Coming Together

Firefly Avatar

Tons to tell you about today, so I better get started!

gaming-in-the-verseThe preview for the Firefly RPG line, Gaming in the ‘Verse: Gen Con 2013 Exclusive, will no longer be available at the end of this month. You can order print copies from and a digital version from

I just had a fantastic meeting with our Systems Lead, Mark Diaz Truman, to wrap up the corebook. We were talking about the overwhelmingly positive response to the Exclusive and how some folk’d be happy just with that. I said that the Exclusive sets expectations by giving them what they need, but the corebook? Gives them what they didn’t even know they needed. Will there be new material? How ’bout over 100,000 words worth?

Today, I’m developing the Episode for the corebook, which was written by Jack Norris. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m incredibly sensitive to sound. Sometimes, I can’t listen to anything with words in it when I need to concentrate because it slows my progress down considerably. Other projects, I go the opposite route and have an audiobook on in the background (I happen to adore the Terry Pratchett’s Discworld performances) or I have a movie on that I’ve seen a 1,000 times so I can tune it out. Music with words, though? Can’t do it. Not sure if the fresh air and open windows have something to do with it. Guess I’m just weird that way.

I try to stick to a theme when I’m listening to instrumental music and, for Firefly, it’s all about the Chinese traditional compositions — which is great because it’s something I’d listen to anyway. Lately, I’ve been putting the theme song for a fun, very relaxing puzzle game called Entanglement on in the background on repeat. I’m putting dueling banjos and old west-inspired fiddles on my list of tunes to research.

Sugar Skull_Liz MieraNot sure if I mentioned this yet or not, but I’m modifying a dress I already own (it’s a pink A-line) for Halloween with this patch and some beadwork. So, Etsy can yield some pretty awesome things and I have to say: Liz Miera Embroidery is phenomenal. The quality is great and the design is spot on. It can be REALLY hard to find sugar skull designs that aren’t…well, awful. Here’s a link to her Etsy store if you want to check out her inventory.

Heading out to my salon and will be asking for recommendations on hair. (They’re used to my crazy-ass requests by now. Hah.) I got a black wedding sash to take care of the girly bow problem. I may design jewelry for the overall costume, too, but if I do it’ll likely be a bracelet of some sort. Already have the rest of it. Now, if I can just get back into painting I’ll be shiny. I have a few I need to work on, but have to finish converting my office into a studio. Let’s just say moving our extraordinarily spoiled frog required some shifting — in a good way.

In domestic news, we watched The Gift last night with Cate Blanchett. What a fantastic film. ‘Course, I get Ryan Gosling confused with Giovanni Ribisi (BAD WRITER) but one of the things that I really loved about this, is the very realistic way certain townsfolk got addicted to Annabelle’s readings. She used what are known as “zener cards” which are cards scientists use to test psychic abilities. (You can follow that link to test yourself.) Anyway, I really dug this one because the psychic aspect, when combined with the small town aspect, added a lot of conflict to an already unique and very memorable cast of characters.

Making a buffalo chicken pizza today. Figured you might be interested in the recipe, because it’s SUPER EASY. And this is where I’ll leave you… With the NOM NOM NOMs…

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

(1) tube refrigerator pizza dough
4-5 Frozen buffalo chicken tenders
1-2 Carrots
1-2 stalks Celery
1/4 to 1/2 cup Bleu Cheese dressing
1 cup cheddar cheese
Fresh cilantro, chives, or parsley for garnish

Cook buffalo chicken tenders according to instructions and set aside. When cool, cut up into smaller pieces. Roll out the pizza dough. Spread bleu cheese dressing across the bottom of it. Add the chicken pieces and scatter cheese across the top. Bake according to the crust’s directions. While the pizza’s in the oven, chop up the celery and use a potato peeler to make ribbons of carrots. When the pizza is done, top with your veggies and garnish.

Voila! A tasty pizza!

    Mood: I am a grasshopper who is focusing.
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Hit it really hard yesterday. Tired.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Walked!
    In My Ears: Entanglement soundtrack
    Game Last Played: Dragon Age II
    Book Last Read: Amphigorey
    Movie Last Viewed: The Gift
    Latest Artistic Project: *Still* *still* *still* need to take pictures… It’s on the list!
    Latest Fiction/Comic Release: Last Man Zombie Standing
    Latest Game Release: Serenity Crew, Wedding Planners Cortex Plus, and Shooting Fish
    What I’m Working On: Primarily tie-in games work and novels. Added an online writing workshop, too!

The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey Review

The Hobbit Gandalf Avatar

I promised you a review of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, so here it is! If you followed my blog last week, you know I spent a few days training for the midnight showing at our local Sundance theater. I bought the tickets COMPLETELY by accident; my brain misplaced the p.m. with a.m. So, there was a fair bit of juggling (and caffeination) involved to ensure that I’d be awake to drive at 3:30 a.m.

The theatre was packed. The lines jammed. There were three or four showings and all were mostly full. I, along with my fellow moviegoers, were caffeinated and totally psyched for this film. Other than a few cues of inappropriate laughter during the previews, all of which were shushed by the more somber folks around them, we were set. And then? It starts. A familiar song. A comfortable character — the version of Bilbo we’ve seen in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. A familiar face. It’s Frodo as we remember him in the beginning.

Pay attention. This scene is important, for this reveals Jackson’s intent. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a true movie prequel. The film (with all its 48 fps glory) comes first, before the book. The Hobbit is reference material, but this is NOT a tried and true mirror of what happened there. The reason why this is a trilogy, is because the story will deepen and darken as time goes on.

But it doesn’t begin that way. And for some, this is why it feels anti-climactic. The events take place 60 years before Fellowship. Sauron has not regained his power — he’s not even close yet. The Nazgul? Don’t exist in the same form. This movie is where it all begins — but it can’t start with the epic journey we know is coming. It has to start somewhere. The One Ring wasn’t found intentionally. It was a freak accident.

I feel that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey emphasizes what Middle Earth was like before the shadows crept in and took over a corner of the world. This is more high fantasy, more adventure, more day-to-day/hack-and-slash, goblins and orcs and convoluted threats shaped around loss. The real story here isn’t about the One Ring, though that will likely emerge as the films continue, this is about the dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield.

I loved the story as it was presented here and feel that we’ll see more “reveals” in true prequel fashion as the trilogy progresses. This is still Middle Earth, and still the same setting responsible for the birth of other fantasy stories, games, etc. Tried and true? No, this is not a direct translation. But I’m okay with that. After all, what movie is? This is still Tolkien; and while it may be accurate (e.g. pulling material from other sources) it’s simply not precise.

I’m not sure I’ll do the midnight showing for the second film, but I’d prefer to see it on the larger screen. It’s a satisfying adventure on its own; I’m curious to see how Jackson will progress the One Ring story arc through the next two films on top of that.

    Mood: Orc Smash!
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: At the moment? None.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: SNOWPOCALYPSE SHOVELING
    In My Ears: Buffy. Yep, she’s singing.
    Game Last Played: Dragon Age: Awakenings
    Movie Last Viewed: The Hobbit
    Latest Artistic Project: Holiday gifts
    Latest Release: “The Button” We Are Dust anthology


Celtic Wheel

SQUEE! Midnight tonight I’ll be sitting in a spacious theater in my comfy sweats geeking out with a LOT of coffee and… HOBBITS!

So, let me link to two of the many paraphernalia accouterments available now this holiday season. First? Lego Hobbits. Yes, that’s right. The Hobbit. And Lord of the Rings. In Legos. (I have a set gifted to me with Gandalf and Frodo and I’m grateful for the Grey Wizard by my side.)

The second? You can wear Galadriel’s Ring. Personally, I’d love to see a set with all the rings, just because I love how much world building was involved on that level, but I feel a touch partial to this one.

And last? BUT NOT LEAST? A Latin translation of The Hobbit! I know Barnes and Noble is carrying it; you can see that alongside a ton of other journals, books, toys, etc. (Though I draw the line at the Gollum bobblehead… Because preshus is creepy enough.)

You can also find a ton of other ephemera at the Because… Well, the chess set alone is awesome.

Okay, I think I’m done geeking out now. Hee. Time for a nap before required caffeination! Wheeee!

    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: THIS IS MOAR NATURAL EXCITEMENT ZOMG!
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: The Gym.
    In My Ears: The screams of ten thousand orcs!
    Game Last Played: Dragon Age: Awakenings
    Movie Last Viewed: The Lord of the Rings trilogy
    Latest Artistic Project: In progress!
    Latest Release: “The Dig” The Lovecraft eZine Issue No. 19


I’m in training this week to stay up for the midnight showing of THE HOBBIT! WOOOOOOO! As you can tell, I’m VERY EXCITED ABOUT THIS MOVIE ZOMG!

Perhaps, that is why I’ve been singing this little ditty all week? 🙂 The cat version of this video was the best, but sadly I cannot find it. I do believe cats are hobbits. Second breakfast, brunch, late supper, snack, early dinner, breakfast…

    Mood: SQUEE!
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: THIS IS NATURAL EXCITEMENT ZOMG!
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: The Gym.
    In My Ears: They’re Taking The Hobbits To Isengard, Gard, Gard, Gard…
    Game Last Played: Dragon Age: Awakenings
    Movie Last Viewed: The Lord of the Rings trilogy
    Latest Artistic Project: In progress!
    Latest Release: “The Dig” The Lovecraft eZine Issue No. 19

Diving into Tron: Legacy

I went to see Tron: Legacy in the theatre and recently rented it, too. I mentioned earlier I picked up the soundtrack and, if I haven’t already said so, admire the depth and breadth of Jeff Bridges‘ acting abilities. (Incidentally, he’s also done quite a bit of charity work and founded the End Hunger Initiative.)

For me, a soundtrack can really make or break a film. I had issues with The Transporter because the music didn’t jive well. Sound is always what I focus on, and it’s something that really stands out to me. The sound and choreography is what made the film for me, because Tron: Legacy isn’t a movie so much as it is a performance piece.

Having played Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts: II, Tron was pretty fresh in my mind. (Each game has a story embedded within it, that allows you to play in that world.) A lot of critics mentioned that the movie focused on the special effects and the action moreso than the human part of the story. I agree to some extent, but I also feel that the attention to philosophy overshadowed the character relationships. In some ways, I would classify this as an “epic” science fiction film, much in the same way that The Matrix wound up being.

In defense of the film, I feel there was no other way this movie could have been produced because there are several challenges that had to have been addressed. First, you have the problem of revisiting cutting edge technology that was portrayed at a time when special effects weren’t as advanced as they are now. You need a reason — within the story — for the world to have evolved. I felt this was handled well, so no problem there. Second, you have the challenge of treating Kevin Flynn’s character. What did he do inside the grid for that amount of time? Did he go insane? No, he focused on meditation so he wouldn’t. In some ways, his philosophical nature is completely justified. Again, problem solved.

Where it gets more complex, is when you start adding those relationships between father and son, son and love interest, student and teacher, teacher and creation, creation and world, etc. The way those relationships are portrayed doesn’t always come down to the actor. (I should note that I felt the casting was extremely well done.) For me, the script would have been stronger if Olivia didn’t exist, but at the same time, I enjoyed having a female character in the movie and expanding the world a bit, so I can understand why that was necessary. It leaves more room for sequels and the continuation of the story.

To sum up, I agree with the critics that there was a lot of focus on the shiny. But I also think that with the advances in technology and the volume of expansive films out there, we (e.g. the audience) is getting a lot more critical. My only hope is that Disney continues to venture into the science fiction and fantasy film making territories. There’s a lot of room for exploration and growth in the genres and I enjoy some of the more recent films they made. So, despite its flaws, I liked Tron: Legacy and would definitely see it again.

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