Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.



Feenie's Mission Trout
Feenie's Mission Trout,
originally uploaded by Nikchick.
Pramas and I have fallen into a bit of a rut as far as Vancouver eateries go. We have our favorites and we visit Vancouver dramatically less often than we used to, so naturally we are eager to return to our favorite haunts when we do make it back to the city. This time around, however, we decided to make the trip as "new" as possible, staying in a new hotel, eating at new restaurants, trying different activities.

After about a month of research into our possibilities for dining, we decided on Rob Feenie's restaurant, Feenie's. Feenie is also the owner of Lumiere (right next door) but the slightly more casual and definitely more affordable option of Feenie's won out. I made a reservation online for the earliest seating I could get, which was 8:00pm. This was a bit later than I'd wanted, as I had bought tickets to an improv comedy show down at Granville Island for 10:00pm, but it was doable. I made a special note of the time restriction on the reservation and asked that they call to let us know if an hour to an hour and a half wasn't going to be enough time.

Before leaving Seattle, I'd researched all the public transit routes and had maps, directions, and time tables all printed out, as well as ticket confirmations, reservation confirmations and anything else I could think of to help make our trip as smooth as possible. Vancouver has really good public transit, so I wasn't intimidated at all atthe thought of getting just about everywhere we needed to go by either bus or sky train.

Sadly, the online bus schedule and trip planner LIED. After half an hour of waiting for a bus to take us across the Burrard bridge, we discovered that he bus stopped running ten minutes before our printed schedule told us we were to catch it. LAME! WE started walking, ditched that plan quickly, hopped the next bus that would get us across the bridge at least, jumped off when it started heading off on an unknown route, and while walking again by happenstance managed to flag a cab. We got to the restaurant exactly on time!

The people at Feenie's were wonderful. The place was packed, especially the bar area where several parties of drunken women were boisterously enjoying themselves. They went to seat us, found the table still lingering over the bill, offered us drinks in foyer instead. After 20 minutes, we still weren't seated and I could see my hopes for the evening crashing and burning before my eyes. Three different people kept tabs on us and how we were doing, apologizing that they couldn't help the drunken ladies from the library retirement party figure out their bill any sooner, offering to get our meals started while we waited for our seats so we could be served right away. I somewhat dejectedly decided on the three-course prix fixe just to make things as simple as possible, fearing the worst.

Finally we were seated, in the shocking red bar room, next to a table of four women in their late thirties to mid-forties who were shamelessly hitting on the poor twenty-something bartender. They were a great source of entertainment throughout the evening, fashion victims who were there to see and be seen, who clearly felt they were somebodies. The worst of the bunch was the woman in the see-through white lace shirt with double-lace cuffs (and black lace-detail on her bra, just to make certain that you noticed it), overdone highlights, huge rock on her finger (which was, one could assume from her comments about her ex-husband, probably bought with his money). Couldn't have been more shallow if they were cut out of magazines and highly amusing.

Thanks to the attention of the hostess and manager in the foyer, we did not have to wait long before food and drink were in front of us. We had a Belle-Vue Kriek (cherry lambic) to drink. Chris had the beef tartare, Roasted pork with greens and sweet potato puree, and cheese plate for his meal. I had the wild mushroom tart tatin, the mission trout with wild rice and caper and raisin brown butter sauce, and the port wine and chocolate chunk ice cream. Everything was done to perfection! In fact, when the wrong type of cheese was brought out for Chris, they told him to keep it and brought out an entirely new second cheese plate to make up for the mistake (and both were excellent).

With time running late, the manager (I'm assuming that was his position) came to check in with us as he was aware we needed to be out of there and at Granville Island for the show before 10:00pm. He personally handled making sure our bill was rung up and had a cab waiting for us as soon as we were ready to leave. Outstanding service from everyone involved, and they absolutely saved the night for us.

The links above lead to photos of all the dishes we tried at Feenies. In particular I was very impressed with the trout. I've had a lot of wild rice and fish combinations (being from Minnesota, these things are often on the menu) but I've never had anything like this dish. I've certainly never had raisins in my caper sauce and I was just a little dubious about the combo when I saw it on the menu. I'm so glad I didn't balk, because it was outrageously good and I could have licked my plate!

I had meant to do a detailed analysis of each individual dish, because they were that good, but I've gone on long enough so suffice to say the food was quite excellent and I would recommend Feenie without hesitation, though perhaps not for a night when you're in a hurry to get to a show. The food and the environment deserve to be savored and enjoyed in a more leisurely manner.


Friday in Vancouver

Pretty scenery from the Amtrak
Pretty scenery from the Amtrak,
originally uploaded by Nikchick.
We arose before dawn to make our way to King Street Station in order to catch the Amtrak train to Vancouver on Friday morning. The scenery was spectacular, as the sun rose and we sped along the shoreline. Patches of frost and snow ran right up to the water, tendrils of fog draped across the trees and mountains, eventually clearing to reveal blue skies and dramatic cloudbanks. It was a very, very pleasant trip...

...right up until we crossed the border into Canada and got stuck behind a 98-car freight train moving at 17 miles per hour. After about an hour of creeping along, we stopped altogether because the freight had triggered an alarm that alerted them they might be dragging equipment or have an axel overheating or a break failur or some other such potential calamity. After an hour or so was spent checking the length of the freight train, they finally got underway and we were able to move into a position to pass them, when we stopped again. This time because some jerk had decided to go off-roading and tried to cross the tracks only to get his car stuck with wheels off the ground. We were forced to wait what seemed an interminable time for a tow truck to make its way to where the car was stranded and remove him. We rolled into Vancouver almost exactly three hours late.

Luckily, we were booked at a comfortable hotel with a glorious view and we were able to immediately check ourselves in, relax for a couple of hours, and refresh ourselves before our scheduled dinner and evening out.


Clouds on the water

Clouds on the water
Clouds on the water,
originally uploaded by Nikchick.
Pramas and I headed off to spend the weekend in Vancouver on Friday. I'm really pleased with this shot of the clouds on the water I managed to snap from the moving train.


Girls Girls Girls Night

Wednesday nights are often dubbed "Girls' Night" around here as Chris goes off to Bellevue for Wargame Wednesdays with Rick and we girls are left to our own devices. Often this means we order pizza and watch TiVo. I recently signed up for Netflix again, specifically with the idea that I could order up a particular movie for Girls' Night, which has resulted in Kate seeing Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Mad Hot Ballroom in the last couple of weeks.

Last night, according to Kate, was "Girls, Girls, Girls Night" because we added Jenny to the mix. Kate is going to be a junior usher in the upcoming wedding and Jenny was kind enough to take us out to the bridal shop to pick up and try on the junior usher's dress. It looks a little something like this, with elbow-length gloves:

Kate was predictably thrilled with it.

Jenny then scored a double by suggesting that we stop at Blue C Sushi's new University Village location. Her unfailing sense for what would be a hit with ten year old girls is inspiring. Not only did the sushi come past on a conveyor belt, but automatically included every one of Kate's favorites (avocado roll, California roll, and flying fish roe). Jenny and I split some hot sake. It was a very good Girls' Night.

Going three for three, Jenny scored again by agreeing to come up and meet Bonnie the Bunny, who let herself be scritched and cooed over. Here's a photo of the bunny, as long as I'm at it. I guess she counts as being part of Girls' Night, too.



Conquest NW is over and I'm home. Glad to be home, too. Thankfully, I did not have to see any of the creeps and jerk-offs I was afraid I'd have to see! I had a nice time hanging out with the few other vendors at the show, meeting new people, learning to play some new card games. I spoke to a couple of the guys from Enfilade over dinner, got to hang out with some of the staff of Hidden City Games, and shared a couple of meals with James Ernest, who it seems I only see at Conquest conventions anymore.

Attendance was pretty minuscule, though not through lack of trying on Conquest's part. They offered two-for-one admission coupons to the big game companies (WotC and Wizkids) but we saw exactly two people who took advantage of the offer. They also did a mailing to Dragonflight's mailing list, which didn't seem to bring in a lot of people. There were RPGA events running, but I only saw two tables of RPGs going at any given time. The guy who came to GM some Thieves' World games reported that no one showed up, and the guy who signed himself up to run four True20 demos for us didn't even show up as near as I could tell. I feel bad to think that some attendees who were looking forward to True20 games might have left feeling we'd contributed in some way to their disappointment. What is it about the people who volunteer for us? This last-minute flake out thing has GOT to stop!

Anyway, I declare Conquest NW a good start and I hope this is the beginning of a great regional show up here that can really succeed. Besides, how can I not support any con that allows me to sleep in the luxurious new Marriott beds? They're dreamy!

It's ridiculously cold in the house and I'm chilled to the bone, so I'm going to fix myself a warm drink and crawl under my quilts and blankets in front of the TiVo for a little while. It's a short work week this week, but I'm not going to worry about all that awaits my attention until tomorrow.


Convention Weekend

I'm scheduled to attend Conquest NW here in the Seattle area in a couple of hours but going off to inaugurate a small first-year local con is just about the last thing I want to do right now. It's been a rough few weeks for several of my closest friends (with a whack of serious crap like terminally ill parents and frightening miscarriages) and I'm feeling quite blue about what's in store for the next several months.

Normally, a convention would be a great distraction and a chance to get together with some of my industry friends but this convention is happening in Seattle. That means that in addition to any friends and acquaintances I might have a chance to see, there is a certainty that I will have to see several people that I would be happy to never see again in my life. People I've cut ties with because I have discovered them to be bad for my mental health and sense of self, people who seem to be lacking in human compassion or good sense, people who have willingly ruined entire years of my life with their thoughtless, space-alien behavior.

This is a small, first-year convention. For various reasons, they didn't do a great job of getting the word out to people who I would have expected to know (and be interested) that there was a convention happening. I expect it to be small, a start to what I hope will grow into a great show. I don't mind a small show, I've done many of them in the past and if I didn't work in the game industry I might even enjoy volunteering with a small con as some level of organizer just for fun. Unfortunately, small also means there's nowhere to avoid people you don't want to see. If I want to avoid Ryan Dancey at GenCon (just to pick a random example though I don't expect Ryan to show up) it's completely possible to do so, even if our booths are virtually adjoining...there are events to attend, there are people coming to the booth, there are half a dozen people just standing between us at any given time. A small con means long, uncomfortable periods of being seated three chairs away from that very same guy who betrayed twelve years of your friendship, forced to either conspicuously pretend the other doesn't exist or worse, face the horrible possibility some fool might try to use the opportunity to get us to "patch things up".

The thought makes my skin crawl, which is not exactly the right mindset to be all "woohoo, convention time!"

Some of the most wonderful people I've ever known in my life are game industry cohorts and I'm actually looking forward to seeing some folks who I see far too little of, but some of the most despicable betrayers and spineless apologists I've ever had the misfortune to cross paths with are also from the game industry and boy, I could happily live my life continuing to pretend they vanished from the face of the earth.



Much is being made of Dick Cheney's "hunting accident" in the press and in the blogs. There are any number of aspects to this situation that one might expect me to comment on: the delay in public admission that the accident took place, the blame-the-victim aspect as spin masters floated the idea that the man who was shot was at fault (when I took gun safety class I learned it's the responsibility of the shooter to know where he's shooting, and that even a seemingly "innocent" action of shooting a gun up into the air can have repercussions...those bullets have to come down somewhere), the White House and Bush family making jokes while the victim of the shooting was in the ICU... but I'm going to pick one that I don't think my readers would predict.


Where I come from, what Dick Cheney was participating in was not "hunting". Sure, but the strict dictionary definition of the term, he was engaged in pursuing game for sport, but that would never fly in my family.

My dad is a hunter. Just this Christmas he decided he was in the market for a new over-under shotgun to replace the tried and true shotgun that he's used every year for duck, grouse, and pheasant hunting since he saved up the money to buy it for himself when he was 16. He can load his own shotgun shells, has owned umpteen duck decoys and camo-painted boats, has trained several Black Labrador retrievers to hunt and flush and return birds in lake and field. When he hunts, alone or with friends and family, it involves actually going out to a likely location and walking the miles of terrain and working the dog to find wild birds. My dad used to enter shooting competitions and had several trophies for skeet shooting. He's a quick draw and an excellent mark and I've seen him flush, identify, and shoot a bird before I could even draw. He's been a member of Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever, among other organizations, and is interested in environmental conservation specifically with an eye to protecting habitat for game birds so he can continue to enjoy his lifelong hobby.

My dad is a hunter. He goes out hunting. What Dick Cheney was involved in was "shooting" but I object to the idea that his idea of sport should be called hunting. Cheney engages in so-called "hunting" of captive animals. The Humane Society of the United States issued a statement against our esteemed Vice President engaging in such captive hunts back in 2003. In this most recent incident, the birds were apparently pen-raised and then released for the VPs hunting party. This is not hunting and the fact that both Bush and Cheney involve themselves in these sorts of "hunts" goes a long way to explaining their views on a lot of other things in life.


Happy Second Largest Card-sending Holiday

I went grocery shopping last night. What a zoo! The place was awash in pink and red, the floral department overflowing with roses and heart-shaped balloons, barren shelves where there once were boxes of chocolates. Displays of wine, steak on sale. I was amazed at how many people were running around grabbing up this stuff. There were even people hanging out on street corners (in the freezing rain) trying to hawk flowers and teddy bears holding hearts.

Am I the only one in the world not willing to jump on a consumer "holiday" or who tells my loved ones that I love them without a pre-printed card? Ah well, insert some anti-consumerism rant here, I suppose. I don't actually care enough to rant about it, just find the whole thing kinda weird.

I was at the store trying in vain to figure out something to make for dinner last night and to pick up ingredients for "Game Night" dinner, as I've struck out the last three weeks running with poor Tim who ate plain noodles on Asian stir-fry night, (aka 'I shopped at Uwajimaya and look what I brought home' night), and plain cornbread on Chorizo chili night. I forget what the third strike-out was but I didn't want to go for four. When the hell did flank steak go up to $7 a pound? I used to think nothing of grabbing up a couple of flank steaks for game night, but I'm pretty sure I wasn't spending $30 to do it. Shoot, I might was well buy t-bone or sirloin at that price...

I briefly thought about trying the Hoisin Salmon recipe from Everyday Food for dinner last night, but there were no salmon steaks to be had, only salmon fillets. As the seafood guy explained to me, individual stores used to be able to call the local seafood suppliers and stock what they wanted, but now the orders are called in to a main Safeway hub and from there the hub makes the orders and distributes the product...so if my Safeway is the only store in the area that wants salmon steaks, the central hub won't bother filling the order for them and will send him some of what all the other stores want instead. He advised me to watch for ads for whole salmon, because they can cut steaks themselves for me if they've got whole salmon in stock. Otherwise, looks like it's salmon fillets or nothing. Thanks corporate America!

On the other hand, meat counter had an impressive amount of good-looking ground lamb. Inspired, decided on Lamb and Red Pepper Ragu for dinner last night. Tonight I'm going to default to Chicken and Dumplings (you need to register to access the recipe at their site, but if it comes out well, I'll add it to my own recipe archive.) I also have to give repeat thumbs up to Cooking Light's Thai-style Ground Beef which I made again over the weekend. It's probably the best new recipe I've added to my repertoire in recent memory. Really, really good.


That thing we do

People who have known us for any length of time know that Pramas and I are weirdly attuned to each other. It's a cliche, of course, to say "He finishes my sentences," but I'll say it anyway. Early in our correspondence we would chat by IM only to type the same thing at the same time to each other, repeatedly. Seriously, it was a joke between us long before anyone outside of the two of us noticed it. It's one of the things that convinced me that we were perfectly matched. I've had many relationships over the years with perfectly nice people, even some exceptional people, who didn't "click" like this. Hell, I even married one!

Of course, folks who know us in real life know this about us because, if they've spent any time around us, they've witnessed it first hand. People on mailing lists and message boards have seen this as well, but probably don't realize that when they see Pramas and Nikchick posting to the same thread, saying approximately the same thing at virtually the same time, that it isn't some coordinated campaign... it's highly likely we haven't even discussed it between us! I can't count the number of times it's happened. I mean, it happened at least twice last week alone.

Our employees, of course, enjoy an even more (I hope) amusing perspective on this, as Chris and I will often reply identically to something (he from his office, I from mine) without ever discussing it between us. Last week, I sent a query on a particular topic to Evan without knowing that an hour or so earlier Pramas had (independently, of course) sent a similar query. Thankfully, Evan knows the score. He replied back, "As I told your Rhy-husband about an hour ago...."

My Rhy-husband. That's been cracking me up ever since.


Johari Window

This one's been popping up all over my usual blog rotation this morning and I want in. Do you guys see me as I see myself? Let's find out!

Click here to select 5-6 words that you think describe me and let's see what happens...


The Easy Way vs. The Right Way

The New York Times reports this morning that the United States military is force feeding hunger strikers at Guantanamo Bay. Force feeding them by strapping recalcitrant detainees into "restraint chairs," sometimes for hours a day, to feed them through tubes and prevent them from deliberately vomiting afterward and "dissuading" hunger strikers by placing them in uncomfortably cold air-conditioned isolation cells, depriving them of "comfort items" like blankets and books and sometimes using riot-control soldiers to compel the prisoners to sit still while long plastic tubes were threaded down their nasal passages and into their stomachs.

The most absurd quote from the article, attributed to the chief military spokesman at Guantanamo, Lt. Col. Jeremy M. Martin, that "hunger striking is an Al Qaeda tactic used to elicit media attention and also to bring pressure on the U.S. government."

An Al Qaeda tactic? Tell that to Mahatma Gandhi. Or the British Suffragettes (some of whom died after crude 19th century attempts at force feeding poured gruel into their lungs instead of their stomachs). Or Akbar Ganji, the imprisoned Iranian journalist whose hunger strike prompted the White House to issue this statement last year, which reads, in part: "His calls for freedom deserve to be heard. His valiant efforts should not go in vain. The President calls on all supporters of human rights and freedom, and the United Nations, to take up Ganji's case and the overall human rights situation in Iran." At least the Iranians tried and convicted Gangji, handing down a definitive sentence with a defined term to his imprisonment!

The US admits to having around 500 detainees at Guantanamo. They are "enemy combatants" being held indefinitely, without charges and without trial. There may be evidence that every one of those detainees is a hardened killer part of a global plot against the United States, but we'll never know and it seems they'll never get their day in court. They are absolutely powerless and our government is treating them the Easy Way instead of the Right Way.

The Easy Way is to imprison anyone who might be a threat. The Easy Way means not bothering with those inconvenient expectations of fair treatment under the law, protection from abuse and depravity, the gathering of evidence, filing of charges, or judicial hearing. Those things are hard, and time-consuming! The Easy Way is what leads to torture and abuse of prisoners that we would never accept for our own people. It's easier to scoop up everyone, spy on everyone. FISA? Warrants? Judges? Accountability to Congress? That's not the Easy Way!

As an American, I do not accept the Easy Way because I was brought up to believe our country behaves the Right Way. Not just that we promote some jingoistic definition of "democracy" around the world, but the explicit rights and freedoms that we reserved for ourselves and enshrined in our constitution, upheld by the laws of our land. As an American, I believe we reserve these freedoms no only for ourselves, but that we believe in them for all men and women. We do not apply these standards only when we are forced to do so, we apply these standards because they are Right. We cannot applaud the hunger strike of the imprisoned Iranian journalist while using force to quell similar protests against us. Our Constitution is the standard by which we expect to be treated, and by which we are expected to treat others, not just when it is easy to do so.



I'm not sad, I'm complicated. Chicks dig that.
--House, "Need to Know"


Four Things

JD tagged me for this and I liked it:

Four jobs I've had
1. kitchen supervisor
2. barrista
3. assembly-line worker
4. Great Plains Chautauqua assistant

Four movies I can watch over and over
1. Die Hard
2. The Big Hit
3. Blade Runner
4. The 5th Element

Four places I've lived
1. Ely, Minnesota
2. Canby, Oregon
3. Atlanta, Georgia
4. Vancouver, BC, Canada

Four TV shows I love
1. The Wire
2. The Daily Show
3. The Colbert Report
4. House

Four places I've vacationed
1. Phoenix, Arizona
2. Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
3. Las Vegas, Nevada
4. San Diego, California

Four of my favorite dishes (to cook)
1. Footloaf
2. Thai-style Ground Beef
3. Sesame Noodles
4. Hungarian Potato and Sweet Potato Soup

Four sites I visit daily
1. RPGnet
2. EN World
3. Foldedspace
4. Talking Points Memo

Four places I would rather be right now
1. Belize
2. Phoenix
3. in bed
4. The French Laundry

Four jobs I'd like to have
1. Event planner
2. Chef
3. house painter
4. gardener

Four places I'd like to live
1. London
2. Vancouver, BC
3. San Francisco
4. right where I am

Four books I love
1. Green Grass, Running Water
2. The Joy of Cooking
3. Cold Mountain
4. The Stand

Four places I'd like to vacation
1. Belize
2. Brazil
3. New Zealand
4. Finland

Four of my favorite dishes (to eat)
1. Tojo's Canadian sablefish
2. Nobu's tuna tartare
3. Eggs Beatrice from The Joy of Cooking
4. Black bean and goat cheese quesadillas


Science Fiction Film Festival

Pramas has already posted how it was that we ended up at the Science Fiction Short Film Festival, hosted by the organizers of the Seattle International Film Festival and the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame and held at Seattle's Cinerama. Over 700 people showed up, surprising both other attendees and the organizers themselves.

There were two screenings and we stayed for both. The first ten shorts were, in retrospect, probably selected for the first showing because they were not quite as strong as the second batch of shorts. Even so, some of my personal favorites of the festival were among the first batch.

Director John Harden's entry La Vie d'un Chien was an audience favorite, judging by audience applause. I suspect he and many of the other first screening directors were harmed by the fact that the organizers didn't have enough ballots to go around for the first screening. I didn't have a ballot, neither did Pramas. It may have been my favorite of the shorts, but even if Harden was denied recognition at this festival, he's received plenty of other kudos for this film: It won Official Selection, Rotterdam International Film Festival 2005; Special Jury Recognition, Aspen Short Film Festival 2005; Best Short, Sonoma Valley International Film Festival 2005; Best Short Film, Sci-Fi-London Film Festival 2005. For $20 you can "Buy the Dog Movie". Way to market yourself John Harden: you go!

Dan Przygoda brought us Killswitch, a kind of Running Man/Reality TV morality short. Przygoda's a young guy. While Killswitch wasn't entirely satisfying as a story, it was well done as a film and I'd go look out for something else of his in the future. Keep away from the poetry on his MySpace site, though. Very college-angst.

Scribble, by Faisal Qureshi, was possibly my second favorite of the shorts. Billed as "A stenographer tries to cope with the failure of modern technology," it was a quick little visual bit with no dialog and I really liked it. Possibly because of my own struggles with technology?

Rachel Wang's film about an elderly couple in a British rest home who build a time machine from a wheelchair in order to go back in time and meet each other when they were younger and at the top of their form. This one felt like a full movie with a location and great actors. The time machine makes Heyday sci-fi, I guess. Wang has a production company in London.

Pramas really enjoyed The Grandfather Paradox from Jean-Francois DaSylva. It was pretty cute, though also more typical of these shorts, with the entire story taking place in one room.

Circus of Infinity was probably the least "sci fi" movie in the sci fi film festival. The director has tended toward horror films or fantasy films, and this was more metaphysical than science fiction, imho. Still, it was a good short film and the jury recognized it with an honorable mention during the awards.

Ray Bradbury's short story, A Piece of Wood, was turned into a short film for Tony Baez Milan through Urban Archipelago Films. This particular film really made me think of a film of a play, as the whole thing took place in a single 'room' as the set. Very Bradbury.

Miska Draskoczy's short, Perfect Heat, was one of those completely weird, surreal films. It was confusing and mostly I just thought "What the hell was that about?" but it was interestingly shot and hey, when the star of the film is co-writer and Dr. & Mrs. His Last Name are given special thanks, I guess you make the movie be about whatever they want it to be about... Draskoczy's company Snow 23 "was created to explore the fusion of graphic design, film, and art" and that's pretty much what we get with Perfect Heat.

Skewed is the product of another NYU film school grad, Jeremy Wechter. Saw the ending coming from a mile away. Wechter has a feature length screenplay of the same title... which I could be lured into checking out as a full-length movie only if the ending isn't as obvious as in the short. Perhaps a different ending altogether, even.

One of the animated shorts was Red Planet Blues, from David H. Brooks, who apparently also made a video called Doh Doh Island for Hasbro. A movie about Playdoh? Not sure. He's also the guy behind "Christmastime for the Jews" which we saw on SNL in December. I thought the film was cute, but didn't like it as much as Pramas and Michelle seemed to. I guess I can only spare so much affection for cute little claymation Martians.

After the intermission (where all 700+ attendees were forced outside into the cold to stand in line for re-entry) we got some better seats and although I was hungry I was more comfortable by far. The Second Screening started off with a bang:

Super-Anon was a delightfully funny 10-minute short, originally created as part of the Reelfast 48-hour Film Festival. The topic: a support group for the not-so-super siblings of superheroes. Again, this film's inclusion in the "sci-fi" film festival stretches my personal definition of science fiction, but I was willing to go with it. Apparently, the director is devoutly Christian and part of a Christian fellowship organization that provides support for Canadian Christians in the Vancouver, BC film industry. CandianChristianity.com gives the film a nice write-up despite the complete lack of "overt Christian content."

Hot on the heels of Super-Anon, we watched the festival's eventual First Place winner, Stephen O'Regan's take on Terry Bisson's Nebula nominated short story They're Made Out of Meat. Terry Bisson was one of the people on hand for the festival and he assisted in moderating the Q&A sessions with the directors as well. They're Made Out of Meat was a solid story, the cast as set were great, it was a very solid entry. During the Q&A some wild X-File geek wanted to know how O'Regan got Tom Noonan to be in his movie, and O'Regan's answer was, essentially, "I asked him." And paid him, of course.

Israel's Omri Bar-Levy had a fun, wordless short that he insists cost only about $50 to make. It really reminded me much more of a music video than a short film, but maybe I'm just getting technical in my definitions. Heartbeat was still pretty cool, definitely solidly "sci fi" in flavor. When Bar-Levy was asked if he had the middle east peace process in mind when he made the film, he responded only with "No." How often does the poor guy get asked that, I wonder... I can't imagine how irritating it would be if every New York artist was asked if he had the World Trade Center bombings in mind whenever he made a film. Bar-Levy and his father were in the audience, and Heartbeat also received Honorable Mention.

Into the Maelstrom was a very X-Files/CSI/anywhere people roam around in the dark with flashlights kind of film, from writer/director Peter Sullivan. Sullivan's done a lot of film work in the past and is supposedly currently working on a remake of the "1973 cult classic" Invasion of the Bee Girls. Michelle and I wondered why anyone would want to remake Invasion of the Bee Girls, but hey, more power to him. The film had a great, believable set, but the plot was (like Skewed) so obvious that I could see it coming a mile away and the surprise was anything but. Looked good but there wasn't enough to it for my taste. On the other hand, it was apparently made for the 48 Hour Film Project, a different but similar project to the ReelFast 48-hour Film Festival, so I don't judge it too harshly.

I had the same reaction to LT Gil's short, The Hard Ages - Trial Run. Gil is apparently working up The Hard Ages as a series, and the next installment has the great title Abject Justice, but I really felt like I was walking into the middle of something, didn't really understand what the short was supposed to be about, and it ended with a "to be continued" which left me confused and unsatisfied. Lots of CGI in this one.

Jonathan Joffe's Cost of Living was probably my favorite of the shorts. It combined science fiction and social commentary with two wonderful performances from William B. Davis and Andrew Krivaneck. Really nice. This one has apparently won some other awards and recognition as well, including Best Sci-Fi Short 2005 at Dragon*Con of all things.

Coming from farthest away (Oslo or Sydney, depending on where Frode Klevstul calls home at the moment), neoplasia was a short with a very European sensibility, in that Soren Kierkegaard kind of way. The film literature asks "In a world ruled by technocrats, what if technology fails? In a place where only the best ones survive, what if the wrong person is selected?". neoplasia was Klevstul's graduate project for the Victorian College of the Arts School of Film and Television.

Thankfully, Erin Condy's funny animated short, Welcome to Eden came along after the depressing neoplasia to lift my spirits. Condy is a former astronomy student at Vassar College, who did an about face and went off to the USC School of Cinema-Television's Division of Animation and Digital Arts. Welcome to Eden was very cute. I personally liked it better than Red Planet Blues, but I think I was in the minority.

Local favorite and The Stranger's film critic, Andy Spletzer barely finished his short film, Wireless, before it had to be shown at the festival. I was going to say it had a very noir tone, but then Spletzer said he'd personally never seen it that dark himself, so perhaps the noir-feel was by accident. The story was cute, the actors mostly alright, though the hot chick they got to play the hot chick had that flat porn-actress-style delivery that I didn't care for. Oh well, who cares, it was fun and gets points for being local.

The show ended with Microgravity, which placed (second or third, I can't remember) but also won a special surprise technical award from Douglas Trumbull. The story itself was meandering and confusing (was it just a dream, a dream within a dream, a psychotic break, the dream of someone who has had a psychotic break?) but it was well acted, and well-shot. The set was great and the "space walk" stuff in particular was very good. Very 2001: A Space Odyssey. The set was apparently all Boeing salvage materials.

Whew. There you go. Now you have some things to keep an eye out for should a short film festival roll into your town. This has gotten me in the mood for doing the SIFF this year and I'll certainly go to the Science Fiction Short Film Festival next year. In April, it's Ray Harryhausen appearing at the Science Fiction Museum.


Tits and Ass advertising

I visit two roleplaying game sites on a regular basis: RPG.net and EN World. RPG.net is the grand-daddy of the game sites and I've been a regular reader, infrequent poster since its creation, ten years or more... it's been part of my daily online routine for so long I honestly can't remember when precisely it started. I suppose I lose geek points for not being able to recall the precise minute I discovered the site. Oh well. EN World is what Eric Noah's 3rd Edition site morphed into once D&D 3rd Edition launched and Eric retired from the onerous job of moderating the biggest D&D fansite on the internet, and I've been there (in both its forms) for at least five years at this point.

What I want to know is when Tits and Ass advertising took over the banner ads at EN World! Is there some sort of informal T&A Ad contest going on that I don't know about?!

I ask you in advance to pardon this lengthy preamble, but let me be clear: I hate that shit. As a woman who has built a career in the roleplaying game business over the last (holy crap!) NINETEEN years, I have at times been belittled, denigrated, and dismissed based only on my gender, I've worked the booth for the companies I owned only to have some neanderthal walk up and look for any male in the area to talk to (even, let's say, if it's just Ken Hite or some other industry professional utterly unaffiliated with my company who happens to be hanging out behind my booth talking to me), I've been told to "shut up, frigid bitch" by gamer employers whose awkward attempts at romance I've spurned, I've had competitors complain to the men of the company under the mistaken impression that the man was my boss and that they'd be getting me in some sort of trouble because of something I'd said or done that pissed them off, and I have just about zero tolerance for the practice of using "booth babes" who don't have the first idea about the product they're flaunting their bodies for. I'm less judgmental about fantasy illustrations that depict attractive female figures in the context of the settings they're hawking, I don't mind well-rendered paintings of beautiful girls and I've got a pretty broad definition of "appropriate" attire in that context. I dislike being introduced as an after-thought, as "Chris's wife," because I had a career in the game industry several years before Pramas did and I've seen my credibility with strangers evaporate before my eyes after being introduced as 'the wife' because people assume he came first and I'm some sort of sympathy vote or tag-a-long when I was "here" first.

Lately, every day when I visit the EN World front page I'm seeing banner adds that are shamelessly using Tits and Ass to advertise their products. When Avalanche Press did the Tits and Ass thing, they at least had the decency to put their cover babes in chainmail thigh-highs or make the tits and ass somewhat relevant to the setting. Usually, though not always.

Today's D20 advertisers, on the other hand, are barely even trying to stay in bounds (if they're trying at all). It's just Tits and Ass. They're not even trying to dress it up. I log in to the EN World front page and I get treated to this:

or this:

or this:

or this (which is actually saved as "HOOTERBANNER.GIF"!!:

At least this one makes a self-referential statement about advertising with boobies:

After a couple of weeks of this, I finally have to say to my esteemed colleagues: WHAT THE FUCK!? This is the best that you can do? THIS is all you have to entice people to give your product a looksee? TITS? That's what you've got? Thanks guys. Classy.

Thankfully, the RPG.net advertisers haven't felt the need to stoop to straight-up offering titties in their banner ads. Here's hoping the trend holds.


Fear of Girls

Took me a while, but I finally went to check out Fear of Girls. I've had contact with Tom Lommel through his work with NASCRAG, so I enjoyed an extra level of amusement.

"Do you rue attacking Krunk? Do you RUE IT?!"

Note to self: now that Kate knows about "smiting" I must remember to teach her "rue"...