Saturday, February 26, 2011

Day 57 of 362

...And the hits just keep on comin'...

Still not much to say at this point. We have Malifaux and Champions running at the store today. We had a max capacity turnout (36 folks) for Friday Night Magic last night, so that sort of made for a long (but fun) evening.

I've got a couple of projects to work on this week. One is putting together a small "space hulk" adventure for my Deathwatch campaign. The other concerns the editing down of the magic system for Tai'eres. While the core system is not huge or all-encompassing, what is there sort of sprawls, and it needs to be reined in and dialed back a bit. Once that is done, a re-write/re-edit can begin.

That's it for now... we have a store to run... =)

-- GopherDave

Friday, February 25, 2011

Day 56 of 362

Let's do this again, this time with about four hours of sleep and a 16+ hour day ahead of me.

The storage unit gets delivered today, and while we may not use it IMMEDIATELY, it will see use soon. Once we get the bulk of the clutter out of the way, the rearranging and improvements can begin apace.

Beyond that, not much to say. We have Friday Night Magic at the store tonight and that usually means a good night. I just hope the weather doesn't turn too many people off.

peace... GopherDave

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Day 55 of 362

This is the tie I wore at my wedding. The suit no longer fits, but this still does.

Another day, but this one I slept in a LOT. So, a late start, but an intended one to catch up on some rest that I will need for the weekend.

Not much is happening at the store tonight. One Pathfinder RPG is going on, but the Champions game that was on hiatus is looking like it will be in that status permanently. So, we have a schedule hole to fill, though we don't lack for options in that regard. There is another person wanting to run a HERO 6th/Champions game waiting in the wings. We could put Warmachine back on the schedule for every other Thursday, but that would displace a regular group of MtG players in the process. And there are a couple of other half developed options we could explore.

We'll get it locked down soon.

Until later... GopherDave

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Day 54 of 362

Another day... another day older...

It's shipment day and I'm running late, so not much today, nor much to report. That may change, but I'm seriously hoping that it doesn't.

-- GopherDave

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Day 53 of 362

Not much is going on today. Got the rim changed on the wife's car finally. It is order day at the store, so I'll be leaving to do that here shortly.

Hopefully I'll have a bit of time tonight to work on my HERO System/Champions game that runs tomorrow. These guys need a good old-fashioned fight, so I need to work on thugs to give it to them.

The P.O.D.S. unit is supposed to be at the store on Friday, thus the first step of store improvement will be taken.

As for tonight, we have Casual Magic: the Gathering going on as well as a DC Universe RPG starting up. I will say this, if our Casual M:tG night doesn't start picking up, I will can it. Right now we have as many regular Yu-gi-oh players as M:tG players showing up, which isn't many.

We have zero interest in supporting Yu-gi-oh. The singles market for it is more erratic (and less profitable overall) than Magic. The sets come out rather quickly, and they don't seem to be tested at all. Finally, after talking with a number of store owners who do carry the product, I'm finding that eighty percent of their shoplifting issues stem from their Yu-gi-oh crowds. I really don't want to get into the habit of calling the cops to bust eight to twelve year-old kids. It would be a serious bummer. Basically the Yu-gi-oh scene is where the M:tG scene was at its age. Theft is commonplace and the scene hasn't had the needed time to mature. In a few years, we'll look at it again, if the game is still around.

That's it for now... Until later...

-- GopherDave

Monday, February 21, 2011

Old Work In Progress

This is the northwest section of a ginormous map I had started working on for Tai'eres. I have most of the physical features of the land in my notes and have electronically sketched out he major features in three of four sections.

Rules wise, I am having trouble finding some of earliest work with the system and setting. I have the files somewhere, and I should have hard copy of at least some of it. Trouble is, trying to find where I've put it since there was a house move in between when I put the stuff away and when I am now looking for it.

I've run two campaigns with the setting, with major changes to the rules in between them. Looking back, there were a lot of things I liked about the the earlier rule set better than the revision. There are still some warts with it, but I think I've figured out ways around them.

If I can find an earlier electronic file of the rules, then that will save me from having to recreate the version from memory, which I'm not entirely certain I could do. I am getting older, after all...

I do believe that this will be my project du jour for the moment. I enjoyed my time with Tai'eres. More than I originally thought apparently, since I keep going back to it in my mind.

-- GopherDave

Day 52 of 362

...and I keep chuggin' along...

Another day, and another part of the routine with a few kinks. The wife's car is still on the donut. That should be fixed tomorrow, but it does mean she needs a ride to and from work (30 miles away) today. I have the ability to get her there, but by the time she is off, the store will have been open two hours. Thus, we have a good friend picking her up (Thanks, HighSign!).

Beyond that, store improvement plans proceed at an iceberg pace, but they are proceeding. We are calling for the portable storage unit today, and, if it all goes to plan, it will be behind the store on Thursday. Then we get to start moving stuff into it. Then we clean out the office and move more stuff into it... and so on... and so on... and so on.

Until later -- GopherDave


(This one is, in part, for Jill, who gave me some confidence as a music reviewer when she asked my to write some album reviews for her short-lived ’zine. She liked what I had to say, but hated my overuse of ellipses. Well, Jill… As you can see, I still like ellipses, but have curtailed my use of them significantly.)

            Okay, this one is going to be a bit difficult for me. I almost reviewed this disc last week, but chickened out. Why? Simple. For a long time, I was a huge raving fan boy for Faith No More. They are still one of my all time favorite bands, and I wasn’t entirely certain I could review them objectively or not. After thinking about it for the last seven days or so, I concluded that I could now listen to this album with a mostly objective ear. So, here goes…

            Angel Dust is Faith No More’s fourth studio album (third major label), and their second with vocal wunderkind Mike Patton. I began listening to this band with Introduce Yourself, which boasted vocals from previous singer, Chuck Mosely. Now, I absolutely LOVED Introduce Yourself, and played it for whoever would listen. It was the sound of a fresh, young, and exciting band; a fresh, young, exciting band with a singer who couldn’t carry a tune in a sealed bucket. Don’t get me wrong, I still loved the record despite Chuck’s bleating with attitude, but it made it difficult for me to get others to hear what I heard in the band.

            Well, as things go, Faith No More ended up kicking Chuck out of the band. Not for sucking as a vocalist, though. Nope. Chuck got himself kicked out for doing things like falling asleep… on stage… during concerts… Yeah, I wouldn’t want you in same band as I am either if you did that to me. Bye, Chuck!

            When it came down to the next record, it seems the remaining members of the band pretty much had it written and recorded while they looked for a vocalist. Thanks to a demo tape heard by one of the band, they found Mike Patton, who wrote and recorded the lyrics for mega-blockbuster The Real Thing in about two weeks.

            All of that leads us to Angel Dust. Angel Dust was the first record that Patton was really involved in writing with the band, and it was here that he began to help direct the band to a sound so cutting edge that they were way ahead of most of us in terms of what popular music could be. Faith No More were now so far ahead of that curve, many of us could barely keep up. I tried though, and I’ve been rewarded handsomely for it.

            See, the Real Thing clicked with music audiences about a year after it was released, but it did click, and in a big way, eventually going platinum in that time span. The songs on the Real Thing were accessible, with an edge that just made them, and by extent the album, the cool thing of the moment. When a band that has struggled finally has that kind of success, they are faced with two options; either give the audience (and their record label) more of the same in hopes of continuing that success, or tell the record company to kiss off. Faith No More chose option number two. In fact, when Slash Records balked at releasing a record called Angel Dust, the band responded with the alternate title of Crack Hitler. Angel Dust it was…

            So what do we get with Angel Dust? Honestly, we get a record that is not nearly as radio-friendly and accessible as the previous album, and that’s a good thing. From the opener, “Land of Sunshine”, to the ending cover of the Midnight Cowboy theme, Faith No More challenges you to open your mind and your ears and peer deep into the psychological sewer that’s a part of many of us. Plus, along the way, we’ll make a couple of side trips into the absurd.

            Now, I’m certain a track-by-track analysis will not do this record justice. It’s better than that. However, I will touch on some highlights.

            The opening song, “Land of Sunshine”, lets you know right away that Angel Dust is a far different beast than its predecessor. It starts off pretty normal, then the vocals and lyrics kick in, and you’re taken from what at first seems to be an uplifting message on toward a wall of dripping sarcasm and laughter. It takes a bit to get the joke, but “Sunshine” is a scathing swipe at how most of us view our golden years, reducing it to what they’ll really be… untold years of being zombified by late-night infomercials until our brains turn to goo and we die. Happy, ain’t it?

            The third track of the record is “MidLife Crisis”, which has to be one of the most head stumping lead singles ever put out by a major label. Mike “Puffy” Bordin’s drum starts off with a slow, staccato polyrhythm that forms the spine of the song. The rest of the band join in, and things are kicking along just nicely. Mr. Patton’s vocals also fit into the song rather smoothly. It’s when you listen to what he is saying that things get interesting…

Go on and wring my neck
Like when a rag gets wet
A little discipline
For my pet genius
My head is like lettuce
Go on dig your thumbs in
I cannot stop giving
I’m thirty-something

Sense of security
Like pockets jingling
Midlife crisis…
Suck Ingenuity
Down through the family tree

You’re perfect yes it’s true
But without me you’re only you
Your menstruating heart
It ain’t bleedin’ enough for two

            Sounds like a bowl full of cherries, doesn’t it?

            Later, we get “Malpractice”, a piece of damaged art-metal driven by a military rhythm and a vocal performance teetering on the wrong side of insane…

The crowd roars
It’s deep and so unhealthy
The rest you know
I’ll feel the hands that felt me
Cold hands
Your hands
Cover my mouth
While I’m staring into bright lights


The crowd roars
The bloody hands are groping
The rest you know
Ten lovers violating
Reach back inside
Knuckle white
Ruffle white
The crowd roars
They ruined and repaired me
The rest you know
The hands removed the bad thing


            Now, with the examples I’ve given, you may be asking “Why is this album so good?” From what I’ve let go thus far, it’s a fair question.

            First, musically, the album is tight and varied. Each note, even the seemingly random ones, is perfectly placed, and played by a band who put poured their souls into art. You can HEAR the integrity in this record, and it’s that integrity that elevates Angel Dust onto a lofty pedestal, and makes even its disturbing moments good.

            So what about non-disturbing moments? Well, there aren’t a lot of them on this record, but there is beauty to be had, as witnessed by “A Small Victory”. It was the second single and is easily the best song on the record. “RV” and “Kindergarten” are character portraits unto themselves. “RV” puts you in the trailer with its drunken, loser protagonist, and makes you wonder if everyone has a chance to turn out like that. “Kindergarten” revisits the theme of childhood and how you can’t go back to the safety and security of that time in your life, even if you desperately want or need to.

            I know that those are scant reasons in the positive column, but just trust me. Go and listen to this record. Listen to it multiple times (at least four), and you will realize I’m not just talking out of my backside.

            THAT’S when you’ll realize just how good Angel Dust is. You will get it and you will like it, but you won’t be able to fully articulate WHY you like it. You’ll just know that you do.

GopherDave Grade: 9.3/10

Track Listing

01. Land of Sunshine
02. Caffeine
03. MidLife Crisis
04. RV
05. Smaller and Smaller
06. Everything’s Ruined
07. Malpractice
08. Kindergarten
09. Be Aggressive
10. A Small Victory
11. Crack Hitler
12. Jizzlobber
13. Cowboy

Lyrics Copyright © 1992 Big Thrilling Music/Vomit God Music ASCAP. Used without permission, but with no intention of infringement.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Day 51 of 362

Auspicious start to the day thus far. I thought I had left the camera at the store, so I screwed around a home a bit before coming to get it, only to find that I had left it in the car overnight. *Sigh*

Not enough time to take a picture at home, so I might as well have left the camera at the store.

Beyond that, we have Pathfinder in the back of the store and D&D4E and Mosnsterpocalypse happening in the front. I'm not involved in ANY of those, so I can catch up on some work for the store and for some games.

Depending on what is going on at home tonight, I might work on some other game/blog related stuff.

-- GopherDave