Happy New Year 2004, Finally!

Our holiday was very nice. We went to Louisiana where we saw our families, friends, and family friends. We both did very well for Christmas gifts, getting a lot of DVDs (Buffy Season 3, Pirates of the Caribbean, War of the Worlds, Firefly), some CDs, (Return of the King, Badly Drawn Boy, Guster, Grandaddy), books, and so forth. Despite the Orange level Chicken Little Alert, we experienced no problems with our air travel.

One of the gifts I got was a really cool book called Virtual Lego. It’s a guide to LDraw, a program that allows one to build with Legos using the computer. (It includes a CD containing the Ldraw software.) In addition to showing you how to use the software, it also offers techniques for building. I highly recommend it for any Lego enthusiast. I used it to make these instructions for building a Mini-Mini AAT. In addition to this book, I also got the new Lego Cantina set, featuring a Greedo minifig and a Dewback. It’s swell!

I mentioned that we got the Firefly DVD. For the many of you who have never heard of Firefly, it was a short-lived show on Fox created by Joss Whedon (of Buffy fame). It’s a space western, and we really enjoyed it. However, Fox TV was committed to sabotaging it from the get-go. This box set contains the entire first season, which is the entire run of the series, since it was quickly canceled. In fact, it’s more than the entire run, because it contains three episodes that Fox didn’t even bother to show. If you want to simulate watching Firefly on Fox, get this box set, watch the episodes out of order (saving the Pilot episode for the very last), don’t watch three of them, don’t tell anyone you have it, and every now and then, sit down to watch it and instead turn on a baseball game. We’ve been watching the episodes in order, however, and it turns out that there was a reason Joss Whedon put them in that order. Who knew? Just when I think I’ve run out of ways to hate Fox, they remind me of new ones.

Speaking of hatred, I had a delightful computer experience last week. I went to go do a standard Windows security upgrade and ended up locking my computer in an endless loop. Windows would boot up and then immediately shut back down. I ended up having to do a new Windows installation and reinstall all my software. I love Microsoft so much, that I swear my next computer will be a Mac. I am tired of dealing with Windows. The only reason I haven’t switched to Linux is because I enjoy playing games and dislike constantly screwing around with my computer (if I want to spend all my time screwing with my machine and installing stuff, I’ll just stick to Windows) and because I like playing games on the computer. However, more and more games are coming out for the Mac now, so it’s becoming a very viable option for me.

Another option for gaming is the PS2. After almost two years of not buying a single PS2 game, I just got three “new” ones: Prince of Persia, Return of the King, and Ratchet and Clank. Return of the King is one Becky and I are playing together and we’re finding it HARD. Ratchet and Clank I’ve played with a little and it looks cute and fun, which means it probably grows arms and beats me with rusted harpoons on the final level. I’ve been playing a lot of Prince of Persia, and have been really enjoying it.

We also played some analog games. For New Years Eve we went out to dinner with TJ and Mary and then played games at their place. One of the games was one I’d heard of but not played, called “Apples to Apples”. In it, the players have cards with words on them like “The Statue of Liberty,” “Pocket Lint,” “Airline Food,” “George Washington,” “Prom Night.” The judge person then displays a card that says something like, “Cowardly” and each player plays, face down, a card they feel best represents the card the judge played. The judge then gathers the cards, shuffles them, and selects what he feels is the best choice. It was very silly and a lot of fun. Friday we went by Modern Myths and picked up an expansion for the game (since the game consists only of two types of cards, you can play with just the expansions) and played with Beth and Mark and with Dan and Jen. Dan just called and said he and Jen found the actual game on sale and picked us up a copy. Thanks Dan! We also played, since the last time I wrote to you all, Cranium, 25 Words or Less, Magdar, Hissss (a card game we bought for our nephew, Adam — you make snakes by matching colors), and Bandu, at which Dan is the Bandu-Mastah, or so he claims. It’s been quite a gameful time.

As for comics, I bought a couple more manga, but I need to slow down on that. I got Hellsing and Rising Stars of Manga, both of which are good. Rising Stars is an anthology consisting of winners of a contest sponsored by Tokyopop for amateur, American manga artists. Some of the stories were fun, some weren’t really my thing, and some I’d pick up if they were regular books. One thing that bugged me was the number of misspelled words in the books. It’s good to see we’re all working together to help keep the comics medium alive by putting out quality product. Nothing says “professional” like writers who don’t bother to consult a dictionary and publishers who don’t bother to edit. I see this a lot in American comics as well, and it’s frustrating. We’ve got digital coloring, digitized lettering, but we can’t spell-check the things? Anyway, I also got a new Queen and Country TPB and a few other things. I’ll do some reviews soon.

I mentioned Legos, Firefly, computer games, board games, and comics — surely I’ve left something out. Oh yes, role-playing games! Our group will be starting up again soon. This time we’re doing GURPS Fantasy. We’re a group of dwarves searching for a lost tribe of our brethren. I’ve never played GURPS rules before, so I’m looking forward to it. I also got the D&D 3.5 Monster Manual and the new Darwin’s World book.

So welcome 2004. Hard to believe that a year ago we were in Illinois, had no idea we’d be in Massachusetts soon, and had had someone get murdered in front of our house. What a big year 2003 was! My New Years resolutions largely involve finishing projects I’ve started, such as my Ground Zero RPG and editing my NaNoWriMo novel.

I’m back at the controls of Legomancer now, piloting this thing with my usual combination of panache, daring, and an enormous dose of geek. Speaking of which, check out this trailer for Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.

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