Toot toot! A Special Announcement!

This is now my only blog.  Aldeboran has been shut down. Two blogs were two too many for my pointless pontificating and chest thumping — most of the content could have gone either place and I ended up cross posting a lot of stuff anyway — so to hell with it.

To celebrate the occasion, I dug out one of my favorite bits of medieval marginalia — the butt trumpet!  I especially like the trumpet player’s bored expression.

Sugar Plum Fairy doesn’t know naughty words…

sugar freak

I’m currently away from the cave while visiting family.  Always on the hunt for amusement, I came across a story good enough to share: Saint Charles, Missouri, fires ‘Sugar Plum Fairy’ after she uses “bad words” during her drug test.

The background: St. Charles is a town east of St. Louis (my old home town).  Every year the apparently have some Christmas deal in their downtown section where people walk around in costumes like this is some Currier & Ives holiday fantasy, singing carols and encouraging people to buy stuff. One of the ’employees’ was a woman named Laura Coppinger who would wear a ‘sprite’ costume with wings and run around like a sugar addled maniac in order to amuse the kiddies.

However, this year festival employees were all required to submit a drug test, because, well, you know that the good citizens wouldn’t want someone who runs around pretending to be a pixie to get high on her off hours.  Sugar Plum Fairy apparently flushed the toilet during her drug test; she said it was just out of habit… you know, you go, you flush.  City of Saint Charles told her she had to go back to the waiting room and drink a lot more water so she could take the test again.  Sugar plum fairy was frustrated and said some ‘naughty words.’  Sugar plum fairy was fired on the spot.  When asked why, the events coordinator cited the special rule,  “Christmas Characters Don’t Know Naughty Words.”


What is up with "Blogger"?

Is anyone else finding that Blogger (and especially Blogger Dashboard) has been acting more screwy than ever lately?

I like the updated blogger interface, but the ‘manage blogs’ function is missing on the updated blogger dashboard (or they have hidden it pretty well) so I am still using the old blogger dashboard.

I’m subscribed to a lot of different blogs and find Blogger Dashboard is usually the easiest way to review the latest postings and pick what I want to read. About a week ago I clicked on a link to a blog called ‘Matrixsynth” that had a youtube clip about a cheap keyboard being used to produce some sound effects and I added ‘Matrixsynth’ to ‘blogs I am following.’ I soon discovered that ‘Matrixsynth’ was a lot more info about synths than I wanted — the author sometimes posts a dozen links a day to different you tube and sound clips of obscure synthesizers. To a non-synth guy like me, this is too much and the ‘Matrixsynth’ postings are crowding out the other posts, so I unsubscribed.

But sometimes when I return to Blogger, the ‘Matrixsynth’ posts are back. I’ve unsubscribed two or three times. Sometimes I reload the page and they dissapear, and when I click on the ‘blogs I am following,’ Matrixsynth does not appear in the list (although the Matrixsynth posts appear and disappear at random in the list of new posts). Sometime Blogger gives me some sort of screwy error code and it tells me to look up this code in the help posts, but the help post search never returns any results and, when I try to create a new topic, I get told to try again later.

I’ve been doing the ‘two blogs’ experiment for a while… I’m starting to think I might shut down this blog and move everything to the blog.

More Monsters

More monsters for my upcoming Mines of Khunmar project:

Kobolds are small, dirty and dwarf-like and keep giant rats as pets:


Cave worms are natural predators, clinging to cavern walls and ceilings and using their chameleon ability to surprise prey:

Some kind of brain-eater thing.  Click to enlarge:


‘Deleting your Blog is a dick move.’

A while back, -C posted On Blogging: A Selfish Message on his blog, Hack & Slash. Among other points, -C asks bloggers not to delete their blogs if they decide to give up blogging. He says, “Is it your right to do what you wish with your blog? Well, if you buy and own rare copies of books and then set them on fire, it may be legal, but it’s still a dick move.”
Thinking of specifics, well known bloggers like Chgowiz recently decided to get out of blogging. Chgowiz didn’t delete his whole blog, just some of it. I’m not going to speculate on his reasons for doing so, but everyone and his brother chimed in with an opinion over whether or not a blogger ought to delete their blog if they decide to leave the scene. I respect -C’s opinion, but feel differently on this issue. I think if a blogger decides to nuke their blog, for whatever reason (ranging from, “I’m sick of being criticized by strangers for some remark on my blog,” to, “I just don’t want to be bothered anymore“), we ought to just admit to ourselves that it is the blogger’s decision. If they want to come back, they will. If they don’t, well, enjoy it while it lasts and don’t forget to save a copy if you want to reference it in the future.
The advice that “if you put something up, you ought to leave it up because deleting it is a dick move” feels somewhat in conflict to the other frequently given bit of advice about life on the internet, which is, “No one is really your friend on the internet.” When I’ve gotten pissed of because of being trolled or harassed or annoyed by the behavior of other netizens, people have always been quick to point out, “Well, it’s your own fault for getting bugged because no one is really your friend on the web so that’s what happens.” The unspoken rule zero of the internet seems to be, “If you can’t stand the heat, you are too much of a pussy for the world wide web.” That might be true, but I still don’t like it.
If no one is really my friend on the web, then it shouldn’t matter if I yank my contribution anytime I feel like it, dick move or not. If, on the other hand, I owe people continued access to content I might have once made available, then I am being required to be ‘friend-like’ to other cyber people who are not my friend anyway — which seems like setting myself up for exploitation and disappointment.
So, which is it?

Brain Eater

Yesterday I posted a pic of a monster I am working up; today I have a revised image.  It’s a little smaller and is more ‘dug in’ to the victim’s brain, using 1/2 of it’s eight tentacles to grasp the victim by the throat and sticking tentacles in the ears and mouth to ‘pull the strings’ on the person it is controlling… leaving 4 tentacles free to attack the next victim.

Edit: Better yet!  Jon C. asked me if I had ever seen the old horror movie, “Fiend without a Face.”  I have not, but check it out… brains crawling around like inch worms:

Replacing Mind-Flayers and other I.P. protected monsters

I was doodling in the sketchbook this a.m. and came up with some sort of flying squid that was eating an off-market He-Man’s brains — something inspired by looking at too many old pulp sci-fi / horror magazine covers no doubt.

It occurs to me that this is how I might replace ‘I.P. protected’ monsters like ‘the mind flayer’ and others when I publish Mines of Khunmar eventually — plus it has an ‘Aldeboran’ vibe that I like.

I imagine this thing is capable of eating the victim’s brains and then using the brainless victim as a puppeteer uses a marionette.  Obvious ripoff of Wolverton’s Brain-Bats of Venus I guess… but nothing really feels original anymore, so why not just go with it?  Of course, it should have other cool powers as well.  Gone is the mind-flayer’s human body — but the mind flayer really didn’t ‘use’ the human-like body it had (other than for walking around and using it’s hands to open doors).  The ‘brain octopus’ (don’t have a good name for it yet) could travel around by crawling unless it has a ‘puppet’ — then it could just ride around and let the puppet do the walking.

While we are on the subject, since monsters like “The Displacer Beast” were obviously ripped by Gygax and company from an A.E. Van Vogt story (1)  how is it that Wizards now ‘owns’ it?  I mean, I guess Gygax (or someone at TSR) came up with the name ‘Displacer Beast’ — shouldn’t the monster itself belong to Van Vogt’s estate while Wizards owns the name ‘Displacer Beast’?

1) Wikipedia tells me it is called ‘Coeurl’ and appears in the story, “The Black Destroyer”, which also features a space ship called ‘The Beagle’.  I know ‘Beagle’ is a reference to the career of Charles Darwin, but didn’t a space ship called ‘The Beagle’ for the basis of some of the ‘Blackmoor’ adventures published by TSR (I’m thinking ‘City of the Gods’ and ‘Temple of the Frog’?)

Reptillian shapeshifters control the world!

scary shit!

When I was a young pup, there was a TV series about benevolent seeming aliens who had come to earth to control mankind called ‘V.’ The ‘big secret’ about these visitors was that they were actually reptiles who wore masks and wigs to appear human. They remade the series a few years ago, but I haven’t seen the new version. I tried to watch the old series a while back when I heard they were remaking it, but only made it halfway through the first episode. I was pretty amused by seeing the aliens swallowing hamsters and guinea pigs, but the acting and dialogue was so freaking wooden I couldn’t make it past the first 1/2 hour. Sometimes you just can’t go back.

looks rather reptilian to me

A few years ago, I heard about ‘David Icke‘ for the first time. If you don’t know who he is, follow the links. Icke claims to believe that ‘alien shapeshifters’ control the world and people in positions of power (like the Rothschilds, most or all of the presidents of the US and other nations, etc.), are members of a race of reptiles that have interbred with humans and control us. It sounds like a pretty entertaining set of ideas; I kind of wish it WAS true because that could be so cool and I could then join the freedom fighters trying to take down the evil reptiles and wear bandoliers of bullets and grenades on my armor vest like I am in some Schwartzenegger movie.  And who wouldn’t want to do that? It certainly would be more fun than marching in protest against the greed of bankers and financiers and the collusion of politicians to bend democracy to the will of corporate interests. And I’d rather carry an AK 47 and kill lizards than carry a bindle and curse the man — but right now the latter scenario seems more likely.

Apparently some people think Icke is an anti-Semite.  I don’t know anything about that, but, unfortunately, it would not surprise me.  Ray Arnold Palmer, one of the fathers of modern UFOlogy, apparently would go on tears about ‘The Jews’ in the years before his death; I don’t know if that was approaching senility or if age had just removed the filtering software from Palmer’s brain.  Anti-semitism has a long history in the conspiracy theory movement… perhaps hating ‘the other’ is a part of the dark underbelly of human imagination.

If it is not clear already, I love thinking about ‘outsiders’ and freaks and eccentrics of all kinds.

Gmail Irritations and other Enemas

Maybe it’s just that time of month for me, but every time I get an email to my gmail account from someone who has written to me from a non-gmail account, Gmail pops up a little highlighted message that says, “Invite (insert name here) to Gmail!” It’s one of life’s irritations that drives me fruit; almost as bad as those gas stations where they have a little television set at the pump that broadcasts ads for the shitty hotdogs and whatnot they are selling inside the gas station. Since Michigan State Law requires that I stand beside my car while filling it up and the TV does not have a mute button or off switch, I HAVE to listen to that fucking chirpy-voiced infomercial. Maybe I’ll keep the hearing protection I use for chainsawing and shooting in the car and wear it whenever I end up at one of those stations.

Is this the future we have to look forward to? Will consumer products themselves continue the trend of assertively insisting we help market them to others? If I wear a T-shirt from The Gap in the same room as someone wearing a shirt from Abercrombie & Fitch, will our shirts attempt to convince us to approach one another and tell the other that they should shop at OUR store?

HEY GOOGLE: Here’s a suggestion. Instead of telling me I ought to invite so-and-so to gmail, why don’t you make gmail so orgasmically good that I won’t have to be told to invite him/her/it; I’ll just do it because I’ll be so fucking happy like I just found Jesus and want to share it with everyone. How’s that for a marketing idea?

Monsters & Manuals: "TRPBTNTWAs" coat-tails post

Once again it is time for me to ride on someone else’s coat-tails by posting a follow-up to something THEY posted on THEIR blog to my blog. Call it a ‘tribute’ or ‘having an ear for the zeitgeist’ if you like me and ‘attention whoring and me-tooism’ if you hate me.

Noisms at “Monsters & Manuals”
posted a list of questions he thinks don’t get enough traction. He calls them “TRPBTNTWAs, or, Things Role Playing Bloggers Tend Not To Write About”

Here they are (with my answers):

Book binding. (I can’t be the only person who bemoans the way new rulebooks tend to fall apart like a sheaf of dry leaves after about 5 seconds of use).

I hate to be such a predictable snooty “I played D&D back in the day when it was still cool” shit head, but, well, I guess you can’t fight your own nature. My AD&D PHB, Monster Manual and DMG (which are 30+ years old I guess) are totally trashed from use, but the pages are still in them. I hate ‘perfect bound’ stuff, because when teenage me wanted to read the names of all of the different polearms or rub one off over the succubus, I wanted to lay the book out flat. Do that with one of these ‘perfect bound’ books and the glue cracks and the pages fall out.
Currently my position is that no role playing game book should be so long as to require binding beyond staples (like an old fashioned honest-to-god comic book). If you need more pages than a comic book binding can handle, your book is too long… unless your book is ‘Exquisite Corpses,’ in which case it is a spiral bound work of genius.

“Doing a voice”. How many people “do voices”? Should they? How do you get better at “doing a voice” if that’s your thing?

I only do voices for comedic effect because I am a shitty actor and too self conscious to try to seriously play the part. Fake English accents are horrible. I once did a politically very incorrect rug merchant NPC simply by trying to do an imitation of that Indian guy from the Simpsons. My favorite NPC was a goblin who had been hired on by the party as a guide. I just imitated ‘Borat.’

Breaks. How often do you have breaks within sessions?

As needed. It’s been a while since I have been able to attend, so

  • Description. Exactly how florid are your descriptions?
  • Where do you strike the balance between “doing what your character would do” and “acting like a dickhead”?
  • PC-on-PC violence. Do your players tend to avoid it, or do you ban it? Or does anything go?
  • How do you explain what a role playing game is to a stranger who is also a non-player? (Real life example: my friends and I were playing in the local M:tG club space. A M:tG groupie teenage goth girl came over and asked, “What are you playing?” “[We answered.]” “Sounds kind of gay.”)
  • Alchohol at the table?
  • What’s acceptable to do to a PC whose player is absent from the session? Is whatever happens their fault for not being there, or are there some limits?