Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Long strange trip to Florida.

Well, that was a jaunt. We left at 8:45 Sunday morning, stopping just for gas and leg stretching. Rocky got bored after a bit and tried to crawl into my lap. The phrase, “Are we there yet?” was clear in his eyes.

If G_d was my copilot, and Rocky was sidekick, then Bear McCreary was on morale duty. Except for the We are the Fallen CD in the first queue, it was all Battlestar. If not for traffic, I'd have made it to Macon just on BSG. Thanks to traffic I came into the hotel parking lot to the sweet sounds of Caprica.

Slept well once the room got to “Ohio Habittable” conditions (meaning turning the AC up to full blast). We launched about 9:00 Monday morning, and got gas at a Kroger's. Felt nostalgic. Krogers, Supercuts, GNC store all in one strip mall. Could have been Ohio. :-)

Then things went to hell. More construction as we left G_d forsaken Georgia (No, really. We should burn Atlanta every 10 years or so.) First, more construction. Then the rain. Gods above the rain! In addition to my MPG going to hell, I got all the cloud cover of Ohio, with all the heat and humidity of Florida. Rocky isn't happy with all the thunder.

Fortunately the rain seems to have broken. I have to run tomorrow morning to get Beggin Strips and maybe some benedryl for Rocky. At least now that I have the correct GPS in the phone I can find my way back.

I needed a couple of pairs of shorts, so we hunted down the local Big or Tall shop.  Sheryl picked up a couple of shirts for dad and paid for mine.  So of course when I ran to get dinner I paid for it.  Yes they'll be mad.  They'll live.

Even though I left the big camera at home, I hope to get some photos. If not here, then on the trip to the Space Coast and on the way home.

Enough for now, more tomorrow.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Trust? I'd rather verify, thanks.

By now, most of my friends have (hopefully) read the articles about the Stasi-like levels of survelance on American citizens, by their own Government.  The official reply of the President of the United States is “Trust us, it’s for your own good.”
I wonder if they tested saying it is the “Shield and Sword of the Party.”
Obama said “nobody is listening to your phone calls.” Not surprisingly… this too is a lie.  And a strawman, of course.  No one was accusing the NSA of listening to everyone’s phone calls, but now we know they do ‘accidentally’ listen to our phone calls.
The big concern is “Metadata”.  This isn’t listening to your calls, it’s collecting data on who you call.  The New Yorker ran an excellent article on this.  To sum up, patterns can be drawn from who you call and where your cell phone is.  One example given is, your phone shows you at the oncologist.  It then displays calls of 15+ minutes length to your sister, parents, and your PCP.  What can be inferred from that data, gathered over the course of a couple hours?
Now apply this to other aspects of your life.  Are you a TEA party member?  Well they can tell who you call and how long you talk (assuming they don’t ‘accidentally’ listen in).  Then they can tell who the people you talk to talked to, etc. etc.
But “Trust us” is the answer to critics.
This is only half the story.  The other half is PRISM and its undisclosed relations. Unlike the suspiciously specific denials of the NSA on the not ‘intentionally’ listening in, PRISM *does* collect and gather information. As detailed here, among other sources, our e-mails are being read, skyping being monitored, etc.
What does this mean for the average innocent American?  Plenty.  Ever accidentally mistyped a URL and gone to a porn site?  Ever intentionally gone to a porn site? Ever sent your SO risqué pictures while he’s on a long distance trip? Ever ridden the bus? That data could very well be sitting in some server in Utah.
Perhaps most importantly, does this make us safer?  It doesn’t appear so, despite claims to the contrary.  The data on the Boston Bombers was there, and not acted on.  The data on the Ft. Hood terrorist attack was there, and not acted on.  But don’t worry, the government will be right on top of that, right after they get done persecuting Americans for their beliefs, leaking information on farmers to environmental groups, and leaking tax returns to political oppponents.

“You can trust us,” Says Obama.  I prefer to follow Reagan’s mantra.  “Trust, but verify.”

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Technological aside

Amazon's free app of the day today was the SAS Survival Guide.  I grabbed it and was amused.  "Gee," I thought, "this would help in the zombie apocalypse, clear up until the battery in my kindle died."

Then I thought.  "No way..."


This just amuses me.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Wonder Woman pt V - And Steve Trevor…

Alas, poor Steve.  Writers never seem to know what to do with him.  If a cast without any men is called a ‘sausage fest’ what is a cast with no men?  A Lesbian Spank Inferno?
So Steve provides the primary male component to a mostly female cast.  Yay diversity!  But who is Steve Trevor?  He is in some ways, the hardest character to get a handle on in an ensemble, harder than Diana even.  You don’t want him to be just comic relief, or (ironically) reduced to a Damsel in Distress for Diana to rescue ever week.  Likewise, the show’s based around Wonder Woman, and not called “Steve Trevor and his breastacular friends,” So he can’t save the day every time. Balancing his role and gender in this is a tricky act, and one many writers have failed on.
My Steve Trevor is in his 40’s, a career officer.  While he can, and will, be overwhelmed by the things he encounters weekly, he will be almost unflappable in a British way.  Think of Sir Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, played by the amazing, and sorely missed, Nicholas Courtney
Clearly this is going to cause tension between him and the rest of the cast.  And clearly he’ll change his viewpoints over time.  He may be able to protect Etta and Donna, but Diana?  Seriously?
Aside, stealing from James Robinson’s wonderful Earth-2 work, the word ‘Superhero’ doesn't exist on my show.  Instead any sort of costumed being is called a ‘Wonder’ as Wonder Woman is the first more than human character seen.
So who plays Steve Trevor?  He’s going to be the eldest of the cast, a man in his 40’s.  In my dream world, it’s Chris O’Donnell.  He’s matured a lot as an actor, and he works good in an Ensemble, like NCIS.

Up next?  The big girl herself, and the one person I think can play her.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Wonder Woman IV - Who is Donna Troy?

For those of us who are familiar with the comics, this is a loaded question.
A little background to bring people up to speed.  Back in the Golden Age of comics, Wonder Woman would have adventures with her younger selves, Wonder Girl and Wonder Tot.  The comics were clear that they were Wonder Woman at previous stages of her life. Editorial forgot that little fact, and thus was Wonder Girl became a full-fledged character.  Really.
Unfortunately the character has suffered from the sketchy background.  Many attempts have been made over the past 40+ years to give her a background rather than ‘teen Wonder Woman’ with mixed results.  Donna has been tossed into limbo with the DC reboot.
So, the original question remains.  Who is Donna Troy?  In my series, Donna’s still an orphan, in her teens.  Her mom is Etta, rather than being a foundling discovered by Diana.  She would quickly develop a sort of hero worship for Diana, leading to some friction between Diana and Etta.  She also would be the one to play off Diana’s lack of modern culture, allowing for some humor.  If Donna is working on school work, and says “It’s Greek to me.” Diana would be the one to straight-faced say, “No, that appears to be English.”  Donna does not have (initially) any superhuman powers, though the idea of her ‘borrowing’ artifacts to give her powers for an episode are not out of reach (this would also be a nod to Cassie Sandsmark’s original origin).
So who plays Donna Troy?  I’ve two people in mind, given that the role (and actress) would invariably grow older.  If we want a younger Donna, I’d cast Kiara Glasco.  This young actress blew me away in Copper, and I’d love to see her in a more heroic character.  For a more mature Donna (late teens) I’d cast Hanna Leigh.  This 17 year old caught my attention in an episode of Body of Proof, and her ‘innocent to psycho in 10 seconds’ act made me want to see her in a regular role.  With Ms. Glasco, I’d likely tease her getting superpowers (including the Cassie Sandsmark reference above) and stretch out the tease over a few seasons, to let the actress mature.  With Ms. Leigh, I’d go with her being exposed to the Amazon’s Purple ray at the beginning of season 2, and ‘officially’ make her Wonder Girl in season 3.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Equal protection.

Watching a thing on Pot growing in California.  I don't smoke it myself, and I'm not in California, but I am bothered by the mentality of the California cops on the show.  "I can't bust you, but I can bring the feds in and bust you," is wrong. Growing drugs, food, making items etc, for yourself shouldn't be a Federal issue, and I am upset at the idea of state police calling in the feds because they can't prosecute people they disagree with.  Especially in California, where they make an effort to impede the feds in their actual duties.  "I don't like you, so I'm going to call the feds to bust you if you can't." flies in the face of "You're breaking the state and federal laws, and we're going to keep them from arresting you."

Friday, April 19, 2013

Wonder Woman III, fleshing out the cast

Making a show with a strong female lead is not as alien now as it was in the ‘70’s.  That said, lets start with some of the other cast.
Etta Kandi.  Etta is a ‘modern woman’.  She’s strong and military trained, but took a civilian position.  Why she left the military is something we can reveal later in the series.  She’s also a scholar.  She starts somewhat as the Scully of the group, always looking for a scientific reasoning for what happens.  She’s hard to nail down, as you want her to be a competent woman, but overshadowed by Diana in combat, and diplomacy.  She knows, for example, more languages and cultures than Diana, and is clearly going to be more technologically savy, but she’ll be overwhelmed by the things she can’t explain.  For another way of looking at her, think crossing Samantha Carter and Elizabeth Weir from Stargate, but without the experience of either.
Who would play her?  In my dream world, the lovely Kandyse McClure.  In addition to being the right age for a vet/up and coming diplomat, she deserves more exposure.
Taking a break from Pazio, not the Society,
I find myself needing to take a break from the Pathfinder Society boards.  The coming changes have stirred up a hornet’s nest of contempt, and seem to have exacerbated other feelings.  I’m taking a break, so I can still enjoy the game.
In the past few weeks I’ve been accused directly and indirectly, of being a bad GM for…
·        Wanting to run new scenarios rather than the same scenario over and over, so I can apply GM credit/gain boons.  Yes, how dare I want to run through scenarios/modules/adventures I’ve bought and paid for to get the full value out of them.
·        Daring to ‘fudge’ a die roll so that a first time player doesn’t get to watch his character die to a lucky roll
·        Not sponsoring a ‘community attitude’.
I’ve been also accused of being a bad player for:
·        Opposing a proposed system that encourages not ‘taking one for the team’ and playing down.  Most annoyingly, by someone who doesn’t go to scenarios/games that ‘don’t interest him’  So I’m a bad guy for showing up and not wanting to play down, but he’s not for just not going at all?
·        Not always GMing to split a table, instead of playing.
Between that and the attitude I see of people arguing from authority that ‘the community’ agrees with them, or saying ‘We feel’… I’m taking a break.  You know what?  I don’t care if you have 5 stars, I don’t care if you started playing RPGs at Gary Gygax’s table.  I don’t care if you’re a writer, a Venture Lieutenant or a Venture Captain.  Your ‘authority’ is exactly the same as mine.  Unless you’ve a mouse in your pocket, or voices in your head, you aren’t speaking for the community.  You’re likely just talking out your aft.
I’ve an emotional interest in Paizo in general, and personal interest in the success of the Society as a community as a whole.  When I got back at the table, playing a 4 hour session exhausted me.  I was rocking forwards and back (a sign that my Social Anxiety is about to hit critical mass) by the end, and I was exhausted the next day.  Now I can take the stress (and it is stressful) of GMing, and run full day events, with little effect.  I’m stronger because of my interactions with the local community, and I’ve met some good people.  I’m looking forward to testing my endurance (and meeting more people) in two months at Origins.
The local community can’t generalize, or marginalize me as part of a faceless group that matches their stereotypes.  They’re real people who interact with me, warts and all, every week.  I don’t want the actions of a loud closed minded minority to drive me away from the real people I’ve met and been to their homes.  People I interact with may not like me, but they don’t like me not some easily dismissed pseudo-real person they can pretend matches their notions, because I make them uncomfortable.
So why am I posting this on the Hermit-blog?  Because I’m not conceited enough to post a long rant on the Paizo site saying why I’m leaving.  This however, is my blog, and I’ll say whatever the frak I want.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Free Speech and Double Standards.

Yup, it’s another political post.  Recently, Debe Terhar posted a picture from Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children to her personal Facebook page (now deleted). It attributes a quote of questionable sourcing to Adolf Hitler about disarming a populace to conquer them.  So of course Ohio Dems got their knickers in a twist demanding she be fired.  She knuckled under, apologizing for the post (made on her personal facebook page, and not in her position as head of the Ohio School Board.  Both her and Gov Kasich shouldn’t have backed down.  But I’ll give the Governor credit, he’s (professionally) telling the Dems to get stuffed.

I'm not going to get into the accurate sourcing of the quote, except to say some historians doubt the validity of the attribution.  It *is* undeniably true that he approved of the disarming of the Jews.  And the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising would have gone much better for the Nazis if they'd been kind enough to disarm.

A couple things.  First, she has a method of being ‘fired’ it’s called an election.  Y’know, part of that democracy thing.  Second, if the Ohio Democrats didn’t have double standards, they’d have none.  
After all, the whining is that the post compares Obama to Hitler.  Yet I didn’t hear any condemnations from the left of things like this, or this, or this.  Or maybe some of these classic hits.
Ohio Democrat party leader Chris Redfern (language warning)  Or Ted Strickland Or how about Sherrod Brown’s greatest lies.  I could go on, but I won’t.  Funny, since these examples are the Ohio officials speaking in their official positions, and the Democrats are silent.

Point is, I’ll take the whining Ohio Democrats seriously when they live up to what they demand of others.  If it wasn’t for double standards, they’d have no standards at all.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Wonder Woman II – What is Paradise Island in my reboot?

One question that is raised in my reboot concept is why Paradise Island exists.  Clearly it existed in the 30’s and 40’s for a place to put ‘perfect’ women.  That doesn’t quite fit with modern sensibilities, so how do we use the island in the reboot?  We repurpose it.
As I mentioned in my previous post, Paradise Island holds/held various magical artifacts.  While some, if not most of those artifacts are going to be Greek in origin, some aren’t.  In the background information, Paradise Island is meant as a vault.  A storehouse of items connected to the ‘old gods’ left behind in the Amazons’ protection in The Great Compact.  The Amazons then were (initially) the chosen guardians, blessed with superior strength, speed and longevity as long as they stood vigil.  Basically Paradise Island is 'neutral ground'.
Since we’re talking thousands of years of time, we can ‘diversify’ the Amazons.  Basically small groups of Amazons would go into ‘Man’s World’ both to see how the world has changed, and to find the occasional ‘recruit’.  Legends of the Valkyrie, Amazons, Boudica, Joan of Arc, and others, can either be explained by Amazons, or maybe they were recruited.  This allows an ethnically, if not gender-based, diversity.  It would also allow for a number of different fighting styles.  Imagine a Sikh Amazon with a tulwar, or  a Zulu Amazon with a iklwa sparring in the background.
This is the second time I’ve mentioned The Great Compact.  So I guess I’d better describe it.  Essentially the plot point is that the gods ‘backed off’ the world as humanity expanded, rather than see the earth destroyed through deity level conflict. Without their direct influence, magic faded, and that’s why these artifacts are so powerful. This does then imply that every religious conflict in history wasn’t the fault of the gods, rather it was people. *shrug* (I’d also specifically avoid having JudeoChristian items on the island.  It neatly sidesteps the protesters, and allows for a Christian ‘WMD stockpile’.  Templars, anyone?)
‘Powerful’ is a subjective term too.  A gauntlet that projects fire through a mouth is powerful, capable of immolating a hoplite, but it is powerful and unique.  Hook it to a backpack, and it’s a flame thrower, we’ve a lot of those.  Likewise Dianna can block bullets with her bracelets.  A HEAT round is still going to blow her into bloody chunks, no matter if her bracelets are in the way or not.  For TV, Wonder Woman is still more than human, but not Comic Book levels of invulnerability. (Plus, if she was Superman level bulletproof, why does she need the bracers?)  Likewise, Dianna’s bracers are lightweight and effectively indestructible, but could be scienced away with “titanium nanotubes” (no, really).  Basically the show plays hard and fast with Clarke’s Third Law. (Kind of like Warehouse 13)  Some things are going to be outside the realm of recognizable technology, like if one of the artifacts was Athena’s Aegis, for example.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Dry Run

I’ve asked for Feb 15th and 18th off of work.  If I can get the time off, I’ll be heading up to Toledo to run Pathfinder events at a convention.  It will be my first Convention since 2009, and the first one I’ve ran official events.
As most people who know me know, I had a nervous break down in 2004.  It’s kept in check with medication, but I still don’t like crowds.  I’ve a finite amount of tolerance for crowds, and strangers, before I have to run away.
My first Pathfinder Society game in 2011 I almost didn’t make it.  By the time we were done, I caught myself rocking back and forth (a sign that my stress levels are too high), and spent most of the next day asleep.  It was mentally exhausting.  And a blast.
Since then I’ve been able to fun games, and stay out all day. January is stressful for me because I’m on the phones.  Not because I can’t do customer service (I can likely do any job at work).  Because I don’t want to. But I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again. So after the stress of this month, I’ll be putting myself in a different challenge.
And yet this is a dry run for what is to come.  If I can handle the stress in Toledo, I’ll e running events at Origins.  Much bigger convention.  And if I can handle Origins…
I know I’ll never be as I was before the breakdown.  Hells, there are parts of me I don’t want to be ever again.  But I’ll keep moving forward and be the best I can be.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Wonder Woman reboot.

Ok, something less dreary… Wonder Woman.
As we know, there was an aborted attempt at a Wonder Woman series.  Per the comments I’ve read on the pilot, it was… bad.
Given that Wonder Woman is part of the “Trinity” of DC, there *should* be a successful market for Wonder Woman.  However, her golden days were in 1970.  She also, for better or worse, has a history of bondage and polygamy attached to her, by her creator(s).  So how to do a Wonder Woman series?  Here’s my take.
The pilot starts in a Greek style building, a shadowed figure walks through the hallways.  Two women in Greek style hoplite armor with spears stand on either side of the door.  The shadowed figure gestures and the two guards are taken out, easily.  Turned to stone, fall unconscious, die, turned to dust whatever, the point is, they’re gone.  The figure pushes the doors they’re guarding open, and the view gets an image of a large room with urns and other items briefly seen. The only thing the view sees clearly is a pair of bracers, a tiara, and a golden lasso.  The screen fades to black until just the golden lasso is visible, then the show logo appears.
Show comes back and there’s a UN Relief vessel in the open ocean.  Captain Steve Trevor is watching a vessel coming towards his boat.  He turns to the civilian advisor, and warns her it is a pirate boat and they’re unarmed.  She produces a pistol and says, “Not completely.”
As the boat closes, the sky darkens abruptly, and lightning is seen, the pirate boat turns away, fleeing towards shore.  Without warning a coast line appears in front of the UN boat.  The ship runs aground on reefs.  We show them confirming that no, there should be no reefs here, let alone land.  The UN advisor takes a small crew to go ashore.
The boat is met by two more women in hoplite armor like the ones in the beginning.  They forbid the men to come ashore, but allow the UN advisor, explaining she is a woman.  There’s some brief confusion because everyone understands the women, but every person hears them in their native tongue.  The UN advisor introduces herself as Etta Kandi and allows herself to be led to the leader. One of the women introduces herself as Princess Dianna, and offers to take her to Queen Hippolyta. Etta jokingly asks if she is “The” Queen Hippolyta, and Dianna asks (with a trace of innocence) how many she knows.
We see several women as they walk past, doing martial training, feats of strength, wrestling etc. Finally she’s taken before Hippolyta.  Here the plot is explained.  Someone has stolen artifacts, artifacts that the Amazons were entrusted by the gods to keep.  The island has given the guardian women their immortality to protect the items, and with the items stolen, the island has lost its magical protections and been drawn into “Man’s world.” With the artifacts stolen though, the Amazons can’t leave the island or they lose their youth, their strength and their mortality.  Etta scoffs that it is not Man’s world, and they’d love to help recover these artifacts.  After back and forth (or a commercial break) we cut to Dianne being helped aboard the UN vessel, where she meets Steve Trevor.  She is wearing the bracelets, tiara, and lasso, indicating that they are the remaining relics given to her to allow her to leave the island.
Flash forward 3 months or so.  Themascara has an embassy, with Wonder Woman being the only Amazon but with female staff. Etta serves as the UN Liason. Diana is frustrated that this great UN hasn’t done anything, when she hears a rumor of something happening that matches the properties of one of the missing artifacts.  She slips out of the embassy, wearing the bracers and lasso and tiara, pants and a red and gold top. (Think something like This take on Jim Lee’s version.  She finds an updated Kung who is using the mantle of Proteus to commit crimes.  Dianna fights him, which highlights the Amazon fighting style, a mix of Judo, Akido, and Pankration.  She defeats him, and is about to kill him, when Steve Trevor and a squad of soldiers show up.  They go to arrest them both, but Dianne holds up the mantle and uses what she learned from Etta.  “Diplomatic Immunity.”
The pilot ends with her returning the mantle to the vault.  The camera pans out and we see row after row of empty shelves.
Subsequent episodes are a mix of relic hunting and trying to find out who has spread these items.
About episode 7, Dianna is captured and stripped of her items.  She escapes and defeats her captor(s) and discovers she retains the strength, speed, and healing that Amazons have, even without the artifacts.
About episode 13, we meet our first god.  Ares tells Dianna of the relic of the week, his spear.  He also explains that, due to “The Great Compact” the gods cannot interfere. She points out he’s breaking the rule.  Ares simply shrugs.
Episode 20 has an Amazon coming to the embassy to deliver a message.  She’s dying of old age.  Dianna tries putting the relics on her to heal her, but it is no use.  She dies and crumbles to dust.
Episode 22 has her investigating the clues that the Amazon gave Dianna.  She finds out that a member of her embassy has been planted by the thief of the artifacts.  Barbara Minerva.  Barbara, under the stress of questioning, goes through a transformation, into the Cheetah!  She attacks the embassy staff, wounding Etta’s daughter and the episode ends with Dianna torn between losing the lead or losing Etta’s daughter.  Fade to black.
The “Core cast” would be.

  • Princess Dianna, Wonder Woman
  • Etta Kandi, UN liason
  • Steve Trevor, Captain, USN, and pilot.
  • Donna Troy, Etta’s adopted daughter.
  • Barbara Minerva Lead archeologist and researcher (with the face heel turn above)
Wonder Woman's powers are more silver age level than modern.  No flight, 'only' able to lift a ton or so, peak athletic ability, above normal senses, and a healing factor.  Basically she's fast enough to get those bracelets blocking, but if something gets through, she can heal.

Let me know what you think of this rough overview and I’ll write up who the thief is and how he ties in! Also the mystery of Wonder Woman's powers.