Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2015 Resolutions

I never much saw the point in New Year's resolutions until two years ago, when a Cracked article changed my perspective on resolutions completely. Rather than setting vague, wishy-washy goals for self-improvement, I could set clear, actionable goals for myself for the next year, and self-improvement would be a byproduct.

It's worked out pretty well these past two years, so it's time to set a few more goals for 2015.

Best of 2014

Everybody likes looking back on the year and comparing their experiences to see what stood out most for them in their field. I don't really have a field in which to determine such things, but I'll see what I can do with what I've experienced: video games, hikes, movies, blog posts, podcasts, and TV shows. Alas, I didn't really read many books this year.

On that note, I'm judging things that I experienced this year, not things that were made this year. There are too many things that were made this year that I didn't experience, and too many things I experienced that weren't made this year. Also, this list is limited to things I experienced for the first time this year, so things like my Final Fantasy 7 play-through don't count. Given that, here we go:

Movie Review #52: The Wolf of Wall Street

The end of the year kinda snuck up on me, so in a panic I turned to Netflix for my final new movie of the year. The result: The Wolf of Wall Street, which appeared on Netflix a surprisingly short time after being released in theaters.

Short review: definitely interesting and engaging, and perhaps at times even inspiring. It's not a feel-good movie or a funny movie, and there isn't some moral lesson to be learned from the movie--not really. It depicts a fascinating thing that happened, and you can take from it what you will.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Presidential Approach

Last time I explained what a president can actually do. Next I want to talk about my own approach.

Presidential Powers

On my drives to and from Louisiana I spent a lot of time thinking about three things: my D&D campaign, my game idea, and my presidential campaign in 2020. I won't be posting my D&D notes here since some of my players might read this blog, but I may write about the other two things so I can record my thoughts while they're still relatively fresh.

I'll start with the presidential stuff.

Monday, December 29, 2014

The "Conservative" View

The silence in my house is deafening after two whole days of riding in my car listening to music and podcasts. I'd enjoy the silence more, but in the final few miles into Tucson I decided to explore a few radio stations rather than fumble around with my phone again. I stumbled into the middle of a radio talk show, which I listened to for a few minutes to kind of wrap my head around it.

The show consisted of the host basically going on about how Obama is a dictator, how the Republicans are enabling him, and how the president is systematically destroying the country. He then took a caller who basically agreed with the host, then went on to say he knew from the beginning that Obama was Satan (literally, Satan in disguise) ever since some fiasco about when Obama didn't hold the Bible the right way or something when he was inaugurated.

Now I'm just thinking about conservatism in general, so I figured I'd write something about it.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Movie Review #51: The Interview

I honestly wasn't interested in watching this movie, but given the hype and controversy around it my parents were kind of interested. Since it was available to watch via the Internet fairly cheaply, we all sat down in my parents' living room and watched it last night.

Short review: it's certainly what you'd expect from a Seth Rogan movie. Goofy, kinda smart sometimes, but mostly just a bunch of friends having a good time. Comedies like this aren't really my thing, though.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Thursday, December 25, 2014


My mom has been catching me up with the things she's been going through, which seems to mostly involve her opinions about neighbors, family, and her general worries about safety. She's been watching a lot of this channel called "ID," which seems to be primarily crime investigations, crime recreations, and other shows that generally seed distrust in the rest of humanity. My mom recognizes that this channel has not done her any favors, but she keeps watching it anyway.

This has generally made my mom paranoid about criminals, thieves, and murderers, and it's made me start thinking about the effect paranoia has on people.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Monday, December 22, 2014

Stories for Back Home: Traveling (Other than Japan)

More notes I can refer to when talking about stuff to people back home. This time, regarding my various travels around the country.

Packing for Travel

Tomorrow morning I'm going to be leaving Tucson, heading toward Louisiana to stay with family for Christmas. I'll be gone for pretty much an entire week: two days of travel to get there, three days with family and friends, and two days' travel back.

So, what does someone like me pack for a trip like this? Let's run down the list.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Book Review: The World of Ice and Fire

I picked this book up shortly after its release. Game of Thrones fans are eager for the next book in the series, but that's not going to happen any time soon. In the meantime, I'm not sure how everyone else feels about fantasy world-building, but this book was right up my alley.

Double-Ventana Weekend

Ventana Canyon was the first hike I went on this year, and the account of the trip can be found elsewhere. This time, though, I hiked this trail twice in rapid succession: once yesterday, and again today. Let me tell you a bit about why.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Stories for Back Home: Japan

It took me a month to decompress from my trip to Japan, but I don't have a month back home. Instead, I'm going to have to zero in on some choice tidbits to tell family and friends about. Let's see what we can do.

Falling Gas Prices

I've been riding my bike a lot lately, so I was pretty surprised when, during one of my rare drives a few days ago, I noticed that gas prices had dropped to about $2.25 per gallon. I'm pretty sure that's the cheapest it's ever been for as long as I've been driving. I have vague, foggy memories of gas for less that $2 per gallon when I was a kid, but I never thought I'd see anything similar ever again.

What does all of this mean, though? I'm not sure, but I have some thoughts.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Stories for the Folks Back Home

I'm pretty much the worst conversationalist. What I catch up with people, the conversation usually goes something like, "Hey! How's it been?" "Great! And you?" "It's been good." And then the conversation kind of trails off unless my partner in conversation has something interesting to say.

Normally I'd be expecting similar conversations with my friends and family back home when I'm there for Christmas, but I'm going to try to prevent that this year. With the exception of that one of you who reads this blog (Aaron), most of them don't really know what I've been up to this past year. As it turns out, I think I've done some interesting things. So, I'm going to list them here and maybe flesh them out a bit more in future blogs in order to prepare to tell my stories.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Taking Stock at 29

Yesterday I turned 29, which gives me just one more year of being in my 20s. I'm going to take stock of my life to get a feel for where I am, where I'm going, and just generally seeing how much I can relate to the Five Iron Frenzy song "At Least I'm Not Like All Those Other Old Guys."

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Never Ever Ever Ever Ever Ever Ever Ever Fight a Dragon

I've been spending a lot of time playing Dragon Age: Inquisition when I'm not working. On weekends I can get sucked in completely, as I did yesterday. So, I'm going to talk about it a bit, specifically about fighting dragons.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Only So Much You Can Do

Fretting is useless, and it's something I rarely allow myself to do.

That said, there are two situations going on right now that I'm tempted to fret about.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Gonna Make This a Thing

I wouldn't say that the 15-minute blog post worked out that well, but it served the goal of getting me a write a bit, and that's the important thing. Given the fact that time is going to be at a premium for the next week and I've still way behind on blog posts, I think I'll keep up these stream on consciousness posts until I'm caught up. So, here we go:

Saturday, December 13, 2014

15-Minute Blog Post

What can I write about in 15 minutes? Can I write enough to be satisfied that I actually wrote something today? I don't know, but I'm willing to find out. It's currently 1:45AM, and it's too late for me to spend much time on a proper post. Still, I'm also way behind on posts, and I'm not willing to slip even further behind tonight. So, here we go.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Christmas Gifts

Christmas is a tough time for me. I don't mean it the way that it's a tough time for most people who say that, though. I understand how all of that family and togetherness can get overwhelming for people who lack those things. Even if you have those things, the darker sides of commercialism certainly rears its ugly head around this time and threatens to cast a pall over the season.

That said, I'm fortunate to be both surrounded by lovely friends and friends during Christmas, and even in my numerous holiday seasons working in retail I've always felt that the good more than makes up for the bad during this time of year.

No, my problem is gift-giving. It's a stressful experience for me.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Inspiration for Creative Time

I've spoken about Creative Time and, specifically, this video before, but I haven't actually seen this video for a couple of years. This is primarily because shortly after the first time I watched it the video was removed from YouTube, seeing as how the video belongs to a group called Video Arts and it was not them who uploaded it.

After some searching recently, I managed to find the video somewhere else. It was just as awesome as I remembered it:

I'm going to spend the rest of this blog post recapping the video for my own purposes. Feel free to simply watch the video and ignore the rest of this post.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Revolutions Podcast: The American Revolution

The English Revolution was filled with the names of lords and provinces I was not terribly familiar with. I remember Cromwell, and I remember the kings Charles I and Charles II, but beyond that all I really remember is general military strategies, diplomatic deals, and religious movements. The exact people and places are kind of lost in the mist already.

That's not the case with the American Revolution. I was raised learning the broad strokes of the American Revolution, so this season of the podcast had the much easier job of filling in the details. If you're not a scholar of revolutionary America, I highly recommend listening to this season of Revolutions, even if you don't listen to any of Mike Duncan's other work. I guarantee you'll learn a lot.

Movie Review #50: Big Hero Six

Laura wanted to go see "Robot Movie" as she calls it. I heard good things, so I was down.

Short review: definitely a fun, charming movie.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Revolutions Podcast: The English Revolution

After completing his massive History of Rome podcast, Mike Duncan focused on raising his newborn baby for a while before starting his next venture: another history-based podcast called Revolutions. In it, each season of the podcast would focus on a different revolution in history--revolution being loosely defined as a time when a new regime violently overthrew a previous one, whether the new regime managed to maintain itself permanently or not.

His first season was about the First English Revolution, which I was almost completely unfamiliar with before listening. As it turns out, though, the events of the English Revolution were instrumental in changing the world into the one we live in today.

I'm a Loner, Dottie. A Rebel.

I wonder what everyone else makes of my loner nature. This is something I think about a lot when I'm working by myself.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Holiday Work Hours

It's that time again. A few days ago I worked ~16 hours in a single day, which I admit was a bit overboard. However, that's the holidays for you. There's a lot to do and not enough time in the day to do it.

So, I'm going to talk about my particular brand of self-destruction: working too hard.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Movie Review #49: Seven

I'm pretty sure that the thing that kept me from watching this movie up to now was the fact that it's spelled SE7EN on the cover, which really ticked me off for whatever reason. It's on Netflix now, though, and the hook grabbed me, so here we are.

Short review: forget the dumb name. The movie itself is very good. It's also disturbing, with many scenes featuring dead bodies and lots of blood everywhere, though it's worth noting the that violence itself is not committed on-screen--this is a murder mystery, not a slasher film. If you've never seen it, go ahead and give it a shot and don't read the rest of this review. The ending is to good to spoil, and though spoilers don't bother me much, I'm glad that I didn't know the ending of this 20 year old movie going in.

Basic Income, Part 2

In my last blog post, I wrote about what Basic Income is as well as many of the reasons it would be very difficult to implement. This time I'm going to talk about why we should take a closer look at the idea.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Basic Income

A friend of mine asked for me to talk about basic income a while ago. That was during a glut of socio-economic blogs, though, and I didn't want to scare people away with more of my my socio-economic nonsense. Now that I'm coming off of a glut of movie reviews and D&D pantheon rants, though, I think I've scared off pretty much everyone. So, it's back to economics! Yay!

Basic income is the idea that the government pays every citizen in the country enough to cover their basic needs. This is an interesting concept that I've honestly thought about for a long time.

Story Jam

Recently I joined a Secret Facebook Group (shh, don't tell anybody) in which everyone is supposed to post a new story idea every day. This actually sounds way easier that writing a blog post every day, ad I'll prove it by making this one blog post just a collection of story ideas--as many as I can think of in the time it would normally take me to write an average blog post.

Movie Review #48: The Ice Storm

I heard about this movie during an episode of WTF in which Marc Maron interviewed Elijah Wood. For whatever reason, this movie really stuck out in Marc's mind, so it's been on my list for months.

Short review: this movie is kind of all over the place as far as the tone goes, exploring a variety of emotions. It's compelling and uncomfortably sexual, but not explicit. It's also really hard to describe, apparently. The cast includes a variety of recognizable actors, including Toby McGuire, Christina Ricci, Sigourney Weaver, and, of course, Elijah Wood.

Friday, November 28, 2014

My New Favorite Company

In the past week I've placed two orders through Cards Against Humanity, totaling $21 in spending. I have no idea what I'm going to get for that $21, so why did I bother? That's what I want to talk about.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Working on Thanksgiving

I've been seeing a lot of people suggesting that everyone should boycott stores that are open on Thanksgiving. I disagree.

Los Angeles

A few weeks ago Laura and I drove to Los Angeles for a weekend. We were primarily going there to pick up our friend Jami to bring him back to Tucson for the holidays, and we decided to use that time to see a sight or two in the city.

So, here are my impressions of Los Angeles.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Movie Review #47: The Rounders

There are a bunch of movies I want to watch, but it's hard to string together 2-3 hours where I can sit down and actually focus on one I want to watch. Some movies I'm hoping to watch soon include 12 Monkeys, Ice Storm, The Good the Bad and the Ugly, Raising Arizona, and The Fisher King. Given that I'm supposed to watch a movie every week this year, and that this is movie #47, I have five movie left. I think those five movies should probably be it.

Anyway, I chose this movie randomly while browsing Netflix for something to watch while eating breakfast. I just finished it, after 3-4 sittings.

Short review: there are better Matt Damon movies, better Edward Norton movies, and better poker movies. That said, it's competent and engaging enough. The actors perform well, but the story itself is rather predictable.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Ode to F5

No button more trusted in exploration,
Journeys or quests or investigation,
Than my ever-present partner in crime, F5:
For in classic parlance, he's infinite lives.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Dragon Age: Inquisition - First Impressions

The first Dragon Age game was the ultimate evolution of the Neverwinter Nights series: an epic fantasy RPG telling a sweeping story with cool characters, with tight, party-based, tactical gameplay, and varied, interesting environments, all in a rich, original world no longer tied to someone else's D&D campaign setting.

The second game also told a compelling story with cool characters, but it did so while sacrificing the original's scope and environmental design while making the combat system tedious and unnecessarily time-consuming, presumably to pad out the game. This balanced it out into an overall mediocre game that I must assume simply had some budgeting issues.

Dragon Age: Inquisition, the third installment, seems to have solved that budget problem. My every complaint about Dragon Age II has been addressed, though it's not without its own set of issues.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

An Anonymous Letter From a Kickstarter Backer, and My Response

I received an anonymous message from a Kickstarter backer today in response to our Slacker Backer program, which allows people to effectively back our project even after the campaign itself is over. He raises an interesting point, and his question warranted an honest, thoughtful response.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel - Spoileriffic Story Review

The Pre-Sequel takes place in between Borderlands 1 and 2, so if you've already played Borderlands 2 you pretty much know what's going to happen already anyway. That said, it's always the journey, not the destination that's important, so if you haven't played The Pre-Sequel yet, you have been warned.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel - No Spoilers Gameplay Review

This past weekend, just in time to pick up Dragon Age 2, I finished Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. Does anybody else actually play these games for the story? If so, you'll probably like this one, since it's probably the most story-based game in the series.

However, I'll handle all that spoilery story stuff in another post. This one is all about the gameplay

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Movie Review #47: Snowpiercer

Have you ever heard of this movie? I hadn't, until my friend Reid recommended it. As a movie starring Chris Evans and with what looks like a decent budget, I'm surprised I hadn't heard of it before it hit Netflix. But, there it is.

Short review: this bloody (but not really gory) post-apocalyptic action flick is pretty good. It's at times sad, wonderful, surreal, and horrible. Also, I feel like I barely recognize Chris Evans in it.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Movie Review #46: Stand By Me

Clearly it's movie season. Four of my past five posts were movie reviews, and here's another one. Expect another one tomorrow. Movies are a great way to get through otherwise mindless tasks, and now is the time at work when I finally gravitate toward mailroom tasks when I can due to the holidays.

Anyway, Stand By Me is an iconic movie, yet much like Total Recall I've only seen bits and pieces. It's on Netflix now, though, so I got to watch it the whole way through.

Short review: there's a reason this movie is iconic. It's a movie about boys figuring themselves out, and it's as touching as it is adventurous.

Movie Review #45: Total Recall

I've never watched Total Recall from the beginning. I think I've only seen it from the middle to the end, which was enough to make me interested in the movie at least. As it turns out, the beginning of the movie is absolutely important to the context of the rest of the film!

Short review: In Arnold Schwarzenegger's most personable role shy of Kindergarten Cop, we get a mind trip of an action movie that's as thoughtful as it is violent. You won't soon forget what you've seen. Check it out on Netflix.

D&D #45: A Dying World

As Percy’s door closed and the train dove back into the fiery lake, The party got a much clearer view of their surroundings. On the other side of the lake, resembling nothing so much as a group of towering stalagmites reaching up toward the dark ceiling far above, is what can only be the city Percy had described. Lights pour out of many of the tower windows, signs of civilization.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Movie Review #44: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Curiously, much like the Terminator series, I think I mostly just watched the second movie in this series as a kid, completely skipping the first. So, when I saw the original live action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on Netflix, I figured it was worth actually checking out.

Short review: Released in 1990, this movie perfectly captures the transition from 80s to 90s. It doesn't seem certain of its audience; some parts are way to violent or thoughtful for kids, but other parts are way too cheesy for adults. It seems to me that they were aiming for both and managed to hit neither, but the box office sales belie that assessment. The fact that Michael Bay eventually took over this franchise makes a lot of sense to me now, though.

Movie Review #43: Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva

Last week, Cox's service went wonky in this area for a few days. We could access the Internet, but everything moved slowly, and download speeds were far too low to stream video. So, while looking around for something to watch that didn't involve streaming, I happened to come across a movie file I got back when Jeff and I were regularly watching movies based on video games in order to discuss them on the Fangamer Podcast. That didn't pan out, though, which is fine, since that meant I got to finally watch it last week!

Short review: Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva is exactly what you'd expect from a Professor Layton movie: there's puzzles, a mystery, a grand reveal somewhere along the line, and altogether a fairly cute story. However, the movie format doesn't bring much else to the table. It's a competent, adventurous movie, but watching it won't give you a deeper understanding of yourself or the Layton universe.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Movie Review #42: Ken Burns' Prohibition

Following in the wake of my marathon run of The History of Rome, I had some interest in getting a little more history. Primed as I was for some history, when Jeff recommended this documentary to me it was only a matter of time. Luckily, it's on Netflix!

Short review: It's a fascinating look at America a century ago. Even if you're not usually interested in history, I recommend giving the documentary a shot. Start watching it, and give it a chance to drag you in.

D&D #44: More Dead Ma'ari

After driving through a river of lava in the previous session, the party landed on a large dark island. Lit only by the glow of the lava that surrounded it, the island seemed dark and barren. An excursion away from the ship revealed signs of cultivation, though, and soon zombified farmers appeared on the horizon--zombified farmers that were apparently content to ignore the party and focus on their farmwork.

This Realm of Stone was turning out to be very strange.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Deities, A Review

Whew! I managed to write a series of nine blog posts in a row without getting distracted by a different subject. That's a new record, I think!

Before I get into my backlog of topics (I've watched two movies and ran a D&D session, all of which deserve a review) I want to take one more look at my pantheon, their relationships to each other, their relationships to their followers, and some other curious observations I've made about them.

Friday, November 7, 2014


I remember having Chaotic Evil described to me as basically just being the criminally insane. Looking back, though, I think that was a gross misunderstanding. First of all, that's a terrible misrepresentation of mental illness: even psychopaths function well in a structured system they can manipulate. It seems like labeling Chaotic Evil people "raving lunatics" is just a convenient way of dismissing a group of people who might otherwise have a legitimate grief with their government and a Machiavellian approach to solving that problem. Revolution is a bloody affair.

That said, my Chaotic Evil deities are all about explosions and ending existence.

Naughty Eternally

Neutral Evil is evil without regard for civilization one way or the other. Such evil can exist normally with or without the laws that work to, say, Belkar and Bialey's advantage. As a result, there's something very common-feeling about a Neutral Evil villain. They almost seem evil without a cause. I kind of struggle with it, since it almost seems like Neutral Evil is primarily evil for the sake of being evil.

That makes this alignment the most uninteresting to me, to be honest. I mean, really who's evil for the sake of being evil? Jerks, mostly.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Laughing Evilly

Ah, Lawful Evil. If you want a one-off villain you can have a party encounter and beat quickly, countless Chaotic Evil characters are lined up to take that role. If you want a truly terrifying villain that's always one or two steps ahead of you, though, Lawful Evil is the way to go. A truly powerful Lawful Evil character could be right beside you, grinning smugly to your face, yet completely untouchable. Think Al Capone, living a life of luxury in Chicago for over a decade, a veritable celebrity and known gangster, yet nobody could touch him due to lack of evidence and fear of both legal and violent repercussion.

Granted, if you're good enough, you can turn someone from any alignment into a villain, creating a truly interesting situation that causes the players to doubt their own cause and reflect on their actions. Still, I think Lawful Evil is the most satisfying alignment to defeat. Assuming you can actually defeat them in a satisfying manner, rather than just arresting them on charges of tax evasion.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Coolest Neutral

In my experience, Chaotic Neutral is one of the most popular alignments for players to choose. In fact, I'd say it's right up there with any of the Good alignments. This is based on my limited sample size, though. Curiously, a search of the Internet could not find a proper poll showing the most popular alignments. Someone should get on that.

Anyway, most of the time people seem to take Chaotic Neutral to mean a license to be a dick without necessarily being evil about it. You can steal, you can lie, you can cheat, you can do pretty much whatever you want as long as you don't murder people too regularly.

I think the Good Samaritan scenario is useful for illustrating Chaotic Neutral: imagine for a moment a man lying beside the road, calling out for help. A Chaotic Good person will help that person, then steal his wallet. A Chaotic Evil person will kill that person, then steal his wallet. A Chaotic Neutral person will simply steal his wallet, then maybe call the guy a loser for good measure.

Not to say I dislike Chaotic Neutral characters. I think they make things interesting. I challenge you to find me one that's not also a jerk, though.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Truly Naive

Ah, True Neutral. Probably the most popular alignment among sentient species, and probably the hardest alignment to maintain as a player character. As a character with the passions to try and enact change in the world, players naturally tend toward one side or the other, along one axis or the other. Not to say that it's impossible to play a True Neutral character, but over the course of an adventure the time will inevitably come when a character must choose one side or another. And a side, once chosen, is difficult to un-choose.

On an unrelated note, I would say that robots are much more True Neutral than Lawful Neutral. Like animals, they are what they are programmed to do. The exception would be true AI, but true AI would be whatever it wants to be, like any sentient creature. So, I take issue with the Lawful Neutral robot stereotype.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Looking Nice

"Law" gets a bad rap in D&D, but it's one of the most important concepts in civilization. In fact, it is the very essence of civilization. Law is what separates a society of basic human rights from a "might makes right" society. Sure, evil can still exist in a lawful society, but here's the difference: in a Lawful society, evil forecloses a house after a single missed payment and forces a family out on the street, or raises their payments to levels that keeps them in poverty yet will still never allow the debt to be paid off. Without law, evil simply enters the home and slaughters the family, or else simply forces them into slavery at the point of a sword. Of course, if slavery is legal then that's a whole different set of problems, but regardless there are rules in a lawful society, and if you know the rules you can work with them.

Still, Lawful Neutral has a reputation for being cold, logical, or otherwise stuck up. Actually, the stuck-up part is a common thread among all Lawful stereotypes. Stripped of the idealism of Lawful Good or the cool, malevolent machinations of Lawful Evil, though, Lawful Neutral seems to be left with all the rigidity but none of the flavor of its Lawful brethren.

With my deities, though, I tried to give them their own flavor.

Crazy Goobers

Chaotic Good is where things start getting weird in my pantheon. I had to figure out what "chaotic good" even means before I could really figure out what makes sense for a couple of CG deities.

I think to some degree it helps to note that each deity in each alignment focuses a little more on one alignment axis than the other. For instance, Waymon is more Good than Lawful while Decchio is more Lawful than Good. Likewise, Milana is more Good than Neutral, and Palindae is more Neutral than Good.

So, here we have Kiryn, who's more Chaotic than Good, and Tas, who's more Good than Chaotic.

Sunday, November 2, 2014


Neutral Good is the most common alignment I choose when playing a D&D character. The alignment is abbreviated NG, so I often joke that it means "no good." Ha.

Anyway, here's a description of my pantheon's Neutral Good deties.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Good Lawd

If I'm going to describe my deities I should probably start by reading the alignment chart left to right, top to bottom. So, here I'm going to describe my Lawful Good deities.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

My D&D Mythology

When I first created a D&D campaign back in 2004, after having only a session and a half of experience, one of the first things I did was sit down and create new deities for my campaign setting. The D&D books have their own deities like Pelor, Whosit, and Whatsisface, but none of them really called to me.

Oddly, I was familiar with the Dragonlance setting long before I started playing D&D, and their deities seemed way more interesting. Moreover, there was a theme of balance in that setting that attracted me. Rather than simply lift Paladine, Takhisis, and the rest straight from Weis and Hickman's pages, though, I created my own pantheon using the Dragonlance one as a loose template. The result was 18 deities, two for each alignment. I'm going to talk about the general mythology in this post.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Story from my Second Job

I spent a couple of blogs talking about the process of working at a grocery store, but I think stories are far more interesting than explanations. So, I'm going to tell you about the time the store's muzak brought me back from the brink of despair.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Working Through Gamergate

We just launched a Kickstarter this morning. It's incredible. In less that 15 hours we're already at 83k, very close to our goal. I wouldn't be surprised if tomorrow I woke up to find us at 100k, with nothing but stretch goals for us from here to the horizon. It was, in short, a good day.

So it bothers me to no end that I still can't stop thinking about Gamergate. It's there, it's active, and it's affecting people I care about. So, I've decided to sit here and work through my thoughts on the matter. Buckle up: I'm about to get Freudian.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Movie Review #41 - The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

I think the Hunger Games series is a pretty solid Netflix movie series: I'm good with watching it online, but I wouldn't go see them in theaters. So, yeah, I watched Catching Fire today on Netflix. I was a bit surprised to see it had a runtime of over 2 hours but, then again, any movie that's adapting an entire novel should probably run a bit longer, otherwise it may feel rushed. Books are dense.

Anyway, short review: although it seems a bit ham-fisted with its overtones, the movie made me think about few things, proving itself to be a bit deeper than it would seem at first glance. As far as action movies based on young adult novels go, I'd put it on par with some of the better Harry Potter films.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Second Job, Part 2: Rouse's Supermarket - Stock

In my time as a service clerk, there wasn't much cause for paying attention to the store beyond the line of cashiers. The only experiences I had with the stock crew was when they sometimes returned from their lunch break as a group, laughing and pushing each other around, and the time I was struggling to push a line of shopping carts when one of the stock crew showed me how to do it properly. (Turns out it's hard to turn a line of 7 shopping carts since their back wheels have a fixed direction, but if you lift the line from the back you eliminate much of that turn resistance.) So, my impression of the stock crew was that they were rowdy, yet helpful.

That first impression was confirmed when I got promoted to their ranks.

Movie #40: There Will Be Blood

People have been telling me to watch some Paul Thomas Anderson movies for a while now, so I finally did. A quick look at his filmography shows a pretty wide range, but I chose There Will Be Blood since it comes most recommended, followed by Boogie Nights.

Short review: this is a ponderous movie that focuses on an unlikable character, but without, say, Llewyn Davis's musical numbers to make you sympathetic. That's not to say it's bad--not at all. It's a fascinating descent into madness and greed. I recommend it to anyone who can sit through ponderous movies.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Second Job: Rouse's Supermarket

Shortly after my mom started allowing me to drive her car, I decided to use it to drive to school one January morning. It was cold (in the Louisiana sense of the word), and the back window was frosted over. Unable to see back there properly and too impatient to wait for the window to clear up, I ended up backing into the side of my sister's car.

The damage wasn't severe, just cosmetic: there was a large dent in her driver's side door. The repairs would cost about $500, though, which was quite a lot to a kid just starting to drive. So, I started putting applications out there and, eventually, one of my sister's friends got me a job at a supermarket.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Launching a Kickstarter

Have you ever launched a Kickstarter? Odds are that you haven't, but if you have then you understand when I say that it's one of the most stressful events in the world.

When I woke up this morning I was expecting to launch a Kickstarter, having spent all night setting the page up and giving moral support to Jeff and Steve as they finished the video. We decided to push back the launch until Monday because, if there's one thing more stressful than launching a Kickstarter, it's running one. So, we decided to take this weekend as our last restful respite of the year. The Kickstarter will be running up until around Black Friday, at which point our holiday season begins, so I'm not expecting to sleep again until January.

Anyway, let me tell you about Kickstarters.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Barenaked Ladies at the Arizona State Fair

Most of my experience with state fairs comes from watching Charlotte's Web when I was a kid. It's all livestock, barbershop quartets, ferris wheels, and a smörgåsbord-örgåsbord-örgåsbord, oh what a rat-ly feast.

Well, yesterday the Barenaked Ladies played a concert at the Arizona State Fair, so Laura and I left work early to head to Phoenix and check out the fair for a while before going to the concert. So, let's go down the list of what I was expecting to see there, and we'll see how the reality measures up.

First Job: Working for Dad

Long before I was old enough to get a job legally, I was in need of money. There were games I wanted to buy, and my weekly allowance simply wasn't cutting it.

Luckily, my dad was a self-employed shrimper at the time and could use the help of an enterprising young mercenary. So, my dad became my first boss.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Staying Calm - Tips from a Professional

Not long ago someone asked how they could be "calm and serene" like me. I responded as truthfully as I could at the time, giving a sort of non-answer. "I'm not as calm as I look," I explained. "What calmness I have is my own, and I don't know if it's something I can teach."

That said, it's something I've been thinking about, so I'll try to explain my thought process. I still don't know if my demeanor is mostly environmental or if it's genetic predisposition, and usually calmness isn't something I have to think about at all. However, I'll try to convey what I think about when I actually take the time to do so.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


I read Cracked articles a lot. They're generally funny and often on-the-nose, even if the titles of their articles are clickbait, and sometimes their research is questionable. Still, it makes for good reading material when I'm bored and stuck somewhere for a while.

Sometimes, though, the articles really make me think. Not long ago, in fact, David Wong wrote an article called 7 Creepy Ways Corporations are Turning You into an Addict, which is maybe worth a read if you can stand the advertisements on the Cracked website. (The phone app is about 70% less obnoxious.)

Today at some point I thought to myself, "man, I really wish I had some Sweet Tarts," which, along with that article, was kind of a kick in the pants to explore my own addictions.

The Dark History of Fangamer

These days, Fangamer is a nice company in which its employees are all friends with each other, we help each other out, we all get health, dental, and vision insurance, and we make enough to live fairly comfortably. None of us are starving, in other words. We still have a ways to go before we reach what Reid calls "acceptable living wages," but since most of us live in Tucson where the cost of living is very low, most of us are doing pretty alright.

However, this was not always the case. Fangamer had its act together by the time I came to Tucson, but I've heard stories of a Time Before, when life was difficult and every month was a struggle.

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Different Sort of Terrorism

Last week, after months of logistics, we finally launched the Gaming's Feminist Illuminati shirt on Fangamer. Most of the delay in its release involved a long sampling process as we received and ordered a variety of different types of shirts that we've never carried before, but in the last few days leading up to the launch we spent some time shoring up our defenses. We had witnessed first-hand gaming's anti-feminist cabal attacking high-profile people for their support of women in gaming, and now we were potentially inviting that wrath upon ourselves.

We were all at least a bit worried, some of us more than others. Still, we braced for impact, set up two-layer verifications on most of our accounts, and hit the launch button.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Selflessness is Selfishness

Two things about that title: first, selflessness is not always selfishness. It's kind of a conditional thing. Second, selfishness in this context is not a bad thing.

What I mean is that sometimes being selfless can lead to long term gains after short-term losses while being selfish can lead to long-term losses after short-term gains.

Wait, let me start over.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Movie Review #39: Dear Zachary

I never noticed this documentary on Netflix until Reid recommended it to me. He recommended it as a really good documentary that he never wanted to watch again. Then he shivered, which made me think it was some sort of horror story.

Most of the time when I watch a movie I really like, I can see myself watching it again and again later. However, every once in a while you get a Grave of the Fireflies; a movie that's good yet tragic, and I definitely don't want to watch it again.

That applies to Dear Zachary. This film is very interesting and engaging (wonderful qualities in a documentary), but it's also very sad. Well, it was sad to me. Laura was angry by the end, while I was wiping away tears. Regardless, there was a powerful emotional response, which is one of the best things I can say about any movie.

Movie Review #38: The Adventures of Baron Munchausen

The third in Terry Gilliam's loose trilogy on imagination's impact on different stages of life is The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. Whereas Time Bandits focused on childhood and Brazil focused on middle age, Munchausen focuses on old age. The movie is available on Netflix if you want to check it out.

Short review: after seeing Brazil, Munchausen was definitely a step down. It's a fun adventure movie that feels a bit like The Goonies or The Neverending Story (though that may be because those are all 80s movies), which is to say that it's pretty fun. To be honest, it's simply not fair to compare Munchausen to Brazil, but I can't help it. It's like watching literally any anime right after watching Cowboy Bebop: it's just going to fall short by comparison.

That said, if you're a big fan of 80s adventure movies like The Goonies and The Neverending Story, I think you'll enjoy The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Fix-It Culture

"Give a man to fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." This quote, paraphrased from the works of a British author from the 1800s named Anne Isabella Ritchie (and not, in fact, from Chinese philosophers), is a terribly difficult lesson to learn, especially for Americans. We are largely a take-action sort of people, determined to fix any problems we see. Sometimes this is a good thing, but there is such as thing as too much of a good thing, despite what fans of excess may tell you.

So, today I want to talk about America's fix-it culture.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Super Smash Bros 3DS - First Impressions, Part 2

I stopped talking about the new characters last time because I covered five of them and there's still 10+ to go. So, let's jump right into it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Super Smash Bros. on the 3DS - First Impressions

Smash Bros isn't a game you can "finish," so waiting until I'm done with the game to start talking about it doesn't make much sense. However, I've unlocked all of the characters in Smash Bros for 3DS, and I've completed all of the challenges on panels 1 and 2, so I'm not exactly new to the game at this point either. It's been a little over a week since I got the game, so let's talk about it.

Politics: Taxes

Whew, I hope this is the last blog I write about a politics for a while. I'm guessing that for every one reader who takes an interest in these subjects, two more are just waiting for me to get back to writing about movies, video games, and... alcohol? My most popular post in the past few months was the one about alcohol? Well, alright.

Anyway, I feel like I should cap off my series about macroeconomics by talking about the primary goal of both supply- and demand-side economics: generating tax revenue.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Demand-Side Economics

Last time we talked about supply-side economics: its theory, its practice, and its fate. It's a policy with lots of data we can study to measure its effectiveness, and although it's hard to draw real, hard conclusions from policies that are constantly being altered by people who can't come to a consensus, the data suggests that it has not been terribly effective.

So, now I'm going to discuss another theory. To be honest, it's not a theory with a lot of data behind it, so consider this whole thing speculative. That said, I think it's a policy based on reason, and it's designed to leave as little to chance and trust as possible. In short, it's a safer policy than supply-side economics, though I think the results would be more rewarding than anything supply-side economics ever gave us.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Supply-Side Economics

In my previous blog post, I noted how I believe that a larger number of immigrant workers would not be detrimental to the economy. What I did not clarify extensively was an economic policy that would need to be in place for this to be the case: a demand-side economic system to replace the current supply-side system. However, in order for this to make any sense, first I'm going to have to explain supply-side economics, which should at least be generally informative since, once you know what it is, you'll recognize its effects all around you.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Politics: Immigration

Even when I was living in Louisiana, a state that shares no borders with other countries, the problem of immigration was a hot topic. People are pouring over the borders of Mexico to escape that hellhole, and they're coming into our country to work longer hours and for less pay than any Americans are willing and legally able to work. All this while having their kids, who don't speak English, come to our schools that we pay for with our tax dollars, visit our charity hospitals, and just generally take advantage of all of the freedoms we've earned. Also, it's illegal, and the problem is that the government needs to just start enforcing the law.

Except, it's really not that simple at all. I think we will need to completely reevaluate our approach to immigration in this country. And, if we do, I think immigration can help to fuel the country's growth rather than drive it into the ground.

D&D Session #43: Dead Ma'ari

Last session ended with the arrival of a familiar face aboard the party's airship. Just as the party was about to enter the Gate heading toward the Realm of Stone, a tall, gangly man named Miles appeared. Miles was chamberlain to Mal, who was a prince in the Realm of Air. Mal's true father, a powerful wizard, switched Mal with the newborn child of a king and queen. Mal's father planned to use Mal to take over the human kingdoms, but was thwarted by the Hot Water Party.

Kirtan kidnapped Mal and brought the cunning child to the Nexus, along with the Hot Water Party. However, apparently Mal's true mother, a powerful wizard in her own right, wishes for her son to be returned to her. Miles is searching for Mal on her behalf.

Also, Miles is a Ma'ari demigod, though he doesn't really act the part.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Movie Review #36: World's Greatest Dad

Bobcat Goldthwait is probably best known as being that comedian with a high-pitched voice. However, his comedy career ended about 20 years ago as far as I can tell, and he seems to be primarily a television and movie director these days. Or, alternately, a panelist on the radio program Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me!

This is the first movie of his that I've watched. Short review: wow. It's not a perfect movie, but if you like dark comedies like Life Aquatic, you'll probably love World's Greatest Dad. It was hilarious and poignant. You can watch it easily on Netflix.

The History of Rome Podcast

Yesterday I listened to the 179th and final episode of the History of Rome podcast. Naturally, that means I need to review it. For a quick review of the quality, though, allow me to illustrate my opinion like so: The total experience is about 74 hours of content, which I started listening to on my trip up to PAX 49 days ago. So, that's a little over 1.5 hours of podcast every day for the past month and a half. I wouldn't do that to myself unless it was a good experience.

Friday, October 10, 2014

To Be a Jedi

I've been talking a lot about Star Wars lately, between The Old Republic, The Clone Wars, and Stoicism. So, I think it's worth exploring what it is about Star Wars that attracts me so much, even after watching the prequels and subsequently watching Mr. Plinkett's reviews of the prequels.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Movie Review #35 - Star Wars: The Clone Wars

In 2003, Genndy Tartakovsky created a series of animated episodes called Star Wars: Clone Wars. His distinct style, used to great effect in the Samurai Jack series, was applied to the Star Wars universe, telling stories that happened between Episodes II and III. I never got to see this series, though I sorely want to. It looks amazing.

A few years after that series ended, though, George Lucas decided to create another animated series that takes place in the same time period. It was computer animated and had no connection to Mr. Tartakovsky, so I wasn't that interested. However, the movie that kicked off the series is on Netflix, so I decided to check it out.

Short review: well, it's not the worst Star Wars movie? It's not good enough or important enough to the Star Wars canon for me to recommend it.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Call Your Mother

I pretty much never call home. I am, in short, the traditional kid who left home and is too busy to pick up the phone once in a while. I'm not averse to talking with my family, though, I just don't think about it much. Whenever someone calls me, I'm almost always more than happy to drop what I'm doing and get updates on what's been going on back home.

Today, my mom gave me a call. It's strange, but although I spent way more time with my mom than with my dad while I lived in Louisiana, now that I'm gone I find I talk to my dad far more than I talk to my mom. So, since I wrote a blog post about my dad a few months ago, I think it's worth talking about my mom for a bit.


I've been listening to The History of Rome podcast for the past month or so. I'll be doing a full review of the series once I'm done with it (Atilla has just been introduced, so the end is nigh), but a while back during the reign of Marcus Aurelius I learned that he was a fan of Stoicism. Marcus himself, the last of the Five Good Emperors of Rome, was by most accounts an intelligent, good man whose greatest failure was not keeping his son, Joaquin Phoenix, from succeeding him as emperor.

I have often been called stoic myself, and though that word means something different today than it meant 2,000 years ago, I feel a deep connection with that ancient philosophy.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Princess Peach

For the past couple of days I've been getting reacquainted with my main fighter from the past several Smash Bros installments: Princess Peach. After reading an article about her recently, it occurred to me that perhaps I should detail my own history with this character I may or may not beat you with on Smash Bros. (I'm not really that good, but my friend code is 4296-3311-2359.)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Movie Review #34: Brazil

There's this cool theater in Tuscon called The Loft, which is an independently-run theater that shows primarily limited-release films, art house films, and movies with very specific audiences.

They also like playing old movies, and often show cult classic films at night. It's really cool to be able to see movies in a theater setting long after that chance seems to have passed.

So, last night Laura and I went to see the Terry Gilliam classic Brazil. Short review: this movie hits every note powerfully. It's consistently funny, even when it's terrifying, strange, or outright depressing. If you want to see something you've never seen before, something unapologetically beautiful and dark is a way that Tim Burton can only dream of, the you should maybe see Brazil.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Star Wars: The Old Replublic, Another Saga Over, Part II

With a Imperial plot and a couple of Sith Lords now properly lightsabered to submission/death, and with hutt now free to eat the last remaining species of a nearly-extinct animal so a criminal can find some treasure, let's see what the rest of the crew was up to on Nar Shaddaa.

Star Wars: The Old Republic, Another Saga Over

About two months ago I renewed my subscription to Star Wars: The Old Republic for 60 days. That subscription is coming to an end, and I have no plans to renew it just yet. In short, I have things to do, and the game is quite a distraction.

That said, I made a lot of progress with my characters in the game. All eight of them are at about level 30 now, and I feel pretty accomplished about that. I've never sunk this many hours into an MMO before, and while it's not a habit I intend to maintain forever, the story aspects of SWTOR keep pulling me back, inviting me to see it through to the end.

That said, I'm going to try to review what I've done so far.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Gamestop's Incentives

I spent several blogs going over Gamestop's Circle of Life, the cycle that drives business for the company. As a part of that I explored two of the most notorious things expected of Gamestop employees: convincing customers to pre-order upcoming games and subscribe to their discount card.

I did not, however, make any mention of the incentives the company gives its employees to make such sales. That, I figured, was worth an entire blog on its own.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Mailroom Day

Today, and every Thursday, is my Mailroom Day. It's a concept I came up with to diversify the workload in Fangamer's mailroom, and I think it's been going well. More or less. It was implemented near the beginning of the year, so I think it's time to take stock of its efficacy.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Predictably Irrational

The human mind is a fascinating thing. Though I like to think I have a pretty good understanding of how most people think (or, at least, how people react to certain stimuli), I love expanding that knowledge whenever possible. In particular, I love hearing about experiments in behavioral psychology: the methods, the results, the conclusions we can draw; the whole shebang.

So, when I started listening to an audio book of Predictably Irrational on my journey to and from Seattle a month ago, I was in for a real treat. In short, the book was all that and more.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Gamestop: The Circle of Life Part IV

The final part of Gamestop's Circle of Life was the one I took to the most. However much I objected to the pre-order system, I made up for it in my fervor for selling subscriptions.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Wedding of Lindsay and Lindsay's Boyfriend

As much as I would love to continue the in-joke of just always referring to Dan as "Lindsay's Boyfriend," I'm going to refrain since unaware readers might get the impression that I'm not that familiar with Dan. Suffice to say, even though I've known both Lindsay and Dan for about the same amount of time, and even though Dan is one of my relatively small number of co-workers, Jeff and I enjoy referring to him as "Lindsay's Boyfriend" because we find it funny. In fact, Jeff managed to work that joke into his announcements today at their wedding.

I spent most of my day at that wedding today, and it was definitely the funnest wedding I've ever attended. The question is, was it an inherently fun wedding? Or are all weddings really fun if you actually know the people involved and most of the people there? I'm inclined to think it's a little of both.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Gamestop: The Circle of Life, Part III

I told you guys that I could pretty much write about Gamestop forever. The can of worms is officially opened, and now I'm having trouble thinking of anything else to talk about.

Having covered pre-orders and trade-ins, it's now time to talk about used games.

Gamestop: The Circle of Life, Part II

Last time I started explaining about Gamestop's Circle of Life, the engine that drove the company. To recap, the circle goes like so: Reservations > Trade-Ins > Used Games > Subscriptions > Reservations. I then proceeded to talk about the intricacies of the reservations system: particularly its inflated importance, the politics of it, and the social pressures that led to many employees spending more money at their job than they should.

This time I'm going to talk about the company's trade-in and used games system, which has its own share of intricacies you likely never considered.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Gamestop: The Circle of Life, Part 1

As per the voiced interest, here's another post about Gamestop.

It may surprise the 16-year-olds eagerly applying for the job, but Gamestop has a pretty decent turnover rate. That is, employees come and go pretty rapidly. What's scaring so many people away from this coveted "dream job"?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Internet Activism II

Last time I starting talking about Internet controversies and whether or not it's worth getting involved with them. I went over some of the repercussions of getting involved in these things (some people really, REALLY hate Anthony Burch, apparently), the specific risks of taking these positions as a company, and started talking about the efficacy of Internet activism.

Specifically, I mentioned that, to be honest, Internet arguments have, in fact, changed my mind about things before. I don't think it's a totally pointless exercise.

Internet Activism I

Recently I and several other Fangamers received tweets about our connection to Comcept (the Mighty No. 9 folks), specifically because apparently they were hoping to boycott Comcept for a day? Or something? I'm not sure. Very likely it was just a small faction of the larger Gamergate movement that doesn't really understand how to boycott properly. We haven't heard anything about it since, so I assume they finished their tiny, ineffective boycott and moved on without involving us.

Still, between that and the Gaming Feminist Illuminati shirt that we'll be offering in our store soon, I've been thinking a lot about activism, especially as it relates to Internet activity. Should I be vocal about where I stand on a subject? What are the repercussions if I do? Will it have any effect? Are there consequences for staying silent? I'm not sure, but I have a few observations so far.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Movie Review #33: I Know That Voice!

I'd seen this movie available on Netflix for a while, but never really looked at it until I saw Rob Paulsen post about it on Facebook. Until then, I had no idea it was a documentary about voice actors.

Short review: it's a fun documentary about an interesting community of people. If you have an interest in voice acting or are curious about the profession then I recommend it. If you don't have an interest in voice acting, well, this documentary might generate one.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Getting a Job at Gamestop

Recently an issue of Game Informer arrived at my house, informing me that my subscription to the magazine was about to expire. To be honest, I'm a little surprised I've kept it going for so long. I work in the industry, so I kind of catch most gaming news I'm interested in long before Game Informer would publish it. Even if I didn't, though, game companies have done a great job of connecting directly to the fans through online presentations and streamed content from conferences and such. In short, why read the magazine at all?

Habit, I suppose. I'm a former Gamestop employee, and having a subscription to the magazine is a must. Or, specifically, having a Gamestop discount card is a must, and the magazine comes free with it. I'm not planning to renew my subscription, however, and as I prepare to let go of this relic of my past I can't help but remember my career at this least prestigious of connections to the gaming industry.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Movie Review #32: Grosse Pointe Blank

A friend of mine pointed out that this movie was on Netflix, otherwise I never would have registered it in my Netflix browsing. It simply looks like some random romantic comedy and, though I don't have anything against romantic comedies, I also don't go out of my way to watch them. Unless they're classics I know I enjoy, like Clueless or Legally Blonde, and shut up I like those movies.

Grosse Pointe Blank is definitely that: a romantic comedy, with a bit of a twist. Which is about as much as of a short review as I can manage: it's a romantic comedy. Do you like romantic comedies? If so, you might like this one. If not, it's not going to change your mind about the genre. It's not the best romantic comedy by a long shot, but it has some quirks that make it stand out as a bit higher than average.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask

I picked up a copy of Miracle Mask knowing only that I would be away from home for a while and that I liked the rest of the series. Layton games have a way of sucking me in and keeping me there until I'm done, which doesn't really seem like the best option for a game to bring with me on vacation, but there you go.

That was back in June, and I just finished the game a few weeks ago, at the end of August, over two months later. Which kind of begs the question: what happened?

Movie Review #31: Wayne's World

Whoops! I watched this movie weeks ago and completely forgot to write something about it. I'm actually a little over a month behind on watching new movies, so I need to catch up.

Wayne's World is a classic movie I may have watched peripherally as a kid, but I didn't remember it at all. So, I'm going to count it as a new movie.

Short review: eh, I think I missed the boat on this one. There are some cool parts, but I don't think they were the parts that the movie makers intended to be interesting.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Alcoholic beverages have been consumed by humans since before recorded history. In modern times these beverages come in a variety of forms to suit people's various preferences for taste, texture, and potency. For some people it's an occasional, recreational drink, for others it's a full-blown addiction, and people may fall anywhere in between.

I, however, am not much of a drinker at all, and I'll tell you why.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Hunter X Hunter

A while back I started watching this anime I saw on Netflix. I think I was just coming off of Bob's Burgers, and I needed something new to watch with my meals. I didn't know if I was going to keep watching after the first few episodes, but here I am, having just watched all five seasons on Netflix, eager to talk about what I've just watched.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Fire Emblem Matchmaking

Recently I started playing Fire Emblem: Awakening again, partially because I love turn-based strategy games, but mostly because while I was at PAX I finished Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask, leaving me with no other games to play other than the ones I have downloaded to my DS. Out of those two games (Mario Picross and Fire Emblem), I chose the one that other people in the room were playing.

Shortly after beginning, though, I remembered that Fire Emblem wasn't just a strategy game. In fact, strategy played a rather small part in it the first time I played the game. No, the primary focus of the game is to figure out who's going to marry whom, making you basically a glorified matchmaker. So, this blog post will detail my decision making process. If you're familiar with Awakening, you'll understand. If not, I doubt this will be an interesting journey for you, and I apologize.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

D&D Reference: Rune Guide

Just one more blog post for my D&D group, then we'll get back to my regular types of blog posts.

This is a guide with information on the runic tattoos the party has earned, as well as details on how these things work.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

D&D Addendum: Kirtan's Report on the Realm of Fire

My Lord, as we begin the journey back to the Nexus I finally have a moment to sit down and compose my thoughts regarding this realm. To begin, suffice to say that this realm is quite unlike what we imagined.Armed with the knowledge I have gained here, though, I believe that next time we will be prepared.

D&D Session #42: Chapter 2 Finale

Armed with the knowledge that the door to the Citadel has been unlocked, the party escapes from the labyrinth. Jeff remarked out of character that he'd had enough of dungeons and was ready for some dragons.

However, nobody is every really ready for dragons. This became abundantly clear as the party exited the cave and found a massive dragon terrorizing the people waiting at the gate of the Citadel.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Hobonichi Techo

There's a craze sweeping America. It began a few years ago, infecting just a handful of people. Now its followers are numbering in the thousands, growing exponentially each year.

I am, of course, referring to the people using the Hobonichi Techo, a daily planner brought to us from Japan, whose popularity is due in no small part to my former roommate Lindsay. I've been using them for nearly two years now, and I've already placed an order for next year's planner. Today I'm going to talk about why I've grown attached to this craze, and why you might want to as well.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin, Part 2

Yesterday I began this discussion by talking about the origin of the phrase, what I believe to be its intended meaning, my personal history with it, and the backhanded way it's often used today.

Today I want to alter the perception of the phrase to hopefully give it a more positive application.

PAX Recap, Part 3

With the main event (the art show) complete, the rest of PAX settled into something almost relaxing. Still, there are a few notes I should mention before closing the book on PAX for the year. First, though, I'm going to relate the Legend of the Sandwich.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin

A while back I heard an argument against the classic St. Augustine maxim "love the sinner, hate the sin." I've been mulling over that criticism for months now, and I think I'd like to lay out my thoughts so far.

PAX Recap, Part 2

At the end of the first day of PAX I spent a lot of time in my hotel room resting and recovering. This was less because the first day had been exhausting and more because I knew that the second day was destined to be far more tiring, as there was far more to do.

It did not disappoint.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Desert vs. Desert

After spending the better part of two weeks away from home, I'm once again being reminded of why I like Tucson in the first place. On any trip it's common to start longing for home, but I do believe I appreciate Tucson itself. I've jokingly referred to this as Stockholm Syndrome, but I think that access to self-deprecating humor is part of the charm.

In particular, though, I want to discuss Tucson's status as a desert.

PAX Recap

I was too tired during PAX to actually sit and write any blog posts. Since I didn't recount the events when they were fresh I just spent five whole minutes trying to remember any notable memories from each day. You're welcome.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

15 Movies that Influenced Me

Today I woke up to being tagged to participate in a Facebook exercise. The rules were thus:

Without thinking, list 15 movies that influenced you.

I chose to interpret that as meaning I should rattle off the first 15 movies that came to mind that I believe influenced who I am today. So, after 15 minutes of racking my brain I came up with the following list:

Friday, August 29, 2014

PAX: First Impressions

This is going to be the 9th PAX I work, the 10th PAX I attend, so I feel like I've seen good PAXes, bad PAXes, and everything in between. At this point, I feel like I can maybe start predicting how these things will go before they begin.

This PAX looks like it might be pretty cool, and I'll tell you why.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Road to PAX: Eugene to Seattle

Eugene is a pretty small town in Oregon, and I would normally have passed right through it. However, when I was looking for a place to stop, it was at just the right distance form San Jose. So, I figured why not? The hotel turned out to be an interesting motel with cabin-like rooms and California king beds, which was pretty neat.

That said, my primary concern after waking up was to make it out of the state without having to stop for gas. So, I skipped breakfast and returned to the Interstate quickly, hoping to finish my trip as soon as possible.

The Road to PAX: San Jose to Eugene, Oregon

After getting the van's window repaired and picking up Robbie Benson's equipment so he can perform at our booth, I finally started on the road out of California. Whereas on the way into San Jose the road was kinda boring on I-5 and kinda neat off of it, heading north out of town was kinda the opposite.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Road to PAX: Bakersfield to San Jose

This was originally going to be a much longer trip, but alas. Regardless, I had the pleasure of driving the four hours or so from Bakersfield to San Jose in a permanent state of "windows down." The journey from the valley to the bay area is mostly uneventful, but it gets pretty neat near the end.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Break-In

Yesterday, after posting the previous blog, I checked out of my hotel and returned to the van, ready to make the trip up from Bakersfield, through San Jose, and to Medford, OR for the second leg of my journey to PAX.

Unfortunately, what I found when I approached my van altered my plans a bit.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Road to PAX: Tucson to Bakersfield

Yesterday I made the familiar drive from Tucson to Bakersfield, the first of a three-legged journey on the way to Seattle. I'm driving by myself, as usual, along with a van stuffed with merchandise.

I'm going to describe that trip here, in case you're interested in the visuals.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Immersing Yourself

I'm a jack of all trades: I can do a lot of things pretty well, but I'm really not a master of anything. It's the thing about myself that frustrates me the most. I've at times been an artist, a writer, an actor, a salesman... yet I've never completely dedicated myself to any one skill.

The funny thing is, I know how to do this. I've simply never decided on what to immerse myself in.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Come With Me And We'll Be in a World of Pure Imagination

I've officially been playing D&D for a decade now. I've spent two and a half years running my first campaign, a two-and-a-half-year-long learning experience that pretty much hooked me from day one. After a hiatus, the next campaign likewise lasted 2.5 years, and subsequent campaigns lasted until they had to end for one reason or another.

You can't spend that long with a hobby like that without examining what it is about that hobby that keeps you interested. I mean, I've been playing D&D for 1/3 of my life now. How many other hobbies have I maintained for this long? And with such fervor? Almost nothing.

Impacting the Life of Another

A while back I looked into the Big Brother program. The program tries its best to assure potential Big Brothers that they can have a huge, positive impact on the lives of these kids by hanging out with them for a while. This concept is very appealing to me, because having an impact on another person's life is one of the most impressive things a person can do, in my opinion. Even though I don't think I can commit to such a program, it made me think about what it means to change someone's life.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Embarrasment of Putting Yourself Out There

One of the most difficult parts about writing blogs is overcoming the fear of putting myself out there. There's nothing quite as vulnerable as a person who has taken a part of themselves--a thought, a piece of music, a work of art--and put it on public display.

The Salute

When someone arrives or leaves we generally acknowledge the activity, whether we're the ones coming, going, or staying. There's often a verbal acknowledgement: "Hi!" "Bye!" "Hey!" "Later!" However, making noise at each other isn't enough. We almost always have some sort of hand gesture to go along with these greetings and farewells.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Movie Re-Review: Chasing Amy

Last night, which browsing Netflix with Laura, I settled on Chasing Amy. I hadn't seen it in a while, and Laura had never seen it at all, so it seemed like a good choice. I remember liking the movie quite a bit when I saw it the first time, and I've long considered it my favorite Kevin Smith film. Watching it now, years afterward, I've got a new perspective on the movie.

Of course, this movie doesn't count toward my 52 new movies for the year since I'd seen it before.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

D&D Session #41: The Hall of Mischeif

After over a month without any D&D sessions due to one event or another, we finally got the chance to pick up where we left off!

The party was exploring a cave beneath the Citadel, a star they flew toward after escaping from a land crawling with huge, seemingly invincible titans. They planned to simply kick their human and elven passengers to the curb, but their supervisor Kirtan was interested in the Citadel and wanted some more information about the place. So, he offered the party an extra runic tattoo as a reward for checking it out. When the gate to the citadel turned out to be closed and unopenable, the party found a cave below the city that might offer answers.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Being the Comic Relief

In the wake of Robin Williams' death a lot of people have brought up the idea that comedians are often very sad, lonely people on the inside. I don't know how true that is, but I do have a story of a sad, lonely kid who, desperate to find a personality, decided that he would be the "comic relief."

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Meeting People in MMOs

I re-subscribed to Star Wars: The Old Republic recently, and I almost immediately got pulled into a Flashpoint (a sort of highly-scripted group quest that isn't related to any one character's story). I was still kind of getting the hang of playing again, so it was kind of a trial by fire. Still, it reminded me of one of my favorite aspects of playing MMOs: getting to know people.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

D&D 5th Edition Character: The Sorcerer Politician

Last Friday I picked up the Player's Handbook for the new edition of D&D. As a dungeon master it's my responsibility to familiarize myself with new systems to see what sort of things and determine if they're worth trying out. While I had little interest in 4th Edition compared to 3.5, so far I'm actually liking 5th. It seems to be solving a lot of the problems with both 3.5 and 4th in an elegant way, and just reading the book is giving me ideas of characters.

So, in this post I'll be describing one of those characters that manifested while reading one of the classes.

To note: I'm actually not done reading the new PHB, so my understanding of the system is still limited. To that end, I won't be going too deep into the mechanics or build of this character.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Movie Review #30: American Movie

Yesterday, when I got home from work, Jeff, Lindsay, and I had a rare shared room-mate experience. This time it was because Jeff invited us to watch a documentary called American Movie. I'm pretty well caught up on my movie quota at the moment, so I wasn't expecting to write another review this soon. Still, a movie is a movie, and I should write this up while it's still fresh in my mind.

Short review: this documentary about the making of a movie is a different sort of documentary; it focuses on real people doing something real which, much like real life, is sometimes fascinating and funny, yet occasionally boring. I'd recommend this to people who enjoy having a peak into the lives of other people.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Robin Williams

Celebrity deaths almost never affect me much. They almost never mean much to me to begin with, even if I'm familiar with them. I'd like to think it's because I'm not that impressed by celebrity, and that might be the case. However, after today I think perhaps the biggest buffer between myself and the death of a celebrity is that those other ones who died didn't have a large effect on my life before they died.

That was not the case with Robin Williams. So, I'm going to dedicate this blog to remembering him.

Movie Review #29: Super

After watching Guardians of the Galaxy I heard that the director, James Gunn, got the gig after someone saw his previous film, Super. That combined with the fact that I recently listened to a WTF episode with Rainn Wilson led me to find Super on Netflix. (Afterward I realized that Gunn also wrote and directed Slither, which I also enjoyed.)

Short review: Super is a strange, intense film that can quickly go from hilarious to horrific, sometimes both at the same time. It's wild, unpredictable, and raw. It is the very definition of a dark comedy.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Political Discussion: Abortions

I almost never talk about politics for two reasons: first, political opinions are generally closely held and personal, and there's generally nothing to be gained by voicing them. If someone disagrees with you then you may have just lost a (potential) friend. If someone agrees with you it doesn't affect their opinion of you at all because of course you agree with them. The truth is the truth, and we generally don't hand out gold stars to everyone who agrees that the sky is blue.

My second reason for never talking about politics is because in many cases I'm simply undecided. It's irresponsible to decide a stance on most of these hot button issues without taking the time to really think about it, do some research, and really analyze the conflict. To be honest, I just don't have the time to form opinions on everything responsibly, so I defer.

That said, as the future President of the United States of America I'm going to need to develop clear opinions about some of these things. I'm not really sure what all of the issues are, though, so if you're interested in hearing my opinion on a matter, let me know and I'll start looking into it.

In the meantime, recently the subject of abortions has popped up thanks to an Alabama law that would have closed three of the state's five clinics if it hadn't been deemed unconstitutional by a federal judge. So, let's jump into it.

Tucson Parks

There's a bit I once saw on Family Guy in which Peter takes a helicopter tour of Tucson. "Oh look, it's a park that's been paved over!" he says as he looks down, bored, from the helicopter. A few seconds later he passes over the same "paved-over park" again.

Family Guy makes fun of Tucson a lot. I think it's because they've made fun of everywhere else, and all the other places got offended. Tucson, on the other hand, seems self-aware enough to know that it's a town in the middle of the desert, so it doesn't seem to have a terribly high opinion of itself. I'm sure the town isn't universally humble but, come on, it's Tucson.

That said, last week I started riding my bike from one park to another in town for research. In the end I discovered that, holy crap, Tucson's parks are kind of great. Peter doesn't know what he's talking about.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Movie Review #28: 12 Angry Men

This classic called out to me on Netflix last night. It's over 50 years old, two of my lifetimes ago, but 12 Angry Men hooked me enough to interrupt my Bob's Burgers streak.

Short review: Wow. This is a great movie. It's completely engaging from start to finish. I'd recommend it to anyone, but especially anyone who's ever been in a long group argument.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Movie Review #27: Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil

Before Firefly I had never really noticed Alan Tudyk, even though I remembered him from things like Dodgeball and Hearts in Atlantis. Now I can't help but watch everything he's in. He's one of the most versatile actors I know, as evidenced by the fact that he's been in everything from Dodgeball to Hearts in Atlantis. I don't know if I've ever seen him play two roles that were alike.

That said, I put of Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil since it looked pretty goofy at first glance, and I didn't bother to look into it further. However, I actually stopped to read the description on Netflix a while back, and that was enough to put it on my list.

Short review: it was kinda goofy, but in a good way. It's a fun deconstruction of the "cabin in the woods" genre, which I enjoyed a lot despite being only second-hand familiar with the genre.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Movie Review #26: Guardians of the Galaxy

There aren't many movies I go see on opening weekend, but I suspected I'd be seeing this one from the very first trailer. I'd never heard Blue Swede's "Hooked on a Feeling" before, yet I instantly knew I loved that song, and also that it was probably recorded before I was born. As is my custom, from the time I knew I was interested I pointedly refrained from looking into it any further, content instead to experience the real thing when it came out.

And so I did. Short review: this was a really fun movie that expands the Marvel Universe admirably. You should see this movie is you're interested in keeping up with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, if you're a fan of Firefly, or if you enjoy movies with a mix of humor, smart writing, and action.

Zelda Dungeons

The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker was one of my favorite Zeldas, probably second after Link's Awakening. I finished Wind Waker HD over the weekend, and I have to say that the remake is exactly what a remake should be: fixing problems and weak points and updating the graphics without losing any of the things that made the game great to begin with. It was really fun to experience the game again, this time with a more critical eye toward game design.

However, there was one part in the second assault on the Forsaken Fortress that bugged me a bit: the fortress is all locked up tight with no way forward. And then an enemy appears. When you defeat it, the doors all unlock and a treasure chest appears containing the Skull Hammer, which further allows you to proceed into the fortress. This exchange baffled me.

Sunday, August 3, 2014


I like animals, but I never want to be a pet owner again. I've owned one pet or another for as long as I can remember, and I'm pretty sure my parents' house is still basically a zoo. Recently I started thinking about the idea of keeping pets, partially because Reid brings his dog Ruby into the office pretty regularly. I have fun with Ruby, which prompts me to reflect upon my aversion to having a pet of my own.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Final Fantasy 7: The Gameplay

I've focused most of the past FF7 blog posts on the story, mostly trying to make observations about the story that perhaps some of you hadn't considered before. Through it all, I don't think I've really touched upon the non-story elements, especially the gameplay. So, in this final blog about the most popular Final Fantasy I'll stop rambling about the story for a while.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Final Fantasy 7: The Finale

I had never played this far into the game without cheating before, so when the time came to finally finish the game I decided to stream it via Fangamer's Twitch channel. I started off by beating the Emerald and Ruby Weapons to show how it's done, then proceeded to tackle the Northern Crater and defeat Sephiroth once and for all.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Final Fantasy 7: The Assault on Midgar

Once the party learns that Holy has been summoned and that Sephiroth is just standing in its way, the path is clear: get to Sephiroth and stop him. Unfortunately, there's a barrier in the way, but Shinra has a plan for that problem.

Final Fantasy 7: Wrapping up Loose Ends

With Cloud back in the party the group stops talking about how weird Cloud is quite so much. There's just a few tasks left to do before heading toward Sephiroth.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Final Fantasy 7: Psychiatrist Planet

I think I'm going to just keep posting these FF7 blog posts until I get it out of my system. If these aren't your bag, come back next week and I should be done.

Anyway, here we go: the emotional climax of the game.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Final Fantasy 7: Not a Cloud in the Sky

Whoops, I got distracted talking about Weapons in the last FF7 post. Speaking of which, what exactly was the Mako Cannon for before the Weapons came along? It didn't seem terribly practical for any other engagement. Couldn't they have maybe shot down the escaping airship, maybe? Also, when Tifa and Scarlet get into a slap fight on top of the Mako Cannon, wouldn't the barrel have been incredibly hot after having fired twice? And why is Tifa slapping Scarlet in the first place--isn't she a badass martial artist? Kick that awful woman in the gut!

Anyway, so Cloud's missing, but you've got an airship. Let the search begin!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Final Fantasy 7: Meteor and Weapons

As Cloud finally breaks down we get to see the Shinra honchos arrive at the crater, commenting on the things they see. Rather than being the ruthless people we've experienced thus far, though, they seem genuinely amazed and concerned. Rufus actually worries about the state of the planet, and it almost seems like he's on the verge of becoming an ally. And, to some degree, he does: when Cloud gives Sephiroth the Black Materia, the whole place starts falling apart. The only reason the rest of the party makes it out of the crater alive is because Rufus pushes them all onto his airship. It doesn't take long for Shinra to seem evil again, though.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Game Review: Costume Quest

Today I played Costume Quest from start to finish. Costume Quest is a game from Double Fine, an RPG about kids on Halloween running around a neighborhood, collecting candy, and trying to save a sibling from the forces of evil.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Final Fantasy 7: Dance, Puppet, Dance

After the death of Aeris and the fight with Jenova - Life you receive the only words Jenova ever speaks directly: "Beacause, you are......a puppet." (sic) This is after Sephiroth really hammers Cloud with some heavy existential remarks, like "Oh, so you have emotions now?" and other lines that clearly question Cloud's humanity. Yet though the player has every reason to doubt Cloud's sanity (given his odd episodes since the beginning of the game) and his control over his own mind (given his two recent awful Will Saves (and one good one) against Domination), we have no reason to really believe he's purely a puppet. Yet Jenova's claim injects the seed of doubt into ourselves as well as our hero. It's kind of like playing FF4 with Kain as the main character instead of Cecil.

Choices in Games

Today's episode of Extra Credits got me thinking about games in which choices are a primary part of the experience. As they explain in the episode, choices are situations in which you are knowingly weighing your options, with no clear right or wrong answer.

An excellent example they gave in a previous episode was the part in Mass Effect 2, in which you have to decide to either destroy all of the enemy Geth or reprogram them to be friendly. It's a massive choice: to destroy them while letting them retain their free will or to strip them of their free will and let them live.

There are very few games I've played with choices like that, or major choices at all for that matter. I'll try to talk about any worth mentioning.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Final Fantasy 7: The Forgotten Capitol

I've always referred to it as the City of the Ancients, though apparently it's actually called the Forgotten Capitol. That makes more sense, since the Ancients were a nomadic people, so a city wouldn't make much sense for them. Even so, apparently the Cetra once lived there. Regardless, the place is remarkably well-preserved.

How to Be Likable, Part 2 of 2

In my last post I started talking about some general advice I have for people who are interested in being likable. I talked about the trust earned from being perceived as a hard worker, the perils of complaining, not making people feel bad, and how gossip is a minefield. Today I'm going to conclude this two-part blog post by talking about things like being generally pleasant, self-deprecation, and more, including a secret weapon when all else fails.

Monday, July 21, 2014

How to Be Likable, Part 1 of 2

Somehow or another I seem to be a well-liked person. Or, at least, that's the impression I get. Through a bit of self-examination I've compiled a list of traits that seem to have helped me in this regard. It certainly doesn't help in every situation (I know a few people who don't like me for whatever reason), but I'm going to assume that for the most part the things people don't like about me are traits I have beyond the ones I'm mentioning here.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Final Fantasy 7: The Temple of the Ancients

Once you've got the Tiny Bronco, it kinda feels like the whole world is open to you. You can finally travel around fairly quickly to pretty much every place you've been to before, plus a few new places.

After traveling around a bit and talking to people (or simply by finding the place) you learn of the Temple of the Ancients and how it supposedly houses the Black Materia Sephiroth has been searching for.

Drifty Days

Every so often my mind seems to take a day or two off, seemingly unable to concentrate on anything for very long. I'm kind of experiencing that sensation right now, so I'm going to analyze it a bit.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Final Fantasy VII: Wutai

How difficult is it, really, to get Yuffie in the party? I seem to recall once spending hours running around in a forest trying to encounter her, yet most of the time I remember seeing her basically the first time I get into a fight in a forest on the world map.

Wutai would be a pretty pointless town without her.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


Is there any way to have close friends without someone else feeling left out? I don't think about it much in regards to myself. I'm much more likely to notice it in other people. However, if I'm going to discuss the subject I have to approach it from in introspective point of view first.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Movie Review #25: Cabin in the Woods

I had heard good things about Cabin in the Woods and wanted to watch it for a long time, but I've always had problems with horror movies. Even horror movies that aren't terribly horrifying, I'm still probably just not going to like it. Silence of the Lambs was an exception.

My one requirement was to have someone to watch it with me, so I got Laura to watch "just the first few minutes" with me, which naturally turned into watching the whole thing. Short review: this movie is bonkers; strange in many ways, but mostly in good, unexpected ways. If you've never seen it, watch "the first few minutes" and see if you can stop. More than likely, you'll get dragged in by the premise.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Final Fantasy 7: Rocket Town

I believe the town is actually called Shinra No. 26, but I think I've always just referred to it as Rocket Town. Like many towns, there's two distinct experiences there: a disc 1 experience, and a disc 2 experience. I might as well go through them both.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Old Friends

This week an old friend of mine is visiting me. He'll be hanging out, sleeping on my couch, and getting a glimpse of my life here in Tucson. It makes me wonder about the separation between my friends from home and my friends here, and the difference between who I was when I made those friends and who I am now.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

FInal Fantasy 7: Gongaga

Even more back-peddling! I skipped over one of the most low-key, overlooked locations in the game, mostly because it's full of 100% foreshadowing: Gongaga.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Final Fantasy 7: Cosmo Canyon

I think I skipped right over Cosmo Canyon in my discussions, though I guess I've been doing pretty bad at staying in Chronological order. Hey, have you ever noticed how you start off on the first continent at Midgar and leave from Junon, yet the two cities are basically right next to each other? Same thing for Costa Del Sol and Rocket Town. You pretty much just tour each continent, walking in a huge circle around their mountainous cores.

Anyway, Cosmo Canyon is at about the half-way mark in your circuit around the second continent.

Thursday, July 10, 2014


Today I spent some time reading through a contract. I can't and won't go into the details about it, but suffice to say that contract negotiations are never very fun.

Movie Review #24: The Fifth Element

Geez, I really gotta stop waiting to review movies a week after I've seen them. Things start get a little muddy. The best time to review a movie is the day after viewing it; when it's still fresh in your mind, but the emotional high of having just seen it has worn off.

Anyway, I watched The Fifth Element for the first time. Short version: it's a fun, fast-paced, funny sci-fi movie that you'll probably enjoy.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Flagstaff Con Day 8: Riding Through the Desert in a Car with No Name

The final day.

Final Fantasy 7: Shinra

I mentioned before that the true villain of Final Fantasy 7, at least for disc 1, was really the Shinra Corporation. Yet, after escaping Midgar their presence in the game changes dramatically. We have a lot to talk about.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Flagstaff Con Day 7: The Best Preserved Meteor Crater

Some people look down on the idea of doing "touristy" things, and it's probably true that many attractions out there are a waste of your time and money. However, I've had a pretty good track record with tourist attractions, with the House on the Rock being one of the most spectacular examples. Have I written about that experience before? I should do that sometime, even though I haven't been there in a year.

Anyway, Meteor Crater is a tourist spot, through and through. That said, it was an ideal place to bring a group of EarthBound fans.

Final fantasy 7: Nibelheim Part 2 - Zack, Vincent, Jenovaroth

Continuing my exploration of Nibelheim! This time I'm talking about Zack and Cloud's escape, the tragic story of Vincent Valentine, and why we bother going to Nibelheim in the first place.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Flagstaff Con Day 6: Ruins and Reids

By the sixth day, as the convention organizer I was pretty much out of ideas. Luckily, Laura came to the rescue with the plan to go check out some ancient Indian ruins nearby.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Final Fantasy 7: Nibelheim Part 1 - Rebuilding and Sephiroth's Conception

My notes on Final Fantasy 7 are piling up faster than I can write them out. There's a lot more here to talk about than I remembered.

This time I want to talk about Nibelheim in the present day.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Flagstaff Con Day 5: Cajun Food

After four straight days of travel and activities, it was high time for a day off. My intentions for that day were to stay at the house all day, coerce people into testing out my game, and maybe just hang out with people.

In essence, I wanted a day of vacation. However, even a slow day at a Starmen.Net convention will contain fun and surprises.

Friday, July 4, 2014

America Day

I've written about my feelings toward the United States before, but I figure I should talk about it more given the holiday. Besides, if I'm going to run for president some day it's probably good to have a clear opinion about the country I'm gunnin' for runnin'.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Flagstaff Con Day 4: Sedona

Some places are simply magical. There's something about it; a feeling in the air, a view, the faint odor of something greater than yourself that inhabits a place lets you know that this place is one of the magical places in the world, and words simply can't capture it.

So, naturally you label these places "vortexes" (or "vortices," if you're a smart ass) and set up shop as a mystic nearby so you can profit off of nature's wonders.

Welcome to Sedona!

Movie Review #23: Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie

While in Flagstaff, someone decided to put on Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie. For context, I've never really had much interest in Tim and Eric. At some point, I actively disliked them, considering Awesome Show, Great Job! to be utterly stupid, and there was certainly some other folks at the convention who felt the same.

That said, the movie was actually enjoyable to me. If you can recognize that Tim and Eric are actually a couple of bright, funny guys who are clearly having a good time creating a movie on a low budget, you might actually enjoy it as well.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Flagstaff Con Day 3: The Grand Canyon

Naturally, we had to visit the Grand Canyon while we were in Flagstaff. When one of the most fantastic sights in the world is just two hours away, it would really be a shame not to see it.

The fact that this was my second time there did nothing to diminish its grandeur.

Air Conditioner

Having a faulty air conditioner is basically the worst thing you can have living in Tucson.

Actually, that's true of Louisiana as well. I've never lived in a place where a lack of air conditioner would ever be bearable in the summer or, really, any time other than winter.

Oddly, I've been living with a faulty air conditioner in my car for the past several years.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Flagstaff Con Day 2: The City of Flagstaff

For the first real day of the con, I figured it would be a good idea to actually explore the town itself. At an elevation of over 7,000 ft, it's actually cool enough there to spend time outside.

Final Fantasy 7: Leaving Midgar and Sephiroth, Professional MacGuffin

When you finally leave Midgar, you finally reach the world map. Up to now, the story has been focused on Shinra and their use of Mako. The story has been subtly hinting at something else going on via Cloud's visions, headaches, and, of course, the murder of President Shinra, but the main villain still seems to be the mega-conglomerate. In fact, it even seems like you owe Sephiroth for your escape.

The story at Kalm shifts the game's focus entirely, adjusting not only the goal of the game but the feel of it as well.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Flagstaff Con Day 1: Travel

This year's Starmen.Net convention was planned by me, which pretty much just means that I found a place that can fit a couple dozen people, figured out how much it would cost to stay there for a week, then convinced people to send me money to cover that amount.

This year it was in Flagstaff, Arizona, a part of the state that looks very different than the rest of it: green, grassy hills, lots of trees, and temperatures below 90 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. After months of planning this convention for literally minutes each month, it was finally time to go check out this house we were staying at.

Home Run!

I haven't made any blog posts in over a week, mostly because I was out of town and busy, with little to no Internet available except via my phone. I was busy with many things--mostly the fact that I was in Flagstaff, seeing the sights of northern Arizona, but also spending a lot of time testing and building a game.

If you have a Windows PC, you can actually download and play the game right now, for free. I'm actually going to spend this blog talking about what it is and what I hope it can be.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Like Father, Like Son

Final Fantasy 7 has been a great source of reflection for me. I'm not a fan of nostalgia--if I'm replaying something these days, it's because I'm hoping to experience something new and to come to new realizations. FF7 has been doing that admirably.

Recently I has a conversation with Aeris in which she wonders idly what an Ancient is "supposed to be like." It was a basic nature versus nurture problem: how much of who we are is due to how we were raised, and how much is due to our genetics? Which led me to thinking about my dad and I.

Thursday, June 19, 2014


As I noted in the Final Fantasy 7 posts, I first played the game during my Gameshark phase which, really, was a part of a greater, more general cheating phase.

So, with that part of my life on my mind, I got to wondering about the differences between myself now and myself at the time--basically, why don't I like to cheat at games anymore?