Category Archives: Uncategorized

The conclusion of Tabletop’s Fiasco

Part one of Saturday Night 78 ended with quite a cliffhanger…

…so here's part two!

 

If you're intrigued by Fiasco, I highly encourage you to get a couple of friends together and play it at your next game night. And if you want to give the Saturday Night 78 playset a go, you can download it from Bullypulpit.

Also, if you've played Fiasco and want to give another non-traditional RPG that focuses on storytelling a try, pick up my friend Paul's game A Penny For My Thoughts.

Good News, Bad News

I've been seeing lots of messages on Twitter and Facebook from people who are really excited to come see me tell stories and perform at the upcoming Denver Comicon. I love it that so many people are excited to see me do my thing… and I feel terrible that I have to cancel my attendance this year.

I am under an NDA, so I can't disclose exactly why at the moment, but I got an absolutely AMAZING job that conflicts with the convention, and there just wasn't a way to make the schedules work out.

I don't cancel convention appearances lightly, because I know how disappointing it is for the people who are attending. I assure you that this isn't a ploy to win a game of Mystic Warlords of Ka'a, or even a bowling match… this is just something that happens from time to time when someone like me is lucky enough to land a dream job that conflicts with a planned trip out of town.

I'm really sorry, and I hope you still have a great time at the con. Hopefully, I'll be able to be there next year.

I am easily amused

So io9 did this thing called the 10 Suckiest Fake Video Games That People Play In Science Fiction. Spoiler Alert: The Game from, uh, The Game is number one.

1) Suckdisk from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Actually, we don’t remember this game having an actual name on the show, but “suckdisk” feels like a good name for it. The object of the game is to suck a disk into a tentacle with a mouth. That’s it. And it’s not even a game of skill – you win by “letting it happen.” D00d. At least the UI is simple, but basically this episode is a cautionary tale about improved technology – once we have the ability to stimulate the pleasure centers of your brain, you may be ridiculously satisfied with some pretty weak gameplay. Actually, I like this episode, despite the game looking seriously ridiculous.

So when I saw that they decided to call it "Suckdisk", my mind immediately crafted the following scene:

INT WESLEY'S QUARTERS.

Wesley looks down at the game, then up at Robin. 

WESLEY

Um, this isn’t the game I wanted to play.

LEFLER

But you asked me to come to your quarters and play Suckdisk!

WESLEY

Right. I think you misheard me.

Tip your waitress, folks.

FedCon Day 3

I spent most of the morning signing autographs and taking pictures with fans here at FedCon. I got some lovely gifts, including a cake that was made to look just like a The Wesley Crushers bowling shirt. I don't usually accept food at cons, but this was so amazing, I couldn't say no. I took pictures that I'll put onto my Flickr when I get back home.

When I was finished, Robbie McNeill and I went with Stephan to the old city here in Dusseldorf. We walked along the Rhine, ate lunch in a wonderful Lebanese restaurant (it was awesome to eat until I was full, instead of eating until I just wasn't hungry #firstworldproblems), and wandered around looking at the old buildings. If I ever get to come back to this con, I'm totally going to spend an extra day here, just so I can tour the countryside a little bit so I can see and feel Germany; the couple of hours we had just scratched the surface, and now I really want to see more.

The hotel is right next to the airport, so I figured we should take the tram back. I mean, how hard could it be to get to the airport?

Not very hard at all, it turns out. We rode the subway to the main central train station, and then took a train straight to the airport. While we stood on the platform waiting for our train to arrive, I looked down the track, and saw five or six other tracks all winding off between houses and buildings, electrical wires strung over them all. A train arrived just as another one was pulling out of the station, and I said to Robbie, "This is what Germany looks like in my imagination."

He said, "We do shows on Chuck where he goes around the world, and I wish I'd brought my camera with me to capture this. It would be a perfect background if we ever send Chuck to Germany."

The train ride back was pretty cool, and I kind of wish it had lasted twice as long as it did, because just as I was starting to get that feeling that I was really in another country, we pulled into the station.

We all parted ways once we got back to the hotel, and I took a nap before meeting Kate Hewlett and her friend for dinner, which was — I am not making this up — a tofu hot dog covered with some kind of weird relish and crispy onions. I don't say this lightly: it changed my life in many unexpected ways. In fact, I think I'm going to have another one for lunch today.

Before I forget: the Cosplay here is phenomenal. I've seen a Wampa that was easly 2.5 meters tall, a couple dressed as Major Asshole and Dark Helmet, a Storm Trooper who I'm pretty sure was with his son, who was dressed as a miniature Scout Trooper.

The coolest thing, though, was a group a women dressed as Cat Nurses from Doctor Who. I looked for The Face of Boe, but he was nowhere to be found.

paywalls are stupid, part infinity

Earlier this morning, I saw a story at Daily Kos that really upset me. It's the sort of thing that I would hope transcends political ideology, and I thought that if I submitted it to Reddit, maybe it would eventually attract enough attention to make some kind of difference.

I didn't want to link to Kos, though, because it's a liberal website, and that would probably turn off some people the same way a conservative website would turn me off. Like I said, though, the article referenced in the post wasn't ideologically Left or Right, so I went to the source … and discovered that the article I wanted to link was behind a stupid goddamn paywall.

Here's what was excerpted at Kos:

U.S. researchers will soon abandon their search for the most coveted particle in high-energy physics because of a lack of funding.

Researchers working at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in Batavia, Illinois, had wanted to run their 25-year-old atom smasher, the Tevatron, through 2014 in hopes of spotting the so-called Higgs boson before their European counterparts could discover it with their newer, more powerful atom smasher. But officials at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), which funds Fermilab, informed lab officials this week that DOE cannot come up with the extra $35 million per year to keep the Tevatron going beyond September.

“Unfortunately, the current budgetary climate is very challenging and additional funding has not been identified. Therefore, … operation of the Tevatron will end in [fiscal year 2011], as originally scheduled,” wrote William Brinkman, head of DOE's Office of Science, in a letter to Melvyn Shochet, chair of DOE's High Energy Physics Advisory Panel (HEPAP) and a physicist at the University of Chicago in Illinois.

Here's what you see when you try to read more, or maybe send the link to your conservative parents who wouldn't read Kos if it contained the secrets of Life, the Universe, and Everything:

The content you requested requires a Subscription to this site or Science Pay per Article purchase. If you already have a user name and password, please sign in below.

Headdesk. Headdesk. Headdesk.

Edited to add: Joe D found a link to a similar (if not identical) story at US News and World Report that isn't behind a paywall. Paul linked to Nature, via NPR.

Also, I wanted to clarify that I'm not attacking AAAS, because I'm sure someone there has what they believe is a good reason for setting things up this way; I wrote this post in frustration to illustrate why I really hate paywalls.

Also, also, I agree that the research being completed, regardless of national location, is better than the research never being completed … but as an American, I want my country to dig itself out of the fucking intellectual basement and catch up to the rest of the world. Budget cuts like this infuriate me, especially when we have seemingly infinite money to wage endless, unwinnable wars.

Wesley Crusher’s Sweet-Ass Motherfucking Bouffant

When I was a teenager pretending to fly a spaceship, I got to do a lot of really cool things with a lot of really cool people. The price of admission to this wonderful world, though, was the most annoying hairdo I've ever experienced in my life. I called it Wesley's Helmet Hair, because it did not move at all once the hair department shellacked it, and I really, really hated it.

There was some decree that hair was perfect in the future, so before every take, one of the hairdressers would come over and drop a small cloud of hairspray around my head. By the end of the day, it was like there was this foreign thing sitting on top of my skull that I couldn't wait to get home and wash off (I clearly remember showering after work, and feeling a slick of
hairspray and other products run down my back, like I was living out some horrible fanfic. Ugh, I'm getting chills
just thinking about it) and when they finally retired this particular hairdo, I may have cried tears of relief.

Well, yesterday, I learned that a friend of @MartySever's loved Wesley's helmet hair as much as I hated it.

BEHOLD!

Hosted by imgur.com

minor #PAX schedule change (Friday and Sunday)

I got a call from Enforcer Mojo this morning, advising me that the Expo hall at PAX doesn't open until 10am on Friday, so trying to start a signing at 10 seemed a little silly to me, because people who couldn't get into the giant line for Expo hall early enough could potentialy have a sadface (again, this is not a "Hey, everyone, look at how great I am!" thing, and I feel weird even talking about myself like this, but it's just based on my experience at every previous PAX).

So I've made a schedule change to Friday's signing, and I'm moving my Friday signing from 10am to 1pm.

And as long as I'm moving things around and potentially making a non-zero number of people even more unhappy with me, I realized that I'm likely to be out very late on Saturday night at the JoCo concert, so starting a signing at 10 on Sunday seems like a recipe for disaster, as well. To ensure that I'm not a crabbyface, I'm moving my Sunday signing to 1pm as well.

tl;dr: My Friday and Sunday signings at PAX have been moved from 10am to 1pm. The Saturday signing is unchanged, and will remain at 10.

Charge up your DS and get ready for loldongs, guys, PAX is less than 24 hours away!!

epic wil … ll … ll

WiL+LL+LL

That's me, Will Hindmarch, and Will Schoonover, making the most epic Wil … ll … ll gang sign, ever. I loved that, because I only have one L in my name, I had a hand to make the W. (I don't remember who owns the hand making the I, but I'm pretty sure it's not someone called Wil(l).)

(Photo by Dammit Liz, our w00tstock Dungeon Master, who kept me company at GenCon and didn't get her copy of Munchkin because I needed to get geeky soap.)

memories of w00tstock 2.4

I walked across two sets of train tracks, through a tangle of nerds and normals, and navigated my way up Fourth Street toward the theater. My Bag of Holding, slung diagonally across my body, rested comfortably against my side. Inside, my costume changes (read: Nerdy T-shirts) and script (read: Happiest Days of Our Lives) waited patiently to be called upon for w00tstock.

It took longer than I expected to walk up to B Street, so I used the journey to prepare my introductory remarks. Instead of reading a modified version of the intro I'd used in the past, I was working off some bullet points, to keep the intro short, and to allow myself the freedom to improvise a little bit. What had seemed like a good idea earlier in the week was beginning to feel like the opposite.

I paused briefly at a red light. A pedicab rode by, blasting the Macarena. "That's a very effective way of announcing that you don't want any passengers," I thought.

The light changed, and I continued on my way. A few blocks later, I walked into the theater and found Paul at the sound board.

"…so, there's a little, uh, 'w00tstock wrinkle'," he said.

"…okay, what's that?" I asked.

"The venue is 21 and over, and there is some liquor law that prevents Molly from being inside the theater at all."

"Wait. What?"

"They have to have security escort her on and off the stage, and she can't even sit inside the theater with us for the rest of the show."

I waited a moment for the Bazinga, but he was serious.

"Wow, that … that really sucks," I said.

"Yeah. She's outside the stage door." He pointed across the theater.

"I'll be right back," I said.

I walked through the empty space while staff set up chairs and Marian Call waited to do her sound check on the stage. I waved to Jason Finn. "You better grow your beard back," I said, "the council of beards is trying to remove your seat. I'm doing my best to hold it for you, but there's a faction gathering strength against you."

I realize that this doesn't sound nearly as funny now as it did to me at the time.

"I'm glad you've got my back," he said.

A square of bright daylight streamed in through an open door and stretched out, almost to a rectangle, on one side of the stage. Motes of dust danced in it, and I squinted as I walked through them to the loading dock.

Molly and her boyfriend Chris were outside. She was sitting on a chair and didn't look nearly as sad or upset as I would have been.

I opened my arms, she stood up, and I hugged her. "This sucks," I said. "I'm so sorry."

We talked for a few minutes, and I was impressed by how good her spirits were. It was like she'd decided there wasn't anything she could do about it, and had decided to make the best of a bad situation.

"You know what you should do? You should totally play a cover of Save Ferris' 'Under 21'!"

Before we could talk about it more, I was called into the theater to handle other pre-show tasks. I went to our dressing room, where I was delighted to find lots of beer from Stone Brewing for our performers. We always try to get some local craft brew when we do shows (Portland presented us with an embarrassment of riches) to have backstage, and I was pretty excited that Stone hooked us up.

I set down my bag, and pulled out my notebook to go over my intro notes. I was seriously doubting my plan to simply give a brief history of w00tstock before the show. I felt unprepared, and a little queasy as a result.

About forty minutes later, an hour before the show was set to begin, I walked out to check on Molly again. She and Jason Finn were listening to Under 21 on her iPhone, and working out the chords and changes.

"I may add a key change here," Molly began.

"Yeah, that's hashtag-things-drummers-don't-care-about," Jason said.

We laughed for a long time about that. I left them alone to get ready.

About 20 minutes before showtime, all of the performers, including our super-secret guests, gathered backstage. Paul gave the pre-show pep talk, and I found an empty hallway to go over my introduction.

I paced around, talking through my points, directing myself, and trying to find that elusive intro I was convinced I should have just written.

I don't know exactly when it happened, but in the dim light of that corridor, with the growing murmurs of the audience filling the theater – the sold out and standing-room-only theater! – it came to me: this w00tstock is special because it's at Comic-Con. I didn't want to do this show, because I didn't think anyone would come, on account of how many things there are to do at Comic-Con. I was wrong, and that's awesome.

Once I had that, the entire introduction came together, and not a moment too soon. "You have about five minutes," our stage manager (who we call our Dungeon Master) Liz, told me.

"Thank you, five minutes," I said. For the first time since I walked into the theater, I felt more excitement than fear about talking the stage and introducing the show. I may have done a very subdued bit of pogo-ing in the empty corridor after Liz walked away.

The show began. The audience went crazy. We went crazy. We all threw themed underpants at Paul and Storm during Opening Band (mine had 8====D on the front, which is twice as funny if you know the reference). We all crowded around the side of the stage to watch the show.

Molly came out early, accompanied by security, and began her set. "Would you be Molly's music stand?" A voice said.

I turned around and saw Chris, holding a sheet of paper with lyrics written on it. Across the top, it said, "OMG LEARNING A NEW SONG!"

"I would love to do that," I said. I took the paper and carefully held it while Molly sang about breaking up with Wikipedia.

She called me up to the stage, and I had the most fun I've ever had being a music stand. If you were there, you know how great it was, and now you know that she and Jason learned the song and put it all together in a little less than one hour. (I know, right?)

One more Molly memory before I move on to the rest of the show: Molly played an all-request ninja show in the parking lot during the intermission that was watched by all of the performers, and about 1/3 of the audience. It was simply magical, and I am not ashamed to admit that I may have wiped a few proud tears off my face while she sang. I mean, when I was her age, if I'd found myself in a similar situation, I probably would have been pissed at how stupid and unfair the whole thing was, and that would have been the end of it for me. Molly, on the other hand, learned and modified a song – and performed it for a sold-out theater – and then played an acoustic show in the parking lot during intermission. I once said that Molly Lewis is a national treasure, and now you know why.

The majority of the show is a blur of squee and laughter and OMG. Adam observed that everyone came off stage just beaming with joy. As a performer, to have that feeling … it's one of the greatest things in the world. If you were in that audience, and you helped us feel that way: thank you.

A few things stand out for me, though, like how amazing Marian Call was live, how much Chris Hardwick killed with his set, how Jamy Ian Swiss blew our minds so thoroughly, nobody could hear me yelling "WITCH!" over the applause and cheering. I got to stand next to the stage while Rifftrax did Lunchroom Manners (aka Mister Bungle) LIVE. Matt Fraction destroyed the audience with THE BATMAN DREAMS OF HIERONYMUS MACHINES, just like he did at w00tPDX.

I know that I'm forgetting things, and for that I am sorry. Like I said, the show really was a blur of squee and laughter and OMG, and I know I'll remember things in the days to come, so until the updates begin to shake themselves out of my brain, let me close with this:

One of the great surprises for everyone was when my friend
Aaron Douglas, who played The Chief on BSG, came out during my Rocky
Horror story (the joke was, "Hey, I asked for toast, not a toaster!").
It was so much fun for me to introduce Aaron to everyone backstage, and
watch them squee to various degrees. It was especially fun for me to
stand on the stage when Aaron walked out – in his frakking flight suit from the show! – to thunderous applause. It was incredible.

When the four hour show was over (The Captain's Wife's Lament was especially fun, and clocked in at a relatively-reasonable 25 minutes), we all went out to sign autographs and meet the audience. We signed for close to two hours, and finally finished a little after 2am.

I traded hugs and thank yous with everyone, and headed out of the theater with Fraction.

"Do you want to take a cab to the hotel?" Matt asked.

"No, I need to walk off the adrenaline of the show, even though I feel like I'm going to fall down any second from exhaustion."

"I totally get that," he said.

We walked down Fourth Street, toward the convention center. Homeless people slept in doorways and drunk nerds staggered out of bars and clubs. An energy crackled through the cool, foggy air: It was Comic-Con weekend, and w00tstock was just the beginning.