The Con is On: TGIF

This convention writeup is fairly long-winded, even for me, so I am breaking it up into several posts over the next several days (going on weeks- where does the time go?). Part 1 is here, Part 2 is here. This also seems to be a long post with no photos, for which I apologize.

I got to the con a little ahead of time, and capitalized on my Artist’s (read as: Exhibitor’s) badge to get into the Exhibit Hall a little earlier than the General Public, and talk to some publishers, as well as track down those booths that I hadn’t been able to find in the mad press of Thursday. I met with a fair amount of success while doing this, and suddenly the gates opened, and the con was in full swing again. Friday was the only day that I had any actual gaming planned, my friends had made plans to play a round of True Dungeon, but I had even worked that into my schedule for Maximum Exposure.

My Cunning Plan for spending several hours at True Dungeon was to leave my portfolio at Wizards of the Coast, since they had instituted some new portfolio review procedures. Based on the emphasis on speedy turnaround (they either were going to call you in or not) leaving my portfolio with them to Yay or Nay during the several hours that I wouldn’t be actively using it seemed like the correct play. As my friend George put it, ‘If they’re handing out lotto tickets, you might as well take one.’

However, it turned out that there was a fairly sizable stack of portfolios ahead of mine when I handed mine off. While I don’t know how much farther they got through them in the time it was there, I ended up going back for it on Saturday, unreviewed, because being without it was preventing me from accomplishing my overall objective. I wasn’t thrilled about this snag, but it was the lesser of two evils.

On the upside, I met E. Foley of geeksdreamgirl.com en route to retrieving my portfolio, and got to ask her about her website. I had spied her from afar, and had been confused by her T-shirt, which bore the site’s mascot and the phrase ‘Are you Single’ We exchanged cards and talked about the joys of T-shirt marketing.

Anyhow, following some less-than-stellar True Dungeon capers, Melissa and I hung around for the Artist’s Reception, rubbed elbows and engaged in a bit of scrimmage for cheese.

It was good cheese, which explained the long line that formed for it.

We then caught up with our other friends, and loitered at the speakeasy, where a chance encounter with John Arcadian of Silvervine Games led to another job lead. I’d spoken with John sometime last year about doing some work on his upcoming book, but some personal issues got in the way, and we’d fallen out of touch. He was still excited about working together, so we talked about doing something in the future.

Finally, we rounded out the evening with a (very) late-night round of World of Darkness, which somehow we all managed to survive.

Gen Con 2009, Part 2 of Several: The Con is On: Thursday

This convention writeup is fairly long-winded, even for me, so I am breaking it up into several posts over the next several days. Part 1 is here.

Armed with my matted prints, I got up, showered, shaved, put on my self-promotional tshirt and loaded my business card holder, and then I was off to the show.

Because of my mad leet Artist's Badge, I was not part of this crowd.

Because of my mad leet Artist

nor this crowd...

nor this crowd...

nor this one, nor the mob inside the convention center.

nor this one, nor the mob inside the convention center.

Weaving my way through the crowds, I snagged my Artist’s Badge, and slipped into the Exhibit Hall, making my way towards the Artist’s area at the rear.

My Freedom of Movement also allowed me to catch a shot of this guy.

The Freedom of Movement that the Artist Badge provided also let me catch a shot of this guy.

Everything went fine… until I ran out of Velcro. The Velcro I’d bought was 15 sets of dots, 1 fluffy and 1 set of hooks, which at first glace would be enough for the 10 images I had to hang. BUT, in truth, it took 2 sets (2 hooks) to hang each piece, and ideally would have been 3, to prevent them from jutting out at the bottom. In a bit of a panic, I almost ended up fighting my way back through the eager crowd of VIGs, but was saved from having to do that by Joe Slucher and his Amazing Roll of Velcro. Joe had already hung all his work, and had plenty of Velcro to spare, for which I was I was probably not outwardly grateful enough, but seriously, he saved the day.

With my artwork hung (and since in my infinite, infinite wisdom, I forgot to take a picture of it, I guess you’ll just have to believe me), I spent a little time meeting and greeting people I knew in the Art Show, and observing those whom I didn’t.

Before... No, wait, just before. Sorry.

Before... No, wait, just Before. Sorry.

I actually ended up spending a lot of time explaining that I only had panels in the Show, not a table, as many of the people who heard I was showing in the Art Show assumed the best of me. I was flattered that everyone thought enough of me to believe that I’d have had a table, but, things were what they were, so I splained like Ricky was about to go Babaloo upside my head. And as it was, without the table, I was free to wander the floor with my partner in Gen Con-related crime, Melissa Dowell.

Over the last few months, we had come up with A Plan of sorts, and while I waited for her flight to come in, I scouted the Hall, and figured out where our targets were, and showed my portfolio to some other people who for one reason or another (mostly lack of time for researching fully) had not made it onto our list in the process. Every so often, I stopped back at my display and refilled the business card holders. Each time that I returned, there was a fair amount of people looking at my work and smiling, or in one or two cases chuckling, so that boosted my spirits.

Without giving the complete play-by-play (which I don’t think I’m capable of doing anyway), Thursday passed in a blur of walking into booths, asking politely about freelancing with various companies, showing my portfolio, introducing myself and Melissa to people, and handing out cards. Other events of note include walking into the Wattsalpoag Games booth and sitting down to a rousing (and decisive) round of Claim It! with Mike Raabe, the Art Director there, and meeting the dancers of the Different Drummer Belly Dancing troupe, and being reassured that belly dancing guys were, in fact, sexy. I was intrigued, but the timing just didn’t work out over the course of the weekend.

Finally, the day came to a close and the adrenaline wore off. After a bite at the Steak n’ Shake near the convention center, we caught up with some friends, hung out at the speakeasy at Union Station for a while, then called it a night.

Gen Con 2009, Part 1 of several: The Road to Viridian City

This convention writeup is fairly long-winded, even for me, so I am breaking it up into several posts over the next several days.

The best four days in blog posts.

For those of you either too young or too old to remember Pokemon, its central human protagonist, Ash Ketchum, leaves his comfortable home to embark on a mystical journey filled with friendly monsters, intense training, and lots of overland travel, all leading to his ultimate goal- becoming a Pokemon Master, a worthy career choice if there ever was one in that particular universe.

When you caught the original 150, you got a really sweet dental package.

When you caught the original 150, you got a really sweet dental package.

In the anime, Viridian City is Ash’s first stop on his journey, hence the title of this post. My journey to Gen Con was similar, except I don’t have any Pokeballs, and I’m not trying to get anyone to learn special attacks. Okay, so it’s not the best of metaphors, (I originally came up with it while half-asleep en route to the airport, and it sort of stuck in my head,) but I made a long (albeit significantly less perilous) journey in the interests of advancing my career, which up until this point has also featured imaginary monsters, too.

“I’m on the road to Viridian City
Meet my friends along the way (I’m on the road!)
I’m on the road to Viridian City
I got a badge and the power to play

-From “The Road to Viridian City,” a track on “2BA Master

Leg 1: Subway to Grand Central Station
Aside from a crowded 4 train platform, there was little to report. It was typical New York City rush hour subway congestion. I left on time, and arrived at Grand Central Station with time to spare.

Leg 2: Metro-North to White Plains
I picked up a lemon poppy seed muffin at Junior’s, and ate it on the train. The train went express, so there was not much opportunity to take photos of the scenery as it raced past. The train out to White Plains was surprisingly crowded for a 9AM-ish train out of Manhattan, but nowhere near the density of the subway. There was little to do but sit and start typing this, but before I knew it, I was at White Plains.

Leg 3: Bus from Metro-North Station to Airport
While waiting for the bus, I ended up meting a man named Cyrus, who told me about how he is working to establish a chapter of Water Keepers in his locale of South Carolina. We talked about the trials and tribulations of building a non-profit presence, the horrors of over-development, and the evils of Large Corporations while we rode the bus, then went our separate ways upon reaching the airport.

Leg 4: White Plains to Detroit
After paying $1.50 for a candy bar, (and refusing to pay $9 for a sandwich) I got on the plane. There was a little delay with the takeoff, then a fair amount of turbulence from heavy cloud cover that the pilots skillfully navigated through and above, but I managed to doze off while reading my way through Digital Character Design and Painting, by Don Seegmiller.

To my credit, I managed to wake up just in time for juice and peanuts, as well as catching the eye of the fellow next to me, one John Velonis, who asked if I were an artist, and conversation ensued. He told me of the games that he had designed (like “Venus Needs Men!” which sounds like a fun time) and was in the process of designing, and I told him of the work that I’d done. Noticing his “Gamer For Life” shirt, explained that I was going to the con to meet and greet publishers and so on, and that I had a space in the Art Show. We talked of the games that we played, and he mentioned that he would be helping out at the Z-Man Games booth, and I said that I would stop by and demo with him. I did go looking for him, but we were apparently not meant to demo, as I kept missing him.

Leg 5: Detroit to Indianapolis:
While walking up to John to explain that my flight was “the later flight to Indiana,” I found myself introduced to Rone Barton of Atomic Array, RPG Countdown, and Open Design Podcast, along with another fellow whose name I can’t remember for the life of me, but he was an adventure writer. We talked for awhile, and as fate would have it, he was in the process of collecting artists for representation. I gave him my card. The four of us talked for awhile until it was time for them to board, and then I busied myself with finding my plane’s gate.

En route to the gate, I stopped in at the Online Cafe, and bought an imposing plate of nachos, along with some wireless access to while away the layover.

Nachos: $10, Internet: $7. Not a bad deal.

Nachos: $10, Internet: $7. Not a bad deal.

I also fielded some calls, most notably some mildly frantic calls from Jason Thompson of King of RPGs fame. Nothing major, but there was a definite sense of urgency.

Long story short: Through seven degrees of separation, I ended up being his go-to guy for postcard distribution at Gen Con. The only problem was that our mutual 7th-degree friend contacted me while I was about 20,000 feet in the air, and unable to receive calls, much less packages. Between the time difference and the last-minuteness of it all, it was pretty tight.

After this initial confusion was cleared up, Jason and I got things straightened out, and he rush-ordered a stack of postcards to the address I was staying at to arrive on Friday, so I could put them out on Saturday.

I hung around the airport until it was time to board, and arrived in Indy without further incident. My host picked me up without a hitch, and we went to the local art and craft stores in search of mats, so I could hang my artwork in the Art Show.

Despite the density of stores, there was little selection- or inventory of what I needed. It took trips to three separate stores to acquire a total of ten mats, and they didn’t even all match because they were different brands. The colors were close enough, so I did not complain. I picked up some Velcro dots as well, and we went home. We had a light dinner, and I spent the night listening to Three Days Grace and gluing my prints to mats, with a fair amount of success. Finally, I toddled off to bed.

Snack-sized, well, snacks.

And now for something that has been far too long in coming. That’s right; it’s time for another posting about snack cakes.

It seems that the Little Debbie people got wind of my previous assessment of their expanded snack sizes, for a few months back, I received a gift of a box of new yellow cakes with butter creme icing. While this was not the appeasement that it sounds like, (the gift was from my mother) it’s good to know that someone out there is listening, or at the very least thinking along the same lines that I am.

Little Debbie Yellow Cakes. Not exactly the answer to my prayers, but I'll take it.

Little Debbie Yellow Cakes. Not exactly the answer to my prayers, but I'll take it.

At any rate, compared to their leviathan cousins, the yellow cakes in question (which claim to possess not only ‘Fresh Taste’, but ‘Right Size’! as well,) the 100 Calorie Cakes are tiny, and I have the photographic evidence to prove it:

Framing this image was like trying to put the Hulk, Juggernaut, and a pygmy kitten all in the same frame.

Framing this image was like trying to put the Hulk, Juggernaut, and a pygmy kitten all in the same frame.

It’s also interesting to note that since my last critique of the Little Debbie line of cakes, the prices of the larger-sized cakes have jumped again, now retailing at $.75 apiece, when less than a year ago they were $.25. However, the Oatmeal Creme Pie seems to have lost its second layer, for which I am actually quite grateful. Seriously, that was way too much to be justifiably called a single serving.

It may be shorter, but the Oatmeal Creme Pie is still bigger than life.

It may be shorter, but the Oatmeal Creme Pie is still bigger than life.

Getting back to the cakes of the day, the 100 Calorie Yellow Cakes were rather tasty, if small. The little cakes are small even compared to the older ‘small cakes‘ that Debbie has been making for so long, and those come twin-wrapped in a box of eight (or ten in some cases).

They are almost delicate, and not as sweet as the fare that Little Debbie usually provides. Because of this, (and probably also because of the programming that has me trained to bite unmercifully into anything that comes wrapped in cellophane) I found myself tearing through them without even realizing it.

They fit in the palm of your hand, even out of the wrapping.

They fit in the palm of your hand, even out of the wrapping.

Whether this is the result of clever marketing or purely accidental still remains to be seen. Nevertheless, these confections might go best with coffee or tea, at the end of a meal, as opposed to a standalone snack- they are too small and light to satisfy in cases of actual peckishness, but could easily fill the need for a sweet taste on the heels of something heavier.

On the whole, I approve of these cakes, although mostly for their intent. These non-monolithic cakes manage to be 100 calories without artificial sweeteners (as far as I can tell, anyway,) and still taste good, and even fill a niche in the world of snackery that their predecessors had long since ignored.

That is to say that they’re almost grown-up cakes when compared to the zanier (and more child-oriented) high-calorie cakes that had come before them, by the packaging alone, nevermind the smaller size and calorie count.

Say what you will about "second childhoods," these are some mighty fine cakes.

Say what you will about "second childhoods," these are some mighty fine cakes.

So, good job, Little Debbie. Keep on keeping on, and I can’t wait to see what else you shake out of your petticoats.

Not exactly wafer thin, but you get the idea. That's also my least favorite Monty Python sketch.

Not exactly "wafer thin," but you get the idea. That also happens to be my least favorite Monty Python sketch.

Bring Out Your Dead.

With Tuesday night’s episode of Deadliest Warrior (featuring William Wallace versus Shaka Zulu,) having aired, all the matches for this season that I’m actually interested in (read as: those that don’t involve guns) have now played out, and I can kick back and recline on the pile of dead losers until another season of ridiculousness rolls around.?I must admit that I was a little disappointed in the Legends’ conflict, though.

With the exception that the warriors had names, it might have been any other episode of DW. Nothing particularly innovative in terms of testing debuted, in the end it was a lot of cut meat and broken stuff, coupled with the standard macho posturing. From the beginning, the Zulu team was losing, and as far as I’m concerned, they knew it. The more that you have to explain how your fighter’s style would allow you to avoid/overcome your opponent’s blows, the less of an advantage you’ve got. This and other lessons played out over the course of the ancient warrior fights; if I can bring myself to watch the modern ones, then I’ll come back and compare. But for now, here’s a recap:

Apache vs. Gladiator

The one that started it all.

The one that started it all.

My Initial assessment:
Holy crap, this show is awesome. Look at that guy punch that cow carcass with that thing! What? Aww, he got hit with an arrow’ he loses? Nuts.

The lesson: Range wins Deadliest Warrior, and the simulated battle at the end takes a fair amount of artistic license, despite all the hard science leading up to it.

Ninja vs. Spartan

The image so nice, I used it twice.

The image so nice, I used it twice.

My initial assessment:
This looks like another bad matchup of stealth versus strength. Take away the anime-style powers that real ninjas never had, and it seems to get worse. Perhaps the ninja will surprise us, but the Spartan seems to have more armor and a bigger shield than the Gladiator did, and I’m betting that the Spartan team will play up the shield-wall tactic.

The Aftermath: Armand Dorian said it best when he explained that ?the Ninja could hurt the Spartan, but he couldn’t kill the Spartan.’ The Ninja was a skirmisher, the Spartan was a tank. A tank that rolled over the Ninja and barely paused to stop in the face of black eggs and shiruken.

The lesson: Catastrophic amounts of damage win Deadliest Warrior. While this isn’t a factor a lot of the time, considering that most of the weapons maim or kill pretty obviously, when a team talks more about how their fighter would be moving around (the Ninja and Shaka teams did a lot of hard selling on that angle), or how tough their warrior would be, and/or how little the opponent’s just-recorded X-bajillion pounds of pressure would be laughed off (the Maori and Viking teams did a lot of hard selling in that regard), they’re probably losing. The Samurai team is a bit of an exception to this rule, however…

Viking vs. Samurai

If Fuji were there, The Salt would have turned the tides.

If Fuji had been there, The Salt would have turned the tides.

My initial assessment:
This can’t end well for anyone. But it’ll probably be fun to watch. Either the Samurai knocks the Viking down with the one sword stroke that they are famous for, or the Viking goes berserk and lays into him with an axe.

The Aftermath: Like the Apache before him, the Samurai was an arguably better-trained warrior with a singular advantage- the bow and arrow. Katana vs.? Greataxe was pretty much irrelevant- both weapons were viciously effective. And in the weeks to come, range would prove more of a factor than anything else, whether it would take the form of a projectile, or a really long melee weapon.

The lesson: Range wins Deadliest Warrior, in case you’d forgotten.

Pirate vs. Knight

Scurvy againt Chivalry.

Scurvy againt Chivalry.

My Initial assessment:
Does the pirate have a pistol? If so, based solely on the severe advantage that the bow gave the Apache, the Pirate wins. I’m rooting for the Knight, though.

The Aftermath: The Pirate had 2 guns and a grenade.

A. GRENADE.

I cannot emphasize that enough. Even though the flintlock pistol was unable to penetrate the Knight’s armor, and the blunderbuss, well, blundered, the Pirate HAD A GRENADE! As far as non-powder weapons went, the Knight’s armor was more than effective, and the crossbow was comparable, but in the end, chivalry was truly dead.

The lesson: Technology wins Deadliest Warrior. Explosives also win Deadliest Warrior. Bullets win Deadliest Warrior as well, which is why I was disinterested in the modern warfare of Taliban vs. IRA, Yakuza vs. Mafia, and Green Beret vs. Spetznaz. It’s pretty obvious that guns kill people.

Maori Warrior vs. Shaolin Monk

Sleeper hit of the season.

Sleeper hit of the season.

My initial assessment:
I actually hadn’t been interested in this, and caught the repeat of it which played before Shaka Zulu vs. William Wallace. But it turned out to be an interesting matchup.

The Aftermath: The Maori weapons, while horrifyingly effective, were brittle, being made of animal parts and wood. How this affected the calculations of the final battle, I’ll never know, but in addition to that, the Shaolin’s twin hooks and chain were about twice the reach of the best that the Maori could bring to the table, on top of all his weapons being made of steel. In hindsight, this didn’t seem like a fair matchup.

The lesson: Technology (especially metallurgy) wins Deadliest Warrior. Range also wins Deadliest Warrior. Your warrior might laugh off some blows, but the gel gummies don’t lie. The fact that you might be moving around just means that you’ll lose a few more body parts before you go down.

William Wallace vs. Shaka Zulu

From Wikipedia!

From Wikipedia!

My initial assessment:
This sounds ridiculous, and not necessarily in a bad way. However, since Wallace is known for shooting lightning bolts from his arse, I think that Zulu will not have much of a chance in this matchup.

The Aftermath: While the arse-lightning did not play a part in the combat, pretty much every thing that I’ve mentioned so far came true over the course of this (which would likely have been the most controversial show, if not for the Terrorist Jamboree airing on Sunday Night, or the kerfluffle that seemed to have arisen in the wake of Viking vs. Samurai,) came true. The Shaka team spent a lot of time insisting that Shaka would be able to get under Wallace’s guard and shank him up, and played up the only advantage that they had- the range of the Iwisa, a wooden mace that could be thrown some 30 feet.

The lesson: There’s no real lesson here; it’s just the final exam.

Based on these assessments, and my own desire to determine who truly is the Deadliest Warrior, here is a brief rundown of what would happen if there had been a bracket system (and who knows, perhaps there is something in the works for next season. I’ve got my fingers crossed.)

Apache faces off with Spartan. Spartan uses his large shield to protect himself from Apache’s storm of arrows, closes and goes to town on Apache. Being considerably more heavily armored and better-trained than the Gladiator, the Spartan finishes the Apache with a blow from his shield, followed by a spear thrust to the lower spine. Spartan advances to Round 3.

Samurai faces off with Pirate. Pirate throws a grenade at Samurai. Samurai explodes. Pirate advances to Round 3.

William Wallace faces off against Shaolin Monk. The claymore is deadlier than the whip chain, and has almost the same reach as the linked twin hooks. Combine that with chainmail and the targe shield, and Wallace takes Round 2 pretty easily, scoring a bye in Round 3, because he’s William Wallace and can name-drop, where the others are just stereotypes.

Spartan faces Pirate. Pirate shoots Spartan. Spartan armor, even the shield, is not as advanced as French plate, so Spartan keels over dead. Pirate might have to shoot him twice, but no grenade.

Pirate advances to finals to face William Wallace, and throws a grenade at him. Wallace lumbers through it. Pirate then shoots him twice, and Wallace dies.

Result: Pirate is the Deadliest Warrior, at least in the Ancient bracket. If you were to put a Green Beret in front of him, while he’s fumbling with flint and steel to light the fuse on his grenade, a magazine’s been emptied into his gut, spilling rum everywhere.

Pirate image by Marcus Ranum http://www.ranum.com/ , bombs by woodsy.

Pretty much sums it up.Pirate image (the same one as above) by Marcus Ranum (http://www.ranum.com ), bombs by woodsy.

I’ll see you in two weeks. Now that I’ve got nothing to watch on TV again, maybe I’ll find something else to talk about by then.

A Pirate’s Life for Me…

Briefly continuing with my current obsession with Deadliest Warrior, the Viking was defeated by the Samurai primarily due to the Samurai’s undeniable advantage of distance, same as the Apache’s.

In more recent combats, the Spartan crushed the Ninja, in a contest that I had actually thought too close to call. The Ninja team did some hard selling, and their displays of prowess were remarkable. But as it turned out, the Ninja could ‘hurt the Spartan, but could not kill the Spartan’, whereas the Spartan’s attacks would demolish the Ninja each time they struck. There are compelling arguments about some of the Ninja’s weaponry, most notably the black eggs, but apparently the computerized judging system doesn’t take disabling blows into account, only killing ones. Tripping and blinding the Spartan should have given the Ninja a greater percentage of wins, if not the win. Still, I’m happy that a tank took the victory.

Ninja beats Samurai, but Spartan Beats Ninja. Therefore, Spartan also beats Viking. Deadliest Warrior Math at its finest.

Ninja beats Samurai, but Spartan Beats Ninja. Therefore, Spartan beats Samurai, and also beats Viking. Deadliest Warrior Math at its finest.

Next week is Pirate versus Knight, and I’m super-excited. While the Knight has full plate armor, some kind of big, honking shield, and a large range of weapons ranging from d6s to d12s worth of damage, the Pirate has an ace in the hole that no one suspected:

Epic. Hip Hop. Music.

Phat beats. It's what they use to fight ninjas.

Phat beats. It's what they use to fight ninjas.

Some of the music’s content alone would offend the Knight’s chivalric sensibilities to the point where the Pirate would be able to get a hit or two in, but on the whole, Captain Dan and the Scurvy Crew: From the Seas to the Streets is definitely worth a listen, even if you’ve never held a Letter of Marque.

C'mon, you know what I'm talking about.

C'mon. You know what I'm talking about.

I’ve always had a smiling and nodding acquaintance with pirates. Well, the popularized sort of pirates, who start every other sentence with ‘Arr’,’Nyar’, or in some rare cases, ‘Argh’.’ I’ve also been a longtime fan of rap music, and not always that which the General Public gives the biggest accolades to. “Macho Man” Randy Savage’s album, Be A Man, is prominent among my collection, for example.So when I came across “the most epic collection of pirate hip hop songs ever produced,” I was blown away.

The album is immersive. The beats bring the obvious nautical theme to mind, without being overly so, even when drawing directly from obvious staple songs, like ‘Blow the Man Down’, or ‘Drunken Sailor’.’ Other tracks, like ‘From the Seas to the Streets’ and ‘On the Account’ have more of a hip-hop feel to them, with an undercurrent of instrumentation that swells and ebbs like the tide.

The album features a wide and varied cast of swashbucklers, but the best two, as far as this blogger is concerned are Sea Dawg, the Scurvy Crew’s quartermaster, and Admirality, the representative of the, well, Admirality and the Royal British Navy, as well as a foil for the Crew. I think that this is because they never ‘break character’, with prochronism like some of the others (most notably Scott Free) do. That, and I find Sea Dawg’s nearly monotone delivery along with Admirality’s Britishesque pomp and swagger highly entertaining.

As for the lyrical content, as I mentioned, the album is unabashedly bawdy at times, although there is a relatively low expletive per minute ratio. The songs range from simple daily pirate life themes, like recruiting sailors or the pirate’s code, to the ridiculous, like Santa Claus, who seems to have clearly chosen a side in everyone’s favorite Internet meme rivalry. There’s even a few (not entirely flattering or PC) songs about wenches.

So, to conclude, the question of whether or not a flintlock pistol can fire a bullet through full plate has yet to be determined, but if it were a Battle of the Bands, then the Pirate would have The Edge, because the mic is just deadlier than the lute.

Glued to the Tube…

No, not the YouTube, the boob tube, that thing that people keep saying that no one is watching anymore because of the Internets.

It’s been a busy week so far, and it’s only been made busier because I have actually found some shows to watch. This is newsworthy because I haven’t gotten and stayed excited for a television show since Yu-gi-Uh! was on broadcast.

The shows that have grabbed and are vying to hold my attention are Deadliest Warrior, which I covered in the blog today, and Krod Mandoon, which comes on tomorrow. I might have a writeup on that for next week’s blog update.

Of course, in addition to all this TV watching, there’s my usual suite of Things to Do, like CottonFluff and so on, and I need to get back to work.

Be good,

-Sketch.

Warriors of the World.

Who has the Deadliest Logo?

Who has the Deadliest Logo?

Check out my brief spate of Twittering through the premiere episode here: http://twitter.com/sapo_group

Savage killing machines from bygone eras tearing into each other for your amusement. No, I’m not talking about Jurassic Fight Club (although I will in a moment), I’m talking about Deadliest Warrior a show in a similarly opened vein that instead of examining fossil records and performing 35 minutes of forensics and speculation, fills its time slot with fairly graphic weapons simulations, heavily recycled footage of warriors doing their thing, and friendly banter.

This last item makes Warrior more interesting than Jurassic, for while both of the shows have essentially the same theme: ‘Here’s What We Think Might Have Happened in This Confrontation Based on Science’, Warrior does it more compellingly, as opposed to Jurassic’s heavy reliance on a highly enthusiastic, but somewhat uninteresting Dinosaur George.

Too much George, not enough Dinosaur.

Too much George, not enough Dinosaur.

By making it into a competition between the teams trying to prove their fighter’s worth, the show’s clunky weapons simulation scenes become a lot more interesting. You suddenly have a stake in one of the teams being able to convince the judges that they deserve the ‘edge’, because ultimately, that’s what the computer is going to use to determine the outcome of the 1000 simulated fights that decide who wins. It’s like American Idol, but with more stabbing. While nothing’s been mentioned yet, I’m hoping that there will be some sort of bracket system, where each week’s winner goes on to face the winners of other weeks, ultimately culminating in a big crazy season finale to determine who truly is the Deadliest Warrior, ala Fred Saberhagen’s Berserker Planet.

On its inaugural night, Deadliest Warrior featured a Roman Gladiator facing off against an Apache Warrior, a matchup of a stealthy and merciless guerilla fighter versus a brawny bruiser known for taking and giving out punishment.

Both teams tried to sway the judges by bringing up their warriors ‘mindsets; the Gladiator team insisted that their combatant would not back down and simply batter his opponent to bits, and that the Apache would prefer to hit and run, but would not be able to in the arena; whereas the Apache team maintained that the Gladiator would be too slow and bulky, and his armor would restrict him from even seeing the swifter Apache approaching.

Both weapon sets turned out to be terrifyingly effective- even an innocuous sling bullet proved perfectly capable of staving in a human skull, but the Apache team had an ace in the hole that the Gladiator could not counter effectively enough- the bow and arrow. (Notice how laid back Alan Tafoya is as he demonstrates the bow’s effectiveness- as if he already knows that he’s won.)

Being able to reliably kill his opponent at a range of just under 50 feet without suffering harm led the Apache to win two-thirds of the simulated combats, at least according to the judges, and this will likely prove to be the downfall of most, if not all, of the fighters in the weeks to come. The judges took this aspect of an otherwise fairly well-balanced matchup, and let it tip the scales violently in favor of the Apache.

In a strict hand-to-hand contest, the Gladiator would have won, in my book, although the crafty Apache could have likely gotten around his shield and cut up his super-exposed chest a bit, much to the pleasure of the crowd. As it was already noted in the messageboard on SpikeTV’s site, the Gladiator’s cestus had shockingly little effect on the Apache’s face, despite its cow-maiming properties proven in the lab. The Gladiator should have won at that point, but it seems that the writers left that sequence in to make it more visually interesting. The full episode is online here- you can decide for yourself: http://www.spike.com/full-episode/apache-vs-gladiator/31444

Next week’s confrontation is Ninja vs. Spartan:

This looks like another bad matchup of stealth versus strength. Take away the anime-style powers that real ninjas never had, and it seems to get worse. Perhaps the ninja will surprise us, but the Spartan seems to have more armor and a bigger shield than the Gladiator did, and I’m betting that the Spartan team will play up the shield-wall tactic.

Other fights for this season include Taliban vs. IRA, Yakuza vs. Mafia, Green Beret vs. Spetznaz, Maori vs. Shaolin Monks, and a few fights that I’m actually interested in:

Viking vs. Samurai’ This can’t end well for anyone. But it’ll probably be fun to watch. Either the Samurai knocks the Viking down with the one sword stroke that they are famous for, or the Viking goes berserk and lays into him with an axe.
Pirate vs. Knight’ Does the pirate have a pistol? If so, based solely on the severe advantage that the bow gave the Apache, the Pirate wins. I’m rooting for the Knight, though.
William Wallace vs. Shaka Zulu’ This sounds ridiculous, and not necessarily in a bad way. However, since Wallace is known for shooting lightning bolts from his arse, I think that Zulu will not have much of a chance in this matchup.

On the whole, Deadliest Warrior is an entertaining bit of late-night TV. Probably not worth staying up for, but if you can DVR it, it’s a good way to spend an afternoon.

Violently yours,
-Sketch

Weekend in Review: Sunday at Comic-Con

Somehow, this post got delayed by a little over a month. While it’s not quite relevant, it was sitting on my desk for all that time, and kept getting shoved to the side.

So without further ado, I present to you my photoblog of Sunday at the New York Comic-Con 2009.

Sunday was a bright and, well, sunny day, a well as being Kids’ Day. As I walked to the convention, there were children being hoisted on shoulders and being told all sorts of fanciful half-truths to conceal the fact that they were being led to the con, most likely to surprise them.

Getting there is half the Fun.

Getting there is half the Fun.

The place was jumping when I arrived in the early afternoon, and the crowds were eagerly taking it all in. Faker stirred up a fair amount of surprised reactions,? and the crowd continually surged around him as they went into the Dealer’s Area or paused to take photos with him. Somewhere on Eternia, Adam is sharpening his magic sword.

Faker stands tall over his admirers.

Faker stands tall over his admirers.

I don’t know what this guy was, but people seemed to be very into him. More so when his head stopped bobbling and he wandered around the con.

Sits right on the dashboard- if you're Galactus, maybe.

Sits right on the dashboard- if you're Galactus, maybe.

Kids love an armored space guy. But perhaps the craziest thing that happened that day was when that black guy in the left corner…

They really do love Space guys. I'm telling you.

They really do love Space guys. I'm telling you.

turned into a Stormtrooper! I quickly fled the scene before the Force turned me into an Ewok or something.

Magical Transformation into a Stormtrooper... The Force was not quite as strong in that one.

Magical Transformation into a Stormtrooper... The Force was not quite as strong in that one.

After hiding out in a panel or two, I figured it was safe to walk the floor a bit more. That was where I was wrong. As I made my way around, some wild Pokemon appeared. I managed to get away safely, but it was a close one, let me tell you.

Charizard and Venasaur were up to no good. Me and my Tentacruel were having none of that.

Charizard and Venasaur were up to no good. Me and my Tentacruel were having none of that.

While I tried to be discreet with taking pictures of the Desktop Heroes booth…

Crikey! Look at that booth!

Crikey! Look at that booth!

I was quickly spotted, and any hope of capturing these gentle creatures in their natural habitat was shattered. I stowed my camera and fled before I did any more damage to their fragile convention ecosystem.

It was like when that plane flew over that undiscovered tribe, and the warriros started throeing spears at it.

It was like when that plane flew over that undiscovered tribe, and the warriors started throwing spears at it.

There was so much awesome going on with this group that they made my camera go blurry.

I'm prety sure they were vampires or something when they're not cosplaying.

I figure that they're vampires or something when they're not cosplaying.

I’m serious. These were the best two out of a large handful of pictures that I shot of them during the day.

Maybe half-vampires. Or possibly reverse vampires, considering that it was the middle of the afternoon.

Maybe half-vampires. Or possibly reverse vampires, considering that it was the middle of the afternoon.

While walking down a lonely stretch of carpet towards the back of the convention, I found CC the Banana. He was in good spirits, (as you can see across his peel,) and posed for me.

He's got fan appeal.

He's got fan appeal.

While I’m not excited about the upcoming GI Joe movie, I was excited about this guy’s costume. It was sweet. I wish that my camera was better so I could have shown you all the details. Funny thing was that he was pretty short, almost like a Mini-Cobra Commander.

Evil. Now in bite-size!

Evil. Now in bite-size!

I don’t think that I’ve ever seen anyone dress up as a Disney Princess at a convention, and Belle as a commoner is probably the last one I would expect (with the first being Princess Jasmine, and the second probably being Ariel, and Aurora from Sleeping Beauty as a close third), so there was something there that wasn’t there before, as far as this reporter’s concerned, anyhow.

Want something more than this provincial life? Visit the NY Comic-Con!

Want something more than this provincial life? Visit the NY Comic-Con!

Finally, the magic ended, and the convention offically closed. Faker was still vigilant, but only seemed concerned with people who might be trying to sneak into the con, so I snapped a few pictures of him as I walked out. If this one hadn’t been so blurry (lousy QuickCam Traveler…) It’d actually be a really good shot.

I probably used up all of my Artistic Photography powers with this one.

I probably used up all of my Artistic Photography powers with this one.

Finally, there was nothing left to do but join the masses leaving the convention, and walk back to 6th Avenue to take the train back to Brooklyn, and await the Comic-Con’s return in October.

You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here.

You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here.

Time Flies…

Period.

Days seem to run into one another, and next thing you know, Anime Boston (or Sapo Entertainment’s birthday, regardless of the date that the convention falls on, as we like to say around here,) is right around the corner.

This will mark the fifth Anime Boston- I mean, the fifth year that Sapo Entertainment’s been trucking along. It’s a little strange to look back and think on all the things that we’ve done, and still have as yet to do in this little plot of Internet that we call our own, and the Real World, too.

So thanks for stopping by, whether this is your first year following our intrepid journey. The blog will be resuming its regular schedule this week, and keep your eyes peeled for the next CottonFluff Hollow page on April 4th.

-P