Module R-9:The Iron Castle Of The Vampire Queen

…for characters of level 9 or higher

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CritterCon 12

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Trip Day Eleven: In Which We Finally Return To Hogar Dulce Hogar

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Well, folks, we got home around 11:45. mostly thanks to an airspeed of 225 mph. It’s good to be home.

The kids have invited over about 40 of their school chums are giving them a detailed and perhaps embellished recap of the whole trip.

Luke is in a conference call with his agent and some other folks regarding future projects.

Misty is taking a nap, as is Grace.

Sasha is in her lab, reviewing everything that’s gone on these past 11 days.

All in all, it was another fun trip and great convention. I was told that next year, it being the 13th CritterCon, the con will have a “Halloween In August” theme. Sounds hella fun.

So, that’s it for this year’s report.

Except…

When we were about 15 minutes from home, I got called into a family meeting. It went like this.

Grace: Sit down, honey. Okay, we all have something to tell you and we want you to take it without any attitude.

Misty: Polite acceptance, Doctor!

Sasha: And without any comment, Daddy!

Luke: Umm, yeah, what they said.

Grace: So, we want to say that this year’s trip to the con was a definite change of pace and we did enjoy it. But, well, it was a little boring.

Misty: Even with the various adventures, it was…lacking.

Sasha: What we’re saying is that next year you can plan the whole fucking route and, Daddy, if you say a word right now I’ll freeze you in carbonite.

Luke: Here’s the 20 bucks I owe you, Dad. I really didn’t think they’d come out and admit it.

Sasha: He’s gonna spend all year looking up every fucking goofball stop in North America.

And that’s why I’m smiling big Gentle Readers.

See y’all next year!

Destination Sign When We Started: All The Way
Destination Sign When We Stopped: Inner Sanctum

QM Radio Station: The Beatles On 6 Earths

Critter Con 12 is over,
but we will all be back next year for…

Critter Con 13

(With added teenage NHT and many interesting stops)

 

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Pork Chop Salad

… Mmmmmm

 

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CritterCon 12

Trip Day Ten: In Which We Get Our Kicks Above Route 66

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We woke up this morning with the Bus straddling the Texas/New Mexico border, about a mile north of Interstate 40, much of which took the place of old Route 66.

Once we were all ready for travel, I revealed that we would follow Route 66 all the way to Santa Monica, using as much of the old route as possible, BUT, we would be flying above it at an altitude of around 200 feet. Our airspeed would be about 100 miles an hour.

Yes, they are letting me plan the route home, but with no actual stops except to eat. I’ll take my victories where I can.

Our trip was scheduled for about 13 hours, so we left at 9:00 am. I had Sweetie turn the walls of the living room clear, so we could enjoy the view. I had thought about doing it to the floor, but was met with highly vocal resistance, mostly from my beloved wife.

Of course, we were fully cloaked so as to prevent massive traffic accidents an the road below us.

The trip, while very scenic, was somewhat boring and most of us spent it reading or playing games. Cupcake continues her domination in Ticket To Ride, having beaten her brother and I three times in a row. On the other hand, she owes me 10 zillion dollars from poker losses.

Our lunch stop was for tortas at a place in Gallup and they were excellent. We also nosed around a gift shop for a bit. From there, we kept on truckin’ until we got well into Arizona, at which point we went to Meteor Crater National Landmark. We got off the bus and did the tour of the exhibit and stuff because it would be educational for the kids. Later, as we were getting on the bus, I told everyone that now I’d show then something REALLY educational.

First we flew down into the crater and cruised around a bit. Then, we backed off about 30 miles and 49,000 years and watched the actual impact. That got a big “Wow!” out of the grandkids. It’s a pretty impressive event. When they’re older, I’ll take them to see Tunguska and then the dinosaur killer.

The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful. I did kick our speed up to 175 mph so we could have dinner in Santa Monica, which we did. After that we parked on the beach where we will spend the night. In the morning, we’ll head home. We should arrive about noon.

More blogging tomorrow!

Destination Sign When We Started: Itchycoo Park
Destination Sign When We Stopped: Hotel California

QM Radio Station: Swingpunk Radio

Don’t Tease The Flesh Golem!

…he’s sensitive


CritterCon 12

Trip Day Nine (Con Day 4): In Which More Games Are Played, Love & Hate Go Center Stage, Goodbyes Are Said, And Good Lord, Is There Ever Pie

 

It is late and I need to bust ass to finish this before midnight. Quick and dirty, folks!

Breakfast: Waffles From Outer Space! Ate too much.

Morning games: Betrayal At House On The Hill, Dog Poker, The Fantasy Trip, The Crazy Game Boardgame Expansion #1: City Pitch

(Luke: Dad got his usual 5 gallons of Butter & Bacon flavored syrup.)

Lunch: Tamalemania, where I ate pork barbacoa tamales and drank horchata.

(Cupcake: Horchata is REALLY good!)

Afternoon Panel: “We Loves It, We Hates It!” Spike and I have been on this panel for years now and it’s always fun whipping the crowd into a frenzy over things geeks hate and love. It was held in an auditorium that seats 2,000 people and was SRO.

Afternoon Other Stuff: Got drinks at Mink’s Cold Drinks, took one last stroll through the Dealer’s Room, said goodbye to many folks.

(Cupcake: I’m going to miss my adventuring homegirls.)

(Brownie: I’m gonna miss Chance.)


The con ended at 5:00 and as always, the Goodbye CritterCon pie feed started up an hour later. They had 100 different types of pies this year and I tried 6 of them. I believe Brownie summed it up best when he said “Holy crap! That’s a lot of pie!”

(Sasha: Whoever thought of Hot Dog Pie, I love you!)


About 7:30, we got on the Bus and started beaming our friends home. By 8:00 the Cross family was heading out of Critter City until next year. We were all pretty tired. And very full of pie.

Sweetie will sort of meander toward New Mexico tonight, then stop at the border. In the morning, we will start the trip home in earnest.

More trip news tomorrow.


Destination Sign When We Started: The Sea of Green

QM Radio Station: Music To Sleep By

 

Wicked Hamsters Belittled My Emu

…so he ate the little fuckers

CritterCon 12

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Trip Day Eight (Con Day 3): In Which The Great And Powerful Cupcake Rides A Dragon, Old Time Radio Is Done, Cars Go To War, And Pubs Are Crawled

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The day started with breakfast in bed for everyone, once again courtesy of Mr. & Mrs. Bunnington, or whatever their names are now. It was relaxing and delicious.

After brekky and performing our ablutions, we all scattered to the four winds and gaming goodness. My personal destination, along with the female grandchild, was a game of D&D 5e on the “Girls Rule!” track. I had been tapped to run the game the night before when the original DM had to leave the con for an appendectomy. She is okay now, but not nearly up to riding heard on 8 little girls between the physical/mental ages of 7 to 9.

The cast of characters, all of whom used their real first names “because it’s easier that way”, was…

Heather, a wood elf ranger
Cupcake, a human wizard
Taffy, a dwarf fighter
Kinita, a human fighter

Anna, a halfling cleric
Sookie, a wood elf sorceror
Melli, a halfling rogue
Zoe, a dwarf fighter

I’ll note that Cupcake, Taffy, Sookie and Zoe are NHT (gorilla, cat, dog & dog).

The plot was that an evil king and his evil army were getting ready to ride forth and conquer the good kingdoms. Our Heroines, the Sisters of Adventure, had to find magic items and such to hopefully stop them. The problem was that the dungeon they needed to explore was very, VERY near Dragon Mountain, home of several easily upset dragons.

Insert here many thrilling scenes in the dungeon, during which powerful items were found, monsters were slain and traps were narrowly avoided. By the time they exited the dungeon, 3.5 hours of the 4 hour game were over and I really had to pee. I told the girls to plan their attack on the evil king while I was gone.

When I came back, they had their plan and it was a doozy. They had decided to enlist the help of the dragons by offering to use the Ring Of One Wish they had found to set up a heavily protective magic wall around Dragon Mountain that would only let dragons, animals and “nice true friends of dragons” in and out. I had Anna, the cleric and designated diplomat, make a Persuasion roll and she rolled a natural 20. The dragons were all for it!

And so, on the backs of 8 dragons, with 6 more following, they flew out to meet the evil army, who quite naturally decided that maybe the peaceful life was pretty good after all. The evil king tried to use a magical staff against one dragon, but failed his roll and got eaten in a single gulp, prompting Cupcake to give this little speech.

“Listen up, you dummies! I am the Great and Powerful Cupcake and these are my homegirls and our dragon friends. If you try any more war stuff, we will come back here and kick your asses and let the dragons eat you! So be good, or else!”

The other girls cheered and I declared the adventure over and a great success. I got 8 hugs and, as the merry band of young Amazons left the room, Cupcake told them “That’s my grandpa! He’s pretty great.”

After the game, I was on a panel called “D&D Over The Years”. 75% of the audience was younger than the bandana I was wearing (25 years) and they were amazed that D&D had been around so long. By about the 15 minute mark, everyone on the panel felt like some sort of Olde Game Reenactor, or maybe a museum exhibit. Still, it went very well.


I had enough time to grab a 48 ounce Matcha Green Tea smoothie at Juicy Lucy’s Sexy Smoothies, then haul ass over to the radio station in time to scarf down 2 donuts before doing my part in our programs for Olde Time Radio Day. Our first half hour show was an original episode of “The Shadow”, in which I played the title role. Our second show was an original episode of “Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar”, in which I played George Walsh, an attorney. Both shows went off without a hitch and we all had fun.
It now being 3:00, I hiked on over to join Brian, Mark, Misty and Lettie in a huge Car Wars event. It was an offroad race that started in a desert and then went up into some wooded hills. The terrain did just about as much damage as our weapons did, including tearing off the passenger door of my car when I sideswiped a tree.

In the end, a guy named Hank took first place, Misty took second and a lady named Olivia took 3rd. The rest of us either died or were too messed up to continue.

It was now after 5 and I headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. I was slowed up a few times by short conversations and once to watch a game of Steam Tank Battle!, a game that looked pretty cool. So yeah, I got back to our suite at 5:45, washed up, changed clothes and Grace and I headed out to meet everyone at Big Slabs O’ Meat.

Although a few of our party (Luke, the kids, Goldie, Leon, Miranda) were otherwise engaged, we all dined well on beef, pork and lamb with assorted fixings. We chatted while we ate and then finished up with dessert, in my case, bread pudding.

After leaving the restaurant, we all set out on a con sponsored pub crawl. The idea was to start at one end of Pub Row, play a game while having a drink, then move on to the next pub. And so we are doing just that.

There are 12 pubs, taverns, saloons and such on Pub Row. It’s 10:00 pm and we have just left #4, “Beer, Y’all!”. This could wind up being a long night.

More reportage in the morning.
Continue reading

Good God, Sir, Have You No Morals?

…yes, but they’re pretty malleable
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CritterCon 12

Trip Day Seven (Con Day 2): In Which Many Shenanigans Take Place, Mud Is Applied, Weenies Are Compared And Partying Is Pulperiffic

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It is very late, like, 2:45 in the morning, and I am more than a little intoxicated and tired from partying. You, Gentle Readers, must excuse the brevity of the days summary of events.

Breakfast: We ate at Chez Mom’s. It was very good. I had a country fried steak, gravy, two scrambled eggs and two biscuits. Thus I paid tribute to my Texas ancestors.

At 9:30 am, I played in the live dungeon with Mark, Cathy, Sadie F., Shasta, Brownie and Chance. We had one hour to escape from the Dungeon of the Mad Wizard and it was a hell of a run. We hack, slashed, cajoled, threatened, snuck and magicked our way out with a whole 14 seconds to spare.

At 10, I ran a Toon game for 12 people. It went very well.

At 2:00 a bunch of us ate hotdogs in a park. Some of the hotdogs came from Ed’s Big Weenie and some came from The Dog Cart and some came from a new place, Hot Buns! We compared weenies and agreed that they were all pretty damned good.

At 3:00, we all went off for our annual mud bath spa day at Mud In Your Eye Spa. As always, the cats went for a massage without the mud bath. The three kids all fell asleep in the mud, as did about half of us adults.

We were back at the con by 5. I played in a 2 hour Dread game that involved trying to get into town, get a scientist, then get out of town, all without getting eaten by brain hungry living dead or getting killed by CIA agents. We succeeded, but only just.

Dinner was at Curry On Eating!, which was delicious as always. We finished by 8, which gave us an hour to get ready for the big theme party. This year’s theme was PULPED!, so we all got costumes to make us look like pulp characters. I was some sort of Great White Hunter.

We left our younger contingent in the big Kid’s Party area, under the watchful eye of many moms & dads and Uncle Luke & Auntie Misty. From there, we went to a cozy little get together with 4 bands and about 2,000 pulped out geeks.

We danced, we drank, we chatted and Mary & I even got a whole bunch (300!) of folks to sing “Bohemian Rhapsody”. It was a great party.

And now I’m hitting the sack, y’all. Jeeves will wake me in about 5 hours with a tall mug of his legendary hangover cure, then at 9:00 I will be running D&D for 8 young ladies between the ages of 7 and 9.

More bloggage soon.

Chapter 415: In Which Our Hero, Temporarily Bereft Of Funds And In Debt At A Brothel, Robs A French Prince While Dressed As A Strumpet

…BEFORE any business could take place

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CritterCon 12

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Trip Day Six (Con Day 1): In Which Games Are Played, Panels Are Participated In, Food Is Eaten, And Werewolves Are Not Found In London

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As I often do when reporting on cons, I will be giving the quick and dirty version of the day’s events. Critters will comment as they see fit.

Breakfast for the whole bunch of us was at Waffles From Outer Space, a long time favorite partly because of their butter flavored syrup.

(Sasha: Despite how much I kid Daddy about his various obsessions, that syrup really is some great tasting stuff.)


My first game was actually a demo being done outside the entrance to the convention center. It was a card game called “Vanishing Dungeon” and the idea was you lay out 24 cards to create a dungeon, then try to be the person who gets out with the most loot as the dungeon disappears a bit more each round. The whole game takes about 20 minutes to play and gets frantic as you near the end. I did not win, having jumped from a vanishing room right into a pit trap.

(Lettie: Mom and I played that later in the day. It was lots of fun and Mom won.)


My next game, which Luke and Peter joined me for, was Ticket To Ride, but it used a map of Middle Earth. Peter won with the longest route (Hobbiton to Laketown).

(Luke: I was trying for the Lonely Mountain to Mordor route, but alas, I got blocked twice .)


My first seminar of the con was with Peter and two other GMs and the subject was “Running A Spy Game”. Our audience was full of folks with many questions and we covered The Man From U.N.C.L.E, James Bond, and many other espionage movies, tv shows, novels and real life spy agencies.

Departing Peter’s company and meeting up with Sasha, Sadie M. and Roxie, we headed to the Dealer’s Room. Once there, we wandered around a bit and then played a game called “Chimps Attack!” by an NHT company out of Gorilla City. The premise is that chimpanzees have become sapient and are trying to conquer first Africa, then the world. Things were leaning toward the chimps until both Roxie and I drew the “Heroic Sacrifice” card and crashed a fuel truck and a heavy bomber into Chimp HQ, thus turning the tide.

(Sasha: For you non-NHT out there, the worry among NHT that chimps, who are WAY too much like humans, might become sapient, is a very real thing that we constantly guard against.)


Taking a short break from CritterCon to have lunch, I met up with Spike, Mary, Misty, Grace, Avis and Ginie at Mistress Diana’s Dungeon Diner. Great food and the service is excellent…or else. Half the fun was watching certain members of our table blush.

(Misty: You humans and your qualms about sex are just hilarious to the rest of us. I will note that neither the Doctor or Spike blushed at all.)

All the children (Cupcake, Brownie, Chance) ate at Pizza My Heart with Uncle Luke and the Misiaszek family, because it is a much more family oriented place.

(Brownie: They had a pizza buffet! You could eat as much as you wanted!)


After a short stroll with Spike to settle our lunch, we met up with Mark, Brian, Leon & Goldie to play Ogre. When I asked Mark where Cathy and the girls were, he just said “Firefly Tournament”. Those of us who know Cathy know that she is a huge Firefly fan and could very well win the tourney.

(Shasta: Yes, our mom is a Firefly addict.)


I would love to tell you how our intrepid ground forces defeated the Ogre tank, but the fact is we got our asses handed to us. Not an unusual outcome for Ogre.

(Goldie: So. Many. Missiles.)

After a short meetup with Grace, Sasha, Mary and the by now totally wound up kids, I went to the live streaming of the NHT podcast “Two Dogs, A Goat And A Game”, where I was drafted both as a guest and an announcer for two commercials. The bulk of the show was discussing the con, but we did do about 10 minutes of talking about Daisy & Max and their contribution to the NHT gaming hobby. It was a fun 90 minutes.


(Sasha: Daisy & Max once guest hosted that podcast.)

I spent another hour in the Dealer’s Room, mostly talking to folks, then went back to the hotel for a quick shower before dinner. Thanks to the wonders of texting, those of us not involved in long running events decided to eat at a new steak house, Miss Steaks. It’s a female owned and operated place and I’ll tell you, they really do steaks proper. My New York steak was tender and delicious. Don’t even get me started on the chipotle mashed potatoes or the dinner rolls. Yum!

(Luke: I had a T-Bone, bone and all.)


After dinner, I had Grandpa Duty and took the three young’uns off to play in a D&D 5e game called “The Woods of the Werewolf”. I was one of two adult players with 5 kids. We braved many dangers before finding out that the werewolf was just an old hermit. He did have a werewolf fang though, which he gave us in exchange for a sack of hard candy. We took the fang back to the king, told him the werewolf was dead and collected our 300 gold piece reward.

(Cupcake: He was a nice old man, but at first, my brother the Trash Panda wanted to smite him with his mace.)


By now it was 9:00 and Cupcake, Brownie & Chance were fading fast. I tucked them in bed and went off to join the other adults and about 300 other con goers at a new club off of Pub Row, The Cobalt Club. Yes, straight out of The Shadow stories and movie. Technically, it’s a supper club with entertainment, but if you want to just sit and drink and talk or people watch, you can. It’s a great place and you can get drinks with alcohol, synthehol or just mocktails.

So it’s 11:00 now, this joint is jumpin’ and none of our group seems inclined to leave yet. I think I’ll order another synthescotch and get back to discussing whatever we were talking about.

See y’all tomorrow!

Dr. Silkmelon And Mr. Porkwaffle Observe A Disturbance In The Forest

…caused by a very large moose

CritterCon 12

Trip Day Five: In Which We Arrive In Critter City, Have A Good Cry, And Gather Together Our Extended Family

NOTE: You have probably wondered where the critter commentary is this year. Truth is, they all decided to just comment once we got to the con, so you’ll start seeing their witty bon mots soon.

The drive from the RV park to Critter City takes about 30 minutes, so we decided to eat when we got there. As it turns out, breakfast was delayed a bit.

We knew it was coming, but when we drove into the Critter City dome and saw the three large statues honoring Silky, Daisy and Max, it hit us hard. I stopped the bus and we all just stared and cried for several minutes. Our hearts are probably set back a bit on the healing path now.

(Sasha: I knew it was coming because I donated money for it, but it still ripped my heart out.)

(Luke: Total gut punch.)

(Misty: I was gutted.)


After a few minutes, Cupcake said “Okay, you guys, we need to go now. They would not want us crying when there is a really fun con to go to.”

Out of the mouths of babes.

(Sasha: That’s my girl.)

So we continued driving in toward the hotel, where we had Sweetie open a portal to the Austin airport and our friends stepped through. This year we had Avis Crane and her two cats (Leon & Lettie), a young mixed breed dog we met last year whose name just happens to be Chance, Ginie Murphy and her cat (Roxie), Peter & Holly Hildreth and their dog & cat (Goldie & Penny), Brian Misiaszek and his family and dog (Sadie M.), Spike, Mary & Miranda Jones, and CritterCon first timers Mark & Cathy Ford and their 2 dogs (Sadie F. & Shasta).

(Luke: It was great to see everyone again, especially young Chance, now that I know about his special nature.)

(Leon: Great to be back!)

(Cupcake: Wow! This is a lot of people!)


Since it was 10:00 am and we were starving, we all decided to go across the street and have breakfast at Pancakeville. As always, the breakfast was great and we left stuffed. Thankfully, the walk back to the hotel was short.

(Brownie: Dude, I ate 4 pancakes and 4 sausages. My tummy is fat!)


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Penny: They had whole grilled catfish on the breakfast menu!)

When we got up to the front desk, the folks there greeted us warmly and handed me a short note. It read,

Dear everyone,
This year is on us. Have fun!
Daisy & Max

(Luke: Max & Daisy, you are a class act.)

That stopped us all cold for a moment, you betcha. A few tissues were needed. D&M, I know you are reading this, or will soon, so thank you from all of us.

To paraphrase John Hammond in Jurassic Park, Mr & Mrs Bunnington spared no expense and rented us the entire top floor, plus the penthouse cabin & garden. Fully stocked fridges and bars, too. Now, I should point out that only four floors of the hotel are above ground. The other 20 are underground. Therefore, the penthouse cabin is not that far above ground level. Still, the view is nice and the garden is lovely and attracts lots of birds and insects.

(Leon: I miss my bunny homeboy, but damn, this is swanky.)

(Sadie M.:

Grace and I took the penthouse and everyone else got their suites, including all the critters, who shared the largest NHT specific suite. After a short break to get settled in and freshen up, we all went off to collect out badges and swag bags.

The badges were all “magical amulets” that had a 3D image of an elf inside them. Pretty cool.

The swag bag was a large canvas bag containing the following…

The con book, which this year took the form of a wizard’s spell book.
The usual assorted fliers and coupons.
Three card games: “Bag The Bees”, “Mystery House: Vampire Manor” and “Pirate Race.
Two small board games: “Big Steam City” and “Art Heist”
Several quickstart rules for RPGs
A CritterCon 12 pin
A random miniature for the “Explorers of the Monster Realm” game.

(Chance: THIS IS SO COOL!)

(Cupcake: I know, right? Free games!)

(Brownie: This is the BEST PLACE EVER!)

Not a bad haul, really, especially after last year’s rather light load.

Swag bags in hand, we wandered around meeting all sorts of old and new friends. Cupcake and Brownie were pretty boggled by it all and Avis’ new cat, Lettie, wasn’t too far behind them. After about an hour of wandering, we went back to the hotel to peruse the con book.

(Lettie: WOW! I have never been anywhere like this! Is that a capybara?)


(Sasha: Yeah. His name is Earl and he’s the favorite of his human, who owns 14 more besides him.)

Some of us are running official games or doing seminars, but here is the breakdown.

Me: 2 Toon games, 1 Call of Cthulhu game, 3 seminars, 2 Old Time Radio episodes

Spike: 1 AD&D game, 2 seminars, 1 Old Time Radio episode

Brian: 2 seminars, 2 Old Time Radio episodes

Leon Crane: 2 minis wargames (cats are big on minis wargames)

Misty, Grace & Mary: 2 hours in the Children’s Game Room

(Roxie: I doubt I could do that.)

Luke & Misty: Improv for NHT Gamers seminar

(Misty: It should be fun. 40 seats already sold out.)


Sasha: A 2 hour stint at KCCC radio doing “Grrlz of Punk & Metal” show.

(Sasha: I’m gonna make ears bleed with female musical asskicking!)

The kids, including young Chance, who, I hasten to say, is just an ordinary dog, didn’t know what to choose, so all the various uncles & aunties helped them out. They will have pretty full schedules.

After some con planning, it was mostly nap time, although Spike, Brian, Mark & I just hung out shooting the shit.


We ate dinner at two new places, Big Mama’s Badass Burgers and Game of Cones where we had ice cream for dessert. Both places were excellent.

(Luke: Lordy, those were some excellent burgers.)

We are all about to go to the big pre-con party, a Cheesecake & Bourbon bash. Children and those with early bedtimes will only be there for an hour or so. Many of the rest of us will be there until they close it down.

(Sasha: I’ll be drinking for me and Silky tonight!)


The con reporting fun will resume tomorrow.

Destination Sign When We Started: The Baxter Building
Destination Sign When We Stopped: Gallifrey

QM Radio Station: Gnomish Storysongs