Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Judge Dredd Mega City 1 version of a cheese triangle

You know those round boxes of processed cheese? The ones with individual cheese wedges wrapped in tinfoil like a presentation counter for 50 years of playing Trivial Pursuit?

Used to love them as a kid.

Calvita cheese had a little blondy young one on the front like someone off the BBC test card, only she was a typical Irish Cailin type from the 1970s and she didn't have a blackboard or a bunch of coloured squares or a slightly scary stuffed toy around her. I see she's gone missing from the brand in recent times. There's a modern blondy young one on the labels now. Don't know why they did away with the first one when all that 70s stuff is getting back into fashion.

Anyhow, the machine that wrapped the cheesy bits in their little silver rounded triangles used to fix the tinfoil tighter than a trumpters arse on a high C note. And at the corners it was battened down so well that I copied the technique for wrapping foreign brown paper parcels for Christmas. Ask any of my family that live abroad and they'll tell you a special samurai from the post office has to be used to open my brown paper packages.

Anyhoo... Herself decided I was looking a bit thin, so she bought a couple of packets of the cheesy goodness for me. I was most disappointed when I went to open the box.

First, the box itself was hermetically sealed with a tear strip around it. Most modern and not a bit nostalgic. I opened it up and took out a couple of the cheesy triangles. Happily, they were still folded at the corners like the nuns were running the hospitals and scaring country girl nurses into the correct way of making the beds. But there was a little red stub sticking out.

"Not another bloody tear strip!" I shouted. "The convenience of it all!"

"What's wrong?" Herself asked from under a pile of washing she'd just carried in from the line, while also ironing a shirt with one foot.

"Oh this is no good! Sure, what's the point if you can't get bits of processed cheese up your fingernails? Lookit!"

I tugged at the red stub and the little silver package opened magically all around its outside like a zipper on my favourite rubber bed wear.

I still ate the cheese. But under protest though.

And I picked a bit off to go under my fingernails.

You have to have some standards.

Elephants. Yeah.

"What," Herself asks me, "What do any of those movies on your blog have to do with... well, your blog?"
"It's my blog. I can put on it what I like," I reply, with a right snoot on.
"Fair enough," she says giving me a A Look.

In this multi-media age, "Writing it down" isn't always enough to fill in pieces of the puzzle. Movies on my blog are of things I like or which strike a personal chord. Simple as that. I even have a list of things which won't ever see the light of day on my blog, either because their copyright is too tightly held or because there isn't a technical way I can figure out to put them here.

For example, I roared the other night like I haven't roared laughing in years at Pavarotti over on the site. You may not find it amusing -- I'm looking forward to seeing it again as soon as I click on the "Publish" button.

Titter too at the Beatles video.

WIDFIPOTP is not responsible for the content of other websites. The links offered above are family friendly. Others on the third-party site may not be. Consider yourself warned.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Number Nine Cutie

Willie Nelson - She is Gone

Changed the link to this one. Now visit this link to see the man himself in action.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

You wouldn't want to be sensitive

I jumped on a bus this evening. Paid my fare to the driver, who was studiously trying to get his finger up his nostril to the second knuckle, thanked the powers-that-be that bus tickets aren't handed to the passenger any more and sat down.

There was no-one else on the bus.

"Strange," thought I. "Doubtless there will be a rush at SuperValu."

The driver obviously thought the same, because he edged a little closer to the kerb at SuperValu. But no. The people there all gave that purposeful stare behind the bus so that the driver of whatever was bringing up the rear would know to stop instead.

At the hospital there was nobody at all.

Finally, in Tallaght Village, after not one sinner I.T student (lanky or otherwise) had boarded, even when he had opened the doors in hopeful expectation, the driver climbed out of his compartment and rolled up the number of the bus.

"Where are you going to?" he asked me from the aisle.

"Firhouse," I said.

"Do you mind if I just drive down the road and not bother with going up the other way?"

"No bother at all."

"There's another bus in front," he said. "Everybody's on it."

I thought this one over. Somewhere in front was a bus with 160 people crammed in, everyone on top of each other. Five minutes behind I was lolling about in an otherwise empty bus with a lonely driver. I strolled up the empty bus to chat to him. It seemed the decent thing to do.

"It's stupid putting two buses out at the same time," he driver said to me as I broke a bye-law by standing when there were 90-odd empty seats around.

"It does seem a bit odd," I said.

We finally bumped onto Firhouse Road. He let cars out of side roads with a grin. After all, he wasn't in a hurry.

"Actually, if you're not turning right, you can drop me off at the school," I said. "It's handier for me anyway."

"Works out well for both of us then," he said.

"Cheapest taxi I ever got anyhow!"

So I thanked him and hopped off a couple of minutes from my door.

"God bless!" he called after me.

Somewhere up the side road someone was probably wondering why the bus hadn't come.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I didn't know a nose got indigestion

Fellah on the bus in front of me with long legs looks at the generous amount of space for the legs between the seat in front of me and the seat in front of him, decides, like me, that the back of the seat in front of me is obviously broken which is why it is leaning back on me, sits down and squashes my patient leg.

A patient leg, by the way, is the leg you have to have when you know you are too lazy to move to another seat and you have only started your journey, so its better to stay patient when a long-legged fellah is inadvertantly pushing the back of his seat into your kneecap. Eventually, I managed to crab the leg sideways into a kind of deformed Elvis on stage position which meant *no-one* was likely to sit beside me, although, to be fair, a kind of scarecrow female person (an I.T. student) did sit down briefly on my outside before she figured out a window seat was available elsewhere and moved.

So Daddly Long Legs turns out to have a hair treatment on which, when combined with the fumes from the open window, smells exactly like raw hamburger. A very raw hamburger, bloody and fresh. My nostrils sucked it all up as I sat in my contorted state on my seat.

(Lately, I am beginning to think that the part of my brain which deals with my sense of smell has been entirely overcome with alcohol. I have strange tastes and smells at different times of the day which to me is a reasonable indication of some kind of brain damage.)

To get back to the tale, I actually *like* the smell of raw hamburger, although I would not choose it as a variety of cologne, worn in the hair or otherwise.

It was no surprise to find four Dunnes stores hamburgers defrosting in a microwave oven when I got home then.

But, alas, one at least is trying to make its way back up my neck as I type this. Perhaps it was the association with the bus and the scarecrow person and the hair treatment, because I enjoyed the cooking and eating of my share this evening. Dunnes Stores hamburgers tend not to lodge in my throat, so this is something of a surprise.

I may revisit said burgers later in the night. I hope not.

In any case, I think I may have some colourful dreams because of them. On Sunday night last I ate some cheese before bed and dreamt I (and many people I work with) was called up to serve in an army unit in some kind of national emergency. I liked the camouflage gear and the hand-held electronic device that didn't seem to do anything. I had no idea who the enemy was and when I woke up I found I still don't. Not so much a dream as a general observation then.

I'm off to see what state my sleeping mind is in in the circumstances.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Upscuttled, I am

I was half listening to John O'Toole when he told me that he had been down in Templeogue on the previous Wednesday night and when they left, his friend, Dave, was a dwarf and was stuck down a hole. He laughed at the prospect and said he would still be there until next week.


"In the game. He's stuck down a hole in the game."

"What game?"

"I told you. It's called D&D."

"Is it? What's D&D?"

The gist of it was someone had a book and in the book was a game and no-one knew what the game was but the one with the book and what he said went and so on.


Of course, Dungeon & Dragons was a little more organised and a lot more interesting than that first description, which got garbled in translation into my 16-year-old brain.

On Wedesday night, John and I trekked across the fields by the uncompleted Western Parkway motorway ("It may never be finished! ") and jumped the wall into a more up-market housing estate in Willington where we knocked on a door. Inside lived Frank with his parents and family and some extended family. Invariably, Frank, who was a few years older than us but looked around our own age, would be in the middle of doing something like cooking or working out an alternative Theory of Relativity, or whatever, so that our 7.30pm start time would wear on until 8.00pm. And to make matters worse, the game wasn't usually held in Frank's parent's place, but at a friend's house further down the estate. There a couple of country boys and girls had lodged and they had a spare dining room. So we would decamp from Frank's, carrying bags and boxes of mysterious books, magazines and notebooks, until at last we arrived at the place where the game was to be held.

"Roll four six sided dice and discard the lowest figure."
"Er... Aren't all dice six-sided?"
From a bag came a six sided dice, then a twelve sided one, a ten sided, an eight sided, a four sided, then a twenty-sided one.
"Oh crap. I'll never get this."

"I'll help."
Dave, who didn't seem to be any the worse for having spent his time down a hole for the past week, handed me a yellow page with some boxes and writing printed on it. It looked like some kind of tax return form.
I rolled the dice. He added them up.
"Six, three, four, two. You don't count the two, because that's the lowest. So that makes 13. Write that down."
"Is that good?"
"Not bad. Now do it again, five more times."

We sifted through the numbers then arranged them in the boxes. One of the boxes was marked "Strength", another "Intelligence". There were also "Dexterity", "Wisdom", "Constitution" and "Charisma."

"What do all these mean?"
"These scores represent how strong your character is. Or how dexterious. Or how wise. Now we get to see what adjustments the scores make to your dice rolls later..."

Dave and I went through the creation of what they called a "player character". Everybody else at the table (except Frank) also had a sheet of paper with statistics on it which represented a player character. Some had even drawn a quick mug-shot of the character in a space on the page which I was told was known as a character sheet.

On the table was a small grid on a piece of card. There were several lead soldiers -- albeit fantasy soldiers a la "Conan the Barbarian" , rather than Battle of Waterloo type figures -- standing in line on the grid. I picked a suitably heroic looking model from a box and placed it at the back of the line. Then the game seemed to start.

Frank, sitting at the top of the table, with a couple of pieces of cardboard on edge so that no-one could see the contents of the loose-leaf folder he had in front of him, told us that we had heard a rumour that there was a wizard living in a tower some way out of town and that he had some treasure or other that we were looking for. I assumed this was something to do with games which had gone on previously and as I was coming into it in the middle of a story, so to speak, I didn't ask too much about what was going on. The others seemed to know what they were doing. One said:

"I think we should look for this tower."
The others didn't disagree.

So the game unfolded, without a board or movements around a board. Frank told us how the journey to the tower went. The others told him what each of their characters did: keeping watch, for instance, if the journey involved an overnight stay. Then we reached the tower.

Frank said:
"There are four keys hanging on pegs. There's a door and a keyhole."
A player said:
"I'm not going to stick a key in at random. There might be a trap. I tie a key onto the end of my staff and try it in the lock."
Frank said:
"There's a loud buzzing noise and a flash. But you're uninjured."
The process was repeated until the right key was found. We opened the door...

...and from then I was hooked. There were rooms to explore, drawn out on a piece of paper so we could find out way back out of what they told me was a dungeon. There were hostile creatures to defeat. Dice of varying shapes to roll to see if you could hit the creature, to see if you could damage it, and to see if you could avoid its deadly attack. And there was treasure to share out and things to buy in town to make your character stronger and ready for the next adventure.

In the real world there were magazines to buy and articles to read about The Game (as I came to consider it). Therre was a magazine called "Imagine". One called "White Dwarf". The best of them all was one produced by an American company which seemed to have invented the game, which was called "Dragon".

In Dragon were the scripts for running a game, which were called modules. In the centre of an issue was a pull-out module which explained what the setting was, who the baddies were, what their motivation was, and what was in each room of the dungeon. I was fascinated, and had to figure out how the game was run from the referee's, or "Dungeon Master's" side of things.

In time I started a game group of my own with friends from school. I wrote my own scenarios or modules. And I started thinking it would be good to see one or more of them in print, in Dragon magazine.

In 1986, the editor of Dragon, Roger E. Moore, told me my first scenario, entitled "In the Court of the Dwarven King", was going to see print. And they were going to pay me money for it too! But it wouldn't be a supplemental pull-out in Dragon. The company was now going to start a new magazine, called "Dungeon Adventures" which would only contain scenarios, four or five of them in one issue. He sent me a compimentary issue #1 with his letter.

I had more than 20 scenarios published in Dungeon Adventures magazine over the next few years. The magazine was published in both the USA and in the UK at the time, so it had a world-wide audience. I was once sent a photocopy of a Japanese translation of one of my scenarios. Then I put the game aside while real life responsibilities took up my time. I occasionally received a letter from someone who had enjoyed reading or playing a scenario and asking if I would perhaps consider writing for the magazine again.

In 2005 I started taking an interest in the magazine again and found a way to obtain it by local mail order. The magazine was very different in many ways to how I remembered it, but the idea was basically the same. The game rules had been purchased by another company in the interim and the magazines -- Dragon and Dungeon -- produced under licence by a third company, Paizo.

I started a small idea in 2005 which didn't come to much. In 2006 a chap from England who has written extensively for the game and for the magazines contacted me and asked if I would be interested in co-writing some stuff with him. Last Sunday we sent in a joint proposal. On Sunday evening, the owners of the magazines announced that they would no longer be publishing either magazine any more.


There's a whole community of role-playing enthusiasts who grew up on Dungeons & Dragons who have been devestated by the news of the demise of the two best respresentations of The Game who are in shock this week at the announcement. I guess I'm in shock too. For one thing, the game has been of interest to me at various levels for more than 20 years and the taking away of these two pillars of the game is fundamentally inexplicable.

But life trots on. As to myself, I told someone recently that having some fame in this particular hobby is like being famous among stamp collectors. That's a little unfair, but probably accurate enough in the bigger scheme of things.

I suppose I had started to set my heart on writing for the game again. The magazines were accessible ways to write for the hobby without having to meet too many very serious deadlines.

But the game owners say they plan on transferring much of the content to an online version. There is much skepticism in the gaming community that this will be either popular or successful. But it might still be an outlet for games writers if they choose to take it.

I'll miss these magazines though. Not just for the content, or even for the memories of games they invoke. There were copies of the magazines in some of those plastic bags we used to carry from Frank's house to the game. And they smelled of coffee grounds and roll-up cigarettes, the smells that I will always associate with a happy time of my youth. I'll probably always miss the smoky rooms and whoops and groans of those watching critical dice rolls hopping among the ashtrays. And on our breaks we would leaf through the magazines in wonder.

I feel this week like a friend has died.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Happy Birthday

My mother would have been 83 today. Happy Birthday, Ma...!

That's her in the white dress. I'm the short bugger...

No. Not the black and white one on all fours. The other short bugger.

Pass me back the gazebo, missus

Ding dong!

My father and I are discussing the plan for meeting my second cousin from Canada when my neighbour pokes the doorbell this Saturday morning.

"Hello," I say.

"Hello. Your canopy is...." She motions with a finger in a spiral, up-in-the-air kind of shape. "It's gone over."

"Has it?" I say. And idiotically go to the back window to confirm its absense from the back garden. There is definitely a gazebo shaped hole in the scenery.

The neighbour heads out in her car and my father and I trudge next door where the gazebo is in a comical, four-legs-in-the-air kind of position.

"Good job I tied it down, eh?"

"You did?"

"Well, with one rope anyway."

We dismantle and toss tubular bits back over the wall. The one rope and next door's washing line saved it from becoming a Wizard of Oz event. Only just.

Note to self: Tie the buggering thing down PROPERLY next time.

I have a picture in my head of my father and I sitting under the gazebo drinking tea when it takes off. Would have enjoyed that.

Related Post: B&Q Gazebo instructions

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Pass me the Gazebo, missus

A little bit of sunshine has ensued and it hasn't rained much to speak of on the east coast for the past week or so. The Home section of Dunnes Stores is playing a blinder selling garden furniture, barbeques and gazebos. I could see burly husbands marching boxes of them out to parked cars in The Square yesterday. The wives were following up with shopping trolleys laden with bedding plants.

Our B&Q gazebo was unpacked from winter hibernation this morning. My father, who had called to show me his shiny new seven-year-old car, watched as I poked lightweight metal tubes together and made the magic of the summertime appear amidst bags of recycling drinks tins and plastic bottles which is our back garden.

The black cat put in an astonished appearance only briefly. Although he is becoming less wary of visitors if they are in the back garden (more room for him to escape if they should turn on him) he is still unhappy to see old men. The old man next door has had reason enough to chase our cats out of his shed in the past which I think is the source of Black Cat's phobia.

A note left on the counter this morning reads:

"If you have time, could you clean the litter trays?"

My work is cut out for me. At least I shall have a gazabo to relax in later today. I also have a new gas-fired barbeque, so if you hear sirens and see flashing blue lights this afternoon, you'll know what's happened.

No work til Monday.

Related Post: B&Q Gazebo instructions

Friday, April 13, 2007

So I dropped me choccie bar... Big deal.

Thought I'd post something humorous about how God hates me cos I bit a chocolate bar this evening and hurt an already broken tooth (emphasis on how eating sweets is well known not to have an effect on tooth decay, of course). Then to add insult to dental injury, I dropped the rest of the chocolate bar on the floor.

In search of a suitable judgemental God image I could find nothing. Then I thought about a weeping image and found this website.

How peculiar.

Link: Weeping Gallery Dot Net

Monday, April 09, 2007

Bank Holiday Monday

"Arrgh! I've lost the television channel!" Herself shouts from the other room.
I have pulled up the chair to the computer table and am about to surf my handful of regularly-frequented sites on the Interweb.
"What?" I say, turning down Europe, playing "The Final Countdown", in glorious 80s rock-god stylee on the PC's disk drive.
"Hurry up! I've lost the channel and yer woman is about to take away Jason's baby on Corrie!"
"What does it say on screen?"
"AV something!"
"Press the button below the green button."
"That's on the other remote! I'm using the video remote!"
Herself prefers the volume controls on the video remote. Grand until you press the wrong button. I give up on heading for Venus and go in and grab a couple of remote controls to find UTV.
I've just spent my Bank Holiday Monday with my head in a larder cabinet. I started it on Easter Saturday, which God proceeded to punish me for by making absolutely everything that could go wrong... well.... go wrong. Dowels miraculously became unattached. Cabinet sides flopped apart and fixings pulled themselves and large sections of chipboard asunder. I cursed like Job in the worst of his scabbiness. Finally, I gave up in the hope of having a better head for the work another day. It didn't happen that way. Instead, though I fixed the problems that arose on Friday, the new iron mongery of the gizzard of the larder itself -- imported especially from England and delivered at 9.00 am on Saturday morning by two burly, good humoured bald men, one of whom declared that I was not the WillieW he had one time worked with -- proved a hazard to my mental health. If a bracket could go on upside down, I put it on upside down. If a runner could be inside out, it was inside out. And if a screw could avoid the head of a screwdriver and fall into the guts of the galvanised machine works it did. But I persevered. The work should take two hours, not two days, but it's done. Tomorrow I shall add doors (also ordered from England), go on the bus for door handles, then leave the kitchen project for a while until our money reserves are built up a bit to buy more parts.
I have to say it's starting to look like a modern kitchen now, and not just a haphazard DIY project.
Interestingly, the CD is now playing "Bed of Nails" by Alice Cooper. I ain't that far gone just yet, thanks.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

I'd have stuck them on the menu long before, lads

Two white Gobdaws by the names of Mark and Olly decide to make a television show about their interaction with a tribe called the Koombai in Discovery Channel's "World's Lost Tribes."

The tribe, who blame illness on sorcery and who only eat people if they consider them to be a sorceror, have so far been admirable in their fund of patience as the gormless duo fall around the jungle of Papua, scaring off meagre game and wasting the tribe's time and energy reserves.

To camera they manage to patronise their hosts regarding food and hospitality. Despite all this, the tribe has "adopted" them and treats them as idiot brothers, which I feel is genuinely charitable.

Discovery Channel on Tuesday evenings. See more about the programme here.