Thursday, July 28, 2016

Mr. Garibaldi

Jerry Doyle died yesterday.

As a (somewhat rabid) fan of "Babylon-5" it nearly broke my heart to read that the actor who played "Michael Garibaldi", the hard-bitten, alcoholic security chief of the Babylon-5 space station, had died.

I think I made it clear in past incoherent posts that I loved the series. When Andreas Katsulas died, it was a serious kick to the head. Then Richard Biggs, Michael O'Hare, and Jeff Conaway followed.

Each time, I would sit down and re-watch the series, focusing on episodes in which the actors starred that I felt made them shine. It was pretty hard with Katsulas, who made the alien G'Kar go from the hated, scheming villain to the Christ-like heroic warrior-philosopher at the end of the series. I expect it'll be the same with Doyle's Michael Garibaldi.

It wasn't until "Babylon-5" had ended that I learned about Jerry Doyle as a person. I can's say I would have liked the man, had I ever met him. I find his politics extremely disagreeable, but for all that, I find the world is a lesser place for his passing. He was a very entertaining actor, and I think I'll always admire that.

While searching for more information on Doyle's death, I found a eulogy written by the series creator, J. Michael Straczynsky at Epic Times. It's pretty goddamn awesome.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Random thoughts

One of the major candidates for President of the United States is calling upon a foreign power to conduct cyber-espionage.

This is a thing.

Not surprising that North Korea considers said candidate to be a "wise choice" for President.

I'm now reading Will Wight's "OF Darkness & Dawn". God I love this series. Cthulhu-parrots. Just sayin'.


I'm about a third of the way through Java: A Beginner's Guide, Sixth Edition. I'd be lying if I said most of this is sticking in my head. I'm going to need to re-read several chapters a few times, but certain concepts are making sense now. When I look at code on my job (Apex, not Java, but similar syntax) things make a bit more sense. I just need to get my druthers and read up on Inheritance.



So now is a bad time for me to be developing carpal tunnel. Yee-haw.



2016 is mellowing a bit in its constant string of moderate to severe crap, but I'm still finding the odd hiccup coming my way. Case in point: I really only have one event I'm aiming to take vacation time for during what's left of 2016. I'm going to celebrations for a friend's wedding. So when does my company ask to fly me out to one of the other offices? Of course during that time. Fortunately, I persuaded them to reschedule. Still, it just figures.

Thoughts on "A Song of Ice and Fire" vs "Game of Thrones"

I'm just about done re-reading "A Dance with Dragons", bringing me up-to-date on the books of "A Song of Ice and Fire". I'm also up-to-date on the latest season of "Game of Thrones".

Thoughts:

  • I get why HBO cut back on the magic. SFX are expensive and all that. Still, I would have liked to see a bit more magic than the TV series currently shows.
  • Along that vein, I'm disappointed the TV series has not seen fit to show Arya Stark and Jon Snow as wargs, similar to Brandon Stark (and, it's implied, Rickon Stark). Of course, Arya being a warg makes her whole training by the Faceless Men completely different, but it makes her even more badass. And Jon... well, if it turns out his parentage is the same in the books as in the TV series, then just imagine the possibilities!
  • It's a nitpick, but I kind of wish the TV series had gone with making the White Walkers (known as "The Others" in the books) look inhumanly-beautiful instead of just creepy.
  • I'm still not cool on the whole Ramsay Bolton and Sansa Stark storyline, but I have to admit that the conclusion in the TV series was very satisfying!
  • I think the series cheated itself a bit by not introducing Lady Stoneheart.
  • I like Kit Harrington fine as Jon Snow, but I have to admit, I still think the character of Jon Snow in the TV series is kind of a vacuous dork. At least in the books he learns a certain wisdom. And he proves smart and fairly politically-canny. I get why the TV series went that route, but it lessens the character and disappoints me.
  • I hope the books do as well with Tyrion and Danerys as the TV series has done.
  • I have no idea what crack HBO's writers were smoking when they did their Dorne sub-plots.
At this point, the TV series is so far off-the-rails from the books, they're essentially different experiences altogether, but I have to say I'm enjoying them. I'm even getting some new respect for "A Feast of Crows" and "A Dance with Dragons" as books. I wasn't keen on them the first couple of times, but now I have to say I appreciate most of the content and understand how Martin is getting lost in his incredibly complex and compelling world.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Things you can't unsee

I hate rats.

I really, really hate rats.

What does that have to do with anything? Well, I just popped out to get my mail. My neighbor was out there and pointed out a dead rat in a tree near my apartment building.

Not just any kind of dead rat, mind you. The head was torn off and flies are having a field day with what's left dangling from the branches.

Now we're both wondering how the hell it got up there and where's the head???

My theory: a hawk or condor got it, bit off the head, and dropped the body, which got stuck in the branches.

Of course, I probably would never have noticed this if my neighbor hadn't pointed it out. Until I saw the flies, I thought the body was a dead leaf. Now... ugh.

That image is sticking with me for a good, long time. Yuck.

The Asylum Doors Open

It's official: Drumpf is the Repugnican candidate.

Given what an incoherent, babbling huckster he is, this election should be the Dems to lose.

I really hope they pull out their A-Game material and don't fuck this up.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

A year of change and turmoil

So Turkey had an attempted military coup yesterday.

Fucking hell.

Not sure where I would stand on that, really. As I've been told, Turkey's president is a bit of a reactionary, fundamentalist douchebag. That said, military coups have never really been a good thing.

Hm. Hard call there. Glad I don't live in Turkey.

It's been a hell of a year, hasn't it? Change everywhere, from what I can see.

My office is going through insane change with "reorganizations" that have been... well... trying.

Two of my friends lost close family members in the last six months. I saw my own dad undergo fairly serious surgery that had me a worried basket case for a good six weeks of the year.

We've got our own domestic politics in a crazy place. At this point, it's come down to picking Clinton (a dubious choice) or Trump (a crzy-ass fuckwit) as our next president of the United States.

Some scientists say we're past the point of no return on global warming. The TPP is looking like it may actually become a thing, which will fuck anyone not part of the 1%. Everything is looking a mite grim.

There's not much escape in fiction. Most fiction is pretty dystopian or nihilistic. *cough*Game of Thrones*cough*

Hell, even my local brewery is going through changes. WTF is it with 2016?

Monday, July 11, 2016

Game Thoughts:

We had our monthly GURPS game on Saturday.

Set a day after we did a marathon viewing of the last three episodes of "Game of Thrones", it made for an intense, nerd-heavy, weekend.

Was kind of bad timing as well.

As I've probably indicated before, I run most of the games my group participates in. The masochists I game with seem to be fine with that and I really enjoy the opportunity to engage in world-building and story telling.

Unfortunately, I do tend to be inspired by some pretty fucked-up stuff. "A Song of Ice and Fire" is only one of myriad horribly messed-up stories that tickle my demented imagination.

If you've seen the last season of "Game of Thrones", you know (to nobody's surprise) that some really fucked-up shit goes down.

And, unfortunately for my players, I do like introducing fucked-up shit in my games. And this weekend, the two met in a whirlpool of wrong.

The current campaign I run is set in a generic, home-grown, Tolkien-inspired, fantasy world. You've got your Elves, your Dwarves, your Orcs, and various other fairy tale-inspired non-human races among the various cliche human cultures. We've got a terrible "evil empire" and various "evil kingdoms" dotted about the world and all sorts of terrible things inspired from sources ranging from Lovecraft to Tolkien to more obscure sources.

The world was created by four of us collaborating in the beginning to build a world from scratch.

We ran a 15 year campaign set in the world in which epic heroes rose from humble(ish) beginnings to a climactic showdown with the main Evil Empire, resulting in its defeat and a chaotic mess of a world left behind.

The campaign I'm now running overlaps with those events a bit. It's a humble group of misfit mercenaries under a tired, crippled, old mercenary commander with a checkered past. The PCs have more in-depth character stories and harder limitations in place to keep the campaign's power level from getting too insane.

I'm using this campaign to toy with storytelling techniques and ideas I've been thinking about. I've got a larger story arc in mind for the hapless mercenaries that I'm breaking up into "books".

Book One ("The Refugees") involved the mercenary company forming and meeting one another as well as the introduction of the various side-characters (NPCs) that I'm notorious for. I do like lots of background color. My dramatis personae list is absolutely insane. The story arc involved escorting hapless refugees from a besieged city to relative safety. In it, villains were introduced and plots teased.

We finished "The Refugees" a year or two back and are now almost done with my tentative Book Two ("The Journeyman Quest"). The story arc has the mercenary company escorting a wizard and her assistant/bodyguard as they try to take a book (another wizard's journal) back to their home island, hundreds of miles to the west across very hostile territory. Other people (some more hostile than others) seek the book and, as the plot has progressed, it's become clear that the book and this guard-job is only a tiny part of what's going on. Backstories of player characters and NPCs have tied together and both old and new threats have crossed the company's path.

That was more background than I'd intended to write, but whatever. I guess it offers context.

So the games I run tend to be cyclical. Some are expository. Some are low-key. Some are the heroes kicking all kinds of ass. And some are "hose jobs".

Saturday was a hose job.

I've been teasing a threat for many sessions now. A rival group of mercenaries who have been hired to capture several of the company's membership (PCs and NPCs alike).

I had the first real encounter happen last night. And it was a clusterfuck of wrong. By the end, I'd left one PC half-blinded while another had actually rung the doorbell on Death's door.

Some were captured and some just left for dead.

Wasn't exactly where I wanted to leave things, especially after the psychotic insanity of "Game of Thrones" in our minds, but it was what it was.

I'll admit to a nagging feeling of guilt. Maybe I should have softened things. But then, I think, it makes the threats I have been building up just wuss out. Messes up my narrative.

It's a hard balance to find in games.

Gives me something to ponder for the next month, anyway.