The Fives on Facebook (Another Cool Meme)

I’m enjoying the latest meme-thingy on Facebook, which allows you to choose a list of 5 things (“5 Favorite Foods,” “5 Jobs You’ve Had,” “5 Best Comic Book Characters,” that sort of thing), and allows you to pick pictures to show those things. The results look something like this:

Tim ByrdWho would you want to play you in a movie?
Viggo Mortensen Aidan Quinn Mel Gibson george clooney Tim Byrd
Tim Byrd chose Viggo Mortensen, Aidan Quinn, Mel Gibson, george clooney, Tim Byrd.
Tim ByrdPeople you would like to Punch In The Face!
George W. Bush Dick Cheney Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity George W. Bush
Tim Byrd chose George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity, George W. Bush.
Tim ByrdFavorite movies of all time
Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark The Lady Eve Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl The Dark Knight Casino Royale
Tim Byrd chose Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Lady Eve, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, The Dark Knight, Casino Royale.
Tim Byrdbiggest celebrity crushes
Shania Twain Salma Hayek Kate Beckinsale Shakira Veronica Lake
Tim Byrd chose Shania Twain, Salma Hayek, Kate Beckinsale, Shakira, Veronica Lake.
Tim Byrdbooks you love
Winter's Tale Something Wicked This Way Comes Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West Lonesome Dove The Stand
Tim Byrd chose Winter’s Tale, Something Wicked This Way Comes, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, Lonesome Dove, The Stand.
Tim ByrdWhere you have lived
Jonesboro, GA Chattanooga, TN Treysa, Germany Kassel, Germany Decatur, GA
Tim Byrd chose Jonesboro, GA, Chattanooga, TN, Treysa, Germany, Kassel, Germany, Decatur, GA.

(I searched for images that truly captured the heart and soul of each of these places).

I’ve been having a bit of fun coming up with my own versions. Here are two I liked doing:

Tim ByrdIngredients You’d Mix To Make Me
Indiana Jones Groucho Marx A Werewolf Wyatt Earp Joss Whedon
Tim Byrd chose Indiana Jones, Groucho Marx, A Werewolf, Wyatt Earp, Joss Whedon.
Tim ByrdPeople I Should Have Married Instead.
Felicia Day Shania Twain JK Rowling Caroline Dhavernas Mary Louise Parker
Tim Byrd chose Felicia Day, Shania Twain, JK Rowling, Caroline Dhavernas, Mary Louise Parker.

Listen To My Radio Debut

mikeI was slated to be on Alpha Waves, the Internet science fiction radio show tonight, one of three guests discussing pulp fiction, as I mentioned in this post. But I realized that I’d agreed to it without remembering that tonight was also the debut event of my friend Terra Elan McVoy’s first novel, Pure. I checked with the guys at Alpha Waves, and they cheerfully agreed to prerecord my segment. Thanks for the flexibility, guys.

So, this morning I called in via Skype and host Nick Chase and I discussed Doc Wilde  and pulp fiction for a while, and it was a good time, even though it was my first time doing this sort of thing. I just listened to the full show with my son, and I have to hand it to the hosts, they do a great job. Eric Mona of Planet Stories and writer Gareth Michael Skarka were interviewed in the segments before mine, and were both very informative and entertaining, leaving me wondering if we’d get to my bit and I’d be all like “Uhhhh…dopey me…” in comparison.

Well, I’m pleased with the way it turned out. That being the case, I’m actually going to tell you where you can find it if you want to listen to it:

Alpha Waves Radio: Pulp Fiction

Podcast Adventures (aka My Life As a Meme)

My post about optimism and action, pulp heroes, and the roleplaying game Spirit of the Century has proven to be one of the most popular posts I’ve ever written. It seems to have become a small-scale meme, bouncing around from reader to reader, echoing in other blogs, other places…

One place it echoed was on the gaming podcast Canon Puncture (if you don’t want to listen to the whole thing, the pertinent segment begins right around time-mark 24:34):

Canon Puncture Podcast

I really enjoyed these guys’ comments.

Optimism, Action, and How To Be The Neighborhood Pulp Hero

You never know where you’re going to find a nugget of crystalline wisdom, something that gives you pause because of its brightness and clarity, that makes you think about how you’re living your life, and how you should be living it.

I found one of these nuggets recently. The unlikely place I found it? Continue reading

Savage Tales

red_sonja_by_nebezial

Back in the day, I worked in the roleplaying game industry.

I’m not talking rpg video games, like World of Warcraft or Oblivion (more’s the pity, because the money would have been way better). No, I’m talking good old fashioned face-to-face, throwin’ dice, drinkin’ root beer and eatin’ Doritos roleplaying games. I got into them when I was a young teen, starting with the original Dungeons & Dragons and moving on to many others like Champions, Traveller, and Daredevils. In my twenties, here and there I’d manage to get some short-lived game together, a little James Bond or Ghostbusters here, a little Paranoia or Justice Inc there.

Then I happened across White Wolf’s Werewolf: The Apocalypse one day (in which players assume the roles of lycanthropic ecoterrorists fighting demonic corporate forces to save the wilderness and the Earth itself). Werewolves have always been my favorite monster, I’m a devoted environmentalist, and the game is steeped in animistic spirituality which is my soul’s cup of tea…conceptually, it was a perfect storm for me. That led to scattered White Wolf gaming, which in time led to me actually working at the company. Which led to a bit of other rpg work, most notably for Feng Shui and its stillborn spinoff Pulp! (none of that work saw print, unfortunately, as Daedelus Games collapsed, though I did put some of it online…by the way, any Feng Shui players out there still have copies of my stuff? I lost it all in a hard drive crash).

These games get a bad rap from some people, and D & D is often cultural code for loser. But the fact of the matter is that many people who sneer at roleplayers spend their time watching crap like Desperate Housewives or American Idol, deadening their brains while the gamers hang out together and engage in an activity that has its roots in campfire storytelling and improv theater, an activity that’s inherently social and that exercises the mind.

But I digress. A few years ago, I managed to run a game for a group of friends who managed, more often than not, for a while, to actually get together regularly to play. The game was Shane Hensley’s great Savage Worlds. Ultimately, unfortunately, it’s really tough to keep a game going over time because people are, in groups, pretty unreliable, and entropy sets in till things just unravel.

One of the things I did, as things were unraveling, was to try to establish “pick up games” outside the continuing narrative of the main game, that we could play if someone in the group didn’t show up. That way, we’d still be playing something, the group would hold steady in its routine, and we could restart the main game “next” time…

For the pickup games, I decided to run short sword & sorcery adventures, focusing mainly on mood and action (as opposed to an involved narrative and character development), and in the spirit of Savage Worlds  I called them “Savage Tales.” And I wrote a short handbook describing the setting and telling the players how to design their characters for it.

Before the game evaporated for good, I think we actually played one such pickup game. Or maybe we just had an evening where we hung out and did the character creation. I can’t remember for sure. But I always liked the little handbook I put together, and the commentary within on the difference between epic fantasy (like Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings) and sword & sorcery (like Robert E. Howard’s Conan or Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser):

If everyone can’t make it, we go to Europia. There, things are gonna be less epic saga, more survival skirmish. Conan could become a king in Europia, but Tolkien’d have his pipe crushed under some furred boot and be set to work the rest of his short life digging stones from cold earth.

There are no hobbity folk in Europia because they were eaten by snake-men aeons ago. The elves are mysterious and dark, and if you see one, it usually changes your life forever. The dwarves may exist or not, but grandpa says they eat human flesh. And the closest thing to an orc you’ve ever seen is that big ugly fucker down the bar you saw sodomizing an unconscious guardsman the other night…

Here’s the booklet. You might get a kick out of it. If you’re a gamer, you might even find something useful in it. But here it is.

SAVAGE TALES

CARNAGE!

What’s the term?

Oh yeah.

OMFG.

The reports are popping up from Sony’s exhibition for journalists of God of War 3, coming sometime for the Playstation 3, and it sounds incredible. Michael McWhertor at Kotaku says it’s “like a threesome for your eyes.”

For the uninitiated, the God of War series follows the adventures of a belligerent Spartan antihero named Kratos as he cleaves his way through ancient Greek mythology. Kratos is one of the best fantasy characters in any medium to appear in many years, the reworking of and visual design for the places and creatures of myth in the games is amazing, and the stories are truly epic both in scope and scale. Though the games are all about savage action, there is even true pathos in Kratos’s tale…particularly when you finally discover what happened to his family, and where his skin attained the ash-white color that led to his being called the “Ghost of Sparta.” Kratos doesn’t have a bad attitude, he is bad attitude incarnate, but he has reason.

kratos1

I love God of War. The first two games were on the Playstation 2, and they were gorgeous, pushing that console’s tech to its limits. The actual third game, God of War: Chains of Olympus, was made for the PSP handheld, and captured the GOW experience perfectly even on a totable screen. God of War 3, on the Playstation 3, promises to be exponentially more impressive; the character model for Kratos alone this time around (with actual muscle flexing and skin that has pores) takes up four times the amount of memory that the PS2 had in full.  Apparently much of the game actually has Kratos traveling across levels that are literally the bodies of the mythical Titans, moving around while he’s battling on them like animate mountains; Sony says that the Medusa level from GOW 2 (the largest level in the existing games) would fit in the palm of the Titan Gaia’s hand in GOW 3.

I’m really excited about this game, and I’m ready, because we have a PS3. We already had an Xbox 360, but I finally bit the wallet and got the Playstation a few months back, once the Blu-Ray/HD DVD war ended in Blu-Ray’s favor. But I’d decided months prior that I’d be getting a PS3, the day I saw the announcement that God of War 3 was in development.

Here’s the new trailer. Note that it’s not just a CGI cinematic, it’s fully rendered in the game engine, so you’re seeing the game itself (and not even in its final, fully developed form)…