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Month: June 2004

Top ten

“He was known throughout the world for his engineering accomplishments, also.”

“He was probably one of the greatest living experts on geology and archaeology.”

“He was a wizard with electricity.”

“Ham looked what he was – a quick thinker and possibly the most astute lawyer Harvard ever turned out.”

Excellence is a core aspect of any good pulp game. In order to establish this for Huey Long’s Men of Action, I’m going to steal a trick from San Angelo: City of Heroes and write down some top ten lists. Top ten doctors, top ten boxers, top ten research scientists, top ten aviators, top ten criminal masterminds, top ten archeologists, top ten diplomats… what else? Suggestions for more lists are welcome.

I’m thinking it’d make sense to share these with players as a means towards creating a shared conception of the world. Some entries will be “Unknown.” Some of those will be known to me, but not to players. Not too many, though.

Wrong turn

Nader is cozying up with the far right, yes. He’s cutting into Kerry’s support, yes.

It is still wrong to play legalistic games in order to keep him off the ballot. I don’t doubt that Nader may have violated the letter of the law in Arizona, and maybe he doesn’t yet qualify for the Florida ballot on a technicality. Great. Does that mean it’s morally right to control ballot access?

Fuck no. Controlling ballot access is a method of controlling who can be elected, pure and simple. It is a way to say “minority opinions of a certain size don’t count.” I dislike Nader vastly, but let the hypocritical bastard run.

Monday Mashup #44: Richard Thompson

Hey, did I miss a week? Yes I did, without so much as a word to the wise. I apologize, but I do not promise that it will not happen again. I haven’t produced a mashup I’d really want to run for a month or so and since I’m doing this for myself first and foremost… well.

However, this week I got something going. I think. Our mashup for the day is Richard Thompson. Unlike Madonna, I’m thinking of the man’s songs rather than his person, although I suppose if you want to base a campaign idea around a cheerful middle-aged man who sings songs about angst and love lost and pain and happens to be one of the best guitarists on the face of the planet — who am I to stop you?

Start your word processors.

Standing the heat

Yep, I saw it. Chances are most people reading this will have seen it or will intend to see it (and for the rest, read on for a special offer). So instead of reviewing, I’ll ramble.

It’s a Michael Moore movie. From some comments I read previously, I expected it to be less of a polemic, and perhaps more objective. Nope — he’s narrating the thing and even if he doesn’t come out in front of the camera much, it’s still got a heaping helping of Moore sarcasm and innuendo. I think I could have done without mocking members of the Iraq War coalition; even if I don’t think Costa Rica made a significant contribution to the war, I still believe the country deserves the same respect as any other sovereign nation. And I noticed that Moore left out England and Spain when listing coalition members.

On the other hand, it’s also got some astoundingly effective moments and, yeah, a few things I didn’t know. Some of them angered me, and some reminded me that there was a time when Bush didn’t look like he could possibly be as bad as he’s turned out to be. The Lila Lipscomb segments reached brilliance. Specifically, her reaction to the woman who challenged her. Every Republican should watch the movie for that moment if nothing else: that’s the danger you face when you try to brush off criticism.

Which leads me to the special offer. I think people should see this movie, not because it is a magic wand which will convert the masses to frothing Kerry worship but because it shows things you wouldn’t otherwise see. It does not present a complete picture. It does present important elements of a complete picture. So if you weren’t going to see this movie because you think Moore is a pompous blowhard, I will happily purchase and read a political book of your choosing if you change your mind. Even if it’s by Ann Coulter.

(Offer invalid if you pick a book I’ve already read, so be careful — you’d be surprised.)

And she said

Game quotes are a key part of the Ambercon experience. Thusly, my jotted notes from the weekend. They’re all funny from my perspective, and probably from the perspective of those who were in the games. Maybe not so much for others. Also my note-taking is terrible and unreliable.

Ancient Masonic conspiracies

Let me get this straight. Nicholas Cage is playing Benjamin Franklin Gates, scion of the family Gates, which has been sworn for generations to find and protect a legendary treasure. The Founding Fathers of the United States left clues to the location of the treasure in the symbols of America, in particular the eye in the pyramid. Now he’s racing against a British rival to reach the treasure before it’s too late?

I’ll see that.

Feed me, Flora

So Rachel Ray, Bobby Flay, Anthony Bourdain, Emeril Lagasse, Frederic van Coppernolle, Jamie Oliver, and Alton Brown get kidnapped by Princess Florimel to compete for the post of Head Chef of Amber Castle…

Cooking ensued. Lots of fun, despite the fact that I am somewhat Food Network challenged. Mostly posted for the sake of my foodie friends, who can now proceed to be properly amused.

New frontiers

So I figured I might as well go to an Amber convention because I like new things and I have friends who said “You should come!” And if I’m going to go do something new, I’m of course going to write about it. Thusly.

The Black Road has something like 36 people attending, which makes it the smallest con I’ve ever been to. The small size means it’s relatively easy to get all the GMs and all their players talking before the game. I had two PCs in hand weeks before the convention, which boosted my anticipation considerably. It’s tempting to think this could work for bigger cons, but that way lies madness. At least for the convention organizers.

First game was a cool swashbuckly affair run by Ginger and Michael. I got to play a Rebman water mage with attitude. I find that in a con game, if you blow your first roll, you might as well go with it — it’s a corollary of the Rigney Rule (“Your character is defined by his or her first action and the consequences thereof.”). When Nerissa asked the currents where land was and they lied to her by 180 degrees, it was pretty clear she was going to be the snobbish sometimes competent one of the bunch. More on the game later, maybe.

Oh, but I will note that it used the Everway rules, which were mostly transparent to we the players but which also worked out well. Next I’m playing in a cooking-themed game set in Amber. Tomorrow I’m playing My Life With Master and kill puppies for satan, both Amber-themed, of course. But still. Who knew that in order to play indie RPGs, you just need to go to an Amber con?

Giving a platform

Bush’s new campaign video, “Kerry’s Coalition of the Wild-eyed,” will certainly inspire his base. It’s a miscalculation nonetheless.

The video opens with Gore asking how we can possibly drag the good name of America through Saddam’s torture prison. This keeps the Abu Ghraib scandal prominent. That’s not so good for Bush; it doesn’t poll well at all. Then you get the cheesy Nazi images which won’t hurt Bush, although their use here implies that Abu Ghraib wasn’t so bad — which, again, people will disagree with.

Next, Howard Dean says he wants his country back. This may be the most effective moment for Bush; the Dean = anger meme is still around. It’s immediately followed by the segment of Michael Moore’s Academy Award speech in which he says that we went to war for fictitious reasons. Hey, if Bush wants to remind a disenchanted public that they may agree with Moore, that’s fine by me.

Then Gephardt calls Bush a miserable failure. 54% of Americans polled by USA Today think that sending troops to Iraq was a mistake. Whoops. More Nazi images in left-wing political ads follow — again, this’ll be pretty effective — and then Gore calls out that Bush has betrayed this country. You know, it’s easier to smear Gore as an out of control maniac when you don’t show him speaking with honest passion.

Finally, Bush kindly presents Kerry’s soundbite about all the people who are unemployed because of Bush’s policies. Ouch.

So yeah — this is going to make anyone who was already going to vote for Bush very happy. But it is not going to persuade fence-sitters. It simply exposes the undecided to 20 seconds of Bush criticism without any response from the Bush campaign other than “wow, aren’t they angry and cynical?” Problem is, it’s a cynicism and anger which is shared by many voters.

(Via rone.)