Enough with the turkey, Yuletide beckons

I just got finished watching a 13 episode TV series via the magic of Netflix Instant Streaming, so it seems entirely appropriate to do a bit of a catch-up before diving into the new episodes:

Thanksgiving dinner was great, as provided by The Chicago Firehouse. gracefuleigh and I hadn't been before, and our trip in reaffirmed my desire to go back when they aren't serving a Thanksgiving buffet. The aforementioned groaning boards were fantastic. Nothing was incredibly unexpected, but every classic dish was executed well. I'd probably have to agree with my dining companion and say that the stuffing was the standout, both in savory and desert (bread pudding) forms.

The post-Thanksgiving affair was mostly a lot of slacking around, and in these few blessed days off from work she and I have been sampling the more long-form goods on Netflix. Party Down was the first thing we watched; it was (is technically, as it got picked up for a second season) a single-camera sitcom about a bunch of hapless caterers in L.A. The major appeal is that easily half the cast of Veronica Mars are either regulars or have made guest appearances - it helps that the show can be pretty funny at times as well. There is a hint of that old Arrested Development magic (mostly when the plotting goes well and the chaos hits a nice fever pitch by the last five minutes of the episode) and some very nice dry humor.

Harper's Island concluded in our house just a few minutes ago, and while it kept us watching all the way through I can't endorse it as I can Party Down. The premise (wedding party on an island where brutal murders occured seven years ago; Shocker! people start dying again) is decent, but when it shifts gears from mystery to survival horror it lost some appeal for me. gracefuleigh felt the problem was stuffing two hours of content into 13 hours of show; I think the premise is sound, but the solution was to stay in Agatha Christie mode throughout.

Finally, with the passing of Thanksgiving it is no longer Jumping The Gun to think about Christmas. As always, I offer this PSA: Amazon Wish Lists. Make them, read them, love them. Also, some snow would now be lovely if someone could get on that. Not sure who in the major's administration to write about recalibrating the weather dome, I'm sure there are some extra people with nothing to do lying around in the old Olympics office.
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Celebrity (not) spotting!

So apparently, I was entirely oblivious to everything during my last trip to Hot Doug's....

like Anthony Bourdain showing up and Chicagoist catching gracefuleighand I about to eat (directly in front of the Encased Meats Timeline).

The odd thing is, it wasn't even a particularly good menu.  But hey, I happy to proclaim my love for Doug's wares to all who will listen.

Campaign Nostalgia #3

The Game: Mage: The Ascension

The Players: pxr5, fengshui, ectophylla, zsquirrelboy, vimnelius, plus Mr. C.

 

The In Nomine game eventually started going south, so sometime in the middle of Spring Quarter that year I decided I would call it quits and then quietly start up a new Mage game with a slightly different player roster.  One disastrous e-mail later (which I never heard a peep from the unintended recipients), I had a new stable of players and started running Mage again.

I don't quite remember how long this campaign ran, but I'm thinking it was at least 8-9 months. 

ectophylla and zsquirrelboy and joined a bit later on, and from my point of view it wrapped up well, with all the major player arcs resolving satisfactorily and the big nasty threat to the world abated.

 

What I Remember Most: pxr5 kicked things off with a bang by destroying San Francisco in the 2nd session - her Euthanatos was played pitch-perfect all the way through, right up until she accepted her own fate and transformation into Death, Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse.  For one thing, it turned Loom of Fate into a far better published scenario than it has any right to be.

 

Unbenownst to my players, this game was very heavily influenced by a computer game I had completed recently called Realms of the Haunting.  It was a FMV-heavy first-person-adventure game at a time when both of those descriptors were on the wane.  Much of the acting and production values are laughable, but it had some evocative scenes and turns of phrase.  Outside aesthetics exploding all over the place would prove to be a recurring concept, as a fair number of games I ran later would have lots of things, ahem, "lifted" from movies/TV/video games I was going through at the time.

One line updates

Orlando was less fun my second time through, but still enjoyable.  Would have been more so if not for the head cold I got on my second day there.

The dry heat of Las Vegas the week after was an excellent remedy, though.  It was my first trip to Sin City and I only scratched the surface; I'd love to go back with 

gracefuleigh in tow.

Speaking of which, please send happy (and low-temperature) thoughts to my beloved.  The air conditioning in our building is STILL out and these honest-to-god summer temperatures are begging to fray sanity.

I've been suckered into the launch hype surrounded Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition.  In particular, there is a neat podcast being released featuring the authors of Penny Arcade & PvP that's pretty enjoyable.  Plus I've almost got the first adventure of my campaign plotted (but not statted, naturally) out, which is a nice feeling.

Indiana Jones was great.  Iron Man was an order of magnitude more awesome.  And my hope has been rekindled that Battlestar Galactica will not end in a retarded fashion.

That's all for now.

 

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    tired tired

Dear Nintendo

Hey Reggie -

For the Nth time, your Friend Code system is retarded.  Know what my XBox Live friend code is?  My phone number, so my friends can call me and tell me to get the hell online.  Next time around, along with HD support, let's go for something that wasn't designed for 12 year olds (or at least, a way to opt out of the To Catch A Predator sandbox).

Wii Code - 3283 0653 9775 5419
Mario Kart - 0645 6158 5496

Technoporn

Here's the thing about Peter F. Hamilton - take any one aspect of his overall body of work (weighting the Commonwealth Saga ahead of the Night's Dawn stuff because I consider the latter to just be an earlier draft of the former) and there's probably someone in SF who can do it better.  Any number of military SF writers do better space battles.  Bruce Sterling handles near-singularity hyptertech better.  Vernor Vinge's mastery of sheer epic scope is better.  And I'm sure there is better porn.

And yet I find Hamilton's stuff incredibly readable.  I'm such a sucker for space opera, and tore through The Dreaming Void in about a week.  It looks like he's finally doing something other than an alien-invasion story (although there is plenty of time to bring that in) and all the usual tropes are there.  The technojargon is a little less impenetrable than normal, which is nice to see (although I have no problems being thrown into the deep end).  No honking big space battles, but instead there are a few really nice brawls between hyper-enhanced humans with a delightful amount of collateral damage.

Still, not without downsides.  First, he can't seem to kick a few of his old habits, notably a few-too-many callbacks to the Commonwealth Saga (including a cringe-inducing bit of exposition right near the end), and of course, lots of gratuitous sex.  Apparently one of the major benchmarks as to how posthuman you are is how much you get laid.  And the other demerit is that he's back to writing trilogies, meaning I have to wait at least 2-3 years to see how this all turns out.

However, Dance of Dragons will be out before long, so I can switch gears over to that.

Opening day!

 It may be 42 degrees and miserable as hell here in the Windy City, but there is no cloud layer so thick it can obscure the Turning Of The Seasons  Yes, there was a game last night.  And some in Tokyo last week.  But as far as I'm concerned, a new season of The Great American Pasttime begins today!  163 games and everyone is tied for first.

It may not be the greatest year for Chicago's ballplayers.  Unless Lou has figured out a way to clone Carlos Zambrano (or otherwise allow him to open 2/3rds of all their games), the Cubs still don't have enough quality starters to be competitive.  And the White Sox....well, rebuilding can't last forever, can it?

Nonetheless, I'm going to be making an effort to see more games this season than last year.  I'll try and post my intentions in advance for those so inclined.

  • Current Mood
    optimistic optimistic

Up for air

Yes, I haven't posted in a very long time (8 weeks, according to my LJ front page).  No good reason or excuse, except for the same miserable Chicago weather that has crushed the spirits of many.  I don't normally feel it as acutely as this year, but I've been feeling somewhat unmotivated and lackluster (really, not a bit of luster to be found) for the past few months.

However, March brings with it the promise of the turning of the seasons (promise not valid in all wards, please contact your alderman for details) and a fresh start for us all.  The very notion that right now, baseball players are in spring training adds a noticable bounce to my step.

Hello to all those I haven't seen or spoken to in a while, hopefully the silent period is over and I trust you are all well.

Slim pickings during the strike

The always witty

gracefuleigh said it best, "American Gladiators makes American Idol look like the BBC."  But we gave it a try anyways, and were adequately (if not proudly) amused to TiVo a few more episodes.  However, I wonder if at some point in his career Hulk Hogan sustained a brain injury that causes him to use the word "brother" as an article or form of punctuation.

Also, we both agree that Crush is way hot.

 

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