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Rob was surrounded by a group of natives.

The votes are in! Enough of them, anyway, to see that Saturday June 18 and Sunday June 19 were the two big contenders for doing some sort of going-away thing. There were some polling irregularities, and [ profile] vampyrusgirl said she could do Saturday even though she didn't vote for it, and Saturday is better for Lisa, who didn't vote, so I'm going to pull a Bush v. Gore and say that the shindig is the night of Saturday the 18th, the time I'd been thinking of all along.

So mark your calendars for June 18th, next Saturday night. I'm open to fancier suggestions, but inclined to say we just hit Doyle's, my neighborhood bar. You'd also be welcome to drop by our place (just a couple blocks away) before or after. Though I can't promise any staging more elaborate than playing the Madness Meters Check Song from UnknownUSA for old times and pressing you to take away some rum & vodka, a houseplant, or a propane tank (three things the movers refuse to move).

That Saturday night doesn't work for [ profile] jereblossom, unfortunately, but neither of the top contenders did. Jess & Jere, I will try to see you guys multiple times before going—like last night, which was terrific. Thanks for having us and feeding us all as always. And next Saturday also doesn't work for [ profile] my_tallest, drat. Can L & I maybe arrange a weeknight dinner outing with you, and [ profile] gentleman and [ profile] advocatedevil24 if they're interested? You gents always take us to Machine the best places.

To those that checked "See you at GenCon, nerd": I don't know why you felt it necessary to call me names. But it's true, I am thinking of breaking my lifelong streak of never going to a gaming con, scifi con, or comic con of any size or kind. I have a couple days research to do at the Indiana State Library in Indianapolis and I could easilyi synchronize it with GenCon. I assume I'm too late to get into any official games there, but that's OK. I'd probably just buy a one-day con pass and soak in the ambience on the floor, and then hope to meet up with people for socializing and possible pick-up gaming after hours. I also figure I'm too late to get into the main convention hotels. Anyone want to split some of a hotel room, or got any crash space, or should I just find something farther from downtown? I'll have a car, so it's OK if I'm not right in the rich peaty thick of all the other gamers. Tips from GenCon veterans welcome.

Edit: Oh, and I meant to explain about that picture. It's an illustration from The Master Key, a non-Oz novel by Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum about the adventures of a boy named Rob (and that's all it takes to pique my interest) who finds a magic key that teaches "the magic of electricity." The title page calls it: "An Electrical Fairy Tale, Founded Upon The Mysteries Of Electricity And The Optimism Of Its Devotees. It Was Written For Boys, But Others May Read It." Which is big of L. Frank. I've had two pictures from the book on my office wall for a couple of years now and always hoped somebody would ask me about them, but nobody did, so now I'm just telling you anyway. Here's the other illo from the book.

The Turk rose slowly into the air, with Rob clinging to him with desparate tenacity.

Its caption reads, "The Turk rose slowly into the air, with Rob clinging to him with desparate tenacity," which amuses me even more than the "Rob was surrounded by a group of natives" caption, but in this picture you can't see my beanie or adorable rosy cheeks.
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The Arrogant History of White Ben, by Clemence Dane
This is an odd one. Cited by the Great and Terrible Ken Hite in his Suppressed Transmission column about scarecrows, it's a weird forgotten novel from 1938 in which a scarecrow comes to life and becomes the King of England. The scarecrow's name is White Ben, and entirely by coincidence, Ben is also the name of the Scarecrow Who Would Be King in our Unknown Armies game. So obviously I had to track this down.

It is a strange book, musty and seemingly out of its proper history, not unlike good old Harry Smith's anthology. I think I was the first person to check it out of Widener since the late 1940s. In the book, there is a war on, and has been for as long as anyone can remember. With Germany, one presumes, though it might as well be the Hundred Years' War—nobody remembers what the war started for and nobody expects it to come to an end anytime soon. It's just something that England endures. Then Ben, the scarecrow, comes to life. And he hates crows. That's pretty much his sole motivating passion. But when he talks about killing crows, everyone assumes he's talking metaphorically about whoever it is in society they don't like. So they believe he's giving voice to all their hatreds and prejudices, and they love him for it. It's like the Anti-Being There. White Ben is the evil opposite of Chance the Gardener. Ultimately, they make him King or something and he presides over a bloody holocaust where everyone suspected of being a "crow" is killed. It has a storybook quality to it that is a little reminiscent of Oz, but it's dark as hell.

"The night was a noisy one. More were killed than even Ben had proscribed, in his astonished anger that there still existed such monsters, scums, filths, dwarfish horrors. In short that there existed people who would not agree with him. … Ben's plan for testing a crow had become known, and many were flung from roofs and windows to die slowly on the pavements or to be trampled under the looters' feet. Houses were set on fire, and men and statuary shot to pieces. Nevertheless there was a certain good-humoured regret about the business, a general feeling that the fun couldn't last forever."

I must admit I didn't make it cover to cover. I read to page 182, but that took weeks, then skimmed the rest. The musty unworldliness of it all put me to right sleep within pages every time I picked it up. As occasionally happens with books of this sort, the fact that the book exists is probably cooler than the actual activity of reading it. (But I haven't returned it to the library yet—so if anyone local wants to take a crack at it...)
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A butterfly flapping its wings in China may create a hurricane on the other side of the world. Stupid Chinese butterflies! Knock it off!

Everyone is posting heavy weather pictures today, both real and fake, so I thought I'd get in on the action. Now, this is obviously not Isabel, and it's a fuzzy black-and-white photo, and scanning it from a newspaper created that dotty pattern. But this picture is a big deal to me, and it may be interesting to some of you, for the following reason: That's Wolf Lake, where my family spends every summer. This picture is from about two weeks ago. And those of you who recognize Bluff Point on the right will realize that this picture was taken looking north from the Green Shingles and Dunollie side of the lake. Which means that our shore, and our cottage, and at the time this picture was taken, my Mom and Dad and Jamie and Miranda, are all directly on the other side of that twister. Crazy, no? The twister hit the lake right at the Jumping Rocks, on our property just a quarter-mile from the cottage. They watched it roar across the lake and around Bluff Point, where it tossed a bunch of trees and boats and trashed a couple of cottages, including my Dad's cousin's deck. There was even a mini-rain of fish. Nobody was hurt, happy to say, but I think it's pretty funny that my family just stood there on the rocks and watched the whole thing. Only afterwards did they think, "hey, that might have been kind of dangerous."

p.s.: Just to tie this into Unknown USA: the local newspaper quoted a woman saying, "There was stuff flying all over—furniture, boats... All I could think of was The Wizard of Oz."


May. 12th, 2003 11:12 pm
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Now we can cross the Shifting Sands.

L. Frank Baum's last words, 1919
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Assorted entertaining Tarot decks: Oz, Rock & Roll, Peanuts, Hello Kitty. Click each image to see more.

The Nome King as The Devil Elvis as The Emperor Charlie Brown as The Hanged Man Hello Kitty as Death
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After talking about it for ages, I'm finally trying to get an Unknown Armies game started. Everyone who reads this journal has, I expect, already gotten the e-mail about the game (except, I guess for [ profile] mgrasso—feel like commuting to Boston for the game?), but I'll post it here anyway so I can point people to it online.

Unknown Americana Teaser )

I've got a handful of interested players, all of whom I know would be great. The X factor for everyone, including me, is scheduling. If we can't make it biweekly, I might end up running this as linked, monthly one shots, with a recurring cast of characters but a more episodic structure than your standard campaign. Like the annual Cthulhu games I ran in college—there were connectors between stories, but because the gap between games was so long, each one had to be a satisfying chunk of story on its own.

I'll post some character ideas and campaign frames I've cooked up soon. This game has been in my head for a while and I've generated a fair amount of stuff.


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July 2014

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