Sunday, September 30, 2012

Fries and Shine

Ho'made Fries and Shine
There use to be a local pub (The Bleeding Deacon) with one of my wife's most favorite bits of breakfasty goodness in St. Louis: Fries and Shine. French fries, special vegetarian gravy, topped with an over-easy egg. Tasty.

This morning Kathy asked me to create something similar using a mushroom gravy (we had some mushrooms from Costco that were on their way out) and tater tots.

Searching google, I decided to try this Easy Vegetarian Mushroom Gravy Recipe. Swansons' 100% vegetable broth made up the base. For the soy sauce, I used Bragg liquid aminos and for the poultry seasoning I used Fox Point from Penzey's Spices. I topped it off with a Morningstar Farms soysage pattie (wow -- this is turning into one big advertisement). The whole thing turned out really well. You should come over some time and try it ;)

Fan Fiction: 'Zen' vs. Tony Becerra

In May this year, I joined some of the cast and crew of JourneyQuest along with Clint Black (and surprise guest Cheyenne Wright!) from Pinnacle Entertainment Group in playing a session of Savage Worlds set in the JourneyQuest universe. The following piece was written a few weeks after that amazing weekend. At the time, MAYHEM! was in full swing. MAYHEM!, a 64-character tournament held on Facebook, featured characters from Dead Gentlemen and Zombie Orpheus matched up in unlikely fights to the death (though not all were fatal). Fans voted for who would advanced and creative writing juggernaut, Jimmy McMichael, had to compose a short story that explained the match. In meta-game fashion, Tony Becerra (1st Assistant Director to writer/creator/director Matt Vancil) had just stolen victory from Mort Kemnon by threatening cast, crew and fans to vote for him (video link) or else Gamers 3 would suffer. He looked to be doing the same with his upcoming match with Carrow. At that same time, fans were pushing for Zoe Adastra and Wren the Bard to pair up and advance as ‘Zen’. The bout between ‘Zen’ and Tony Becerra seemed inevitable and I intended this piece of fan fiction (if Jimmy and Matt felt it was good enough) to provide the account. Although the Zoe/Wren duo did happen, Carrow crushed Tony. This account now only exists in another reality. 

Thanks to Clint Black for creating Mubi (aka Mooby).

Complete darkness.
An echoing breaker switch accompanied by a piercing overhead light splits the darkness onto a wide ring of nondescript cement floor. Beyond the ring is still, impenetrable darkness.
Tony Becerra steps out from the nothing and into the circle. His snakeskin, silver-tipped shit-kicker boots click loudly against the cement, echoing past the void. In his hand is a thick three-ring binder labeled ‘GAMERS 3 SCREENPLAY’.
Tony paces around his side of the ring and taunts the darkness with the binder, “Zoe! Wren! Come out and play or I’ll start tearing out more pages of Gamers Three!”
Tony Becerra
After a few beats, a second figure appears out of the darkness on the opposite side of the ring. He is green-skinned with spiky yellow hair and a loosely closed brown leather robe. His crazy eyes complement an uneven grin.
Becerra rolls his eyes, “You are not Zoe.”
“No. Not Zoh-ee,” agrees the orc in halting English. “Mubi Firehair, I am.”
“What the hell does that mean?”
Mubi thinks for a moment, and then in stilted English, as if repeating memorized sounds, “I am a contractually obligated character who will be appearing in the JourneyQuest universe sometime in the future.” As he says this, he flips open his robe and unclips two fist-sized glass spheres from his black leather belt.
Becerra scoffs, “Whatever.” He snaps his fingers loudly, “VANCIL!”
Flash! — Poof! Matt Vancil appears.
“Yes, Master Becerra?” replies Matt sheepishly.
“Write this — thing — out of existence. And bring me Zoe and Wren!”
“I, I, I can’t, Master Becerra.” Vancil replies, visibly wincing.
“You dare?!” Becerra shoots him a stare. A stare Vancil knows all too well.
Matt drops down to his knees crying, grasping for Tony’s pant leg, “Please! Please don’t hurt my family, Master Becerra. It…it’s not my fault,” he sobs. “I’m not writing this story!”
Another eye roll and a sigh. Tony kicks off the blubbering writer. “That’s. Just. Great.” A second snap, “JIMMY!” 
Flash! - Poof! Jimmy McMichael appears on the other side of Tony.
“Yeah, Tony?” McMichael isn’t subservient. What seems to be asthma kicks in and he coughs, although the cough sounds more like *dickhead*.
“End this…,” Becerra gestures quote marks in the air, “‘Official Mayhem Fiction’ -- Now.”
“Sorry, no can do, ‘Master Becerra’,” Jimmy fingers quote marks back at Tony before coughing again. This time sounding more like *asshammock*
Wren the Bard
“I grow tired of your insolence, Jimmy. Perhaps you need some quality time in Room 101?” Matt yelps at this and curls into a fetal ball.
Mubi’s grin morphs into a sneer and he rolls the two glass spheres. They course loudly across the cement, interweaving slowly and hypnotically toward Becerra’s feet.
Jimmy continues, “I’m not writing this story, either. It’s being written by some fan in St. Louis, Missouri.”
“Ooo!” Wren appears at the circle’s edge to the far left of Tony. Rubbing her hands excitedly together, “Did we miss anything?”
“I’ll take that.” Zoe’s hand reaches from behind Tony and removes the binder from Becerra’s grasp.
Zoe Adastra
“What!? Who? How is that even possible!??!” Becerra’s gaze is still fixed on the approaching spheres. 
“Entrancing aren’t they?” Wren chirps. “Oh, Zoe? You might want to step away -- quickly.”
The glass balls roll to a stop at Becerra’s feet. He can see there is a word written across each one. His eyes widen as he takes in the word ‘creative’ written across one ball and ‘commons’ written across the other.
“Nooooooo!” Becerra yells before the scene is engulfed in two fiery explosions.


            The scene re-focuses. Mubi Firehair stands silently over the balled-up Matt Vancil. Both are near the small crater of cement where Becerra once stood. Jimmy is nowhere to be seen, likely off drafting more fabulous accounts of these MAYHEM! bouts.
            “Huh. I wonder why we’re still here?” Wren asks, curious. She wonders over, away from Matt and Mubi, to stand close to Zoe. A little too close. Zoe looks up from the open binder, her one eye locking with Wren’s deep pools for several breaths. A gust of wind from no particular direction catches their hair. Wren throws her best smoldering smile at Zoe and delicately reaches for her shoulder.
            “NO!” Barks Zoe firmly. She slams the binder shut, slashes the wind away and points a cautioning finger at Wren. “This will NOT be one of THOSE stories!”
            Wren Birdsong!” Zoe says sternly as she grabs Wren's touch from her shoulder. “My smolder is more perilous than you can possibly imagine.”
            Wren winks playfully, “Oh, I don’t know – I am a bard. I can imagine a lot of peril.”
            Wren pauses, “Not even, a little peril?”
            Wren pouts, “Then why are we still here?”
            “I’m not sure,” Zoe looks around the ring, and then calls out “Whoever is writing this better finish up! You may think you’re funny, but it is starting to bore the fans and I’ve got a company to run thank you!”
Mubi Firehair
            Elsewhere in the ring, Mubi (his back to the victorious duo) helps Matt to his feet. Through ruddy, puffy eyes, the writer watches Mubi reach into a pocket of his brown robe, pull out a Red Card and hold it out to Matt. Matt, ears still ringing from the twin explosions, silently asks, “WHAT’S THAT FOR!?” at top volume.
            Mubi, accustom to post-explosion conversation, replies in slow, loud orcish, “Krysliul va abriul aka!  Petkart udz.1
            Vancil’s eyes light up, comprehending. He takes the card from the contractually obligated character. A mischievous grin skims across his face and Matt casts a sideways glance at the back of his one-eyed nemesis as a final breaker switch floods the scene in darkness.

* * * * *

1 - “It is dangerous to go alone! Take this.”

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Managing Kickstarter Perks During the Campaign

We’ve seen it before, a Kickstarter project gets wildly successful so starts having and hitting stretch goals. These are great for backers, but before too long they are wanting customized options (add-ons) and, of course, who wants to tell them no as they yell “shut up and take my money!”

However, after a while of adding both new stretch goals and add-ons, it become very difficult for backers to follow along. The best solution I’ve seen lately was set up for Deadlands Noir. They created a perks summary table that made it fairly easy to track. It didn't hurt that they kept their campaign pretty simple.

Other campaigns can be much more complex. Take, for example, Monte Cook’s exciting new project Numenera. It has 33 different pledge levels, plenty of goodies that came via reach goals and several items that can be purchased as add-ons.

I’ve tried to turn this into a simple PDF table to make it more clear. Unfortunately, blogspot will only let me post it as an image, so here's a .jpg version (click the image, then right click and select 'view image' then click on the magnifying glass to see the full thing). There is a lot of information here -- does this look easier to comprehend than plain text?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

At least I'm not Brent Spiner

I've been slowly catching up on episodes of the Nerdist Podcast. While walking Leeloo this morning (and then grinding away on a work related project due this weekend), I listened to two from earlier this year that synced together very nicely: Brent Spiner (ep. 212, released 5/30/12), and LeVar Burton (ep. 228, released 7/9/12). In both they promote Brent Spiner's webseries Fresh Hell which finished its second season this past July. It's a self-deprecating comedy where Brent plays himself after an 'incident' has destroyed his career.

Here's the episode of Fresh Hell referenced in LeVar's interview.

"That guy's got the foulest balls in show business."

If you like it and want to start from the beginning, here is Season 1, Episode 1.

Happy Labor Day Weekend -- now back to work,