t happen to be one of the ninjas that poisoned me last week, were you?”

“Most certainly,” he said, with a bow.

“I see.” I thought for a moment, which made my forehead crinkle and the sticker writhe in an interesting fashion. “Y’know,” I began. “Normally, I’d hit you with a brick and then give you a wedgie, but today is special.” I paused for dramatic effect and to think of something else to say. “Today, we voted.”


“Have a good day, Steve-san,” I said, nodding.

“And to you, Iron Polack-sama,” he replied bowing.

I considered just hitting with the brick anyway, but decided not to. I made my way to my truck, only to find that the stupid otter had used it as part of his damn. After a moment, I turned back to the school.

“Hey Steve. You mind giving me a ride?”

“Of course.”

“Thanks.” I leaned against the wall next to the ninja. “You gonna try and poison me again tomorrow?”

Steve shrugged. “Probably.”


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Rock the Vote: Part 1

I pulled into Redmond Junior High, narrowly avoiding the otter that had chosen a really odd place to build a dam. I quickly found a parking spot and after a brief moment to survey my surroundings, I walked into the main hall.

The corridors were clean and neat, a welcome change from the dank, spider-infested Junior High that I attended. Or, at least, the place I was sent to against my will when I was 12. Then again, I might have gotten lost and hung out in a deserted castle for two-years. It was hard to tell.

I quickly located the polling place, mainly by reading the 317 signs with arrows that said VOTE on them pointing towards the library. The library itself proved to be full of people, many of whom appeared to be voting, but that was an assumption I wasn’t ready to make. All too often, when faced with a group of people seemingly doing what they appeared to be doing, I had made what I thought was a logical conclusion. Well, logic was a two-headed mistress, where one head was foul and breathed fire and the other resembled Richard Nixon.

I eventually entered the library and joined the queue, though I kept a sharp eye on my surroundings. My alertness paid off, as I immediately spotted a ninja next to me in line. Seeing as he was garbed in his traditional black ninja attire, it might not have been the greatest deduction in history, but it was all I had.

I nodded at the ninja. “Yo.”

He bowed politely. “Iron Polack-sama.”

I watched him for a moment, ready for the usual ‘kiai’ that preceded an attack, but he merely turned back to wait in line.

“What,” I eventually asked. “No attacking?”

“Not today, furry-one,” he replied. “Today is for voting. Tomorrow, we try to kill you again.”

“Huh.” I folded my arms. “So, what’s your name?”

“Steve, oh Myopic Master.”

“You know who you’re gonna vote for?”

“Of course.” Steve produced a Voter’s Pamphlet, with a puff of ninja smoke. “All necessary preparations have been made.” He opened the booklet and showed me the notes that covered the inside.

“Nice.” I rolled up my sleeve, exposing a rippling forearm with a dense mass of ball-point pen writing upon it. “I got my notes right here.”

“Most . . . impressive.” He gestured behind me. “Your turn.”

Monday, November 3, 2008

Sockbaby Part 4!

I had thought it to be a myth. A fantasy spun by nerds in between WoW raids. A fable, like Shangri-La or chaotic-good lawyers, yet it exists.

I give you: Sockbaby 4.

For those of you who haven't seen the original Sockbaby series, go here immediately:

For the rest of you, go watch the original series again and then go here:

"And you gotta say a wish into it, so it has a soul."



Sunday, November 2, 2008

More Texas!

So, Leigh and I will be winging our way to Arlington Texas for the Wizard World Comic Con this Thursday. We are looking forward to having a marvelous, ninja-free time.

However, in other news, I am saddened to announce that after their failed attempt on me, the ninjas went after Leigh's computer. His work machine was down for several days with a virus and he was unable to complete this Tuesday's page.

Yes - No New Page On Tuesday :(

If he can, he'll get a sketch or something up, but currently, he's doing a lot of reinstalling and swearing.

Look for the usual blogging (not on Friday though, as I'll be in Texas) throughout the week.