Thursday, January 28, 2010

Game Day!

Saturday is game day!

I'm taking my friends through a custom horror campaign called 'The Black Tree.' It's loosely based on Cthulhu, but with my own mythology and such. It has very few rules and is meant to be played fast. XP is earned through roleplay, so the more in character you are, the more points you earn.

At present, the players are trapped in a house where a slaughter took place many years ago and are re-experiencing the events. They have to figure out how to a) end the cycle of events that led to the slaughter b) stop the perpetrator c) and simply survive. All of them may not make it, especially since a key piece of the puzzle was smashed.

Please allow me to indulge in an evil laugh. WHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA!! Thank you.

Look for the usual offering next week and enjoy your weekend (I know I will).


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

EVIL, Inc.: Part 2

Before I continue with this thread, alert reader Lyle pointed out to me that the Tet Corporation from the Dark Tower series is, in fact, not evil. I apologize for the mix-up. I never finished the series, but have a dim recollection that they were bad guys. I think I got them mixed up with the Sombra Corporation, who actually are the bad guys. So, thanks Lyle, for pointing that out. And for completely ruining the premise of my blog. :)

Anyway, where was I?

Ah, yes. Kittens.

So, how come there are never ‘good’ corporations in movies? Is the idea that corporations are evil (pardon me, EVIL) simply engrained in our consciousness?

And if a corporation is shown as being the good guys, they’re one of two types: either an EVIL corporation in disguise or some paramilitary organization that assassinates people for the greater good.

There’s never a Kittens, Inc., whose mission statement is to ‘spread love and smiles throughout the world via the aggressive use of kittens.’

You never get this:

Rebel Leader: “All right, here’s the plan. We go in at midnight, subdue the guards, and then plant C4 throughout the building. Once we’re clear, we’ll detonate and take out those bastards’ entire power base!”

New Guy: “Great! What’s our target?”

Rebel Leader: “Those murderous scumbags at Kittens, Inc.!”

New Guy: “You mean the corporation that uses kittens to solve the world’s problems, one adorable whisker at a time?”

Rebel Leader: “But they’re a corporation! They’re EVIL!”

New Guy: “Ummm, not really. I mean, they could do more to combat poverty and disease in sub-Saharan Africa, but kittens aren’t really the best weapon there.”

Rebel Leader: “So what are you saying?”

New Guy: “Relatively speaking, we’re the bad guys.”

Rebel Leader: “Huh. Anybody know how to form a corporation?”


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

EVIL, Inc.: Part 1

I have noticed a certain trend in cinema. No, it’s not that the serial killer somehow always manages to be in exactly the right place to impale the cheerleader with sharpened metal squirrel attached to a Slushee machine (though, obviously, I have noticed this). It’s that corporations are always EVIL. Not just evil, but EVIL. The kind of EVIL that would make Cthulhu wince and go ‘Dude!’

Just off the top of my head:

The Corporation from Avatar
The Weyland-Yutani Corporation from the Alien series
Omni Consumer Products from Robocop
The Umbrella Corporation from Resident Evil
The Tet Corporation from the Dark Tower novels (technically not a movie, but somebody’ll make it one day)
Wolfram and Hart from Buffy/Angel
Union Aerospace Corporation from Doom
Multi-National United from District 9

They’re always bent on either taking over the world or making as much money as possible, which more or less amount to the same thing. And when they accidentally create a virus/machine/garden tool that can be weaponized to kill millions, they go ahead and do it.

Now, I realize that I’m talking about the Corporations as if they were people, but they tend to pretty much employ wholly EVIL individuals as well. Take this scene from a movie that I just made up:

EVIL Henchman: “Sir, a box of adorable kittens was left on the doorstep!”
EVIL CEO: “And?”
EVIL Henchman: “I was wondering if you preferred a shish-kabob or a smoothie?”

NOTE: Just in case you were worried, the hero swept in and saved the kittens before they were eaten and made sure they all were all adopted by loving homes and given names like ‘Poopsie’ just after they taught a robot the true meaning of Christmas.

Tomorrow: Part 2 – The Iron Kitten of Justice!

Thursday, January 21, 2010


It's roughly 9:45 chez-moi and I really want a pizza.

Just the thought of a warm crust topped with oodles of cheese, pepperoni, and pineapple makes me drool. In fact, I am drooling right now onto my shirt as I type this. Not a pretty picture, I know.

NOTE: Yes, I like pineapple on my pizza. Some of you may disagree. I'm fine with that, it's your choice.

I don't eat much pizza though, mainly due to my gall stones. It works like this:

1. I eat fatty foods (especially at night)
2. A gall stone tries to kill me
3. I am left wondering why my body hates me

It could be some sort of karmic retribution. Maybe in a past life I was some sort of gall bladder thief or something. I have no idea how that would work. I imagine I would accost travellers on deserted roads in the middle of the night and demand 'yer gall bladder or something of equally nasty!' and I would end up with a handful of poop, because gall bladders are kinda hard to take out.

I never said this would make sense.

Anyway, tomorrow is Friday, which means the day after is Saturday or 'day I play MMOs 'till my eyes bleed.' Everyone have a good weekend and look for a new Art and the usual blogs next week.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010


This went 'round the office the other day and it was so extraordinarily cool that I just had to share it with you, the readers I often imagine I have.

Yes, Mom. I know you read the blog. No, I'm discounting you. Yes, I know you were in labor for over 17,000 hours. It's not my fault you just thought I was indigestion.

Anyway, apparently this person made 100 cupcakes, each with a game motif, to celebrate the 100th birthday of their house.

NOTE TO MY EUROPEAN READERS: 100 years is long time in the States. I realize you probably live next to Roman ruins or something, but we just happen to live in the one place the Romans never got around to conquering.

So each cake has a game motif and she set up a website to show them off. You can see the cupcakes and guess which games are represented. I got roughly 70%.

For example:

An amazing amount of work went into this, so I hope you all go check it out: 100 Cupcakes


Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I chew a lot of gum. Always have. My parents used to actually buy cases of gum at Costco for me, as the packs available at the supermarket were simply not large enough to satisfy my urge to chew. Why do I like gum so much, you might ask? Basically, it boils down to one thing: a gypsy curse.

NOTE: Not much of a curse, I know, but I much prefer it over the one my brother got (vomiting blood whenever a three-syllable word is used). This really sucks as his first name is three-syllables.

Anyway, I bring a lot of gum to work and go through a couple of sticks a day. This, logically, means that I buy a fair amount of gum every couple of weeks. So imagine my surprise when I went to the store this weekend and instead of the usual package I buy, I saw this:

Yes, it says ‘Rain.’ I don’t know if that’s its name, a flavor, an homage to a Madonna song, or what. Further investigation suggested that this gum was spearmint flavored, which is what I wanted. It just seemed a bit pretentious to name a gum after precipitation. Gum is a simple thing. It should have a simple name. This is what I normally buy:

It is obviously gum and tells me immediately what flavor it is. Frankly, if a gum is named ‘Rain,’ it should taste like rain. The funny thing is, of course, that they probably spent millions on focus groups and marketing to come up with a name that has nothing to do with gum.

I can only imagine what names were rejected. For example:

Loomfa – Too scratchy

Elephant – Too large and wrinkly

Marzipan – People might reasonably expect that it would taste like this (which would be bad)

Furor – Too aggressive, but not bad for a sports drink

Heterochromia – Too science-y

Solstice – Gotcha. This is an actual gum name. Its flavor is described as ‘Warm and Cool Winter’ which I’m guessing is marketing-speak for ‘wintergreen.’

Naruto – Would likely result in a lawsuit

Orgasm – I would absolutely buy a gum called ‘orgasm’

@ – Close, but not enough people know what it’s called

Bongos – Too beach-y

I can only imagine that some executive figured that if it worked for cars, then it would work for gum. Unfortunately, no.

Hey Bob, whatcha drivin?

As opposed to:
Hey Bob, whatcha chewin’?
You FREAK! (pummeling ensues).


Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Weekend!

Ah, it's Thursday, or 'almost Friday' as I like to call it.

As much as I love what I do, I am glad to see the weekend roll around.

We're getting close to con season again and we're looking forward to Emerald City and Stumptown. We're also talking about going to Wonder Con in S.F., but we're not sure if it's doable right now. We will definately keep you posted on that front.

In other news, I discovered that you can set an English muffin on fire if you leave it in the toaster too long. No, nothing happened, but it was frightening and fascinating at the same time. A little tiny flame sprang to life and my brain went 'FIRE' and then went 'Quick, throw water on it!' and then 'No, you're supposed to use salt!' and then 'Isn't that only for grease fires?' etc. until I noticed the little tiny flame was already out.

Ah, excitement.

Anyway, look for another installment of Art the Wanderer on Monday and the usual bloggy goodness the rest of the week.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Dragons and Economics: Part 2

Furthermore, if the dragon is hoarding all that gold, effectively taking money out of the economy, wouldn’t that cause a recession? And then, if the adventurers actually killed the dragon and then started spending all that money, wouldn’t that then cause inflation?

NOTE: I have only a loose understanding of recessions and inflation. Please don’t write angry comments about how I’m an idiot and your average kindergartner knows more about economics than I do (which is probably true).

What am I trying to say here? Dragons would just wreak amazing havoc on the economy. It’s not as bad as Star Trek economics, but still pretty bad.

Here’s a more likely scenario:

The ancient dragon, asleep on his hoard, the bones of his slain enemies scattered around him, stirred.

“Who dares?” he says suddenly, its eyes snapping open like the door on a cuckoo-clock. “Who dares challenge Arcticus the Destroyer?”

Someone cleared his throat and a man stepped into view. He was small, mousey even, but the royal crest on his immaculate robes suggested a man of means. “That would be me.” He bowed. “Milver, Royal Treasurer.”

“And what would the Royal Treasurer want with Arcticus?”

Milver adjusted his glasses. “Well, it’s more about your hoard.”

The dragon laughed. “You? A mere scribe is going to take my hoard?” Arcticus laughed as it reared up to his full height, winging stretching out behind it.

“Actually, I want to add to it.”

“Hah!” boomed the dragon. “You th- err . . . what?”

“You see,” said Milver. “According to my research, you are both the oldest dragon in the land and the one with the greatest hoard. If you were ever defeated, the adventurers who did so would most likely immediately spend your gold on all manner of things. While this would make the merchants happy, it would drive up prices and inflation would be the inevitable result. And then we’d have to do all manner of things to fix it and the merchants would complain and there would be paperwork, etcetera. So, to make a long story short, we would like to make you part of the royal treasury.”

Arcticus slowly relaxed, its forelimb coming up to scratch at its chin. “And this would benefit me how?”

“For one thing,” Milver said. “We’d provide guards to help, well, guard your hoard. And we’d also occasionally add treasure, though,” he said quickly. “We would need to occasionally take some away as well.”

“So,” rumbled the dragon. “No more adventurers trying to kill me?”

“Not as many, at least,” said the scribe. “I’m sure some will still try. We are also prepared to offer cattle, regular music, chess masters, casks of fine wine, whatever you wish to amuse yourself.”


Milver coughed. “Princesses are a rather limited resource. We can provide the odd one here and there, but we can’t allow the royal lines to die out because all the princesses were eaten.”

“Eat?” said Arcticus. “Who said anything about eating?”

“Beg pardon?”

“I just want someone around for some girl-talk and maybe some claw painting.”

Milver frowned for a second and then brightened. “Oh, you’re a girl dragon!”

“Well, duh!”


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Dragons and Economics: Part 1

You know the scene:

The adventurers, a fearsome fighter, a wise wizard, and a err . . . thieving thief, come upon an ancient hall. Inside the hall is a gigantic pile of treasure, enough money to buy a palace, the kingdom it’s in, and still have enough to throw a really big party. However, atop the pile of treasure is an enormous dragon, its scales chipped and jagged from hundreds, if not thousands, of battles. It looks something like this:

NOTE: if you recognize this picture, you’re a nerd. And/or old. I’m both.

The adventurers, of course, immediately attack the dragon and get killed. Or maybe they kill the dragon. Or maybe they play a game of chess. Or become fast friends. Anyway, something happens, it’s not like the adventurers are just going to ask for an autograph and then be on their merry way.

But here’s the question: Where did the dragon get all that gold? The easy answer is ‘well, it’s been fighting adventurers for hundreds of years, so it’s going to add up.’ However, if you think about the logistics, how would that happen?

How much gold is a standard adventurer carrying? Let’s say 50 pieces. How much gold is in a good sized dragon hoard? Let’s say 500,000 pieces. If you do the math, your typical dragon has killed and looted 10,000 adventurers. If there’s an average of 5 adventurers per party, then the dragon has had 2000 battles. If the dragon is 500 years old, then that means that the dragon has had a battle every three months for its entire life.

And people wonder why dragons are always bad-tempered.

Tomorrow: Part 2

Thursday, January 7, 2010


I got a hankering for English muffins the other day. I’m not sure why, but I suddenly said to myself. “Huh. I really want an English muffin. I mean, I really want an English muffin. I would happily punch somebody for a muffin. I might even go as high as stabbing. Shooting, probably not, but yeah, I’d stab for an English muffin.”

The funny thing is that I wasn’t using my ‘inner’ voice when I said that. The really funny thing is that I happened to be in a studio wide meeting with about eighty other people. Needless to say, I now get lots of room at company meetings.

Anyway, I bought some English muffins after work and brought them home, fully intending to pop one in the toaster, slather it with some butter-like substance after it was brown, and then consume it while laughing maniacally.

Before I tossed a muffin in the toaster, however, it then occurred to me to check if I actually had any margarine on hand. This necessitated that I open the fridge, which I only do about once a year. You see, my fridge is full of stuff that I can’t identify. There are bags and cartons and all sorts of things, for lack of a better term, that have been there since the late Pleistocene.

NOTE: I used to keep my refrigerator completely empty, but discovered that ninjas were lurking in there. I then packed it full of stuff just to deny them a hiding space. This also explains why I keep an axe handle atop the fridge (also good for fighting cabinet weasels).

I dimly recall buying some margarine a while back, so I set about trying to find it. It was in the back of the top shelf, past what once might have been a watermelon or some sort of spider carcass. I hauled out the margarine and checked the expiration date. It expired in October. Of 2004.

This seemed a touch old, but I opened it anyway, just to see if it was still good. It was brown, which is generally not a good color for margarine. I poked it and it made a ‘thip!’ sound and bobbled a bit. This was unexpected, so I poked it harder. It made another noise and visibly shrank from my finger.

I think I accidentally created a new life form.

I decided to keep it and named it ‘Fridgey.’ Now, Fridgey isn’t much of a pet yet, but I’m working on socializing it. I pet it every day and leave little bits of foodstuff from the kitchen at work out to see if it will eat anything. Hopefully, if I raise it with enough love and kindness, I will be able to teach it to eat people’s faces.

I also hope that Fridgey is actually alive, because otherwise I’ve become emotionally attached to a bit of desiccated food spread and bought it a little hat.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Blog Tomorrow

So, no blog today, though I will get something up tomorrow. I spent 45 minutes writing one and then looked at it and went 'wow, that's stupid.' And when I think something's too dumb to post, you better believe it.

Anyway, come back tomorrow, when I will post something that meets my (exceedingly) low standards.

In the meantime, enjoy a video about a real-life ghost sighting:


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

It's Just a Bill

As many of you might have noticed, Christmas occurred a couple weeks ago. I flew down to California to spend time with the family and tease/mock/annoy my nieces and nephew. In a nutshell: everyone is fine and my mother didn’t hand me a bill when I left, so it was a win all the way around.

However, I did remark on a particular custom that my brothers and I have, mainly because a SWAT team almost became involved. The custom, you ask? Who pays for the bill when we all go out to dinner.

It goes like this: When we’re out with the extended family and the bill arrives, we all make a grab for the check and whoever gets it usually pays. The losers (ie the ones not paying) attempt to throw money at the winner (who is paying) and eventually the whole thing gets settled.

Yes. In this scenario, the winner gets to spend money, while the losers make frowny faces and attempt to surreptitiously give cash to the winner.

Now then, the above scenario occurs when there are other family members around, like my mom, wives, and/or the kids. We are, as you just read, mostly polite and good-natured about the whole thing.

Now, when it’s just us three brothers out, things get a little more interesting, in that we start with subdued threats and work up to graphic depictions of what we’ll do to each other over the bill.

NOTE: If my sister happens to be present, she doesn’t participate. She just hands us money and threatens to tell mom. She’s the smart one.

For example, here’s a bit from the last time the three of us went out:
The waitress arrived at our table and deposited the bill, which was immediately grabbed by the eldest, Rick.

Me: Gimme the bill.

Rick: Nope.

Greg (the middle brother): Fine. Give me the bill.

Rick: I’m treating.

Me: Are not. I’m treating.

Greg: No, I am.

Rick: I’m the oldest, so I get to.

Me: I will kick your ass if you don’t give me that bill!

Greg (grabbing a steak knife): I’ll cut you if you don’t give me the bill.

Rick: I’ll shoot you both and I’m a cop, so I can get away with it!

Greg: I’m a programmer! I’ll destroy your credit!

Me: I’ll go back to school, study physics and invent a time machine, just so I can go back to when you were kids and slap the crap out of both of you!

Rick: You’re not that good at math!

Greg: Yeah! Otherwise you’d already have brought back an army of T-Rexs to conquer the world!

Me: That’s still a good plan, dammit!

The situation escalated, until Rick threatened to call in a SWAT team on us. Neither Greg nor I could match that, so I we were forced to acquiesce (though I managed to throw in some cash for the tip).

This happens anytime we go out for food, even if it’s just two of us. We’ve scared a few waiters in the past, but we’re big tippers, so hopefully that makes up for it.
Then there’s the yearly argument about who’s getting mom what for Christmas. We get really nasty then.