Why Yes, I Have Met That Friendly Reefer Man.

…decades ago. He was fun.

 

The Doclopedia #770

Readers Secret Identities: Justin, The Smuggler   (Justin Mohareb)

Justin was a geek. Comic books, roleplaying games, science fiction, pulp magazines…he loved it all. Unfortunately, Justin and his geek buddies were all Canadian geeks, which meant that they had to pay a Value Added Tax on all the games, comics and such that came in from south of the border in the United States. This only served to empty their geek pockets faster than they would like, so Justin came up with an idea.

Working feverishly for days in his basement laboratory, he built a very large robotic moose. It looked absolutely real, but you could open the torso and stash upwards of 250 pounds of stuff inside. Stuff like games and dice and Blu Ray discs and model spacecraft and…all things geeky!

After programming the RoboMoose to go to a specific spot in Minnesota, Justin flew to the US and bought several thousands of dollars worth of geek stuff at “Special Back Door Prices” that he worked out with various companies who didn’t mind making a non taxable buck. Which, by the way, was all of them.

Justin trucked all of the stuff to a house in rural Minnesota where his friend Joe was more than willing to guard the stuff and load up the moose when it came around for a pick up. All Joe asked was that the moose bring him a few cases of Canadian beer.

Now several years later, Justin has a fleet of RoboMoose crossing the border from the USA. Canadian geeks get their fix at a cheap price and Justin is rolling in money. In fact, he has expanded his geek goodie smuggling to almost all the other continents via the use of RoboWhales, RoboDolphins and many assorted RoboLand Animals. Oddly, he has found that many folks worldwide also want Canadian products like back bacon, microwavable poutine and hockey jerseys. Justin is happy to help them out.

Yellow Goats

…and blue pigs

 

The Doclopedia #759

Unusual Small Towns: Critter City, Texas

Way back in the early decades of the 20th century, Wilted Springs, Texas, was a famous resort town that brought in people from all over the south and southwest. They would swim in the famous springs, stay at the luxury hotels and generally have a fine summer vacation. Then came the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl and, eventually, World War II and Wilted Springs began to fade away. By the 1960’s, it was just another small Texas town that had seen better days.

Until, sometime in 1997, when some rich young Texans that just happened to be on the board of directors of New Think Inc., got an idea based on the rising trend of people pampering and traveling with their pets. Why not revive Wilted Springs as the “Pet Friendly Resort Capital Of The World”? NTI agreed that this was a good idea, so the company bought the town and started building.

By 2003, the town was home to 7 major hotels, three resorts, an amusement park just for animals, dozens of restaurants, 12 spas for humans & pets, many other shops and 6 pet parks. The town, which had dipped down to a population of 1,409, swelled back up to a population of 21,000. Annual visitors ran to 600,000 most years.

In 2006, a convention center was built and major dog, cat and other animal shows took place there, as did music festivals and other shows. In 2007, The town became the most wired place in America, with free wifi everywhere. There are also many robots roaming the streets and other places, most of them being repair or cleaning bots. The most popular of these are the robots whose job it is to clean up animal poop. These “PoopBots” are all brightly colored and each has a name.

Then, in 2008, two things happened that jumped Wilted Springs up a notch: NTI decided to build a dome over the whole town and those rich young Texans hosted a pet friendly gaming/science fiction convention called DogCon (but called CatCon on alternate years).

The first DogCon was a big success with over 10,000 human attendees. By DogCon5 in 2012, attendance was 26,253 and the convention was booked for each August until 2028. It is estimated that the convention brings in over 6 million dollars to the local economy.

In 2011, the town officially changed it’s name to Critter City.

The Dome was finished in 2012 and NTI began putting even more high tech goodies into Critter City. This includes 25% of the police force, who are robots, the dome cleaning crew (men & women in high tech glass cleaning gear and new all electric Smart Taxis.

The temperature inside Critter City is always a low humidity 75 degrees. Rain falls early in the morning on scheduled days.

This Week’s Episode: Gertie Sees Nellie On The Television

…and she was wearing a red dress!

 

The Doclopedia #756

Unusual Small Towns: Spoonly, North Dakota

Spoonly, North Dakota, was the first small town renovated, enlarged and made famous by the famously off the wall multinational company known as New Think Inc. The stated company goal of New Think Inc was to “Make tons of money, do good and change the way people think about things”. They did all three in spades.

When it came to Spoonly, in 2001, the idea they had was simple: take a dying little prairie town of only 3,000 people and make it into a bigger and better place to live and work. With that in mind, they bought the town and 6,000 acres of farmland around it and built the largest underground living space in the world.

At first, pretty much everyone from the citizens of Spoonly to Wall Street thought NTI had gone mad. Later, when they saw the underground shopping areas, apartment complexes, homes, schools, pools, greenhouse/gardens, factories, parks and electric rail line, they thought it might be not so crazy. When 30,000 people moved into a now weatherproof, floodproof and super-energy efficient Spoonly, most of them now working at the NTI factories there, they decided that the idea had been genius. When 600,000 people came to visit Spoonly the very next summer and see the town for themselves, other towns around the nation started asking NTI to come renovate them.

Now, in 2012, Spoonly has 50,000 residents and gets just over a million visitors a year from all over the world. It also now connects to Mize, Gurtleville and Watkins, three other nearby underground towns, via electric railway.

Uncle Doc’s Big Book Of Cooking For Children

…but let’s not tell mommy & daddy about it until AFTER we cook, ok?

 

The Doclopedia #754

Alt. Most Wanted: Zeke Terrier

Zeke is a homeless terrier mix who runs loose in Feenyville, Virginia. He has a short, wiry grey & white coat and floppy ears. Zeke weighs about 40 pounds and has a bobbed off tail.

This dog is wanted for stealing the toys of other dogs, pooping on front porches so other dogs get blamed, eating cat food that folks leave outside, knocking over trash cans and marking his territory everywhere. He is also wanted for questioning in the pregnancy of several bitches.

If you see Zeke, call the Dog Police and report his whereabouts immediately. The reward for his capture is up to 6 bones, three jerky treats, two squeaky toys and a dead squirrel.

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The Doclopedia #755

Alt. Most Wanted: The League Of Extraordinary Gamemasters

This organization of madmen/women is wanted for the following crimes: wanton killing of player characters, convoluted plots, tightfistedness with experience points, dice fudging, arcane house rules, giving and/or inferring false information to players, winging it, changing monster power levels mid-game, not fully explaining what a gazebo is, changing rules systems and/or campaigns without at least 30 days notice in writing, the Head of Goddamn Vecna!, crappy loot, dumb jokes and eating the last Little Debbie Swiss Rolls.

If you see any of these despicable bastards/bitches, pelt them with dice, squirt them with Mountain Dew and beat them unconscious with a nice thick core rules book. After that, haul them to the High Court Of Gaming Justice for their trial and punishment.

Not In This Issue: The Color Green, Shotguns and Protoceratops

…but we do have purple, derringers and a very nice hadrosaur

The Doclopedia #752

 Alt. Most Wanted: Doctor Dumoire

The vile miscreant known as Doctor Dumoire is wanted for crimes against humanity, unsanctioned experimentation on human beings, transplantation of human intellect into machines, criminal robotics, murder, robbery, theft, treason, inciting riots, arson, forgery, escape from custody, blackmail and 34 other offenses. And that’s just in England. In his native France, the list is much longer. In Germany, the United States and 21 other countries, there is a one million dollar reward to anybody who shoots him dead.

Doctor Dumoire is 5’10” tall, has thinning black hair, one brown eye and one green eye, walks with a slight limp and often wears clothing of a style & fashion from 30-50 years in the past. He is accompanied by his faithful servants Marcel & Denise, as well as his large diesel powered ape, Doro.

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The Doclopedia #753

Alt. Most Wanted: Sunlight Glitterdown

Sunlight Glitterdown is a thief who steals pollen cakes, rain ale, spinny wheels and other things. When other faeries are doing good work, he throws mud at them and says rude things. He is a big poop! If you see him, you should pelt him with sleepydust until he falls down, then drag him to the Cage of Shame. He is naughty…very very naughty.

I Was An Undercover Gardener For The FBI

…i helped capture many Communist shrubs and flowers

 

The Doclopedia #749

Alt. Most Wanted: Kookie Calabrese

Calling all cars! Calling all cars! Subject Kookie Calabrese has been spotted in the financial district. Subject is in the process of painting all of the banks pink while his gang loots them. Be on the lookout for trained monkeys. Monkeys are armed with glue guns and sneeze gas bombs. Also, be aware that many civilians are gathered nearby watching. Subject Kookie Calabrese is wanted for 112 counts of vandalism, 19 counts of robbery, 34 counts of assault on a police officer and 3 counts of arson. Proceed with caution. That is all.

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The Doclopedia #750

Alt. Most Wanted: The Doovmox

We interrupt this entertainment to advise all sentients that The Doovmox has escaped incarceration in the Tower of Hopeful Redemption and is now loose in the city. Our Beloved Protectors are at this time unable to track The Doovmox and are requesting that all righteous sentients report any sightings or interactions with The Doovmox.

Until the eventual capture of The Doovmox, you are instructed to keep your heens and cloobs indoors and secure. If you are of the Anticipator or Relaxer faiths, you should dress in pastel colored jidbars and go with all haste to your nearest pyramid. It is also advised that all robots of Level 4 or below be put into rest mode until The Doovmox is captured.

We now return to the previous entertainment.

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The Doclopedia #751

Alt. Most Wanted: Dr. Fushi Sakama

The World Science Authority hereby issues a warrant for the return, alive if possible, dead if necessary, of Dr. Fushi Sakama, mad genius and notorious creator of kaiju monsters. Sakama has been behind the attacks on Japan, China, the west coasts of the United States & Chile and the north and east of Australia. His monsters include the huge reptile/cat Domoru, the giant twin bear/crabs Tamba & Eki, the enormous rat/dragon Yushira and the towering duck/gorilla Kroda. More, as yet unnamed monsters have been sighted heading for Southeast Asia, India, Africa, Europe and the east coasts of North & South America.

It is believed that Sakama is hiding out on an island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. If he has been joined by his old friend, Dr. Henry Sutton, the island may be guarded by octomen, fungus women, cat people and lizard people. Be careful around these deadly creatures!

Dr. Sakama has stated in the past that he wishes to create a 1,000 foot tall man/demon/skunk/lizard creature called Hetura. If he manages to do this, the world will be doomed. All military forces worldwide are now ordered to find Dr. Sakama and destroy his island and all his creatures!

Doc Tempest And The Monster Dog

…from the February, 1962 issue

The Doclopedia #747

Alt. Most Wanted: Greydon “Mugs” Malone

Malone is wanted for armed robbery, burglary, assault, assault with a deadly weapon, attempted murder, murder, trafficking in drugs & stolen goods and smuggling. He is armed and very dangerous.

Malone is 6’2” tall, weighs 230 pounds, has short brown hair, brown eyes and pale skin covered in mutant blotches of brown and gray. His mutant ability is extreme stealth coupled with superhuman toughness. He often travels in large luxury cars with his girlfriend, Leticia Huerta, and his cousin, Harold “Snakey” Malone, another mutant.

Do not try to apprehend any of these people, but do immediately report them to local law enforcement or the FBI Mutant Hotline.

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The Doclopedia #748

Alt. Most Wanted: Smuldoff The Slayer

Be it known that at this time, the Council of Kings & Queens do hereby place a reward on the head of that villain and half Orc bastard known as Smuldoff the Slayer. Said reward will be a basket of gold equal to the weight of the claimant, sans clothing, armor & weapons. Claimant may present the intact body or the identifiable head of Smuldoff as proof. All citizens, regardless of standing, may claim this reward.

Smuldoff the Slayer and his band of thugs were last seen pillaging the coastal village of Druby-On-The- Sea, but are now thought to be somewhere in the Blackwood. It should be noted that Smuldoff is of late being aided by the Wizard Restovel and possibly the Dark Cleric known as Sister Sazik. Rewards for either of them shall be twice again the size of the reward for Smuldoff.

Blue Beanies For Blue Meanies

…because we ran out of red beanies

 

The Doclopedia #746

Fiction Snippets: Holmes Is Where The Heart Is

My second thought, as I stood there looking at the nervous little guy, was one of great sympathy. The whole pre-pubescent young love thing was one on those terrifying first stumbles towards adulthood that was terrifying when it hit you.

My first thought was that I would not go through it again for all the money in the world. My inner 11 year old still got the shakes thinking about asking Katie Connelly to that damned school Christmas party.

What if she doesn’t want to talk to me?”, he asked, looking as though he might bolt any second. “What if she laughs in my face?”

Time for my Dad Voice, modified for a boy instead of my three daughters. “Look, Sherlock, we have already established that she likes you. She will want to talk to you and she won’t laugh at you. In fact, I’m willing to bet that young Miss Lattersham will hang on your every word. You have nothing to fear.”

He fixed me with that cold analytical stare of his and said, “You know, it is bloody unfair that you know how this will turn out and won’t share it with me.”

Time for a bit of lying. “Actually, I don’t know all of the details. I just know that you need to go talk to her and that you won’t come off as a big goob.”

Goob? Is that some American slang term from the future?”

Oops! Another mistake made. “Well, yes it is. But don’t worry about that. You have a pretty young lass to go talk to.”

He looked nervous again. It didn’t sit well on his face, being nervous. His face just wasn’t made for it.

Besides, Sherlock, you like mysteries, right? You love searching out the truth, right? Well right over there is one of the greatest of mysteries a man will ever face: a woman.”

He looked less nervous now. There was a challenge to his mind sitting over on that bench and I knew he was taking the bait. He turned towards her and took a deep breath before he started walking. Then he stopped and looked back at me.

Any last bit of advice?”, he asked hopefully.

Yes. Listen to everything she has to say as though it were the most fascinating thing you’ve ever heard. Works every time.”

He nodded slowly and then walked over to where she sat. All I could think of was what the 40 year old Sherlock had told me as we sat on his porch in San Francisco that day in 1890.

It was that moment, old friend, at which I knew that I would fear few things in my life as much. Honestly, compared to that moment and a few in puberty, all of the murderers and madmen I’ve faced have been a stroll in the park.”

George, The Meanest Turkey On Earth

…he once trapped a family of six in a Volkswagen Beetle. True story.

 

The Doclopedia #745

Fiction Snippets: Dungeon Diary #2

Amella had no sooner picked the lock than the door burst open and out poured a half dozen of the same Mother forsaken flesh golems that we had battled in the Basket Room. Fortunately, Amella was able to jump out of the way of the door and then leap onto the back of the biggest golem, where she proceeded to start stabbing away with her favorite daggers.

Shen hit one golem with a Shaft of Fire spell, which took it’s lower right arm off, but only slowed it down a bit. I’m not sure what her next spell was, since I was busy using my Blessed Mace of Smashing to kneecap the golem nearest me.

I did see Halana & Kreta tear into two other golems, one of which manages to punch Halana in the face. That was a very bad move, because our big barbarian woman really hates getting punched. She used her hand axes to chop that golems head off, then remove his limbs from his torso. As she would point out later, a headless, limbless golem was a good golem.

As is her style, Kreta kept up a running stream of taunts towards the golems as she battered the one nearest her with that hammer of hers. I’m pretty sure she left no bones unbroken.

You may have noticed, diary, that I only mentioned us attacking 5 of the 6 flesh golems. That’s because the sixth and smallest one just stopped and wasn’t attacking any of us. All of them were dressed in raggedy old pants, but this one also seemed to be wearing a raggedy old shirts. He didn’t look any smarter than the rest and he was sure less aggressive, so we pretty much decided to leave him for last.

As the final golem fell and we turned towards the little guy, he reached into his pockets and removed a couple of handfuls of dust. As he let it fall from his hands onto the other golems, they began to…well, melt is the best word I can think of to describe it. That was not good and it got much less good when the golem ooze started flowing towards the little guy.

As the ooze touched hum, he began to grow and change. I said a Prayer of Nullification, but whatever magic was going on was unaffected by it. Shen cast a spell of Disruption, but it was also ineffective. Whatever magic has been cast upon that dust by the creator of these golems, it was very powerful stuff.

Within about 2 minutes, the little golem was 12 feet tall, seriously muscular and had four arms. It also had a second face on the back of it’s head and long sharp teeth in both mouths. I prayed for guidance from the Mother. Halana, Kreta and Amella all uttered heartfelt obscenities. Shen just said “Well this isn’t going to be fun.

Oh, diary, how right she was!

For Sale: Brand New “For Sale” Sign

…and it’s on sale!

 

The next few Doclopedia entries are short snippets from fiction pieces I have in the works. Some are short stories and others are much longer. A couple will be recognizable to long time readers of this blog. Enjoy, and please do comment.

 

The Doclopedia #744

Fiction Snippets: The Hot Job

Spider had just turned on the TV and was about to settle into watching the Giants play the Dodgers when the phone rang. Before he could even get a “hello” out, he heard Billie saying, “He’s bored. Totally Sherlocked out. No fun from him. You need to get over there fast.”

As the cold knot of fear filled up his stomach, he asked a couple of questions and found out that Billie was not going to stick around and, thankfully, the Kid had not turned to any of his usual forms of boredom relief…yet. Thank goodness for that. Last time this had happened, the Kid had walked halfway to another city and had gotten in at least three fights along the way.

For the average driver, it was a 20 minute trip from Spider’s house to the California Kid’s apartment, but Spider was highly motivated and so made it there in 11 minutes flat. The black door of the Kid’s apartment stood there like a warning. “Do Not Enter! Madness, Danger and Temptation Await.” It was the danger that had Spider’s guts frozen and the temptation that had some insane part of his brain waking up. The madness he was used to by now. The Kid was, by his own admission, pretty much incapable of thinking about things like an ordinary person might. Normally, this was cool and made him fun to hang with, but when he got bored, his brain went to all sorts of dangerous places. At those times, he came up with plans that could easily lead to a long stretch of incarceration for a professional thief like Spider.

He didn’t bother to knock as he stepped through the door. Oh yeah, the Kid was in deep this time. The apartment was spotless, which means that he had gone through at least one fit of manic cleaning. Christ, you could eat off that floor and Spider noticed that the extensive spice rack had been alphabetized. Of course, that frenzy of activity had passed hours or days ago and now it was Moping Time.

The California Kid was sprawled out in his big overstuffed armchair, his feet propped up on a ottoman that was upholstered in a zebra striped pattern. His eyes were fixed on the television across the room, on which a classic horror film played. His hair was unwashed and Spider guessed he hadn’t bathed in a few days. He had on cutoff jeans and a Grateful Dead concert t-shirt. As was the case 90% of the time, the Kid wore no shoes. The Kid hated to wear shoes.

Billie called you. Knew she would. I need tea.” He never even looked towards Spider.

Spider went to the fridge and reached for a gallon of the herbal tea that the Kid drank constantly when these moods hit him. When he wasn’t bored, he drank regular tea, but when “his nemesis” hit him, drinking enormous quantities of caffeine was counterproductive to his thinking process. Alcohol was out of the question as were drugs, a point at which the Kid diverged from his fictional hero. Not that the Kid didn’t use the odd recreational drug now and then, but only when he was clear headed and in good spirits.

Handing over the gallon jug and noticing the six empties on the kitchen table, Spider watched at the Kid hooked the jug up to his “tea IV”, a long bit of flexible tubing that allowed him to drink his tea at a steady rate from anywhere in the room. Not that he had probably moved for hours. Spider had once watched the Kid as he sat thinking through the plan for a third story apartment job. Aside from swallowing every few seconds, the Kid had not so much as twitched in two hours. Guy must have a bladder the size of Detroit.

Well, best to get this ball rolling”, Spider thought as he moved Herbie the cat off the other chair in the room. Being a pretty mellow cat, Herbie just jumped up on Couch #1 (the Kid had three) and laid down next to Velma, the other cat. Across the room on Couch #2, Leon & Joe, the house rabbits, were asleep.

As Spider sat down, the Kid spoke again.

I’m bored and it is entirely your fault. The jobs you’ve chosen to do these last three months have been textbook examples of timidity. My talents were wasted even thinking about them.” He took a long pull of tea and gave Spider a withering stare. “Tonight, we’ll discuss how best we can remedy this injustice.”

Who the fuck talks like that, Spider thought. Oh, yeah, the California Kid does when he’s channeling Sherlock Holmes. “As I recall,” Spider said, “we hauled in an average of ten grand per job…”

Ten six, actually.”, the Kid interjected.

…of which you got ten percent each time.” Spider ignored the interruption. It was par for the course.

The Kid barked a humorless laugh. “Money! Fuck money! I have just over twenty grand right here in this room! What difference does money make when I…AM…FUCKING…BORED? “

Spider knew better than to argue with him when he was this bad. Hell, the Kid, always a big fan of sexual congress with willing ladies, had not even bothered to speak to Billie, who had come over to see him primarily to get seriously laid. No, best to just come out and say it, even though his guts screamed no and that evil part of his brain was trying to get him to lay his neck on a chopping block.

So,” he asked, “what the fuck do you want ME to do about YOUR boredom, Holmes?”

The Kid stared at him for a couple of seconds and then that mad twinkle came into his eyes and he smiled. “I want you to look at this.”

He placed a notebook on the coffee table in front of Spider. On the cover was written “The Jervison Job”. Spider felt the war between brain and guts ratchet up to a nuclear standoff. He had not yet opened the notebook.

As in Walter Jervison? U.S. Senator Walter motherfucking Jervison? Senator “Best Friend The Police Ever Had” Jervison? Oh fuck no, Kid! Not a motherfucking chance in hell! You’ve gone off the deep end at last. NO. FUCKING. WAY!”

The Kid looked at him and smiled. Spider hated it when he smiled like that, because it meant that the Kid had thought about it for enough time to have many of the hitches ironed out. Please, please, don’t let him have any good intel to go with it.

But Spider, I have a most excellent plan and I have juicy intel from Tony. It will be highly profitable…six figures easily…and incredibly fun.” The Kid looked like a hungry dog whose owner had gone outside without putting away the pot roast.

Inside Spider, his guts were at Absolute Zero, but his brain was getting a boner just thinking of a six figure job. Truth to tell, the Kid was right about the recent burglaries and thefts the crew had pulled. They had all been dead easy. Hell, that last warehouse might as well have been unlocked with a big red carpet. He sighed, knowing he was about to screw himself in some way.

Ok, Kid, tell me all about it”, he half whispered. “But if it’s too risky…and ripping off the home of a fucking U.S. Senator will be…we drop it and come up with something else, ok?”

The Kid’s smile moved up a few notches to that of a wolf finding a flock of sleeping sheep. He leaned back in his chair and his previous tension slipped away. From a box next to the chair, he grabbed a handful of malted milk balls and popped one into his mouth.

Of course, old friend. If you say no, the idea will melt away and be forgotten. We’ll think up some nice little heist on a rich yuppie who lives way out in the country. Now, two important facts about the Jervison job: The haul will be right around 400 grand and the job will be a hot one, during the good Senator’s annual Christmas party.”

As his paralyzing fear left the room with his common sense, Spider knew he was being totally screwed by his greed and his love of a challenge. Score: California Kid 1, Spider 0.

Go on, tell me more, Kid.”

Hypnotic Arugula Seduced My Patty Pan Squash

…now I’ve got a garden full of little patty pan arugulas.

 

The Doclopedia #742

Cool Hats: The Stetson of Spells

If you are a modern mage, you know that it’s damned hard to hold more that half a dozen spells at a time in your mind. This can be seriously bad if you find yourself in a situation where an extra spell or two would save your life.

Well, if you are very lucky, you might just find this good looking cowboy hat. Or it might find you, we aren’t 100% sure how it works. At any rate, if you wear this hat, you can have up to twenty extra spells at your disposal, plus the mana needed to cast them! How cool is that?

You’ll also find that the hat is nearly impervious to harm and never gets dirty. Rumors that the hat can communicate via telepathy with the wearer, and is in fact a genius, have never been proven.

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The Doclopedia #743

Cool Hats: The Propeller Beanie Of Dimensional Travel

If you are a geek of any sort, you can wear and use this yellow and green beanie to travel to other dimensions. These dimensions will all be familiar, since they are dimensions where magic works or humans have gone out into the stars or giant kaiju destroy Japan every other week or superheroes & supervillains do the same thing to New York City.

This probably sounds like fun, right? Unfortunately, you can’t choose the world you go to and you must stary in each world at least 6 hours. You also don’t get any cool powers, although you can use devices found in the particular world. No, these devices will not travel home or to the next dimension with you.

It’s All Fun & Games Until You Have To Wash The Hippo

…because that takes a bunch of shampoo and a lot of time.

 

The Doclopedia #740

Cool Hats: The Amazing Floral Hat

Once upon a time, a fancy hat belonging to a very posh lady who was attending the races at Ascot. Through some means that respectable people would never discuss, but involved her and young member of the House of Lords to whom she was not married, the hat got lost. After that, the whereabouts of the hat are unknown until 4 years later when it popped up in a thrift store in Whimsy, Nebraska. It was purchased by a young lady of 15 years, who put it on as soon as she paid for it ($5.00) and began walking home.

By the time she had walked the 2.35 miles home, the young lady had saved the life of a rich old man who gave her $50,000 in cash as a reward, attracted the attention of a famous movie director who was scouting locations and decided she should star in his next movie, met up with a sweet little homeless puppy, was asked out on a date by the dreamiest guy in school and found out her two little brothers were being sent away to boarding school. Obviously, this is one lucky hat.

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The Doclopedia #741

Cool Hats: The Beret of Traveling

Look, it’s simple, mac. You put on the beret, you think of where ya wanna go and Bingo!, yer there! You’ll stay there as long as you want, so bring plenty of dough with ya. Whenever you want to leave, you just think “Time to go home now” and you’ll be back home in a flash. It don’t hurt that the beret makes ya look pretty snazzy, either.

Time travel? Hell if I know. All I ever did was go places in the present. I guess ya could give it a try. Yeah, this bar has been here since 1874. 1890? Ok, sure, give it a try.

That was quick! You were only gone for 5 minutes. It worked? Son of a bitch! Wow, yeah, that’s an 1890 Smurtz Beer commemorative mug! Those are worth about five grand on uBay. Say, are you thinkin’ what I’m thinkin’, buddy? Yeah, yeah, you go ahead and I’ll get my grandson to fire up his computer and get on uBay.

Chapter 83: In Which Our Hero, In League With The Pirates, Raids A Church Owned Ship And Rescues Many Cats.

…including the King of the Cats

With these 4 entries, I now have fewer Doclopedia entries left to reach 500 for the year (Jan. 29 to Jan. 29), than I have days left to do them in. YAY!!!!

The Doclopedia #733

What’s That Sound?: BANGbang! BONGbong! Bangbangbang! Bongbongbong!

If there is any sound more annoying than Bonger Dwarves having a battle with Banger Dwarves, we don’t know what it is. These two tribes of ugly little people divided up centuries ago when part of the tribe started using pot lids to bang together as they went into battle. The traditionalist gong bongers hated that, so they sent the bangers packing. Ever since then, they have their bloodless but noisy and annoying battles several times a year.

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The Doclopedia #734

What’s That Sound?: Pok…pok…pokpokpokpokpokpokpok!

That would be the sound of a Fofo Tree releasing the seeds from the large seed pods that hang from its branches. These seeds will later be eaten by many creatures, but most notably by the Tiny Ground Dragon, a 3 foot long flightless relative of the Large Forest Dragon. These small dragons will later excrete the seeds in their dung, thereby giving a new Fofo Tree a chance at life.

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The Doclopedia #735

What’s That Sound?: Clumpclumpclump…CRAASSSHH!!!…AIIEEEEE!!!

You dungeon delvers will recognioze that as the sound of a burly barbarian doing a running kick to bust open a door in a dungeon, only to find that the door is trapped with a hollow core filled with acid. Later, the thief of the party, who should have been allowed to check for traps, will start referring to the barbarian as “Gimpy”.

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The Doclopedia #736

What’s That Sound?: Doink…doink…doink…WOOSSSHHH!!!

Ah yes…the sound of drops of water hitting a bit of treasure just before the wall gives way and releases the contents of the underground lake that the Nazis did not know was there, but the heroic explorer/archaeologist did, which is why he grabbed the girl and started running up an escape tunnel that the Nazis also didn’t know was there.

The Little Green Women Want Equal Time!

…and by golly, we’ll give it to them!

 

The Doclopedia #732

What’s That Sound?: Gnarf, gnarf, gnarf…GLOOP… Gnarf, gnarf, gnarf

If you guessed that was the sound of a Hundred Mouthed Yellow Glob eating a dead elf, you are 100% correct. As we all know, the HMYG (or Elfgobbler) is very fond of the taste of elven flesh, dead or alive. We’re sure that rumors of adventure parties taking along extra elves when going into Elfgobbler territory are just idle chatter.

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The Doclopedia #733

What’s That Sound?: WEEEoooooWEEEooooWEEEoooo

Oh, what a wonderful, if rather spooky, sound the Weeoo Bird makes. These lovely pheasant-like birds can always be found sitting in trees or bushes near creepy old haunted houses, mausoleums or graveyards. The fact that they are a mottled black & white and often fly right in front of anybody going near them at night only lends to the scary fun. Later on in the evening, when the undead are out in full, the Weeoo Birds actually sing in harmony! What fun!

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The Doclopedia #734

What’s That Sound?: ORRRRRRRCCCHHHH! ORRRRRRRCCCHHHH!

If you didn’t guess that one, don’t feel bad. It was kind of a trick question. That sound is the one made by a TransDimensional Mindship as it passes between realities. Nobody has ever heard it in person and there are only 3 known recordings of it.

You Can Tune A Piano, But You Can’t Tune A Matamata Turtle

…you thought I’d say “tuna fish”, right?

The Doclopedia #730

What’s That Sound?: Squeee…squeee…squeee…squeee…KLONK!

This is, of course, the sound of one of the new Clockwork Executioners limbering up, then administering the blow that severs head from body. Invented in Bavaria by the possibly mad, but undeniably brilliant, clocksmith Rudolf Gortmann around 1730, these Executioners proved to be very popular. They require no pay, last at least a couple of lifetimes and never miss the mark.

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The Doclopedia #731

What’s That Sound?: Chuggachuggachuggachugga…beedeloopbeedeloopbeeddleee

Well, sir, that there is the sound of the TransMartian Express chugging along and emitting a sonic warning to any Sand Cows that might get too near the track. Doesn’t happen too often nowadays, but when I was a kid and the line was new, they’d hit one of those squishy bugs every few miles. Didn’t hurt the train, but Holy Moley, what a stink! Didn’t look too good having your shiny new locomotive all covered in guts, either. But then they figured out the right sounds to send out and the problem pretty much went away.

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DogCon 5, Con Day 4

Recap of the rest of Saturday: The radio show went very well indeed and I’ve heard that the writers might film the episode later this year so they can show it next year.

The street party was a blast and a half, with lots of free beer and at least 5 bands. Several of us did a sort of rolling nosh from one restaurant to another while checking the party out. I think I ate at least 6 different cuisines. I know I didn’t hit the bed until about 2:30 AM.

Sunday: I did two seminars, one of which was the ever popular “I Hate…” bitchfest. The other was the Con sponsored “Tell us how to improve the con” deal. Surprisingly little got said there, because the con is so damned good to begin with.

The rest of the day was spent saying goodbye to folks and buying games. We bought many games, including several new games designed just for pets. I have no idea how you play them, butthey seem to like them.

Once the con was over, we went to the Post Con Pie Party and, as always, ate way too much delicious pie. I had a pineapple cream pie that was just crazy good. Later, I had some blueberry pie just to clear my palate…for a big slice of coconut cream pie!

Filled with pie, we all climbed on the bus and left Critter City, another DogCon in the history books.

Now: We started out of town with the plan to do a spatial jump to Maryland to drop off the Joneses, followed by jumps to Canada and Washington state to drop of the Mystery family and Sharon the World’s Greatest Petsitter, respectively. Once we were about 30 miles out from Critter City and in the middle of nowhere, I fired up the spatial gizmo and

next thing ya know, we’re in Maryland. After that, things went according to plan and everyone got home safe & sound.

 

Grace, Avis and I decided to drive back to Sacramento from Washington, which was fun. I just put the bus onto Interstate 5 and had Data drive and we watched movies and ate and played games most of the way. Avis popped back to her universe just as we got to Redding, but our Avis called to thank us for a wonderful time. That dual memory stuff must be kinda freaky.

 

So, we’ll be home in a couple of hours and I’ll write the final entry then. Right now, I’m getting a nap in.

 

More bloggage later.

Sasha: Fearless Guard Dog

…if she’s guarding her food. Otherwise, not so much.

DogCon 5, Con Day 3

Recap of Friday: I ran another 4 hour TOON game, ably assisted by my Co-Animator, Cody. After that, I jogged over to the “Ask A GM Anything!” seminar. You could see the predatory look in the eyes of the audience as they waited for the second hour, when you could ask non game related questions. As with past years, there was a musical request. This time it was for some A capella doo wop. The 7 GMs present did ok on “Teenager In Love” and “Blue Moon”.

Lunch was off one of the many new food trucks that park out in front of the park across from the convention center. One of them had actual fish & chips, which Spike and I agreed were excellent.

After lunch, there was the Spa Trip and Party, which 24 humans and 16 pets attended. After two hours of food, drinks, massaging, etc. We were all looking pretty darned good and smelling sweet!

Flash: I only endure the bath for the treats later.

Sasha: You’re nuts, Flash. The bath is way fun!

Lucy: I liked the brushing & combing.

Abby: I enjoyed the bath and the massage.

Bea: I’m with Flash, the baths sucked.

Back at the con, I ran my last official game. It was a 4 hour Over The Edge session set in an alternate 1930s Al Amarja. Doc Mystery, Mary, & Avis were among the 8 players. It was a spooky murder mystery set in an old mansion just outside the city limits of the Edge. In the end, it was revealed that the police inspector was actually a crazed murderer.

Dinner was pizza, then I had about an hour before Doc Mystery was going to run a Pulp Era game set in the Interior Earth. I played George Fowler, a mercenary who was leader of team security for the explorers. Sadly, he bought the farm just before the game wrapped up, heroically jumping into the gaping maw of a 60 foot long Phobosuchus. He had a grenade in each hand. His death was spectacularly bloody.

After the game, it was 2 AM, but some of us went to the Open gaming room and talked to folks for another hour.

What Has Happened Today So Far: Saturday morning/early afternoon for me was pretty much all about the Dealer’s room, with an hour out for being part of the “Light’s, Camera, Dice” seminar, then a quick lunch before rehearsals for the Old Time Radio Show tonight. This year, we are doing a one hour episode of “The Adventures of Gamers, Incorporated”. It’s part comedy and part adventure. We are about to do the second reading, with sound effects and music. There are 16 actors here this year and I’m doing bit parts and announcer duties.

Grace has played in three boardgame tournaments and won one of them. The critters have been at the biggest Pet Amusement Park all day and are now sleeping it off in their room. Our two petsitters are sleeping it off in their room.

After the show, there is a big street party planned by the con staff. I shall be there.

More bloggage tomorrow.

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The Doclopedia #724

Threesomes!: The Valley Of The Beast

On DogEarth 3, where humans died out because of a plague, the now intelligent Dogs rule much of the world with a gentle hand. Much of the Wild is still unexplored and the Valley of the Beast is one such place. This large and heavily forested valley is located in what was once British Columbia. Only a few Dogs have tried to explore there and most of them have died. The terrified survivors have all related tales of a great beast that is fast and deadly. Descriptions of this beast vary wildly, but it is always bright green in color. Now, one mighty Dog explorer will venture alone into the valley and solve the secret of the beast. His name is…

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The Doclopedia #725

Threesomes!: Kuon Hounderson

…Kuon Hounderson and he is not the largest or strongest Dog, but he may well be the smartest. It is also said that he has the ability to use not one, but two telekinetic “Hands”, something no other Dog has ever managed. Kuon has also mastered several styles of Caning Martial Arts, some of which use those very same Hands to deadly effect.

Kuon will need all of his intelligence and skills to survive in the Valley of the Beast, but he’ll also need a piece of high tech from the Human Era that was modified by early Dog scientists. This device is both a source of protection and a mighty weapon. The Dogs call it…

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The Doclopedia #726

Threesomes!: The Eye Of Dog

…The Eye of Dog. Originally intended to project a force field around a small probe being sent to the surface of Venus, this device could also project a laser beam to analyze chemicals in the Venusian surface. It was never used due to humanity dying off, but when Dog scientists found it, they transformed it into a weapon and a mystical symbol. Worn as a sort of chestplate, the Eye can now shoot forth a laser capable of burning clean through a large animal while also providing a force field that can stop bullets. Powered by solar cells, the charge won’t last forever, so the wearer must use it judiciously, then wait until it is fully charged up.

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The Doclopedia #727

Threesomes!: The Dark Tiger

The evil doers of Bangalore, India, have a fearsome enemy in the Dark Tiger. This night roaming vigilante has the reflexes, strength and agility of a great cat. Add in enhanced senses and a belt pouch full of gadgets and criminals don’t stand a chance. The Dark Tiger has only been on the job for 6 months, but already the crime rate in Bangalore is down by 10%. Of course, this could also be due to the activities of a more secretive masked vigilante…

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The Doclopedia #728

Threesomes!: Jadugar

…known as Jagudar, which is Hindi for “Wizard”. This hero (or heroine, nobody knows the sex of either of Dark Tiger or Jadugar) seems to be able to manipulate the laws of physics as well as control the minds of humans and other animals. No description is available because no criminal can ever remember exactly what Jadugar looks like. What is known is that record numbers of crooked government officials, police officers and businessmen are confessing their crimes to television reporters. So many, in fact, that there is a new nationwide television show called “Criminal Confession”. It is very popular and has attracted the attention of…

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The Doclopedia #729

Threesomes!: Boss X

…the secret king of the Bangalore underworld. Nobody knows who he is due to the full face mask he always wears, but they do know he is a large and powerfully built man who has killed and blackmailed his way to the top of the criminal heap. He has a very large reward out for Dark Tiger and is thinking about offering an even larger one for Jadugar. This has his army of thugs & killers ready to put aside their fear and go bounty hunting.

Mexican Jenny Stole My Stuffed Fish

…his name was Pete the Perch

 

The Doclopedia #721

Threesomes!: Annie Carver

On the Steampunk Earth #7, Annie Carver is a 25 year old inventor, explorer and champion of equal rights for women. She has made a name for herself by discovering all manner of lost places and creating the inventions that help her do it. She is usually accompanied by her best friends Katie Cohnager and Lisa Maklovich. On her next exploratory mission, she will be aided by her most amazing creation…

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The Doclopedia #722

Threesomes!: Sam

…a steam powered robotic Mastiff dog known as Sam. Besides being big, strong and nearly indestructible, Sam is also very intelligent because he has the brain of Annie’s late fiancee, Samuel Dirksley, implanted in his head. This intelligence will come in handy as they go searching for…

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The Doclopedia #723

Threesomes!: The Lost Temple Of Apollo

…a temple of Apollo that was said to be the greatest ever built. Legend tells of a crystal sun orb that can grant a single wish to whomever finds it and makes the proper offering on the altar of the temple. Annie is determined to use the orb to restore Sam to human form. However, she’ll have to get their first ahead of her archenemies, the Russian Countess Smedyovich and the British treasure hunter, Lord Graves.

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DogCon 5, Con Day 1

Quick recap of last night: Pre-Con Party was great, although seeing so many guys in dresses who should NEVER wear a dress (including myself) made my eyes bleed. Plenty of food, booze, great bands and lots of lively talk made up for it.

The Cross Family schedule for today

Grace: Wandering the Dealer’s Room…playing boardgames…joining Abby & Bea in a Livestock LARP…more board & card games.

The Critters: Pet park visits…LARPS (Abby, Bea & Flash)…Robot Rabbit Chase Park (Lucy & Sasha)…Naps…Treats…LARP (Sasha & Lucy)

Doc: GMing TOON Game (2 hours)…Seminar (How To Get Started Writing) (1 hour)…GMingTOON Game #2 (2 hours)…Lunch (1 hour)…GMing D&D Game (4 hours)…Dinner & Rest (2 hours)…GM part of the “All Con Long” Dungeon Crawl (4 hours)…Sleep

Recaps of today will appear tomorrow, so, you know, more bloggage later.

The Amazing Adventures Of Doctor Tempest And The Master Of Illusion

…from the September, 1897 issue

 

DogCon 5, Trip Day 12, Con Day Zero, Part 1

When we woke up this morning, Data (our autopilot, if you are just tuning in) had us parked at our final roadside destination: A Trip To Hell. No, it’s not a recreation of my first marriage, it’s a sort of ride created by the Lord’s Church Of Jesus Christ, of Wango, Texas, to show sinners what they can expect after they die unless they straighten up and fly right and get some of that old time religion.

Our youngest traveler, Lauren, stayed on the bus with Sharon and the critters. I’m told they spent the time in the Slide Room. The rest of us laid down two bucks each and got on the little train that was actually being pulled by a converted electric golf cart thingy. To an alternating background of gospel music and scripture quoting, we saw all manner of scenes of hellish torment, with each one geared towards a different sin. Many of these sins had to do with sex of one type or another, which I’m pretty sure was meant to scare local young people into terrified celibacy. The one of a “Chronic Masturbator” getting his genitals fried by demons was pretty funny. Actually, most of the ride was pretty funny because this trip to Hell was done on a tiny budget.

When we were done, we bought the t-shirts, but declined to confess our sins (not NEARLY enough time for that) and accept Jesus. Grace got a good laugh from the group by saying “No thank you, my husband and I are from California”. I’m pretty sure that was enough to convince the preacher that we were doomed to damnation.

Lucy: Of course, you humans spell Dog backwards anyway.

Flash: And they think Ceiling Cat is a joke!

A bit over two hours later we first caught sight of the Critter City Dome (yes, the whole town is now covered by a huge clear dome), which was still 20 miles away! That sucker is 1,500 feet tall at the center and 2 miles across at the base. The website says that it is kept at a balmy 75 degrees with a 30% humidity level all year. Pretty sweet!

We parked the bus in the humongous three level climate controlled parking garage just outside the dome, then got on the electric trolley that serves the town. As usual, our rooms were in the Hyatt, but this year, Grace and I got an adjoining “Pet Room” that connects with our room and the one shared by Sharon and our other petsitter, Arcadia, who lives in Critter City and is a veterinary student. It was a pretty nice room for the pets, with an easy to clean astroturf floor, a nice safe enclosed balcony, several watering spots and plenty of beds and pooping boxes.

Sasha: Holy Hopping Hamsters! You guys weren’t kidding about this place!

Bea: Wow! This town knows how to treat a pet!

Flash: You two ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

After a short time to get our stuff put away, we all met up and headed off to get our swag bags, badges and to meet old friends for lunch. Among these old friends are Lee and Barry Gold, who are this year’s very first Filking Guests of Honor along with our own Mary. Believe me, folks, that right there is a whole lot of filksong creativity.

As always, the line to get con stuff was long, but moved pretty quickly. We met many friends there, including our home gaming group (Arn, Sam & Paul), a contingent from the Madison, Wisconsin area (Brian, Lori & Nibbler, John K) and a ton of Facebook & Twitter friends. A lunch meeting spot was determined, then we grabbed our bags and headed out to JimBob’s Texas Style Pizza.

I’ll skip the info about humans & critters eating huge amounts of pizza and list what was in this year’s swag bag. By the way, our badges this celebratory fifth year? Made of stainless steel and shaped like the critter of your choice. Mine is a Basset Hound.

In the bag, we found…

Hardbound program book that looked like a novel

Assorted commemorative polyhedral dice, which when turned to the high “number” spelled out DogCon 5.

A very snazzy t-shirt

A new card game

A new dice game

Coupons for free food & drink around town

A postcard that showed several of us doing last the Old Time Radio Show last year

A card for “One free dice re-roll in any official con game”

Many adverts for games, businesses, etc.

Once lunch was over, we all went back to our rooms to relax and plan our con schedule. Well, actually, some of us had our con schedule planned out months ago. Later, there will be dinner and then the Pre-Con Party for Guests of Honor and Gaming VIPs. The theme this year is “Girls Will Be Boys And Boy Will Be Girls”. I foresee a dress in my future.

More bloggage later.

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DogCon 5, Trip Day 12, Con Day Zero, Part 2

Quick update, since I am being fitted for an ankle length black cocktail dress by Grace & Avis & one of the fitting ladies the con provides. Someday, my nephew Zach will stop laughing, but not tonight. Still trying to decide if I’ll write him out of my will. The ladies look much better, since they can just wear guy clothes. Grace has chosen a truck driver look while Avis has decided to go with a three piece suit.

Dinner, by the way, was at Big Slabs O’ Meat, where you can really unleash your inner or outer carnivore. Well, except for the goats, who ate a selection of veggies and fruits and now both look pregnant.

Abby: Might…explode…soon. Must…rest…now.

Bea: It was like Goat Food Heaven, but I look like a beach ball now.

Ok, time to choose shoes that will fit my huge gunboats. More blogging tomorrow.

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The Doclopedia #718

Threesomes!: The Cloak Of Time

While wearing this rather drab looking green cloak, the wearer can speed up or slow down the rate at which time passes in an area up to about 60′ across. Thus, they can slow down time enough to easily dodge even a lightning bolt or speed up time to effectively allow them out wait a monster that has them trapped. A very useful item, which is actually the only thing that will allow an adventurer to make it alive through the dangerfest known as…

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The Doclopedia #719

Threesomes!: The Castle On The Rock

…The Castle on the Rock, which lies about 30 miles off the storm ravaged coast of Horgravia. The island it sits on is really just a big rock about a quarter mile on a side. Built by the Wizard Portimius, this huge, 6 story castle is home to many deadly creatures, even more traps, the ghost of Portimius himself and great gobs of treasure. The most sought after of these treasures are…

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The Doclopedia #720

Threesomes!: The Bones Of Lorak

…the ancient, yet incredibly preserved bones of the demigod, Lorak the Teacher. It is said that if these bones are laid out in the Valley of the Gods and the proper ritual is performed, Lorak shall arise once more and bestow great wisdom and many skills upon those who helped him to return to our world.

The Rare And Beautiful 9 Colored Hovering Blimp Mice Of Potawango Island

…they hover just out of arm’s reach, giggling and eating berries

 

The following Doclopedia entries are part of a new theme with three  entries that link people, places & things. I hope you like it.

 

The Doclopedia #715

Threesomes!: Falit The Monkey

Falit gur Samkali, known to both the criminal underworld and the Caliph’s Enforcers of Order as Falit the Monkey, is the most successful burglar in all the land. His climbing and acrobatic ability are as legendary as his boldness. Falit has pulled off several of his greatest burglaries, including the theft of the Golden Camel of Jekhar, in broad daylight. The reward for his head , and that is quite literal, is half a person’s body weight in gold. If he were not such a good burglar, the Family of Thieves might have already collected that reward.

Despite being a carefree wandering soul, Falit does have one thing in his life that is tempting him more every day to settle down and go straight: his great love for…

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The Doclopedia #716

Threesomes!: Zormina tar Ozal

…the beautiful and intelligent Zormina tar Ozal, whom he met when he climbed in her window one night. Zormina was sitting up in bed reading an old text on the subject of woodcarving when this young and handsome man came through the window. She gave a small “eek!” then threw the heavy volume at his head, missing by only an inch or so. Falit, ever the gentleman, apologized for violating her bedchambers and handed her back the book. He was about to leave when Zormina, in an impetuous moment, asked him to stay and tell her about the life of a burglar. He did so and that lead to many other nocturnal conversations and, ultimately, love.

Falit and Zormina have talked about going away and getting married many times. This will surely come to pass before long, once Falit makes a really big score on a burglary. The main thing that could stand in their way is…

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The Doclopedia #717

Threesomes!: Walak gur Ozal

…Zormina’s father, the High Captain of the Enforcers of Order. You see, besides being a very protective father to his only daughter, he is also sworn to finding Falit the Monkey and removing Falit’s head from his body in a very public display of justice. In fact, if he knew of a way to execute the burglar more than once, he would.

A large, determined and brilliant man, Walak is closing in on Falit. Recently, he has stepped up pressure on the Family of Thieves and certain other known associates of the burglar. Once enough people agree to help him set a trap, Walak will spring it on the cunning lawbreaker and that will be the end of Falit the Monkey!

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DogCon 5, Trip Day 11

Seeing as how we have a shitload of distance to cover in a day and a half, I scheduled Data to start driving the bus south starting at 3:00 am this morning. By the time I rolled out of bed at 8, we were halfway through Western Colorado and nearing our first fun stop of the day the World’s Largest Waterslide.

Folks, they were not kidding about that. This thing is FIVE MILES LONG! It’s made of clear Lexan tubing about 8 feet across and starts at the top of a big freakin’ mountain. The initial drop is 500 feet long and damned near vertical and gets you up to 70 miles an hour! On your five mile trip, you’ll go through corkscrews, hairpin turns, several smaller drops, a couple of detours out into open space and three loop dee loops! You’ll do most of this while whizzing through forests, rocky outcroppings and even underground tunnels, all face first on specially designed mats at never less than 50 miles an hour. It is just crazy cool.

With the notable and probably sane exceptions of Grace, Sharon and Avis, we all chose to pony up $20.00 each and wait in line for an hour to take the ride. There is a shuttle service that brings folks back up to their cars, but we didn’t need it, since Data drove the bus down to meet us.

It was insane fun! Also, for an extra $20.00, you can get a video of yourself that has footage from a helmet cam and continuous footage from their many security cams, which I opted for. Also, our non-sliding friends could watch the live stream from the the company website, which they did. I’m sure their commentary was amusing.

At the bottom of the hill, we all agreed that it was money well spent. Later, watching the video of me and Mary (you go down the slide two to a mat) shooting along like we were rocket propelled, we all agreed that Mary and I made enough noise for any 10 other humans.

Flash: That looked pretty cool, except for all that water. I mean, you can slide in the Slide Room all day and not get wet.

Sasha: Yeah, that slide looked too much like a high speed bath for me.

After our slide-a-thon, we all relaxed while Data drove us to out next stop, 200 miles southeast. The World Famous Giant Ship in a bottle is, in fact, a full sized replica of a Spanish galleon that was used in pirate movies back in the 1940’s. The much more interesting thing is how much planning and expertise it took to create the ginormous bottle it is in. It was done in one piece by a company in Oklahoma in 1963 and then hauled to Colorado by truck. The glass is 18 inches thick and in 1995 it was coated inside & out with a protective plastic coating. The ship was dismantled, then reassembled inside the bottle. Unfortunately, you cannot go inside the bottle, but you can take all the pictures you want from outside it. As you have probably guessed, we bought t-shirts, fridge magnets, bumper stickers, etc.

About 90 minutes after we left the ship in a bottle, we stopped for lunch at a place right on the Colorado/New Mexico border. They served Southwestern chow as well as burgers & such. We all chowed down and were just finishing when some big, possibly intoxicated, local doofus declared that he could eat any hot pepper known to man and he had $50.00 to back it up. Everybody in our party slowly turned to look at me. They knew that it was a throwdown I’d have to step up to.

The owner of the place said he had some hot peppers we could use, already roasted up and ready to go. Doofus & I plunked down our fifties and sat down to eat some heat. When we were asked what we wanted to drink, Doofus chose beer, but I chose heavy cream. The owner smiled and winked at my choice, knowing that milk products actually help reduce the effects of capsaicin.

We started off with a couple of jalapeno, which were nothing to a couple of chili heads. From there it just got hotter and hotter. By the time we ate the Scotch Bonnets, Doofus looked ready to burst into flame, my mouth was numb despite the cream and we were both sweating enough to relieve the local drought.

Then came the finale: Trinidad Moruga Scorpion chilis, the hottest peppers on Earth by an order of magnitude. We are talking 1.2 million Scoville units here, folks! Just smelling them nearly blinded me. They look like a Scotch Bonnet, only a bit wrinklier.

Doofus looked at his and I could see fear in his eyes. I had on my poker face, although both the entrance and exit ends of my gastrointestinal tract were screaming in fear.

The owner said, “On three, guys.”

I said, “You can back out now, dude”

Doofus said, “No way, hippie!”

When the owner got to three, we did the deed. The difference was, I took a bug drink of cream and then swallowed my pepper whole. This was not unlike swallowing basaltic lava, but had the advantage of being quick.

Doofus gave his two chews, looked like he had suddenly been given a vision of Hell, then spat it out and started gagging, coughing and drinking beer like a madman. I noticed all of this as I slammed down a full pint of heavy cream. After that, I kind of ignored the cheers of the crowd and concentrated on breathing and such. I did remember to grab my winnings.

Back on the bus, at the request of my traveling partners, I used copious amounts of mouthwash. I was also informed that if I even THOUGHT about burping or farting, I must run to the farthest part of the warehouse to do it. Or jump off the speeding bus, my choice.

Later, as we were getting near Taos, we saw a sign advertising Zeppelin Rides. Once again, this was something that we could not pass up. We continued on into town and saw more signs leading us to the airport, where we found…

…the motherfucking Hindenburg! Well, an exact replica, but still, it was there and it was huge and it was calling our names. There was a pretty long line and tickets were $50.00 each for an hour ride, but we were ok with that.

Sasha: Meanwhile, back on the bus, we critters were again locked up in the Meadow Room, but Dad had gotten Jot to create doors connecting it with the Shoe Room and The Slide Room, so we had plenty to do.

Flash: Of course, all the doors leading to other parts of the bus were locked up tight.

Lucy: Yeah, well, Mom is still threatening to trade us all in for some goldfish.

Abby: As if anybody would trade a couple of goldfish for you two hooligans.

Flash & Lucy: D’OH!

Bea: Hee hee hee!

The Zeppelin ride was so cool I’m surprised we didn’t suffer frostbite. There were snacks and drinks and the view of Taos from the air was spectacular. Brian, Spike and I kind of lamented the fact that their were no Nazis to fight with or heroes to help out.

Once our ride in the sky was done, I told Data to get us to Amarillo for dinner at the Big Texan Steak Ranch (a tradition on these trips, most years) for dinner by 7:00 pm. After that, we watched a couple of old movies. First came “Attack of the Snake Men” (1956) and then “Castle of Doom” (1938). Both of them were from the alternate world film library and both of them were pretty cheesy, with a few real scares tossed in.

We got to the Big Texan at seven on the dot, although Data informed me that he had found it necessary to hit a few cop cars with EMP blasts and change the appearance of the bus 16 times. I thanked him and then we all went in to eat a great dinner.

Abby: And we got tons of leftovers!

Lucy: Mmmmm…steak bones!

Afterward, there was game playing and sliding and some hot tubbing and other stuff before bed, all done as Data drove us across Texas towards our last roadside stop before getting to the con. It’s midnight now and as usual, I’m taking the critters for a bathroom break in the meadow before hitting the sack.

More blogging…including from Critter City and the con…tomorrow.

Radio Station: “The Wolfman Jack Show” This was coming from a world where it was 1965 and he was still broadcasting out of XERB just across the border in Mexico.

Destination Sign: Bedrock

Pinball Lizard

…creepy looking, but he can sure play

 

The Doclopedia #711

We Haz MORE Technobabble!: Electronic Phase Warping Missile

It’s a missile that can phase right through armor…or buildings…or anything…then explode! Is that cool or what? I mean, you can shoot this bad boy right through a freakin’ mountain and it’s all “Hello, terrorist douchebags! BOOM!” and they’ll be like “WTF?” and shit! Oh sure, they cost about a billion dollars each, but think of the money you’ll save when you don’t have to shoot around things!

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The Doclopedia #712

We Haz MORE Technobabble!: Microtronic Cellular Expansion Unit

Old way to make somebody into a giant: stimulate cellular reproduction so that they started growing uncontrollably. Side effects: acromegaly, heart not growing as fast as the rest of the body (which leads to not enough oxygen to the brain), strange mutations and on rare occasions, near invulnerability to harm.

New way to make somebody a giant: pop one of our microtronic units into them and just make the cells that have larger! No fuss, no muss! Warning: do not enlarge cells more than 10X so as to avoid having the subject collapse into a puddle of goo.

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DogCon 5, Trip Day 9, Part 1

One of the good things about having a non-drinking bunch of traveling companions is that when you sleep in until 10 in the morning after a night of carousing with members of your tribe, they have breakfast and precious tea ready for you.

Flash: And they take care of your beloved pets.

Sasha: Including Mom and Sharon making us nice warm FOOOODDD FOOORRRR PETTTTTTSSSSS!

Bea: Oatmeal with sweet potato chunks! That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

Abby: And alfalfa pellet muffins!

Lucy: Let’s not forget the Milk Bones for afters!

Once I was done with eating and stuff, we left the bus to visit our first two roadside attractions of the day: The Mushroom House and the Glass Maze.

The Mushroom House looks like a huge mushroom, all red with yellow spots. It has 5 floors and, we were told, has 18,000 feet of floor space. In fact, the place is mostly set up as a hotel now, so you don’t get to see the whole joint. It’s still pretty cool though, because the mushroom theme is everywhere.

The really cool attraction is right next to the Mushroom House and it’s the Glass Maze. Yep, a 5 acre maze with 10 foot tall walls made of glass a foot thick. And not your nice clear glass, nope. These walls are made of old busted bottles & jars & other glass stuff that has been fused together at an old glass factory a few miles away. The factory cranks out 10′ X 30′ and 10′ X 10” slabs that are transported to the maze and then put into place. Glue holds one slab to the next and the maze is huge and complex. We wandered around for nearly an hour before Zach spotted the way out. It was lots of fun.

When we left the Glass Maze behind, we traveled on to Walla Walla and the Onion World Amusement Park, which we (Grace, Sharon & I) had visited two years ago. The park has had a big upgrade since then and we had a blast.

Flash: Meanwhile, back at Folsom Prison…I mean, on the bus…we were restricted to the Meadow Room.

Lucy: And we hadn’t even done anything wrong!

Abby: Yet.

Flash: Hush, goat!

We rode the Onion Coaster, the Walla Walla Whirlygigs and a bunch of other rides. Doc Mystery and Grace both won large plush onion characters (Walla Walla Wally) at an onion toss booth and we all ate burgers & onion rings for lunch. Later, we rode the “History of Washington Onions” ride, where you learn that Vidalia and Maui onions are not fit for proper folks to eat, but the Walla Walla onions will make you a happy and productive citizen and they may just improve your sex life, too.

Once we were pretty much onioned out, we got on the road to head towards Idaho. Imagine our surprise when, just 5 minutes from Onion World, we saw a huge billboard advertising “Uncle Ferdies All New Trained Squirrel Review” just 3 miles ahead. Even if I had not wanted to stop and check it out, I had a busload of folks who had heard the legendary story of our last visit and they demanded that we stop and see the show.

The new place looks good, with a big domed arena for the review and what looked like a mini prison for people to leave their pets in. That last part can be directly blamed on Flash & Lucy.

Flash: It’s a fair cop.

Lucy: Yeah, we did it and we’re glad we did it!

Sasha & Bea: Holy shit, you mean the story is true?

Abby: They hardly stopped talking about it during that whole trip.

Flash & Lucy: We are legend!

Despite Grace & Sharon arguing that we not only lock the critters on the bus, but perhaps clap Flash & Lucy in irons, I decided that Uncle Ferdie had thrown down a friggin’ gauntlet, so the critters went into the Supermax Pet Holding Area before we all went to see the show. Gone were the pimply faced teenage pet attendants. Now, there were steely faced ex-Marines armed with cattle prods and teargas guarding the place. There were 50 or 60 dogs, maybe 30 cats, a few pigs and even a couple of other goats inside. I left the critters there and joined the rest of the gang in the dome.

I should also point out that, if there had been betting on it, I gave the critters even odds versus the Marines. As you’ll see, I was way too conservative.

It cost us $10.00 each, but we all agreed that the 90 minute extravaganza was well worth it. There was dancing, acrobatics, reenactments of famous movie scenes, comedy bits and a rousing squirrel race. Uncle Ferdie and his wife have done a stellar job of training the 20 different species of squirrels & chipmunks they use in the review.

You’ll note that this year the show did not devolve into a cat & dog caused riot. Nope, everything went off just great. At the squirrel show, that is. Outside, things had a more…apocalyptic…look to them.

It seems that the squirrel review dumps out the dirty food dishes from the trained squirrel cages onto the asphalt behind the dome. This attracts rats, mice, squirrels and other rodents by the dozens.

Flash: We could smell ’em! Sweet Ceiling Cat, it was like being next door to a smorgasbord!

Lucy: We could all smell those furry little bastards!

Sasha: There were HUNDREDS of them!

Abby: You folks see where this is going, right?

Bea: Who are you talking to, Abby?

This naturally makes the pets a bit agitated, which the guards can normally control, but on this day, they had the added agitation of Flash, Lucy & Sasha. They also had the 6 trained dogs and 4 trained cats of “Professor Barkwell’s Magnificent Mutts & Clever Cats”, who, as it turned out, were trained just a bit too well.

Now, I’ve only pieced together a bit of what happened, and that was from a 6’4”, 300 pound ex-Marine who was crying like a baby, but I think…

Abby: No, Dad, I think we had better tell the story. We were there, after all.

Flash: Right, Abby. So, as soon as we could, Lucy and I started telling the other dogs & cats that there had to be a way out of this place. Turns out that most of them had heard of the Great Squirrel riot of 2010 and were pretty impressed that we were behind it.

Lucy: Yeah, they wanted all of the details. Those circus dogs & cats were amazed that just the two of us could get such a thing going.

Flash: Anyway, we all started thinking of an escape plan that would let us all go to Rodent-Fil-A. The big problem was those 4 guards. They were big tough looking guys & gals armed with weapons that could stun a moose.

Abby: Meanwhile, over in the livestock paddock, I warned everyone that the carnivores were going to do something stupid.

Bea: The goats agreed that this was a bad thing. The pigs, being omnivores, not so much.

Sasha: I came up with the diversion plan!

Lucy: Yes you did, sis, and it was a good one! She said that some of them could start a mock fight and the rest of us could take out the guards who came to stop it. Then one of the trained dogs, Moxie, said that he and his crew could take out the guard in the security cubicle that controls the door. The security cubicle that has no ceiling. Heh heh heh.

…from what he said and from the layout of the destruction, that there was a mass jailbreak that involved everyone except the goats, who pretty much walked out after the big breakout and then proceeded to eat tens of thousands of dollars worth of landscaping. I know the guard in the booth was terribly scratched up and had been badly tear gassed from her own canister. It also seems that the electronic controls shorted out when somebody peed on them.

Flash: The “fight” started with a huge wolfhound “attacking” a poor defenseless kitty. In fact, these two grew up together and had wrassled hundreds of times. It was the vicious growling and the Oscar worthy screeching that made it sound real. Almost immediately, several other dogs and cats joined in. I know is sounded terrible to the humans, but mostly they were laughing.

Lucy: As the guards came running, the rest of us tripped them up, joined by five pigs. They all fell down into well placed poop and all three of the guards got shocked by their own shock thingies. Flash was riding on my back as we jumped on one guard and ripped his shirt.

Sasha: Those six trained dogs ran over to the control booth and formed a pyramid. Then, the four trained cats ran up it and jumped over the glass walls into the booth. That poor guard never had a chance. After about a minute, the prison doors opened up.

Flash: By the way, folks, if you’ve never seen pigs curbstomp a human, that’s some rough shit!

Abby & Bea: Meanwhile, we goats waited for everyone else to clear out, then we went out looking for a bite to eat.

Flash: A “bite to eat”? HA! More like you chowed down on every expensive plant they had!

Abby: Hush, cat!


So, once the assorted animals were out of the pet penitentiary…

Lucy: Good one, Dad!

…they proceeded to go completely apeshit on the wild rodents, the landscaping and, well, everything. Holy crap, did they ever wreak havoc!

Sasha: Hey now, that dumpster only caught on fire because that goofyassed Airedale jumped into it with that shock stick doodad he got from that guard! He was lucky he didn’t get burned!

Flash: Yeah, and that truck full of septic tank pumpings that crashed through that fence and into that big pine tree would not have crashed if the dumbass driver had been looking at the road instead of us!

Lucy: And that fancy fountain only got filled with garbage and mud because…well, ok, that was us. But…well shit, a dog/cat/pig has a right to cool off after a rousing rodent chase and/or lawn rooting episode. Am I right?

Sasha: Damn right! Also, the goats climbed up on that guys Maserati convertible and crunched in his roof and fucked up his paint job..

Abby: Yeah, we did, but who knew such an expensive car would have such a weenie roof? We could have hurt ourselves!

Bea: I kinda felt sorry for that guy. He was crying like a baby as his trophy wife picked goat poop out of the seats.

Shit was on fire and covered in raw sewage and there was garbage all over and several cars were messed up or full of panicky rodents…it was kind of cool and horrific and surreal.

Thinking quickly, I stunned our critters via the keychain doodad and we gathered them up and beat a hasty retreat to the bus, which I quickly made look like a 2005 Honda Element. We locked everybody down tight and then some of us humans went out to help as best we could and find out about what happened.

All animals got rounded up pretty easily, none of the guards were hurt too bad, although a couple had pig footprints all over them and no innocent bystanders got hurt. Fortunately, Uncle Ferdie did not come out to survey the damage while we were there. I feel so sorry for him. From now on, I think we’ll just order his videos from Amazon.

Flash: It happened again! One moment, I’m about to pounce on a pigeon, the next, I’m waking up in the joint!

Lucy: What the hell, dude? I mean, the robots were nowhere near us!

Sasha: Unless they have cloaking devices. Do the SmartBots have that kind of shit?

Abby: They must! How else can you explain it?

Bea: Man, have you seen the look on Mom’s face? I’m glad we are locked up,

Flash: Yeah, she does look pretty pissed off.

We left just as the local law enforcement arrived. For good measure, I had Joe teleport us 50 miles ahead and across the state line into Oregon. The critters are on lockdown until Grace calms down or hell freezes over, whichever comes first. Also, I have been given the “you should probably not say any words for awhile” look, so I’m just up here in the Ralph Kramden seat driving this bus.

More bloggage later.

Sasha: Anybody got a harmonica? If so, play along. “Nobody knows the troubles I’ve seen! Nobody knows but the Lord!”

Radio Station: “The World War V Channel” featuring songs and news clips from that era.

Destination Sign: Solla Sollew

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DogCon 5, Trip Day 9, Part 2

It is now going on midnight and we are in a campground in Oregon. Tomorrow, we are off across northern Oregon, Southern Idaho and into Wyoming before we turn south for the drive through Colorado, New Mexico & Texas.

The critter were finally paroled (and bathed) after dinner tonight. They all seemed remorseful, if not rehabilitated. Even as I write this, Flash is sleeping next to Grace in our bed. Sasha is sleeping with Miranda & Lauren, Lucy is sleeping in Zach’s room and Abby & Bea are sleeping in their little goat beds in the living room.

We have a few interesting stops tomorrow, most notably Potato World in Idaho, which is the tuberous version of Onion World. I am reliably informed that Grace has requested high tech leashes & harnesses from Joe, just in case she decides that “my” pets can leave the bus.

I’m off to bed now. I’ll blog more tomorrow.

Radio Station: “The Relaxation Channel” featuring relaxing background sounds.

 Destination Sign: The House On Haunted Hill

Wombat Ranching Quarterly

…all the latest news for you wombat ranchers

 

The Doclopedia #709

We Haz MORE Technobabble!: Hypersonic Mental Neutralizer

So, let’s say most of the humans in your town/city/state/continent/planet go completely bugfuck insane one day. Could be any reason for it, but what can you do to stop these now crazed folks from fucking everything up? Why, you zap them with this handy device and before you know it, they’ll be as gentle as lambs. Yessir, this bit of high tech is like having an instant lobotomy team! Even better, if you set the beam for “wide angle”, you can zap hundreds of nutjobs at a time!

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The Doclopedia #710

We Haz MORE Technobabble!: Dynamic Throbulation Unit With Artificial Reality Software

It’s an ultra-tech sex toy, ok? Jeez, you’d think the word “throbulation” would give it away! You climb inside it and the A.R. Software kicks in and pretty soon you’re on the road to Happyland. Can you believe we’ve had Trekkies or whatever the hell they were get pissed off because it wasn’t a real raygun or warp drive or some shit? Jeez!

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DogCon 5, Trip Day 8

I woke up early…like, 5:00 am early…and decided to get the bus on the road after dealing with the critters, who basically peed, ate First Breakfast and went back to sleep.

Flash: Because, you know, 5:00 am!

After a fortifying bowl of Cap’n Crunch and an even more fortifying mug of tea, we were on the road by 6:15. It was a reasonably pleasant drive into Seattle and by the time we got there, everybody was waking up and cooking breakfast and stuff. Afterward, we went to GeekFest, a huge gathering of the tribe sponsored by Seattle, one of the geekiest cities in North America. There is gaming, tech stuff, comics stuff…pretty much everything geek. Including a big stage for music, which is where we were scheduled to do our Annual Musical Number at about 7:00 pm.

But before that, we all wandered around and checked the place out. We met many of our gamer friends who had taken time off from pre-GenCon activities to come see what musical madness we had planned for this year. We also had a great lunch and dinner with our friends from Green Ronin Publishing, who all got a look inside the Magic Bus. In fact, we thought a couple of them might not leave.

Sasha: Yeah, Miss Kate kinda wanted to explore some more. Also, she likes rubbing my tummy.

Lucy: Dad loaned Chris a bunch of alternate world WWII movies.

Abby: They had to pry Nicole out of the kitchen.

Bea: And they all liked the Slide Room.

Flash: They were nice folks, but they smelled of bunnies.

Sasha: Why do you think I was so friendly with them?

Abby: Umm, because you are a tummy rub slut?

Sasha: D’OH!

When the hour of our performance grew nigh, we all got into the bus and got costumed up. With Joe handling out chameleon circuit and our teleporting, we hit the stage. It went like this…

Announcer: “And now, an exclusive appearance by The All Doctor Kazoo Orchestra”

About 11,000 sets of eyes are on the stage when a blue police call box slowly materializes, complete with the TARDIS sound effects. You could actually hear jaws dropping, but they hadn’t seen anything yet.

Door on the police box opens…the Doctor Who theme starts up, played on kazoos that are being digitally messed with to sound somewhat less kazoo like.

From out of the police box, one at a time, come all 11 Doctors playing kazoos! Jaws drop, heads explode and I’d bet an eyeball that at least a few geeks orgasmed.

Note: To prevent arguments, our two youngest members were dressed as the Fourth (Lauren) and Tenth (Miranda) Doctors. I, by virtue of being old and having long greyish hair, was the First Doctor. The remainder were…

Second Doctor: Avis

Third Doctor: Brian (Doc Mystery)

Fifth Doctor: Caroline (Mrs. Doc M)

Sixth Doctor: Mary

Seventh Doctor: Sharon

Eighth Doctor (the “Movie Doctor”): Spike

Ninth Doctor: Zach

Eleventh Doctor: Grace

Oh, and the critters? K-9 (Sasha), 2 Daleks (Abby & Bea) and a Weeping Angel (Lucy & Flash), all wandering in a preset course around the stage eating pieces of kibble or goat chow.

As we finished the Doctor Who theme, there was a pause of about 3 seconds while the kazoos were readjusted, then we launched into “Crazy Train” by Ozzie Osbourne. As usual, Mary and I sang the lead with everyone joining in on the chorus. Those of us handling the kazoo-as-guitar parts (Spike & Zach) did a stellar job.

As we finished that number, we started up the Doctor Who theme again and went, one by one, back into the police box/bus. Once we shut the door, we teleported to the other side of a large building and looked like a bus again.

Later, watching the video of it all, we saw an avalanche of geeks hit the stage to try and figure out how we “pulled off the disappearing trick. When they saw there was no possible way we could have faked it, many more heads exploded. Spike thinks we may have started a new religion, too.

Once we were shed of costumery, I pulled the bus around to a pre-designated area and our Seattle based friends, numbering several dozen, came on board for a party that lasted until around 2:30 in the morning. It was a rockin’ good time and the booze, food and chocolate flowed freely. I finally staggered to bed at 3:30, about 10 minutes ago. I’ve programmed Data to drive us to our first roadside attraction of the day and I’ve set my alarm for 10 am.

More blogging later.

Radio Station: N/A

Destination Sign: A Club Down In Old SoHo

R.I P., Mom

…June 1, 1928 – August 10, 2012

My mother, Geraldine Blades, passed away today after a long illness. I left this day’s page blank because I knew I would come back and do it when I was ready. Now, 2.5 days later, I’m ready.

Someday I’ll write a long piece about Mom, but for now I’ll just say that she was always proud of my ability to tell a tale or write a story. She had all of my books on the shelf in her living room and would point them out to people.

Mom, this post is for you. I love you and miss you.

 

The Doclopedia #706

We Haz MORE Technobabble!: Anomalous Dark Matter Collection Grid

So there you are, cleaning up your little hunk of space and you notice bits of dark matter floating around. Even worse, it’s that crappy anomalous dark matter that you can’t even recycle.

Well, get yourself one of these grids and hook it up to your space tractor, then go to town on cleaning up that stuff! When you’re done, just toss the disposable grid into the nearest black hole and you’re done. It’s as easy as 1…2…3!

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The Doclopedia #707

We Haz MORE Technobabble!: Z-Ray Powered Robotic Assassins

Do you want your Robotic Assassins to be powered by old fashioned fusion energy? No way! No, the young hip bleeding edge maker of robot death machines wants plenty of power, the kind of power you only get from Z-Rays! With that kind of power, your ‘bots will leave a wide trail of death behind them and still have plenty of power to spare. These robots are the droids you’re looking for!

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The Doclopedia #708

We Haz MORE Technobabble!: Trans-Species Fertility Serum

Remember a few years back when all of those half human/half sheep creatures started showing up in New Zealand? Remember all of those sheep ranchers getting their DNA tested? Heh heh heh…so do we, which is why we found the very rare flowers those sheep had been eating and synthesized a serum that allows cross fertility between Mammals, Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians and Fish!

So buy this and create an army of deadly chimeras to destroy the world. Or maybe just use it to come up with new creatures to make cheap Science Fiction Channel movies about.

 

 

DogCon 5, Trip Day 7, Part 1

It is a fact of life that men of a certain age, say, MY age, sometimes find themselves getting up in the middle of the night to pee despite the fact that they take pills to alleviate that problem. Actually, in my case, this is caused by pills that treat something else entirely. So it was that I stumbled into the bathroom just off of our rather huge bedroom at 3:12 this morning. Imagine my bleary eyed and glasses free surprise to find that our bathroom had been replaced by a temperate forest. After a moment of surprised goggling and a softly spoken “What the fuck?” I peed on a mighty oak, then went back into the bedroom for my specs, slippers and gym shorts, the better to have a look around.

I walked about 100 yards and saw many birds, several squirrels, a couple of rabbits and a deer. The weather was very mild and it looked to be around mid morning. When I came to a good sized creek, I turned back. A call to Joe was in order before Grace woke up.

Unfortunately, as I approached the door, she stepped through it. She was not pleased to find the bathroom gone, since she also had to pee. My suggestion that the she just go over by a bush was greeted by the kind of stony glare that only women seem to be capable of. I quickly told her I’d call Joe and she could just use the bathroom down the hall.

Joe arrived a few minutes later and rattled off a bunch of technobabble that flew right over my head. He said he could replace the bathroom easy enough, but the forest was going to be part of out rolling abode for “quite awhile”. Grace told him to relocate the forest near the Meadow Room and then clear out so she could go back to sleep.

Joe was done in record time, again proving that his survival sense is excellent.

Now we fast forward to a few hours later when the forest is the topic of much breakfast conversation. It was agreed by all that since our first roadside attraction of the day was about 90 minutes up the road, we’d all take a little hike in the woods to see what it was like.

Flash: Oh yeah, I’ve been smelling squirrels and stuff all morning! It is so on like King Kong!

Lucy: Is that rabbits I smell on the other side of that door? Why, yes it is! Rabbits that I shall chase!

Sasha: Ok, I’m ready for the hunt! Rabbits, squirrels, foxes, what the hell ever! Girls is gonna get her hound on!

Bea: Oooh! I smell grapevines and ferns and…sniff, sniff…is that watergrass? Freakin’ Goat Buffet, here I come!

Abby: Oh yes, this is all going to end well.

Once all the critters were suitably harnessed and leashed…

Flash: Motherfucker! I can’t catch a break!

Lucy: Damn!

Sasha: This really blows!

Bea: WTF? Goat’s gotta eat!

Abby: I could be wrong about this, but we shall see.

…we started off down a trail after I put a SmartBot on guard duty at the door.

Flash: I’m looking at you, robot!

Lucy: Yeah, robot, we’ll see you again!

We followed the trail to the creek, then down a sloping hill into a little valley. The forest is not very dense, but it is just packed full of life. We saw all sorts of birds and animals. Spike thinks he saw an elk on a hill off to the north and we found signs of otters near the creek. As you might imagine, the critters were a handful, what with the goats (especially Bea) wanting to eat half the plants we saw and Flash & The Girls wanting to chase after every animal we saw.

Lucy: Holy Crap! There were rodents and rabbits and stuff everywhere! Curse this damned harness and Dad holding my leash!

Flash: Mom had me on a short leash and kept telling me to calm down. Calm down? The rodents were taunting me! TAUNTING ME!

We were about halfway across the valley when two things happened: We smelled meat cooking and Sasha pulled the leash out of Avis’ hand. She was off like a shot after a rabbit and heading towards the smoke we could now see. I handed Lucy over to Sharon and took off after Sasha.

I was right behind her…she had lost the rabbit at a small creek…

Sasha: Well, actually, that cookin’ meat smelled better than that damned fast bunny.

…when she stopped. I nearly ran over her before I stopped and then we both saw the camp, the fire, the meat…and the elves.

That would be your Tolkien style elves. Tall, good looking and pointy eared.

We looked at them. They looked at us. They blinked. I blinked.

Then Sasha, tail just a waggin’, walked up to the lady elf cooking the meat and started whining for a piece.

Well, from there it was introductions all around (the rest of the gang had caught up with me) and an explanation of how we came to be here and stuff. The elves looked rather dubious, which is understandable, but they were nice and asked us to join them for lunch, which we did even though we had just had breakfast an hour earlier.

Turns out our forest is just part of a much larger world straight out of a fantasy roleplayer’s dream. Elves, Dwarves, Humans, “Small Folk”, Dragons…the whole deal. I could see various reactions in our group, from some who had that “Oh yeah, I could so spend some time here” look to others who were checking the skies for dragons and looking into the woods for trolls or orcs or whatever.

The food was good…

Lucy & Sasha: Venison for the win!

Flash: Mmmm…fried squirrel. You hear me, you bushy tailed bastards? FRIED SQUIRREL!

Bea & Abby: Greenery….mmmm!

…but after about 45 minutes, Data sent me a text that we had arrived at the World Famous Living House, so we had to bid our Elven hosts goodbye.

Which, as it turns out was probably a good idea, since discussion on the way back revealed that, to those of us at or beyond puberty, those elves smelled really sexy. I mean nipple hardening, undie dampening, petrified woody inducing sexy. There was some mild discussion of going to see the roadside attraction in an hour or so, but how could we tell our single unaffected little girl that Mommy & Daddy & everybody else would be in their bunks? So, somewhat frustratedly, we went to see the Living House.

Flash: After locking us all in the Meadow Room and posting a really big SmartBot to guard the even more securely locked Forest Room.

The World Famous Living House, which you will pay $5.00 per person to see, unless some of you are under 10, is very large house built so as to incorporate as many natural and living materials as possibly. As our guide, Amber, explained, about 50% of the house is alive and growing. This includes big pine trees that act as pillars, mosses that act as both inner and outer insulation, big rocks for furniture, thick walls of logs & clay, a small creek running through the middle of it and a moss carpet for the entire first floor. The place is four stories tall and has lots of south and west facing windows. No sense putting windows on the north or east sides because there is dense forest there.

18 people live in the Living House, along with a great deal of animal life, mostly insects, reptiles and amphibians. 10 of those people are permanent residents and the other 8 are university students who stay for 6 months at a time.

It’s a pretty cool place and is all green energy and stuff, but we all agreed, as we bought the usual suspects, that it’s just a tad too green for us.

Our next stop was Astoria, Oregon and we spent about 4 hours there seeing the sights, eating lunch and generally being all touristy. The critters met many other critters, as it seemed that everybody was out walking their pets.

Flash: Oh yes, the lady cats all want some of my lovin’!

Lucy: There was this hot looking Rhodesian Ridgeback who was…oh my. Mama like!

Sasha: Did you see the ears on those two hunky young Basset Hound brothers? Talk about hung!

Bea: When we walked past that urban farm with those other pygmy goats, the smell of those three young bucks was just crazy hot!

Abby: Amen, Bea, amen! Whew!

Our next stop, and the last one for the day, is at Aberdeen, Washington. Not only will we be camping here, but we will soon be walking just down the road to see the World Famous Giant Roadside Attraction Museum, the home of giant sized Paul Bunyans, cowboys, Muffler Men and lots of other bigass statuary designed to attract customers to various businesses or towns. Just the thought is making me squee a bit.

More bloggage soon!

Radio Station: “Punk Rockers Go To War!

Destination Sign: Gasoline Alley

DogCon 5, Trip Day 7, Part 2

We arrived at the Cozy Camp campgrounds at about 4:30 and were assured by the managers that we had plenty of time to walk down to the World Famous Giant Roadside Attraction Museum and still get back in time for the free hamburger & hotdog cookout.

The walk between the two spots is about ¾ of a mile and we got there pretty quickly. The critters came with us, with me walking Lucy and her frequent rider, Flash.

Lucy: He ain’t heavy, he’s me brother.

Flash: D’oh!

Avis had Sasha’s leash and Grace and Mary each had a goat. I can only imagine how we looked to the cars that drove past us on the highway.

Sasha: Auntie Avis has been taking lessons from Dad & Mom, because she kept me on a short leash when a rabbit ran by.

Once we got to the collection of roadside coolness, we ponied up a couple of bucks each (critters got in for free) and gazed upon the wonder of it all. Words sort of fail me…

Flash: Ahhahahahahaha! That’ll be the day!

Lucy: My money is on Dad still talking 3 days after he’s dead.

Sasha: Yeah, Verbosity is Dad. And Uncle Spike, for that matter.

Bea: Auntie Mary says they suck up most of the oxygen in a room once they start talking.

Abby: Mom says there is only one thing Dad likes more than talking. She never said what it was.

…so I’ll just list what we saw.

7 Giant Paul Bunyans. 5 were painted, 2 were unpainted, but carved from huge logs. Three of them were accompanied by Giant Babe the Blue Ox.

6 Giant Muffler Men. These 12-18 foot guys used to stand outside muffler shops holding giant mufflers. 4 of these still do.

9 Giant Chickens. 7 roosters, 2 hens. The hens advertised places selling farm fresh eggs. The roosters advertised fried chicken joints.

3 Giant Cowboys. One of these was on a giant horse.

4 Giant Native Americans. All of these came from places selling native made stuff in New Mexico, Arizona & Oklahoma.

2 Giant Jackrabbits. Both from places in Texas.

2 Giant Crabs. One from Maryland, one from Oregon. Both came from restaurants.

1 Giant Rattlesnake. From a Texas roadside reptile exhibit.

7 Giant Gorillas. These ranged from 7 feet to 24 feet tall and advertised all sorts of places.

1 Giant Skunk. The museum owners have no idea what this originally advertised, but the bought it from a farmer in Ohio.

2 Giant Pirates. Both came from amusement parks.

6 Giant Dogs. Including a 12 foot tall Basset Hound!

5 Giant Women. 2 waitresses, 2 hula girls and two cowgirls.

16 Giant Dinosaurs. These varied from very realistic to something you might see if you were going through the DTs.

1 Giant Porcupine. Which had advertised a town in Michigan.

1 Giant Sea Serpent. Origins unknown, but it was 70 feet long.

3 Giant Astronauts. Used to advertise motels in Texas and Florida.

3 Giant Goldminers. 2 with burros, all from California.

2 Giant President Lincolns. Both from Illinois, neither killing vampires.

4 Giant Dragons. A couple of these need to be on top of my house.

Flash: Yeah, Dad, I’m sure Mom is on board with that idea.

It was a really cool place to visit and they even boxed up and mailed home the 30 kazillion things Grace & I bought at the gift shop.

After that, we walked back to the campgrounds and chowed down on burgers & hotdogs & all the fixin’s. Later, we watched some alternate world Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes, then went off to our respective beds.

Tomorrow, we descend upon the unsuspecting geek populace of Seattle with our annual Outlaw Musical Number. I predict that many jaws will drop and drop hard.

Radio Station: “Geek Talk Radio

Destination Sign: Talislanta

 

 

 

Chapter 204: In Which Our Hero, Traveling Under Cover Of Darkness And Fog, Seduces The French Queen And Then Steals Her Pig

…later, he and the pig shared some excellent wine

 

The Doclopedia #703

Mixing Magical Potions: Potion Of Polymorphing + Potion Of Animal Control

The mixing of these two potions will have very different effects depending upon the race/species of the consumer.

Humans: You will be able to control small mammals for up to an hour. Sadly, you will be polymorphed into a shrew for about a week.

Elves: Look forward to peeling skin, boils and the overwhelming urge to yell whenever you speak.

Dwarves: You will be polymorphed into a chicken, but you will be able to speak.

Halflings: All of your hair will fall out and you’ll turn orange.

Half Orcs: Expect to be polymorphed into some sort of living teddy bear.

Goblins: You’ll be changed into a puddle of goo.

Dragons: You’re internal heat source will rapidly heat up until you explode. The blast radius will be about half a mile.

Dogs & Cats: You will polymorph into a human for 24 hours. Sorry about that.

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The Doclopedia #704

Mixing Magical Potions: Elixir Of Giant Strength + Potion Of Shrinking

Mixing these two potions has no ill effects, except that a few days after you mix them, you will begin shrinking or becoming terribly strong at random intervals. There will be no warning of this. These random effects will last about 10 days.

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The Doclopedia #705

Mixing Magical Potions: Potion Of Fireproofing + Potion Of Bravery

This is a very bad pair to mix. Side effects can include duck feet, melting skin, ringing in your ears, monster attracting sweat, greasy hands, greatly enlarged nose, loudly popping joints, uncontrollable crying, random tentacles, flammable urine, sticky spit, exploding spleen, flexible teeth and bursting into song.

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DogCon 5, Trip Day 6

(Gentle Readers: Please insert stuff here about waking up at 6:00 am to wife snoring in my ear and cat sleeping on my sweating neck. Add feeding & walking of critters, plus morning routine, etc, etc.)

So, at 9:30 we started driving up the highway towards Crescent City and, beyond that, the Oregon Coast. Once we got to Crescent City, we stopped for a bit of a walking tour and to see The World Famous Iron Colossus.

As the name tells you, this is a 110 foot tall statue of a man, or maybe a robot, built out of scrap iron. It took three years to build back in the 1970s and it still gets added to every so often. It’s actually pretty cool looking and since you can see it for free, they sell lots of stuff to make a buck for upkeep, since the sea air rusts the hell out of iron. We did our part to keep Old Rusty (his local nickname) in good shape.

Flash: Oh, Dad, think of the pet toys you could have bought with that money!

Abby: You have like, a million cat toys already, Flash.

Flash: Quiet, you!

The next few hours were spent driving, stopping for pix/videos, sightseeing and lunch. Lunch was great, by the way, being mostly a ton of Dungeness crabs. Around 2:00, we hit our second roadside stop, The Undersea Tube.

It’s one of those cool clear acrylic tubes that you find most often at aquariums or water parks, only this one extends 300 feet out into the ocean. For $20.00, you get on a sort of train thing that then goes down the tube and out under the sea. The guide, an oceanography student from the University of Oregon, pointed out all sorts of cool and sometimes goofy looking fish and sea mammals. And yes, we all sang “Under The Sea”. You stay down there for about 45 minutes and it is well worth your money. Afterward, you buy a bunch of stuff.

Sasha: Before the humans left, they put us in the Meadow Room, but they forgot to fully close the door…

Flash: Your bad, Mom!

Sasha: …so we decided to explore the Warehouse, which had the only other interesting open door.

Bea: I would have preferred the Greenhouse, but after the last time Abby & I visited there, Dad locks that place up tight.

Abby: Jeez, you eat a few daylilies and you’re a criminal.

Flash & Lucy: Welcome to our world.

Sasha: Anyway, that warehouse mostly has stuff in crates and boxes, but, umm, somebody managed to knock one over and have it bust open. Inside it were a bunch of old books, which didn’t even smell tasty to the goats.

Abby: Nope, too old for us.

Sasha: So, instead, we just played hide & seek, since the Warehouse is like, half a mile long and about a quarter mile wide.

Back at the bus we dumped our purchases and then went to check out much noise in the Warehouse. Grace loses 2 Wife/Mom points for not fully closing the Meadow Room door. The critters were mostly running around the Warehouse having fun, which is ok, but then I heard Avis calling my name and saying “You’ve got to see this!”

Holy Hamsters, it was a crate busted open and about 350 Doc Savage pulp magazines had spilled out. I think Doc Mystery and I both wept a bit, especially when we found out that these were alternate world pulps that continued the tales of Doc and his crew right up into the late 1950s. Even better, they were in near mint condition! We lovingly carried them to the library, then I fed the critters until they were ready to pop.

Lucy: WTF? Dad was feeding us steaks and stuff!

Bea: He pretty much dumped a whole garden in front of Abby & I.

Flash: Fish and more fish! Oh man!

Sasha: I don’t know what we did, but we did it well.

Another couple of hours on the road and we pulled into a state park near the beach. After dinner, there was beach walking, movie watching and, for some of us, pulp magazine reading.

Tomorrow: More of Oregon and then into Washington before heading east, then south.

Radio Station: “The Dr. Demento Channel

Destination Sign: Arrakis

Doc Tempest And The Eyes Of Lucifer

… from the Jan. 1966 issue

 

The Doclopedia #700

Mixing Magical Potions: Potion Of Shadowy Form + Potion Of Speed

It is an unfortunate fact that if these two potions are consumed within 4 hours of each other, the consumer will be teleported to the ninth level of Hell for a period of not less than 1 but not more than 3 days. Said poor S.O.B. will arrive butt naked and weaponless. Most who come back from this journey suffer from multiple phobias and a hatred of hot weather.

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The Doclopedia #701

Mixing Magical Potions: Elixir Of Endurance + Elixir Of Persuasion

The Good News is that combining these two potions makes you irresistible to the opposite sex for 48 hours. The Bad News is that this means the opposite sex of ALL species, sentient or not. It’s no big deal to have your leg humped by an ant, but it’s quite another thing to have a horde of Ogres suddenly look at you with lust in their eyes.

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The Doclopedia #702

Mixing Magical Potions: Potion Of Healing + Potion Of Protection From Cold

WARNING!: Never use these potions within 2 hours of each other! Doing so will turn you into a Magenta Slime, the most disgusting and hated creature ever, for at least a week. Hundreds of species, sentient and otherwise, kill Magenta Slimes on sight. Additionally, you will be able to eat and digest only feces, rotten flesh and the snot of Greater Demons.

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DogCon 5, Trip Day 5

When my alarm went off at 7:00 this morning, I woke up in a zoo. Well, not really, but Grace had decided that the critters could sleep in our bedroom, so there were Abby & Bea snoozing on the floor, Lucy curled up on the loveseat, Flash sleeping on the pillow next to Grace and Sasha sleeping in between Grace & I. Normally, Flash is the only critter who sleeps in the bed with us, but Sasha would not be denied.

Sasha: I like being on the bed!

Flash: Did you know that you woof in your sleep?

Anyway, I got up and rousted our little menagerie with the promise of food, at which point we all headed for the kitchen. Once eating was done, I took everyone to the Meadow Room and left them there to do their business.

Abby: Once we were done, we frolicked a bit.

Bea: Yeah, we goats are big on frolicking.

Lucy: Dogs like frolicking, too!

Sasha: Yeah, we hella frolic!

Flash: I was too busy hunting mice.

When I got back to the kitchen, I found that Zach was there, so we started knocking out breakfast. At 7:45, I put “(Nothing But) Flowers” by Talking Heads on the intercom and announced that breakfast was mere minutes away. By 9:00, everyone was fed and washed and we were on our way to our first roadside attraction, the “House From The Sea”.

It was a short drive of 20 minutes to get there and you could really tell that this house had been built from stuff that had washed up on the beach about a mile away. The whole place is about the size of an ordinary 2 bedroom home, but made out of everything from old rowboats to fishing nets to assorted plastic doodads that fell off of cargo ships.

The tour, given by the owners, Mr & Mrs Henrik Heinneman, costs a buck per person, but the critters got to go for free. Mr & Mrs H were hippies back in the day (like many other roadside attraction creators seem to be) and, as Henrik put it, “decided not to let all of this shit go to waste.”

The place is cozy and pretty normal looking inside, but the back & front yard are just as gonzo looking as the house is. They do have a fantastic number of iris varieties in both yards and I bought a bunch of bulbs from Mrs H. we also bought a bunch of t-shirts and postcards.

Sasha: That place smelled really strange. Kind of like a pile of old wet lumber.

Lucy: Yeah, it did. I also smelled weed growing back up the hill.

Flash: Speaking of fun weeds, they had catnip growing in their garden!

Bea: Yeah, Flash, we know. Mom had to carry your goofy ass back to the bus.

Abby: Just say no to drugs, Flash.

Flash: Hahaha! You two ought to be on Comedy Central.

Back on the road, we drove another 45 minutes until we came to Fairy Woods. Judging from the near full parking lot, it’s a pretty popular place. It’s a five acre park done up with fairies & fairy stuff, both fairy sized and human sized. If you are thinking this is a little girl magnet, you are right. Since we had Doc Mystery’s little girl on board, we figured she’d like it. We weren’t wrong. Actually, we all liked it because its a well constructed park and the hand carved fairies (900 of them!) look great. We all wandered around the place for about an hour, then partook of some killer cookies before buying the usual swag.

Lucy: Not being allowed to go on this tour, we all stayed on the bus and played Diablo 3.

Abby: We kicked some ass, we did!

Flash: Yeah, and we also had the music cranking with some crazy house beats.

Sasha: And we ate a whole loaf of sourdough bread that Dad left out.

Bea: Shhh, Sasha! We might get in trouble.

When we got back to the bus, the critters had music blasting and were playing Diablo 3. There was also the small remnant of a bag that had once held a loaf of sourdough bread.

Sasha: Aw shit!

Since it was my bad for leaving the bread out, I just turned the music off, but let them keep playing the game.

Sasha: My luck holds! The Force is strong in young Sasha Jane!

Abby: Oh jeez!

Our next stop was The World Famous Redwood Balloon Tour. This is a totally cool helium balloon excursion that takes you straight up into the canopy of a small grove of ancient redwoods. It’s not cheap at $50.00 per person, 4 person minimum, but it is totally worth every penny. Grace, who is not a fan of going up in balloons, and Zach, who was feeling a bit under the weather, remained on the ground. The remaining 9 of us went up in two groups. First up was Avis, Sharon, Miranda and I.

The upper limbs of redwoods are complete ecosystems, with species totally unique to the various altitudes. Reptiles, amphibians, insects, molluscs, plants, fungi…all living up there and getting water from the fog that waters the redwoods every day. Everyone took hundreds of pix and asked bunches of questions. After it was all over, we bought copies of their book and bought t-shirts.

We stopped at a rest area to scarf some sandwiches, then I drove us to Eureka and both our final roadside stop and our days end. The roadside stop was “Parrot World”, a really big parrot breeding operation that, besides selling expensive parrots as companions, also breed rare species for sale to zoos and for restocking low wild populations.

They have dozens of species of cockatoos, macaws, conures, amazons and other types of parrots. They also have the best trained parrot show I’ve ever seen. Naturally, our critters were locked in the Meadow Room on the bus.

Flash: I’ll dream about tasty parrots tonight. They can’t take my dreams away!

Lucy: Yeah, well, I was ok with avoiding those big parrot beaks.

Sasha: I would have barked at them from a distance.

Lucy: Parrots can fly, sis.

Sasha: Yowza!

One sweet little Rose Breasted Cockatoo really took a liking to Avis, but a $3,000 price tag and her cat, Leon, ruled out her getting an avian housemate. I caught Grace looking a bit too hard at a Hyacinth Macaw, that, while very tame and beautiful, was $7,000 and a clear violation of the Bedroom Accords that state there won’t be anymore pets. Thus, I was forced to put my foot down. Fortunately, Grace did not protest. I did let her buy several t-shirts and parrot fridge magnets, because, you know, I like the sex.

We are now at our stop for the night just south of Arcata. We’ve got pizza cooking in the brick oven (oh man, do I love this kitchen!) and movies waiting in the theater. Tonight our double feature will be “Mothra & Gamera Go To Paris” and “Giant Monster Attack: 1980!”. Gotta love those alternate world kaiju flicks.

Tomorrow, we continue up the coast into Oregon, where more roadside coolness awaits.

Radio Station:Space Cowboys”, music from the wild west…of Mars

Destination Sign: Abbey Road

The Incredible Turtle-Man Meets The Evil Supergrannies!

…the battle YOU requested! By Lee & Kirby!

 

The Doclopedia #695

Mixing Magical Potions: Potion Of Strength + Potion Of Ghostly Form

If you drink these two potions within an hour of each other, you may experience one or more of the following side effects in addition to the two potions canceling each other out: Rapid growth of all body hair, auditory hallucinations, severe (and we mean SEVERE) constipation, itchy feet, transformation into a duck, violent sneezing of highly acidic snot, the ability to float in the air, increased sexual appetite and incorporeal arms.

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The Doclopedia #697

Mixing Magical Potions: Potion Of Invisibility + Elixir Of Healing

The Adventurers Guild has recorded the following side effects from consuming these two potions within a time period of less than 15 minutes: Explosion, colorblindness, gooey face, butterfly wings that are useless and a sudden allergy to water.

Additionally, if you are an Elf, you may undergo transformation into a Mud Goblin or suffer from various sensory hallucinations.

Dwarves and Half Orcs will have all of the side effects except explosion. They will also smell like gardenias for 6 hours.

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The Doclopedia #698

Mixing Magical Potions: Elixir Of Protection VS The Undead + Potion Of Flame Breath

Humans and Halflings may mix these two potions without ill effect. Indeed, in some cases they will actually have the third effect of making ones skin much tougher than normal.

Dwarves who mix them will get stomach cramps and blurry vision, but will still get the benefit of the potions.

Elves will turn bright yellow and only the Potion of Flame Breath will take effect.

Half Orcs who drink this mix will turn into mice. This will last 48 hours.

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The Doclopedia #699

Mixing Magical Potions: Potion Of Flight + Potion Of Night Vision

For all races, the only known side effect of mixing these two potions is a tendency to giggle frequently and farts that smell delicious to all known monster species.

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DogCon 5, Trip Day 4

We started today with doughnuts and assorted drinks, then drove over to Market Street, where we left the bus looking like a Homeland Security SUV. I figured that way, nobody would fuck with it or give it a parking ticket. I was correct.

From there, we walked around a bit, then went to a crack house…I mean, used book store.

Flash: When I say most of these humans have a book buying habit, I actually mean “addiction way worse than heroin or crystal meth”.

The critters were unimpressed, but most of us humans left with bags of books. Big bags of books. When we got back on the bus, I asked Joe if he could pop us up a book storage closet, which he did.

The next couple of hours was mostly sightseeing, although we adults did go visit the “Museum of Human Sexuality” for about half an hour. As you might expect of such a place, it was pretty eye opening even for a jaded old fart like me. A couple of our group were still blushing hours later.

Sasha: Meanwhile, back on the bus, we were having big fun in the Slide Room.

Flash: The Slide Room is just freakin’ great!

Bea: Oh yes it is, except that after about an hour of sliding, your butt gets sore.

Lucy: Yeah, I think I might have worn the fur off the underside of my tail.

Abby: I can’t get my tail to wag, but it was still hella fun.

For lunch, we descended like geeky locusts on a place in the Mission District that makes great Mexican tortas. I had the pork, Grace had beef and everyone else pretty much tried most of what was on the menu. I was pleased to introduce several of my companions to horchata for the first time.

Flash: I just love Mexican food! That barbacoa…mmmmm!

The Other Critters: We’ll be putting on our gas masks.

Flash: Oh yeah, like dogs & goats never fart.

About 1:30 we climbed on the bus and rolled out of The City, heading north to Wine Country. We only stopped at a couple of places, but wine was tasted and purchased. We also stopped at a cheese shop and bought quite a lot of assorted cheeses.

Abby: Including several goat cheeses!

Bea: Goat cheese rules!

Sasha: And it is very tasty stuff!

At 6:30, we arrived at a State Park campground just south of Fort Bragg. I’m writing this as everybody else is walking along the beach. In a few minutes, I’ll be starting dinner, which will be steaks. After that, it will be time for board games until bedtime. Tomorrow, we’ll be hitting no less than four roadside attractions, one of which is “The World Famous Redwood Balloon Tour”.

Radio Station:Alt. Beatles”, music from the hundreds of alternate versions of The Beatles, a couple of whom are, in fact, beetles

Destination Sign: Castle Dracula