A few reviews coming!

Happy Trilobite

So a bit ago I bought into the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality for a few bucks, it goes to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Community Bail Fund split 50/50 and looked like it had some interesting games I would not mind checking out.

Then it was suddenly 1741 games and counting… It is a mix of tabletop games, video games, game creation tools, and who knows what else! For the $10 I gave ($5 minimum) I already have spotted three tabletop games I backed on Kickstarter for between $10 and $40 each. There is a tremendous value in here, but 1741! This is going to be a project to just look through and decide which ones I have time to even look at!

To motivate myself I am going to review them. This might take a while and I am not likely to get to all of them. It’s possible they might add more games faster than I can get through the list! But what the hell, let’s see how many I can do!

It’s been a bit and what’s to come.

So the world has become a strange place, a surreal black comedy remix of Orwell-Huxley dystopia. We have made a smoothie out of every science fiction and cyberpunk fever dream we could pry off the page, scrape from strips of celluloid, or parse from the digital stream then drank deep of the sour-sweet sludge that oozed from the pour spout. We were offered four free boosters with each additional booster after that adding a dollar to the cost… and we replied “What the hell, put them all in there, do you still have murder hornets?”

It’s been rough, and despite our semi-united territories seemingly deciding that everything is OK if we pretend it’s OK… It’s probably going to get rougher.

But anyway… I’m sick of my creativity and drive being paralyzed by existential dread. Time to make some things happen. I have a couple things in motion, building a little momentum. A few creative projects (one secret) to get going with. So in the days to come I’ll talk about some of them here, and maybe show a few things off as they develop.

Except the secret project. I’m going to be real obtuse about that for a while.

Random Fact about Will 004

I do not like Hemmingway… I am not fond of much of what he wrote. I feel his characters are at best two dimensional and his macho bullshit bores the everloving fuck out of me.

I do enjoy a Mojito though, so I have to give him credit for liking a pleasant beverage.

I’m not much of a fan of Mark Twain either.

Stenbeck though… whew… good fucking stuff!

This is fine, this is all fine…

So this morning I heard back from my mechanic. My scooter is at this time, effectively an extremely large and unwieldy paperweight with a cost to repair being pretty much equal to the cost of a used one and about half of a new one. Currently neither of those options is even remotely plausible. I am still trying to figure out what this fully means.

Since my move to the American Midwest most things in my life have been a fairly steady spiral into some vast and entropic soup of despair… This is not to say that there have not been bright points. There have been those and also short moments when I was able to get my head out of the muck long enough to draw a gasping breath and maybe catch a glimpse of sky before being drawn back into the green-grey slime. But they are more punctuation than meat.

Ok, that metaphor might have gotten away from me…

In any case one of the brightest moments and the source of much of my joy was having this scooter and the ability to move freely under my own aegis. I am eternally grateful to everyone who helped me acquire it, it has been the bedrock of my remaining sanity. I keep being told that three years is pretty good for how much hard use I have put the scooter to. Year round riding in the rain, the snow, salted roads, and nasty humid summers are not great for machines. But I had really hoped for longer.

It’s just an object, but it is also a pretty big symbol of what independence, freedom, and happiness I have at the moment, and I am not having a very good day.

On the other hand I will be moving back to California in sevenish weeks… so there is always balance.

Wordspew 2 NaNoWriMo 2017

Sitting at home with my cats. Here is another one.

4

Maxwell held up his sword, His Sword, and grinned as he studied it for the hundredth time. Four and a half feet of steel worked by the keeps master blacksmiths, its grip wrapped tightly and neatly with new leather, and the edge wicked sharp after hours of careful honing. He held it up to the light and peered down the clean straight edge, carefully testing it with the pad of his thumb. This sword was worth more coin than his entire family would see in a decade, and it was his. The blade slid back into its plain wood and leather sheath with a soft click. He stood up and adjusted his belt again. The sword hung differently than the wooden practice blade he had been using for the last two weeks, and he was not at all used to the weight of the chain armor hanging over his body. He took a few steps and adjusted again so the sword hung comfortably on his hip without repeatedly slapping into his thigh.

“Ranks!” The voice of Sir Kyler Gathright boomed off the walls of the keep and cut short a hundred conversations. Maxwell picked up his helmet and shield and fumbled with his chin strap as he hurriedly made his way to his spot in the row after row of soldiers. He was three ranks back in the third file, almost right in the middle of his unit which was a bit to the left of the center of three just like it. “Telarian forces were spotted this morning landing north of Greyrock Bay.” Every man among them stood silent, some eager for the news, some terrified, and many like Maxwell feeling a confusing mix of the two. “If they make haste they could be over the pass by tomorrow and upon us.” Maxwell managed to get his helmet afixed correctly and slung his shield over his shoulder. ” Tonight we will make camp outside the city and be ready to march to meet them at the first light of day!” A cheer rose up from the gathered men, soldiers who had just a few short weeks ago been farmers, and fishermen, and woodsmen. Among them were the regular soldiers of the keep, but even they had never seen real war. It had been a generation since the Telarians had last been pushed back from Seaguard and few who remembered those times were fit to fight.

The Assembly broke and Maxwell joined the others in packing up his bedding and few belongings. “The Telarians don’t stand a chance” one soldier shouted to the cheers of anyone in earshot. Maxwell added his voice to theirs, though a little voice in his mind did wonder if their few weeks of training had really prepared them to fight against the empires invading army. He shook the thought away. Sir Kyler had fought in the last Telarian war and was leading them himself and Maxwells own unit would be fighting under the command of Sir Thomas Pickering. They had battle hardened knights on their side and Seaguard at their back, there was no way they could lose. He hefted his pack over his shoulder then paused. There was a shift in the noise filling the courtyard. Cheers and boasts were giving way to shouts of alarm, then screams of terror. He turned and his pack fell to the ground. Coming over the seawall were huge spiders, each the size of a war horse. He fumbled for his sword, his mouth suddenly gone dry. Riding these spiders were small figures, clad in armor and firing arrows from short bows. “To arms!” A strong voice rang out and Maxwell found his sword. He pulled it from the sheath as the man next to him fell with an arrow protruding from his throat. Mark he thought, his name was Mark, he was a sailor. The blade felt incredibly heavy in his hand as he lifted his shield and stood waiting for the beasts.

 

 

Wordspew 1 NaNoWriMo 2017

Yep, it’s that time of year again, I’m going to do the thing that makes me no fun for an entire month!

Join me!

In preparation I am trying to use the tiny amount of time I have at work to vomit out some words. Here are some, raw and unedited.

1:

Insert flange GG into socket QB… Harold continued to look for anything like a flange. He had been looking for hours and had yet to find one, or anything with the label GG, or QB, or anything labeled at all. What was a flange anyway? Harold put down the wriggling part he had been inspecting and picked up another with three eyes and a soft downy fuzz. He had to quickly grab it with his other hand to prevent it from biting him. It had two sockets of different sizes and shape and nothing that seemed flange-like. “God damn it!” he put it back in the box and looked at the instructions again. The pictures were so generic he couldn’t really tell one from another, and all the writing seemed to be translated from german into english by way of thai. “Hmm” he looked over all the wriggling parts, each nested in its own form fitting styrofoam chamber in a series of nested trays. He took all of the trays out of the fridge sized box and laid them out in the order he thought they had originally been when he had opened it. The trays had no numbers or other markings so he wasn’t entirely sure if they were in the right order or if they had a top or bottom, but after shuffling a few around and arranging a couple based on some primitive aesthetic hunch he figured he had as good of a guess as he was ever going to have.

The Garage was now dominated by a huge white grid made of trays, each filled with a smaller grid of writhing parts of every description. All the arranging and moving had agitated many of the parts and the small space was filled with growls, mewling, a deep bass hum, and several pitches of piping that sounded like an out of tune march played on a flute made out of meat. Harold looked out over the grid and picked up a marker off of the crowded work bench that had not had any actual work done on it in over a decade and went to work. He began with an arbitrary upper left corner and marked it with A. He then went down the left side marking each row with the next letter in the alphabet. He repeated the task across the top and now he had rough coordinates for any given part. It wasn’t a perfect grid by any means, none of the parts were quite the same size and some of them took up more than one row or column or both, but it was a system. Harold had always been a man who could do anything as long as he had a system.

He traced town one side until he reached row G. Following that slightly meandering row he found column G. At the intersection of the two was a yellow sphere with a beak and several stubby protrusions ending in blunt claws. He gently lifted the protesting part and then found the intersection of row Q and column B. There he found something that reminded him of the sea anenomies at the aquarium, but covered in scales. He turned the beaked thing over in his hand a few times until he found a protrusion that was more or less the same diameter of the scaly anenomies central maw. He jammed it in and the anenomie bit down hard. For a moment the beaked thing screeched and fought, then calmed. The two parts began to throb softly in unison emitting a quiet cooing noise. Harold set them aside and looked at the instructions again. Attatch sub unit GB into the side port of AG and rotate ninety degrees… “Susan better really like her new bicycle he muttered” and began hunting for the parts.

2:

“I think that one looks like the moon.” Linda rolled her eyes and sighed “that IS the moon Derrick.” He squinted for a minute and nodded “well, yes I guess it is isn’t it?” Linda kneaded the bridge of her nose. Derrick Jones wasn’t the brightest bulb on the string by a long shot, but he was good looking, had a decent job by the standards of this crappy little town, and was one of the few labor-level workers with a dataport implant, which meant he was Lindas ticket out of her stuck little life. She counted to a hundred in her head, a feat she doubted Derrick was capable of, and smiled “ooh, look at that one” she pointed to a dark plume belched out of one of the factories secondary stacks “doesn’t that look like a bunny?”

3:

The gun was far too light. Something made to take away someones life should have a certain heft to it, a certain gravity. This was a very special gun to be sure, made of carbon fiber and some sort of plastic that was highly classified and could double as a very intense incindiery device under presicely controlled conditions. It was a carefully designed and extremely expensive tool of death… And it really should have had some heft to match. Agent Baker was not an overly sentimental man, but he took one thing in life very seriously. That thing was the ending of it. “On three” he barely whispered and held up one finger, then two, then hell burst through the door in an explosion of wood splinters, blood, and venemous spray.

Agent Yarric went down without even a grunt. A single swipe had taken his throat and a good portion of his chest. He was dead before his body impacted with the wall. Agents Faraday and Holston began spraying bullets as fast as they could pull the trigger, missing Agent Baker by millimeters. The creature rebounded off the opposite wall, leapt, and was on top of Holston in the blink of an eye. Several eyes actually, it was hard to really get an accurate count but it seemed to have at least twenty. Holston cried out and emptied the rest of his handgun point blank into the beast, showering Faraday with a thick green blood that sizzled wherever it landed. Baker grabbed Faraday by the back of his jacket and bodilly flung him down the hall away from the creature. Holstons screams ended suddenly in a wet gurgle and the creature straightened up to its full eight feet of height and turned, The toothy maw surrounded by eyes dripped hot and red and a second mouth at the base of its throat chewed machine-like on some part of Holston. Baker didn’t waste a lot of time wondering which part.

He raised the gun and fired twice. Two more wounds blossomed on the things body, phasing it not at all. Agent Baker fired twice more and he swore it smiled. “Shit” he took one step back and it followed, taking its time. Knowing that it was probably a futile gesture Baker fired round after round until the gun was empty. The beast spit out a fragment of Holstons jacket then screeched, a sound too large for the cramped hallway. Agent Baker thumbed on the safety then pulled the trigger rapidly in a well practiced pattern. The grip of his pistol immediatly began to heat up in his hand. “Come omn asshole!” he lunged forward, thrusting the gun at the creature. His hand plunged into the second mouth and he was driven to the ground under the things weight. He felt its teeth ripping through the muscles of his forarm and hit bone a split second before the gun ignited. He braced his feet against the creature and pushed, screaming as his arm came away, now ending about three inches past his elbow. The creature stumbled backwards and began to writhe, a thick black smoke stinking of burning fish and petrochemicals pouring out of both its mouthes. Baker began undoing his belt as the beast turned to flee. He wrapped it around what was left of his arm, grit his teeth, and pulled hard as the thing collapsed and began to burn.

Some stuff I made Part 2: Clicky Wheel Thing

Another part of a series of things I made and just sort of sat on the pictures and didn’t tell anyone.

Same friend, different burlesque show… She needed one of those wheels you spin and they go ClickClickClickClickClickClickClickClickClickClick and stop on a number, so I grabbed a bunch of scrap wood and went to work.

First I set up some sort of clever fencing on the band saw.

The idea was to have a totally controlled space to make cuts where the only measurement was the cut itself… because sometimes measuring things is for suckers.

I tried to cut a circle this way… but the results were terrible so I made a Jig Yo!

And bolted it to the router table. This let me cut out two circles, one smaller than the other, with a perfectly centered hole.

I made a spacer and mounted them on a carriage bolt.

I placed equally spaced wood screws through the smaller one.

The idea is that the little clicky pegs would be inside the wheel and nobody would be in danger of flaying their palm.

A big piece of plywood for a base and a 2×4 as the upright and the wheel spun nicely.

 

It needed clicks though… so I cut up a broken hacksaw blade and mounted it on a block of wood.

 

Then I mounted the block on a block…

And fiddled until it was in the right place to go ClickClickClickClickClickClickClickClickClickClick

I helpfully marked it since it only really worked well in one direction.

It all fit together well but was a little wobbly, and had no pointer.

I made a spacer with a wheel out of an old photocopy machine to keep the big wheel vertical, and added another spacer with the pointing arrow so we would know what number it landed on.

Then with the cheapest nastiest paints ever I divided the wheel up into sections.

We had no idea what the numbers were actually supposed to represent at this point… so I just took a chunk of the Fibonacci sequence and arranged them in a pleasing order.

I meant to take a final picture of the whole thing all together, but the event was upon us and it had to be loaded up. She had to set up and wrangle the acts and I had a DJ set to finish.

I figured I would get another picture later, but that night was then filled with a great deal of trauma and sparked the beginning of a truly impressive slide into profoundly deep depression… so you will have to imagine it all together. Rest assured that it worked really well! If it ever gets pulled out of whatever shed it currently resides in and it isn’t covered in too many wasps, I may get a picture of it yet.

 

Some stuff I made Part 1: Zydrate Gun

Part of a series of things I made and just sort of sat on the pictures and didn’t tell anyone.

So a friend needed a prop for a costume from the gloriously weird and unique Repo The Genetic Opera for a burlesque performance. With near zero budget and no time I made her one. It was the Zydrate gun used to administer the corpse-bug derived drug central to the story and much needed to sell the costume.

It didn’t have to look like the original prop, just remind people of it so into the bit box!

I found a glue gun that didn’t properly heat, and that’s like 3/4 of the way there out of the gate!

I gutted it and tossed all the electricals into recycling.

The hot-head was needed to form the tip so I just drilled it out to accept a nail which I ground the tip of a bit to make it a bit more syringe and a bit less nail.

Then drove it through to form the slightly less than safe front of the prop.

I wanted the trigger to work, but didn’t need all the glue driving mechanism so I just chopped everything away that wasn’t needed to keep the trigger springy.

Then I cut away everything from the body that wasn’t needed.

The tip fit back in perfectly so I put it and the trigger back in and closed up the gun.

Nearly there… but it’s missing the actual Zydrate!

A tube from some dollar store bubbles and some 5 minute epoxy fixed that problem.

After the epoxy cured I hit it with some silver acrylic and called it done!

An hour or two of work and she had a zydrate gun that would be immediately recognizable as such (assuming you were likely to recognize such a thing) from stage. I was going to paint it black then metal it up…but it looked nice and medical as is so she and I agreed it was ready to go.

July Zine-O-Matic

Yeah, it’s been a while… again. Sorry!

So Zines.

When I was going to downtown Berkeley between five and seven days a week I used to stop in at Pegasus every few days and grab a zine. Occasionally I would trade them with other weirdos and on occasion have been known to make little mini pamphlet zines.

“Wait!” you demand “A what?” or if you are a bit hip “They still make those? What is this 1994?”

Yes, they do, and no it is no longer 1994, you can put down the Prodigy CD and put on some sensible pants.

A Zine, in short, is a little home-made magazine. It’s a little cheap (usually) slice of someones life and worldview and I love them. If you really want to go deep down that rabbit hole I recommend This Book and This One Too. Also go Here and Here, I’ll wait, I have a couple of things I need to get done anyway.

Back? Great!

So I have been missing my constant fix of little chunks of peoples worlds. There are things to recommend about Bloomington Indiana, but the independent book stores are pretty thin on the ground. I could buy lots of them on Etsy, but it’s not the same as walking in and grabbing the first few zines that catch my eye with no idea what might actually be in them.

Enter Zine-O-Matic.

You give them money every month, they grab a handful of zines and send them to you. It sounded up my alley so I plopped down my dollars and waited.

With Blinding speed my package arrived. Inside were a postcard, two stickers, and six zines. I got the “Super Mondo Size” subscription so with shipping it’s about $22 a month, And I do not feel like I overpaid.

The postcard is pleasantly macabre in a surreal sort of way, and reminds me that I should start sending postcards to people.

The first sticker is of cats in clothes… which cats HATE! It has a puzzle piece on the back of the same image like my Star Wars collectible cards had in the late 70s.

I have no idea what is going on here… It has a sort of David Bowie filtered through a Love and Rockets fever dream sort of thing going on.

The first Zine I opened was Flash by Amara Leipzig. It’s a comic zine about a guy who wants to be hit by lightning. It’s clean and expressive art and the zine is very well put together with the title on translucent paper over the cover image.

Tasteful Insect Nudes by Mullet Turtle Comics is a tiny little book with pictures of bugs and their somewhat playmate-like bios.

It wasn’t immediately obvious what this zine was called… or which way was up or which side was the front. I thought it was called “For Rectal use Only” at first because there is a sticker on it bearing that warning… but it turns out it is issue 3 of KJC by Kevin Uehlein and D.W.  It is a screaming mix of psychedelic art and comics. It is a mix of black and white, color, and a couple transparent pages and makes no immediate sense nor does it need to.

Field Notes on the American Sasquatch is about 22 pages of what looks like hand typed text with a few illustrations about the life of the American Sasquatch. I am going to try to get this into the hands of Aaron Akagi who obviously needs it… It is plain black and white copy-paper either made on a dirty library copy machine or skillfully made to look like it was.

The picture can’t quite show you the title of this zine because it is in braille on a black cover. The title is actually Soliloquy by Bast Armannsson and it is a zine about communication. It includes a Braille card as well as information about Braille, Tap Code, Morse Code, American Sign Language, and Binary. This is an absolute gem packed with interesting and potentially useful information and extremely well designed and executed. It would be my absolute favorite of the bunch if it were not for the next (and last) zine…

Imaginary Homework by Theo Ellsworth.  This zine is a series of surreal homework assignments illustrated in a sort of cartoony techno-mayan sort of way. This zine is so far up my alley that I am afraid it might be about to mug me. I’m super into it.

So all in all I am hugely satisfied with this experience and will continue my subscription with Zine-O-Matic (who have not paid me anything or given me free stuffs for this enthusiastic endorsement… though I am not adverse…)

I’ll keep reviewing my treasures as they come in, and maybe soon I’ll make a few more of my own.

Salvage Beta notepad… now with more bees!

I made these for you!

More magic with salvaged cardboard and the awesome power of lasers. Ten of them exist in this world. More may exist but probably something else will instead.

Bees are rad.