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Yes, Yes — But First

August 22, 2006

Still getting back on track after my return to the ATL. (That means: I’m only now unpacking.) When I’ve done that, we’ll make with the time travel promised earlier. (Seems like a good thing to do this week as we creep toward my birthday this Sunday-ish.)

But first, for those of you who delight in such things, I’ll offer up a quick summary of the books I brought back with me on this trip. Some of these I traded for at Gen Con, others I bought at full price, others I bought used in Chicago or recovered from under the piles (and piles and piles) of junk in my old room outside Chicago. You understand, I’m writing this to you so you won’t think I’m made of money. Even if I were, I wouldn’t be, on account of all these books.

At Gen Con, I picked up the rulebook for Hollow Earth Expedition, which seems to solve a lot of my problems with “pulp adventure” RPGs by focusing on a setting and core adventure model rather than trying to force-feed genre conventions to me. That said, it is startlingly light on things like traps, mystical surprises and specifics on the titular Hollow Earth. Beyond that, its rules are bravely simple (woe to he who thinks our combat system in the World of Darkness is unrealistic) and startlingly derivative, but in the same way any straight line between two points is simple and derivative. So, all that said, I’m eager to give this game a whirl.

Likewise, I’m looking forward to trying the eccentric, miniatures-loving Rackham-born Cadwallon once I can make heads or tails of its charmingly (read: laughably) translated text. This book speaks with the kind of accent that makes me want to ask it stupid questions just so I can giggle at its answer. (The book’s complete descriptive passage for a healing potion: “The beneficiary wins back to a health status at once.”) That said, stretches like pg. 234-245 are just so fucking cute. Already, when I show my copy of Cadwallon to people, I introduce it like an enchanted Yankee schmuck with his new European friend: “This is Cadwallon. (It’s from Europe.)”

This year’s indy RPG haul was respectable, if sometimes out of date. Further analyses of these books may come in the future, but for now you have to do with their titles (and, sometimes, the short sales pitch I should’ve been given): Run Robot Red and Lacuna need no introduction. Mortal Coil is best teased by listen to Paul Tevis’ stellar podcast, “Have Games, Will Travel.” Agon is a game of mythic Greek contests and battles, dressed in cleverness and convoluted mechanics. Cold City is a game of monster-hunting foreign spies in Cold War-era Berlin, though I think it may also be The Mountain Witch (I’ll let you know). Dread is a horror role-playing game that uses Jenga in place of dice, honestly. Shock is “social science fiction” roleplaying in the brainstorming sector of Philip K. Dick’s brain. If I sound a little snotty about some of these now, that’s just me substituting sass for, you know, not having read them yet. I’m eager to read and try out each one of these games. (Maybe I’ll set up a monthly session just for that.)

As for books, I have a truckload still coming Chicago. Seriously. A truck will be loaded. It’s magnificent.

In the meantime, I picked up a dinged copy of The Watkins Dictionary of Magic by Nevill Drury (I love that name, Drury) at Chicago Comics and a bunch of books from the used bookstore at the corner of Clark and Wellington (what the hell’s the name of that place, anyway?). Books like Urban Design Downtown and The Mole People and Eats, Shoots and Leaves. Or rather, not books like those but those exact books. From home I brought back Basho’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North, which I adored but lost in the wilds of a million loose papers in my old room, and Poems of Heaven and Hell from Ancient Mesopotamia, which I don’t remember ever buying but am happy to feel like I got it for free.

What the hell, I also dug up (or bought) a bunch of CDs: Kinky’s self-titled album (which is eh, but was cheap), the not-as-good-as-it-sounded-on-iTunes soundtrack to the mediocre Code 46 by David Holmes and Steven Hilton (which a sticker on the front even advertises as contributing to a “sense of austerity and alienation”), Orbital’s Orbital 2 (to replace my vanished one), Kraftwerk’s The Man Machine (which I never actually owned), Front 242’s Fuck Up Evil (another replacement) and the Headhunter 2000 remix compliation (which is surprisingly excellent). Somewhere in there I also picked up a way-way-underpriced copy of the third season of The X-Files in the original, swanky DVD set. (I still don’t know the best spots for used CDs and DVDs in Atlanta, so this is what I do when I get back to Chicago and Reckless Records.)

Oh, and thanks to Netflix I’ve now seen the pilot to Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, which is good but not great, despite a cast that I like quite a lot and subject matter that fascinates me. Something in the pilot doesn’t quite crackle yet, but I believe that it will when the cast falls in which itself a bit more. Here’s something, though: Watch how Bradley Whitford does Sorkin’s dialogue differently than everybody else in the cast. He knows just what to throw away and just what to raise up, while Matthew Perry and Sarah Paulson are projecting too much and Steven Webber is playing it just a skosh too natural. But, again, it’s a terrific cast and I’m looking forward to watching them do a couple years’ worth of Sorkin scripts.

Did lightning just hit the house? Is the building on fire? I’ll go check. But while I do, I’ll marvel at just how fucking fast I wrote all that up there. This is what happens when you keep me away from a keyboard for too long, I guess. I ramble on and on about material goods until the power goes out.

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One comment

  1. Dead Envious.
    1. You’ve seen the pilot for Studio 60 on Sunset Strip. Can I tell you how much I like Bradley Whitford?
    2. Chicago Comics. I miss comics.
    3. Reckless Records. I miss shopping for actually records.

    All in good time. Bangkok, Sukhothai and Chiang Mai first.

    Happy Birthday, too.



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