Under The Onion Tree

…and other stories

 

 

CritterCon 10

Day Three

Having planned this trip out carefully, I decided that between Castroville and Santa Barbara, there were no roadside attractions worth stopping at, or, if there were, they were ones we had already been to. With that in mind, the Bus started heading down the highway about 3 in the morning so that when we all woke up at 7, we were not only in the Santa Barbara area, but in the parking lot of Lugo Makes Breakfast!, a very tasty place to eat.

I had eaten here before, so I knew the drill, but did not fill anyone in when we all filed inside at 8:00. See, Lugo only makes one kind of breakfast: bacon, eggs, hash browns, a biscuit and whatever you choose to drink, as long as you drink coffee, tea, milk or water. There is no menu and all you get to choose is how your two eggs are cooked. That’s it, baby. $7.00 a pop and if you dawdle over brekky, the waitresses start saying rude things about you. So we ate and got the hell out.

(Silky: Dad neglected to say that you get four slices of bacon, the hash browns are seasoned wonderfully and that big ass biscuit is fluffy and delicious.)

Our only other stop in Santa Barbara was the Bird House, which is a pretty standard 1960’s ranch style home set smack in the middle of an aviary the size of a football field. Said aviary is home to 97 species of birds, from tiny wrens to ostriches. The tour takes about 45 minutes and costs $5.00. Many of the birds are not afraid of humans and will land right on you.

(Roxy: That’s cool when the bird is a little finch, but alarming when the bird is a hyacinth macaw.)

(Leon: AUGH! My cat instincts were at odds with being in a humanoid body.)

Upon leaving the Bird House, we all relaxed on the bus as we made our way to San Diego. Gabriel and I got to doing a comedy bit where he played Rocco, a Chicago mobster, and I played Maxie, his dim bulb of a right hand man. It was mostly Rocco asking about how the latest plan went and Maxie telling how he and the boys screwed it up. An example…

Rocco: So, Maxie, I told ya to go corner the market on D&D. How’d it go?

Maxie: Oh, boss, the first night was so tiring. My feet hurt from all that dancing.

Rocco: Dancing? What the hell?

Maxie: Yeah, D&D, Dames & Dancing. Them gals was cute, though. This one blonde…

Rocco: MAXIE! D&D is not about dames and dancing! It’s…

Maxie: Oh, we figured it out, boss. It was Ducks & Drinking. Lemme tell ya, them ducks cannot hold their liquor.

And so on. We had everybody laughing.

Around 11:30, down in Los Angeles, we stopped at our next attraction, the World Famous Murder Mansion. I mean, who wouldn’t want to tour a seaside mansion that has been the site of 14 murders, starting in 1924 with the last one in 1998?

This place is huge and sits on 10 acres of land. After you pay your twenty bucks per person, you enter the mansion and see the scene of the first murder, where silent movie actress Dondra Durban shot her cheating husband and his mistress six times each (she reloaded her revolver, drank a bottle of wine and shot them again).

(Silky: She was plenty pissed off.)
(
Daisy: Ya think?)

From there, you go to…

The 1930 mob hit on Frankie “Box Office” Tanetelli in the front driveway. No convictions on this one.

The 1941 unsolved decapitations of the twin Onslow brothers in their separate bedrooms.

The 1947 murder by strangulation of actress Jenny Robbins, committed by her ex manager in the pool house.

(Silky: I remember hearing about this one on the radio.)


The 1959 triple homicide (shooting, stabbing & beating) in the dining room of Mr & Mrs Waldefski by their business partner, Ed Niddle, who was the one shot by the dying Mrs Waldefski.

(Leon: That was one hell of a business disagreement.)

The 1970 poisoning of record producer Buddy Leaper and his girlfriend. They ate poisoned cookies in the master bathroom while bathing. Girlfriend’s mother was convicted.

The 1979 death by bomb in the car of B movie director Sam Sterling. Bomb planted by his ex-lover, B movie star Trent Nash.

(Daisy: Hey, he made “Teenage Lizard Girls From Outer Space”!)
(
Max: And “Surf Of Death”. That one with the deadly kelp!)


The 1988 dismemberment and partial cannibalization of Richard Milligan, a gardener, by his employer, millionaire Alex Rader. The bodies of 11 other people were found at Rader’s ranch near Santa Maria.

(Roxy: EWWWWWW!)


And finally, the 1998 murder of Mr. Harry Culbertson by his wife. In the Kitchen. With a Frying Pan. On a Saturday. Because he was an Insufferable Asshole.

(Silky: She died on Death Row in 2009.)

The whole tour takes over 90 minutes and yes, folks, they do have a gift shop. Oddly, when we got back on the Bus, several folks didn’t want to eat.

We rolled into San Diego at 5:00 and rested up before dinner. After dinner, we played two sessions of D&D 5th edition. I ran one game and Daisy ran the other at the same time. Everyone had fun.

(Daisy: Daddy ran them through a dungeon and I ran my group through the Forest of the Doomed. It was pretty fun to scare the crap out of them with Ghost Trolls, Night Slimes and Fungus Orcs.)


It’s time for bed now. Tomorrow, we’re off across the desert, with one of our stops being

Destination Sign When We Started: Lair of the White Worm
Destination Sign When We Stopped: Townsville

QM Radio Station: Dog Punk 101

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The Suspenseful And Thrilling, Yet Oddly Mindblowing, Story Of Mostly Purple Patty And The Milk Cow Boogie

…co-starring her her Uncle Swingy Tompkins

Great googly moogly, Dear Readers, It’s that time of year again!

CritterCon 10

Day Zero

Hi, folks! It is just shy of 11:30 pm, Wednesday, August 2, and I’m the only person awake on the Magic Bus. I’ll be hitting the sack soon and then around five in the morning, Sweetie, as we call the Bus, will drive over to Santa Rosa where, at around seven, we’ll officially begin our tenth trip to the greatest imaginary convention on earth.

Our merry crew for this year includes…

Me
Grace

Silky

Luke

Sasha

Daisy

Max

Avis Crane (the original version, this year)

Leon Crane (a cat)

Ginie Murphy

Roxy Murphy (a cat)

Spike Y Jones

Mary Jones

Gabriel Gentile (first timer)

Our route this year is pretty simple: Drive down Highway 101 to San Diego, take a left turn onto interstate 8, follow it to Interstate 10 and then straight on until we hit the middle of Texas, where we turn off to go to Critter City. We are looking at a 5 day trip.

As always, we will stop off at some strange and wonderful roadside attractions, including the tallest Giant Jesus statue on earth! One restriction I placed on us this year was that we could not go more than three miles off the highway to reach an attraction. This only counted out two, the Spider House (which nobody wanted to go to anyway) and Chickenville (which is about 12 mile off the highway), so we are good to go for several places. I might even stop us at a couple we’ve been to in previous years.

Well, I’m done with the nightcap that Jeeves brought to me, so it’s off to bed now. Tune in tomorrow for Day One of our journey.

Destination Sign: Zzzzzzz
QM Radio: Turned off for now

Dye Hard

…a little shout out to tie dyers

DogCon 9

Day Seven: In which we spend our last day at the con and finish it off with plans for next year.

This will be short and sweet, folks, since it is almost 1:00 am and the bus is rocketing across our great country at just under 150 miles per hour. Fortunately, we are cloaked and using back roads.

We had our final Critter City breakfast at Waffles From Outer Space, after which the day was all about playing games, buying games & other geekery, attending seminars and giving seminars. Spike, Daisy and I were all on the “Ask A GM Anything” seminar and then Spike and I were on a panel with two other folks for the “We Loves It/We Hates It” seminar. Both of those were the same great fun as every year.

The Post Con Cool Down party was quite different this year. Oh, there was still a huge variety of pies to try and much chatting and goodbye saying, but there was also a six page questionnaire about what we would like to see at the con next year, for the tenth anniversary. Over 1,600 people filled them out, plus in a few days it will be available to fill out online. Folks, there were many great ideas floated, let me tell you.

We left Critter City at 7:30, headed to Baltimore to drop off Spike & Mary, then New Hampshire to drop off Avis, Ginie, Leon & Roxie. After that we will make a beeline for home.

At some point in the not too distant future, I’ll expand this year’s report and add in missing critter comments, but for now, bedtime beckons. Until next year, this is Doc signing off.

DogCon 9

is over.
But we will all be back next year for…

CritterCon 10

(even if some of us go to GenCon)

Support this blog on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/DocCross

Chapter 704: In Which Our Hero, Being Without Funds, Cons A Pig Farmer Into Giving Him A Five Pound Note

 

…and a rasher of bacon.

 

DogCon 9

Day Six: In which I  update this report throughout the day, just to be different.

8:00 am: We started our day with a delicious breakfast at Pancakeville. That place never skimps on the portions. I highly recommend the cheesecake pancakes.

9:00 am: While most of our traveling band went off to play various games, Sasha and I did a seminar entitled “Mad Science In Your Game”. It was well attended and the audience had many thoughtful and borderline disturbing questions.

10:15 am: With Sasha off to address meeting of the Central Texas Non-Human Terran Association, I got into a game of Lords of Waterdeep. I am not winning, but it’s fun and it should be done in time for me to meet Grace & The Girls for lunch.

 

12:00 pm: We had lunch at Curry On Eating!, a damn fine new Indian buffet. We were joined by Avis and Ginie. There is some small possibility that we all crossed the line into “Ate Too Much” territory, but damn, fresh warm naan and goat curry!

 

1:00 pm: We met up with the rest of our party and some other folks for a rehearsal of tonight’s Old Time Radio broadcast of “The Adventures of Doc Mystery: The Laughter of Death!”. It will be an hour long and run from 8:00 to 9:00.

2:30 pm: Spike, myself and 4 other gamers over 50 did a panel  called “You Kids Get Outta My Dungeon!”, which for being a bunch of old farts talking about gaming pre-1990, was well attended and full of laughs.

4:00 pm: I ran another Toon game, this time for 24 players, including Grace, Silky, Sadie, Lauren, Mary and Max. It ran for 2 hours and we probably had 50-60 spectators at any one time. I was knackered when it was done.

6:30 pm: We had dinner at Chez Mom’s. I ate a chicken fried steak the size of a large frisbee.

7:45 pm: We are all in the Green Room at station KRTR awaiting the start of our show. More bloggage later before yet another party.

9:15 pm: Radio show finished. Some of us (Grace, Mary, Silky, Lauren, Sadie) went back to the hotel to relax and sleep. The rest of us are heading to the Costume Party, This year the theme is Zombie Robots, costumes will be provided.

 

2:30 am: Tipsy, but not drunk, Sasha and I are back from eating chili after the party. It was another very fun party, considering everybody was made up to look like badly rusted robots. We shall sleep now.

 

 

Radical Lorikeets Angered My Skinks

…you do not want to deal with angry skinks

DogCon 9

Day Seven: In which, while we humans eat an expensive dinner prior to yet another party, the critters discuss their day at the con.

Sasha: I started the day playing in the live critters only dungeon with Silky, Roxie and Sadie.

Sadie: It was lots of fun! I played a thief.

Roxie: I was a wizard of the School of Fire. I fried several zombies and a bugbear,

Silky: I was the cleric of the party, Sister Orella. I had my work cut out for me between healing Sasha & Sadie and smiting unbelievers.


Sasha: I was a barbarian with a bigass sword. We kicked ass.

Daisy: Max and I played board games until I had to do my panel on GMing.

Max: Yeah, I really liked “Mars Explorer”. It’s a competitive, but you also get points for helping other players out of jams.

Leon: I got into a minis war game at 8:00 am that lasted 6 hours. It was United Planetary Marines versus Martian Warbots on Mars. It was a pretty fast moving game considering there were 10 players.

Max: After Daisy went off to do her panel, I played a game of Paranoia with Sasha and Sadie. That was some funny shit.

Sadie: Yeah, we blew through about 4 clones each before we even got out of the briefing room.

Sasha: And another 3 down in R&D!

Roxie: Silky and I went to watch some anime. The first few episodes were Magic Girl stuff, which is fine, but then they started showing some goofy high school romance comedy that was just too goofy.

Silky: Yeah, the Japanese have a different sense of humor, for sure.

Leon: When my game finished, I went to the all cat play area. It was fun for a couple of hours. Then I went to the Dealers Room and bought some minis.

Sasha: Yeah, the three of us hit the Dealer’s Room, then went to the arcade to play the hell out of Pac Man and the like.

Max: I rule at Venture!

Sadie: I set a new personal record for Centipede.

Roxie: Sounds like we all had a fun day. So, who wants to order room service before we meet the humans at the party?

Support this blog on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/DocCross

Hot Damn! It’s The Dancing Elks!

…and they’re wearing tuxedos

DogCon 9

Day Five: In which we reach Critter City, meet up with lots of friends and prepare to party.

Having spent the night less than an hour from Critter City, we all got up late today, around 9:30. After a fairly light breakfast, we got on the road and rolled under the big dome at 11:45.

After parking in the Hyatt underground and then getting all of our stuff into our suites, we went to meet assorted friends and then get our con badges and swag bags. Among the first dozen friends we met were Brian Misiaszek, his wife & daughter & dog. The Misiaszek family and Sadie have traveled to this con with us before several times and Brian is always involved in a couple of the old time radio productions we do, to say nothing of panels and games.

The swag bags at DogCon are always good and this year was no exception.Our bags included…

A t-shirt depicting a movie starring ConDog, the lovable mutt mascot of the con as “Dogtor Strange” and looking sort of Cumberbatchy.

Three six sided dice (mine were electric blue) with the 6 replaced by the DogCon 9 logo.

A poster for a low budget, Kickstarted movie called “It Came From Under Space”, which looks to feature a giant mole.

A super yummy (and safe for critters) lemon cookie the size of a tea saucer.

A book of discount coupons for favorite eateries like Chez Mom’s, Thai One On, Ed’s Big Weenie, Pizza My Heart, Waffles From Outer Space! (BACON & BUTTER FLAVORED SYRUP!) and Mistress Diana’s Breakfast Dungeon, plus a few free drink coupons.

A mini board game called “Carp Wars”

The con book, which this year is done up to look like a steampunk Journal Of SCIENCE!

Having gotten our swag, we all made our way to Ed’s Big Weenie to eat delicious hotdogs and look through the con book.

Since I have your attention, I will note that besides the seminars, panels and games that Spike, Brian, Peter, Sasha, Daisy and I run, this year will see Grace & Mary as part of a 6 person panel with the title “I Married A Gamer”. I am told it has already been moved twice to larger rooms.

And now we are back from dinner at Thai One On and are letting our tummies rest before heading out to the pre-con party and alcohol fest. This years theme is “Marvel VS DC” and costumes are provided. Oh, yeah, this year, there is also a critters only party sponsored by Non-Human Terrans of Texas. The theme for that party is “Summer of Love”.

More blogging tomorrow.

 

Jollyfish

…MUCH happier than Jellyfish

It is that time of year again, folks…

DogCon 9

Day Zero: In which I once again set things up for the actual con report.

Greetings once again from the Magic Bus, currently parked in the driveway of the D&G Cross Home For Not At All Normal Basset Hounds. It is just past 10:30 at night and with the exception of myself and Sasha (Sasha: Had to pee, then eat a snack.), everyone else is asleep after a busy day of hanging out at the Meadow Room, Slide Room, Warehouse, Living Room and then eating too much barbecue for dinner.

Our con going contingent this year consists of myself, Grace, The Girls (Silky, Sasha & Daisy), our friend Avis (the original, this year. Her double from Earth 2 will be staying at her house running errands and reading books) and her cat Leon, our friend Ginie and her cat Roxy & Spike & Mary Jones. We will meet up with other old friends when we get to the con.

Our route this year is, from a driving standpoint, pretty straightforward: head south until we almost reach Mexico, then hang a left and head to central Texas. On the other hand, from a temporal standpoint, the route gets much stranger. Just as we leave home, we will time travel to 1954 (the year of my, Avis and Ginie’s birth) and do our first day’s driving then. The second day, we’ll be in 1968. Third day, 1975. Fourth and final day, 1986. On Monday morning, when we awaken about 45 minutes outside Critter City, we’ll be back in 2016. I’m quite sure everything will go smoothly.

(Sasha: Ha! We can’t change the past, but I reckon we’ll be spinning off alternate realities the way a cat sheds fur.)

Anyway, Sasha and I are heading off to bed, so I’ll continue this report tomorrow. Tune in then!