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August 17th, 2016

09:40 am: Nobody asked my opinion, but...

I consider the current Presidential election to be a disaster for the United States.  I think it's a function of the increasing brutal nature of modern politics.  Nobody of worth wants to put themselves -- or their family -- through the wringer of Presidential politics.

Given the nature of the two major candidates, I have no problem with anyone who decides that they have to hold their nose and vote for what they consider to be the lesser evil.

However, if you are an enthusiastic supporter of either Clinton or Trump, you are a damned fool.

July 7th, 2016

08:30 pm: Character Gen notes for Savage Rifts
If your character is based on an Iconic Framework.

  1. Select Iconic Framework.

  2. Select your race. Humans are the default for the setting (remember to take a bonus Edge at character creation when playing a Human).

  3. Once you’ve selected your Iconic Framework and race, roll on the Hero’s Journey tables.

  4. Determine a Narrative Hook.

  5. Standard Savage Worlds chargen -- spend stat and skill points, choose Hindrances and Edges.




If your character is M.A.R.S.-based.

  1. Select a M.A.R.S. Package

  2. Select race, etc.

  3. Roll on the Hero’s Journey tables.

  4. Roll on the M.A.R.S. Fortune & Glory tables.

  5. Determine a Narrative Hook.

  6. Standard Savage Worlds chargen -- spend stat and skill points, choose Hindrances and Edges.

  7. Give your character 20 Experience Points and the associated four Advances



June 7th, 2016

07:43 pm: Just a thought about gaming.


I've been a gamer since high-school. I first started playing RPGs in college. For years, going to the local hobby-store or comics-and-games store was a routine part of the week.

Yesterday, I realized that I'd probably never again have the experience of walking into a store, see an interesting book for an RPG, flip through it to see if I liked it, and then purchase it.

The market's changed, and that's just the way it is. Of course, there are still stores that carry games. There are even a few of the old-style game-stores to be found -- if you're willing to make a longish drive. But RPG books are few and far between in those stores. And they're usually for safely profitable game lines -- D&D mostly. I'm not always into those games.

Nowadays, I buy pdfs off the internet. An actual, physical book will most likely be the result of a Kickstarter. And, thanks to the information-well of the internet, there are no surprises any more.

That's a shame, but there it is.

June 5th, 2016

11:09 pm:

There's an old belief that you should not speak ill of the dead. So I'll simply say that I don't understand the hero-worship for Muhammad Ali.

Otherwise, rest in peace.

May 9th, 2016

05:08 pm: Captain America: Civil War

Remember, I hated -- absolutely HATED -- the comic-book Civil War event.

The movie knocks it out of the park. It's fantastically well done, both sides are treated respectfully, both sides make mistakes, characterization is great, action is well-handled, the story is tight and well organized. They even made T'challa (a character I couldn't give a flying fuck about) work for me. The problem presented by the sheer number of characters was handled quite well.

The only thing I thought didn't make sense was Captain America knowing a certain detail about certain characters. Upon further research, it turns out the groundwork for that was actually well-laid in "Captain America: the Winter Soldier".

Good work in what might actually be the best of the MCU movies. I hope the Russo brothers will get the nod to do Infinity War.

May 2nd, 2016

09:36 pm: X-Men: Apocalypse

I'm mildly hopeful about this film, but we'll just have to see how it works. Hopefully it won't be a repeat of that strange phenomenon I experienced with "Days of Future Past"... which I liked/loved the first time I saw it, and then my opinion crashed on later viewings.

The latest trailer ends with the following charming scene:

Mystique (looking at a military-like facility strewn with bodies) "We'll you've been busy."
Teenage Cyclops (Jean is in the background): "We had a... little help."
Cut to scene of some troops running into the facility...
Then a brawny arm with three metal claws snikts into the foreground...

Supposedly this is a cameo, but it looks like a little more than that.

How would I like to see it done?

It's a break-out from Weapon-X. Somehow Scott and Jean caused Logan's escape -- maybe without even realizing what they've done. Logan then stays in the background of an extended scene. We only catch glimpse and the (bloody) consequences of his actions as he helps Scott and Jean. Hell, I'm fine with the idea that all we'll see of him is the part we saw in the trailer, but I think if you've brought in Hugh Jackman, the movie execs will insist that you show Hugh Jackman.

Edit: And, yep, I ended up writing a fanfic about it.

April 10th, 2016

12:47 am: A Glory of Gods (PG-13, Marvel comics, Hercules, Odinson, Wolverine)



Hercules was doing his best to sort out his life. For too long, he'd been a drunken, womanizing, lout.

Once, he'd been the greatest of all heroes, but by the end of the 20th century, he'd become a joke.

Then one day, he looked up into an uncaring sky and decided that his failures could no longer be borne.

He had to do the thing that the mortals of this time called "cleaning up his act".

It wouldn't be easy.

But he had to try.

********************

Just a few words whispered in his ear, and he was no longer Thor.

That was the amazing part -- it wasn't just that he had become unworthy. He was no longer Thor.

There was nobody he could explain that to.

Not even Jane.

Especially Jane.

However, he was still the Odinson. Still a warrior of tremendous might. And if Jarnbjorn was not Mjolnir... well, he would just have to make do. There were realms to defend and enemies to slay.

So be it. If he couldn't be Thor, then he would make himself anew as best he could.

It wouldn't be easy.

But he had to try.

********************

They met in a seaside bar somewhere on the Mediterranean coast of Spain.

The waitress - a pretty girl with dusky skin and dark eyes -- blinked in amazement as the Odinson entered. He was barechested, with a tattered red cloak around his shoulders, and the wicked steel of Jarnbjorn casually wielded in one hand.

"Mead," the Odinson growled as he stalked past her. The waitress tore her eyes away from him long enough to register what he'd said.

"We don't have mead!" she protested in Spanish.

"Wine then," the Odinson said with a shrug as sat on a wooden bench with a thud.

The bench was pushed up against a table. Hercules was sitting across from the Odinson.

The bar was empty. Most of the customers had fled with Hercules entered. The rest took to their heels when the Odinson made his appearance.

The Odinson took a moment to examine his old friend and older enemy.

"You've lost weight," he said eventually.

Hercules nodded. "And you've perhaps gained some."

The waitress reappeared and put a beer mug full of red wine in front of the Odinson. He handed her an ancient coin that was worth more than the entire bar. Then he drained the mug in one long swallow and handed it back to the waitress.

"More," the Odinson said evenly. The waitress clutched the mug against her as she fled back to the bar.

Hercules watched the exchange with no particular expression on his face, but there was perhaps a hint of regret in his eyes.

"What do you want, Hercules?" the Odinson asked.

Hercules considered saying that he wanted the Odinson to stop feeling sorry for himself and grow the fuck up. But he knew he didn't really have the right to say that to anyone -- at least not yet. And besides, the resulting fight would surely endanger innocent mortals. That was the kind of thing Hercules was trying to get away from.

"There is something important that we must discuss," Hercules replied slowly.

The Odinson didn't reply.

"They say the youngest of us is dead," Hercules finished.

The Odinson's eyes narrowed. "Impossible," he said.

"I know," Hercules responded, "but we are among the few who know that it is impossible."

Another mug full of wine appeared in front of the Odinson. It didn't last any longer than the first one.

"Very well. Let us visit his supposed grave," the Odinson said as he used the edge of his cloak to clean spilled wine from his chin and chest.

Hercules nodded and got to his feet.

"I... I don't know how to make change with this," the waitress said desperately as she waved the coin that the Odinson had given her.

"Keep it. Buy a palace," the Odinson replied distractedly.

********************

Hercules and the Odinson called upon powers that allowed them to walk a path that mortals couldn't really understand. Whatever it was, in just a matter of seconds it took them across the Atlantic and most of the North American continent, depositing them in a place the mortals called Alberta, in a region of mountains and forests.

They were left standing in front of a rickety and abandoned-looking cabin.

The Odinson looked at Hercules questioningly.

"The X-Men and the Avengers cooperated to hide him here," Hercules said.

The Odinson smiled bitterly -- the only kind of smiling he did of late. "Let me guess -- they are concerned that mortal madmen will once again attempt to make monsters of his flesh and blood?"

Hercules nodded as he opened the door. A dozen defensive systems promptly failed as alarms simultaneously went off on six continents, two worlds, and at least one alternative plane of existence.

"How long do we have?" the Odinson asked idly.

Hercules shrugged. "A team of X-Men will teleport in within a matter of minutes. The Avengers will take longer -- say a half-hour. SHIELD and NATO are mustering their forces, but they will naturally be the slowest of the lot."

The Odinson's blue eyes met Hercule's dark eyes. "I have no desire to battle with any of them. They are warriors honorably doing what they feel is their duty."

"I agree," Hercules replied softly.

Actually, that was the most hopeful thing he'd seen and heard from the Odinson since they'd met. Whatever the Odinson had become, at least he had not completely lost who he once was.

Inside the cabin, Hercules casually engaged a mechanism and the stone floor under their feet began descending into a crypt.

More alarms went off. More defensive systems inexplicably failed.

Their descent eventually ended with a jarring thud. Then Hercules and the Odinson both contemplated what was hidden below the cabin.

It was kneeling figure, covered with some silvery metal, that was positioned on a low pedestal. Claws jutted out of its hands and formed a crossed 'X' in front of its body.

The Odinson frowned, "It's that accursed metal, isn't it?"

Hercules nodded. "The mortals call it adamantium."

"How did this come to pass?" the Odinson asked.

Hercules let out a long breath. "Logan had lost much of his ability to heal. He was weakened and his enemies knew it. He fought battle after battle, slaying many foes, but he continued to wane. Eventually, he tracked the origin of the worst of his attackers. It was a man named Cornelius. He was one of the sages from the original Weapon-X program and he was attempting to replicate his earlier work. As always, there were mysterious backers hiding in the background."

The chuckle that rumbled out of the Odinson's chest was dry and humorless. "And how did that work out for this Cornelius fellow?"

"About as you would expect," Hercules shrugged.

The Odinson nodded towards Logan. "So everybody believes he is dead?"

"Yes."

"And they don't know the truth about him?"

Hercules considered that. "Some perhaps suspect, but they do not know."

Both gods were silent for a moment.

"How long do you suppose until he rises?" the Odinson finally said.

"Impossible to tell," Hercules said with a shake of his head. "But when the young god of Fury arises, I'm sure it will be a suitably bloody experience for somebody."

"Why have you brought me here, Hercules?" the Odinson asked tiredly.

"I am wondering if we should intervene," Hercules suggested. "I thought that was too big a decision to be left to a single god. And I thought another god should know where he was hidden. It might be important someday."

The Odinson considered that for a long moment.

"I do not think we should intervene," the Odinson said eventually.

"I agree," Hercules replied.

The Odinson nodded slowly.

"Then perhaps it is time to leave?" Hercules suggested. The longer they stayed, the greater the chance that they would find themselves in a meaningless battle.

"Yes," the Odinson said as he reached out and rested a scarred and calloused hand on Logan's shoulder.

"A glory of gods," the Odinson said softly.

"What?" Hercules asked.

"It's something a man of learning once told me," the Odinson explained. "In the English language, groups of creatures have fanciful terms to describe them when they are in groups. A pride of lions. A murder of crows. A skulk of foxes..."

Hercules chuckled. "My favorite was always an ambush of tigers."

A smile flicked across the Odinson's face. "My acquaintance suggested such a term for gods -- a glory of gods. Perhaps he was trying to flatter me."

"There's already a word for that," Hercules pointed out. "A pantheon of gods."

"Yes," the Odinson agreed, "but a pantheon implies that gods in question are all related by blood and their region of origin. What do you call a group of gods from separate pantheons?"

Hercules thought about that. "Ah. Now I see what you mean. 'Glory' would seem to be a good word in that situation."

Then Hercules worked the control and the platform began to rise back to the surface.

"Goodbye, Logan," the Odinson said as they rose out of sight. "We will see you someday."

"And we'll see you in glory," Hercules added quietly.

November 18th, 2015

08:17 pm: X-Men Days of Future Past

This is kind of hard to explain.

When "DoFP" came out, I saw it in the theater and I was impressed. While still not up to the level of X-Men 1 and (especially) X-Men 2, it seemed to me as if the X-Men movie franchise was solidly back on track.

Some time passed. And then the "Rogue Edition" of DoFP came out. I snapped it up.

So I watched the movie again -- this time with Rogue's additional scenes.

1) I immediately saw why they cut Rogue out of the movie. Her scenes were inconsequential. Essentially, they were an extended cameo for Anna Paquin. About the only things that the Rogue cut added was actually seeing Iceman's death -- and a touching moment when Logan (in the past) wakes from a sound sleep realizing that Rogue has taken over from Kitty in monitoring his expedition through time.

2) The movie just fell flat. It just seemed off and I had a hard time justifying my earlier and much more enthusiastic opinion. The story-line seemed weak. It was too hung up on Charles and Erik. There were too many characters dividing up too little screen time. Logan's role seemed forced...

I could go on, but it really boils down to this: I've never had such a drop in my opinion of a movie between the first and second viewings.

September 8th, 2015

03:13 pm: For my own reference

Go to Google and type in the following: site:edu [subject] exam.

In place of [subject] put something specific like 'java' or 'C++ object oriented'. This should return tests from edu sites that have refer to the indicated subject.

September 7th, 2015

02:10 pm: Continuing on

I finished the first quarter at my new job and the second begins tomorrow. The first quarter was actually quite easy and was obviously intended to fit me into the teaching procedures of the college. However, the next quarter is going to be a mess. I've got four serious classes, a contracting situation, and a ridiculous "how to teach" class that forces me to drive to Omaha on a day when I have no other reason to do so.

We'll see how it works out...

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