A Strange Year

After finally getting a chance to watch the King of Kong (which was great, btw), we went to dinner at Voila with Ray and Christine tonight. Towards the end of the meal we were talking about this has been a strange year so far. And it’s true. Not bad, but definitely different than how I thought it would go. I’ve actually had some interesting opportunities pop up lately (more on that if things if work out), but these are things that have come out of the blue. Things that I expected to happen didn’t or did in a different way.

So we’re talking about the weirdness of 2008 when Kate pipes up and says, “Nothing has gone right since the fireworks.” We all laughed because it was sort of true. On New Year’s Eve the big Seattle fireworks display was a total bust. It just went spectacularly wrong and for the first time I actually heard people booing fireworks. That was a bit of an omen about the year to come, but it took the mind of a 12 year old to make the connection.

Tomorrow, things may get even stranger.

Recent Reading

The Armageddon Rag by George R.R. Martin: While I had read Wild Cards books and the Song of Ice and Fire series (both of which Green Ronin is licensing), I had never read the Armageddon Rag. That was an oversight, as this is a great book. It starts a whodunnit but it’s really a thoughtful meditation on the 1960s, rock and roll, and the counter culture. This came out in 1983 originally but has recently been reprinted. Highly recommended.

An Army in Exile by Lt. General W. Anders: In memoir General Anders tells his own WWII story and that of the Polish II Corps. Formed largely of soldiers imprisoned in the Soviet Union after its invasion of Poland in 1939, the II Corps fought with distinction in the Italian campaign, most famously capturing Monte Cassino. I was looking for something more tactically oriented, but Anders’ story is strategic and geo-political. His first hand account of important events is fascinating though, so I’m glad I read it.

The Briar King by Gregory Keyes: Hey, a new fantasy series I’m actually interested in. Who’d have thought? I think I had lunch with Keyes 8 or 9 years ago, when he was writing fiction for Dragon Magazine. This is the first book of his I read an I enjoyed it. His setting is fantasy but it uses Roanake and Virginia Dare in a pretty interesting way. This is the first of the Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone series, which is up to four volumes now. I will be moving on to part two, The Charnel Prince.

A Question of Honor by Lynne Olson and Stanley Cloud: The subject of the book is, in theory, the Kosciuszko Squadron, a unit of Polish airmen key to Allied victory in the Battle of Britain. The first half of the book tells that story and its gripping stuff. Once the Battle of Britain is over though, the focus is less on the pilots and more on the fate of Poland as a whole. The second half of the book, while continuing to touch on the squadron and its members, is really a history of how it was that the Allies went to war to protect Polish freedom but ultimately condemned the country to decades of Soviet domination. Well written and engaging.

Sharpe’s Regiment by Bernard Cornwell: This is the 8th of the original 11 Sharpe novels, which chronicle the adventures of a British rifleman who comes up through the ranks and makes a name for himself in the Napoloeonic Wars. These are rousing adventure tales, and while Cornwell defintely has a formula, he does it well. I liked this book because it actually took place away from the front. Sharpe heads back to England to find a missing battalion of his regiment. This embroils him in a world of political corruption quite different than the battlefields of Iberia.

When Presidents Lie by Eric Alterman: The basic thesis of this book seems to be the presidents lie for short term gain but the country pays the price in the long term. I’ve only read the first part so far, which covers FDR and the Yalta conference. He argues that almost no one knew what agreements FDR had really made at Yalta and he died sho quickly on returning to America that he didn’t have a chance to finesse the situation. The result: the Cold War. It’s an interesting read so far, though I’m not really convinced that Stalin intended to honor all the terms of the Yalta agreement.

Business and Pleasure

Nik and Kate are in NYC on a class trip, so I’ve been left to my own devices here in Seattle. This weekend was pretty much equal parts business and pleasure.

Yesterday I went down to Tim’s place in Renton for a final game of Spirit of the Century before Tim, our most recent traitor, moves back to the Bay Area to take a job with Apple. It was a battle royale in Hong Kong, with our intrepid band of pulp heroes facing off against a horde of tong gangsters. We ended on a cliffhanger, with what seemed to be dragons heading to Hong Kong to eject the foreign devils, and we hope to be able to finish up the story when Tim is back visiting at some point. I spent my entire evening in the office, doing Green Ronin work of the most boring sort. Ah, the endless joy of contract writing and administration.

Today I woke up with a full blown cold that came out of nowhere, which was weird. Knowing I had people coming over at 1 pm, I just downed some medicine and went to work cleaning the downstairs. I got things in order and right on time Rick, Jimmer, Ray, Seth, and Wolfgang arrived. We were getting together for an afternoon of boardgaming, which I don’t get to do as often as I’d like. Today’s game: History of the World. This is the classic game of rising and falling empires. The game is exactly seven turns long, which each one representing an epoch of history. On each turn you play a different empire, while trying to hold together as much of your previous empires as possible. I had the good fortune to get the Romans (thanks, Rick!) and I was able to maintain a lead from that point forward. It came down to the wire, but I pull out a victory despite my various empires getting picked apart. We played a complete game and finished at 6:30. I really ought to try to organize days like this more often, though with convention season approaching I shouldn’t kid myself.

Tonight it was back to work. I did not get as much accomplished as I wanted to because this cold is running me down, but I am continuing to check things off my to-do list. I am tempted to take a sick day from FLS tomorrow but I may hold out and take one Tuesday if need be.

AP Article on D&D

A couple of weeks ago I was interviewed for an Associated Press article about 4th edition D&D.; The reporter had found me via my blog and he explained to me that this a common technique for journalists these day. Funny. I was little concerned about being quoted correctly, because he was transcribing as we talked instead of recording the conversation. The article is out now and the quotes he used do seem to be what I actually said though, so hooray.


It’s also up in some other places like the Huffington Post, as you’d expect from an AP story. As mainstream media coverage of gaming goes, it’s not bad. Certainly a big step up from the hysterical stuff we used to see in the early 80s.

One thing I ought to point out is that the estimate of the size of the RPG business (and note I was just talking RPGs, not minis, TCGs, boardgames, etc.) that I gave him was an educated guess on my part and I told him so. I based it on what I knew of the D&D; business a few years ago and what I know of sales numbers today, but since most game companies are privately owned and don’t report their sales it’s difficult to know for sure.