So begins one of my favorite, easy weeks at work!

Not well enough to hit the gym yet. Argh! I want to get a headstart on the bloaty meal we Americans are obligated to make and consume this Thursday. I’m pushing to get my weight down to 260 and complete over 250 miles on the indoor bike before the year ends.

At least it’s a relatively easy, low-stress work week. Thanks to American schools now taking the whole week off at the expense of children actually learning more. Ergo, the volume will be lower and then the whole country’s give-a-crap meter hits the big E after lunch time on Wednesday. Me? I keep working on as I get the extra pay for the last two days as divorce isn’t cheap. Yeah, I’m still “paying” for it after two years; better luck next year! They’re also easy days. Even Canadians don’t really bother, they follow our lead.

I only feel bummed for my European compatriots on missing out on the time off. I could do without the heavy meal, heightened assholism at the airports and stock footage of bum rushes on Black Friday. I was really shocked at how hard it is to get turkey over there. You’d think they’d like it as it is a good sub for pork products health-wise (short of not eating meat, ha!). I don’t think they’re even fond of chicken as I write this. Anyway, I remember making a silly joke several years ago when Jeremy told me how the only turkeys you get in the Netherlands come from France; they’re not very good by American standards as they’re way smaller and pricey. I responded, it’s due to French turkeys are open range which allows them to smoke and complain constantly, “My life is filled with ennui as all I can say is gobble, gobble.”

One thing I will say I’m thankful about, streaming television! No longer are we held captive by the tyranny of the boring Cowboys or pathetic Lions’ games! No longer do we panic over being the first to get to the local video or Blockbuster store to rent a movie we would like to watch! Videogames have taken a turn for a worse. Sure they’re more immersive and the graphics! To die for! They’re just not “games” though, outside of the sports franchises and some first-person-shooters, they’ve become part-time jobs.

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Cheesy, Christian poem modified for Kenosha decision

I’ve always hated the original poem too.

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Injustice carries the day in WI, as expected

Sooooooo pissed while not really surprised at the outcome of the Rittenhouse murder trial. I don’t care if a bunch of Cheesedick Ammosexuals say the little pimple-faced Nazi was acquitted, he murdered two people. Sadly, good ol’ Rural/Red-state racism and paranoia carried the day. Racism? But his victims were White. Doesn’t matter, it was a Black Lives Matter event.

What was more disgusting was the judge. He practically made the trial a formality to put this killer on a pedestal. He rigged the outcome by saying the prosecution couldn’t call the murdered “victims” while the defense could say “looters” and “rioters.” His phone playing a MAGAt anthem didn’t help. The worst thing in the end. He graduated from Marquette’s law school. As if Joe “Tailgunner” McCarthy weren’t damaging enough. The asshole continued to make my case on why government officials need to be forced into retirement at age 67. His meddling should also be enough to have him removed from his position and the outcome a mistrial. Not sure if the prosecution can press for an appeal while the Far Right and NRA take the little Nazi on a victory tour.

I will take a little solace via the OJ trial, Rittenhouse may be off the hook for murder but the victims’ families can still sue the living crap out of him. Garnish every dime he’ll make “speaking” on Faux News, Newsmax and kissing Trump’s ass. The country knows his ugly face too, may he be looking over his shoulder for the rest of his miserable life, hoping he doesn’t get shanked or sniped by a left-wing vigilante. I think a more fitting fate would the same one Rockwell (founder of the American Nazi Party) received, killed by a fellow member of his sick movement.

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First cold of the Winter season, ugh!

I want to be perfectly clear, it isn’t Covid-19! I started coming down with cold or flu-like symptoms around Wednesday as the temperature dropped and then I felt the sweats. I know there are all the naysayers about the vaccine, sadly, I discovered one at my job who I thought wouldn’t be. Even it’s diagnosed as this, the vaccine should have lessened the horrible outcome.

Being a selfish First Worlder, I’m more annoyed at how being sick and bed-ridden has eaten into my ongoing plans to clean up the house, get a bigger headstart on my Xmas cards, watching streaming shows and finalizing my 2021 Xmas mix. I am happy at how it resulted in more hanging-out time with my kitty Agamemnon! He loves to sleep by and on me as much as he can. If it’s on a bed or the sofa, even better!

Jennifer has been a saint as always as she dropped off a care package of things to help me beat it faster (Wednesday night). I stayed at my house too, didn’t want to spread it to the rest of her family. She’s practically invincible due to her profession being near sick people all the damned time.

As I’m getting closer to being on the mend, now comes the harder part, fighting off the anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed. They’re the side effects of cold medicine, how I love them! I know I will be fine, just not yet. One thing which will help immediately, having dinner, in-person conversation and hanging out with Jennifer tonight. She peruses her TikTok subscriptions while I regain my momentum on writing the individual letters I like to put in our joint Xmas cards.

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This would’ve been a better movie than what I saw in 1992

I can also imagine the horrible, dead-cat breath Alf is breathing in Ripley.

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The University of Austin is as legit as Trump U or Prager Crap

You may have heard about this in the news. I imagine they chose Austin because Phoenix, Liberty, Trump and Con Game were already taken. Worse, they will probably make Alex Jones, Ron Paul and Joe Rogan faculty members. For all of UT’s biggest faults for being a diploma mill to legacy assholes and being a losing, unofficial NFL franchise; real thinking across the spectrum takes place.

Most universities lean more “liberal” due to the Hard Right’s disdain for education and the right/conservatives tend to pursue money over knowledge with gigs at corporations or stink tanks. Professors who lean more to the conservative camp in my experience (most often Business and Engineering) still discuss many possibilities. They may have voted for St. Reagan or Bush the Elder but the majority shared a university primary mission, to expand the boundaries of knowledge no matter where it may take them.

My alma mater, Marquette is easily a center-right school given its ties to the Catholic Church and residing in Milwaukee, a dying blue-collar city. However, they didn’t indoctrinate anybody into Catholicism or worse, the Opus Dei crap, as my cousin Leesa feared when considering a place to pursue more education. Hell, they made me an even better Atheist…well, you can blame that on the Jesuits. My point, if the check cleared, they didn’t care what you believed as the numerous Muslim grad students from Indonesia proved. They did care, as all good universities do, if you graduated with more knowledge, perspective and an open mind about all things. Fame couldn’t hurt as shitbird and dropout Scott Walker or NBA star Dwayne Wade demonstrated (he did graduate later).

So this “university” is yet another scam and right-wing cliché factory to slow the Right/Conservatives’ failure to adapt or realize their ideas/stances are out of step with reality. Or the biggest case in point I often make with my own life in how my opinions/life don’t line up with what my parents wanted. They hate how I got an education as they did and somehow didn’t get the outcome they desired, a Xerox of their beliefs.

I’m certain these assholes chose my adopted city as their base not to just counter our Left/Liberal/Green leanings; they also want to smoke weed and enjoy Austin’s quality of life since the cities they’re really welcome in are shit holes. You don’t see the Right in a rush to set up shop in Little Rock, OKC, Bismarck or Indiacrapolis.

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Visited a little shrine of Computer Science History

To save our energy and health after the RenFest, Jennifer booked a hotel for the night. Brilliant idea. Beats the hell out of driving another three hours back to Austin after walking around all day. Since we stayed nearby, she let me pay my respects to this little restaurant that fueled the personal computer industry and expansion to the people. Plus she bought a delicious pie!

It’s at this restaurant some enterprising people (IBM called them thieves) reverse engineered IBM’s first personal computer. Through their deductions, they found a way to make the same computer for less money and created the corporation Compaq. I think they were students but either way, House of Pies is where they’d get together, drink coffee and eat this joint’s fantastic pies. It was probably one of the only places open 24 hours during Houston’s boomtown days too.

For those who don’t know how it panned out. IBM did sue and lost. With Compaq’s victory, numerous other cloners popped up to flood the market with similar designs to what IBM charged a premium for. Big Blue was helpless because their original product was made in a hurry and used off-the-shelf pieces; they were late to compete with Apple and Tandy. It was practically the same situation when it came to the operating system. Therefore IBM unknowingly gave Intel and Microsoft the means to become humongous, rival competitors within a decade.

Compaq is gone, acquired by HP well over a decade ago. Microsoft isn’t quite the behemoth is used to be. It might have won the lawsuit thanks to an egotistical judge yet Bill Gates lost in the court of public opinion well before his associations with Jeffrey Epstein came to light. IBM endures but it’s more of a consultancy as it shed its manufacturing divisions to the Chinese. House of Pies? They now have four locations around the Houston area and their pies…still awesome!

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Upgraded to Executive Level at Costco!

Jennifer finally added me to her Costco card so I don’t have to keep borrowing hers and putting my thumb on the photo to “trick” the cashier. Yeah, one actually bothered to give me the third degree! While we were at it, we’re giving the extra 30 smackers on Executive a try. Jennifer buys enough food to feed a small village, most is devoured by her son Mason, he was into hunkering down years before the Pandemic. I figured it was worth a shot too. Use the cash back (found out there is a limit on how much) to use toward our walking-around money in Las Vegas. I’m moving up in the world!

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Renaissance Faire/Fest was great

Brought back two bottles of mead which has been a mystery and a staple of D&D for decades. Allegedly, it’s the favorite booze amongst elves or dwarves or gnomes, take your pick. It isn’t something you can get easily at your grocery or liquor store. My gaming buddy Mark M finally warned me, it’s supposed to be fermented honey but many places will try to pass off white wine as the product. So I hunted around, found this great vendor based in Texas with their booth (or ye olde shoppe) to score two bottles; I am partial to blueberry anything. I did have a glass of the traditional flavor earlier while helping Jennifer with a turkey leg and yeah, this stuff is strong. The sellers were pretty incensed at the white wine accusation too.

I did some research, mainly to find out how the manufacturers keep the honey from turning into something closer to rum given it’s all sugar. Well, Mark’s comment had some foundation of truth. Depending upon the culture, different mixers (what we’ll call them) are added to the fermented honey. Sometimes wine, sometimes hops (beer), fruit, water or spices. I had a feeling that you have to spread the honey out given how many bees it takes to create the stuff and/or its potency. So the real answer…mead is really up in the air, just as bread is. If you have the foundational ingredient, fermented honey, then anything goes as grain is for bread. I’m looking forward to sharing the traditional and giving some to any loudmouth who thinks they can handle even a juice glass all due to their dwarf druid having an 18 Constitution.

Other parts were great fun. It was nice to see people out and about, enjoying themselves. Am I bad person for feeling joy whenever I see non-White people getting into the spirit of it and having a good time? To me, the Festival is open to all who want to check it out. You don’t have to be of European descent to “get it.” Fun is universal!

However, you could count on the MAGAts to put a beard on the rainbow. We can’t have a nice, apolitical day taking in fantastic Fall weather, eating a turkey leg (tendons and all) as we watch how they used to mint coins. Nope. These assholes have to wear their ignorance at all times with their latest, “Let’s Go Brandon” hats and bumper-sticker logic across their XXL shirts that still expose some hairy gut.

Maybe I’ll have better luck with the Spring gathering.

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1981: Call of Cthulhu debuts on book/game shelves!

Chaosium with Sandy Petersen (yes, the same guy behind Doom) published what I would call the consummate Horror Roleplaying Game. What D&D is to Fantasy, CoC is to Horror. Sadly, there will never be one for my beloved Science Fiction and I have to concede Champions has this distinction for Superheroes even though its utter crap. However, this post is about how CoC helped change the world and RPGs.

Firstly, it definitely widened HP Lovecraft’s audience. Some of his creations had been incorporated into D&D, just under other names due to copyrights. I think what CoC did was get more people to read Lovecraft’s huge body of work in order to get a better understanding on how to incorporate the “horror.” By 1981, Horror was really a tent pole term and the more popular subgenres were monsters picking off people one by one (Alien, Prophecy), people turning into monsters (American Werewolf in London, The Howling) and homicidal slashers (Halloween, Friday the 13th, Prom Night). The Universal and Hammer films covering Dracula, Frankenstein and the gang were boring, passé. Practical effects were sating the public’s demand for gore and realism. Throw in how roleplaying games are a group activity involving the players into working as a team, it’s hard to keep CoC from descending into Scooby Doo with people getting killed.

Secondly, I feel CoC in the right hands paved the way for players, especially long-time D&D vets, to see how the rules or game mechanics have to change to capture the mood, setting or tone. When I was in high school, common complaints about CoC were…

  • Characters who are any good at fighting die quickly since they don’t know what they’re up against.
  • Characters who are knowledgable, get killed quickly because they cannot defend themselves from the monsters or cultists.
  • If you’re not killed via the two previous means, your character will end up insane which is worse than killed.

The complainers missed the point unless they’re running an ongoing story a la Scooby Doo. Characters being picked off is a core element in Horror, otherwise it wouldn’t be very scary. As the cliche goes, you gotta’ have skin in the game to reap the rewards.

The other factor was the CoC’s Sanity attribute. It is the most argued and misunderstood element alongside D&D’s Charisma. Lovecraft’s main point, the ultimate horror to him, was how the human race is meaningless in an unfathomable, uncaring, infinite universe. We are just ants to indifferent, more advanced beings in the cosmos. This is something which would probably make the majority of humans, namely the uber religious, lose their shit, given the steady diet of self-importance our species feeds itself. I think Petersen chose this term over what it really acts as in the game, Fear. Should your character be more fearless than others, then they’ll hold it together better when the Deep Ones suddenly show up and eviscerate your guide who was two days from retirement. The characters who fail the Sanity roll, they’ll be temporarily paralyzed with fear which will exhibit itself in a form of temporary madness. Should they survive enough of these encounters, their Sanity will be worn down. Today we know this as PTSD. That’s my argument.

After 40 years, seven editions, multiple competitors (Ravenloft for D&D, Chill, Dark Conspiracy, GURPS Horror, Dark Matter, and Vampire: the Masquerade) and some crossover help through Savage Worlds, d20 and Pathfinder, CoC has endured. It’s not a wonder to me. Not due to it being first, but how well Petersen and all the successive designers, developers, editors and writers kept molding the game to evolve with the changing times while staying true to Lovecraft’s vision. Hell, it’s even a great Horror game without using Lovecraft’s tropes or monsters. You could do The Walking Dead with it. Living in the world those people have to survive in, one’s Sanity would decline too. Imagine having to give up the hundreds of daily conveniences and comforts we take for granted? Mental illness would hit like a tsunami!

Wish me luck with the game as it enters 41. I’m hoping to run a CoC one-shot event at Austin’s Chupacabracon ’22 with my Scooby Doo Playmobil toys. I have the haunted house which makes a great setting! The plan is to have Scooby, Fred, Daphne, Velma and Shaggy with some possible guest stars: Mr. T, Michael J Fox and Melissa Joan Hart as a few choices; solve a mystery. Being CoC…it won’t be some corrupt real-estate developer in a rubber mask.

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A little Dune humor that’s at least a decade late

I always preferred what Evil MoPac says, “He who controls the Pumpkin Spice, controls all the White Girls (Susies).” And before you ask, yes, I managed to catch the movie on opening weekend and I’ll write about it…eventually since I’m sooooo behind on those types of posts.

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Veterans Day at 102

It would be nice to have a world in which we no longer had veterans since we finally eradicate all the dumb wars we wage. Of course, the Republicans and MAGATs love to go for the simple-minded and out of context part to my sentence. The veterans we have, especially the ones who were injured at various levels deserve dignity and should be cared for (regardless of their politics) to the ends of their lives. I would reserve the right of forfeiture to any that take up arms against America, namely the January 6 shitbirds. The rest can express all their bluster, etc. just as long as it remains bluster and not dangerous, treacherous and/or violent action.

Grampa Brunch’s withdrawal from Afghanistan is a start toward the goal. Now he has to end about another dozen involvements his predecessors got us stuck into.

This holiday came about from the horrors WWI unleashed on the world. Sure, there had been nasty conflicts before it. The Russo-Japanese War in 1905 and the English’s fight in Africa against the Boers readily come to mind. I think it took a world war to get enough to realize how much more destructive things had become thanks to the Industrial Revolution running its course for several centuries. It finally produced a war in which the majority were killed by bullets, shells, bayonets and poison gas; not the past causes: gangrene, diarrhea, cholera, starvation or exposure. Maybe we thought we learned our lesson.

Of course not. We can’t even stop a virus with a low infections rate with awful consequences.

Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.

– HG Wells

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1971: “Stairway to Heaven” released

Technically it was Monday but this week in Popular Music History, the song which defines Led Zeppelin, whether Robert Plant likes it or not, was released.

When I was growing up, I only heard it Sunday evenings on WLS as they were playing the top albums or something in the late Seventies. Really amazing and sad how much staying power Led Zeppelin IV had plus how much the Burnouts hated anything new.

“Stairway” did quickly become a scourge upon AOR that it can’t shake.

To illustrate, back in 1988, when I was an intern at WQFM-Milwaukee, they decided to play their top 933 songs of all time. Why? I have no idea. The station’s ratings were in a free fall and nobody had any balls to stand up to Lee Abrams ruining everything. Anyway, as they were getting to the final 20 or so, everybody knew the drill. It was mostly the same old crap every AOR (Album Rock) station had played to death since the mid Seventies: “Freebird,” “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” and “Stairway” would be number one as it had been all the time everywhere. The Music Director pitched something daring and it would get them free publicity in the local media, possibly the trade publications. Have a funeral for the damned song as they crown a new champion, Guns N Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” Personally, I find this song equally repulsive, juvenile and shitty. It’s the anthem for millions of White Trash kids in the Midwest and Great Plains. The Music Director’s idea was brilliant though…which is why the powers above him wouldn’t do it. Therefore, FM radio continued its slide into irrelevance when listeners found a way to tune out the crap.

Beyond covers, two I know of immediately: Dread Zeppelin and Tiny & Brave Combo, only the latter is impressive. Should I never hear this pompous song again for as long as I live, I will die happy!

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RIP Dean Stockwell

A really cool actor passed away over the weekend and from reading other obits about him, I would’ve never guessed that Dune (1984) was his comeback after being a tad blacklisted for being part of Dennis Hopper’s whacky crew. Dean’s brief appearance in Blue Velvet was another odd role but it certainly helped the movie in being over-the-top with what the hell was happening.

Dean will be best remembered as Scott Bakula’s guide throughout every episode of Quantum Leap, a variety show using a Sci-Fi macguffin and I bet it could’ve been a place to recycle failed pilots as Love American Style did. Their reunion on Enterprise was amusing. However, for me, Dean will be forever loved and remembered by me for being one of the Twelve Cylon human-based designs from Battlestar Galactica. I bet he loved it, playing two different people. I can’t remember which was self-aware of the Cylon Plan.

Thanks for everything Dean!

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Aaron Rodgers should be fined to the maximum

Of course Chicago fans are having a field day, as they should, and there’s no limit to their schadenfreude because their team will miss the playoffs yet again. Many can dish it out but they sure can’t take it when their idiots get exposed. Namely St. Ditka being a MAGAt. Being miserable is a key attribute to being a Bears fan.

I do hope Rodgers suffers severe consequences for his assholism. However, corporations such as State Farm are not guided by a moral compass, it’s money which overrules reality. I also don’t hold out much for the NFL to do shit neither. Given their past track record for the players beating their wives/girlfriends, they’re hoping to sweep this under the rug.

Yesterday’s loss shows there may be a near future without Rodgers and his ego. Sure, KC isn’t haven’t a great season but they could’ve steamrolled the Packers and failed.

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