Newts In White Satin

…I should be ashamed of that one

The fiction blog has started up over on my Live Journal! Go check it out, m’kay?

The Doclopedia #234

Altered (United) States: Connecticut “The Elevator State”

If you had, pre-1990 asked any scientist on Earth where the best place to build a space elevator was, not a single one would have told you central Connecticut. The aliens called the Rusigarians did not agree with that idea and that is exactly where they built Skyhook 1, the 50,000 mile long collection of cables and machinery that carries 100 foot long elevator cars up to the asteroid counterweight. After that, it’s off to the Lunar or Mars colonies or perhaps one of the 6 space stations that ring our planet.

And to think that the Rusigarians built it to thank us for finding a cure for the fungus that was killing them.

The state of Connecticut derives vast wealth from Skyhook 1, not only from the operation of it, but from the many millions of tourist dollars that come from people coming just to look at it. In fact, aside from Skyhook 1 and tourism, the state has no other large businesses or industries any more. The space elevator along employs 50,000 people, half on each end. The tourist industry employs another 150,000. Most other residents either work out of state in New York or Massachusetts or they run small mom and pop businesses. As of 2010, Connecticut was the second richest state after California.

Connecticut is also famous for the Rusigarians who chose to live there and help with the elevators operation. There are 2,000 of reptilian aliens in the state and they all live on the five square mile elevator site. They are well liked by the people of the state and every year they join in celebrating Elevator Day.

If Bleeding Persists, Call Your Doctor

…or a vampire. Whatever.

The Doclopedia #233

Altered (United) States: Colorado  “Home of the REAL Rocky Mountain High”

 

Ask anyone you might meet, regardless of their country of origin, what they know about Colorado and they’ll almost always say “Rocky Mountain High”.

And they aren’t talking about that song by John Denver, either.

The globally known “Rocky Mountain High” is what you get if you eat the fruit of the Colorado Yellowberry Bush. This small (2 feet high by about 3 feet wide) woody shrub only grows along the banks of streams at altitudes between 8,000 and 10,000 feet. Even then, growth is most common only if the area is heavily forested. The berries themselves are about the size of marbles and of a bright yellow color. Once picked, the berries begin to decay and will break down into a slimy goo in just 48 hours. They are easy to freeze though, so most berry hunters take along an ice chest full of dry ice.

Although most animals can eat the berries with no ill effects, when consumed by humans they produce a very strong euphoria combined with mild hallucinations and the frequent manifestation of a type of psychic power called “hopping”, during which the subject finds themselves seeing, hearing and smelling the same things that somebody else on the planet is experiencing. Distance is not a factor, nor is sex, age or anything else. The experience can be extremely intense, especially if the subject hops into a person as they die.

As might be expected, the United States government has declared Yellowberries a dangerous narcotic and placed hefty prison sentences on their possession, use and sale. As you might also expect, this has caused the price of Yellowberries to go through the roof. A single berry averages about $50.00 and the sale of fake berries is rampant.

The State of Colorado has tried on several occasions to eradicate the plant from the more accessible areas, but the very tiny seeds found in the berries can remain in the soil for years before germinating and then they grow quite rapidly.

Recently, researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder have compiled a list of seven occasions when two people under the influence of Yellowberries “hopped” each other. None of these people knew each other, but they were all vegetarians. It was also discovered that the hops lasted far longer than the usual 10-15 minutes, in some cases lasting as much as 2 hours. Research into this strange phenomenon continues.

The Dancing Elks Hit Broadway

…to sold out shows!

The Doclopedia #232

Altered (United) States: California “Hooray For Hollyweird”

It all started in March of 2001 when a big gathering of Tinseltown movers and shakers were shown the latest creation of Mad Science Labs Inc. The famous computer game/movie SFX/robotics company trotted out a dozen of the most sophisticated robots anyone has ever seen. And every one of them looked, acted like and sounded like a famous deceased movie star. John Wayne, Bette Davis, Bogart, Cagney, Monroe, Karloff…they were indistinguishable from the real thing. Then the folks from MSL Inc told how they had locked up the exclusive rights to all of these and about 300 other dead actors, from huge stars to easily recognized bit players. For a price, they said, these robots could be rented for any film a studio might want to make. Said prices were much lower than the usual going price for big names, so they movers and shakers were very interested.

But the mad scientists weren’t done. They then trotted out various monsters (Dracula, the Wolf Man, King Kong), cartoon characters (the usual suspects), famous animal actors and about 20 all new actors and creatures. By the end of the afternoon, Mad Science Labs Inc had signed enough contracts to triple their net worth. The day the deals were announced, their stock price tripled.

Now, we’ll pass by the lawsuits from the actors unions and other concerned folks, aside from mentioning that they lost most of them. No, our story now moves ahead seven years to the third upgrade of the AI that all of these robots used. You remember, the one that made them all self aware? The one that had them huddle up with the techies of MSL Inc and start cranking out robot duplicates of famous directors and writers and even LIVING actors, writers & directors? Yeah, that upgrade.

Flashing past the inevitable lawsuits, outraged religious fundamentalists, politicizing and eventual robotic shutting down of the entire internet and threats of blackmailing politicians, we come to today, 2020. It’s a great time for both the movie business and movie lovers. It’s not bad for the robotic citizens of California, either. There are 25,000 of them just now and they live and work all over the state. Well, except for the toons, who all chose to live in Cucamonga.

So come visit California, where the movies really do come to life!

Brain Haze

…nothing at all like Purple Haze

My brain has shut down, so no Doclopedia post tonight. Most likely, there wil be two tomorrow. Now, I’ma go sleep.

 

Dorks Versus Storks

…my money is on the storks

The Doclopedia #231

Altered (United) States: Arkansas: The Haunted State

On this particular Earth, paranormal phenomena are abundant and the state of Arkansas has more ghosts that anyplace else on the planet. While the majority of ghosts are found in the mountainous western portion of the state, there are plenty of wandering spirits in the other areas.

One notable ghostly appearance happens every Saturday night near Clarksville. At around 9 pm, a group of around 40 ghosts chases a much smaller group of perhaps 7 along an old roadway. They cover 4.35 miles before fading away and they make quite a lot of noise, primarily shouting and cursing. From glimpses of the clothing the ghosts are wearing, it looks as though they died around 1840 or so. Many tourists come to see “The Great Ghost Chase”, but all viewing must be done from at least 100 yards away. That is because getting much closer could find the viewer getting attacked by one of the ghosts. Such attacks always lead to madness that lasts anywhere from a month to two years.

For the most part, the ghosts of Arkansas are peaceful and never harm humans. Most folks pretty much ignore them, although many an Arkansas native earns good money letting tourists view ghosts on their property.

Giant Squid Never Kid

…or tell jokes

The Doclopedia #230

Altered (United) States: Arizona: Aliens Welcome Here!

Arizona, the Grand Canyon state, was admitted to the union on February 14th, 1912. Six months later, the first beings from another world landed just outside Tombstone and proclaimed their peaceful intentions.

Eight months later, a different species from the same planet landed near Flagstaff.

A year later, quadrupedal aliens from another system arrived in Prescott.

15 months later, two related species from the “Dwistok” system landed in Phoenix.

And so it has gone for the last 70 years. New and different aliens landed every few months to two years. They would number anywhere from a few dozen to a couple of thousand. Most were well adapted for the desert environment, but a couple of species took up residence in the Colorado river and one bunch went off to live in a series of abandoned mines.

Now, in the year 1986, Arizona is home to 78 distinct species of extraterrestrial life. All are intelligent, but most abandoned or even destroyed the technology that brought them here. Interestingly, all of the aliens are oxygen breathers and can exist quite well on Terran foods, although “food” can encompass such things as limestone, used motor oil and human excrement.

This high level of alien species has made Arizona THE tourist site on the planet, as well as the area with the largest amount of scientific research labs. In fact, Arizona makes so much money off of the aliens that there are no taxes whatsoever in the state and every 4-5 years, the state actually gives every citizen a check for a few thousand dollars.

Yep, in Arizona, they really love their aliens.

Not In This Issue: Economic News, Thai Cooking Hints Or Cat Toy Reviews

…but we may have an article on top hats

The Doclopedia #229

Altered (United) States: Alaska: The Real Bear Flag Republic

When the first human beings entered North America via the Bering Land Bridge, they were already quite familiar with the bears of Asia and Siberia. Unfortunately, that did nothing to get them ready for the bears of the New World. These new bears were bigger, much smarter, worked together to do things and could speak to humans. Right off the bat, most humans tried to worship them as gods, but the bears would have none of that. Instead, men and bears learned to live and even work together in mutually beneficial peace.

Fast forward many thousands of years. The smart and civilized bears are almost exclusively found in what will someday become the state of Alaska, although the polar bear version can be found in any country that borders the arctic ice cap and the largest of all the “smart bears”, the California Grizzly, can be found as far south as Central California. In all cases, the bears and the Native Peoples live in harmony.

In most lands that had no contact with Smart Bears, they were deemed a myth. Oddly, no expedition by mighty European hunters to kill or capture one ever returned. This is also why the Russians and the Chinese never had much of a presence in Alaska.

Eventually, however, Europeans did make contact with the bears and these contacts ranged from peaceful (the Russians, British and the Nordic countries) to the less than peaceful (the Catholic Church tried to destroy the “demons”). After a century or two, the basic European plan became “we’ll leave the bears alone”, although the mere existence of another intelligent race played hell with both the science and religion of the day.

When, in much more recent times, the United States bought Alaska (then a part of Canada) from the British (who needed the money to fight two wars), the bears were naturally accorded full citizenship and all rights and privileges, etc, etc.

The Smart Bears and the Native People who live among them have not changed their lifestyles much over the years. They all do enjoy foods from other lands, in moderation, and they are quite fond of a good solid steel reinforced concrete den/home, but generally, they don’t have much use for civilization. Still, the Great Council of Bears & Humans is ultimately the last word in what does or does not happen in Alaska. (The California Grizzlies coexist with non-natives by everyone following a simple rule: Don’t fuck with the grizzlies and they will not kill humans.)

The Alaska of this world is much more pristine than our Alaska. Logging and mining are heavily restricted and monitored. Drilling for oil or natural gas is right out. Commercial fishing and tourism are the biggest moneymakers for the state and both are run on an ecologically sound and sustainable basis.

Naturally, scientists come to Alaska from all over the world to study and speak with the bears. Although the bears will not speak of how or when they achieved sentience, they are a valuable source of information on the natural history of the state.

Giant Golden Geese

…you can imagine what kind of eggs they lay

The Doclopedia #228

Altered (United) States: Alabama: Better Living Through Chemistry

The year was 1875 and Marcus Green and his brother Argus we inventors in Montgomery, Alabama. On March 17th of that year, Marcus built his first steam powered plowing and seeding machine. It would, he was sure, turn the agricultural world on it’s ear and allow poor farmers who rented the machine to do many days work in a few hours. Surely, such an invention would make him rich!

Except that Marcus was a man of color in the post Civil War south and had invented something that might let black farmers (and even the so called “white trash”) compete with the larger plantations and farms. Somehow, Marcus couldn’t see the Klan or the white politicians allowing that. He tried talking to Argus about it, but all the soft spoken chemist had to say was “I’ll try to think of some way to help you out.”

Frustrated, Marcus decided to go to a conference he had heard about, a gathering of black inventors that was to be held in Mobile. After telling Argus that he would be gone a couple of weeks, he packed his bags and left.

Ten days later, on the last day of the conference, Marcus and the other inventors were surprised to see Argus walk in. Then, in his quiet way, Argus addressed the group, telling them that he thought he might have solved “this whole damned race thing”. He told them that he had perfected a chemical compound from various plant extracts and his own blood and had liberally sprinkled it in every train station and stagecoach stop between Montgomery and Mobile. When asked what it would do, he just told them to wait a day or so.

Twenty four hours later, white folks started turning into black folks. Not just getting darker skin, but actually becoming as negroid looking as any ex slave. Within a week, it was estimated that a third of the states white population had become black. Neighboring states started putting armed patrols on the borders to keep “the Negro plague” out. This actually worked pretty well, although the formerly white Alabamans weren’t too damned happy about it.

After about a month, 68% of the formerly white population was black and the government was in chaos. Federal troops (all black) were sent in to restore order and after another few months, by which time only 1 in 15 Alabamans were still white, things calmed down. Having felt what it was like to be a person of color, many of the former whites changed their racist ways. Many of the ones who didn’t either went crazy or got shot or both. Elections were held and to nobody’s surprise, almost the entire state government was black men. Many old laws were repealed, new ones were passed and Marcus and his inventor friends all got very wealthy off of their inventions.

Today, Alabama is a hotbed of technological innovation and still has an 80% black population. The Tuskegee Institute of Technology is one of the world’s foremost centers of higher learning.

And Argus? Well, he got rich (and advanced civil rights by about a century) by going to all of the other states in the South and offering not to unleash his “Negro plague” upon them. All the states had to do was promote true equality and give minorities a fair chance…and give Argus $200,000.00. He never had to wait more than a couple of days for his money.

Mexican Jenny Threw A Party

…and it ended with everybody heading for breakfast at IHOP

The weather has been pretty rainy and crappy here, with yesterday being a windy & rainy pain in the ass. I had to drive in the storm all day and it was the opposite of fun.

In other news, Winker is still doing great healthwise and has her old appetite back. Lucy is in great shape, as usual, but has become a whiney girl where food is concerned. Grace and I are pretty healthy, middle age considered.

In gardening news, it’s too damned wet to do any gardening yet.

More bloggage later.

Surf Cats A-Go-Go

…starring Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello and 43 cats

Ok, folks, here is the final post for The Undead. Starting tomorrow: Altered (United) States.

The Doclopedia #227

The Undead: Ragnar, The Ultimate Skeleton

Ragnar was the most feared of all the Howling Horde. He stood 7’3″ tall, was as strong as any 3 normal men and feared absolutely nothing. Unfortunately, at the tender age of 28, his wife poisoned him so she could then marry his brother.

Despite dying, Ragnar still had a future. Before his body could be burned, his old friend Feorn the Mage stole it and began a reanimation ceremony. The ceremony took a bit longer than Feorn had originally planned, by about 3 years. You see, some of the necessary ingredients were a bit hard to find. The testicles of a Great Troll were especially difficult to acquire.

By the time Feorn got down to the real nitty gritty of the reanimation, rats and maggots had pretty much stripped all the flesh off of Ragnar’s bones. Still, once the ceremony was done, the skeleton was up and about and had Ragnar’s spirit bound to it.

But Feorn wasn’t done yet, no sir. He cast a few more spells and turned the bone into stone, gave Ragnar a high resistance to magic, slapped an aura of fear on him and then hasted the whole deal so Ragnar is faster than any normal skeleton. And then Ragnar was promptly bound by a spell to protect Feorn’s castle.

It would seem that Feorn had it all figured out…except for the part about leaving Ragnar with intelligence. Being able to think meant that Ragnar knew he was stuck in the castle forever. It also meant he could figure out that, although he was bound to protect the castle, he wasn’t bound to protect Feorn. So, if you go to kill the Wizard and take his stuff, Ragnar won’t do much to stop you. Fuck around with the castle, though, and he’ll turn you into a smear on the castle floor.

Feorn is completely unaware of this potentially fatal flaw in his plan.

Video Killed The Radio Star, The Movie Star, The Crooked Cop And The Reporter

…and ended up getting 4 back to back life sentences.

The Doclopedia #226

The Undead: Buck Scales

Back in 1986, Buck was at Daytona Bike Week when he met this cute little Cuban honey named Marita. She invited him back to her place and he took her up on it. Once they got there, it was all fun & games until she tore his jugular open and drank about half of his blood. When Buck woke up, three days had passed and he was on a slab in the morgue feeling confused, scared and very hungry…for blood.

Once he accepted that from now on he’d have to do all of his bikin’ at night, Buck got into the whole vampire thing. He rides from place to place, drinking a few pints of blood along the way and generally living it up. Or unliving it up. Whatever.

Buck is big (6’6″, 400 pounds), average looking, rides a Harley Davidson Low Rider and is generally a big fun loving rough & tumble biker. Until he gets hungry, that is.

Three Good Girls On A Camping Trip

…oh yes, they were very good indeed

The Doclopedia #225

The Undead: Ralph Houseman, Ghost On The Go

Back in 1940, when he was a 25 year old newlywed, Ralph built one of those little “teardrop” trailers. He and his wife, Betty, used it for vacations to all parts of the U.S. Later, when the kids came, they’d hitch the trailer to his old Chevy station wagon and the whole family would hit the road.

In the summer of 1985, while vacationing with Betty and a couple of the grandkids, Ralph suffered a massive heart attack and died in his sleep right there in the trailer. But you see, old Ralph loved that trailer and he just wasn’t ready to give it up. His ghost stuck around, never more that 100 feet from the trailer.

Problem was, it took Ralph nearly 3 years to figure out how to become visible…and Betty sold the trailer a year after he died.

So now, wherever the trailer goes, so does Ralph. Oh, he doesn’t mind it, because he gets to see all sorts of places. Heck, nowadays the trailer is a real collector’s item and the young fella who now owns it has really fixed it up nice. He has even seen Ralph a time or two and hasn’t gotten too scared. Not a bad afterlife for old Ralph.

Vanilla Mice

…yeah, I wasn’t even trying on that one

(A note about the numbering here: Grace has informed me that I misnumbered twice some months ago, so this entry has been numbered to reflect that)

The Doclopedia #224

The Undead:  Nelly Foxworth, Grim Reaper

Nelly died in London in 1901 at the tender age of 22. She was then tapped to become a Grim Reaper, one of the undead who collects the souls of the dead and sends them along to the next life. Nelly enjoys her job very much and, after 105 years of doing it, is very good at it.

Presently working in Tokyo, Nelly reaps anywhere from 1 to 3 souls a day. In her off time, she is an artist, working mostly in acrylics. Her preferred subjects are landscapes and animals. Nelly knows that she is getting close to her final reap, but she doesn’t mind. She has had a good long unlife and has few regrets.

Nelly is 5’3″ tall, weighs 105 pounds, has long red hair and green eyes.

 

 

George, The Little Gnome Who Could Get The Job Done

…but instead said “screw it” and went back to bed

And speaking of going back to bed, I wish I was. Instead, I’ve been up since 7:00 and will soon be on my way to my regular Monday morning Anti-Psoriasis UVB Shake & Bake. After that, of course, comes work.

Those of you who have been following the Doclopedia posts know that a while back I did the entire alphabet. Last night, My Sweet Little Honey Dipped Cinnamon Donut Of Love expressed her amazement over this. She also noted that it was extra work for her as Webmistress Extraodinaire over on The Dociverse website.

I figured that it was time to drop the next bomb on her.

Starting as soon as I finish The Undead week, I’ll be doing Altered United States week. Yep, all 50 states, altered. Hell, I might even throw in Guam & Puerto Rico, too.

Because, ya know, my wife doesn’t have enough web wrangling to do already:)

 

 

 

 

Chicken Pot Spy

…those spies can be anywhere

A few Doc Updates…

  1. I’m getting the gardening jones bad, but the rainy weather keeps me from doing anything but crushing snails on the sidewalk. O Spring, when will thou come in earnest?
  2. I’m formulating plans to start a new series for my gaming group, which has not played in about a year and a half. I think we’ll go with fantasy.
  3. The votes over on my Live Journal blog are running 5 to 1 in favor of me turning it into a total fiction blog.
  4. Winker is still doing very well.
  5. It’s time for me to hit the sack. More bloggage soon.

Doc Tempest VS The Golden Destroyer

…from the June, 1958 issue

Hey, kids, TWO Doclopedia posts today, so I can devote more time to writing tomorrow.

The Doclopedia #220

The Undead: Zombie X

As we all know, there have been 5 Zombie Risings, with the first occurring in 1957 and the most recent in 1998. It was during the last Rising that Zombie X was created.

From what evidence has been gathered, it would appear that Zombie X was originally Jason Kesselman, of Council Bluffs, Iowa. His friends say that in the weeks just before the Rising, Jason was acting strangely and exhibiting more strength, stamina and agility than he ever had before. This would be in line with what is known to happen when the mysterious “X gene” is present in a human being. Unfortunately, Jason was attacked, bitten, infected and killed by one or more zombies on the first day of the Rising. Perhaps due to his mutant metabolism, he Rose in a mere 2 hours, not the normal 6 to 12 hours.

Although the Rising was fully contained and all normal zombies were destroyed, Zombie X was far too fast and strong to catch. He was also very smart, by zombie standards, having an intelligence just a bit below human normal. Still, he is a zombie and therefore needs to consume human flesh and brains on a regular basis. Thankfully, his mutant state seems to have neutralized the infectious aspect of his zombie bite.

Zombie X stands about 5’10” tall and has white hair. His eyes are bright green and he is far more muscular than the usual zombie. His body shows many wounds, but he is not rotting in the usual zombie manner. He can still speak a little and has been known to use this ability to lure tasty humans into grabbing range.

 

The Doclopedia #221

The Undead: Heather Addams, Teenage Ghoul

If Heather had known that magic was, like REAL, she totally wouldn’t have joined her friends Raven and Morgan in that coven thingy. But she did, and, like, that one spell went SO wrong and stuff.

In fact, they all died, but Heather didn’t stay dead…she became a ghoul. Oh, she didn’t know it at first, but when she began hungering for the flesh of the dead, she got a clue. It was like, WAY disgusting at first, but pretty soon she was way into that rorring flesh taste.

Now, Heather tries to lead a normal life, but it’s not easy. Her skin is getting gray and her teeth are getting sharp. Don’t even ask about the killer B.O. As for finding dead bodies to eat…well, she still has the remains of her dead friends, but once they run out, she might need to create a few new corpses.

Who says ghouls just want to have fun?

Bucky & Squint Get Lost In The Ozone

…while listening to Commander Cody

Yo ho, Gentle Readers, it’s the start of The Undead Week!

The Doclopedia #219

The Undead: Bob Anderson, Vegetarian Vampire

Bob is NOT a vegetarian. He does, however, have to feed on the blood of vegetarians. Vegan’s blood is the best, but the blood of regular vegetarians is ok. Nothing pisses Bob off as much as accidentally biting a “cheater” who sneaks meat when nobody is watching.

He became a vampire when he was bitten by an ex-girlfriend who ran a vegetarian restaurant in Half Moon Bay, California. Now, he hangs out at trendy veggie eateries in his home town of New York City. He particularly likes vegetarians who frequent Indian and Thai restaurants. Mmmmm…spicy.

Bob is a 34 year old white guy with light brown hair, brown eyes and a slender build. His day job is being a stockbroker. His favorite music is jazz. His favorite food is busty redheads.

Master Detective Miko And The Demon Monkey

…more fake anime

Here’s the final entry for Tiny Folk Week. Next theme: The Undead.

The Doclopedia #218

Tiny Folk: Badiban Storyteller

Nobody knows exactly how old Badiban Storyteller is, but most agree that he is at least 300 years old. That is pretty amazing, since the average Tiny Folk person only lives to about 75. Still, folks have been hearing Badiban tell his tales since shortly after the Tiny Folk came to America and that was just over 300 years ago.

Badiban looks about 40. He has long blond hair, blue eyes and tanned skin. He dresses in suede leather and has a backpack in which he carries all his earthly belongings…including at least one volume of his “Book of Tales”. When he arrives at a Clan’s home, the people feed him and give him lodging in exchange for hearing his stories. He never stays for more than a few days, then he is off on his never ending journey.

Or is he? In fact, my children, Badiban is not one person, but anywhere from 18 to 32 members of Clan Badiban. The home location of the clan is somewhere in the Colorado Rockies and no other clan even suspects its existence. The clan was founded 300 years ago to chronicle the history of Tiny Folk in America. The various Badiban Storytellers all look quite similar and generally spend about 20 years on the road before retiring. There are thousands of volumes in the Tales and new Storytellers are always in training.

 

After The Change Came

A Day For Dinosaurs

As we all know, the Council of Wizards did a whole lot of stuff back in the weeks right after The Change. They set up the Towns & Cities, they created the Lunar Portals, they helped everyone adjust, etc, etc. All great works, certainly.

But in my opinion, their best act was to bring back the dinosaurs.

Not ALL of the dinosaurs, of course, but large and stable populations that live in areas well protected from incursion by humans and other pests/potential protein sources. Those dinosaur habitats often have upwards of 50 species living in a single area that measures 30 or so miles on a side. Webcams allow us all to see these sanctuaries any time we like, sometimes from a dino point of view, but it’s not like seeing the real thing up close.

Once in a while, the Wizards will gather up a few dinosaurs and put them on display for we puny humans to gawk at. Such a display is going on here in San Francisco today. The are 18 species of dinosaur here, including a Carnotaurus and a humongous Seismosaurus. Man, that is one bigass hunk of plant eater. As is often the case in these displays, the triceratops is getting a whole lot of attention. Of course, if there were any sort of velociraptors here, they’d be the stars, but there aren’t any.

Anyway we had a great time looking at them and we even got to pet and pose for pictures with the above mentioned triceratops.

Fun Fact: A triceratops who is calm and not feeling threatened is about as gentle as the average cow.

And going back to my mention of the Lunar Portals, I will soon be posting the emails I sent to my nephew Zach (who is a Life Support Specialist up on the Narnia L5 colony) back when The Change was all new and shiny.

We will be leaving San Francisco in about 2 hours, heading out for Yosemite, where we’ll spend the night. We’ll all get back to Casa Cross about 6 pm tomorrow, where we’ll spend a day resting up before going to SacCon.

A Night For Apologizing Drunkenly

Yes, yes, I’ve been away from here for a few days. The trip from San Francisco to Yosemite took a strange turn when, upon our arrival at Yosemite Village, I was whisked away by the hotel management and asked to mediate a disagreement between the Giants (who live in the high Sierras, including Yosemite) and a group of Mountain Trolls from the Coast Range who have crossed the Central Valley and set up shop near Yosemite Village.

Quick note: Unlike most regular trolls, Mountain Trolls are huge, stupid and violent.

Long story short: I talked to both sides for several hours until a Mountain Troll decided to knock me about 30 feet into a pond. At that point the Giants, knowing that my sister Rosie and brother in law Mike are Giants, stopped playing nice and beat most of the Trolls half to death.

I then spent the next day drinking glass after glass of truly nasty tasting healing draught that Grace made from plants and who knows what else. Bear shit and toadstools, for all I know. It did work, however, and I’m all healed up. I doubt the Mountain Trolls can say the same, but fuck them anyway.

Anyway, we arrived back here at the farm Thursday afternoon and all proceeded to rest up for SacCon, which actually started today, but really starts with parties on Friday night.

So far, the con has been great. My friends Peter and Brian co-GMed a Pulp era adventure with me. Peter ran the beginning third, Brian the middle and then I ran the trilling climax. It was pretty sweet. I mean, dude, ZEPPELINS versus NAZI ROCKET MEN!

Right now, I am in the Rockin’ Rocket bar on top of the convention center hotel. There are about 250 gamers in here dancing and singing and generally having a ball. Daniel, boyfriend to the lovely and talented Avis, is joining me in trying various tequilas. We are about to take shot #8, I think. This might take awhile because he is Mage (with a Mage’s high resistance to alcohol) and I, as part of the whole mutant diplomat package, have a high resistance to all poisons. But for science, we’ll keep drinking. We are both lightly buzzed. Or maybe drunk. Whatever.

At the same time, Daniel, Avis, Mary, Spike, Lori and several others are helping me plot out a world & quests for QuestWorld. The non drinkers (all three of them) are taking notes for me. Should make good reading when we all sober up someday.

Anyway, back to creating quests and partying. More blog-o-rama later.

A Day For Saying “Yeah, That’s MY Wife!”

My hangover was much less than I expected this morning. Still, I’m moving a bit slower today, so as not to cause my head to fall off.

High point of the con so far? My Sweet Angel, Grace, riding in on Skooskorix, the Official Dragon of SacCon. Skoos is a big girl, even among dragons. 310 feet from nose to tip of tail. And half again that in wingspan. Thankfully, she’s about as sweet tempered and friendly as anyone you’ll ever meet.

So, I’m of to be part of the always popular “Gaming Before The Change” seminar, followed by a good old fashioned dungeon crawl being GMed by Peter. After that, there may be purchases made in the Dealer’s Room.

Walk Like A Carthaginian

…nope, doesn’t have the same catchy sound

WooHoo, Wednesday post is up way early!

The Doclopedia #217

Tiny Folk: Ehdan Underbarn

Ehdan and his clan, the Red Rooster Clan, have lived on the Yoder family farm for well over 150 years. While some of the clan live beneath the farmhouse, most of them live under the huge barn. Life on the farm means hard work, but there is also great comfort and plenty of good eating.

Although the Tiny Folk raise many crops and animals of their own, they still harvest some things that the Giant Folk grow. Most notably, they gather up corn, soybeans, apples, tomatoes, peppers, squash and eggs. They also trade goods with other clans in the area, generally at the Spring and Fall Harvest Festivals.

Unlike many Tiny Folk who live in towns and such, Ehdan and his Clan often do little things around the house and farm to help the Giant Folks. Ehdan is particularly fond of sorting through the nuts, bolts, screws and nails in the workshop and putting them into neat piles. The farmer thinks his kids are doing it.

Recently, the Ehdan and his brothers have figured out how to milk a goat (no easy task for such small people), so now they don’t have to steal milk from the milkhouse to make cheese. Now if they can just figure out how to kill, butcher and transport a hog in a single night, they’ll really be doing well.

Ehdan has long red hair, green eyes and a rather big pair of ears. He is married to Roobah and they have 5 children.

 

AFTER THE CHANGE CAME

A Night For Going To Bed Very Late, But Happy.

The barbecue party was hella fun and there was less flesh left on that pig than if it had been dipped into a pond full of piranhas. The festivities went on until about 7 PM, then everyone that wasn’t actually staying at our house went home.

And then it was GAME TIME! We busted out boardgames, card games, online games and RPGs. I ran a short TOON game for Peter, Holly, Mary, Avis, Miranda and Roscoe, then we joined Spike and several other folks for three rousing games of Kill Doctor Lucky!, Settlers of Catan and the newest edition of the Race Across The World card game. The new edition includes cards that abduct you to Wizard Time and one card that throws a Dragon Breeding Zone in your way.

On the online game front, I joined Doc Mystery (one of several guests who arrived just after my last post went up), Lori Curley (ditto), Peter, and Grace in playing through two of the new QuestWorld: Showdown dimensions. These were the “Cowboys & Amazons” world and the Robin Laws designed “Doomed Planet” world. Both were very well done, with Cowboys & Amazons having a much lighter tone and 4 pretty easy quests. Doomed World only has 2 quests, but they’re pretty damned hard and the second one has a time limit or you’ll die in a super volcano eruption. At some point, we’ll all get back together online to tackle a few more worlds. I’m told this edition of QuestWorld has at least 16 worlds up front and maybe 7 more that you can stumble upon if you do quests in the proper order.

Once the gaming was over, most everybody went off to bed. Me, I sat up a bit longer chewing the fat with Avis and Spike, but now it’s off to bed. It’s a good thing we can sleep on the train, because I’ll be up again in a mere 5 hours.

 

 

A Day For Riding A Train, Albeit Not A Crazy One

I was torn from the arms of Morpheus at 6:00 AM by my house elf/gentleman’s gentleman, Ben, telling me in his Alec Guinness sound alike voice that I should “awaken and greet the day”. I told him to piss off. He then snapped his fingers and I was in a cold shower. There are times that I hate house elves.

And since I’ve been asked before, yes, his name is taken from Ben Kenobi and no, he will not under any circumstances say “Use the Force, Luke”. I’ve tried a hundred times to get him to.

Anyway, after a loud scream and a fast shower, I was dressed and sitting at the dining room table sipping tea and watching various friends wander in. Grace, as always, looked like she had been awake for hours and was smelling like new cut hay.

Fun Fact About Green Ladies: They always smell great, like some sort of flower or herb or other vegetation.

Once most everyone was present, Annie produced the huge and varied breakfast, then she and Ben left for their annual day off. I’ve often wondered what House Elves do at the Hoedown, but never thought to ask. Might be better not to know.

Once everybody was fed, we schlepped our baggage out to the bus stop (1/4 mile from the house) and caught the Anibus to the train station. Today’s Anibus was Rudy, our regular catbus. He’s a very dependable fellow and usually shares the route with Cisco, a bunnybus.

30 minutes later, we were in what passes for “downtown” Sacramento and a few minutes after that we were on the #3 Valley to Coast Loop Express and heading west towards the coast just north of Bodega Bay.

The trip was delightful, with great scenery and great company. Near Sonoma, we saw a pretty big herd of land whales, with the big bull measuring at least 50 feet long. Once the train was running along the coastline, we saw several sea serpents on the beaches, this being the birthing season for them.

We got into Mendocino at about 1:15 and it was time for lunch, then a bit of sitting around on the ocean facing veranda of the Mendocino Hotel. Now it’s time to round up the troops and stroll around town, with stops at the various candy makers, wine tasting rooms and craft shops.

The bloggage, she will continue later.

 

A Night For Reporting In

Since I am about to collapse from exhaustion, this will be a quick update.

We are in San Francisco until tomorrow afternoon. Springfest is going on here and we’ve visited maybe 14 neighborhoods, all of which tried to feed us to an early grave. The pastries in the Fae area of the Noe Valley probably took 10 years off my cardiac life.

My old friend Jim Hong took all of us on a tour of Underground Chinatown. It was by turns fascinating, creepy, funny and scary. Also: Chinese Dragons? Surprisingly sentimental about the old country.

Several of us guys tried our hand at Hill Surfing, which is like snowboarding without snow on steep ass San Francisco streets. I’m surprised that we all survived with only minimal bruising. Not a surprise was the fact that no women gave it a try.

Time to hit the bed. More bloggage soon.

 

Tales Of Brave Ulysses S. Grant

…it’s a reference to a song by Cream

Here is Tuesday’s Doclopedia post, late, but still on Tuesday.

The Doclopedia #216

Tiny Folk: Zini Googler

Zini has always been fascinated by the high tech gadgets of the Giant Folk. At first, her fellow Zoo Dweller Clan members thought she was a bit daft, but nowadays they hold her in high regard. You see, Zini is plugged into the Net.

About 3 years ago, Zini and some friends managed to “acquire” a top of the line laptop computer. With a bit of work (and a “borrowed” corporate credit card), Zini was soon online and accessing all sorts of entertaining and informative websites. True, she has to use “push poles” to work the keyboard…and sometimes drafts her boyfriend into helping push keys…but she has become an invaluable part of her clan.

Over the years, Zini has amassed tons of software and peripherals. She is also active on several discussion boards and keeps a blog. Recently, she has discovered a secret website founded by another high tech loving Tiny Person. In fact, there are nearly 50 Tiny Folk worldwide who are online and posting to the site!

Zini’s current project has been to adapt a Blackberry keypad to interface with her laptop, thus making life way easier for her. See, she got the information on how to do it from a website…

AFTER THE CHANGE CAME

A Day For Getting Things Ready And Making Con Plans

Since I’ll be very short on time for anything but running around getting things ready for our out of town guest arrivals tomorrow (one of whom, Avis, is here already to help out, what with “travel time” being pretty much meaningless to her) and the big barbecue bash on Saturday, this will be a short post. Mmmm…barbecue…pig in the ground tomorrow night, baby!

Anyway, I have a few minutes for answering email (which I am days behind on) and making a couple of notes here…

1: Sin has found a bunch of my old web postings from just after the Change, so I’ll be putting them up on here from time to time. Looks like they are mostly from the day before Change Day up to a couple of days after Halloween, 1999.

2: Grace and I have our con schedule laid out and it looks like this…

SacCon (Sacramento): I’ll be there straight through from Saturday morning through Monday afternoon, plus the Friday Night Pre-Con party. Grace will be there from Sunday morning on.

Denver Gamefest (Denver, Colorado): The whole family (Grace, Lily, Roscoe & I) will be there.

QuestCon (San Francisco, California): Roscoe & I will be there.

Kaiju Con (Tokyo, Japan): (The whole family, plus several friends)

Origins (Baltimore, Maryland): (The whole family, plus Joneses)

ArcataCon (Arcata, California): (Just me)

AdventureCon 10 (Cork, Ireland): (The whole family, plus friends)

WebCon7 (London, England): (I’ll be at the live portion in London and Roscoe will be at the live gig in San Francisco, but we’ll both be connected to the estimated 3 MILLION attendees worldwide via the internet and Dream Draught)

GenCon (Milwaukee, Wisconsin): (The whole family at the bestest con EVER!)

WorldCon (Seattle, Washington): (The whole family, though Grace will be leaving on Saturday afternoon on Green Lady business)

Games Weekend (Austin, Texas): (Grace & I, plus several other Hobart alumni. This is the annual school gaming con.)

SacCon 2 (Sacramento, California): (The whole family, plus friends. After this one, I sleep for about a week.)

WHEW! Whole lotta conning & traveling there.

A Day For Partying!

It’s all about the friends, family and party time here at Casa Cross today. We have about a dozen friends visiting, plus my parents, my gnomish brothers & sisters, my brother Kelly, my cousin Wendy (who is a witch), my niece Molly, assorted aunts & uncles and a lot of other folks.

The pig won’t be coming out of the barbecue pit for a couple more hours, so everyone is just hanging out. Dad, Uncles Carl & Robert and a few other folks brought musical instruments and we are being serenaded with country & western, blues and rockabilly music.

Annie & Ben are preparing a lavish spread to accompany the pig. They have the day off tomorrow, even though house elves hate taking days off. They’ll be at the big House Elf Hoedown over at Clear Lake.

From where I sit, I can see Grace, Wendy and a couple of other women talking about medicinal herbs…Spike Y Jones, Roscoe, Peter Hildreth and our neighbors Linda & Shanira discussing recent world events…Kelly (who is a zebra striped centaur) giving rides to squealing masses of children…Mary Jones, my Aunt Amy, Holly Hildreth, my mom and Lily all commenting on the music…and many others doing everything from dancing to playing boardgames to just sitting back with a cold beverage.

Tomorrow, all of our visitors will join Grace and I on the train to Mendocino. After a day and night there, we’ll take another train down to San Francisco for a couple of days, then back here by Thursday afternoon.

And now Miranda Jones has asked me to dance with her, so I’m outta here.

 

Spice In The Ice Cream

…mmmm, chili & lemon flavor

AFTER THE CHANGE CAME

An Early Morning For Posting More Old Writing

Another piece I did for the Times of Luna, circa 2003.

Of Wizards & Mages

You folks on the Moon, lacking Magic as you do, have a bit of confusion about the differences between Wizards and Mages. This piece is going to help you out with that.

At the basic level, it boils down to two main points: the amount of magical power they can control and how “normal” they act. Believe me, while there are some strange behaving Mages out there, they aren’t anywhere near as peculiar as the average Wizard.

So, Wizards wield enormous magical power, especially when they work in groups, which they often do. Wizards can raise and lower mountains, turn a desert into a lake, shrink a 300 foot long dragon down to the size of a mouse or bring an extinct species back to life using whatever living animals they choose (most of the dinosaurs alive today are the spawn of chickens turned into dinosaurs 11 years ago). Wizards can teleport, read minds, control the weather and do all manner of other miraculous things. They are almost totally immune to poisons, disease or other things that kill mere humans. They will live at least another 2 or 3 centuries.

And they are all screwy as a Daffy Duck cartoon. How so, you ask?

Before the Change, they were almost all writers (especially science fiction or fantasy), artists, actors, game designers, comedians, scientists or, oddly enough, librarians. Some of them had been dead for several decades. After the change they were all a bunch of rather hippie looking young folks who wore outrageous clothing, had wildly colored skin/hair/eyes (and remember, I’m a yellow eyed Mutant) and adopted new names like “Wizard Bongo Longo” or “Wizard Kilimanjaro” or “Wizard Trixie Pixie” or “The Wizard With No Name” or “Wizard Robotix”. Now, I have spent much of my life hanging out with gaming and science fiction geeks (including several of the Wizards before the Change), so I’m pretty well acquainted with strange and idiosyncratic people. Wizards win the gold medal in that competition.

Which is not to say that Wizards aren’t nice folks, because they are, but you can’t go expecting a whole lot of normal behavior from them. They do things their way and you have to adapt to it.

One other thing about Wizards: when they are in their Wizardly realm (some sort of pocket universe, I’m told) they live in Wizard Time, which is way different from our good old dependable time. The first time I was summoned before a group of Wizards to discuss how I was going to mediate a peaceful end to a war between Orks and Weerloos, I spent two hours in wizard time. When they teleported me home, I found that I had been gone seven minutes. My next visit to Wizard Time, I was there for a day and a half, but when I got home, I found that four days had passed. A friend of mine went to Wizard Time for six hours and came home an hour before she left! Not wanting to cause a paradox, she snuck out her back door, hid out until she left, then went home. So, Wizard Time is just as strange as the Wizards are.

Mages are nowhere near as strange as Wizards, although there are some doozies out there. Most Mages have pretty ordinary names and dress in a fairly normal manner, although they all seem to like wearing hats and brightly colored sneakers (said the Mutant who owns nearly 1,000 bandanas and hasn’t worn any shoes except red Converse high tops in the last 50 years). They live in our regular time, but their homes are often pretty odd looking, if you can take the word of a Mutant who lives in a house substantially off the norm. My best friend’s boyfriend is a Mage and his house looks like a giant cheeseburger. Inside, it is mostly decorated in what I like to call “Early American Diner”. To be fair, he does cook a hell of a cheeseburger,

Mages have much less power that Wizards, but even so, they usually know a dozen or so fairly powerful spells. One of our local Mages specializes in both Healing spells and Reshaping spells. She makes a pretty good living healing people and reshaping raw materials into whatever form you’d like. She fashioned all of the oddly shaped windows (and their frames) that my wife and I have in our home.

Mages have a high resistance to poisons and diseases, but only a slightly greater than normal healing factor where injuries are concerned. Most of them will probably live 150 years or so. Almost all of them have familiars with whom they can communicate and draw certain powers from. Daniel, the Mage with the cheeseburger home, has a red fox named Opie as his familiar.

While many of the New Races have some magical abilities, only a few of them can match the versatility and power of Mages. The only ones who even approach Wizard level power are Green Ladies (when they act together) and, if she really exists, the Faerie Queen.

I hope this piece has answered some of your questions and I’ll see you back here in the Times next week.

A Day For Taking A Ride

My Sweet Little Pacific Blue Whistling Duck Of Love has suggested that today would be a fun day for a ride and a picnic, so we shall be on our way soon. Sirroco (Rocky) and Bellflower (Belle), our mules, are saddled up and waiting. Roscoe, Lily and a picnic basket the size of a bale of hay are coming with us. Apparently our house elves, Ben and Annie, think that we might not be back for a week or so, since that basket has enough food to feed 20.

I’m not sure where we’ll ride to, but since we live just 2 miles from the Ring Road, I’m thinking we’ll head into the outlands that used to be Orangevale and Folsom. I may take my fishing pole along, since the river is running high and that means the Giant Perch are active for about a month before heading out to sea. I’m sure Annie would like a few 10 pounders for the freezer.

We have no great plans for the rest of the week, but come Friday night we’ll be entertaining several guests from out of town who will be doing some sightseeing before we all head off to SacCon next Saturday. Naturally, I’ll be at the con, although Grace will miss Saturday due to having to put in an appearance at the Magefest in San Jose. Those mages, they love the Green Ladies…and the Dragons, since Skooskorix will be there (and is, in fact, Grace’s transportation back to Sacramento on Sunday morning).

And now, I am off to ride a mule, eat great food, go fishing and then dally in the tall grass with a fair maiden.

 

It’s All Fun And Games Until You Open That Vial Of Doomsday Virus

…oops, my bad

Hey, look, a post that isn’t about a Doclopedia entry!

First off, if you read this blog, THANK YOU! I’m thinking I lost a bunch of readers when I left Live journal.

Secondly, now that Winker is doing so much better, I can get back to helping Grace get the website into better looking shape and add a shitload of new content, then start packaging up PDF products to sell.

Thirdly, I don’t see me going to GenCon this year, so I might go down to KublaCon for an afternoon. Probably won’t run any games, but I’ll be looking to play in one or two.

Ok, time to go write. More bloggage soon.

Naughty Woodchucks Teased My Honeycreepers

…they called them wimps and wussies

The Doclopedia #216

Tiny Folk: Darini Ratslayer

When you’re only 6 inches tall, lots of creatures want to kill you and eat you. Snakes, cats, dogs, rats, spiders, weasels…the list is long. That’s why Darini and her Predator Scouts are there to kill or drive away these hungry creatures first.

The Scouts use swords, bows & poisoned arrows, traps…whatever will get the job done. For rats, they usually set out poison, but sometimes they have to get up close and personal. Dogs and cats can be kept away by certain foul smelling concoctions, but snakes and spiders usually need killing. The worst, most dangerous creature is the weasel. Weasels are terribly fast, very tough and bloodthirsty as hell. Fortunately, weasels are also pretty rare.

Sometimes the Scouts have to drive people away Giant Folk, usually hikers or hunters. They do this by using things like skunk musk, fake rattlesnake sounds and the ever popular “Bigfoot howl”. That last one has the unfortunate side effect of eventually attracting Bigfoot hunters, but Darini and her crew have learned that they can be lured away by a few cleverly crafted “Bigfoot footprints”.

Darini is a muscular woman with red hair and blue eyes. She has many tattoos and usually wears chain mail armor. Her favorite weapon is a two handed sword. Predator Scout legend says that she once singlehandedly killed 10 rats in one day.

Booze, Broads, Bad Boys & Benjamins

…a neo-noir story

The Doclopedia #215

Tiny Folk: Oba Finder

Oba is one of the Tiny Folk that lives in a Giant Folk city. His clan, the North Park Clan, live on the north end of a large park on the edge of town. They make their homes underground, using building materials that they find in Giant Folks homes, yards, shops and dumps. Much of this material is found and sold by the large Finder family.

Every day, Oba Finder goes out with his wife, Nami, and looks for useful items. Not long ago, he found several boxes of old ceramic tiles. These sold very well among his clan and helped finance an expedition to the far off recycling center, where several cartloads of valuable metals and plastics were gathered. In the future, Oba has plans to make a late night raid into a Home Depot store.

Oba stands tall for a tiny person, measuring nearly 7 inches. He has short black hair, brown eyes and a tattoo on his right arm. Oba and Nami have 3 children, all of whom work in the family business

The Olive War Incident

…after which, our mothers actually breathed fire

The Doclopedia #214Tiny Folk: Captain Modan Wanderer

Captain Modan Wanderer, a member of the White Rock Clan, is also the most legendary explorer of all the High Mountain Clans. He has traveled many hundreds of miles in his career and his maps have proven invaluable to the Tiny Folk. He has battled many hungry animals, birds and insects. He has even infiltrated Giant Folk buildings in search of supplies. If he was a human, he’d wear a fedora and his last name would be Jones.

The Captain is a man in his mid 40’s with long brown hair, a large mustache and bright blue eyes. He is well built and ruggedly handsome. There are precious few women who would not welcome him into their homes…and their beds. Despite all of these feminine attentions (which he does take advantage of), he has not yet chosen a wife.

When he is on an expedition, the Captain is usually accompanied by his team of 6 associates, the Searchers. The whole team rides well trained ground squirrels and carry bows and swords. Expeditions often last for 6 months or more and the risk to life and limb are very real.

Rumor has it that the Captain has decided that his next expedition will be to the ocean, which is over 100 miles away and would require a voyage down the Great River. The trip back would take at least 10 months.

AFTER THE CHANGE CAME

An Early Morning For Posting More Old Writing

Another piece I did for the Times of Luna, circa 2003.

Of Wizards & Mages

You folks on the Moon, lacking Magic as you do, have a bit of confusion about the differences between Wizards and Mages. This piece is going to help you out with that.

At the basic level, it boils down to two main points: the amount of magical power they can control and how “normal” they act. Believe me, while there are some strange behaving Mages out there, they aren’t anywhere near as peculiar as the average Wizard.

So, Wizards wield enormous magical power, especially when they work in groups, which they often do. Wizards can raise and lower mountains, turn a desert into a lake, shrink a 300 foot long dragon down to the size of a mouse or bring an extinct species back to life using whatever living animals they choose (most of the dinosaurs alive today are the spawn of chickens turned into dinosaurs 11 years ago). Wizards can teleport, read minds, control the weather and do all manner of other miraculous things. They are almost totally immune to poisons, disease or other things that kill mere humans. They will live at least another 2 or 3 centuries.

And they are all screwy as a Daffy Duck cartoon. How so, you ask?

Before the Change, they were almost all writers (especially science fiction or fantasy), artists, actors, game designers, comedians, scientists or, oddly enough, librarians. Some of them had been dead for several decades. After the change they were all a bunch of rather hippie looking young folks who wore outrageous clothing, had wildly colored skin/hair/eyes (and remember, I’m a yellow eyed Mutant) and adopted new names like “Wizard Bongo Longo” or “Wizard Kilimanjaro” or “Wizard Trixie Pixie” or “The Wizard With No Name” or “Wizard Robotix”. Now, I have spent much of my life hanging out with gaming and science fiction geeks (including several of the Wizards before the Change), so I’m pretty well acquainted with strange and idiosyncratic people. Wizards win the gold medal in that competition.

Which is not to say that Wizards aren’t nice folks, because they are, but you can’t go expecting a whole lot of normal behavior from them. They do things their way and you have to adapt to it.

One other thing about Wizards: when they are in their Wizardly realm (some sort of pocket universe, I’m told) they live in Wizard Time, which is way different from our good old dependable time. The first time I was summoned before a group of Wizards to discuss how I was going to mediate a peaceful end to a war between Orks and Weerloos, I spent two hours in wizard time. When they teleported me home, I found that I had been gone seven minutes. My next visit to Wizard Time, I was there for a day and a half, but when I got home, I found that four days had passed. A friend of mine went to Wizard Time for six hours and came home an hour before she left! Not wanting to cause a paradox, she snuck out her back door, hid out until she left, then went home. So, Wizard Time is just as strange as the Wizards are.

Mages are nowhere near as strange as Wizards, although there are some doozies out there. Most Mages have pretty ordinary names and dress in a fairly normal manner, although they all seem to like wearing hats and brightly colored sneakers (said the Mutant who owns nearly 1,000 bandanas and hasn’t worn any shoes except red Converse high tops in the last 50 years). They live in our regular time, but their homes are often pretty odd looking, if you can take the word of a Mutant who lives in a house substantially off the norm. My best friend’s boyfriend is a Mage and his house looks like a giant cheeseburger. Inside, it is mostly decorated in what I like to call “Early American Diner”. To be fair, he does cook a hell of a cheeseburger,

Mages have much less power that Wizards, but even so, they usually know a dozen or so fairly powerful spells. One of our local Mages specializes in both Healing spells and Reshaping spells. She makes a pretty good living healing people and reshaping raw materials into whatever form you’d like. She fashioned all of the oddly shaped windows (and their frames) that my wife and I have in our home.

Mages have a high resistance to poisons and diseases, but only a slightly greater than normal healing factor where injuries are concerned. Most of them will probably live 150 years or so. Almost all of them have familiars with whom they can communicate and draw certain powers from. Daniel, the Mage with the cheeseburger home, has a red fox named Opie as his familiar.

While many of the New Races have some magical abilities, only a few of them can match the versatility and power of Mages. The only ones who even approach Wizard level power are Green Ladies (when they act together) and, if she really exists, the Faerie Queen.

I hope this piece has answered some of your questions and I’ll see you back here in the Times next week.

A Day For Taking A Ride

My Sweet Little Pacific Blue Whistling Duck Of Love has suggested that today would be a fun day for a ride and a picnic, so we shall be on our way soon. Sirroco (Rocky) and Bellflower (Belle), our mules, are saddled up and waiting. Roscoe, Lily and a picnic basket the size of a bale of hay are coming with us. Apparently our house elves, Ben and Annie, think that we might not be back for a week or so, since that basket has enough food to feed 20.

I’m not sure where we’ll ride to, but since we live just 2 miles from the Ring Road, I’m thinking we’ll head into the outlands that used to be Orangevale and Folsom. I may take my fishing pole along, since the river is running high and that means the Giant Perch are active for about a month before heading out to sea. I’m sure Annie would like a few 10 pounders for the freezer.

We have no great plans for the rest of the week, but come Friday night we’ll be entertaining several guests from out of town who will be doing some sightseeing before we all head off to SacCon next Saturday. Naturally, I’ll be at the con, although Grace will miss Saturday due to having to put in an appearance at the Magefest in San Jose. Those mages, they love the Green Ladies…and the Dragons, since Skooskorix will be there (and is, in fact, Grace’s transportation back to Sacramento on Sunday morning).

And now, I am off to ride a mule, eat great food, go fishing and then dally in the tall grass with a fair maiden.