I think I have been to 3 cons in about 40 years… and for one of them, I went to support a friend who was premiering a video at the con (I was in it — I was the guy who got stabbed through the eye socket with a crowbar in one scene and stabbed through the chest in another scene — that was fun). But U-Con will be happening in Ann Arbor on the weekend of October 28th… Ann Arbor is just a short drive away… and someone I have done some illustration work for (Goodman Games) has asked me if I want to go to the con and run a few games as an event to help promote DCC stuff. He’s a good guy and I want to do him a good turn, so I am seriously considering it — but I just never really liked ‘cons’ much like I never really liked going to the local comic book shop.

Maybe I have the wrong idea about them (cons)?

Maybe it will be different if I have a ‘task’ there?

What the Pluck?

Is this chicken going to grill himself?

People are getting agitated because the crusty old bastard who owns ‘Chick-fil-A’ opposes same sex marriage (or, in his words, he supports the “biblical definition of a family”).  (If either one of my two readers is not from the US, ‘Chick-fil-A’ is like McDonalds, but they serve breaded chicken patties on a bun instead of beef.  The name is pronounced, “Chick-Filet.”)  As far as I know, Chick-fil-A has not refused to hire gay people and has not refused to let gay people eat their crappy food.  But people from both sides are mad anyway.

The gay people and their friends (mostly lefties; the folks I usually end up self-identifying with) think that Dan Cathy, president and owner of Chick-fil-A, is ‘an intolerant bigot’ and are encouraging a boycott.  Aldermen, mayors and other bottom feeders in the political arena are threatening to make things hot for Chick-fil-A in their districts.  On the other hand, the ‘Chick-fil-A’ kerfuffle has become red meat for the likes of right-wing opinionators like Sarah Palin and Michelle Malkin, who are holding up the idea that people would boycott a restaurant because of the owner’s  opinions on gay marriage as ‘un-American’ or are impinging on Dan Cathy’s religious freedoms. Even ‘The Muppets’ have weighed in on the controversy; Henson Studios recently backed out of a deal to provide promotional muppet themed toys for Chick-fil-A’s kid’s meals because they didn’t want to be associated with the Chick-fil-A brand due to the owner’s comments.
I will have no problem in stopping myself from eating ‘Chick-fil-A’ because I think their food is absolute crap. But I do think that it is wrong for mayors and aldermen to threaten to refuse to allow ‘Chick-fil-A’ to open in their districts or interfering with the business as a ‘fuck you’ to the owners simply because of what the owner said in order to score points with some of their liberal base, much like I think it’s wrong for political operators in Rutherford County, Tennessee to attempt to stonewall the opening of a mosque in order to score points with anti-Muslim conservatives. However stupid I think the opinions of the owner of ‘Chick-fil-A’ may be, having opinions should not be illegal (maybe calling Chick-fil-A suitable for human consumption ought to be illegal, but I digress).  Besides, if McDonalds and Burger King can serve crappy food, Chick-fil-A ought to be able to as well.
That said, I think boycotts are as American as succotash*,  and, as Americans, we should feel free to boycott whatever we want whenever we want for whatever reason we want.  Speaking of ‘biblical principles,’ Reverend  Jerry Fallwell encouraged his followers to boycott ‘Teletubbies’ because, in Fallwell’s opinion, the ‘teletubbies’ encouraged kids to ‘turn gay’ (His evidence? One of the Telletubbies carried a purse and had a triangle on its sexless head — case closed!). In 1997, the Southern Baptist Convention voted to boycott Disney because Disney Corporation offered same sex partner benefits to their employees. What’s good for the goose ought to be good for the gander.  If consumers don’t want to eat ‘Chick-fil-A’ because they don’t like the cut of the owner’s jib, they should go for it. If the owner of Chick-fil-A doesn’t want to have gays and their friends boycotting his store, he might want to keep his opinions to himself.  It’s not as if there is any shortage of crappy fast food in America, anyway.

*The usual phrase is, “American as apple pie,” but I understand that ‘apple pies’ have been served in England since at least the middle ages (if not earlier), making them not very “American” at all, so I went with succotash, which was introduced to the pilgrims by the Narragansett Indians and was apparently one of the first ‘Thanksgiving’ foods).

Smart ads that are not

So I was looking at an online story about that dude who threatened to shoot up his coworkers and had a bunch of guns at home this morning and check out the ‘smart ads’ that popped up:

Ads for bullet proof vests and armor plate embedded in a story about someone who apparently threatened to duplicate the Aurora theater shooting? I don’t know if the content server’s analytics are genius or shit… I mean, reading about someone shooting up the movie theater or workplace might make me want to buy body armor, on the other hand, if I were to be in the bullet proof vest business, do I really want customers associating me with people who go ballistic (oops a pun) and shoot their coworkers or fellow movie watchers?  Probably not.

Dungeon Alphabet Re-Released by Goodman Games

Pole and Rope’s Michael Curtis recently announced that a new edition of his popular ‘Dungeon Alphabet’ book is being released (soon) by Goodman Games (product description and pre-order info on Goodman site is here). The new edition increases the page count to 64 from the original 48 pages and I did a couple of new interior pieces as well. 

If you are not familiar with the original, “Dungeon Alphabet” started out as a series of blog posts by Michael Curtis at “The Society of Torch, Pole and Rope.” For every letter of the alphabet, he came up with a post dealing with that letter and then generated tables of cool, creepy, interesting stuff — good not only for fantasy role playing game fans, but also just a fun read.  Someone observed, “This ought to be a book!” and Goodman eventually published it, which is really cool since it is like a book that just grew organically out of blog posts that Curtis made just for the hell of it.  If I remember right, I illustrated “C is for Caves” and “X is for Xenophobia” as well as “M is for Maps.”  The new edition has a few more entries and some new artwork (I haven’t seen the whole thing, just the pages I worked on).

Other well known artists/illustrators whom you may know from their work in Goodman products illustrated the book; the list includes Russ Nicholson, Jeff Easley, Jim Holloway, Peter Mullen, Doug Kovacs, Michael Wilson, and Brad McDevitt.

I think you can get it with either the original Otus cover or a new gold foil cover by me (that features an ‘A’ on the front and a ‘Z’ on the back).  The gold foil cover will look something like this, but more shiny:

Goodman DCC Art Previews

I just got a package from Goodman Games with my artist complementary copies of some of the adventures I have been working on, so, since these things are shipping I guess I can let you have a peek behind the curtain.  All three of the below pics are “title page” illos — they are not the cover, but are the first page you see after you open the cover and list the author, artists, etc.  For more info on Goodman DCC Adventures, go here.  These pics are from People of the Pit, Doom of the Savage Kings and Sailors on the Starless Sea.

This may be the worst book I have ever (tried to) read

I might read this Kilgore Trout book.

I got a free download for my Kindle of William Bebb’s novel, “Valley of Death, Zombie Trailer Park.” I don’t know who William Bebb is, but a quick search of wikipedia tells me that “William Bebb” was a whig who served as the 19th Govenor of Ohio and died in 1873.  Something tells me that ‘Zombie Trailerpark’ was not written by the same William Bebb.

A few posts ago, I opined that if one wanted to write a shitty book, one way to stack the odds in your favor on this quest of ‘shitty bookness’ is to write a zombie novel. And I think ‘Zombie Trailerpark’ could serve as exhibit A if one wanted to prove that proposition. Despite its 5 star rating on Amazon, Bebb’s book is pretty damn bad. 

I haven’t managed to read the whole thing. I have pretty low standards — it’s not all Gogol and Shakespeare on my bookshelf — but I enjoy my pulp and genre fiction (and even manage to read them without having to assume an ‘ironic post modern manner’ — I sometimes read shitty, lowbrow genre novels because I sometimes LIKE shitty, lowbrow genre novels). But “Valley of Death” failed to amuse.  After a few pages, I kept reading because I didn’t believe that a book could be so bad.  I wasn’t laughing WITH it or AT it — it was like watching a literary car crash — I was reading with disbelief. I think I got about 1/2 way through when I threw in the towel.

I previously thought that “The Cannibal Within” by Mark Mirabello had to be the worst book I ever failed to finish reading… and I might have read more of ‘The Cannibal Within’ if the Kindle edition I had of it had not had so many formatting problems that it was close to impossible to read simply because it was entertaining in a ‘John Waters Pink Flamingos meets Richard Shaver’ kind of way. And, despite the worship heaped at the altar of Lovecraft, his prose is pretty awful… which doesn’t stop me from enjoying it (on the contrary, the ridiculous piling on of adjectives can be delightful — and, no, I don’t make any claims for my own skill as a writer).

Weekend Work

Several years ago, we were at a street art fair and Annie fell in love with the sculptures of Andrew Carson. we talked about buying one for years… it wasn’t until recently that actually making the purchase became realistic.

The sculpture is custom made (variations on a design, each one is slightly different) and is made of brass, hand-blown glass, steel, copper, etc. There are 13 different pivot points on the thing, it’s really much more like a cross between a mechanical bird and a weather-vane than anything else, and when the breeze is blowing it spins and twirls, so still photos don’t do it justice. Right now it’s bastard hot and the air is still; I’m waiting for a windy day; maybe I can get a video of it in motion with my cellphone. It doesn’t make any sound (at least none that I can hear); it just spins.

I just spent a part of yesterday and part of today installing it.  The artist shipped it out in a series of big boxes that arrived via UPS — the curvy stand was wrapped from top to bottom in packing material and the rest was disassembled and packed in boxes.  I sunk a concrete footing about 2 feet deep x 18 inches wide with threaded bolts embedded in it and the stand bolted to that. The rest was fairly easy to put together with an allen wrench and a box wrench — it was 90% assembled, one just had to attatch the wings, the fan, etc.  Actually unpacking it was harder than assembling it. I think the threaded rods on the base poke out too much and may want to eventually cut them down; Annie thinks that the grass will make it a non-issue.

I haven’t measured it, but I am guessing it is about 9 or 10 feet tall from the ground to the little red arrow-thingy at the top.