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Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Stranger Rolled In

After playing Betrayal at the House on the Hill last night I started to think about other genres that could be adapted to the build-the-board-as-you-play mechanic. The western genre is rich with possibilities for this sort of game.

Let's call the game A Stranger Rolled In. The general object of the game: as one of 2-8 Strangers, each with different backgrounds, motivations and skills, roll into a small frontier town and complete one of half a dozen or so missions: collect a bounty, free a prisoner, win a gunfight, find a spouse, recover your horse, find a sidekick, win a convert, claim your inheritance to a gold and/or silver mine, establish a saloon, start a homestead, build a school. Further goals can be cribbed from watching westerns.

Players take on one of, say, eight western archetypes: the Lone Gunslinger, the Grizzled Sheriff, the Naive Deputy, the Plucky Homesteader, the Frontier Teacher, the Kid, the Preacher, the Soldier (Union or Confederate), with additional archetypes to be rolled out in the inevitable expansion sets. Player goals would broadly match these archetypes; the Lone Gunslinger, for example, would obviously be able to choose a gunfight or bounty hunting mission, but possibly also find a spouse or claim your inheritance. The Preacher would want to win converts, but he or she could also want to find a sidekick or free a prisoner. And so on.

Each character would have certain skills:

Shootin'. For gunfights and shootouts.
Fightin'. For the inevitable saloon brawl.
Yammerin.' For diplomacy and wheeling and dealing.
Ridin.' For driving horses or stagecoaches.
Sneakin'. For stealth.

And they'd also have attributes:

Stones. For courage under fire.
Smarts. For book learnin' and general cunning.
Stamina. For health, i.e. your character's hit points.
Presence. Your character's personal charisma and attractiveness.

The town would be composed of, say, fifty tiles, and might include:

Road into Town
Town Square
Railway Station
General Store
Post Office
Dentist Office
Farm Houses
Miner's Shack
Town Hall
Water Tower
Dry Goods Store
Boot Hill

The various tiles would be populated by townspeople, represented by a stack of cards called Townsfolk. This deck would consist of 100 cards, each representing a resident of the town. Players will have to interact with Townsfolk to meet their game goals.

Many tiles will contain supplies, which can be purchased, bartered for, or stolen, depending on the player. These supplies will help the characters meet their goals. They might be better guns, faster horses, books, fancy clothes, etc.

Certain circumstances will trigger events, which are gathered in the Plot deck of cards. When two player characters wind up in the same room, for example, a Plot card would be drawn. A sample card might read "This Town Ain't Big Enough for the Both of Us," which would trigger a conflict - perhaps a gunfight or a duel of insults. Plots could also be triggered by revealing certain tiles.

I haven't considered all of the game elements with enough rigour to actually design it, of course - figuring out the victory conditions in particular requires more thought. And I can't decide if only one player should be able to win, making it necessary and part of the game to sabotage other players, or if it should be possible to have more than one winner, as sometimes happens in the western films this game attempts to simulate (much like "Last Night on Earth" simulates zombie movies).

Anyway, I'll keep thinking about it. Maybe I'll launch a Kickstarter.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Betrayal at House on the Hill

Mike, Sean and Jeff came over to try out three new board games: Archer, Legendary, and Betrayal at House on the Hill (above). Of the three I'd say Archer, while amusing, has the simplest game mechanic and the lowest replay value, but it's a quick diversion and supports up to eight players, making it a good nominee for Gaming & Guinness. Each player takes on the role of one of the ISIS agents from the animated series; the object of the game is to get the upper hand on your fellow employees. Booze and sex challenges test your mettle, and hurling insults at other characters is crucial to gaining upper hand points. I think this game might be more engaging with a full complement of eight players for maximum snark and chaos. 

My favourite of the night was Betrayal at House on the Hill, which uses the build-the-game-board-as-you-play mechanic I've enjoyed since discovering Zombies!!! many years ago. Players take the role of one of several pre-generated characters, each with an alter ego, which is important because at some point during the game one player is revealed as a murderous traitor. The goal is to survive your exploration of a haunted house (or, if you're the traitor, to ensure the others don't live through the night. It's a very atmospheric game, with trap doors, mysterious noises, ghosts, secret rooms - all the essential elements of a good haunted house story. 

I also enjoyed Legendary, a so-called "deck building" game set in the Marvel comics universe. We almost gave up on this game because its hundreds of cards came packed in no logical order, requiring us to spend about an hour on setup and learning the rules. However, once we figured out the mechanic, the game flowed quite smoothly. There's quite a bit of strategy involved in building a solid hand of heroes to face the menace of the various masterminds plotting to rule the world, and the game is quite fast-paced. Plus it's fun to imagine sending Spider-Man and some hapless SHIELD troopers in together to fight a Super-Skrull or a legion of HYDRA agents, particularly when innocent bystanders are at risk. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Deliciously Devilish

My screensaver rolls through images from my "My Pictures" folder, and today I came home to this picture of Sylvia in Timmins in 2011. Oooooo!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Cyborg Quartet

Thanks to the wonderful world of online shopping, I now possess all four of Martin Caidin's Cyborg novels: Cyborg, Operation Nuke, High Crystal and the imaginatively-titled Cyborg IV, which is also #6 in the Six Million Dollar Man series of novels. Say what?? Yes, it's confusing, but at the same time Caidin was writing his Cyborg novels, other authors were penning adaptations of the television show adapted from the original book. The non-Caidin titles were cycled in with the canonical Caidin works, which is why you have the odd situation above. 

In any event, I've already read the first three and I'm looking forward to Cyborg IV, definitely the most elusive and expensive of these long-out-of-print pulp confections. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Scenes from an Unfinished Novel

August accepted the proffered debit keypad through the window and started tapping out his PIN, speaking the numbers out loud: "8...3....2...8...0," he said, while at the same moment Duggan was twitching with exasperation, beating his fists into his knees.

"August! Shee-sus - you don't - you can't - you've gotta stop doing that! You're gonna get ripped off!"

"Doing what?" August said, distracted by the bag of take-out being shoved into his face by a sullen minimum-wage slave. He drove forward with one hand on the steering wheel, the other tossing their dinner into Duggan's lap. Hot grease seared Duggan's bare thighs, and he hissed with renewed irritation.

*  *  *

Once seated, Carl slipped the agreed-upon propeller beanie onto his head as Marilyn giggled. He flicked it experimentally, and the propeller twirled lazily.

"Not until we start moving!" Marilyn admonished.

"Right, right."

They paid scant attention as the flight attendants dutifully explained the safety features of their aircraft. Light rain spotted the tarmac as the airport slid slowly by the window, until at last the engines rumbled in earnest. Carl started to spin his propeller beanie as if it were the motive force, flicking it faster and faster as the plane picked up speed. Marilyn giggled as the man in the aisle seat glanced over, barely raising an eyebrow.

It was only a twenty minute flight, and Carl had bet that he could keep it up the entire flight. But then they hit a patch of turbulence, and Carl, like everyone else, dropped what he was doing and clung to the armrests for dear life as the plane suddenly dropped thousands of feet, then lurched upward again like a mad carnival ride. It went on for several minutes, and every square inch of flesh in the cabin began to run clammy with cold sweat.

Carl recognized the opportunity he'd been waiting for. Marilyn looked up, shaking her head in mute approbation: DON'T, her eyes said in big capital letters.

But he couldn't help himself. As the plane dove earthward once more, negative gravities pulling everyone several inches free of their seats, Carl flung his arms toward the deadly skies and shouted:


Despite her terror, Marilyn doubled over laughing. "OH NO," she thought as she lost control of her bladder, soaking her seat, and within seconds, the cabin floor. Tears spilled from her eyes as she struggled to control herself, face turning purple. Carl, too, began to laugh, first to recognize his new bride's predicament, clutching his belly uproariously as the plane levelled off.

And then - disaster.

*   *   *

Edsel Naes, master of Thai Kwon Don't, knew he faced a deadly foe. The shotgun-wielding maniac was green - not green as in inexperienced, but green. His hair was green. His clothing was green. His skin was green. It was like fighting, Naes thought, a board game token.

Green Shotgun bellowed a queer falsetto challenge, raising his shotgun over his head in one fist, brandishing it in the Campbellian manner. "THIS IS MY - "

But he never finished, for Naes, taking advantage of the presence of a nearby ice cream stand, nabbed a fresh pistachio cone from an astonished meat inspector and jammed the cone, cream-first, into Green Shotgun's open mouth.

The villain's scream was a little death. It was an instant ice cream headache of such shocking suddenness that the man's teeth-nerves froze within his suddenly-brittle incisors. His green teeth turned white with cold as he recoiled, dropping his shotgun, spitting out the delicious but deadly confection.

"Now do you scream for ice cream?" taunted Naes before punching his foe in the forehead, his NAES rings leaving the distinctive, bloody SEAN imprint that was his grotesque calling card. "Now that's what I call an ice cream headache!"

*   *   *

"You really think I can sell this?" my agent said.

"Surely you've seen worse..?" I ventured with a sheepish grin.

The manuscript pages fluttered to earth, tossed from a tenth-floor window. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Acceptable Spider-Man 2

A couple of years ago I nearly fell asleep watching The Amazing Spider-Man. Considering my disappointment with that film and this year's inexplicable critical hit Guardians of the Galaxy, I went into The Amazing Spider-Man 2 this weekend with very low expectations. And I found myself pleasantly surprised. Despite numerous flaws, this sequel has the one factor that allows me to forgive a multitude of sins: it's sincere, and its heart is in the right place.

As the film opens, Peter Parker and his girlfriend Gwen Stacy are about to graduate from high school. Gwen delivers a rousing valedictory speech, but Peter, off fighting crime as Spider-Man, misses it, though he does manage to get to the graduation ceremony just in time to snatch his diploma.

Unfortunately for their relationship, Peter is still haunted by the death of Gwen's father, killed in the first film and appearing here as a spectre of Peter's tortured soul, urging him to protect Gwen by breaking up with her...and he does, reluctantly, for a time.

Meanwhile the film's pair of villains, Electro and the Green Goblin, spend some time building their flimsy backstories and their reasons for hating Spider-Man. Their hackneyed motivations really drag the film down, but Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone (Peter and Gwen) rescue the proceedings with their consistent kindness and humanity. Spider-Man is actually seen rescuing innocent bystanders on several occasions, and even attempts to negotiate with villains before resorting to violence - the sort of thing I was hoping to see in Man of Steel. He's also a great mentor for a bullied kid. This is the reason why super-hero stories have resonated for nearly 90 years, and it's a shame that more super-hero films screw up this very simple formula.

The Peter/Gwen romance is central to this story, and it's surprisingly warm and poignant - I found it a completely believable teenage relationship, despite the fantasy elements. And the film's climax actually does a good job of encapsulating, summarizing and bringing closure to the movie's central themes without it seeming too obvious.

While by no means a great film, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 deserves credit for its warmth, humanity, performances (villains aside) and some convincing action set-pieces.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Rodent, Run

Faster than a speeding bullet? No, but faster than my shutter speed or reflexes could handle. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Project Burger Baron: High Park

The Burger Baron north of Edmonton's High Park district (specifically 152 street and 111 avenue) claims to produce the best mushroom burgers in town - but I hate mushrooms, so today I sampled the Gourmet Burger, which features ham, bacon, lettuce, tomato, cheese and "our special red sauce." It's not a bad burger at all, but I'd still rather visit the Leduc Burger Baron thanks to the quality of that location's hand-cut fries. The fries here are of the "I suspect these are just the frozen fries you get at Safeway" variety - blech.

Not long ago this location used to claim they made "authentic Halifax donairs," but I didn't see the sign this time and it seems as though ownership may have changed recently - a common phenomenon for this quirky pseudo-chain. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Window Shopping for Books

This is just another experiment in layers. Nothing groundbreaking, just another step on the learning curve. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Cube Head

It's still better than my passport photo. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Oregon Fail

A couple of friends have noted that I didn't write much about our trip to Portland, Oregon. While I enjoyed the trip, it went by so quickly that I found myself lacking a combination of time and inclination to take many photographs, something I already regret. But the truth is with our time in Portland so limited, and with the weather so hot and muggy, I found myself extremely disinclined to lug around my digital SLR. In fact, on this trip I took nearly as many photos with my cell phone as with my real camera.

There's also something to be said for just leaving some things to memory instead of trying to document every single important moment...and then missing them anyway, hidden behind your viewfinder. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Dial H for Hitchcock

Assuming my memory is accurate (always dangerous), The Birds was the first Alfred Hitchcock film I ever watched, as part of a communications course in Grade 10 at Leduc Composite High School. I wrote a well-received essay about it, which might still be in a box somewhere.

Since then I've been an ardent admirer of Hitchcock, certainly an uncontroversial stance - the British auteur is widely regarded as one of the very greatest directors. And yet, despite the intervening decades, I've only managed to watch about half of the roughly 50 films (unfinished and lost films mess up the count a bit) in Hitchcock's oeuvre.

Here's the list, in the order released. I've marked the movies I've seen in bold.

The Pleasure Garden (1925)
The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927)
The Ring (1927)
Downhill (1927)
The Farmer’s Wife (1928)
Easy Virtue (1928)
Champagne (1928)
The Manxman (1929)

Blackmail (1929)
Juno and the Paycock (1929)
Murder! (1930)
The Skin Game (1931)
Rich and Strange (1931)
Number Seventeen (1932)
Waltzes from Vienna (1933)
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)
The 39 Steps (1935)
Secret Agent (1936)
Sabotage (1936)
Young and Innocent (1937)
The Lady Vanishes (1938)
Jamaica Inn (1939)
Rebecca (1940)
Foreign Correspondent (1940)
Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941)
Suspicion (1941)
Saboteur (1942)
Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
Lifeboat (1944)
Spellbound (1945)
Notorious (1946)
The Paradine Case (1947)
Rope (1948)
Under Capricorn (1949)
Stage Fright (1950)
Strangers on a Train (1951)
I Confess (1953)
Dial M for Murder (1954)
Rear Window (1954)
To Catch a Thief (1955)
The Trouble with Harry (1955)
The Wrong Man (1956)
Vertigo (1958)
North by Northwest (1959)
Psycho (1960)
The Birds (1963)
Marnie (1964)
Torn Curtain (1966)
Topaz (1969)

Family Plot (1976)

That's 27 out of 50 films, or 54 percent. I have the 1934 version of The Man Who Knew Too Much, I Confess and The Wrong Man on Blu-Ray or DVD; of the films that remain, I'm not even sure how many have been released. I have a feeling Under Capricorn and The Paradine Case, at least, have been released at one time or another. I may have to rely on Turner Classic Movies or (cough) certain other means to view the rest. 

My favourites? Again, my choices are pretty uncontroversial: Psycho, Vertigo, Rear Window, North by Northwest, Strangers on a Train, Shadow of a Doubt, Notorious. The closest Hitchcock came to making a bad film, at least among those I've seen, might be the relatively weak Topaz - but even it has its merits. It just stands in the shadows of the dozen or so masterpieces to Hitchcock's name. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Oregon Stump

Earlier this month Sylvia and I drove to Portland, Oregon. Along the way I shot this photo of a stump in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. It feels sad and comforting at the same time. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Logan's Books

I first read Logan's Run in Leaf Rapids, perhaps the very movie tie-in edition pictured above. It would have been a loan from the public library, and though I haven't read the novel since, its chilling dystopian imagery of a murderous youth-centric computer-controlled world stuck with me. I didn't know William F. Nolan had written sequels until decades after reading the first book, and by that time all three novels were long out of print.

But thanks to the miracle of the Internet and, now all three are in my hands. Good thing, too - the crystal in my palm hasn't started blinking red yet, but no one lives forever...

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Wit and the Pendulum

Stupendous pendulum
Gravity tugging earthward with each arc
Blade singing in anticipation
Thirsting for life

A clown in wait
His painted countenance giddy with false mirth
The reaper's metronome ticking out his last minutes

What jape or gambol could arrest the blade's insensible wrath?

"Hey! I'm not even tied up," said the clown, and walked away on honking red shoes

Friday, August 15, 2014

See Me, Heel Me

I've been trying to get some exercise this week by taking long walks at lunch, but it appears to have backfired on me as I now can't put any weight on my right foot, particularly the heel. But late this afternoon I remember that this has happened to me once before, back when I was working at Hole's. At the time the doctor said I'd been doing too much walking on hard, flat surfaces - i.e. sidewalks and concrete. It wound up taking six weeks of physiotherapy to fix, mainly dipping my foot into alternating hot and icy cold water. Not much fun. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Colour Earlple

For years I've been lying to myself, claiming that blue is my favourite colour. It's not. It's purple. It's been purple for years, and now I can finally admit it. I have at last emerged from my purple haze! 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

UFO: 2099

Whether they'll ever be made remains to be seen, but I'm nonetheless excited by the prospect of new UFO movies and a new space opera television show, Space: 2099, based on Gerry Anderson's original 1970s creations UFO and Space: 1999. UFO was a well-made, well-acted, suspenseful slice of space opera action, while Space:1999 boasted absolutely amazing production design (hampered by leaden direction, acting and screenplays and a ludicrous premise).

I would prefer it, however, if the creators somehow found a way to merge the two concepts, as was originally intended. What became Space: 1999 was originally intended to be UFO's second season. So what if you combined all the best elements of UFO - the suspense, the SHADO organization, the creepy aliens and compelling stories - with Space: 1999's superb production design? You'd have UFO: 2099, in which SHADO commander Straker and his cool, competent Earth-based team would work together (and often butt heads) with Commander Koenig and his assemblage of maniacs on Moonbase Alpha, defending humanity from invasion. (This time, the Moon would remain in Earth orbit, so perhaps the Alpha characterizations wouldn't be as nutty.)

The two concepts work together seamlessly - probably because one concept originally grew from the other. Retain the conceit that SHADO is fighting a secret war with the aliens, all knowledge of extraterrestrials hidden from the public, and you have an interesting recipe for tense, paranoiac SF, with stunning visuals. Good scripts would illustrate some of the more important issues of our time - secrecy, surveillance, terrorism, torture (if you capture an alien, is it immoral to waterboard it for information? It's not human, after all), and perhaps even climate change and responsible resource development if the cover story for the moonbase is harvesting Helium-3 for Earth, for example.

Man, I should write a series bible.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Seven Year Riches

Seven years ago today Sylvia and I walked down the metaphorical aisle together. Words fail me when it comes to expressing how much Sylvia's brought into my life; all I can say is I'm grateful and I love her dearly. Here's to the next 7000 years together! 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Caught Off Guardian

Guardians of the Galaxy is Marvel's latest box office triumph, and most critics have responded extremely favourably to James Gunn's fast-paced tale of swashbuckling adventure across the stars. I went to the theatre today with high expectations, expecting to love yet another film in Marvel's unbroken string of fun, well-crafted action movies.

To my extreme surprise, I found myself both bored and annoyed by the film. It's loud, predictable and takes absolutely no risks, common wisdom to the contrary. And unless you're already familiar with the back story of the film's cast of characters, you won't care one whit what happens to them.


The film opens in a hospital on Earth in the late 1980s. Young Peter Quill sits in a hallway, listening to "Awesome Mix Vol. 1" on his Walkman until his grandfather urgently ushers him into the room where his mother lay dying. Tears are shed, and Peter can't bring himself to take his mother's hand - he's too scared. She dies without feeling her son's touch one last time, but not before handing him a present.

(You get zero points for guessing that the present will be revealed as "Awesome Mix Vol. 2" sometime during the last ten minutes of the film. It couldn't be telegraphed more clearly even if the box had "EMOTIONAL CLOSURE" written all over it.)

You would think that any scene involving a child facing his mother's death would be inherently poignant, but I found myself completely unmoved. The first time we see Ms. Quill, she's bedridden, emaciated and she's lost all of her hair. She says motherly things to Peter, and he's naturally upset. But we don't know anything about this woman. She may have been a saint; she may have been a monster. She may have been the best mother in the world or just someone trying to do her best. The audience isn't given a single character beat to cling to. We're expected to care about this moment because hey, a mom is dying. In the real world of course we'd care, but in a story the creator must create reasons for us to get involved in the story. The film's writers and director fail the most basic storytelling rule: show, don't tell. They're telling us we should care without showing us.

Seconds after Ms. Quill dies, Peter runs into the darkness outside the hospital and is promptly abducted by aliens. A couple of decades later, grown-up Peter has become an intergalactic Indiana Jones, scrounging up artifacts and selling them for cash (or "units"). Of course he winds up with the movie's MacGuffin, one of the Infinity Stones, a gem of tremendous power capable of snuffing out worlds. Peter meets cute with the rest of the cast - a green-skinned assassin, a strongman, a talking raccoon and a walking tree. On paper this should be awesome, and to be fair Rocket Raccoon and Drax (the strongman) have some funny moments, but the characters spend most of the time shouting at each other and at the villains, who naturally shout back. They get thrown into prison, where they become reluctant allies; the escape is one of the film's many action setpieces, all of which are laden with so many explosions, fistfights, knife fights and karate that it becomes impossible to care about the consequences. You just accept that the characters live in an incredibly violent universe where this is normal.

Just as in The Avengers, a planet is invaded by aliens and starships crash into cities, killing untold numbers of mostly faceless innocents - although at least in this film there are two, perhaps three token shots of said innocents reacting to the chaos around them, which is more than we got in Man of Steel or Star Trek Into Darkness. If I could put an end to one Hollywood trend today, this is the one I'd pick; I don't need to see cities destroyed in every action film I see. The casualties become meaningless.

After first being defeated by the film's primary villain, Ronan the Accuser (a genocidal maniac who for reasons barely touched upon wants to kill an entire civilization his people were once at war with), the Guardians come together to seize the Infinity Stone from Ronan's grasp and overcome him with the literal and metaphorical power of friendship.

I was stunned when the climax involved Peter finding enough courage to reach out and take a woman's hand, neatly dovetailing the film's opening. Not stunned because I was moved, but stunned that the film's creators believe audiences need their hands held in such a patronizing manner.

It's not all bad. The actors do their best with the material they're given, although I wish they'd shouted less, and Benecio del Toro and Glenn Close are completely wasted. I admire the production design, particularly the star-shaped fighters of the Nova Corps and the main battleship of the antagonists.

My opinion is way out of step with those of not only professional critics, but friends whose tastes I respect. So I'm very surprised that I left the theatre this afternoon feeling if not insulted than at least profoundly underwhelmed. I feel this is easily the worst of Disney's Marvel movies, a misstep I hope is just a one-time anomaly. 

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Niki and Monica

Congratulations to my old Alberta Liberal Caucus friend Niki Atwal, who married the lovely Monica Zenari today in Edmonton! 

Friday, August 08, 2014

Double Trouble

Fun with the iPad at Sylvia's parents' place last night. 

Thursday, August 07, 2014

The Mystery of the Well-Hung Hose

When we returned home tonight Sylvia thanked me for sweeping out the garage. "Oh, and look how nicely you hung the hose," she added, assuming I'd also used it.

I hadn't, but I instinctively looked over and was stunned to see that the hose was hung very nicely indeed - and that meant I couldn't possibly have been the one to hang it, for I fight with hoses as though they were recalcitrant cobras being stuffed back into their fakir baskets.

Perhaps Sylvia's father did it? No. My father? No. Sylvia? No...she can't even reach the lowest dangling portion of the hose (I exaggerate only slightly).

Perhaps we have a Guardian Angel of Hose-Hanging. Well, I'm not opposed to supernatural help if it'll keep the garage neat. 

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Good Grief, Goodreads

On a whim I decided to finally give goodreads a try, and I'm finding it dangerously addictive - as well as illuminating. While there's no way I'm ever going to remember every book I've ever read, tonight's cursory attempt to start cataloguing the books I've devoured over the years reveals a startling pile of literature. I guess that's what happens when reading is your number one pastime.

It's also a great way to discover new books. Feel free to friend me

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Goofy Gr8-tracks

Simple pleasures like
Orange Crush in a glass bottle
And solitude
The patience required for mail
Movies that took their time
And 8-tracks that -

Wait, okay, 8-tracks sucked
Low fidelity user-unfriendly tapes broke and then you had
A useless plastic case and a bunch of unravelling brown rope
Cram it all into the car's ash tray and look disgustedly through the frost shields

Can't wait for the goddam Internet and mp3s

Too bad about the glass bottles though

Saturday, August 02, 2014

eromitlaB toN

Powell's City of Books in Portland, Oregon, bills itself as the world's largest independent book store. While I can't verify the truth of that claim, it's certainly the biggest book store I've ever visited, and I walked out with a heavy bag of books for only $120 or so. Not a bad haul. 

This post's cryptic title is a clunky allusion to a long-ago episode of Homicide: Life on the Street in which a character writes "eromitlab" in blood. That's "Baltimore" spelled backwards. 

Friday, August 01, 2014


For the August long weekend Sylvia and I drove to Portland, Oregon, via the Columbia River Gorge. It's a spectacular drive!