Friday, September 26, 2008


-My Mother made an interesting point. If I got sick from eating bad meat, why did I get a severe cold and not food poisoning?

-Once again economics only affects those with a lot of money. Some other big bank is buying up WaMu, and I'm still FDIC insured for twenty times the amount I have, but I have to say I'm still feeling a pretty strong vindication here.

-My cold has been steadily climbing up my head. It started out as a bad throat thing, yesterday it was mostly sinus issues, and right now the only major problem I have left is getting my ears to equalize. I hope I'm wrong in thinking that tomorrow I'll wake to find my hair emitting a viscous ooze

-Blatant plug for Jonathan Coulton, flimsy pretext not included.

-I haven't been really intoxicated in a long time, but a bottle of theraflu packed a surprising punch. It did it's job, but while I was draining I found myself playing Rock Band to kill time. While I was playing a game that I had been playing in one form or another at least once a week for the past two years or so I was watching the notes go by, not entirely aware of the part of me that was playing them, and I thought with genuine yet very very mellow surprise "Wow, I'm really good at this." I'm glad I had that thought because it allowed me the critical safety net of knowing that I was tripping.

-My white board has lost a lot of it's power since my black, red, and blue markers have all gone dead. According to my now defunct color coding legend I leave up everything on my board is now either "Scholastic/Miscellaneous Commentary" or "Outside Commentary." The loss of a secondary representation for declarative/objective, supportive and skeptic voices really takes all the fun out of the process.

-It's also worth note that I've had "Buy more Whiteboard supplies" written on my second whiteboard (the one that isn't a giant sticker) for a while now, but according to my color codes thats "Outside-Commentary" which hardly has the power to put items on my to do list.

I'm not (entirely) crazy

I experienced something today that I think will be unequaled for a long time. Only hours ago I had once again engaged in a bout of what I'm calling "Insane Midnight Blogging," the fact that it took place at 8:43 in the morning doesn't negate it because the act was still the same. I was writing something out on my blog that really should've stayed either in my head or gone onto my white board where my insanity can be kept in safe quarantine from the general public. Really IMB is same basic idea as drunk dialing except without the phone or the alcohol.

In either case, I had just dug deep into the crazy and written out my conspiracy theorist concerns about WaMu going down. This was among the many thoughts that were percolating in the back of my head while I was walking to class. The main stage of my mind was occupied by the pointless babble of being annoyed with the lingering effects of disease and thinking about the philosophical ramifications of being annoyed with diseases. It was in this distracted state that my auto-pilot systems performed my daily check of the mainstream paper headlines, and I am not exaggerating at all when I say that I performed a cartoon-esque double take. My body didn't get told to stop walking even though my head was staying right where it was. The headlines shouted to me in giant fonts.

WaMu Seized, Sold

Feds seize WaMu in nations largest bank failure

It's hard to explain how many things rushed through my head at that moment. Several of them were general alarms, a few of them were bitter regret that we had been on day too late, many called for reason and further investigation, but there was one triumphant call that seemed to rise to the top. It's one of the few times I could look at what the mainstream was saying, what people who I'm supposed to trust were telling me, and I could spit in their face and say:

I'm not crazy.

Economic Upheval

So, follow me on this, because I'm about to go crazy.

Recent financial crisis, Stock Markets down etc. Now I'm normally not worried when the stock market begins to go down because I've always kind of thought that it only meant that a lot of rich people were about to be less rich, which may or may not affect the people who then may or may not affect me. However, there's a lot of doomsday talk going around, and it seems like what they're doing to fix it consists of of them setting the wreckage on fire.

I don't know a lot about the economy. I know just enough to know that the banking industry is the 2nd greatest shell game in the world, with the greatest being a non gold standard currency.

I warned you I was getting crazy.

So here's what I see as my problem. It's my understanding that WaMu bought up a bunch of... Mortgage backed securities, or CDOs, correct the terminology if you know what the straw I'm grasping at is called, and I know enough about what happened to think that doing that is a bad idea that will almost inevitably hurt the bank.

So, and it's a given that my reasoning here is crazy, I'm beginning to worry about my bank. The real threat that can result from this is that I'll go to collect my money from that bank and they'll tell me they don't have it. I was thinking until about 20 minutes ago that I would do this as soon as I saw signs that made me think this was a real possibility, but, and it gets a notch crazier here, the nature of the crisis is that I won't be able to see it coming. So if I'm going to ready for a crisis I'm going to have to react to the crisis before there's a crisis.

Wow, even typing that feels really crazy.

In either case I'm giving serious thought to pulling a lot of money out of the bank.

This will avoid the lesser, but still national scale crisis of a major bank going down. What worries me even more is how the bail out might doom us all.

Money isn't backed by anything, it's paper and assertion, It's a great trick, and most of the time it works, but right now we're a country in trillions of dollars of debt, and we're apparently about to give nearly a trillion to two guys who have been overseeing an economic collapse for their plan to save it. I don't think we really have anywhere to get that money from, so I don't think I'm crazy when I say that we might just print it out. Hot off the presses another seven hundred billion to throw on the fire.

And this is where we get to the real doomsday scenario. This kind of print up write off scheme might weaken the assertion. Money might go to just being paper, and in that case even people like me who have pulled out a lot of their money are going to be screwed. And that's a crisis I'm not preparing for in a normal way. When it comes to that crisis I'm lucky. I already have wilderness survival, urban emergency, first aid, and basic firearm training. We also already have most of the things we would need in case of a mass outbreak of civil unrest including enough melee weapons to keep my entire homestead armed, a high quality lock pick, water purification tablets, sterno, and all of the other basic tools we would need to both facilitate our looting and prevent us from being looted. Still, I'm giving very serious thought to investing in a firearm.

Luckily that is as crazy as it gets. Although I think you have to admit that getting to "My personal economic plan is to buy a pump action shotgun" is some high quality crazy.

Keeping it In Character

As a long time denizen of the role playing world I've run into a whole number of niches and cultures and persona. I could talk a lot about them, but there's a lot of that which I'm not willing to discuss in a blog my parents and grandparents know about, and most of the rest of it is boring to anyone who hasn't actually been involved in these communities.

What I'm here to talk about right now is how we handle it when reality mucks up our little bubble. In every online world you have to deal with the idea of Lag. For most role players this means putting your next sentence in double brackets, or putting an (OOC) in front of it, or whatever that games nomenclature is for designating that what you're saying is Out of Character, but for me lag was it's own little game. Working within canon is fine, but there's a lot of tricky fun to be had in making things canonical.

Given that my first RP realm was in AO, where I was part of Xtronica, which made up 90% of social elite on the server I started with simple things that fit easily into the cyberpunk raver club kid scene we had going. Spacing out, Acid flashbacks, whatever assorted drug reference you needed. What was most amusing here was that when you were in the Grid in AO and you got lag you could call it lag and still be in character.

In CoX things were a bit different. When I was playing a hero I was playing a character that drew upon the guilt and fear of his enemies to deliver their justice, and when I was playing a villain I was playing the fiery incarnation of all of humanity's repressed emotions given brutal form and out for revenge. Given that these both drew upon a kind of maddening well of thought I had a staple that suited me quite well, and that I still find amusing to this day. When the game would shudder and the movement became blocky, your actions happening without being displayed and the video seizing I started typing my reaction before the spike had even stopped.

Chained Inferno pauses, gripping his head as his fires darken into a chaotic black and blue
[Chain Inferno]: Ahh... The visions... They won't stop. The past and the future, always one, collapsing onto each other...
Chained Inferno shakes his head, his fires resume their violent harmony of destruction

I milked the "Nightmare Visions" thing for all it was worth. It was also fun to watch the reactions of non-role players whenever we chose to admit one to our group.

In WoW I didn't really go into any kind of hard core role playing. I have a back story for a few character, and my paladin has a ton of macros that basically allow me to pretend to be a death knight, but things got lighter. I started playing a new kind of game. Lag in WoW is harder to detect because your character still appears to be under mostly your control. Your abilities don't activate, but everything stays smooth until the moment you snap back into focus. This means we need a test to see if we're getting an actual response, and the basic lag test is to just say "lag" into guild chat, and see how long it takes to actually display. Once it displays you're clear. My game was to think of better ways of saying it. I'm sure I had a few at the time, but only one comes to mind right now.

"Sweet Sauron I'm Bilbo Laggins!"

It amused me, so don't worry if it doesn't amuse you.

I've been playing a fair amount of Team Fortress 2 recently and I've been thinking about how I would explain lag in that game if it was a role playing game and not just a team based FPS where I'm mowing people down with a mini gun because they're on B.L.U.* team and I'm on R.E.D.* I did eventually settle on something though. Battle Frenzy. That state where you just kind of lose yourself, and vision reds over and you fight without knowing it (because I don't bother to stop shooting while I'm lagging, I just begin aiming wildly at imagined targets) and then you come out it, you calm down and you survey the wreckage around you, which may also be the wreckage of you.

*Builders League United
*Reliable Excavation & Demolition

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Every day I walk to school along a partially randomized route. The partial randomization is so that it won't be as easy to ambush me, but I spend a lot of time sitting next to a computer, which puts me in front of but not facing a window from which you can see the bell tower of a nearby church, so if someone with the sophistication to set an ambush was trying to kill me they could just pay someone to pick me off from a few blocks away.

Anyway, even though the route is partially randomized some significant portion of it usually takes me along the ave, and for a long time now I've been stopping somewhere along the way for breakfast. That was nearly always subway but I've run the numbers on that and it turns out it's fucking stupid.

I was paying way too much for what I was getting. So, a few boxes of smart start and a nicely trimmed food budget later I've begun eating breakfast before leaving. I've found that I still have the desire to get something along the way though. There's an easy obvious solution to this but I'm one of the six people who live in Seattle that don't regularly drink coffee.

I settled eventually on Vitamin Water, for a few reasons. First of all it's the only drink that comes with a supposed attached to it's flavor. I only kind of believe that, but I like this feature because it allows me to pick a flavor based on my emotional state. It's mood drink. Am I feeling worried about a test? I can grab a bottle of "Focus," and let the awesome power of the placebo effect wash over me. If I'm feeling tired I can grab a bottle of "Energy," or possibly "Revive," depending on what kind of tired it is.

So all well and good, kinda, but the price of vitamin water isn't what I'm here to question. I just felt the need to address just how many vitamins I was getting.

Each morning I get up and take

54 mg of Concerta
400 mg of Resveratrol
250 mg of Green Tea extract
1000 mg of Fish oil

And too much to list from my multi-vitamin, which apparently also includes 8,333% of my daily B-12 needs.

After doing all that I eat smart start, which according to the box provides 100% of my daily need for 10 separate things in one serving. I eat least two servings, meaning that I'm getting at least 200% of my daily needs in those things, not to mention that by that point I'm up to eighty five times the amount of B-12 I apparently need in a day.

It seems like the last thing I would need at that point is more vitamins. I have to wonder if the vitamin water is even having any effect, or if it just goes directly into the waste bin.

However, all is not lost. I may be wasting a lot of vitamins, and slowly polluting our water supply with several tons of B-12, but I finally found a definitive gain from drinking so much vitamin water. When I got sick I had five bottles just laying around, including one bottle of "Defense" sitting chilled in my Eric's 'fridge, which would've been appropriate if I had drank it the day before I got sick. So definitely an overkill on the vitamins, but the bottles are crazy handy.


I've noticed something interesting about the role that cleaning plays in my day to day life. It is, in essence, the baseline means of getting what I call achievement points. Achievement points are a way of representing psychological energy, and are critical for motivating oneself. Also, what I mean by baseline isn't that it's the foundation for further gains, but rather it's the lowest activity on the list when I'm in need of them. A lot of the things that are more rewarding require me to first spend some points, but cleaning is something I can do when I've got just enough laying around for me to feel the need to do something.

Being sick has been an interesting experience in a lot of ways because it's let me see a whole number of behavior patterns from a state of mind that wasn't directly responsible for them. Today I'm getting a good look at being half-motivated. This used to happen a lot because I was motivated enough to realize I needed to do something, but I hadn't beaten back anxiety enough for me to actually do what I knew I needed to. In this scenario I usually fell back to cleaning because it kept me busy, felt like I was doing something, and didn't require me to leave the house.

Right now I'm sick enough that I can't get anything big done, and I don't really have anything to do, but I've got too much energy to just lay around in bed all day. So, I find myself at an artificially induced state of half-motivation, and once again I find myself cleaning. I'm a little bit worried about this because it means that as I get better at playing the motivation game I may leave cleaning behind, and I like the idea of keeping my place clean. In the end though I'm just glad that I have a fall back activity that doesn't involve mindlessly grinding away in a fictional world.

Although, due diligence, I did just place my pre-order for WOTLK. So, it's not like I'm ever going to stop being a gamer.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


There's a point with all bad things in live where it becomes routine. It's not a good thing. In fact it's probably the worst thing, but once you've reached that point you can stop being worried about them. You worry about things you don't understand, and I have a very thorough understanding of sleep problems. A while after that you begin to get almost jaded with it, and at that point you can begin laughing at it, granted in a very dark way, but it still counts.

This is why when I stumbled out last night around 11 I wasn't thinking about the ramifications of not getting any sleep, I was wondering if the sleep loss was due to sickness, or the fact that I hadn't been going to sleep at 10 for a long time, or perhaps because I was starting classes again the next day. It's a fun little game, and for those of you who were playing along at home the answer was sickness.

One other thing occurred to me last night. I was laying in bed, unable to sleep, whiling away the hours and reminding myself that if I got up I wouldn't fall asleep. It's something I've done countless times before, but it felt troubling, because it was back to being new. It's been a long time since I've been able to lay in bed for six hours and never really get to sleep. In a weird way I'm almost proud, because this time it wasn't my fault.

Okay, technically it was, I should've known better then to eat the discount steak, but it was disease keeping me awake, a clear external issue, not anything I was doing internally.

Anyway, I got up this morning and with a whole myriad of minor symptoms I went on my way. A lot of unusual sweat, a day late and dollar short vitamin water and more then a few subway napkins later I make it to class.

Where three nervous T.A.'s tell us that the professor is out with a serious illness.

Now I'm sure if we were being sane we would just call this serendipity and move on, but I have to wonder if I'm not the only one who saw discount steak and thought, "Ya'know what I haven't had in a long time..."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

An offer you can't refuse

Given my financial situation I tend to get most of my meat frozen. I've gotten reliable thawing down, so this isn't really a problem, but when I get the chance to get a hold of a steak I tend to take it.

So, when a good looking rib eye showed up in Safeway's bargain bin I found myself faced with two opportunities. A. I have the opportunity to get a $20 steak for $7, and B. I have the opportunity to prove that I'm not stupid enough to buy discount raw meat.

I chose A.

Now, in my defense, I'm sure that if I'd eaten the steak immediately I would've been fine. If I'd taken it home that evening and prepared it well done everything would've been fine. The thing is I bought that steak on Friday. I prepared it yesterday, Tuesday, and I prepared it to my liking. This means that it was designed to be cooked just enough to let the finer aspects of the crusts and spices add to the savage joy of tearing another creatures flesh apart with your jaws.

So I can't really say I'm surprised that I got sick. I can say that I'm annoyed, and mildly relieved because it appears to have gone though without anything that bad having happened to me, and I got sick just before classes started not after.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


-I've spent a lot of time in the past few months building up a mindset that's focused on doing things. Then I went on break, and I've begun to get really bored. This went from being a break to being a long boring expanse of time about a week ago. Vacations shouldn't be longer then a week.

-I've noticed that since I've stopped wearing all black a lot of my old social defenses aren't working. Solicitors aren't afraid to talk to me, people are carding me, etc. Granted it's a side effect of a good thing, but I need some way to remind people that I'm still a frightening person while wearing blue jeans and a tan shirt.

-Ya'know, I could just write "No Solicitors" on all of my non black shirts.

-Ninja Gaiden 2 is a good game that loses a lot of points for being too hard. It's not poorly designed, it's just too damn hard.

-Jimmy John's will deliver good, cheap, quick, relatively healthy food until 2 a.m. It's another valuable lesson I've learned thanks to poor impulse control.

-I haven't forgotten about the PAX topics I need to write about, I've just gotten lazy.

Friday, September 12, 2008


I've always been amused by the online personality tests. There's a huge number of them tuned to every sub culture you can imagine. I've been taking them again recently, and I've noticed something interesting.

I'm changing.

That's not news, I've known that for a while now, but it's interesting to see it reflected in various online tests. I'd say that it validates them, but this is the internet so it's all inherently invalid. I also loathe the thought of trying to make a case based on the idea that I now test as a Paladin rather then a Wizard.

The most direct change has been on TheSpark's personality test. I used to get mostly Mastermind [SIAT] but I've taken it a few times recently and I've been getting Experimenter[DIAT]. It's only a flip on one point, but I think it's accurate. On the much more official Myer's Brigg's tests I used to get, and I'm half guessing here because it's been a long time, INTJ, which, according to a relevant site, is called either The Scientist or The Mastermind. Taking it again recently I got ENTJ, The Field Marshall. It's also almost eerie how often one of these test will strike on some bit of insight. Take for example the last line of the ENTJ overview: "More than any other, this type seems to struggle between an inner drive toward creative spontaneity and the desire for order in the universe. "

In both of these things there's only been one change, but it's fundamental enough to be life altering. It's also interesting to note that for both of these tests, the official Myer's Brigg's and TheSparks knock off, I've always tested close to the line for Thinking/Feeling. The alternates, if you care, would be Dreamer instead of Mastermind, and Teacher instead of Field Marshall.

One other fun thing is that there are alternate names for these personality types. According to a different site my old one is best described as Conspiracy Theorist, and my new one would be described as Evil Overlord

ENTJ: The Evil Overlord

The ENTJ is best characterized by his charisma, his ability to grasp complex situations and to think flexibly and creatively, his keen and active intelligence, and his overwhelming desire to crush the world beneath his boot. ENTJs are naturally outgoing and love the company of other people, particulalry minions, henchmen, slaves, and the others they rule with ruthless efficiency.

ENTJs usually die at the hand of secret government agents in a fiery cataclysm that destroys their entire underground fortress. Often, Evil Overlords will have a secret clone whose implanted memories contain all the knowledge and ambition of the original, stored in cryonic suspension in a safe location. The clone will appear in a sequel.

RECREATION: ENTJs enjoy spending their leisure time in groups, seeking out the company of others with whom they can exchange strategies and ideas, and test their mind control rays. They also enjoy competitive games which challenge them intellectually, such as chess, go, and "tell me where the missiles are or I'll open the piranha cage and drop the girl

I will admit I was going to deny any accusation that I may be an Evil Overlord, but I have a vow about not lying any more, and I couldn't honestly say that I don't harbor a desire to crush the world beneath my iron heel.

Friday, September 05, 2008


A little over two years ago I first picked up a Guitar Hero controller. I've been playing it on and off ever since. I was driven to play Guitar Hero 2 with the blue button, so I moved up to medium, and while playing Guitar Hero 3 I fulfilled my ambitions of adding the orange button, so I moved up to hard. There were no more buttons to add, but I realized that I wasn't skilled enough to play certain songs on Hard, so to practice I played easier songs on Expert. It's probably been more then six months since I made that upgrade to the highest tier of difficulty.

At the first PAX I went to I saw someone who can play Guitar Hero better then anyone ever should be able to. He was playing Cowboys from Hell, on Expert, with his eyes closed and his back to the screen. That level of mastery requires you to destroy yourself, so I don't aspire to it.

When the rhythm game of choice changed from Guitar Hero to Rock Band my role changed. I'm one of the only people I know who likes the bass as an instrument in real life. It's at the top of my list of instruments I would learn to play if I had the time, money, and talent necessary to pursue it. This meant that I was one of the few people who was playing the bass on expert, and playing the bass willingly not because it was someone else's turn to play guitar.

The only problem with this is that the bass is much easier, in general, and as someone who had played a lot of expert guitar the bass began to get dull. This is when I decided to move from being one of the insane people who sings along under his breath to taking a serious try at singing in Rock Band. Since then my role in the impromptu band that has formed in my apartment has been that of Bassist/Vocalist on Expert and Medium respectively.

I would be lying if I said that I did this without ego. Playing while singing seemed like something that takes a lot of talent, something that would put me among the upper echelon of players.

Now cut forward to last Saturday. For most of PAX they had a Rock Band freeplay setup in the Raven Theater, which basically amounts to a small lounge area with an impromptu stage in it. The system was very simple. Get four people, and have at least one of you wait in the line. This was a little bit complicated by the fact that I didn't have three other people to form a reliable band, but the culture there was outstanding. It was half pick up group and half impromptu friend circles. I was lucky enough that I arrived in time to hear someone say with a bit of exhaustion in their voice "Does anyone want to play Bass?" The spontaneous appearance of an expert level bassist was, to say the least, welcome. It was while comisserating with my bandmates after making it to the impromptu circle of friends phase that I learned that everyone there could play something on expert, and that people playing guitar and singing wasn't that uncommon, and the fact that I wasn't doing both on Expert meant that I was on the low end of them. My ego successfully beaten back I went back to my role as Epic Bassist.

I've always wanted to play in front of an audience, it's natural for those of us who are pretending to have talent to seek a venue where we can pretend to have success. The actual experience is somewhat less grand then I thought. Playing in front of an audience makes the experience ten times as intense, and I ended up feeling both ends of that. When I was playing bass for Metallica's "Enter Sandman" and I heard the crowd cheer in response to me holding down the buttons of a long chord while flaring the guitar over my head it was amazing. It was a rush that is almost beyond compare. When I decided to try singing on stage and found that as soon as the song started all of the moisture in my throat spontaneously evaporated, leading to me get the guitarist in on it, and eventually trading instruments mid song with the bassist the shame was soul crushing.

The really odd thing. I had two good and two bad experiences, and I had them one after another in sequence.

The other odd thing, in retrospect, is that the crowd response during the song that I sung half of wasn't that bad. At the time it seemed clear that I was about to be burned at the stake, but I think the craziness of it kept them interested.

Thursday, September 04, 2008


This list is being edited as I go, and being moved to the top each time.

Think/Write List.

-PAX Lessons
-Power Trade
-Flaunters (Blue Scout, ETC.)
-A Carefull and Thorough and possibly also bullshit analysis of my new hat
-The Ratio, The Change
-Stalking Cosplayers Differences, Social... skills? Social something
-Squad Commander
-Cosplay: The Stalking of and the participating in and how I almost shaved my head, and how I later regretted the almost for mostly invalid reasons

The Eye Tyrant

As a D&D player I have a wealth of knowledge pertaining to all manner of fictional creatures. A whole lexicon of nightmares is at my disposal, including a kind of fiery demon horse known as a nightmare. I may even prepared to say that I know goddamn near everything.

So to me the idea a Beholder is old news. This floating abberation known for it's deadly eye beams is a symbol of D&D, and as a someone who often plays the role of Dungeon Master it's one of my most prized minions.

It's said that we only fear things we don't understand, but I'm here today to argue the exact opposite of that. I, as a D.M., knew that a Beholder Eye-Tyrant was a level 19 Solo Artillery (large aberrant magical beast). It's just that I didn't really have a grasp on what "Large" meant until recently.

Maybe a photo will help you understand.

Remember when looking at that picture that the little person off to the right is me, and that I'm nearly six and half feet tall.

Large used to mean that it occupies a 2x2 square instead of just one, has reach, and has higher strength but lower AC. It didn't used to compute into being a looming terrifying monster.

This realization was followed by another which was at the same time both the sundering of the insulation of nerdity and the epitome of it.

I've mentioned before that as a D.M. I love these things. That used to be because they're massive central eye projected a cone of anti-magic which royally screws with the players. In the newest edition that's gone, but they've gotten an even cooler ability. It's an Aura 5 effect, and any creature that starts its turn inside that aura gets zapped. Yes Beholders lost my old favorite ability, but they finally became what I always wanted them to be. Insane floating laser monsters. Now to someone thinking in game terms Aura 5 just means stay 5 squares away and throw fire at it. A rough translation of that means that if you're within twenty five feet of the monster it's going to keep zapping you until you're charred enough for it to devour you.

Which lead to me and Kevin standing around it thinking about how much that really meant. Backing away to the point where we thought we might be safe, and giving some serious consideration to how fast this creature could ravage the Pike Street Annex if it needed to. The room we were in was pretty big, but I maintain that if it had floated over to the middle it could have it every square inch of it, including the balcony's on the 2nd and 3rd floor.

It was, with that discussion, that it went back to being a matter of numbers. It oscillated several more times that day, thinking about it as a D.M. then thinking about it as a person, and somewhere along the way the place it fills in my head changed. Soon all of the monsters changed. Seeing a life size model of that made it something more then just numbers and roles. Now it's a real monster. Now it's an Eye Tyrant, and I think that may have been what they were going for the whole time.

Words of Madness

As someone who has fond memories of Napster I decided long ago that I wouldn't be buying anything that I could download, but I'm also a supporter of various fringe groups which I feel I should support in much more substantial way. This is why I purchased "Great Old Ones" by Darkest of the Hillside Thickets before going home and stealing everything they've ever done.

They're a good band, good music, and they're Lovecraft themed which I like even though I still haven't read any of Lovecraft's works. That last little note means that I don't get a lot of the references in their music. One of these took place at their concert last Saturday when they had a couple of thousand gamers avidly chanting "Ya Ya Cthulu Fatagen!" I'm not entirelly sure what that means but I'm pretty sure its something along the lines of praise Cthulu.

Also, did you know it's pronounced "Kuh-too-loo", not "cuh-thoo-loo?" It makes sense giving the spelling, even if it is odd for a t followed by an h to make two separate sounds rather then one th sound. Then again maddening texts are one of the cornerstones of the Lovecraft world.

Which brings me to my next point. I got a few of the members of the band to sign my pass. One of them made an elaborate mark, and another wrote: "Toren Mcboren Macbin!" I didn't know what that meant, but I was intrigued. It seems pretty clear to me that this series of odd words is a lot like "Ya Ya Cthulu Fatagen," it means something that I don't really understand.

I spent a while looking for it on the net, but didn't find anything. I was basically resolved to having to just read the books before I could figure this thing out when I stumbled upon something. This isn't a verse from the dark un-texts that tell of the rising of coming of the lord Cthulu who will devour all. This isn't some fel chant from before time when we praised these horrible monsters as Gods.

It's the singers name.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


-I need to stop turning thoughts that should be bullets on a misc post into full posts. It leads bad inconclusive writing.

-I saw my reflection today and was stunned for a moment. It seems that even I can't properly picture myself wearing a shirt that isn't black.

-Maybe it would be less of an issue if I'd eased into it with a blue or dark green. Red is a pretty big change.

-I was going to try and give a good bit of thought to statement that I might make by wearing my Tabula Rasa dog tags, but to be honest it would take forever to hash out the meeting of the two statements made by wearing dog tags as opposed to wearing something with a Tabula Rasa logo on it.

-I may have dodged the long pointless discussion about the statement they might make but I still haven't decided if I'm going to wear them or not.

-I might start playing Tabula Rasa again. I still have that poster, and how I also have dog tags and a lanyard, and it's not as though I didn't like the game, it just got too laggy...


On Friday (This is last Friday, because I'm still talking about PAX) I made several circuits of the Expo hall trying to find all of the free stuff I could. I made a pretty good haul. Posters, buttons, demo CDs, a few gloves, a faceplate for our 360 which might not have actually been swag, and a fanny pack that I was given after asking how one gets one of their fanny packs. The thing about the last one is that inside were a bunch of the cards they were handing out, along with some gum, and a few pieces of trash, so I'm not sure that guy was actually supposed to give it to me.

Now all of this swag is here, in my room. Some of it has gone up onto my walls, but in a glorious testament to my belief in taking all the free things I can get I find myself with a room strewn with posters for things I don't care about, more buttons and stickers then I could ever need, and a few things I don't even really recognize. I suppose I could just go to to find out why I have 3 left gloves and 1 right glove that all say that on the back, but I don't really care, I just wanted some free gloves.

The really troubling thing about this is that I don't want to just dispose of the stuff I'm not going to use. These are posters for various video games, and even though I have no intention of playing a bunch of those games, I still kind of want them. What's even more troubling is that while looking for places to put them I found a bunch of posters from last PAX which fill the same general role. Some of those were actually once on my walls, but now that the map cluster is taking up a fairly large space, and the white board has claimed half of a wall which is otherwise reserved for inflammatory symbols I just don't have room. I'm considering pulling down my grind house poster, but I know that it's the only vaguely normal poster in my room, and that if I did remove it I'd have Zero band posters, Zero movie posters, and Nine video game ones. Something just seems wrong with that. Although to be honest, a lot of what's going on right now seems wrong in little ways.

The Thirst Mutilator

A few months ago I was first introduced to the internet sensation that is Powerthirst. It's a fun little video, and it's a clever idea. This introduced me to the group Picnicface, who've made a number of good things. This later lead me to Powerthirst 2.

So cut forward in time to a few days ago. There are screens setup in the theaters at PAX for the use of whoever is presenting there at the time, and while people are filing in there's a reel of trailers and promos and so on that fill the blank space. Almost all of these are for video games, but occasionally the odd college pitching a game design major slips in. As it happens so did an add for something I'd never heard of before called Brawndo. At first that add enraged me. I later got a hold of the internet version of it, which actually credits Picnicface. What was most shocking though was when I found out that Brawndo is real. Someone got a hold of Powerthirst's joke advertisements and is running with it.

Monday, September 01, 2008

What I've been trying to say

I think I may have said that the whole Engineer/Spy Rock Band thing was the best thing I'd seen at PAX, and it's still way up there, but there is another thing which will hold that title for a long, long time.

Well at least a year, PAX '09 is going to be sweet.

The problem is that in order for you to understand it you would have to be the kind of person who would find Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog interesting. Then you would have to be the kind of person who would have seen it. These qualifications cut off a huge chunk of the populous, but it gets better, after that you'd have to be the kind of person who gets cosplay, or at least things it's okay.

What I saw was basically this being done to Tycho during the 3rd PA Q&A panel. Fun fact, the person they're doing it to in that video is Felicia Day, who's actually one of the main characters in Dr. Horrible. At the time I didn't know that they were going to do it to anyone else, and what I saw was an entire theater filled with some five to ten thousand people erupt into laughter and applause at what we all recognized as a genius prank.

And this is the real thing. That was several thousand, and it wasn't most of us. There were at least thirty thousand there, and I wouldn't be surprised to hear that there were fifty thousand. We're not some crazy fringe group. We're a people, we're a movement, and there's a lot of us, but we're horribly spread out. We have our common connections and our meeting grounds but they're all so virtual. Tycho actually tells this story quite well.

"PAX has developed a culture independent of Penny Arcade, which really makes me wish I had called it something other than PAX, but Robert only gave me five seconds to come up with it. All we have done is provide the barest sort of excuse, and in moments a coherent nation forms. What this tells us is that it was always present. It simply needed a vessel, a thing we have done our best to provide."(Tycho, 9-1-2008)

This is why PAX is so powerful, it makes that nation real if only for a few days. There are things there that you just can't get. I could rant for an hour on what was done with Rock Band alone. Hearing an audience cheer as your flourish your guitar is amazing, singing along with nine other gamers to the point where your collective rendition of "When You Were Young" is louder then both the actual singer, and the giant speakers is amazing, playing giant tournaments is amazing, so damn much is amazing. I just don't have the words to encapsulate it. Luckily I've been provided with a new one.