Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Chris Remembers Comicon 2011 – Part One?

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

When Nathan told me that he was going to run his three part memoir of Comicon 2011 this week, I said, “Oh, Convention Week.” He responded that he wasn’t too sure that I would have as much to say about the experience. And he may be right. As I’ll explain later, I was very tired that day. I joked that it would be “Chris’s Memories of Comicon” and it would only be the first half of the day. So this is Part One of my memories… maybe. It is if I have enough for a Part Two. As of right now, I have not read any of Nathan’s posts on the subject. I figure that if I can squeeze out two parts from my memories that maybe I can get a third part in commenting on his posts. Note: I am now 1,000 words into my article, and am only at the part where the public was let in to the seller’s room, so I think I’m good for at least two parts.

The convention started around 10:30 am, but for me the convention started at midnight. I was supposed to get off of work at midnight and get as much sleep as I could before Nathan was at my front door early that morning. The problem is that no one showed up at midnight. This became a circumstance where I certainly didn’t want to complain about the opportunity for more hours, but I didn’t exactly want them right at that moment. After a couple of phone calls, my supervisor found someone to come relieve me… the owner of the guard company. For as much as they love me there, I wasn’t about to make the owner of the company come work for me. I said that if they could promise me somebody there by 6:00 am that I would stick around for the extra few hours.

There was a guard there by 5:30 am, and I got to go home to get ready, and nap very briefly until Nathan arrived. I forget what time it was when he actually got there, but I do know that the time between leaving work and Nathan arriving was not as long as it seemed in terms of me getting any sleep, because I had to shower and actually get ready. This is really just par for the course for me sometimes.

The week that we did all the initial shooting for Season Two, Nathan had told me to ask off the entire week, and I did in a way. I asked off from my part time job delivering pizza. I just didn’t ask off from my guard job. At the time, I had an ideal guard post, and I didn’t want to lose it. I didn’t have to be there until midnight, and I was off at 7:00 am. Since Nathan didn’t want to get started until around 10:00 or 11:00 am each day; there was enough time for me to nap. Then there was enough time for me to nap again before work because Nathan goes to bed at 7:00 pm (I figure if I say that enough it’ll become fact eventually). For me that was enough. The night I had off, I slept on Nathan’s couch, and boy did I pass out.

So there we were on our way to the convention with me in my normal state of sleep deprived delirium. Actually, that wasn’t achieved until much later in the day, but I was tired. Nathan put me in charge of the map and directions print out, and aside from not really paying attention to where we were at any point, I did a pretty good job of getting us there. We didn’t miss any turns at least. When we arrived there was a line of cars and there was a line of people from the convention explaining to us where we were to park, ok, there was two people, but they practically said the same thing, like they were both trying out for the same role in a movie.

We finally got into the dock area, and we went about executing Nathan’s unloading plan, which involved one of us taking stuff in, and one of us waiting with the truck. This went pretty smoothly, and we were soon setting up what proved to be a very small table compared to the amount of stuff we had.

We had our dealers tags (which I’m sure is called something else since we aren’t cars) and we joked a bit that we should walk around holding them out like they did in “Wayne’s World.” When Nathan went to the bathroom before the people were let in, he said that you practically had to do that because if you tried to walk in with your very prominent badge around your neck and hanging on your chest, the people at the door acted like they couldn’t see it, and demanded you show them your badge.

Ok, here is my stopping point for the first half. On Thursday, right after I discuss Ameri… oh yeah, I have my Thursdays back. On Thursday, I will tell you about the flood of people, the flood of pus from my nose, the flood of twenties that lined my pockets, and why I didn’t get any nachos.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Dallas Comicon May 2011 - Part 1/3

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

You may (or may not) remeber the post I made in April about the Dallas Comicon and all I was hoping for with the upcoming convention. If not, you can read it here. The convention happened last weekend.

This week I will be bringing you 3 blog posts about the 2011 Dallas Comicon. I will talk about the event itself, my experience, and what happened (sales wise).

The new location for the convention was the 'Irving Conevntion Center at Las Colians'. I guess they needed to tack on the Irving thing to give it some recoginition to outsiders. The setup times for vendors was the same as the old venue (in Plano). I'm not too sure why they moved from the Plano center to the Irving one. It could have been rates or it could have been that the event was just getting too big for the old one. I never felt that it was but in the end I think it was the right move.

That morning I picked up Chris at about 8am and we headed out there. At this point Chris has not slept in more than 18 hours... is ANYONE surprised at this? Anyway the convention opens to dealers on Friday (from 2-7) then again on Saturday morning from 8:30am until opening. I have never gone to the Firday setup since I don't have that much stuff and it would be way out of the way and really a waste to come all the way out there on Friday evening. I just make sure I am there early on the first day and I am usually just fine. Some of the dealers have several spaces and have elaborate setups and really need all that time the day before. This one comic company out of Austin listerall had 2 complete rows of comics... I can't imagine how long that took to setup.

We got there and were told (while waiting for them to let us all into the dock area) that we needed to drop off our stuff at the docks and go park in the visitor parking garage. Well this sucks right from the start. There is parking behind the complex (next to the docks) but for some dumb reason they were being pricks about it and wanted us to go back out and park in the garage which is wayyyy far from the dealer's room. This convention center is brand new and I think this was one of the first big conventions held there so the staff were unprepared for EVERYTHING. There is a parkinglot right outside the gates of the dock area but there was some flooding from all the rain the week before so that is probably why they were telling us to park in the garage.

The docks back there are huge BUT they are made for semit trucks so they were way too tall for all us sellers with our rinky-dink pickups and vans. We had to haul the stuff up onto the dock then run the stuff inside the hall. After Chris and I unloaded it all I pulled the truck into one of the spaces back there anyway (there were plenty of spaces). 

Before we could take the stuff inside I had to go in and sign in at the dealer's table. This is where you pay and remaining balance and get your 'exhibitor' badges. You must have these badges on at all times because the convention's staff (some paid and many voluenteer) act like badge nazis. I usually have a dim view of these people... constantly asking to see badges when they are less than ten inches from my face (hanging around my neck). I KNOW they are just doing their jobs and doing them well (I'd want everything covered if it were my event) but it was just irritating. I would get downright irate with them when they tried any of that power play stuff with me. I guess when you give some authority to people who never get much respect it can go to their heads.

Join me for part 2 and 3 this week in this enchanting (no, really) series of Blog posts.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Rick Springfield Live in Concert Farmers Branch, Texas: A Review

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

The upside of working a lot is that you have money to waste on unimportant things. For instance, on my way to work my day shift today, I stopped for soda and gas. I paid $7.57 for the soda, and rounded out a twenty to get $12.43 in gas. Then I didn’t pump the gas. You know why? Because I have money to waste!

Actually, it’s because I’m not very good with day shifts to begin with, and because I went and saw Rick Springfield live last night, it was especially rough getting up this morning. In spite of passing out the moment I got home, I still had trouble waking up at 5:30 am, when I’m normally starting to consider going to bed sometime soon. I was already five minutes late, tired, not properly caffeinated, and I just forgot to pump it. I remembered about three hours later at work when I was staring blankly at my dashboard and realized that I didn’t have much gas in the tank.

I called the gas station. I described what time I was there, what my transaction was, and why I don’t believe that I pumped the gas. She looked it up, verified it, and made a note for the next shift that I would be by after I’m off work to pump the gas. Sometimes modern technology is nice.

The good news is that the show was completely worth my current physical condition. The only complaint I have is that it was an outdoor concert, and it was very windy, so my hair is fried this morning. Let me tell you about the show chronologically.

Missing Rick Springfield Once or Twice – He played at Billy Bob’s in Fort Worth either two or three times in the last so many years, and I know that the first time (or first two times) I missed him because I didn’t have the money or the time off to go.

Missing Rick Springfield Again – I was in a band a while back. Logically, what should follow is that we were playing a show the night that Rick Springfield came through to Billy Bob’s yet again, and I couldn’t go. Nope. I had the money. I had the time off. I was ready to go. Then the guitarist of my band called and said, “It’s my birthday. I want my band mates to hang out with me tonight.” And that’s what happened. We went to Denny’s with her, and had a good time.

Radio Commercial – FB Liberty Fest! Featuring 38 Special, Rick Springfield, and other acts to be announced! May 28! Um, ok. You don’t have to twist my arm.

Looking It Up Online – Turns out that 38 Special (who also played Billy Bob’s a couple of times) were playing Friday night, and Rick Springfield was playing Saturday night. That was actually pretty disappointing, because I would have liked to have seen them both. Other acts were still to be announced.

Looking Online Again – Yesterday, I looked up where I needed to go, and what time I needed to be there. The FB stands for Farmers Branch, which is where the show was. The opening bands were announced finally, and I have to admit, I wasn’t too excited, but as long as Rick Springfield was there, I was there.

The All-Stars from Southlake Rock School – The first band were four kids whose ages ranged from 9 to 12. They were from some rock school in Southlake, Texas. They were more of a novelty than anything. They did various rock ‘n’ roll staples as covers: Teenage Wasteland (The Who); Live and Let Die, Baby I’m Amazed (Paul McCartney); School’s Out (Alice Cooper); Misty Mountain Hop (Led Zeppelin); and Home Sweet Home (Motley Crue).

Here’s what I’ll say. They are very talented. They’re more proficient at their instruments than they are on vocals, but they carried that well enough too. Strictly speaking, if not for their ages, they wouldn’t have come across as all that good. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed their set. They sounded their best during “Teenage Wasteland” and “Misty Mountain Hop.” And they had very good stage presence. The likelihood is that they won’t be in a band together in years to come, but I do hope that they are in bands.

Ok, keep them in mind for a bit, while I move on to the next act.

The Spin Doctors – Out in support of the upcoming 20th Anniversary Edition of their first album “Pocket Full of Kryptonite,” they played the album in its entirety, though they played “Two Princes” at the end of set, technically out of order. My opinion about that album, and about The Spin Doctors, is “good, but not really what I’m in to.” My opinion of their performance doesn’t vary much from that. I can think of many other bands I would have rather seen. I did enjoy hearing the album played live, but in the same way that I listened to the album a couple of times years ago and dismissed it, I probably won’t go out of my way to see them again. They play well as a band, and they are still all the original members. They seemed to enjoy themselves, and I did enjoy the set for what it was.

Rick Springfield – Finally! I got to see Rick Springfield! I saw him perform on some daytime talk show a few years back, and I was amazed by his energy. He maintained that energy the whole time during the show last night. It’s the “Shattered Roses Tour,” and he did just that. He shattered roses. At various points in the show he would take a dozen roses and rotate his arm wide to strum his guitar with the roses. Petals went everywhere. And I must say that it was actually a pretty cool sight. He did it at various points throughout the set, and it was cool to watch every time.

He started out with a song called “Who Killed Rock ‘n’ Roll?” I’d never heard it, but it was great, and a fantastic show opener. Next he did “I’ve Done Everything for You” followed by “Affair of the Heart.” He did “It’s Always Something.” Then he did another song I’d never heard called “What’s Victoria’s Secret.” Then he did “I Get Excited” which I know I’ve heard, but I’m not that familiar with it, followed by “Alison,” which I’m very familiar with. Next he did “Venus in Overdrive” which sounded amazing live. I mean everything sounded amazing live, but this song in particular seems like it was made to be done live.

He did a song called “I’ll Miss That Someday,” which he claimed to be “about our dads.” I looked it up, because I’d never heard it. It was from his 2008 album, “Venus in Overdrive,” and it should have been a hit. The song “Venus in Overdrive” got a little notoriety, and it was a good track to get notoriety, but “I’ll Miss that Someday” should have too. He followed that song with “Love is Alright Tonite.”

Not done yet. Next, he covered “Gloria”. And he had the kids from the opening band come on stage in the middle of the song. Rick Springfield’s band showed them quickly how to play the main progression of the song, and they finished out the song with him. It was definitely impromptu because the kids were definitely lost at first, but it was a really cool thing.

Next, he did “Don’t Talk to Strangers.” This is when he got the whole sing along thing going, but more importantly he got out in the crowd (at least in the VIP section by the stage. I guess that’s another complaint I have, which is that they had a very large section in front of the stage barricaded off for VIP, and while there were a lot of people up there, they took up a decidedly small portion of the area that was barricaded off. Anyway, he got out there and had people sing the “Don’t Talk to Strangers” line into the Microphone. He got one of the police to come up onto the walkway, and said, “Everybody, this is Sarge. Can you sing, Sarge?” Sarge (who I’m betting wasn’t a Sargeant) shook his head no. “Awww, but you gotta sing for us. Everybody, tell Sarge what he’s supposed to sing.” The crowd sang the “Don’t Talk to Strangers” line, and Rick Springfield goes, “He can’t hear you.” Classic. Sarge was right, by the way. Sarge can’t sing. But Rick Springfield still wasn’t done with the song. He asked for anyone under the age of 18 to come up on stage, asked each of them their age, signed stuff if they had anything for him to sign, and then had the boys and girls “compete” to see who could sing the loudest. I’m not sure how long they took to play that one song, but it was a while, and it was fun to watch.

After all of that, he did “Love Somebody,” “Human Touch,” and finished out the main set with “Jesse’s Girl.”

For the encore he did “Wasted,” which I didn’t know, and “Kristina.” And then it was over. I’m not sure how long his set was, but it was much later than I was expecting. There was nothing about his set to negatively criticize, except for the “Liberty Syndrome” which has nothing to do with it being at Liberty Fest.

The “Liberty Syndrome” is that Duran Duran in all three times I’ve seen them have never played a song from their “Liberty” album, which was considered to be a flop album, even though it’s one of my favourite by them. I guess I should have gone to see them when they were touring that album.

Translated to Rick Springfield it is the “Rock of Life Syndrome.” The “Rock of Life” album is my favourite of his albums, followed closely by the “Living in Oz” album, and “Hard to Hold” after that. The point is that “Living in Oz” and “Hard to Hold” were big albums for him, so we got samplings from each, but not a thing from “Rock of Life.” Just a little disappointing.

A quick note: In looking up the titles to these songs for accuracy, I haven’t been able to find “Who Killed Rock ‘n’ Roll?” The official Rick Springfield website had a timeline which places the song in 2007, but I saw it listed on none of his albums from 2007 and on. I’m also not finding “Wasted.” But on the timeline, I noticed it listed his performance on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” I’m pretty sure that’s what I saw. I couldn’t remember which album “It’s Always Something” was on, but I knew the song immediately. It was on “Karma.” I never owned that album, but I borrowed it from the library for a month or so. It was a very good album. I now see the mistake in not going out and buying it immediately.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Flash Ahhhh!: Episode Twenty-One – Takanakakaka-ka-ka-kaboom

by the According To Whim .com crew

(Part One by Nathan Stout)

[EXT - DAY - ACCORDING TO WHIM HQ]

CHRIS: A little to the left. Ah, there. That’s good.

(One of Quincy’s henchmen adjusts the piece of cold steak on Chris’s eye. Chris can’t do it himself, because he is tied up. Quincy sits across from Chris, under a large umbrella, at a rather nice set of patio furniture.)

QUINCY: You see, Mr. McGinty; I am not a cruel man. I believe in being civilized.

CHRIS: Do you mind?

(Chris nods to the Mr. Peppers sitting in front of him. The henchman moves the straw to Chris’s lips, and he drinks greedily from it.)

CHRIS: Very nice.

QUINCY: As soon as my men fix the wiring to the audio system, I will have my fun. I can only imagine what thousands of panes of glass sound like when crashing simultaneously.

CHRIS: Yeah, great. Siiiiiip.

[INT - DAY - HANGMAN'S HOUSE OF HORRORS]

(Nathan is looking at the hangman diagram, the foot still the only thing drawn in, most of the letters of the word filled in correctly.)

NATHAN: Hummmm.

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: You are very good at this.

NATHAN: It’s amazing what you can accomplish when bodily harm is on the table.

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: Two more letters.

NATHAN: Ahhhh, let’s see now... B_ACK_ACK.

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: Think hard now.

NATHAN: I am stumped. I just don’t know.

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: Oh come on! It’s as plain as the nose on my face.

(Nathan looks at the pillowcase.)

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: Your face.

NATHAN: OK, how about a...

(Suddenly, someone opens a bay door and light floods in. There are voices.)

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: Crap! Quick boys, leave him. Let’s go.

(He turns back to Nathan, and assumes a threatening stance.)

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: I haven’t finished with you, cheapskate!

(Nathan notices that when he gestures in that threatening way, his fingers appear to be very short. Something deep in Nathan’s cortex twitches at this, but is unable to pull anything from memory. The bad guys leave, and Nathan waits before calling out.)

NATHAN: Hey! I’m over here! Help!

VOICE: This is private property!

NATHAN: Oh shoot.

VOICE #2: Now, now, this may be just what we are looking for.

(There is a squeaking, and then around the corner rolls the Professor, followed by a couple of redneck clones from several episodes back.)

PROFESSOR: Ah, Nathan. Join us.

NATHAN: Oh shoot.

VOICE #3: Professor?

PROFESSOR: Over here.

PAUL: Oh, there you are... oh my.

NATHAN: Oh shoot.

[EXY - DAY - ATW HQ]

CHRIS: I'm gonna shoot!

(Chris, having gotten free from his captors when he claimed to need to pee after his sixth Mr. Peppers, ran to the Daytona and grabbed the bazooka. He points it at the DJ booth.)

QUINCY: You dunder heads. I told you not to loose his bonds. He stores that stuff like a camel. Duck!

(Chris shoots the bazooka at the DJ booth, and the shot zigs and zags... right over the booth, and right into the According To Whim Headquarters.)

CHRIS: Oops.

(With thunderous explosions that only Hollyweird could come up with, the building goes up in cinematic glory, each floor exploding out in fiery balls of... fire. As if each window was packed with enough C-4 to keep Roland Emmeric happy for ten minutes. Nathan must have had barrels and barrels of gasoline lining each floor just on the other side of the glass cause that’s what it looked like.)

CHRIS: So that’s what he did with the rest of the loan money. I wondered why this venture took twice as much money as was budgeted.

QUINCY: No! No! No! No!

(Quincy is hopping mad.)

QUINCY: You couldn’t see any breaking glass cause of the fire! Nooooooooo!

(Quincy falls to his knees, Platoon style. Chris runs up in front of him.)

CHRIS: This is for making me do this.

(Chris swings his leg back and kicks the kneeling Quincy in the balls so hard he choked on them. Chris runs off, hoping no one saw him blow up Nathan’s business.)

(End of Part One)

(Part Two by Chris McGinty)

“What happened here?” asked Dorothy.

Quincy looked up from his sobbing, and saw a young girl in a blue dress. Behind her were The Village People. As he wiped the tears from his eyes, he saw that it was actually a scarecrow, a tin man, and a lion. And her little dog too

“That long haired bastard, Chris, blew the hell out of the building in such a way that I was unable to hear or see any glass shattering at all,” Quincy said, and might I add, rather pathetically whiny.

“What about the wizard?” asked Dorothy.

It was then that a frail old man, who was probably not all that frail before the explosions, crawled up to them.

“The Wizard of Ahhhhs!” said the Scarecrow.

“My time is done with now. I had a good run,” said the wizard.

“Can you grant one more thing before you pass on?” asked Dorothy.

“As long as it has nothing to do with fixing the continuity of this story,” said the wizard.

“Can you give me super speed, so I can catch that long haired bastard, Chris, and avenge your death?”

[INT – NIGHT – BLACK VAN]

NATHAN: I thought it was day.

PAUL: We noticed.

NATHAN: Don’t speak to me, Paul. We were comrades, cronies even, and you bailed on me the moment the professor…

PAUL: Excuse me a moment, Nathan, my phone is ringing. Hello? Oh, Angelina, baby. Yeah, I know. It’s been a whole twenty minutes since we last talked on the phone, and I missed you terribly too.

NATHAN: Not to mention the part where your little girlfriend is working against…

PROFESSOR: If I could interrupt you, Dr. Phil.

NATHAN: Suck my McGraw, asshole.

PROFESSOR: You’re not very pleasant anymore, Nathan.

NATHAN: My foot is facing the wrong direction. Name one person in all of history who has ever been pleasant when their foot was facing in the wrong direction.

PROFESSOR: And so you waste an opportunity to be a trendsetter. Agent Two, will you assist our guest.

(Agent Two approaches Nathan. He grabs Nathan’s foot and lifts it, straightening out his leg. Nathan is pretty sure that he will never feel a worse pain in all of his life. Then Agent Two twists his foot to set it, proving Nathan wrong. Then just as Nathan feels he might die of shock, the foot starts to feel gradually better.)

NATHAN: You’re a healer.

AGENT TWO: Yes, I am. All better.

(Nathan punches Agent Two in the face.)

AGENT TWO: What the hell did you do that for?

NATHAN: I figured you could heal it, and I needed to vent a little.

Chris was running faster than humanly possible, using his superhuman power. He was on his way to Hangman’s House of Horrors. He figured that Nathan was surely in some sort of trouble by now, and if he could save him, he might be more forgiving about the According To Whim HQ.

It was then that Chris noticed that the text was not in script form.

“What the hell?” Chris asked aloud, but he had no real time to contemplate the answer, as he was tacked to the ground.

Chris had no time to consider who might have tackled him before he was tied up, and staring helplessly up at Dorothy.

“You killed the wizard,” said Dorothy.

“You killed Judy Garland,” said Chris, “sounds like we’re even.”

Dorothy called Quincy via cell phone, and told him where they were.

[INT – NIGHT – VAN]

NATHAN: What are we waiting on again?

PROFESSOR: I just told you three times.

NATHAN: I know, but until you get a TV in this van, you’re the only entertainment I’ve got.

PROFESSOR: We’re waiting on Quincy, who managed to capture Chris, let Chris escape, and then captured Chris again. He’s bringing Chris here so that we can rid you both of your powers once and for all, so that you quit getting in the way of our plans.

PAUL: Angelina figures we should just kill you.

PROFESSOR: We’re not thugs, Paul.

PAUL: Angelina’s not a thug. She’s a ruthless hit woman.

PROFESSOR: Do I look like a ruthless hit woman, Paul?

PAUL: No.

PROFESSOR: Then we do things my way until the answer is yes.

NATHAN: You didn’t ask me.

AGENT ONE: Professor, Quincy is here.

(Everyone piles out of the van. Nathan is tied up, but not blindfolded. He sees everyone piling out of Quincy’s van, including Chris, who is also tied up.)

PROFESSOR: Welcome back, Quincy. Where is the young lady who captured Chris, so I can thank her?

QUINCY: We dropped her off with her friends, so we can talk normally.

(They place Chris and Nathan side by side, facing away from the destroyed building that Nathan has yet to notice.)

NATHAN: Why are we having so much trouble defeating all of these freaks?

CHRIS: Be positive, Nathan. The real question is why they are having so much trouble defeating us.

NATHAN: True.

PROFESSOR: May I have your attention?

CHRIS: I’ve learned that when it comes to getting attention, it’s better to just…

PROFESSOR: Quiet!

CHRIS: But… but.. Wahhhhhh! I wanna expound my theory on attention seeking. Waaaahhhhhh!

PROFESSOR: Ok, fine. Just hurry up.

CHRIS: Nope. Don’t care anymore.

PROFESSOR: But you just said you…

(Nathan rolls his eyes, as this goes on for the next few minutes. Finally, Quincy puts a stop to it with four little words.)

QUINCY: Nathan, look behind you.

(Nathan looks. Then Nathan looks back.)

NATHAN: That doesn’t look like your handiwork, Quincy.

QUINCY: That’s because Chris did that. He shot a bazooka at it.

NATHAN: Chris, is this true?

CHRIS: Nathan, nothing happened that wouldn’t have happened but for the fact that we have a Democrat in office.

NATHAN: Fair enough.

CHRIS: I know how to talk to him.

NATHAN: You should note that I’m only forgiving you at the moment, because you’re the only person around here who has an interest in rescuing me.

(As all of this has been going on Agent One, Agent Two, and Agent Three, along with Quincy’s people, have been setting up some sort of device.)

PROFESSOR: What we have here is a device created by Angelina…

PAUL: Awww. She’s such a cute little inventor.

(Everyone looks at Paul. Nathan rolls his eyes again.)

PROFESSOR: The device will remove your powers, and alter your metabolism, so that you will never have your powers again.

CHRIS: And what will this gain you?

PROFESSOR: We will be able to carry out our evil plans without the two of you interfering.

CHRIS: That’s kind of overrated, don’t you think? What other reason you got?

PROFESSOR: I don’t have time for your antics now, Chris.

AGENT THREE: Actually, you do, professor. The device takes fifteen minutes to warm up.

CHRIS: Great! Read us a bedtime story.

NATHAN: That doesn’t happen in this story, Chris.

CHRIS: Lame.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Review: Red Dwarf Season 5

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)


Welcome to the 5th review about the British comedy Red Dwarf. For those who don't know, Red Dwarf is a British Science Fiction comedy about the last human being alive. This is the first part of the reviews that will span all eight seasons as well as the Back to Earth specials. Perhaps when the next season finally comes out I will add it to my list of reviews. Click here for the review of Season 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Season 5 (1991)

Episode 1 - Holoship
As the popularity grew for the show so did the demand for more and more spectacular shows. Season 5 has a few great episodes but it seems to be far from the interpersonal comedy that happened on the first three seasons. In this episode a ship composed of nothing but Holograms comes across Red Dwarf. Rimmer desires to join the crew and even uses illegal mind patching techniques to try to get on board via a super tough testing session against a current crew member (basically replacing the other hologram on the crew). The whole episode revolves around the theme of some movie they are watching at the start and Rimmer complains about how dumb the movie's characters are acting only to find himself doing the same thing later.

Episode 2 - The Inquisitor
A crazed android is going through to time 'judging' every person who ever existed to see if they are worth to have been given the gift of life. If not, he erases them from history. The android shows up on Red Dwarf and the crew fights for their very existence. The concept of the episode is good but the action aspect comes off confusing and not very entertaining.

Episode 3 - Terrorform
Rimmer gets stuck down on a planet but not any old planet. It's called a psy-moon. It changes itself to reflect the psyche of the person on it. With Rimmer's twisted mind it takes a very nasty shape. The rest of the crew show up to rescue him. When things get worse they crew do everything they can to make Rimmer feel loved and wanted (to help turn the tide of his psyche's onslaught).

Episode 4 - Quarantine
In this episode the crew get attacked by a mad hologram who transmits a hologramatic virus to Rimmer. Rimmer puts the rest of the guys into quarantine as he looses him mind. The crew breaks out with the help of the luck virus they found on the ship were the mad hologram was. They clean Rimmer's programming of the virus at the last second. The luck virus will come back into play in the 8th season. This is one of the more popular shows of the season (behind Back to Reality).

Episode 5 - Demons and Angles
Kryten and Lister have been working on the Triplicator, a device that makes 2 copies of anything. One copy has all the best attributes of what ever was copied and the other has all the worst attributes. The machine backfires and created 2 Red Dwarfs, one good and one bad while the original blows up. The good Red Dwarf is manned by a bunch of hippie-like goodie goodies and the bad Red Dwarf has far more evil versions of the crew. The bad guys (or 'lows' are they are called) try to take over the better ship but in the end the crew recreates the triplicator and re-creates the original Red Dwarf. The big mess up here is that in the end of the episode the evil Lister is still alive although he should have disappeared when the 2 ships formed back into the original. I know I am nitpicking but like I said earlier, the writers don't seems too concerned with continuity.

Episode 6 - Back To Reality
The crew visit an underwater ship only to be chased by the Despair Squid which shoots ink that causes hallucinations that make the victim kill themselves. The crew escape only to crash and die. They all wake up on Earth. It turns out they were all playing a virtual reality video game this whole time. Each crew member were very different that their real life persona. Before their memories come back they leave and each discovers that they are less than desirable in their 'real' lives. In the end they try to kill themselves (all together) but Holly intervenes and brings them out of their hallucination that was brought on by the Despair Squid. It was all just a hallucination and the crew carries on. This is the most popular episode of the series in large part to the alternate characters that the crew plays. The whole scene where they each discover who they 'really are' is hilarious. This hearkens back to the first three seasons where the characters were the main point of comedy and their interaction with each other.

Join me for my least favorite season of Red Dwarf next time!

Here is a little fun bit from Craig Charles did for Nintendo
Here is another TV bit with Craig Charles from a British show called Cyber Zone

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Trainwreck Idol: Wrap Up

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

I just put on the results show for the finals. I’ve thus far managed to avoid learning who won. I really don’t have a lot to say this week. I want Lauren to win, and that’s about it. The problem though is that they did three songs each on Tuesday, and Lauren was clearly better than Scotty, but none of the performances really stood out as interesting.

The odd thing is that they had two different songs to sing rather than singing the same song their own way. I get the impression that they realized that Scotty wouldn’t be able to keep up with the typical song they write. Thing is that I honestly believe that they gave Lauren an edge by giving her a song that more people could relate to. I guess I’ll find out when I get to the results.

I don’t really have too many thoughts on the performances from Tuesday or even from the results show, except that Judas Priest should have never kicked out Rob Halford, and the whole sketch about most shocking elimination was really funny.

And now that I’m at the end of the show, and I know that they pretended Scotty actually won, I guess I can comment on their clever rouse. It’s like when they pretended Kris Allen won, and then later pretended Lee Dewyze won. I guess we’ll just smile and nod, and pretend that that’s really what happened.

I guess the odd thing about the show is that there is a real let down factor to the finale. I truly don’t think that Scotty was good enough to be there that long much less win, and somehow my enjoyment of the show just slipped away in the last couple of weeks. Part of it is honest displeasure with the performances. It’s hard getting through the shows when you’re not really liking the songs being sung. Part of it is that you really do get an opinion about how it should go, and an occasional slap in the face against your opinion is fine, but this season was one after another things not happening the way I thought they should. I’ve never felt like being a sore loser about the way the show played out before, but I feel it now. You start thinking those dumb things like, “If this is how this damn show is gonna play out, then I’ll just quit watching it.” That’s not likely though. I’m sure I’ll be right back at it next year.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Review: Red Dwarf Season 3

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

Apparently I totally goofed up and forgot to post this Blog post (Season 3) before posting Season 4. Oops! No one really reads this Blog anyway so it doesn't really matter... However it does prove to the readers that we prepare Blog posts well in advance and that (sometimes) leads to misposting... oh well.

Welcome to the third review about the British comedy Red Dwarf. For those who don't know, Red Dwarf is a British Science Fiction comedy about the last human being alive. This is the first part of the reviews that will span all eight seasons as well as the Back to Earth specials. Perhaps when the next season finally comes out I will add it to my list of reviews. Click here for the review of Season 1 and Season 2. Don't forget Season 4.

Season 3 (1989)

Episode 1 - Backwards
Kryten and Rimmer are off in Starbug to get Kryten's pilot license. In the attempt they sucked into a time hole and are flung back to Earth... only an Earth where time is backwards. Lister and the Cat seek them out and soon find them on this crazy backwards planet. This episode is where the sci-fi element really took off. The writers seemed to say 'the smeg with it' and broke all sorts of story concepts, continuity, and the like to make an enjoyable series. Lister seemed to loose his intense interest in getting back to Earth, technology seems to jump back and forth between the mundane and the fantastic (where the heck did a mining ship get a cloaking device???). The balance however between the sci-fi element and character interaction is just about perfect making this my (and many people's) favorite season.

Episode 2 - Marooned
Lister and Rimmer crash land on an ice planet and spend the whole episode in the main section of Starbug talking... keeping the starving Lister occupied. That's it. The whole thing never leaves the one room. It is the most entertaining episode of the series and involved so much less than every other episode. Chris Barrie (Rimmer) says that this is his 2nd favorite episode of the series (next the Dimension Jump in Season 4).

Episode 3 - Polymorph
A genetically engineered life form called a Polymorph gets ontop the ship and causes havoc. Polymorphs suck emotions out of its victims and it get everyone in the crew. With vital emotions missing each of the crew become very different. In the end they regain their emotions when the Polymorph is destroyed. There is a lot of effect shots in this episode along with the hedious Polymorh. There are some fantastic gags including Lister's shrinking underpants and Kryten's gronial attachment.

Episode 4 - Bodyswap
The crew happens upon a technique called a mind swap where people's minds can be moved about betwen different bodies. Rimmer convinces Lister to let them swap so Rimmer can experience touch again (and get Lister into shape) for a short while. Rimmer totally freaks out and abuses Lister's body in the extasy of being alive again. This is my second favorite episode of the third season. Although there is that sci-fi element it is basically the ability to have the story occur and not the focus of the story.

Episode 5 - Timeslides
In the episode Kryten is developing photos and the 3 million year old fluid has made the photos act very strangely. They actaully move (like a video) but the crew can actaully move into the photographs (when shown as slides). Lister and the crew go 'back in time' and once again try to convince their former selves to do things that will chage their history and get them off the ship. Lister succeds and Rimmer has to go back and 'fix' things (bringing Lister back to his current, space lost self). This is one of those episode where the character just walk off the screen at the end (leaving the whole prospect of changing their pasts alone).

Episode 6 - The Last Day
This is my third favorite episode and would be higher up but for the poor show production during the last scene. Kryten gets mail at the ship stating that he is soon to be replaced by the latest android model. The crew has a big bash (the funniest part of the episode) and then the replacement shows up. Kryten uses human logic to win the day and stop the insane replacement android. The final scene which looses points for me is where Hudson (the replacment shows up). The problem with the scene is the audio and lighting. They shot the scene somewhere other than the studio and it lighting and sound suffer badly.

Things start going down hill as we start the review of the next season so keep an eye out.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Of Course I Didn’t Have a Blog Post Ready for Today

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

The world was supposed to end Saturday, so why would I waste time writing a blog post. Damn it! Now I have to shoot one off real quick before I go to work. Actually, to be honest, I do have other blog posts ready. I just thought I would comment on the whole topic of Armegrapturecalypse. Hmmm. Spell check says I spelled that wrong. I’ll have to look it up in that Bible thing.

I was never worried about the world ending because I went to church at one point, and I’ve been married to someone who is probably running around right now pointing out the earthquakes, tsunamis, and tornados as a sign of the last days. The truth is that the Bible has some passage (so I’ve heard) that says that no man will know the day and the hour. So if a woman were to predict the last day, I’d start worrying.

Here’s the thing. There were people who were so convinced that Saturday, May 21, 2011 was really the last day that they put themselves in deep financial ruin figuring they wouldn’t have to take their debt with them either. And strangely Nathan wasn’t one of them. We actually did pretty good selling at Comicon (the subject for another blog post I’m sure).

I think the best one was some guy who maxed out all his credit cards to travel, or something. I read this on a Yahoo! article, but I’m going off of memory. Then it was either him, the guy who started an ad campaign to warn everyone of the end, or someone else that was like, “Thousands of people were supposed to be lifted up to Heaven while the wicked were left on Earth to suffer for their sins.” Hmm. That’s what was supposed to happen? Not explosions and lightning smites. Because, how do I put this delicately? I’ve seen my work schedule for the week, and I do feel like I’m suffering for my sins. Maybe thousands were lifted up to Heaven while the wicked were left on Earth. Maybe you weren’t on Santa Claus’s “nice list” like you thought.

The point is that this prediction isn’t the first prediction of the end. We have another one coming up in 2012, and this one will last a whole year. Can’t wait.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Review: Red Dwarf Season 4

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)
Welcome to the 4th review about the British comedy Red Dwarf. For those who don't know, Red Dwarf is a British Science Fiction comedy about the last human being alive. This is the first part of the reviews that will span all eight seasons as well as the Back to Earth specials. Perhaps when the next season finally comes out I will add it to my list of reviews. Click here for the review of Season 1, 2, and 3.

Season 4 (1990)

Episode 1 - Camille
Kryten finds Camille, a mechanoid just like himself (except a female version) and quickly becomes attracted to her. When Kryten brings her back to the ship Camille appears differently to each crew member. Camille is a Pleasure Gelf, genetically engineered to read a person's mind and appear to that person as their 'perfect' mate. When the gig is up and Camille tells Kryten what she really is (a green glob looking thing) he still shows interest and the two have a romantic relationship. In the end Camille's boyfriend shows up and Kryten tells Camille to go with him and the two part ways. This episode sets the tone for me for the rest of the season. While it is funny, it doesn't hit the same spot that the 3rd Season does.

Episode 2 - DNA
The crew find a ship that can transform DNA into anything else by changing the DNA code around. Lister is turned into a chicken and a mouse, while Kryten is turned human. In the end the crew has to fight with a half hot Indian curry monster and only Lister can defeat him (with the help of Leopard Strength Lager). This episode's laughs come from Kryten's new human form. It is the same actor our of makeup. There are some classic lines in this episode but the whole monster at the end was just so-so. This episode typifies a fundamental change in the focus of the series. Lister's goal no longer seems to be getting back to Earth, but just bumming around space. The episode wraps up neatly at the end and they just seem to loose interest in the fantastic technology on board the ship.

Episode 3 - Justice
The crew lands on Justice World, a penal colony where you cannot commit a crime (because it happens to you). There is a great court scene where Rimmer is sentenced for mass murder. The crew also have to deal with a crazy Simulant on the loose. I guess I don't have a lot to say about this episode. The concept of Justice World seemed to be the focus of the writers episode but they needed to add the Simulant to add some excitement to the episode. I don't think they really needed to. The whole storyline of Rimmer's innocence / guilt would have been enough to sustain the episode.

Episode 4 - White Hole
This is probably the deepest concept Season 4 has to offer. The premise is so good it forms a very large part of the Red Dwarf book: Better Than Life. The crew reroute Holly's circuits and she becomes super smart (at the cost of her having only a few minutes to live). The ship is headed for a 'white hole' and will be destroyed unless they can do something about it. The story is great but it suffers from the time constraint. I think the writers saw this and that is why it is in the book. Talkie Toaster makes a return (looking and sounding very different) and is voiced by the actor who played Kryten in Season 2. This is probably one of the most enjoyable shows of the season. The end of the episode is a little bit of a let down but over all it's enjoyable.

Episode 5 - Dimension Jump
This is the best episode of Season 4. It is also Chris Barries' favorite episode (as well as a large portion of Red Dwarf fans). An alternate version of Rimmer; a smart, brave, and overall fantastic human being dimension jumps into the petty, geeky, and mean version of Rimmer's universe. We also see alternate versions of all the other characters as well. It is a refreshing addition of characters and situations as we get to know Ace Rimmer. Arnold Rimmer hates Ace and assumes Ace got all the breaks and that's how he became such a great guy. As it turns out Ace Rimmer was kept back at school when he was young and that's what made him the man he is today. If you are ever going to watch only one episode of Red Dwarf from Season 4, this is the one you should watch.

Episode 6 - Meltdown
Kryten fixes the Matter Panel that allows the group to travel to nearby planets. They travel to a wax android theme park planet. The wax droids have been left to themselves for millions of years and are out to exterminate each other. Rimmer steps in and goes nuts with power as he takes command of a rag tag band of wax droids. Rimmer is getting to utilize all those skills he honed playing Risk. In the end the big battle happens and Rimmer is victorious. This final episode was delayed in it's broadcast because of the war in Iraq. The BBC didn't want people think the episode was trying to make a statement.

Join me next time for Season 5.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Groundhog Band

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

An interesting question came up recently, and I guess the answer to the question might make for an interesting blog post, so here we go.

There are two types of people (or however many types): people who follow local music and people who don’t. In most of my years of late teenage and early adult life, I have been the type who followed local music, sometimes more than others.

The nice thing about local music is that you can go to shows more frequently, because the admission ranges from free to maybe ten dollars. And if I’m being honest, in most cases, the music is just as good as many of the national bands you might pay anywhere from twenty to fifty to more dollars to go see. Now if the difference between a five dollar show and a fifty dollar show is that the fifty dollar band was ten times better, I could see it, but reasonably, that’s not the case.

The other nice thing about the local scene is that if you form a band, you can see as many shows as you’re willing to play, and in some cases, actually make some money. This is actually my preferred method, but keeping a band together is hard sometimes.

The question came up why I go see the same band over and over. The questioner coined the phrase “Groundhog Band” as a reference to the Bill Murray movie where he experiences the same day over and over. There are two different reasons, one is somewhat clinical and methodical, and one is based more in the pure enjoyment zone.

Let’s start with the more emotional of the two, or I’ll sound like a robot who likes local music. I love music. I know that on some level everybody loves music, and my love of music is probably not much more or much less valid than anyone else’s love of music. I’m accused often of having a feeling of elitism or superiority when it comes to music. I don’t know how to answer to that other than to say that I will give everything a listen before I pass judgment, and not everyone will give it that much. If I haven’t listened to something it is simply because there is too much music out there to ever hear it all, and if I only listen to everything once or twice I will never gain familiarity. While that may be the case for many people, generally speaking, my collection exceeds the collections of people I know in quantity, and sometimes in variety. When I say that I love music, I simply mean to say that I prioritize music over many other mediums of entertainment.

I also don’t get tired of things too easily. Things will phase out of what I’m listening to frequently, and other things will be listened to more frequently in its place. But unless every radio station that I listen to insists on playing the same song every two hours, you won’t often hear me saying that I’m so tired of listening to something. This is an important distinction for our topic, because I’m still listening to albums that I started listening to in the early 1980s.

If I go see the same band over and over, I won’t likely start getting tired of seeing them, or get tired of hearing their music. It doesn’t happen when I listen to the same album over and over. I think the disconnect is that the type I spoke of earlier that doesn’t follow local music. They’re wondering how I can go see some unsigned band over and over. If Duran Duran moved to Dallas, and played shows somewhat frequently, ranging from a couple of shows a week to a show every few months depending on circumstance, no one would question if I saw almost all of those shows, especially if the price of admission ranged from free to ten dollars, and I often got to see other bands play with them.

The other reason to see the same band is just for a point of reference. I pick a band or more that I really like and go to their shows as often as possible. Lately I’ve been working a lot, so it’s one band that I tend to go see. When I had weekends off frequently I had a few more bands that I would go see. The point is that you get to see a lot of bands, and you always know that you’ll like one.

Let’s say that I have a pretty packed work schedule, and I only ever really get extra nights off if I ask. Let’s say I’m a fan of a band called Chris and the Nathans. If I make it a point to go see Chris and the Nathans most of the times they play then I ensure that I’m not fully disconnected from the local scene because of my crazy work schedule, and usually I will see a few other bands while I’m at it. But if I didn’t make it a priority to get out and see a band I would quickly become disconnected from the scene.

Let’s say that I see a band one night when I’m out seeing Chris and the Nathans. They are called Annette and the Runners. I can’t possibly get enough time free to go see most of their shows too, but if I have a surprise night off, and they’re playing, I might just go.

Let’s say that I have Friday and Saturday off (and at one point I did). I might start going and catching some of the other bands I liked at these shows if the bands that I normally see aren’t playing, because I have the time to.

But if you arrange it in priority order, based on either liking a band’s sound, having friends in the band, or both, you can still see a number of bands without having to put to much thought into it, and you always know you’ll see at least one good band.

I spoke before about why bands struggle. This is another side of the equation. When a scene is strong, people tend to show up to see bands just because that’s where everybody else is hanging out. When a scene is struggling, people presume that there is no good music locally, and they stay away.

If you are the type of person who likes local music, and you’re not following at least one band or seeing approximately one show a week, you’re very likely disconnected from the scene. The easiest way to stay connected with a scene is to arrange bands into levels based on how much you like a band and whether you’re friends with a band.

Level One – You try to catch all of their shows, missing very few, and you show up early enough and stay late to see all the bands in most cases. The number of bands you can fit into this level is dependant on your schedule, free time to go out, and budget to go out. As a weird default, if you are in a band, your band is a Level One band that you should make it to every show.

Level Two – You see these bands when you have a free night, would like to see a show, and the Level One bands aren’t playing.

Level Three – You see these bands when you have free nights and no Level One or Level Two bands are playing, and usually if you haven’t seen a show in a couple of weeks.

Level Four – Is when you go and see bands you’ve never heard of and don’t know anyone from the band. This can either be random or a recommendation, and is usually if every other band you know is taking a break.

If everyone who followed local music did this much, followed one or more bands consistently and made it out to an average of one or more shows a week, then a struggling scene would start thriving again, because where there are a lot of people there is a crowd. It sounds deep, but it’s really not. But it’s very important to recognize.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Flash Ahhhh!: Episode Twenty – iPoos and Twankies

by the According To Whim .com crew

(Part One by Nathan Stout)

[INT – DAY – DAYTONA]

(Nathan and Chris are driving along I-30 towards Fort Worth, Chris dodging piles of broken auto glass strewn about the freeway.)

NATHAN: This is bad...

CHRIS: Yeah, who knows how much damage was caused.

NATHAN: No, I am talking about this story.

CHRIS: Oh.

NATHAN: What smells in here?

(Nathan looks around inside the car. He notices some stains in the back seat, and some equipment.)

NATHAN: Look.

(Nathan pulls a bazooka out from the back seat. Chris’s eyes are wide.)

CHRIS: What the fuck?!

(Nathan puts it back and pulls out a rucksack.)

NATHAN: It looks like one of Quincy’s thugs was waiting in your car for you when the sonic blast scared the crap of him... literally.)

CHRIS: What’s in the backpack?

NATHAN: Rucksack. There are very plain differences between the two...

CHRIS: No, I don’t want a lesson right this moment. What’s in the rucksack?

NATHAN: A map of the park.

(Nathan rummages in the sack some.)

NATHAN: Ooo! A Twanky!

CHRIS: You mean a Twinkie.

NATHAN: Well, if you are going to persist in writing in the generic version of things so we don’t get sued one day, I better do the same.

(Nathan opens the sweet cake and cream desert, and scarfs it down while continuing his rummage.)

NATHAN: There’s an iPoo in here.

CHRIS: I’m afraid to ask.

NATHAN: It’s one of those video slash mp3 players.

CHRIS: Oh.

NATHAN: There are some pretty horrific things on here.

CHRIS: Is it Quincy’s plans at more destruction?

NATHAN: No, it's stuff like the Meaty Cheesy Boys and Sherly Shrew.

CHRIS: No thanks!

NATHAN: Wait, there is a video marked “secret grand master evil plan thank you speech.” Do you think it’s important?

(Chris pushes the cassette mp3 adapter into his tape deck and turns up the volume.)

CHRIS: Play it.

(Nathan begins the video and watches it, while the audio pipes out the rockin’ Daytona’s speakers.)

VOICE: My minions. Soon our grand plan will begin, and I want to personally thank you for your evil efforts.

(Nathan squints at the little screen.)

It’s really dark, and the man speaking is standing in a weirdly colored spinning hallway. There is smoke everywhere. I can’t make out his face. Maybe Quincy?

CHRIS: Doesn’t sound like him.

VOICE: Once my loyal servant Quincy begins his assault on the Metroplex, our quarry will surface again, and we will have them! Ha ha ha ha!

NATHAN: I guess not. Hey, he has a hood on.

CHRIS: Is it white?

NATHAN: No, it’s black.

CHRIS: Well at least we know Miguel isn’t his “quarry.”

VOICE: I have sent Quincy to steal back the modified sound system Will Smif stole out from under us! That is our weapon, not some measly piece of concert hardware. If it weren’t for that front desk clerk in the DJ audio section, we would still have it! That’s what we get for cross training someone from the costume department...

NATHAN: Sounds like he is driveling on now.

CHRIS: Eh, shut it off.

(Nathan throws the iPoo into the back seat, where it lands in the some real poo.)

CHRIS: So this dude is the real mastermind behind all this?

NATHAN: Do you think it was the professor?

CHRIS: I don’t know. He was standing in the video?

NATHAN: Yeah, but that doesn’t prove anything. I can’t follow if the Professor is actually handicapped or not.

CHRIS: Me neither. This story has more characters than a James Clavell novel. What’s more important right now is that we need a plan to protect the According To Whim HQ.

NATHAN: We have the bazooka.

CHRIS: Too subtle.

NATHAN: When do you think Quincy will attack? Do you think he will attack? You seemed to have come to your conclusion of his plan pretty quickly. Maybe there is some other target.

CHRIS: Maybe you’re right. Get the iPoo out of the poo, and let’s finish watching the video. Maybe there is talk of their ultimate target, or goal, or whatever.

(Nathan tries to change the subject in order to avoid dealing with the poo.)

NATHAN: He said in the video that he was looking for some people, not necessarily some place to attack.

CHRIS: Sure, ole pillow case head is looking for some people, but Quincy has a grudge now. We kinda caused him some shit, and he is sure to want some revenge.

NATHAN: By the way, where is Miguel?

(End of Part One)

(Part Two by Chris McGinty)

[INT – DAY – DAYTONA]

(Chris and Nathan drive along in Chris’s Daytona. Nathan has just asked Chris where Miguel is.)

CHRIS: Um, Miguel was loaded into an ambulance, and taken to the hospital.

(A flashback starts, but rather than wavy lines, we see a cursor copy/pasting part of the previous episode.)

CHRIS: I mean, how are you getting along with your new partners, Shag and Dentre?

NATHAN: What do you…

CHRIS: Nevermind that now. There’s an ambulance. We need to get Miguel to it.

(They move off toward the ambulance. Nathan’s face is contorted like he has something to say, but he holds his tongue. Finally, with Miguel safely tucked away in the presence of health care providers, Nathan turns on Chris.)

NATHAN: What’s this about my new partners?

(The flashback ends.)

NATHAN: Hmm. I don’t remember that. So what about Quincy?

CHRIS: Well, first of all, I wasn’t the one who jumped quickly to a conclusion.

(A copy/paste flashback occurs.)

CHRIS: I got a call from Skippy. Six Flags was just a means to the end of getting Will Smif’s amplification equipment. Quincy had another target in mind.

NATHAN: The According To Whim Headquarters! The building that houses Takanakakaka has an exterior that is almost entirely windows.

(The flashback ends.)

CHRIS: But with that aside, the implication was that when Skippy called…

NATHAN: Who’s Skippy?

CHRIS: My unicorn friend.

NATHAN: Hmm. Have I met him?

CHRIS: We played horse with him on our smoke break. Listen, the point is that the implication was that when Skippy called, he was not speculating that Quincy was thinking about perhaps, maybe, if he got around to it, attacking HQ, but that he was on the way, which is why we had to hurry to stop him.

NATHAN: Oh. What about the guy on the video?

CHRIS: I thought his acting was pretty good.

NATHAN: No, he’s the lead guy. If we stop him, we stop Quincy.

CHRIS: No, because Quincy is on his way to HQ right now as we speak.

NATHAN: How? He had to go back and get the equipment.

CHRIS: He got the equipment while you were passed out for over an hour.

NATHAN: But I’m sure that if Skippy knows that Quincy is on the way then our board members are probably preparing themselves for Quincy’s attack. We’d be better off going after the lead guy.

CHRIS: We don’t even know where the lead guy is. When we stop Quincy, we can interrogate him and find out where this villain is hiding.

NATHAN: Wasn’t it obvious. He’s at Hangman’s House of Horrors.

CHRIS: How do you figure that?

NATHAN: He’s wearing the Hangman’s mask. He was standing in a weirdly colored spinning hallway, and there was smoke everywhere. Clearly, Hangman’s is his hideout, and from what he was saying about cross training someone from the costume department, he bought the sound system from Magic Etc.

CHRIS: You didn’t even notice that we put Miguel into an ambulance, how did you figure out all of that?

NATHAN: There was a Post-Script after Part One explaining what direction Part One was trying to take the story… Chris! Look out!

(Chris slams on his brakes, but he can’t stop in time, and his Daytona crashes into a unicorn that was crossing the road. Chris and Nathan hurry out of the car, and try to revive the unicorn, but Chris’s CPR training was for use on humans, and Nathan’s HAM training is basically useless without a HAM radio present. The unicorn dies in Chris’s arms, explaining as he fades that he led a good, magical life.)

CHRIS: My car is totaled. Now we’ll never make it in time to stop Quincy. I’ll have to use my super speed, and you’ll have to hitch a ride and catch up with me.

NATHAN: Will do.

(Chris speeds off. Nathan walks to the bus stop. He stands there for a few minutes until the bus pulls up. The door opens.)

BUSDRIVER: Tandy Center, historic Camp Bowie Blvd, and the According To Whim Headquarters.

(Nathan waves him on, and waits for another bus. A second bus pulls up, and because they had trouble finding extra cast that day, it’s the same guy in a different costume.)

BUSDRIVER: Hangman’s House of Horrors and Magic Etc.

(Nathan nods, and gets on the bus.)

[EXT – DAY – BARELY VISIBLE TRAIL OF A HUMAN BEING WITH SUPER SPEED]

(Chris is running along at an incredibly impossible pace, but traffic is pretty good when you can cut across fields. After hardly any time at all, Chris can see the According To Whim HQ up ahead. It glitters in the sun from so many windows that Quincy is preparing to destroy. Chris is sure that he will have no trouble speeding around all the equipment and unplugging it all before Quincy has a chance to turn it…]

CHRIS: Motherfucker!

[Chris’s super speed suddenly diminishes, and he finds himself running at a very normal human pace. Suddenly, the According To Whim HQ seems very far away.]

CHRIS: I am so sick of all of these fucking dampening fields!

“You need to watch your language around the lady,” said the Tin Man.

Chris looks to his right, and notices that he was running about 500 feet from the yellow brick rod. The scarecrow, the tin man, the lion, and Dorothy are standing there. And her little dog too.

“Just because I’m a young girl, doesn’t mean…” Dorothy started to say.

“I was talking about the cowardly lion,” said the tin man.

“Why I oughtta…” the lion tried to say.

“Quiet, queen of the forest,” said the tin man.

“Wait,” said Dorothy, “you’re that security guard. Did you finally get some time off?”

“Yeah, somehow.”

“Well, is there anything else you want or need? You could still come with us to see the wizard,” Dorothy said, casting a glare at the tin man that seemed to be daring him to say something.

“Well, I do need an anti-dampening field device. How far is this wizard from here?”

Dorothy pointed at the According To Whim HQ, and said, “In that building, which is foolishly made mostly of glass.”

“The wizard is in the According To Whim HQ?” Chris asked.

“Yeah.”

“That fucker isn’t even paying rent.”

[EXT – DAY – BUS]

(Nathan steps out of the bus. The door closes behind him. He looks around, a bit confused, and then turns back to the bus that is driving off.)

NATHAN: Come back! This is the Hungman’s House of Whores! Damn it. I knew that public transportation was a waste of my tax dollars.

GRRRL 1: Nathan?

(Nathan turns to see Grrrl 1, Grrrl 2, and Grrrl 3 from The Healing Touché.)

NATHAN: What are you three doing here?

GRRRL 2: We work here now.

GRRRL 3: That bitch, Angelina, fired us, saying that we didn’t have good enough instincts as ruthless hit women.

NATHAN: So now you’re prostituting here at Hungman’s?

GRRRL 2: Prostituting? At a heavy metal bar? Women don’t prostitute at heavy metal bars.

GRRRL 3: The heavy metal bands do.

GRRRL 2: True enough. We’re bartenders.

NATHAN: Well colour me confused.

GRRRL 1: You talk funny when you say colour.

NATHAN: Talk to the writer. Anyway, I’m not really into heavy metal music, and I have to get walking to get across town to try to stop an evil madman, presuming it’s a man.

GRRRL 1: Here, take my boyfriend’s car.

(She holds out a car key. Nathan looks over and sees a brand new Corvette. It is red and sparkles in the sunset.)

NATHAN: You would trust someone who you barely know, and might I mention has been surrounded by some form of destruction or another for the last twenty episodes, with your boyfriend’s brand new car?

GRRRL 1: He’s been claiming that he’ll leave his wife for two years now, and they just announced that they’re renewing their vows next month.

(Nathan takes the key.)

NATHAN: I hope it handles well over 100 miles per hour.

[EXT – SUNSET – ATW HQ]

(After ditching the Wizard of “Ahhhhs!” crew, Chris managed to find a weak spot in the dampening field’s frequency waves. It was enough to get him to the HQ quickly. He looks around. He sees Quincy in the sound booth which has been set up rather quickly. He considers taking advantage of the shoddy handiwork, and collapsing the booth, but it doesn’t seem like it’ll slow Quincy down enough. Chris’s power is now useless this close to the dampening field, so he sneaks quickly into the building. He finds his desk, and opens the drawer that he keeps all his card proxying material in, and grabs a pair of large, sharp scissors.)

BOARD MEMBER REGINALD: You got a moment, Chris?

CHRIS: What are you doing in here?

BOARD MEMBER REGINALD: We share an office.

CHRIS: Oh. Can it really take just a moment? I’ve got to stop Quincy.

BOARD MEMBER REGINALD: I’ve been assigned story continuity…

CHRIS: Um, I gotta go.

(Chris makes his way out to the sound equipment, and starts cutting cables.)

QUINCY: I have longed for this moment! I will now destroy the According To Whim HQ. Everyone put in you ear plugs!

(Quincy plugs his ears and throws the switch. Nothing happens. He looks around confused, and sees Chris standing there with nothing but a pair of scissors and a smile. Well, and he’s wearing clothes. Sorry, that sounded wrong.)

CHRIS: I spent the last ten minutes cutting all the cables to the sound equipment. It wouldn’t have taken me so long if it wasn’t for your stupid dampening field.

QUINCY: Why didn’t you just cut the power supply to the dampening field first?

CHRIS: Um…

(Chris’s face turns red from embarrassment.)

QUINCY: Get him!

(Quincy’s henchmen jump Chris, rough him up a little, and tie him up.)

Q-HENCHMAN: That oughtta hold him, boss.

QUINCY: Did you take his scissors?

(Quincy’s henchmen jump Chris again, rough him up a little more, take the scissors from him, and tie him up with new rope.)

[EXT – NIGHT – HANGMAN’S]

(Nathan pulls into (or rather drifts into, like in a “Fast and the Furious” movie) the parking lot. The smell of burned rubber permeates the area as the tires smolder.)

NATHAN: Now that’s driving.

(Nathan waits for a little bit, as the night gets darker and darker.)

NATHAN: Hmmm, I could have sworn those police cars that were trying to pull me over were right behind me. Well, I’ll just nab the bad guy while I wait for them.

(Nathan turns to walk into the haunted house. He has only about a split second to notice how creepy it looks in the dark, dark night, when he gets punched out cold.)

[INT – NGHT – HANGMAN’S]

(Nathan comes to when water is splashed in his face. He is standing on a platform just before a noose.)

NATHAN: Um, this isn’t good.

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: Ah, Nathan. Thought you could come here on your own and stop me.

(Nathan concentrates on ole pillowcase head, but gets no thoughts from him.)

NATHAN: Motherfucker! I’m sick of these fucking dampening fields!

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: Well, it wouldn’t be fair if you could read my thoughts. It would ruin our game.

NATHAN: What game?

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD (pointing to a chalkboard with blank spaces drawn on it): Pick a letter of the alphabet.

NATHAN: Um… E.

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: Nope, that’s your foot.

NATHAN: What?! There’s always an E!

(Ole pillowcase head’s henchman takes a sledgehammer to Nathan’s foot hobbling him. Nathan screams out in pain.)

NATHAN: We’d better meet a healer in this stupid story!

(End Episode Twenty)


Friday, May 20, 2011

Building a Lean-to and Throw in a Side of Advertising

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

During the week of May 9th I finished a project I had been wanting to do for quite some time. As you might know (or not) I live in a rural area in Wise County (in North Texas). We have an acre of land that requires quite a bit of mowing and other yard work. When not in use the riding lawn mowers (2 of them) and lawn mowers and weed eater sits under the car port. This is also where my Volkswagen Bug sits along with the wife's car. Any time I need to mow I have to back her car out to get the mower out.

For the last year or so I had been thinking of adding a lean-to on the shed I have at the back of my property. A lean-to is basically an extension of the roof, a car port if you will (but not for a car). I basically wanted a place to store the lawn junk so it won't get wet and so I wouldn't have to back out the car to get some work done.

It's a pretty basic structure and wouldn't be too difficult to build but getting the wood would be tricky. When I finally decided to get this done it just happened to be around the time that my truck was in Fort Worth for repairs and I had Chris' truck. We both have Ford Rangers but Chris' is an extended cab so it has a shorter bed. I needed to get some long lumber (12 foot timbers and some plywood) and I knew I'd have trouble getting it home with his pickup. I did get some 2x4s with little issue but I would have to wait to get the big ones. Once I got my truck back (which turned out to be like a month) I went and got the stuff I needed and got to work.

I basically made the lean-to 8x12 using three pieces of plywood laying long-ways from the side of the shed. This would also require two 4x4's for the main legs, two 2x6's for the front and back parts, and 4 2x4's for all the other pieces. Most of the lumber isn't too expensive until you come to the plywood. That stuff is very expensive. One piece of 8'x4' plywood (the thinnest, cheapest one) was $17. I decided to go cheap and skip the plywood and I bought pressboard. You know that stuff that looks like it is made of wood chips all smushed together. It's $5 a 8'x4' sheet so it cost less for three pieces of that than it did for one normal piece of plywood. There is a reason for that of course... pressboard is shitty. It can't get wet or it will start to come apart. Well since I was being cheap I decided to put metal roofing ontop of it. I got a shock there too since one 2'x8' piece was $28! Just to cover the 8'x12' roof it would be $168!!! Sheesh! No thanks. I decided to just use the pressboard and paint it thickly (to make it last a little longer) and save up money to get the metal covering one day in the future.

Now comes the advertising. I got my supports concreted in and everything ready for the roof part so I started painting the pressboard. I used some dark green paint that I got at a super cheap price at Home Depot. They sell returned paint for dirt cheap and I bought it a couple of years back but never found a use for it. I spread it on thick and then got 'clever'. I took some white paint and painted out: 'According To Whim.com' across all three pieces of pressboard. My thought was that eventually Google will update their site and their Google Earth program and you can see my slogan on their satellite view! Talk about effective advertising!!
I don't know if it will work out all that well since it seems that they use lower resolution images for rural areas (unlike the higher resolution ones for cities). As soon as it shows up I will post it for you guys and crow a bit. I have noticed that most Google satellite images are taken in Winter so you can see more (without the trees in the way) so I might have to wait until then to add a better covering over the pressboard. I hope that stuff holds out that long...

I moved my mowing stuff down there and now have no issues when it comes time to do any yard work. It also keeps the car port clean looking too.

UPDATE: The day I built the lean-to it was raining lightly and within the day each of the three pressboards were bowing downwards. Cheap junk. I knew this was going to happen I just think it would happen so quickly. I got some 2x4s and made cross beams and straightened them back up.

UPDATE: I got on the roof of the shed and leaned over and caulked the joints where the 3 pressboards meet to ensure that the rain wouldn't just go inbetween the boards and leak below. I am hoping this is all I need to do for now. I might be putting metal ontop of that sooner than expected!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

How I’ve Stopped Caring about American Idol This Year

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

You know, last year was nice. The Top 4 was Lee DeWyze, Crystal Bowersox, Casey James, and Michael Lynch (if memory serves, if not just smile and nod). What I do remember is the feeling that at that point I would have preferred either Crystal or “Big Mike” to win, but that I would be fine with it either way.

This year, the talent level really was high. There were six people I would have been ok with winning, but when we got to Top 4, only two of them were left. Fine. We’ll just have an exciting finals night with James and Lauren, and I’ll still be happy.

Then James got sent home last week. You know, even with the high level of talent, James was one of the few people we could say was consistently good. Pia was also consistently good, but she got booted off a while back. Lauren had a couple of rough weeks at the start. Thia was always good, but always picked sleepy songs that she always did very well, but eventually did her in. Casey had a couple of off weeks that did him in twice. Jacob had a couple of off weeks, and one was a night where they did two songs, where he did poorly on both. James… well, one time he got too emotionally wrapped up in a song and went a little off key. Whatever.

Haley has been a veritable mess. I’m not entirely sure what veritable means, but it’s ok, because sheesh… Haley… sheesh… I don’t know how she made it through to Top 6, much less actually having a serious chance of winning now that James is out.

Scotty is good. I think that my not wanting him to win may be a matter of taste. I don’t think that kid goes off key ever, and he does have the showmanship in him, which he has been letting out. Maybe I’ve just become spoiled by some American Idol winners with an actual range in what they can do. Or maybe it’s just a perception. Are Lee DeWyze or Kris Allen really all that diverse?

What I like about Lauren is that she has a style that she mostly falls into, but she has shown that she can do so much. She could release a Carrie Underwood style album, and she could also get away with a Miley Cyrus style album. Then when you really think about that, she could really go almost any direction from there. She won’t be doing a metal duet with James anytime soon, unless it’s something similar to “Close My Eyes Forever,” but she could pull off most rock styles.

Scotty… well Scotty will be touring with Randy Travis Tritt, Garth Brooks & Dunn, and George Straitjacket Fits. That last one didn’t really work, and I apologize for it.

Sure, I plan to finish watching the season and I’m curious who will win, but right now I think that the Top 3 is made up of one of the best vocalists in the competition, one of the worst, and one of the most limited. Regardless of what happens, I hope Lauren at least makes it one more week so that I’m not entirely miserable next week.

Well, I wrote that before I came home to watch the show, and guess what? American Idol didn’t record! Of all the luck. But in its place there was an episode of “Hee Haw.” Luckily, it happened to be the episode of “Hee Haw” that was guest starring the American Idol Top 3, and they did an atrocious parody of how that show should go. I guess I’ll just judge their “Hee Haw” performances instead.

Let me start with Scotty’s three performances: Lonestar, Garth Brooks, and Kenny Rogers. Enough said. Except that I want to say that he reinforced what I believed, which is that he has no range. Then the judges were all like, “See, we knew that you could hit that range. We knew you had it in you.” Why… excuse me… why… huh hum, sorry… why is there someone in the fucking Top 3 who is just now proving to the judges that he has range, especially, when he didn’t really go that far out of his normal range? “Amazed” by Lonestar is a fantastic song. In fact, that whole album is pretty good. I think he did a very unimpressive job with it, and “She Believes in Me” is one of those songs that if you ever considered buying now for only $19.99, so you can get the bonus Christmas record with Dolly Parton, then you know that Kenny Rogers really, really feels that song. Scotty…why…

Next, let me deal with Haley. I can’t deal with Haley. In the course of three songs, she managed to take everything that I ever appreciated about her, and made me question my judgment. I talked about how she has a voice that I like and a voice that I don’t like, and every single song she did was in that bad voice. She did Led Zeppelin, which the judges hailed as gutsy because that’s an iconic rock band, but she picked one of their lamest songs, and then didn’t even do it very well. Then… excuse me… then… huh hum, sorry… then she did Fleetwood Mac. Has anyone ever noticed that no one ever does Stevie Nicks/Fleetwood Mac well on that show? She started out all over the place, taking great liberty with the melody, then she seemed to settle into it and I was starting to think it was alright (if you ignored the fact that she was caught in a tornado) but by the end I was trying to figure out what she was doing, because it didn’t seem to be “Rhiannon.” Finally, “You Oughtta Know” was just awful, and I mean it, awful. There was not a single redeeming thing in that performance. The judges kept going, “You really brought it in the chorus.” What that means, when the glass is half empty, is that the verses were weak. Why can’t they say that? And by the way, she didn’t bring it in the chorus. When Alanis Morrisette did that song she brought the hurt and the anger, and she brought it in a believable way. Haley brought nothing.

Now to end on a positive note. Lauren simply should win. There was not a single performance tonight that I would call my favourite of hers, but it doesn’t matter, because all three performances were good, and she does new and interesting things with her voice every week. It’s always the subtle parts with her that make me love what she does, and the not so subtle parts amaze me as well. She did a Faith Hill song, she did some group I’ve never heard of, and she did “Dance” by Leeann Womack, which is a fantastic song, and she was impressive.

This was the toughest show to sit through since they did Frank Sinatra Week last year. If Lauren isn’t there next week, I’m going to have a very hard time sitting through the show.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hangman's Decorating Weekend

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

Miguel and I met up at Hangman's on Saturday May 14th for some filming and general talk about the upcoming documentary we are wanting to shoot with the owner/operator.

I usually head into the Fort Worth area each Saturday to visit my mom so I decided to drop in on Hangman's during one of their 'decoration' weekends. The haunted house work goes on throughout the year starting in February with theme brainstorming. After that there are a couple of weekends per month when design then construction and finally decoration happens. Hangman's is one of the few haunts where the theme (and 85% of the layout) changes each year. All but a few rooms (the most popular) are removed and rebuilt to fit the new theme. This year's theme is horror in literature. The rooms are going to be themed after scary books (such as The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Jurassic Park, The Shining, etc).

The documentary we are going to be working on will be covering the history of the charity but we hope to use some of this construction footage in there (as well as for other projects for Hangman's). Miguel and I randomly walked through the house shooting various things and asking some of the workers about the room they were working in.

After we got lost a few times (Miguel got totally turned around in the mirror room) we headed up to the La-De-Da Production office (the company that runs the house) and talked with D'Ann for a while. She is the owner/operator of Hangman's as well as president of A Wish With Wings, another local charity that gives wishes to ill children. D'Ann has quite an interesting background and has been running haunted houses since the 1970's. She has also been the president of the first National Association of Haunted Attractions. She has a lot of stories and I think we are going to find ourselves being forced to cut a lot of what we record (for time's sake).

While we were there we planned when and where to shoot the interview and hopefully it will go off without a hitch. D'Ann also asked me to do some editing for a DVD for A Wish With Wings and she asked both of us if we could do some video work for that organization as well. We agreed.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Net Phyrunneria

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

An odd thought occurred to me recently. It was a combination of three things, which, as Mark Rosewater is fond of pointing out that Roger von Oech is fond of pointing out, is often where the best ideas come from. And in this case it may be a good idea. Then again, it may not be a good idea. We’ll see.

The first incident was that years ago Nathan loaned me “If Chins Could Kill” by Bruce Campbell. There is a line in that book that uses the phrase “our Draconian world,” which made me think of Neal’s Draconian Banned List. This in turn made me think, “What if I designed cards based on concepts and phrases in this book. I even started to do just that. I’d have to look through the play-test list, but we’ve been play-testing a few of them since I created them.

The problem is that I often get sidetracked, and I stopped reading the book. Then it ended up in my storage, and there it stayed for a few years.

I found the book a couple of months ago, and since I was reading books during the daylight hours of my guard post, I decided I should read it and give it back to Nathan. I decided to do the card thing again too. This time, rather than sporadically pick out ideas, I decided that at the end of every page I read, I would write down a card idea. If it could be tied to the concepts or phrases in the book, all the better, but the point was just to have an idea written down. In a couple of cases, I merely wrote down a name for a card, and in one case I wrote down some flavor text. I got distracted when I got to the chapter about Brisco County Jr., when I decided to watch the show before I read the chapter, but that will probably give my thoughts a chance to shift gears. I have almost 200 ideas that I wrote down in that time.

The second incident was when someone on the Yahoo! Net Runner Group pointed out that between official cards and virtual expansions; we have over 3,000 Net Runner cards. He doubled up some cards in his count, but it’s ok, because I’ve designed a significant amount of cards that for one reason or another haven’t been posted online. Usually that reason is that they are written in notebooks, because when I used to deliver pizza, I would keep a notebook on my seat and write down thoughts I had while driving… that is, I had the thoughts while driving and then wrote them down when I was at a stoplight, or after I’d given a customer a pizza, or when I got back to the store. Safety first!

I thought that the statement about over 3,000 cards was interesting. I know that we’ve actually played with some of the VE cards that other people created, and we’ve played with a number of ours enough to see what’s fun and what’s not. Even still, I know that I’ve not played with everything that’s out there, and as I pointed out, I have a large amount that we’ve never tested. I also remember Mark Rosewater, almost a decade ago, said that there were over 15,000 individual Magic cards, not counting reprints (I’m estimating his estimation, cos I don’t really remember, I just know it was around there). That means that there is probably twice that many now, and here we have Net Runner, the poor neglected brainchild of Richard Garfield.

The third incident is when I was curious about when the new Magic set was coming out. They were doing this odd teaser where there was a war on and I was a soldier… um, sorry. There was a war between the Mirrans and the Phyrexians. If the Mirran won, the set would be called “Mirrodin Pure” and if the Phyrexians won, it would be called “New Phyrexia.” This was all a storyline based thing, but I was still curious. I realized that the release dates, card count, and even spoilers of each and every set could be found online if I looked hard enough. It was then that it occurred to me. Between August 1993 and December of 1993, there were only 295 official Magic cards, which was the Alpha set. If I created about three Net Runner cards a day for three months, I could match that. There would be two months between New Phyrexia and Magic 2012. I could create the 170 something cards in that set also by doing three Net Runner ideas a day. If I used the release dates of the sets as my gauge, I could conceivably create a play-test card for Net Runner for every Magic card in existence, and it would only take me around eighteen years.

Like I said, I’m not sure if it’s a good idea or not.

I do realize a few things about this. The first is that I while I would like to try to create as many play-test cards for Net Runner as there are official cards for Magic, I will never create as many play-test cards for Net Runner as there are official and play-test cards for Magic. It would be interesting to know how many there are of those in existence, and I’m sure it’s an insane amount.

I also realize that the official Magic cards have the distinction of being play-tested and crosschecked to make sure that aside from intentional functional reprints, they don’t recreate the same card. I realize that there is no way I will ever be able to play-test each of these cards, and that it is possible I might come up with the same idea twice or more. I’m not so worried about that though.

A functional reprint is a card that is exactly like another card, but is given another name. The idea is that it allows you to run more than four of a card in a legal deck, and sometimes they do it for flavor reasons. Realizing that there are cards that are functional reprints, I won’t sweat it too much if I come up with the same idea a few times over the course of the next eighteen years.

As a quick aside, the reason I say eighteen years is because to pull this off, I would need to create new ideas each time a new Magic set came out, and I would need to create ideas for each past set that has come out. I figure that since Alpha came out in August 1993, I can set a goal of 295 ideas from August 2011 to December 2001. They did Beta and Unlimited in there too, but there were only two cards added, because they were accidentally omitted from the Alpha print sheets. I figure that if I emulate the release dates of Magic over the last eighteen years doing both current sets and past sets in tandem that in eighteen years I’ll have the output I’m looking for. Even doing fifteen card ideas a day it would take five and a half years to do 30,000 ideas. I might as well pace myself a little.

I do regret that it’s not likely that we’ll be able to play-test all of these cards. There is a part of me that thinks that if I’m going to be doing about fifteen ideas a day on the back of my To Do List, what would stop me from printing them, and slipping them into the sleeves of the uncommon and rare slots of a starter pack. With one game every two days, many of these cards could be tested. Surely between Nathan and Loren, I could do that much, right?

The problem is that just because you play a deck with fifteen play-test cards, doesn’t mean that each of those cards will see play. Furthermore, we are working on our actual Virtual Expansion, and that’s significantly fewer cards. Typically, the first time a card is tested and sees play, you learn a lot, but you never learn everything. The next so many times, you usually learn less, but what you do learn is often the important stuff. What I’m saying is that even playing a few games only tells us so much when testing a card, so the idea of actually testing 30,000 plus cards, even over the next eighteen years, isn’t likely unless we all get a job together that allows us to play games during downtime. I do realize that most of the cards will either be not fun or unplayable for one reason or another.

I decided to write about this in the hope that perhaps others will do something similar, even if not trying to match the exact count of the number of Magic cards out there, maybe just to shoot for a certain number. If ten different people came up with one card idea a day for a year, we would double the number of existing official and unofficial Net Runner cards out there. Most of them would be crap, but they would be out there. Just something to consider.

The rest of these thoughts are probably somewhat unimportant, but I’m going to put them down for my own point of reference.

New Phyrexia was released on May 13, 2011. It has 175 cards in the set. I will only come up with a Net Runner idea for each new card in the set. A search on the Gatherer will tell me how many cards were in previous sets in about five minutes. I will come up with a Net Runner idea for those cards when I do the original set they appeared in. For instance when I do Alpha, I will create ideas for the card slots that were the basic lands, but since there were ten basic land cards in Alpha, but only five unique names for those cards, I will only do ideas for five. Further I will ignore the five basic lands in every other set. There are 175 cards in New Phyrexia, but ten of them are basic lands. So that reduces the ideas I must come up with to 165, and it will be further reduced when I find out what reprints there are.

New Phyrexia has three reprints, I must do 162 ideas. Anyone wishing to also do this, if you do about three ideas a day between now and July 15, 2011, you will have as many new Net Runner ideas as there are new cards in Magic’s New Phyrexia expansion. One thing to keep in mind, many of the new cards in any given Magic expansion are basic card types that while different aren’t specifically innovative. While innovation is important for a game like Net Runner, if you’re going for a large amount of cards, just let the ideas flow. Don’t worry if they aren’t spectacularly new. The plain cards sometimes lead to the splashy, and the bad ideas sometimes lead to the good.

Alpha had 295 cards in it, but 10 of them were basic lands, so 285 plus 5 (since I’ll do a slot for each basic land once) and then plus 2 for the accidentally omitted cards and I’ll have to come up with 292 ideas between August 5, 2011, and December 1, 2011. It may seem odd to be worried about those few cards. Why not just do 295 ideas? Well the reason is because the Magic Core Sets were completely reprints for years. Beta, Unlimited, and Revised were completely reprints. It’s unnecessary to come up with 378 cards for the timeframe of 4th Edition, because even in Magic those weren’t new cards. In sets like Alpha and New Phyrexia cutting the card slots that belong to previously printed cards might seem nearly insignificant, but when you get into Core Sets, it’s hundreds of cards significant. Since I realize that this is not going to be a simple undertaking regardless of how I space it out, I figure that I should be conscious of not making it harder.

Magic 2012 will be out on July 15, 2011 That’s 63 days after New Phyrexia, which means that I will have to average two to three card ideas in that time. Then Innistrad will be out September 30, 2011, which will be 77 days to do non-reprint slots from Magic 2011. I estimate that will be 1 to 2 ideas a day. Meanwhile, there will be 116 days between the release date anniversary of Alpha and the approximate release date anniversary of Arabian Nights. That will be another two to three card ideas per day. So by the end of the year I may be at a point where I have to come up with six ideas a day. I’m going to get a head start this ten-weeks by doing fifteen card ideas a day, but as the project goes on, I will likely be more mindful of things.