Handsome Joe Goes Camping

…lots of things to sniff in the woods!

My Advice To Young Men

Young nerdy men often approach me and ask, “Mr. Cross, how can I become a shining example of male coolness like you?” Of course, other young men, much less nerdy than the first group, approach me and ask, “Can I see some ID? What is your business here?”, but this piece is not about them.

For the former group, I offer up a few suggestions that can really boost your coolness factor, especially among women.

1: Listen to what women have to say.

Oh, sure, you won’t understand some of it and other parts might cause your eyes to glaze over, but keep listening. Sometimes, you’ll learn things you might not want to know. Much of this will revolve around the menstrual cycle. Other times, you’ll learn valuable info, such as sexual preferences and who has geeky leanings.

WARNING: Don’t be too good of a listener or you’ll run the risk of moving into “You are SUCH a good friend!” territory, at which point you might as well be her gay shopping buddy.

2: Go easy on the geekery.

Look, buddy, I’m one of your tribe, a roleplaying gamer/Whovian/Star Trek loving techie fanboy, but even I don’t want to hear about your friggin’ 15th level Barbarian War Mage and his +5 Sword of Headlopping. A little geekiness goes a long way and too much will hang the “Too Geeky To Get Laid” sign around your neck.

Fortunately, geeks are way cooler than back in my day and there are plenty of geek girls out there. Still, ixnay on the nerdy rants.

3: Don’t dress like a trendoid, but don’t be a slob.

Trendoids all look the same and slobby geeks all smell the same and both are pretty damned disgusting. Find a look you like that isn’t too strange, go with it and practice proper hygene.

4: For sexual success with women, learn about the female body.

Find a woman (older is better) who will let you explore, show you what is where and tell you how to do things. If this requires that money changes hands, so be it. It’s money well spent, my droogies.

I do have a few tips on this subject…

First off, Caress, Don’t Grope. Try to control your enthusiam. Her body isn’t going to suddenly disappear.

Secondly, Learn To Give Good Oral Sex. Really, cunnilingus is your friend.

Third, except when it gets to extremes on either end of the scale, Size Does Not Matter. Odds are, you have a perfectly good johnson, so stop worrying about shit you can’t change.

5: Learn to cook.

Yes, women love a man who can put them on the express train to Orgasm City, but they really love a guy who can feed them a great home cooked meal before hand. Actually, if you do the latter, it often leads to you getting a crack at the former. On a related note, if the only things you ever learn to do around the house are clean a toilet and wash dishes, you’ll still fall into the “Worth Keeping” category, all things being equal.

6: Shut the hell up and let her pick the movie once in a while.

Yeah, I know, “Iron Man 5” is coming out on Friday and you want to go see it more than anything. Well, brother, if she wants to go see “Weepy Chick Flick 3”, you’ll score big points by manning up and taking her to see it. Preferably at an early screening, so that after a nice home cooked dinner and some hot sex, she won’t mind if you go out and see “Iron Man 5”.

Ok, enough of this lecturing. I must go call my geeky, sexy, chick flick hating, home cooking loving wife. More bloggage later


After The Change Came: Series 2

Sin And The Family

Greetings from Charleston, South Carolina, my hometown and birthplace. I’m here until Wednesday morning, then it’s a quick Wizard Portal home for Babe and I.

I’ve got to say that my parents and family are just great to hang out with. So unlike the old days when most of my family was all wrapped up in what the neighbors thought and keeping up our family name. Now that most of them are gnomes, Christmas is a bunch of fun. To be honest though, I’m still a bit dazed to see my dad laughing and joking and happy all the time. Seeing my mom actually cooking food was pretty brain frying, too. Ok, so it was also pretty strange seeing my oldest sister, Scarlett, behave like a normal person and not a candidate for sainthood while my brother, Brendan, never once mentioned money or conservative politics and my other older sister, Thomasina, seemed actually interested in other people besides herself. Val told me it might take a few years for it all to seem normal, and she should know.

Of course, the important part of Christmas, now that religion has faded into the background for most folks, is presents, and I scored some good ones. Mom and dad actually got me a gorgeous fur trimmed silk robe that looks like it might have been worn by Jean Harlow back in the day. I actually wept when I opened it, since it was the very first time my parents had ever acknowledged my alternative lifestyle.

Scarlett got me an actual flying carpet (kind of slow and with a limited range, but way cool anyway), Thomasina got me some slippers that not only change color, but stay warm on cold days and cool on hot ones. Brendan gave me two gifts. The first was a picture he painted of the beach near our grandparents house, which I loved to visit. The second gift was a bottle of 20 year old scotch. We drank half of that one.

Valentine, after decades of bemoaning the fact that I “looked lopsided” having only the one tattoo on my right shoulder (the same one that Doc, Avis and our friend Candy have, it shows a globe and the words “1972-1973 Looking For Trouble World Tour”) gave me a gift certificate to get one on my left shoulder at Voodoo Tattoo in San Francisco. I love my little sister.

During this stay, I’ve met a ton of relatives I hadn’t seen since 20 years before I died, plus my 16 nephews and nieces (Val is not yet married, but the others are, with big gnomish families). There were Mayhews and Tanners and Jacobs and Penningtons galore, plus a whole slew of other surnames I can’t recall.

So, I’ll be showing Babe around town (most folks here have never met a Smart Rabbit), enjoying real Southern cooking (with the exception of Mrs. Cross, most Yankees just can’t properly do Southern food) and taking a break from painting other people’s stuff. I’ll blog again once I get home, maybe with a Q&A blog. If y’all have any questions, let me know.

Chapter 92: In Which Our Hero, Whilst Infiltrating The Coronation Of The French King, Is Afflicted With Flatulence Most Foul

…I hate when that happens

Yo, internet homies, today I’m starting a hopefully pretty regular series where I cover various topics about things I like. Later, I’ll start a similar series about things that piss me off. First up today: food!

Great Things To Eat: Part One

Curry: There are all sorts of curries out there, from mild & subtle to big, bold and hotter than hell. All of them are delicious. Don’t think you like vegetarian dishes? Try any of the 8 zillion veggie curries. Love seafood? You’re covered. Better yet, get yourself a good Indian or Thai cookbook and cook up one of your own! And don’t forget the rice and Thai Iced Tea. Best curry I’ve ever eaten? Any of the ones at The King And I in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Fish Tacos: How good are fish tacos? Well, I’ve had sexual encounters that weren’t as good as a couple great fish tacos and a cold cerveza. Doesn’t matter if the fish is battered and crunchy or unbattered and moist. And by “fish”, I also mean shrimp, crab and whatever else comes from the sea. It’s all yummy, especially after you dress it up with your choice of salsas, cremas and cheese. Best fish tacos I’ve ever eaten? The crunchy fish taco and the Dungeness crab taco I had off of a Mexican food truck in San Jose back in 1984.

Steel Cut Oats: Easy to cook, tasty as hell and good for you. What’s not to love about that? I like to cook them with a handful of raisins, then add some dark brown sugar and milk. Yum Yum! Oats are also very filling, so your breakfast will stick with you a long while, thus cutting down on between meal snacks and helping you lose weight. Best steel cut oats I’ve ever eaten? The bowl I just had a couple of hours ago.

Well, I think that went well. Now how about a nice serving of Doclopedia, hmmm?

The Doclopedia #390

Look What I Found!: 1930’s Universal Horror Edition

Look here, Carol, isn’t it beautiful? It’s the necklace that your father and I found on that statue of Bast today. Four thousand years old, but it still looks brand new. The inscription in the tomb told of a curse, one that would turn any woman who wore this into a Daughter of Bast. Why is it that every object anybody finds in an Egyptian tomb always seems to be cursed? Pretty silly if you ask me.

Oh, yes, well, a Daughter of Bast was supposedly a young woman who would transform into a catlike creature to do the bidding of the Priests of Bast. Sort of an Egyptian version of a werewolf. Your father knows more about it than me. I daresay that old soothsayer in the village knows more about it that I do. I’m just a humble reader of hieroglyphics.

Say, you look lovely in this moonlight. You know I’m crazy about you, don’t you? When this dig is finished and we’re back in London, I’ve got something to ask you. I hope…what’s that? Sounds like those fool diggers are on about something again. I’ll be right back, darling.

Oh, excuse me, Miss Benning, I did not mean to startle you. I have only come to view the lovely necklace that is spoken of in the village. I am very old and have waited many years to see such a wonder. How beautiful it is, much like yourself. You should try it on. Yes, yes, just like that. Beautiful. Dizzy? It shall pass, Miss Benning, it shall pass.

There, you see, you feel much better now, don’t you. Now you are a Daughter of Bast, part of a line that stretches back into the mists of history. Listen to me now, for there are things you must do, both here and back in England. There are those who need to be punished for what they have done. Listen and obey, Miss Benning.

The 34 Things You Should Never Put On Your Butt

…#12 is molten lava

Well, my little woodland friends, the fates were decidedly against Uncle Doc doing any gardening today. No sooner had I finished my morning tea than my gastrointestinal system demanded that I spend some quality time with the bathroom. Several times. Until about noon.

After that, I had other chores to do, so my assault on the garden will have to wait until tomorrow…or maybe Saturday.

In gaming related news, I’m thinking of doing a seminar at Dundracon about deconstructing the typical fantasy RPG world. It could prove to be a bunch of fun.

In cooking news, my pork colorado tacos tonight were very good, despite my having to ratchet the spiciness level down to allow for My Sweet Angel’s sensitive tummy.

In cute hound dog news, my dogs are indeed cute and hounds.

And I’m outta here for tonight.

We Still Like Monkeys

…as long as they don’t fling poo


1: It seems that Wizards of the Coast is gonna shut down the official D&D social networking site, the awfully named Gleemax. I’m thinking this was partly based on bean counting and partly on the fact that there are roughly 47 zillion ways for gamers to socially network via the interwebs.

2: Our sweet and rowdy little Winkerdog is feeling much better after a visit to the vet for her latest bout of ear infection. She is on Prednisone for the inflammation, then, starting tomorrow, she’ll get twice daily treatments with Otamax to get rid of that nasty old yeast.

3: The pork chops in wine and herbs that I made last night were so good, Grace and I did the Happy food Dance.

4: Speaking of dancing, a Secret Reader of this LJ has asked if there is a FOOOOD FOORRR DOOGGGGGSSSS! dance to accompany the song that I posted here some time ago. Yes, there is. No, you’ll never get to see it.

5: I informed The Lady Of The House that we will be going to GenCon in 2010, since that will mark the 20th anniversary of me meeting most of my best gaming friends. I fully plan on bustin’ out big time that year with my pals. Let Indianapolis be forewarned:)

6: As for GenCon 2009, right now, I’d say it’s 80% no go. That could change if I get a job, win the lotto or decide to start robbing from the rich and keeping it for myself.

7: Usually, by this time, I’m gettin’ sick of the presidential race. However, this time, my optimism about Mr. Obama and my cackling laughter at the McCain Clusterfuck Express have combined to make all this political horseshit much more tolerable. I expect this will change by September.

And now, I’m off to do about 248 chores. More blogging later.

The Adventure Of The Grubby Gardener

…as reported by John H. Watson, MD

Yesterday’s excursion in the garden was satisfying…if, by “satisfying” we mean exhausting, filthy, hot, sweaty and punctuated by neighbors taking their children indoors when I would cry out “Die, weeds! Die die die! Hahahahahahaha!”

All of which helps explain why we had breakfast sandwiches for dinner, rather than the roast I had planned. I was too tired for complex cookery. Said roast will get cooked today, after Grace and I return from seeing Hellboy II.

In other news, it is looking more and more like I will use some variation of either the Basic Role-Playing system or True20 for the Fall Fantasy game. I shall take a look at both over the next few days, altho, not being in a position to buy the new BRP book, I shall make due with the 1980’s version, along with CoC and Runequest.

Tomorrow, I’ll dive once again into the job search maelstrom. This time out, I’ll lower my standards and hopefully find some work to pay the bills until I find a better job or win the lottery, whichever comes first.

I had two very odd dreams last night. One was terribly frustrating and one was lots of fun.

The frustrating dream had myself and several other gamers getting ready to go to DunDraCon. We were going there in a large U-Haul truck being driven by a former gaming friend of mine who is a total asshole now. The truck was parked outside a large hotel and a block of rather rundown apartments. Everyone was in a hurry to leave, since the con was starting in an hour or so. Just before getting in the truck< I realized I had no extra clothes packed, so I ran into the hotel, which was strangely deserted.

After running around the hotel looking for a way out, I finally got to my apartment only to find that my clothes were all filthy, torn up or missing. Getting more panicked by the minute, I finally grabbed up a bunch of dirty clothes and ran back out to the street, only to find that my friends had left without me.

The much more pleasant dream featured me, Clint Eastwood and a couple of reporters doing an interview. We all chatted about a myriad of things while drinking beer and playing golf. (Note: I have never played golf in my life, but in the dream I was doing pretty well, especially in my short game) At one point, Clint and I got on a roll about how great California is, as befits two Native Sons. This seemed to piss off one of the reporters, who was from New York. Oh well, it serves him right for being from the wrong coast.

And now, I must drink my tea so as to jumpstart most of my internal organs. More blog-o-rama later.

Sacred Lizard

…with glowing eyes

When The SugarMan Makes Bread Pudding, The Girls Just Flat Out Orgasm!

Oh yeah, just call me the Kitchen God and bow down before me, puny humans. Eating this bread pudding isn’t just putting something tasty in your mouth, it is a trancendental experience, baby! I’d share the recipe, but y’all just ain’t evolved enough top be trusted with it:)

Songs For Good Dogs

…and even naughty dogs

Last night I tried my hand at baking dog biscuits for the girls. I had a bunch of partial packets of various hot whole grain cereals, so I dumped ’em in a big bowl with whole wheat flour, a couple of eggs, a bit of brown sugar, some oil and beef stock. I then poured it out on a sheet pan and baked it for about 45 minutes at 325 degrees. The resulting product smelled pretty good, but still had too high of a moisture content, so I dried it in the oven for another 90 minutes. Once cooled, I fed a bit to Winker & Daisy and they gave it their tail wags of approval. I suspect I shall do more baking for hounds soon.

Fantasy World Building Poll: Part Four

Ok, so now it is time to start describing the countries and cultures of the various human and non-human races. This will end up being a rather long and multi-part poll, so we’ll do 2-3 cultures per session. But first, let’s review…

The two non-human races are: Intelligent Slimes/Oozes/Jellies and Teddy Bearlike beings.

The seven human cultures most resemble (in order of popularity): Pirates, Imperial Romans, Aztecs, Imperial Chinese, Vikings, Arthurian British, Victorian British

We’ll start off with the non-human races.

And now, I must work. More bloggage and polls later.

My Life Among The Civilized People

…with comments on politics, religion, morality and sex

G’day, my little internet pals. Uncle Doc is feeling considerably better today, but that could all unravel once I go out to tackle the landscape…which I will do after going to the store to gather up ingredients for steak etoufee. Yum Yum!

Aside from cooking and gardening, today’s list of Big Fun Events includes another visit to the dog park, some housecleaning, dog bathing and maybe some writing. For Grace, substitute bill paying for gardening and homework for writing.

I’ll post the latest poll results later on tonight.

And now, I venture forth to face the Allergy Demons.

The Tale Of The Thief, The Housewife And The Perfect Score

…it was…I mean…damn!

Lazy Thoughts On A Lazy Day

1: In a couple of hours (after Grace and Winker return fron the vet), My Sweet Little Chocolate Pizza Of Happiness and I will be heading to IKEA to check out bookcases, which we are in dire need of.

2: I’ve been doing some thinking about these so called “indie” RPGs that all the youngsters seem to be heated up about. I think a longish post may be formulating in my head.

3: So, who amongst you is planning on being at GenCon Indy next August? There could be something more than pure curiosity related to that question.


5: I’m playing (not GMing) in a gaming session tomorrow. It looks to be an extremely funny experience. I’ll write more on it tomorrow night.

6: This is the time of year when gardening is very minimal, if I do any at all. However, it is also the time of year that we gardeners drool over nursery catalogs and plot our orgies of springtime horticultural.

7: I’m thinking that Winter Curryfest 2006 is very near. Ditto for me making a big batch of Hell In Your Mouth Chili.

And now is coming the time to get dressed for the shopping. More blogathon later.

The Penguins Are Restless

…and a couple of them have switchblades

It’s a cooking morning here at Casa Cross. I’ve fallen woefully behind on my processing of garden goodies, so before I head off to work, I’m doing Stage One of my tomato sauce making. Simply put, this involves simmering pieces of tomato in a bit of wine, a bit of water and a touch of basil and garlic. It’s been simmering for about 45 minutes now and the house smells wonderful.

Tonight, I’ll simmer up some more tomatos, then move to Step Two. That will involve pouring both batches into a larger pot, blending it all with a hand blender, adding a few more herbs/spices, then letting it reduce by about half. After that, I’ll strain it, freeze it and get ready for the next influx of tomatos. Oh, and I’ll process the mountain of squash, too.

In other news…well, there really isn’t any other news. Life is running smoothly hereabouts and the weather is fine. Work is…well…work. Next Saturday Grace and I will be hitting San Francisco and Berserkly in search of used bookstores that we can pillage, as well as the odd game store and thrift store. I expect tasty food will be eaten, too.

And now, it is off to work for Your Humble Narrator.

Fresno Freddy Makes The Big Score

…and he even got the girl, too.

I resumed my walking routine last night with a brisk jaunt around our block. It comes out to seven tenths of a mile, which is a nice start for a guy who hasn’t done any exercise walking in almost 6 months. No lasting aches or pains, so I’ll slowly build up my legs until I’m walking 5 miles (or more) at a stretch. Yes, yes, I’ll take it slowly…Grace is making sure of that. I reckon it’ll take at least 3 weeks before I’m up to 5 miles a night.

In other news, War has come to the Kingdom Building Game and on Sunday, my friend Arn (the only one of my players who ISN’T on the internet) and I will play out the battle on my dining room table. I hold out little hope for the forces of evil, since Arn has been directing most of the resources of his kingdom (and those of his NPC allies) towards a sneak attack on the New Roman Empire. Some of his strategies are pretty unique and interesting…and some of his allies are even moreso. I shall report from the front lines on Sunday.

Just out of curiousity, have any of you bought TOON Munchkin? If so, what did you think of it?

The fast approaching weekend, besides being filled with the thrill of battle, will be a gardening/cooking weekend. I need to get my veggies planted and I need (with Grace’s help) to cook up enough food to last us at least a week. That way, when we get home we can just heat stuff up and chow down. I’m thinking spaghetti…maybe some Docburgers…possibly a taco dinner…hmmmm.

Time for me to go toil in the pizza mines.

Crazy Hot Rock & Roll Daddy

…with a bad urge to boogie

You’re probably wondering why I called you all here. Well…

Gaming Stuff

I’m finding myself all taken up with the writing fever. Mostly, as usual, this writing is for personal use…BUT…it could have some potential for sale…SO…I’m not gonna say much about it…BUT…a few of you will be getting copies of it to read/play/send me feedback on. More on this as it shapes up.

The Kingdom Building Game is, I fear, almost to the point where I can’t do turns in less than a month. Not only are the details growing, but there is about to be a bigass bunch of PC to PC and PC to NPC interaction, which will seriously boost the complexity factor. So, to my players, get ready for 4-5 weeks between turns.

I’ve decided to go ahead and pre-reg for Conquest Sac, even tho I’m going to GM there. Gotta support the local con in it’s first year and all that. But they only get my money up front this one time. And that free t-shirt had better look good:)

Speaking of Conquest Sac, I’m thinking that some of us locals need to do some party planning. Can’t have a proper con without a party or two, now can we?

Gardening Stuff

About half of the seeds I started have popped up. The peas are going like gangbusters and the dill, fennel, squash and lone tomato seedling are doing well. This weekend, I’ll start some more seeds and prepare the various garden beds. I may even buy a few flowers to plant and get a bit more color out there.

Other Stuff

I’m not much for sports, but Grace likes to watch the Olympics, so we have been recording and watching big bunches of it. So, am I the only one who finds curling to be almost hypnotic? We sit and watch every bit of the rock sliding action, despite the fact that, at it’s heart, curling is basically just a game of marbles.

Spring Curryfest 2006 will arrive at Chez Cross a touch early this year. Like, this weekend. This time out, we’re talking Lamb Curry, baby. MmmmmMmmmm!

Also on the cooking front, the February edition of Iron Chef Aslin Way is way late. I think I’ll send the Iron Wife out on Sunday to buy the Mystery Ingredient. Then, on Monday, I’ll once again attempt to win the hearts of the common folk with my mad culinary skillz.

And now, off to my regular session in Dr. Yen’s EZ Bake oven, then work.

The Adventures Of SuperSquinky!

…she wields the power of sweetness.

Oy, do I have a full plate or what? Right off the bat, I’m restructuring the Kingdom Building Game so as to get everyone on an even footing and take into account losing two players. I’ve learned alot about running games like this, so I’m streamlining the turn form and setting hard dates for turn submission.

Next up is the official playtest of my Big Writing Project. When I finished it a couple of months ago, I knew it was not perfect…but I didn’t know how imperfect it was. Mostly, I just need to clarify a few things, but one playtester did point out that I forgot to include A WHOLE FRIGGIN’ SPELL LIST! My bad. Gotta write that up ASAP. Playtesting will continue, so I’m sure more patented Doc Fuckups will surface.

Veering away from the writing side of things, I need to start the process of dogproofing (specifically, Bassetproofing) the old homestead. We won’t get the pooches until March, but at my sluglike rate of doing things, that will barely be enough time.

Yardwork, especially the neverending retaining wall project, still awaits my presence.

I’ve got a four day weekend coming up and a full day of that will see me cooking up food for use over the next month or so.

Speaking of food, Grace and I will be eating a seafood curry for our annual Un-Turkey Day Thanksgiving meal this year. Gotta buy/price ingredients for that.

And on top of everything else, tomorrow is our 9th wedding anniversary. Gotta get My Sweet Little Plumheaded Parakeet Of Passion a nice card and gift.

Busy, busy, busy!

Never Bitchslap A Sasquatch

…unless you are one badass mofo

Iron Chef Aslin Way

Yesterday, Grace asked me what she should buy for dinner tonight. I said “Let’s do an Iron Chef night. You buy some mystery ingredients and I’ll use all my culinary skills to win the people’s acclaim forever.” And thus, a new tradition was born here at Castle Cross.

The mystery ingredients are: fresh green beans…red snapper…bay scallops…tilapia…polenta.

I’ll steam the beans with spices, cook the fishand scallops in a tomato/herb sauce and serve it over rice and fry up the polenta in some seasoned butter/oil mix. Grace will make the rice and possibly shout “Allez Cuisine!”…or not.

And then I’ll walk many a mile to make up for the extra caloric intake.

In other, non food news, I busted my ass and mixed up a concrete/soil mix to fill the first 10 large cans that I’ll be using as a foundation for my retaining wall. I’m thinking I’ll need about 50 cans for the first section of wall.

I STILL have two turns left to reply to in the Kingdom Building Game. Obviously, the whole “two turns a month thing was a mad fantasy of mine. I’m thinking one a month will be more like it.

And now…off to Kitchen Stadium!