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

The One Day Late, But Still Shiny New, Story of Mostly Purple Patty And The Talking Ginko Tree.

…c0-starring her pet mink, Alma

 

DogCon 9

Day Four: In which we visit a bunch of places and then attempt to change history.

Our day, which began at 7:00 am, was longer than the actual hours of daylight and was pretty tiring. Because of this, you get the condensed report.

Places we visited

The Haunted Ranch House: Legend has it that in 1989, the lady of this remote place went batshit insane and killed her husband, her mother and father in law and three cousins. Since then, the place has reportedly been the site of all sorts of spooky shit, enough that nobody has lived here since 1960. The solemn, yet perky young Texas A&M coed that lead our tour showed us the areas where bodies were found and where spooky stuff was said to have happened, Sadly, nothing spooky happened on our 45 minute tour. Note: This place was destroyed by arson in 1994.

Rattlesnake Acres: This is your basic small farm that has been dedicated to housing 2,500 rattlesnakes of about 20 species and 18 subspecies. It’s pretty interesting and more than a bit scary. Unlike most Texas rattlesnake establishments, this place only milks them for antivenin and does not kill them for their sdkins. They also breed rare and endangered species of rattlers. Note: Still in business in 2016.

Jesusland: This is, or was, a sort of small fundamentalist theme park. In 1986, it has been open just over a year. There was a small roller coaster, a merry go round, bumper cars and a few other rides, all with a Biblical theme. There were maybe 200 people there today. Note: Jesusland closed in 1990, reopened in 1992, closed again in 1997 and was razed to make way for a Wal Mart in 2004.

Tiny Town: Yet another example of the type of roadside attraction based upon people with plenty of spare time building tiny houses and stuff and assembling them into a town. This one has an Old West theme and was somewhat more intricately built. Note: Still open in 2016, their 79th year.

Bob & Bessie’s Big Bad Barbecue: This alliterative place is where we stopped for lunch and the chow was crazy good. Some of the best barbecue I’ve ever eaten, which is saying something. Note: Still open and with three times the seating in 2016.

After all those stops, plus driving nearly halfway across Texas, we stopped for a bit so everyone but Spike, myself and Sasha could take a nap. The three of us, however, had other things to do, or rather, undo.

With Sasha along as a skeptical observer, Spike and I traveled forward in time and space to Roosevelt, Washington in 2010. We were right outside the building housing “Uncle Ferdie’s Trained Squirrel Review”. Yes, the same trained squirrel show that Lucy, Winker and Flash caused a riot at on our trip to DogCon 3. Our goal was to prevent that debacle AND another one a few years later.

Now, changing history is impossible, as Spike and I have learned the hard way. However, making sure history happens is dead easy. What we did today was a twist on the latter, but not really. Here’s how it went.

Spike and I set our ambush up about 5 minutes before our 2010 bus crew arrived as the humans got off the bus, we neuralized them and had them get back on the bus. Then we zapped them AND the critters, gave them memories of the whole event, then told them to drive 10 miles down the road, wait for half an hour, then proceed on with the trip, false memories intact. It worked like a charm.

Sasha’s jaw nearly hit the pavement.

We then went forward in time to our second visit to Uncle Ferdie’s, then implanted more false memories of a debacle. Again, it worked like a charm. We even implanted the thing were if we google Uncle Ferdie, we remember reading how he closed down a year after the Second Great Riot.

Except, of course, he didn’t. Uncle Ferdie’s Trained Squirrel Review is still in Roosevelt, Washington and doing 4 shows a day, 6 on weekends.

When we returned to 1986, we told everyone what we had done and they were pretty amazed. Spike and I celebrated with milkshakes.

And now we are at an RV camp about 45 minutes from Critter City, preparing to hit the sack. Tomorrow: the pre-con usual stuff,

More blogging soon.

The Real Housewives Of Hobbiton

…they mostly cook and eat

Our Dogcon report proceeds.

Day One: In which we travel through 1954 California and see many Giant Oranges.

At a few minutes before dawn this morning, we drove the bus over to Auburn Boulevard (about a mile from our house), popped back to 1954 (when it was also Highway 49) and headed west until we got to Highway 99 South. Our trip had started.

(Daisy: And all before any dogs…)

(Leon: ...or cats…)

(Max: …or rabbits…)
(Daisy: …were fed.)

We have traveled to some strange places, folks, but driving along roads I use every day, but 62 years in the past and a good 57 years before I remember first ever traveling on them was hella strange. Some buildings are still there in 2016, a few even still occupied, but most are gone. We saw motels, burger joints, diners, gas stations (remember, this was and still is part of the Lincoln Highway), houses, farms (!) and all manner of businesses. “Hamburgers! Buy ‘Em By The Bag!” read one sign. “Ice Cold Beer!” read another. “Rooms: $5.00 per night” was on a motel sign. Gas, by the way, was about 18 cents a gallon.

(Silky: Wow, the past smalls funny, yet oddly familiar.)

(Sasha: People smell a little stinkier, at least to us dogs. We approve of this.)


Everyone was looking out the windows, checking this all out. Spike was riding up front with me and we chatted about how this might be a fun thing to do in Baltimore, Toronto and other cities.

Speaking of Spike and I, it behooves me to point out that everybody on this trip has been fitted with a personal holo-projector that will make sure we look period proper in the 50s and beyond. With our long hair and beards, Spike and I would stand out like whores in church in 1954. The womenfolk would also attract unwarranted attention. And just to avoid any REAL catastrophes, the critters will be in android bodies whenever off of the bus. Also, our destination sign is off and the bus is no longer tie dyed, it is now white and says “XXXX First Church Of God” (with the XXXX being constantly updated to a town 100 miles further along the road) in big blue letters. We also have a sound unit to make the normally quiet bus sound like a 1940 school bus with high mileage.

After about 2 hours of driving the 60 mile an hour speed limit and stopping to take pictures every so often, we ate breakfast at the Red Barn Restaurant, in Lodi. I’m pretty sure at one time or another, every town in North America had a Red Barn Restaurant, most of them little independent joints like this one. The food was great, the service was great and the prices were crazy great. 12 people ate for just over 25 bucks, including a buck fifty tip. The only slight eyebrow raiser for out waitress was when Max (a vegetarian because rabbit) asked for fruit for breakfast. Thinking quickly, Daisy said “My fiance is having some digestive problems” and all was cool. Well, except for Max who was stunned to hear Daisy use the word “fiance”.

(Max: It just caught me off guard!)
(Leon: Dude, you looked like a deer in the headlights!)
(Sasha: I checked as we left to see if he pooped.)

Around 8:45, full of very tasty food, we got back on the bus, but only after “Pastor Cross” was asked by a carload of folks traveling north to do a little pre-breakfast prayer for them. Despite me being a lifelong atheist, many generations of Southern Baptists, Irish Catholics and Portuguese Catholics is in my DNA, so I was able to pull it off very convincingly.

(Sasha: I got the feeling that Daddy would make a hell of a fire and brimstone Pentacostal evangelist.)
(Silky: He’d sure be making more money.)
(Roxie: He has a nice preaching voice.)

We drove for another 3 hours, stopping once to take pictures of the House Made Of Glass, which was closed to the public and scheduled for demolition, and once for the Giant Jesus Of Merced. As Giant Jesuses go, it was merely ok. It was barely 18 feet tall and the sculpting and paint job were very average. Still, another one for our photo album.

(Daisy: Definitely not even in our top 20 Giant Jesus List.)
(Leon: What kind of family has a Giant Jesus List?)
(Sasha: The kind with our Dad in it.)
(Daisy: Don’t even ask about the competing Museums Of Body Parts Lists that Dad and Auntie Mary have.)

As we drove along 99, we saw a vivid memory from my early childhood: Giant Orange drink stands. Indeed, you’d see one about every 20 miles.

For those of you not from California or born after about 1970, these stands were, well, let’s read this bit from the Weird California website.

In 1926 Frank E. Pohl started his chain of “Giant Orange” stands opening up his first orange shaped stand on what was 11th Street near E Street in Tracy. Before trying out orange juice stands, Pohl had a giant lemon from which he served lemonade in Menlo Park called Jumbo Lemon Stand. But his first “Giant Orange” was in Tracy, California and spawned a franchise and imitations throughout California. The franchise peaked in the 1950’s with approximately 16 different stands built throughout Northern California from Bakersfield to Sacramento to Merced and Redding. It’s rumored that a stand could easily go through six thousand oranges during a week as it quenched the thirst of weary travelers who pulled over for a quick drink.

So yeah, there were more Giant Oranges along 99 and other routes from Redding to Los Angeles than you could shake a stick at. Naturally, we stopped at a couple for cold drinks and pictures. I think the last time I drank at a Giant Orange was about 1971.

The rest of our trip saw us stopping at a burger joint for lunch (cheeseburgers were 20 cents each, real milkshakes were a 30 cents), viewing a bunch of plaster statues telling the history of Fresno and closing down a roadside zoo.

For those of you who are under about 45 years of age, roadside “zoos” used to be very common. They generally featured wildlife native to a given area, plus a few monkeys and maybe a chimp and a lion or bear. They were almost universally small, dirty and terrible for the animals. When we saw the first sign advertising one at a truck stop north of Bakersfield, I could see the critters tense up. Being pretty pissed off by the thought of suffering animals, I was also pissed off and so we stopped.

It was pretty large as such things go. Lots of local wildlife, including 4 deer, plus two lions, two bears, a wolf, two chimps, a half dozen monkeys and an elephant. The cages, while clean, were way too small and little was done to mitigate the 100 degree heat

Normally, if one of us is going to go off on a tear and try to change history, it is usually Sasha or I, but this time, it was Silky (in an 18 year old looking human body). Below, the transcript.

(Silky walks up to the owner of the place, a big beefy ex-Texan, with her fists clenched and a neuralizer in her hand. There are about 30 other patrons standing around.)

Silky: “Hey, you son of a bitch!”

(Texan turns quickly to look at her and she drops him with a roundhouse right.)

Silky: “I did NOT fight Nazis in the war just to come home and see this shit! Game over, motherfucker!”

(There are many gasps in the crowd. Silky holds up the neuralizer and zaps everyone but us.)

Silky: “You will all get back in your cars and leave here. You will NOT ever again tolerate animals being treated like this! You will be KIND to animals for the rest of your lives! Now get the fuck out of here!”

(The crowd disperses rapidly. Silky turns back to the Texan. Spike, Sasha and I look at each other. It is looking like this is an instance of MAKING history, because you cannot change it. Silky zaps the Texan.)

Silky: “Listen up, you cowboy asshole. You are going to close this zoo permanently TODAY. You will release the animals that can survive in the wild and then take the exotics back to their homelands OR a really top notch zoo. You will spare no expense in doing this. You will then devote the rest of your life to helping animals and shutting down these fucking roadside zoos. Now DO IT!”

(After a few seconds, the Texan springs into action, yelling at his helpers to cool these animals down. We all get back on the bus and Silky, now back to more or less normal, asks Jeeves to please pour her a double synthehol bourbon on the rocks.)

After we were back on the road, Sasha checked the timeline and found out that, sure enough, that guy and many other animal rights activists started their careers that day. Another case of one of us causing history to happen as it should.


(Daisy: Holy fucking shit!)
(
Roxie: That was incredible!)
(
Leon: That was a wicked bad punch she gave him!)

The rest of the trip was much less eventful, being mostly through the desert to Blythe, where we stopped for the night. We had dinner in Palm Springs and saw several big name stars like Bob Hope, Ray Milland, Benny Goodman, Shirley Temple and Barbara Stanwyck. Even better? A ritzy meal for 12 cost me only $157.87! SCORE!

So right now, we are parked off a side street in Blythe. Tomorrow we shift to 1968 and drive across Arizona. Right now, however, I am off to play some games and partake of pints of Guinness.

More trip reportage 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!

Doc Tempest And The Green Fire Death

…from the July 1962 issue

DogCon 1, Last Day

The Dealer’s Room, she is closed…the seminars, they are done…the Art Show? History…Gaming gots 2 more hours, then it’s all she wrote…DogCon 1 is over.

The seminar I was part of, “I Hate …..!”, was packed. As the title indicates, it was a bitchfest for the 8 of us on the panel, then halfway thru, we let the audience bitch. Yeah, us gamers love to gripe.

Grace hit the Dealer’s Room hard while I was seminaring. She bought enough board and card games to increase our collection by an order of magnitude. We’ll ship them home, lest I have to ride atop the car all the way back to California.

When the con was over, I called my bestest pal, Avis, at GenCon so we could share a “The con is over” moment:)

Right now, the con honchos are getting things ready for a “Post Con Cool Down”, in which everyone is invited into a huge portion of the convention center for soft drinks and…wait for it…pie! No gaming, just pie eating and chatting for a couple of hours. How cool is that?

So, this ends my con report. Grace, The Girls and I will depart from this hotel at midnight for the long drive home. Sharon, the World’s Greatest Dogsitter, will fly out tomorrow morning.

In summary, the con was incredible. If I don’t go to GenCon, I’ll be back here for CatCon 2 next year.

Oh, and the Super Secret Origin of DogCon? I can’t tell you about it. Wouldn’t be a Super Secret if I did that, right?

(Winker: Hahaha, Dad. Very funny. NOT!)

(Daisy: We love you, Daddy, but jeez, that stunk.)

 

Catgirl Yami Rides Again

…more fake anime

DogCon 1, Day 2

1: The TOON/OTE game finished up a half an hour early, at 6:30. It was a rousing success, with only one PC actually dying, but then he came back as a toon, so it was cool. Tiffany Trilobite was rescued, the evil Tiffany Trilobite got dipped and everyone went to a dinner party at Elmer Fudd’s house.

2: Dinner was another large group affair and this time we had pizza. Lots of pizza. And sodas, beer, milk, softdrinks. The conversation was great and ranged from raising children to the upcoming new Star Trek flick to gardening to why almost nobody at the table was playing D&D 4E.

3: Stuffed full o’ pizza, we all then went to Open Gaming and commandeered 3-4 tables. We then played the following games (in groups ranging from 3 to 8): Arkham Horror…Blink…Apples To Apples…Settlers of Catan…Puerto Rico…Bohnanza…Aquarius and at least 2 more that I can’t remember. Much fun, with the last of us leaving Open Gaming about 1:30 am.

4: Like a fool, when I got back to the hotel room, I decided to check my email instead of going to bed. I had 22 emails that broke down into the following categories: Spam = 6, Mail from GenCon goers = 4, Mail from relatives back home = 2, Mail from other DogCon attendees = 4, LJ comments = 5, Mail from financial advisor = 1. I finally hit the sack around 2:15 am.

More bloggage later

They Took The “A” Train, But Never Gave It Back

…apologies to Duke Ellington

Dog Con 1, Day 2

Another one by the numbers, kids. And to think that the day is only half over:)

1. At 9:00 this morning, after a hearty breakfast, Grace, The Girls and I went to a day spa for people and their pets. It was my first time at a spa and Hot Damn!, was it a relaxing and invigorating experience. Who’da thunk that a half hour submerged up to yer neck in hot mud would feel so good? (note: The Girls did not get the mudbath. Instead, they got regular baths and and doggie pedicures.) Next came massages for all 4 of us (Daisy and I stayed awake, but Grace and Winker both fell asleep halfway through) and then delicious smoothies. Grace had peach, I had pineapple and The Girls had liver. Finally, there was hair washing, cutting (trimming in my case, as Grace forbids my hair to be short), styling and pedicures for us and new collars and leashes for The Girls. I emerged a new man, minus the former man’s killer hangover.

2. I met Spike at noon for lunch and had one of the 10 greatest hamburgers of my life. Afterwards, we strolled around the con, peeking into everything from the Movie Room (showing “Spider-Man”) to the Boardgame Hall (which had, I’m told, 200 individual games going on) to the Art Show to the Computer Gaming Showcase (I wants me a hugeass plasma monitor). Open Gaming was packed, the minis room was maybe halfway full, the card game room was full and there were at least 4 LARPS going on. Busy con, yes indeed. I’m told they had 5,000 prereg attendees and expect maybe 3,000 walk ins. Not too shabby for year 1.

3. At 3:00, I parted company with Spike and went off to GM yet another game, my famous TOON/Over The Edge crossover Who Took Tiffany Trilobite?. We are on a short break from the game just now and so far, the game is going well, despite the PC’s making at least one error that may come back to kill them. Insert fiendish GM cackle here.

And now, I must get back to this game, then haul ass to dinner and then go play assorted games with other geeks.