John-Michael Gariepy

Archive for the month “October, 2012”

DC Adventures Log 7: Forever Immortus

In DC Adventure Log 6, All Hail Riverdale, Team Lex traveled in time to 1953 to escape immediate eradication in 1977 from a ‘peace keeping’ force of U.N. soldiers with access to futuristic power-armor technology.  In 1953 Team Lex discovered that General Immortus, the same geriatric immortal soldier who confronted the team in ’77, had, in ’53,  conquered The Soviet Union and was pushing into China.  Damage to the timeline was visible as Team Lex fought to keep Riverdale of Archie Comics from descending into a genocidal fascist state.  After turning Archie, Betty and Veronica from their despicable plot, the team agreed they needed to get at the root of their time paradox problem, and slide to a time before it began.  Gentleman Ghost, who hoped to find and kill Hawkman’s predecessor, convinced the team to travel to 1,000 B.C. and –Bzooweeoovzip!

Bzooweeoovzip! Team Lex dumped into a wide muddy river.  Skeets hovered over them, and, in an odd change of personality, said that Rip Hunter was keeping them at the dawn of history where Team Lex would cause few problems while Rip and Booster Gold fixed the time stream.  Then Skeets blinked into history.

Hourman pulled Sherlock Holmes out of the river and gave him an aerial view.  With a vantage of a hundred or so meters, Read more…

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Two Books: Flatland and Catherine the Great, Portrait of a Woman

Flatland is a ‘Romance of Many Dimensions’ written by Edwin A. Abbot in 1884.  It’s a tough book to categorize, but let’s say it’s a mathematician’s exploration of what life would mean if constrained to two-dimensional shapes.  Despite the subject matter of geometry and philosophy written from Victorian England, it’s a light read.

Catherine the Great, Portrait of a Woman, is an exploration of the life and times of Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia from 1762 to 1796.  In it, Robert K. Massie helps tell the story a young Prussian princess, her self-involved stage mother, her unwilling and foolish husband, and Queen Elizabeth of Russia, who is desperate for an heir to cement her monarchical authority.  How Catherine maneuvers into power, and what she does with it once achieved makes excellent reading.

With this installment of Two Books I want to cut to the chase:  Both books are great, and deserve four stars out of five.  Flatland is a good story, and is great for getting the reader to think about the universe about him and what it means.  At times, though, it reads as a dissertation on mathematics and society, and at times it reads like a Christmas ghost story.  Having split it’s focus, ‘Flatland’ can’t achieve a perfect five of five, but comes close.  ‘Catherine the Great, Portrait of an Empress’ is a delightful read, and, if I was forced to put the book down half way through, I would have given it five of five stars.  Unfortunately, the work is exhaustive.  Massie dedicates whole chapters to Catherine’s lovers, the artwork she bought and the buildings that she had built.  He jams too many subjects that could have been books in their own right toward the end in a not-really-an-appendix.  If Massie kept the narrative flow of his story straight, perhaps this book would have maintained its power.  But he attempts to hold both the narrative and this much trivia about Catherine in one book, and, consequently, one suffered for the other.  Still a great read, though.

~

In Flatland, a middle class square of the realm of two dimensions has a vision of a one-dimensional world made out of lines and the spaces between them, and is later shown a vision of Spaceland, a higher world of three dimensions.  A Sphere, who describes himself as “a more perfect Circle than any; but to speak more accurately, I am many Circles in one” guides our narrator through his domain and labors over his  Read more…

The Cave – Getting Lost in a Good Game

Robert Frost was a sanctimonious idiot.  When ‘two roads diverged in a yellow wood’, Frost took ‘The Road Less Travelled’, and claimed it made all the difference.  I’m sure he felt he was an idealist and an explorer when he decided to follow a road that fewer feet had trod upon, but all he did was opt for an easy way to claim victory and stroke his ego.  If Frost was a real explorer, he would have ignored both roads and walked straight into the treeline that opposed him, forging his own path.

It’s in this spirit that The Cave is set.  You, and a group of fellow speleologists discover a hertofore unknown cavernous masterpiece.  Your mission is to find out what’s inside.  You’re not looking for ancient buried treasure.  You aren’t hacking monsters to pieces that you aren’t running away from.  You’re flipping over tiles, discovering the raw beauty of one of the world’s hidden wonders.

In The Cave, players have five actions per turn to explore new tiles, take pictures of rare sights, explore underwater lakes and plumb cavernous depths.  Careful management of your Read more…

Isamaru in Commander – Hounding the Opposition

In Elder Dragon Higlander, there are few Commanders as consistent as Isamaru, Hound of Konda, and few that, pound for pound, outshine their casting cost.  In a format where you’re guaranteed one Legendary Creature from the Command Zone as soon as you have the mana to cast it, Isamaru gets the party started, leaping on the battlefield on round one, ready to lunge for two next turn.

Isamaru supplies you with an impressive round one every game you play him, assuming your land base isn’t flooded with non-basic lands.  But Commander, as a format, is designed to harsh on strategies that make Isamaru pant.   A quick Google search for Isamaru Commander Decks spits back lots of poor choices and deck building mistakes.  Too much theory and not enough practice.  It took me a long time to get my Isamaru deck strong enough to compete at local kitchen tables, and, along the way, I’ve learned a few things about what not to do with the dog.

Read more…

I Literally Don’t Know What ‘Literally’ Means Anymore…

A friend of mine, and occasional voice on the Myriad Games Podcast, David Welsh, had something to say about the state of American Football a couple weeks ago:

In a previous post… I stated that GB did not deserve to win that game.
But, and I mean this literally, Seattle DID NOT deserve to win that game.

What Dave is talking about is the union struggles with Pro Referees, and the ineptitude of scab refs, leading to what some have said is ‘the worst call in NFL History‘.  (It’s old news now, I know.  The NFL settled.  It may have had a lot to do with this play).

I couldn’t help but focus on the word ‘literally’.  Dave’s got it right:  Green Bay left themselves open to have the game stolen from them.  They didn’t deserve to win the game, but, technically, they should have won that game because they intercepted the ball, and the last play was not a clean touchdown.  I, however, having no clue what happened, decided to look up the word ‘literally’ in a dictionary, as opposed to, I don’t know, do a Google search for the game.  So instead of discussing the rules of the football, instead we’re going to talk about a word in the dictionary.  Excitement abounds.  Merriam-Webster.com tells us: Read more…

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