trail

Whew. Lots of improv this weekend. Kabaam! was awesome, directing Maestro with Aden was fun. Yesterday was “resting” – we took off our usual IFE rehearsal on account of folks being out of town and stuff, and I spent all day hanging out with and driving around with Pai. We had a trip to one of those big kiddie play places planned out (while Bernie mulched and trimmed and cleaned up the yard at the old house, in preparation for staging), but it turns out that it was closed on Sundays. Lazy!

So, instead, we swung by a couple of other play-related hotspots – first, for me, Dragon’s Lair, where I picked up a copy of Trail of Cthulhu, in preparation for a game this week. I also ran into my buddy Nick, who apparently works there, and we jawed about how awesome In A Wicked Age is, and we should play soon, and so on. Rad. Paidia has never been there, but once she realized that she was surrounded by toys, she became very interested. Unfortunately, game nerds are a bit more particular about who knocks their little dolls – oops, I mean miniatures – around, so we went to a more toddler-appropriate place.

Yes, Toys-R-Us. As a grown-up (for a very loose definition of the term), it’s a pretty depressing place. Big, kind of grimy, a little deserted feeling, and outside of the “science toys” corner, full of irritating branded crap. There’s almost nothing there that doesn’t have some kind of character or tie-in to a big corporation – already, just from having one sippy cup with that Dora character on it, Pai knows who she is, and gravitates towards the Dora-branded legos over the other ones. Ah, well. Anyway, it’s a much better place to let her run around and pull stuff off the shelves and play with the shiny things for a while. I used to work at a Toys-R-Us in college, and I remember the lameness of the last hour or two after closing when we had to do reshelving, so I was pretty conscious about putting stuff back afterwards. We wound up with a new noise-making book and a stuffed dog that she really liked, and headed home.

I’m mostly caught up on paying work right now, so instead of jumping into one of my non-paying computor projects, I set to printing up and cutting up cards for a couple of tabletop prototypes that are meant to be sent off to playtesting groups and agents and whatnot this week. I’m more interested in what the blind playtesters have to say than anything else. (Not literally blind – just people who have never seen the games before, and who won’t have me there to explain the rules to them.) Now that we’ve found a fairly decent print-on-demand solution for card-making, it feels like I’m really close to having at least two more card games to push out soon on Gizmet, and maybe one other light dexterity game. So, yay.

Today is a holiday (I believe), so, no meetings! Instead, we drop Paidia off at the babysitter, and get to go out on a date to see Iron Man at the Drafthouse. Also, it’s our eleven year anniversary (observed). That’s, like, a long time.

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pineapple

Improv For Evil, you done me proud. Way to step up to the narrative, accept and fulfill challenges, and stay off the bus to CrazyTown. More like that!

Also, big Gizmet contest for the new game over at BoardGameGeek. Go!

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vitreous

This afternoon, I was playing with Paidia, and since all the DVDs are still packed away, we were watching little clips of My Neighbor Totoro on YouTube – she totally loves that movie, and she was getting kind of cranky, so out comes the forest trolls and dust sprites and whatnot to soothe the savage little goblin. She dances around to the song, keeps repeating “Totoro! Totoro!” as best as she can at seventeen months, and eventually dive-bombs herself into my big blue beanbag chair in my office.

Toddlers being what they are, they are capable of watching the same three or four minute clip over and over and over again, which is great for me, because there’s only a couple of clips readily available that will hold her attention. As I’m watching and singing along with her, though, I notice something different in the translation on the YouTube clip, something that isn’t on any of the subtitle tracks on the DVD that we have. There’s a little bit in the movie after the girls discover the house is infested with dust sprites, and they’re yelling and laughing to either scare them away, or get them to appear, it’s not really clear which. Here’s the part that’s not in our edition of the film:

WE'LL PLUCK YOUR EYES OUT!

I don’t speak but a word or three of Japanese, so I don’t know if they’re actually saying that or not, but jeez. I don’t know if that’s a mis-translation, or a traditional threat to make towards ghosts and spirits, or if those cute little girls are actually threatening the cute little susuwatari with horrendous ocular damage.

aww. evil little children.

Horrendous ocular damage. Definitely.

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case

Wigu is back. That is awesome. End of line.

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hypochondria

Whew. Tired. Let’s work backwards. It’s hot. Been walking around with Pai, getting her to sleep, checking out the neighborhood. It’s pretty darn nice and quiet, but there sure are a lot of white people around with big houses and nice lawns. If I was the type to envy such things, I’d be having a hard time of it, but I think we’ve got a pretty decent setup here, and anything else would require hiring like butlers and groundskeepers and a kitchen staff and whatever else white people with big houses and nice lawns need. Speaking of, hot and super tired because our nanny, Marta, came over to tell us that she can’t come over today because of a double family medical emergency – yeesh.

This normally isn’t a problem for me, but I only got two hours of sleep last night. Why? Mimes. Mimes, and their dark, silent elder gods. And beating up the occasional hobo here and there. I’ve gotta say, that was a fine game, if you like Penny Arcade, enjoy the writing and art style, don’t mind a lot of swearing and general offensiveness, and take kindly to cel-shaded action-RPGs. I do, so, yay. I downloaded it from XBLA last night around midnight with the intention of checking out the demo and maybe starting the first bit if I was inclined to drop however many points of fake Microsoft money they wanted for it. I realized my error as I was approaching the final mime-thulhu boss god-incarnate around 6am. So, there’s that. But, time well spent, and I’d probably give those Penny Arcade guys twenty bucks even if the game wasn’t good, just for being entertaining for the last decade or so for free.

So, earlier that evening, before that whole fruit-sodomizing adventure, I was at the Hideout for my first Kabaam! rehearsal. A good chunk of the regular cast (Jason, Roy, Kareem, Kaci, Kacey… I think that’s it…) is going to be out of town this weekend at the Out of Bounds West festival in LA, so Asaf brought in Arthur Simone and me to fill in on Saturday, and maybe another time or two when people are out. I’ve seen the show a couple of times already, and it’s super fun. The format is really tight, and takes a lot of pressure off of both the performers and the “editor” (narrator), which frees everyone up to just really get into their characters and have a blast. Rehearsal went great, but there was the ever-present air conditioning issue making the theater pretty warm, and there’s a lot of running around and yelling and stage combat and flying and superpowers and whatnot, so by the end of it, pretty whooped. In a good way, though. I’m totally looking forward to the show – and I’ll be directing Maestro with my buddy Aden directly afterwards, so, full night of fun and frolic ahead. Oh, and for those of you in the Austin area, Improv For Evil is also doing the Double Barrel show at the Hideout at 10pm on Friday (tomorrow), so come on out. Busy busy busy.

And also, for the record, FlashDevelop rocks pretty hard. More on that in a future installment.

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bunnylunch

Today I had a chance to fiddle around a little bit with the new Google App Engine SDK/platform. It’s basically your now-standard MVC/templatey/ORM webapp kind of thing that all the kids are into these days, using python as the scripting language and YAML for configuration. The big win is that you get to use Google’s cluster for processing and database storage, and the near-ubiquitous Google login system for user authentication – so if someone has a gmail account or whatever, they won’t have to go through a whole ‘nother registration process for your application. It’s all free for starters, and probably for pay later on, or for bigger projects or whatever.

They’re still in beta (for real beta, it looks like, not Web 2.0 Beta), so I just got my notification email today that said that all my google-riffic hookups and whatnot were hooked up. Downloaded the SDK, which runs on your local machine, whatever that may be, and ran through the tutorial. Pretty simple, pretty straightforward, and before too long, got the databasey guestbooky hello world application running and loaded onto their servers. Rad. When I get a little bit of spare time, I’m definitely going to play with this some more – it’s not the super-duperest, and my python is a little rusty, but it seems like a pretty simple way to get a quick application up and running without having to dick around with all the Rails setup and configuration and hosting and the glavin.

I’ve also been looking at all the sweet new stuff that’s coming with Flash 10. There is a whole gaggle of gung-ho edge-bleeders that have gotten their new players installed and hooked up their open source development environments with the new Flex libraries or whatever and have cranked out some crazy new 3-D, tone-generating, pixel-bending, file-referencing sample applications. Rotten kids these days. I’m pretty much restricting my professional technology focus to this kind of stuff, on account of not being able to keep up with every single interesting webby-clienty-servery-scripty technology that I could possibly use to build stuff, and I’m still feeling like I’m falling behind, even before the new version of my niche is released. Old and tired, and I got shit to do, man.

And yet, the work is there, and I get the impression that I’m in a decent-sized minority who can still do it. So, yay the future. Bring it.

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sticky

It was a rough day on the local internets here. As part of the big move to Rockingham Palace, I have dropped the majority of my home-IT-guy duties by pulling the plug on the static IP on the fat DSL line that hosted majcher.com and it’s cohort, instead relying on some cheap AT&T sucko broadband for the new place, and moving all essential services over to DreamHost. So, of course, within a week or so of making the transition relatively smoothly, I descend into a two-part story of network lameness.

First, the sucko DSL router/modem they give you for your plain vanilla Joe Dumbass internets is more deeply sucktastic than I had originally anticipated. I was expecting some ass upstream, but it turns out that if you try to do anything that actually requires any amount of outbound connections, the hardware goes nips up and has to re-sync to the line or whatever. This mostly means that I have to restrict my hoisting of the black flag to off-hours, and suffer tedious photo and video uploads. Also, their ass-face account activation thinger dumped a bunch of crapware on me, and set all my browser search defaults from Google to Yahoo, the bastards, so I spent a little bit of valuable time resetting all my junk. Jerks.

Part two began this morning, when I woke up to a “server down” email. Usually that’s just a quick blip, up and down, but a quick check revealed that all the sites that I serve from DreamHost are down, and when I went to ssh in to see what was up, I discovered that the actual machine was dead, too. So I did my due diligence, fiddled with what I could, sent off the obligatory service tickets, shrugged, and went off to my regular Monday  client meeting. These are the advantages and disadvantages of relying on someone else to host your stuff – on one hand, all you can do is poke the right email addresses and wait for them to fix it, but then again, you’re not the one running around like a crazy person and getting all stressed while you scurry trying to get everything more or less upright again. Still, our cozy little IRC channel was down (yay, DH private servers!), and without that, I’m cut off from a good number of people that I’d rather not be cut off from. I mean, there’s always Twitter, but that only goes so far.

Anyway, I eventually got a nice email with some good details about what went down from the happy DreamHost technical staff, and everything is right side up again. Now I just need to wrestle a decent router out of Yahoo so I can actually use my tubes like a normal person. I haven’t gotten around to setting up the television and accompanying peripherals in the new place yet, but if this piece of junk has trouble handling Xbox Live, we’re going have words, 2Wire and me.

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lots

I ate three of these for dinner. Not the best idea ever.

Also, we live in a new house now. How crazy is that? Real crazy.

More soon.

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Coalescence

Yay, new game!

Coalescence

Step right up, there’s plenty to go around.

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grind

Working.  Work, work, work.

Moving.  Pack, pack, pack.

Improv.  Wokka, wokka, wokka.

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