January 2004

Salmon Hued Blues

Well, this is it–the last LJ post from sunny Arizona. Tonight the computer is packed, the phone unplugged, and my next showing on the ‘net will be in a week-and-some-change (how much change depends on how fast our net gets hooked up) from currently sleety North Carolina.

Since I believe firmly that one should not wallow in nostalgia, and I am not a piner-after-things by nature, I’m going to take this opportunity to reiterate what I like about Arizona and what I’ll miss, just so it’s out of my system, and I can go after NC with a clean slate, and hopefully be excited by what I find there.
Salmon Blues

The current NPR interview about sex slave trafficking in the U.S. across the border of Mexico is the most depressing damn thing I’ve ever heard. Even if you take some of the more lurid claims of selling toddlers with a grain of salt–it wouldn’t surprise me, but I’d require more outside corrobaration before I buy it hook, line, and sinker–the stuff that has been substantiated by multiple sources and has photos to boot makes me want to abandon my current existence, spend a few years mastering my flame thrower skills, and go Rambo style through the slums of Mexico City.

Since that ain’t gonna happen, I’m just going to bitch about here. Bugger all, what a world we live in.

Vice and the Dishes

So I was wadding up newspaper to pack dishes.

The last time we moved, half our stuff was packed with racing forms, due to a neighbor’s habit of playin’ the horsies, losing, and leaving large stacks of forms in the recycling bin. And that was fine by me.

This time I just picked up a random stack of free publications at the supermarket, which means that the dishes are packed in restaraunt reviews and personal ads advertising all manner of disturbing acronyms, and a few old copies of “Wired.”

And then there were these things.

Dish in box. Eyes on dish. Hand over newspapers. Grope for newspaper. Glance over at newspaper–hey, are those boobs?

Certain things captivate the human eye, and the human breast is one of ’em, even if you’re female and there are little white squares over the nipples. Dishes forgotten, I picked up the newspaper, and read, jaw hanging open, “Take charge of your life with breast augmentation! This woman speaks her mind! She takes second fiddle to no one! That’s why she chose breast surgery!” A smiling doctor wearing a brightly colored fez, advertising himself as “an artist in the truest sense of the word,” offered to turn any breast into one of an array of before-and-after shots.

James wandered in, possibly attracted by my “Gnrrrghff!” noises, looked over my shoulder, said “Oh, yeah, I know, those jackals preying on those poor women,” and wandered out again while I was still making incoherent noises about the after shots. I realize that gravity is slowly taking its toll on my squishier anatomy, but square boobs with long vertical red scars do not strike me as improvement.

Still, it pads a dish nicely. Perhaps I should simply resign myself that my dishes will always be packed in an expression of human vice.

Coolest. Shit. Ever.


Science is so damn cool. Every now and then I feel guilty for going into art, rather than something as noble as the sciences.

But then I remember my high school science classes and realize that if I’m gonna make a significant contribution to any field, it ain’t gonna be science. So it worked out.

I know that many diehard comic fans are gonna ream me for this, and I will, in fact, deserve it.

Nevertheless, as I sit and watch the Justice League as Superman does whatever super thing, I am left thinking (yet again, and in an echo of Seanbaby’s observation on the Superfriends) “Why do the other members even bother to show up? I mean, it’s Superman. Send the Green Lantern along to watch just in case somebody has kryptonite, but other than that, who cares?”

They do a good job in the cartoon, mind you, of giving everyone equal airtime–except maybe Hawkgirl, who, let’s face it, is just not very useful in a group where being able to fly and whack things hard are basic entry requirements.

The problem, of course, is that Superman is boring. I have never had any interest in Superman whatsoever. There is no creativity involved in being indestructible, and whenever he DOES get creative, it’s to do things to the laws of physics that make me whimper.

Batman is at least marginally more interesting, because of the whole gadgetry thing, and more importantly, he’s a jerk. The Martian Manhunter is at least vaguely interesting because he’s green and squishy looking and appears to have been to college.

Some of the others, however, drive me nuts. Because I am a geek, whenever I am confronted with terribly versatile characters acting just…NOT VERSATILE…I grumble. Like the Wonder Twins in the old Superfriends.

Okay, go ahead, laugh. They were purple losers. I admit this. They had a monkey. I know. But still! They could’ve done so much more! They could have made everybody else on the team obsolete (with the possible exception of Superman.) I had a shaman in a Shadowrun campaign once who could turn into any animal, and I blew the game balance so far out of whack that the GM and I got locked into an arms race–every time I invented some obscenely powered trick (“Hmm, I bet if a humpback whale fell on these guys from a great height, they’d know they’d been somewhere! Hey, wanna bet a rhino can take down this roadblock? Surveillance? Watch me turn into a seagull…”) he would alter the rules to close that particular venue. It was a devastatingly powerful trick, and I couldn’t do dinosaurs, OR have a brother who could turn into a popsicle!

Or the monkey.

And don’t get me started on the Green Lantern. You can do any damn thing so long as it’s green, and what is it? Always with the giant green hand. “I’ll punch him with a giant green fist! Again!”

I’m fairly sure that I am not the only dork out there who spent part of my childhood yelling “A walrus and a bucket of water!? You morons, a brontosaurus and a rain of hailstones would render the whole thing moot!”

But anyway. *cough* Really, I have a life. Honest.

And another thing.

What is up with blue raspberry? Raspberries are not blue. In fact, there are no blue foods found in nature–even blueberries are actually purple. Humans are not MEANT to eat blue food. A kid in my color theory class did his final project based on this theory and colored an entire plate of food blue–it looked incredibly revolting. Blue is hardwired into us as not-a-food color.

Nevertheless, I open my baggy of Chewy Runts, and there’s blue raspberry. (Why did they take out grape? Grape was wonderful!) Blue raspberry, which tastes sort’ve vaguely like raspberry in the same fashion that spam tastes sorta vaguely like pork, has infested virtually every walk of candy life, and I want to know WHY.

Is the only artificial stuff that tastes like raspberry vividly blue colored? Are there so many red foods, what with cherry and strawberry and red apple that somebody just said “Hey! Blue! That’s brilliant!” and everybody followed suit?


Last wave of donation sketches–including most of the special requests and a coupla didn’t-get-the-addresses–goin’ out tomorrow! After I move, I’ll do a spot check to see if anyone hasn’t gotten theirs, but I think I’ve got ’em all, so the last few people should get theirs in the next week or two.


Someone requested a tapir. I know they did. But to my chagrin, I have not been able to locate the request, so I don’t know who asked for it, which means that either they haven’t gotten a sketch, or more likely, they got a Digger rather than what they asked for. If this is you, e-mail me, and I’ll tapir it up tapir-style ASAP.

Moving: The Frazzling

Hook up utilities. Disconnect utilities. Pack painting. Hook up phone. Disconnect phone. Disconnect cable. Pack more paintings. Raise credit limit. Change address for credit card, student loan, auto loan, auto insurance, mailing address, etc. Get more boxes. Pack box of dreadful student art for posterity. Listen to James tell me how we’re going to have to pay our new internet provider in blood plasma for the privilege and get half the service, plus someone will come around regularly to beat us. Eat Tums. Ignore James. Pack something. Do esoteric things with the bank. (Somehow Wells-Fargo’s icy grip ‘pon the nation has not yet squeezed tight around the Southeast, forcing us to do arcane things with money wire transfers.) Get even more boxes. Pack something. Finish art. Eat Tums. Finish more art. Realize that contract has not been mailed–print, go out and mail. Come back. Realize that box of dried peppers for stepfather has not been mailed. Curse. Box peppers. Eat more Tums. Go out and mail peppers. Smile sheepishly at cashier. Come back. Realize that student loan payment has not been mailed. Scream a bit. Flail arms like cuttlefish amateur actor. Empty half bottle of Tums down throat. Pack.

People keep asking me “Are you looking forward to moving?” And I feel the corners of my mouth twitch up in a rictus and hear myself say, in that genial singsong that my brain uses when it knows that the Real Answer must be supressed in the interests of courtesy, “Oh, well, I’m looking forward to BEING moved, not the moving so much…”

I like packing, as I’ve said before, but I pretty much hate every other part of moving, and generally spend it in a nerve-frayed state, waiting for Something To Go Wrong. Actually, “I hate moving” isn’t descriptive enough. I feel it lacks resonance. How about “Moving gives me the feeling that my chest cavity has been filled up with a number of small furry animals, all of them milling about and climbing on top of each other with their tiny little sharp claws, and–this is the key bit–all screaming in unison.”

Much better. But I do hate moving, too.

Still, in a few days, it’ll all be done, and then I can shoo the furry animals out, and all will be well.

I must reproduce this, for sheer amusement. The following was posted to the Digger Forum
over at Graphic Smash, by one Jules:

NOTE: This has not been play-tested!

Nor am I willing to play-test it!

Nor have I really read through it carefully!

Nor am I really even a huge D20 system fan!

*+2 strength (biceps with feet!), +1 intelligence (smarter than yer hack’n’slashing half-orc barbarian), -2 charisma, -1 dexterity (claws pose a bit of a disadvantage there)
Small: As a Small creature, a wombat gains a +1 size bonus to Armor Class, a +1 size bonus on attack rolls, and a +4 size bonus on Hide checks, but she uses smaller weapons than humans use, and her lifting and carrying limits are three-quarters of those of a Medium character.
*Wombat base land speed is 20 feet
*Low-Light Vision: A wombat can see twice as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions of poor illumination. She retains the ability to distinguish color and detail under these conditions.
*Automatic Languages: Common and Terran. Bonus Languages: Undercommon, Dwarven, Gnome, Gnoll, Celestial
*+4 racial bonus on saving throws against fear, charm, and illusion-based spells (Hmm… They didn’t cut the gems that massive dragon has in its hoard as well as they might have. Hey, where did everyone just go?).
*Special charisma modifier: In normal circumstances, wombats’ tend to let their plain speech and rough ways give them a bad impression, giving them their standard -2 charisma penalty. However, in non-verbal aspects, they are quite charismatic, being very cute: as such, if prevented from speaking, but somehow called upon to make a Charisma check, they actually have a +2 bonus relative to their default modifier. (for example, if a na├»ve human NPC comes across a prone, unconscious wombat, he’ll think it’s very cute (high charisma); once he treats the wombat and it regains consciousness, and starts saying things like “you cast a magical SPELL to heal me? Well no wonder the wound isn’t healed proper!” the wombat’s charisma drops back down to its default modifier.
*+2 racial bonus to Craft, Appraise, Profession, Knowledge (architecture and engineering), and Knowledge (Dungeoneering)
*AC counts as +3 if attacked from behind, due to armored rump.
*Special restriction: atheism. Wombats can never worship any deities. They aren’t, strictly speaking, atheist, in that they believe gods exist. They do believe, though, that they’re essentially always more trouble than they’re worth.
*Special restriction: anti-magical. Wombats cannot wield magical weapons, nor can they use magic. Strictly speaking, all classes are permitted to them, but I wouldn’t recommend playing a Wombat sorcerer. However, wombats have access to considerably greater technologies than most races, and this partially makes up for their lack of magic (for example, they can’t cast “light” spells, but they can break out a glowstick). However, these can only be crafted by the wombat itself or bought in a wombat warren. (a special “advanced wombat equipment” list is needed now, I suppose.) Give a wombat a priceless Vorpal Sword, and your wombat’s first response is to try to pawn it off to the nearest unsuspecting adventurer ASAP.
*They get five free feats: Diligent, Lightning Reflexes, Endurance, and Martial Weapon Proficiency: picks, and unarmed strike (as with monks, owing to claws)

Next up–Wombat: The Tunnelling!

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