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Tags: Koschei the Deathless; Dudley Manlove; the Gipper; eat your heart out, Edmund Morris.

We talked about the Reagan years in one of my classes this week. That’s all the excuse I need, really, to recycle this post of mine from the week Reagan died (and I got my PhD): the Ronald Reagan alternate history film festival. (Oh, and speaking of deceased American icons: did you hear about Captain America?)

Ooga Booga!

The Ronald Reagan Alternate History Film Festival

Read the rest of this entry »

Cross-posted from Old is the New New. Comments welcome.
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[livejournal.com profile] jeffwik beat me to posting about the Kansas / geographic center of North America thing, but those just getting hip to the John Hodgman tip should check out my latest OITNN post for lazy, excerpted goodness. There can be no doubt, as I said in a couple of LJ comments, that Hodgman is One Of Our Tribe Made Good.*

[livejournal.com profile] mgrasso caught me off guard today with an three-line email - not a post, an actual email! - asking me how I've been doing lately. The novelty of it has flummoxed me and I will need a few days to answer properly, but thanks for asking, Mike.

*I neglected to excerpt Hodgman p. 78: "Great Rivalries in Dungeons & Dragons".
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Originally published at Route 96. You can comment here or there.

New Mexico: It’s The Newer Mexico

Do you think they ever get tired of jokes like that in New Mexico?

The picture they don't want you to see.<--The picture they don't want you to see: me witnessing an alien autopsy, or Jonathan Frakes hosting a crappy special on Fox? You be the judge…

(Don’t Go Back to) Roswell

You may not consider it anything to brag about, but I was a UFO geek long before a certain alphabetically named television program brought the wonderful wide world of ETs, MIBs, and EBEs into America’s living rooms. And–with the possible exception of Nevada’s Area 51, which is in the middle of a missile testing range and not real hospitable to roadtrippers–Roswell, New Mexico is the Mecca of UFO geekdom.

Here’s the facts, sort of. In July 1947, something crashed in the desert northwest of Roswell. A U.S. Army press release said that the army had recovered pieces of some form of “flying saucer.” The next day a second press release declared that the object was in fact a weather balloon, and that’s been the official story ever since.

Now, maybe “flying saucer” was just a poor choice of words by some dumb Army Press Department hack who has been peeling potatoes for his screw-up ever since. Or, just maybe, the Roswell Crash is one lone crack in the facade of a fifty-year coverup engineered by a massive and ruthless conspiracy stretching to the highest level of government, if not the very stars!

Now, which explanation do you think brings more tourists to Roswell?

Read the rest of this entry » )
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I admit I've only skimmed the website, but White Wolf's Promethean doesn't look like my cup of tea. I never loved the WW systems, and I'm just not feeling the six flavors of sad-eyed Mexican Frankensteins. But [livejournal.com profile] mgrasso's posts on it, plus this book I was looking at, somehow planted this idea in my head yesterday. So here you go, Mike, this is my one stab at twagic twee.

Michael Jackson in Disneyland
Don't have to share it with nobody else
Lock the gates, Goofy, take my hand
And lead me through the world of self
--Warren Zevon, "Splendid Isolation"

My Life With Michael
A GILT for My Life With Master, Puppetland, or (if you insist) Promethean

It has been ten years since his trial. Ten years since Michael Jackson closed the golden gates of Neverland and sealed himself away from every human soul. Yet he is not alone. You are Michael's twisted menagerie--his creations, experiments, and pets. The delicate bubble boy, his T and B cells swapped for Michael's transplanted fears. The moonwalking clockwork robot, assembled from discarded toys once used to lure and bribe young guests. The wan fading pixie, trapped in half-life by Michael's flickering belief in her. The grinning clay tulpa, into which Michael pours all the urges and rages and blackness he cannot admit to in himself. And loyal long-suffering Bubbles the Chimp, desperate to keep his master's affection from straying to younger prettier things. Together you dwell inside the gates of Neverland with the dwindling Fisher King of Pop. He keeps you. He needs you. He knows you will never grow up, never leave him, never blame him, never tell.

Time elapsed since my last game: 1 year, 1 month, 14 days.
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I was going back and forth on whether this was too flimsy to post at 20x20' Room but it seems TypePad is down today, so that makes my decision easy. (Karma for Six Apart and the pain upgrading MT is currently giving me, heh heh heh--oh wait, this also inconveniences me! Damn you, Six Apart! Now watch my LJ implode.)

Primetime Adventures players take note! And see if you can follow along: The title story in Kelly Link’s new collection, Magic for Beginners, is about (I’m quoting a review in The Believer) “a TV show called The Library, a teen drama whose cute, hormonal, conspicuously quotable friends are devoted fans of a TV show called The Library, a paranormal, ass-kicking series of mysterious provenance that pops up without warning at ungodly hours on random cable stations. … The hero, Jeremy, is a sentient TV character, obsessed with Fox, a character on the show within the show within the story, who turns out to be real.” A show within a show within a story, eh? If this is anybody but Jorge Luis Borges…

I’m thinking of taking Primetime Adventures with me to Florida over the holidays, where I’ll be with most of my family. They’re a mix of non-RPGers and long-ago-RPGers, but I might be able to get them to give it a whirl. (We typically play a lot of board games when we all get together, but bulky board games will be a hassle to lug down to the Sunshine State on a pre-Xmas post-Patriot Act plane.) Anyone reading this ever tried PTA with a group of non-gamers? Or does anyone have alternate suggestions of easy-to-transport board/card games or newbie-friendly one-shot RPGs?

See, my subject line is like an answer to the "Central Question" at the top of the Believer review, and there's this old joke, and...
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So the "five games I'd like to run" post has mutated, X-Men style, into the "five games I'd like you to run" post, a far more virulent meme, because you can post it without even pretending you'll do the work of running the games you suggest. That's evolution, baby! Let's not argue about who suggested this variation first, let's just get down to it.

Kayfabe Confidential )
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So, as I might possibly have mentioned in this journal already, I graduated! (See icon for robe and funny hat.) Thanks to everybody who traveled from far and wide to mark the occasion (my parents, L's parents, Kofi Annan, [livejournal.com profile] princeofcairo, Ali G...) and to everybody who came to my party last week, which raged from about eight pm to midnight and then instantly turned into a pumpkin. Which is actually pretty much how I like it. It was so great to have Mom & Dad here—their only visit to Boston this millenium (they did make it to Amherst for the wedding). My Mom apologized for getting weepy. We're such WASPs. Weepiness is good! It reminds me that this graduation thing might actually have been kind of a big deal. Thanks for everything, everyone.

Another great success was [livejournal.com profile] djwilhelm's salon, where a random sample of our generation's greatest minds gathered to discuss the weighty issues of the day. It was a lot of fun, and some of those present may have said something intelligent at one point or another, though alas, nobody was writing anything down, so our genius will be lost to history. The one moment I will remember is when [livejournal.com profile] narcissime suggested I do an LJ post about five alternate Harvards, and I said something like, "Five goofball variations on some ridiculous premise seems to have become my thing." And Ken Hite said, quite rightly, "Your thing? [Krusty the Klown voice:] If this is anybody but Avram Davidson, you're stealing my bit!"

Which I shall treasure for a couple of reasons:

1. Because it's actually validating to have someone as cool as Ken Hite acknowledge that I am blatantly ripping him off, occasionally artfully.

2. Because while the geek conversational habit of just tossing out obscure references without stopping to explain them can be deeply irritating if you don't know, for example, who Avram Davidson is (he's a science-fiction author and fabulist whose influence can definitely be seen in Ken's magnificent Suppressed Transmissions), or you don't immediately recognize a line from The Simpsons (Krusty the Klown gets a prank phone call from rival TV host Gabbo. After realizing he's been punk'd, he says, "If this is anybody but Steve Allen, you're stealing my bit!"), it is both pleasing and flattering when you do.

3. Because Ken had no way of knowing that that line from The Simpsons is an old favorite of mine. See, in my Golden Words days (GW = the weekly humor publication at Queen's University), I became keenly aware of the long chain of homage, inspiration, and outright plagiarism that lay beneath each attempt at "original" "humor." I started out a somewhat slavish imitator of the senior writers and cartoonists on the paper, but stayed long enough to be imitated myself. By the time I reached the lofty heights of editor-in-chief, I often responded to cartoon and article submissions with some variation of Krusty's klassic line. "If this is anybody but Joey DeVilla, you're stealing my bit!"

Literature is full of such coincidences, which some love to believe plagiarisms. There are thoughts always abroad in the air, which it takes more wit to avoid than to hit upon.
—Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

We're all part of the great circle of rip-offs, remixes, and pastiches. It's like that Elton John song with the dancing warthogs. Hakuna Matata, baby. You're stealing my bit.
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Here are some things that are great about James Bond movies: the suits, the drinks, the stunts, the cars, the hubcaps of the cars, the men, the women, the posters, the weather, the music, the sex, the life. Here are some things that are not so great about James Bond movies: James Bond movies.
—the excellent Anthony Lane, in an excellent James Bond retrospective, which alas I cannot link to online, in the New Yorker a few weeks ago

Die Another Day, the 20th James Bond movie, comes out this weekend. In honor of my favorite superspy and his Dorian Gray-like longevity (While Connery, Moore, Brosnan et al must thicken and age, James Bond himself stays eternally spry...), I feel like playing a little Ken Hite. Let's do like Sex Mob, ring a few variations on the James Bond theme, and transfer 007 into several different centuries.

1587: On Her Majesties' Sorcerous Service )

1777: The Man with the Golden Musket )

1887: From Calcutta with Love )

1977: License to Funk )

2007: You Only Rave Twice )

OK, maybe that last one is kind of lame. Tell you what: just crank Moby's remix of the 007 theme and toss some shit together involving nanobots and cyberspace. That's all any of the real James Bond producers are gonna do, anyway.

Hope you enjoyed. Please feel free to play along at home by sending in your own ideas for Alternate 007s.

Next time: Alternate Buffys. No, wait—Alternate Elvises. Oh, no, even better—Alternate Popeyes! (Look out, Hite.)

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