The Day it Rained Slugs

There's a reason why the slug immediately came to mind when I was thinking up names for this site, long ago, in a web host far far away. I live in the Pacific Northwest. You may have heard rumors that it rains a lot here. While I always like to point out that these rumors are greatly exaggerated since our summers are relatively dry, the winter months do indeed tend to be dominated by a penetrating cold soggy moistness. All this water, as it happens, is wonderful slug fertilizer. In fact, there have been years where we have suffered from slug blooms of biblical proportions. Until last night I had just assumed that the all the rain promoting prime slug growing conditions was the only reason for the large population of garden gastropods.

I now know the truth, and the truth is this; it actually rains slugs.

Last night, when I let the dog out to do his thing for the last time before retiring for the night, it was raining pretty hard. Being dark out, I didn't give the current weather conditions a good look. When the dog returned to the back door a short while later, I noticed something odd on his head. Looking closer, I discovered a very merry little slug staring up at me. How the dog acquired this little hitchhiker, I could only speculate that it must, despite all unlikelihood, be raining slugs. Logically, it was the only explanation that made sense. I would have investigated the phenomenon more, but the possibility of being rained on by slugs wasn't an appealing thought.

Behold, photographic evidence:

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Dragon*Con, In All Its Glory

I was originally going to post my entire experience at Dragon*Con. However, seeing as I am still on vacation and feeling a bit lazy, I settled on just doing the highlights (if you really want to see the full story, let me know and I'll send you a copy). Really, there's no point boring you with the gory details. I like y'all to much to do that. ;)

Ah, Dragon*Con... you will never find a more wretched hive of geeks and geekyness.
Here are the highlights of my experience, listed in no particular order.

1.) Meeting everyone. This by far was my favorite part of the con. It was so awesome to talk to people such as Mur Lafferty, Jason Adams, Chris Miller, Sam Chupp, and P.G. Holyfield in person. You all are wonderful folks! Alas, my shyness kicked in and I didn't get to talk or hang out with everyone as much as I would have liked. I also met J.C. Hutchins (author of 7th Son), Randy from Beatnik Turtle, and Brant Pileggi (a fellow Lulu TV contributor). All very cool.

2.) Signing Mur's giant hell note. *squee!* OK, that was just... wow. By the way, that was one über-giant hell note, Mur. Alright, there is a bit of a background story for those of you that have no clue what I'm talking about. Mur Lafferty is the author of a wonderful audionovel series called Heaven (Heaven, Hell, Earth, and soon to be created, Wastelands). Go download and have a listen. Anyway, in the story the main characters go to hell (and back). In one of the hells, they need some currency called hell notes to go talk to one of the gods. I got a normal sized hell note out of Mur's murcaching lunchbox. I had applied poorman's lamination (i.e. packaging tape) to the note because it was bit fragile and I wanted to use it as a bookmark. So, being the diligent Heaven fan I am, I brought the hell note with me and asked Mur to autograph. After Mur signed it and being tickled by the fact that I had it (yay!), she pulled out and had me sign the poster sized version of the hell note. Did I mention *squee!*? :)

3.) Watching Grant and Kari from the Mythbusters MCing the masquerade. The comments that were coming out of those two, especially Kari... oh wow. Very very funny. Probably the best quote was from Kari after the witchblade lady showed her costume. "Uh, sir, you have a bit of drool," she said, pointing to a random man in the first row. "Do you need some Kleenex?" A look of horror crossed Grant's face.

4.) The costumes, oh, the costumes. There were so many excellent costumes there, I'm not sure I could pick out the best one. There were also some uncanny lookalikes too - most notably Captain Jack Sparrow, Obi Wan, and Wolverine. Then there were the, OMG and the "my eyes! my eyes!" costumes. Most scary was the guy dressed as a naked guy. So very very VERY wrong.


5.) Seeing a rubber ducky get decapitated during robot battles. Such a violent sport, robot battles. You probably need a better description that that, eh? Well, OK. The robot battles take place on a slightly elevated stage littered with rubber ducky obstacles. The robots are equipped with various sharp pointy things. Two robots battle at a time. The point of the battle is to knock your opponent's robot off the stage or disable it. During the process, much duck carnage ensues. Despite being fairly resilient creatures, one duck did not make it home to his family. However, one lucky kid in the audience got to take the duck head home... to, uh, love and cherish?

6.) Attending the podcasting panels. I would have to say these were the best panels that we attended. Podcasters ROCK! We attended the Signal, Wingin' It 3D, Lulu TV, Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd, and Podcasting Your Writing. All were very well done and entertaining. During the Lulu TV panel, Mur and Jason performed an improv. This Day in Alternate History while Matthew Wayne Selznick acted out the scene in the background.


7.) Playing Spirit of the Century with Sam. After listening to the Rolemonkeys' SotC sessions from the House of the Harping Monkey, I really wanted to try the game for myself, but I was missing, well... a local RPG group. So when Sam said he was going to host a few games at the con, I jumped on the chance. I was not disappointed. Sam was a great (and very patient) GM. We had a great time, despite my RPGing skillz being pathetic. The game started out at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. There were six of us. It began as a mysterious obelisk was unveiled and two incinerated bodies were discovered in a charred heap at the base of the artifact. Much hilarity ensued mixed with fire lions, curses, explosions, sneaking around, vulture claw of evilness, oh, and a zeppelin! It was great. I would give you a better summery, but it was involve a lot of "and that was called the *mumblemumble*." Did I mention that I suck at remembering names?

8.) Watching the Throwing Toasters show.
Grant Baciocco performed in a tiny little room in the bowels of the Hyatt. Excellent show. Grant is such a great entertainer. Hilarious! Actually I was going to tell Grant that afterward and congratulate him on his Parsec award for Dr. Floyd, but when we were looking at the CDs he mysteriously disappeared. Spooky. I wanted to go watch some of his other shows during the con, but we got distracted by other things.

9.) Attending the Parsec awards. Despite all the teasing during the awards, I thought the script was very good. Also, many good podcasts got recognized and awarded. Plus, Beatnik Turtle and the Brobdingnagian Bards did wonderful performances.

Happy Earthling Day!

Recently, the folks at LuLu TV made the call for user submitted scripts for their daily vlog, This Day in Alternative History (a.k.a. TDAH for the acronym happy crowd). I thought, what that heck, it would be fun to write a small script. So off I went to find an event that I could have my way with. A week ago I was informed that my script was chosen for August 21st, 2007. Those of you keeping track may have noticed that yesterday was the 21st. Here is my script performed most brilliantly by Mur Lafferty and Jason Adams (you guys ROCK! \A/).

In case you haven't figured it out already, TDAH takes an event (or events) that happened on this day in history and tweaks it to something crazy and fantastic. As they say, they put the story in history. :) Oh, and if you want to try writing a script of your very own to submit, the details can be found here.

Skeletor, you naughty boy…

On my drive back home from work last Friday, I had decided to listen to some radio. On the radio they were talking to Skeletor. Yes, friends, you heard me right, Skeletor. That blue skinned, yellow skull headed fellow from the He-Man universe.

Being a child of the eighties, I wholeheartedly enjoyed the show. Although, I thought that the villains were way cooler than the heroes. So much in fact that when my mother finally let me get a He-Man action figure, I picked out Skunkor1. So when I heard the familiar voice of Skeletor cackling though my car's speakers, how could I not listen?

Skeletor began by casually discussing his experiences working on the He-Man show. How, being only 5'6”, they often had to have him stand on boxes to make him look taller and more menacing. Then, at some point during the conversation, he elegantly executed his evil plan. Skeletor begin to spout off the endings to popular stories, thus spoiling the movies, books, etc. for any hapless listener. I am proud to admit that I saw through this little ruse. While I didn't really give a rat's crusty behind about movie spoilers, I did care about one particular book spoiler. I thought to myself “Oh, I know where this is headed... he's going to blurt out the ending of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” After dodging the news media for the past week, I had grown fairly paranoid2. Also, having only ten more chapters left in the book, I wasn't about to let anyone spoil the highly anticipated ending for me. So, ever vigilant, I posed my finger on the radio, awaiting those dreaded words. After minute or so of spoiler carnage which included a bunch of old movie endings such as Unbreakable, Usual Suspects, The Others, and Fight Club he at last said those words that I had been expecting, “and in the new Harry Potter...” at which point I flawlessly flipped to another channel.3

“Ha! Take that Skeletor, overlord of evil!!! In your face!!”4

Come to think of it, Skeletor and He-Who-Should-Not-Be-Named do have quite a bit in common. Both are masters of the dark arts. The death eater symbol and Skeletor's portrait do look uncannily similar. Skeletor is known as the overlord of evil while He-Who-Should-Not-Be-Named is referred to as the Dark Lord. They both have cheated death. Hmmm... you don't think they are in league with each other? Long lost brother's perhaps?

Nah... I think they would be more enemies. They are too alike in evilness to ever get along. If they ever met I think the result would be a He-Who-Should-Not-Be-Named versus Skeletor smackdown. I would have to watch that. I'm sure FOX would be more than happy to host the spectacle.


___________________________

1In later years my Skunkor action figure contracted some horrible disease in his legs and they fell off. He has been trying to get some disability money from his former employer ever since, but it's not looking good for the stinky guy. Apparently Eternia doesn't have very good workman's compensation laws. Who'd have thunk it?

2Andy had a near miss with MSNBC. While they did warn a spoiler was coming, they only gave viewers a mere 1/100000 of a second to quickly change the channel. Luckily, Andy had been working on his super speed power and managed to avoid disaster with his lightning speed channel changing reflexes.

3I did finish HP7 that very night. Not being of the evil disposition, I am just going to say that I was pleased with the ending.

4Of course, if Skeletor had succeeded in his spoilage, I would rather have the act be committed by him then some cheesy news reporter. I do have standards... geeky standards, but standards none the less.

Dungeon Siege II: Broken Worlds - First Impressions

It's been a while since I've played DSII. The past year has pretty much been only Oblivion. Needless to say, after recent acquisition of the Broken Worlds expansion pack, I am rediscovering DSII all over again.

So far I have only completed the first task. In "theory" you are supposed to be able to import your characters (party members) from DSII. However, neither Andy nor I have figured out how to do so. It kinda irritates me because while the "canned" characters are all mighty and powerful, I think my group was still better. You are also given the option to create your own character. I was impatient and lazy and just wanted to start playing, so I used Alanna as my character.

The game starts out with a short movie and then your are thrown into a dryad town. The first main task is handed to you right away. There are also a bunch of companions to choose from to join your party. Most of them I remember from DSII. There are also a bunch of side tasks waiting for you in town.

There are a few new things. You can have your main character be a dwarf, and there are two new classes (Blood Assassin: ranged w/combat magic, and Fist of Stone: melee w/ nature magic).

It took me a little while to get my DSII legs back (so to speak), but then I was off and away. The first thing I noticed was that the difficulty of the creatures was crazy hard. I'm sure it wouldn't be so bad if you can figure out how to import your DSII party, but with the canned team, I was doomed to die... over and over and over.... (unless you use the cheat codes, that is ;) Oh, by the way, do NOT go north east, unless you want to die a most painful death via humongous bortusk swarm.

At the first level up, your are given a hefty 10 points to beef your guys up a bit. This does help a lot. Needless to say, this game is quite a bit more challenging than the first. The graphics are still good. However, it's been a while and a system upgrade since I played DSII last, so the graphics weren't nearly as nice as I seem to remember them being. Oh well. We came to slay monsters not look at the flowers ;)

All in all, I would say so far so good. The story is intriguing, the game play is good, the new stuff is nice. On to the next quest!

They Rock So Hard So You Don’t Have To

Reel Big Fish Concert
Roseland Theater - Portland, Oregon
November 4, 2006

So... how to begin...
Rewind. One of our friends (Dan) invited Andy and I to go to the up and coming Reel Big Fish with him and his brother. I had randomly called him one night to inform him of some Everclear (the band, not the alcohol) thing on the radio. He was in Arizona at the time at some Mexican wedding (didn't ask) and informed me of the concert. At first I thought he meant a Phish concert because he didn't actually say "Reel Big Fish" he just said "fish." Yeah, silly assumption, I know. Anyway, we agreed to go before actually knowing for sure which band it was (we eventually sorted that out those minor details).

Night of the concert had arrived. After grabbing a quick bite to eat at home, Andy and I headed to downtown Portland where the Roseland Theater lived. We were going to meet Dan and his brother and apparently Mike (another friend who spontaneously decided to go too) at the theater. They were slow, so we beat them by 15 minutes.

No worries.

The best part about the Roseland is the second floor (+21 only) with seats, a balcony, and oh yeah, a bar. So, without further ado, Andy got himself an insanely overpriced plastic cup full of one of his favorite local micobrews.

About a third of the way into his beer, Dan and company found us upstairs, crept up behind Andy, and proceeded to ram him from behind causing a serious party foul of the expensive liquid all over some of the bleacher-like chairs.

So, after Dan got chewed out by just about everyone about the party foul (he claimed he wouldn't have done that if he had seen the beer) and everyone got whatever drink they desired from the bar, Andy and I noticed something different about Dan.

Tonight's ska adventure had inspired Dan to look the part of someone going to a ska concert. At least that was the idea... I think... Dan's younger brother (John) had spiked his own hair which was the appropriate hair length for spiking. Dan decided to do the same thing. His hair was about 3-4 inches on the top. Not the appropriate length for spiking. At least, not with whatever gel he had used. It looked as if his dog licked his head quite vigorously. Limp and slimy. I told him this. It didn't seem to bother him.


Neither Andy or I considered ourselves "fans" of Reel Big Fish. I mean, we like the music well enough, but rarely listen to it on a day to day basis. At least, not since graduating from college 3-4 years ago. Basically our main motivation for going to concerts consists of the following questions:
1) Is it as the Roseland?
2) Is the band half decent?
Pretty simple.

Having said this, neither of us knew what the band looked like. Turns out Dan and Mikey didn't seem to know either. John, who was a überfan of the RBF, didn't really give us much indication that he knew either. Hmmm...

While we waited for the openers to start, I looked around the pit below. It seemed to consist mostly of hyperactive high schoolers. Alright. This made me glad that I got to sit up in the balcony. Mostly because of the whole "sitting" thing. What can I say, I'm a lazy concert goer.

Pretty soon the first band came on. I thought they were pretty decent in musical talent, albeit a bit low energy for a ska band. John seemed to think they were crap. I deduced this from his screaming of "You @#!%$ing suck! You can't @#!%$ing sing! Get off the @#!%$ing stage!"

Place hand over side of face nearest to screaming crazy boy. Lean in seat away from screaming crazy boy. Pretend not to know screaming crazy boy.

This continued for two more opening bands. More swearing and screaming by screaming crazy boy ensued.

Finally, after suffering though John's very public display of opinion for what seemed like hours, Reel Big Fish finally came on and John and Dan retreated down to the pit where they quickly wiggled their way to the front of the stage. That's another great thing about the Roseland. It is a fairly small arena so you can be wherever you want. At front getting jostled or up chilling on the balcony with a drink in hand. There's not a bad view anywhere in the theater. Plus, if the sound tech. is good, the place really ROCKS.


About ten minutes or so into RBF, Mikey came and told us he was taking off. Alright... you pay to see RBF but only stay to see their first song. Makes total sense to me...

The concert itself was really good. The RBF members know now to entertain - which I believe is as important to a good concert as the music itself. They would play around with each other. Joke around. Mix up their music style. Fun stuff. The best way to describe them is... well... a bunch of old guys (I think they were the oldest ones at the concert) dressed in punk garb and playing super energetic ska with lyrics that are blatantly honest and often riddled with sarcasm. They don't bother hiding their real feelings behind fluffy metaphors and symbols. If that's not entertaining in itself, I don't know what is. :)

Once the concert really got going a vortex of human bodies opened up in the middle of the pit. People were flung around the whirlpool whether by their desire, or not. Then the crowd surfing began despite the big NO CROWD SURFING sign at the entrance to the theater. I figured about a quarter of the people that were flung up and forward didn't volunteer for the experience. The bouncers at the stage front were definitely kept busy all night catching the body surfers. I figure that's the job you want if you want to quickly get into shape.

I also noticed a forlorn looking teenager standing glumly at the back of the pit next to a person, whom I assumed, was his father. The father looked like his was having a great time. He even danced a bit while his son looked on with arms sullenly crossed. Then, during the break, there was the guy who asked a girl to take a picture for him and then proceeded to hit on her. Then his friend hit on her friend. Slick. Sometimes the crowd is just as entertaining as the entertainment - and to have a bird's eye view over everything was a bonus.

Also during the break, Dan and his brother came back up. Dan now had his sweat drenched shirt sticking to his body in addition to his goofy hair (ewww...). He chatted with us for a bit and rehydrated himself before heading back down to the big squeeze known as front row.

All in all it was a really good concert. Highly recommended (if you can stomach RBF music that is). Definitely worth the $20. :)

For those that are curious about the Reel Big Fish, here is a random thing I found on them. The snippets of the concert are a pretty accurate representation of the aforementioned concert.