Friday, March 22, 2013

Chess boxing?

Why is it that no one had told me about chess boxing already?

It's exactly what it sounds like: a combination of chess and boxing. You play a round of chess, then a round of boxing... you can win by checkmate or knockout.

I don't even know if I believe in it. All I have is this Wired article to go on. But I like the geneology of it: someone made it up for a comic book, someone else made it real...

"Leaving the Witness" describes adventures of a Jehovah's Witness in China, and the action is all inside

I was kind of floored by this article in The Believer: 

...which describes the author's journey to China as a missionary, and how she found her way out of the walls of Witnesshood through exposure to such a different culture. 

I had a Jehovah's Witness friend in high school, who was a fantastic student but made it clear she had no intention of going to college; I didn't know, though, that discouraging college was POLICY for the denomination. That rather makes me angry. The author paints a picture of a church that carefully discourages exposure to outside thought ... but the idea of proselytizing to China breaks that paradigm.

Particularly striking were paragraphs like this one

"I now understood, [that in Vancouver] I had been nothing more than an English tutor, pulling up in a Volvo and offering free English practice to baffled but appreciative immigrants. In China, there was no mincing of words, now that I could understand the words. These 1.3 billion people I was trying to save looked at life in completely different ways. The concepts I pressed them to grasp and adopt were bizarre abstractions, a not-unpleasant idiosyncrasy one put up with in order to have a Western friend."

Thursday, March 21, 2013

_The Cabinet of Wonders_ and the rest of the Kronos Chronicles, by Marie Rutkoski

I bumped into these books because of the the nice cover designs, when volunteering at our elementary's library. Turns out they are set in the Bohemia of an alternate Europe, with Czech speakers and all that. A little steampunk, a little magic, but mainly a great, spunky main character, Petra Kronos, with terrible, terrible problems.

I found the first book enchanting, the second gripping, the third heartbreaking, and I liked how the author lined everything up so that a young teen could, with all the allies she gathers, have a shot at saving the world.

I also enjoyed how the books' villain was motivated; he was simply single-minded in his pursuit of power, and that was more than enough.

But probably the reason I actually sat down and read it was the scholarly and helpful tin spider, Astrophil, who is the main character's pet. He offers sage advice and reads at night while she sleeps.

Great stuff. It's marketed as youth or young adult, but I thought it played well as an adult book series.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Random Tavern Generator

I'm expecting to have some D&D characters hit a city and want to find taverns. Therefore I need some taverns, right? So I turned to the internet, and found a random tavern generator. I just really like it when I think of something I need, and the internet has already provided it, for free.

In this case, I rather liked what the folks who made this decided were the important things to give you about a tavern.... Here's a sample.

from random tavern generator ... 

Tavern Name: Lonesome Bed
Bartender: Female human, 6th-level sorcerer
Interesting Clientele: Cloaked figure in corner, a bard performing for drinks.
Rumors Overheard: An absentminded wizard has let her rod of wonder fall into the wrong hands. A mirror of opposition has created an evil duplicate of a hero.
Accommodations: Good (a small private room with one bed, some amenities and a covered chamber pot) for 5 sp/day
Today's Menu: 
Breakfast: Smoked sausage, Goose eggs, Quail eggs, Stewed prunes, Oatmeal (cost 1gp).
Lunch: Veal sweetbreads, Sharp cheese, Black beans, Peach (cost 8sp).
Supper: Lamb chop, Collard greens, Cabbage, Nut bread, Custard (cost 1gp).
Snack: Deep dwarven blue cheese, Peach, Millet (cost 4sp).

Article about Dan Harmon's Post-Community Stuff Makes Me Want to Watch Community

I've never actually watched _Community_, but the stuff about them firing Dan Harmon as showrunner was interesting, and this article about Dan Harmon's 'Harmontown' show is super interesting.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Cover for my D&D notebook

I felt like making an old school map for the cover of my notebook.