This Delicious Week

Shared bookmarks for delicious user

Posted in Delicious

House Blend

Written by me, drawn by the incomparable Calamity Jon Morris!

Posted in Comics | Tagged , ,

I Had That! #22: Qonto

(For today’s “I Had That”, I’m reposting part of a blog post from two years ago today which is perfect for this feature.)

Not long ago, during a busy work day, I posted this picture:

I wanted to say more about it then, but I just didn’t have time. I’ll tell you about it now.

It’s a little (about 2″ tall) robot toy I bought when I was a kid. It’s die-cast except for the head and arms, and it has little wheels on the bottom. The head and arms are articulated. I got it at Barker’s, which was a department store on Jefferson Highway at Folse street, and is now a Winn-Dixie. It was called “Qonto” and I knew nothing about it other than it looked cool. They had a bigger one with all sorts of features which I coveted but never got. I’ve lost or gotten rid of a lot of toys over the years, but I still have Qonto. It wasn’t until a while back that I decided to look up what the heck he was.

Here’s what I’ve found out. In 1978 Japan answered the call of Star Wars with its own space opera, Message From Space (the cast includes Sonny Chiba, Vic Morrow, and, according to IMDB, Chris Isaak.) I don’t know that I’ve ever seen it, though it did get a US release. It was spun off into a Japanese TV series called Message from Space: Galactic Wars. It’s there that the robot “Tonto” makes its appearance. Bandai created toys and brought the robot to the US, renaming him “Qonto” for obvious reasons.

Qonto featured heavily into my playtime once I got him. He’s scaled pretty well with Kenner Star Wars figures and became a sidekick to my Doctor Who analogue character.

When did I get it? I’m not sure. Sources list these as coming out in 1978, which seems about right.

Do I still have it? Yep! That’s mine in the photo.

Posted in Toys | Tagged ,

This Delicious Week

Shared bookmarks for delicious user

Posted in Delicious

Protect Your Identity With This One Simple Life Hack

The other day I was watching an episode of The X-Files in which a dead guy came back to life in another man’s body. When he tried to tell his wife who he was, she didn’t believe him. I laughed, because this is a problem I will never have.

See, after watching some Buffy, Doctor Who, Star Trek, and other nerd shows, we have a system. A code phrase that only we know. If one of us is ever rejuvenated, aged, Freaky Fridayed, mind-swapped with a gorilla or dog, regenerated, cloned (technical definition), time-traveled, or so forth, we can instantly prove our identity to the other by saying this code phrase.

It also works the other way. In case of android duplicate, imperfect double, shape-shifting mutant/alien, Doppelganger, high-quality rubber face mask, illusion, and other situations it can be used to expose the fraud right away.

I’m surprised more couples don’t have such a code phrase. Every one I’ve talked to acted like this was new to them, but in how many TV and movie situations would it have solved the problem in an instant? Why wouldn’t you do it?

It’s not perfect. We don’t know enough about parallel dimensions to know if the code phrase is unique to this one. In some cases of body duplication memories may be preserved. It’s possible that one could be hypnotized against one’s will and still be able to access the code phrase. Clones are a big mess I’m not even prepared to deal with. Even with those limitations, I think the system is solid enough to recommend.

Don’t waste any time! You never know when an errant wish or malevolent gris-gris will put you in this situation! Talk to your partner and develop a top secret code phrase right now! Make it unusual so that it’s not easily guessed, but don’t make it too elaborate or you’ll have trouble scratching it into the dirt when you’re in your bear form.

Maybe you’ll never use it. Maybe you won’t be one of the statistics. But isn’t it better to have some kind of protection to keep from being an X-File yourself?

Posted in Misc | Tagged

Pie in the Skyrim

i herd u believe in ghosts lol

I haven’t talked about the Xbox in a while, but I have been playing it. The game du jour is Skyrim. I’m a noble warrior maiden named Hedruga, who wears heavy armor and smashes around with a two-handed hammer. I don’t use much magic, and only go with archery when it has the possibility of being funny. I’m level 20 at the moment, and no idea how far I am into it.

I’m going to be honest, I’m largely playing out of inertia. The game isn’t doing much of anything for me. I absolutely could not care less about this world and its inhabitants. There’s some kind of war going on that I fall asleep every time someone tells me about it. I’m a “Dragonborn” which means I can learn Dragon shouts and absorb Dragon souls and zzzzzz. I really think I’ve reached my absolute limit on fantasy stuff.

It doesn’t help that it takes place in the Land of Assholes. Everyone is either a jerk or a moron and the developers assume you want to be a jerk as well. Case in point: I got to a town that is corrupt, being run by a crime lord and the Thieves’ Guild. Everyone in the town hates the thieves, and there’s even a person in the town who says she wants to bring them down, but that isn’t an option. There’s no quest to clean up the town. Instead there’s a long (and apparently stupid) quest to join up. Last night I found out that the guy who’s fighting the Evil Empire in this dumb war is hell of racist. So yay, let me mos def choose a side there. The entire game is full of ugly, hopeless bits like that, with little humor or levity to offset it. I just got a quest to go murder an old woman because she’s a bad orphanage-runner.

Not giving a damn about the world or its inhabitants, I’m a tourist, just wandering around discovering places. But there’s only so much of that that’s interesting, since what you discover is yet another spider cave, bandit camp, or skeleton tomb.

(Now here’s one bit of humor I found. I went to a town and this guy tells me not to go into the barrow nearby, as it’s haunted. Of course, I go, and it turns out there’s this other dude who’s been pretending to be a g-g-g-ghost to scare away people from a treasure he thinks is down there. He laughs at the townsfolk for being superstitious, and when I put an end to this (with my hammer) the original guy feels dumb for falling for the ruse. But this is a world where there are alive skeletons and necromancers and zombies and other creepy stuff. They thought the barrow had spooks in it because THAT IS WHERE SPOOKS ACTUALLY LIVE. I go there looking for them! Assuming ANY barrow has spooks in it is perfectly rational behavior!)

I have more money than god and very few critters I’ve encountered give me a hard time, but that could be because I haven’t progressed the main story too far. Giants can kill me by looking at me crosseyed, but then again they leave you alone if you leave them alone, so giants are cool by me. As I say, I haven’t done anything with magic or stealth. I’ve done a little bit of alchemy just for something to do and I’ve enchanted a couple things, but nothing major.

Bethesda Studios did Skyrim and it looks a lot like Fallout 3 in many ways, but all that does is make me wish I was playing Fallout 3 instead. In that game, exploring turned up cool places and bits of story. Here it’s just more of the same.

I feel like bagging it in favor of something else, but I don’t know what that would be, other than Fallout or Borderlands, the only games I seem to enjoy. On the other hand, the only food item my character carries around is an apple pie she’s saving for when she finishes the game. If I don’t finish, I deny Hedruga her victory pie, and I don’t want to be the person who does that.

Posted in Videogames | Tagged , ,

Marrying Mr. Darcy

Despite playing a lot of boardgames, I have only Kickstarted a handful. For a long time I didn’t see much reason to Kickstart any, as I already have a ton of games, and more to choose from to purchase, all of which have the added advantage of already existing. The game that first convinced me otherwise was Marrying Mr. Darcy, a card game based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, by Erika Svanoe.

Now, despite this being the second Pride and Prejudice game I own, I’m not a huge fan of the book. I’ve tried to read it twice and I’ve never gotten more than 20 pages in. It’s just not a world I care at all about spending a lot of time in. (Becky is a fan, though.)

However, a game by a woman developer, with an atypical theme, at a reasonable price with attractive artwork? That’s something I could definitely get behind. I backed it and a while back received my copy.

Now, the problem with a light, Pride and Prejudice-themed card game is finding the right people to play with, so it didn’t get played right away, but this weekend I broke it out and we gave it a go.

The game is divided into two parts. During the Courtship phase you draw Event cards and all kinds of things happen to you. You can go to parties, have tea time, play the pianoforte — there’s just no limit! You also can improve your character by playing cards to increase your Wit, Beauty, Friendliness, and Reputation. Also your Cunning and Dowry, which are sort of separate things. The goal is to try and meet the standards of your dream suitor, of whom there are six. You can also scratch the eyes out of your rivals, except we’re all ladies here, so you just whisper damning indictments of their qualities over scones.

When the events run out it’s Proposal time. In order of Cunning, you see which suitors you can qualify for, and roll a die for each one. On a 1-3, they tell you to hit the bricks, but on a 4-6 they propose! You can accept the proposal or turn them down, hoping for a better one. If you end up without a man, you roll on the Old Maid table to see your ultimate fate. You see how many points your mate or Old Maid-ness scored you, add up your character points, and high score wins.

If it sounds incredibly random, it is. You don’t have a lot of control over your fate, though there is enough to make things interesting. I’ve described it as “Pride and Prejudice and Talisman”, where you run around drawing cards and trying to beef up your character for the final showdown. It’s more of what’s called (often condescendingly) an “experience game”.

If you get into the theme, it’s a lot of fun. In our game I was Jane Bennett, and I was the odds-on favorite to win. Matt had been forced into a marriage with Mr. Wickham that he couldn’t spare the Reputation to get out of, and I had more feminine qualities than Becky or Satoko (their characters, I mean. They’re both lovely women.) However, my perfect match, Mr. Bingley, ended up going off to London and never came back, the cad! I wasn’t particularly Cunning, so by the time my Proposal phase came up, everyone had been cherry-picked and I only had one possible suitor, who rejected me. I ended up an Old Maid and even rolled poorly on that chart, so I was alone and miserable (though Beautiful and Friendly) for the rest of my short life. Satoko’s Caroline Bingley ended up winning.

However, in that game, nobody Married Mr. Darcy, so could we actually claim we’d played Marrying Mr. Darcy??

It got another play yesterday with my regular game group. This time Mr. Darcy did get married, to Chris, through a Surprise Proposal.

The fact that Darcy went for a scandalous hussy known for wearing low-cut gowns and shamelessly flirting with soldiers made me question whether or not he’s such a catch after all. Meanwhile, I, also playing Caroline Bingley, won by gold-digging and settling for Mr. Denny instead of holding out and risking Old Maiditude for Col Fitzwilliam.

Marrying Mr. Darcy is a feather-light yet fun game. The artwork is great and the card text is completely charming and hilarious. I’m totally pleased with my backing of it. If it sounds like something you might enjoy, you can get a copy at the Marrying Mr. Darcy website.

Posted in Boardgames | Tagged , ,

I Had That! #21: Shogun Warriors

Those of you who were around during the time period I’ve been documenting knew this would be an eventual entry. When the Shogun Warriors hit America in 1979, they hit hard. There was no way to be 11 years old, see one of these, and not instantly make whatever unholy pacts it took to get one. Two-foot tall cool looking robots fitted with missiles and little tiny spaceships and spring-loaded fists and axes? If J.R. Ewing on Dallas wasn’t spending his millions on these, why did he even have money?

My first experience with them was seeing my friend Scott MacDonald’s “Mazinger” (the middle one above) figure and being bowled over by it. I hadn’t yet seen these things in the store yet, so when he wheeled this toy out I couldn’t even process it. Such was my envy that I went home and attempted to build as big a robot as I could out of Legos. Somehow my squat, square, sad little thing failed to capture the magic.

Eventually I would be the owner of a Raydeen (left) and Dragun (right). I don’t remember what they got up to in their adventures, but I’m sure it involved numerous disputes to be solved through missile-firing combat. In addition to the big figures I also had a little die-cast guy named Poseidon.

Apparently he came in different sizes, and I had the smallest one, with the non-firing missile launchers on his shoulders. Wait, there are no missile launchers on his shoulders! That’s because one broke off accidentally, and as I would rather have a broken toy than an asymmetric one, I broke the other off. That story right there tells you a lot about me as a kid.

One memorable Christmas my Aunt Zu gave me the companion to the Shoguns, Godzilla.


I instantly ran over to her and hugged and kissed her and showered all the affection I had, as this was clearly the Best Toy Ever. He spit a tiny tongue of fire and shot his fist off, just like the real Godzilla! (Very disappointed the most recent movie once again failed to acknowledge Big G’s fist-firing ability.)

Interestingly, although Marvel Comics had a Shogun Warriors comic book, I’ve never read it. For some reason, I wasn’t interested in hearing more about them.

When did I get it? According to sources, they came out in 1979. I probably got them in that year, and Godzilla for Christmas of 1980? I don’t really remember too well.

Do I still have it? The giant robots and Godzilla are all gone. The only trace that remains is this:

That’s one of the plastic spaceships Raydeen shot out of his chest. I’ve held on to that all this time. I also still have the Poseidon in the image above. I do have, however, more recent (smaller) toys of both Raydeen and Dragun, up on the nerd shelves.

Posted in Toys | Tagged , ,