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|Tuesday, January 12th, 2016|
|I Have a Confession to Make
I by no means mean this to be an afront to his greatness; it is a personal feeling. I grew up with Labyrinth and bought Scary Monsters fairly early in the 80's and would listen to it at night endlessly on headphones (and still do). Still when Let's Dance came on MTV, I found it boring, too mainstream. There were always the few other songs like Space Oddity that are just wonderful, and a few months ago, I, in my adultness, realized I had only one Bowie album and should buy more, because I have credit cards and my musical library is probably lacking records that should have long been in it. So then I sat with wikipedia discography entry for Bowie and YouTube and listened to at least two or three songs off every one of his albums. To be honest, at the end of it, except for Scary Monsters and the odd few songs that I had already heard, there was nothing I found that I liked. Not to say it was bad, I would describe it mostly as unoffensive to my tastes which is better than many artists even in genres I like, but nothing I liked and wanted to buy. Before SM, nothing is quite to my tastes and afterward, I found everything too bland.
Sometimes, it dawns on me how much of an 80's child I am. There will be bands I've never heard of but will be referenced and upon listening to them, I'll love them. They almost always are from the early 80's if not 1980 itself. Something about that time just led to result in things that I like, and I am not alone. There are certainly people my age who seem to feel the same. Much of this happened before I even listened to music, for which I had no interest in, until I started hearing this music that was somehow different and spoke to me. American Hardcore, New Wave, all the bands on Urgh! A Music War, etc. It's not like that was the music I was brought up with. I sifted through and discarded lots of music, and much of what I liked was obscure and hard to find, yet still there was this period of a few years, much recorded before I had even bought a record pretty much that I latched onto, to the point of only liking the one album made at that time by a consistantly good artist. Just sort of weird when I think about it sometimes.
|Sunday, January 3rd, 2016|
|2015/2016 Yearly Goals
It's 2016 and time to go over last year's and this year's yearly goals. Last year was pretty good. Some bad things did happened. My mother had a heart attack and my father has broken his hip. Hopefully, they'll get better and nothing will happen in 2016.
For 2015, we have the following goals:
-Politics: Goal was to read some books, keep track of things and get rredy for the election cycle. Pretty much did this.
-Convert VHS to DVD: Got all my old VHS that don't have DVD equivalents converted to digital form. Still working on getting DVDs created but the main goal of backing up all that stuff such as Wax Trax Video Samplers and Propaganda Video Magazines has been done.
-Publish Family Tree; I was well on my way after last Christmas, but my computer died and all the work I spent on that was the one thing I lost. I'm still trying to get back to where I was last February so I can try and convert it into an easy to look at format to give to the rest of the family.
-Buy a House: Fallen farther behind than I was last year. Still wanting one but need to get new pre-approval letters and talk to a realtor and actually look at houses.
-Refit wardrobe: Carharts and black tees are great but I feel I really need something a bit more stylish. If nothing else, I need to actually get my suits that I do have altered to fit me properly.
-Get Art Hung: I have a bunch of unframed art and a great deal of empty wall space in my apartment. As part of my "no longer a college student" goal, I'll try and get those two things solved.
-Paris: Plan is to go to Paris this year, and hit Wave-Gothic-Treffen too. It's the 25th anniversary of WGT and I think several other friends are going this year.
-Election: Time to pay attention to the election if just to keep track of what is going on. Besides the usual issues, I'll probably look at the caucus process and perhaps show up at one.
Several other (past) goals were done:
-Go to Bolivia: Originally it was to go to Paris which has been a goal for the last couple of years (and moved to 2016 now), but my dad wanted to go on a hunting trip to Bolivia with me, so I was able to add another new country to my list. Didn't see much of the cities, people or culture, but did get out in the rural area, saw eagles and owls in the wild areas between farmland where we hunted doves. Met the local menonites and some locals whose land we hunted on and that we gave the doves to.
-Redid Voltagemagazine.com: Finally got off my ass and redid the website and am keeping it updated with new content weekly. New content for the new website anyway, but mostly just old band photography of mine. Now I need to work on getting more content, either creating it or seeing if I can get other people to help. Grand goal is to not only have a place to host my photos, develop my web skills, but to get the site to a point I can use it to get photo passes into shows.
|Thursday, September 25th, 2014|
|Back to LJ
I've tried it before, let's try it again. Hopefully, if nothing else, this little FB shake up will get me back to checking other social networks. LJ is my favorite, but for all the hours I spend on FB, I really do dislike it, or at least find it unproductive. I really need to get back to checking all my different web pages, favorites, social networks, etc rather than just clicking refresh on FB all the time. Sure, there's always new stuff there, but signal to noise is quite low.
|Tuesday, November 5th, 2013|
|Prelude to Yearly Goals
2014's Yearly Goals I am setting for myself will most likely include a lot of reading, so I am starting early. One of the goals will be to read Appendix N, which to those who don't know is the list of inspirational reading in the back of the 1st edition Dungeon Master's Guide by Gary Gygax, in other words, the inspirational material for the creation of Dungeons and Dragons. I stopped by the book store after dropping off my ballot today and bought a hand full of old fantasy paperbacks by some authors I have never heard of, let alone read. Many others I skipped because specific series were mentioned. I expect this will easily be two books a month for the year of 2014.
Add in my normal reading and that another yearly goal will involve reading books too, and there is lots to be read next year.
|Thursday, September 26th, 2013|
|Fantasy Fucking Vietnam: Basic Training
For the first game, there were two players that were able to make it on short notice. I decided upon third Thursday of every month as it danced around my upcoming time on call for work and going to Burning Man. Thus the first game was "this Thursday" and many of my friends have busy lives. I had just watched Full Metal Jacket again and was interested in doing some boot camp stuff, but felt that it would be hard to really get the sort of personal pathos portrayed in the movie without yelling at the PCs in character the entire time. Instead, it was used to try and introduce the setting as well as describe the military style of the game.
The game will be fairly unique for a couple of reasons. FIrst, it takes place in my own personal homebrew world. This is pretty much insignificant except for the military theater where they will be fighting in. Going back to their normal D&D style world, either dead or alive, is the end of the campaign. The part of the setting we're playing in is something I'm creating as we go which is a large jungle surrounded by mountains on the Southern Continent below the equator. The terrain is a large river which goes inland and curves to the south. On the outside of the curve are wooded mountains and on the inside is a jungle plain. The people and culture are unique and strange being modeled after not only on SE Asia but also the Trolls of WoW. The Gods are unique and in many cases animist spirits. They are all the remnants of a much older culture with ruins scattered in the jungle. The other way the game will be different from what they are used to is that it will be a military game. They will be part of a military unit with officers above them they must obey or risk suffering military discipline. There will be ranks, basic loads, unit organizations, officers, assigned duties, busy work, and the sorts of things that adventurers do not normally have to deal with. The players will be part of a platoon of around 40 guys. The PCs attending for the session will typically be in one or two squads the action will center on with the rest filled out by NPCs.
In our first session, we find a cleric and halfling ranger on a ship to the war. They are from a large and powerful kingdom that sees itself as having a long and proud history of being lawful good. To the point that even evil nobles will be offended if you described their country as anything but lawful and good. The kingdom has been at peace for quite some time as none of their neighbors could threaten them seriously even if they tried. It is still mostly medieval and while most eldest children will inherit their parents stations and land, the younger children of well to do families are often only provided for by the (PC class) training they receive before expected to find their own way in the world, most of which are of a martial nature. Being at peace in a civilized land means their options are leaving to find adventure in a distant land, turning to banditry, or being hired by a patron to kill bandits. In this case, the PCs have opted to join the army to seek fame and glory in a foreign land.
In this case, their kingdom has been approached by the elves to aid them in an ancient battle. They have long battled the forces of chaos and in the jungles of the Southern Continent have been fighting against the forces of an empire in service to such a power and ruled by six liches. Their forces are on the move and the elves sought to stop them. The elves, however, find themselves unable to deal with it on their own and have approached the PC's king to aid them, and the king has agreed. An army was raised by both taking on volunteers as well as conscription and sent to aid in the battle of the Souther lands. The PCs are skilled citizens who have enlisted for whatever reason at a higher rank and pay (than the conscripts) with the obligation of providing their own armor and weapons.
Our two begin their adventures stepping off the ship with a group of other soldiers onto an island fortress of the elves. Some fifty miles off the coast is a collection of islands ruled by the elves. They are on an island fortress, perhaps one mile by three, which the PCs kingdom has been allowed to also use to stage and command their war efforts. Here, they will be officially inducted into the military and given basic training. They disembark from the boat onto the docks to find a collection of barrels next to them, each one with a name on it. One of the PCs is looking for their own names when a dock worker tells them that "the officers get brandy instead of vinegar to preserve them on the way back home" as they figure out that each barrel contains a dead soldier going back home in the hold of the ship they arrived on.
Shortly, a soldier arrives who announces that his is their drill instructor and they will do what he says. His first instruction is to line and up and follow him. Along the way, they see a formation of 30-40 griffins and riders heading off the island to the East towards the mainland. While passing a bar, as there is essentially a town inside the walls of the fortress, one of the PCs asks if they can stop for a drink. The drill instructor announces to everybody that the PC has graciously asked to buy everybody the last beer they'll see for some time. He has the bartender line up a beer for everybody including himself, makes the PC pay for them all (1 sp each), downs his beer in one gulp and tells everybody else they have five seconds to finish theirs before they start marching again. Nobody asks him any more questions along the way to their destination.
Their destination is a large warehouse filled with a row of tables with mean and gear on the other side. They are instructed to line up and go to each table to get their kit. The first table is for their paybook the instructor tells them. They will fill out the book with their name, home, etc as well as finger prints and signature (if possible). Duplicate entries will be made in the armies ledger. The book will be their record of time served, pay,meals, and equipment issued, as well as acting as their identification. The next table gave them a metal box as they are told that for the next two years (the time of their enlistment) all their worldly possessions must either be carried on them or in their box. The other tables issues the rest of their basic load of equipment. The last table issued squad equipment which usually consisted of a shovel, 50' of rope, grapple hook, or sewing kit. Luckily, or 6 STR cleric got the sewing kit which is the lightest of all items.
They were then taken to their barracks and began their training. Training began by teaching them how to march, instructing them in military command structure, ranks, orders, by laws, etc. as well as how to march, and how to take care of their gear, plus a little bit more of how to march. They are instructed in the laws of combat and engagement, military discipline, and so forth. A large part of training is also not for teaching the characters skills, but to see what skills they already have. The stipulated pay they have been told is one gold piece per level per day while in the army. The fine print of their contracts actually has modifications that can be made for having or not having certain skills. Fighter type classes for example are expected to have some degree of Knowledge, Engineering, clerics, healing, etc. and not having such skills can result in a 1 cp/day pay cut. Likewise, having skills such as ride, or fly, can result in pay bonus or assignment to cavalry. This training lasted two weeks, and then they were shipped to the mainland to be assigned to their units.
Once on the mainland, they talked to the sergeant to assign them to their units. There was some hemming and hawing by the sergeant before he seemed upset and assigned them to a unit. As they were being taken to their unit, it was explained to them that the sergeant was wanting a bribe to put them in a good (and safe) unit, but having failed to provide the bribe, they are being sent to a rough one. The two arrive at their new barracks with their iron box just in time to be told they have ten minutes to put away their stuff and get ready to march out on patrol.
Next game: On Patrol
|Wednesday, September 25th, 2013|
|Fantasy Fucking Vietnam
“The thief, the one they called Blackleaf, was from Waterdeep. She was wrapped too tight for the Dungeon, probably wrapped too tight for Waterdeep. Elfstar with her magic missile spell was a famous mystic from the woods south of Shadowdale. You look at her and you wouldn't believe she ever cast a spell in her whole life. Ironwolf, Morgan Ironwolf, was from some South Neverwinter shithole. Light and space of the Dungeon really put the zap on her head. Then there was Frederick, the Dwarf. It might have been my quest, but it sure as shit was the Dwarf's party.”
The term "fantasy fucking Vietnam" was first used as a derogatory manner when describing what was seen old school Dungeons and Dragons playing style of clearing dungeons room by room. Each step in the dungeon dealt with traps, monsters, and tactical decisions which would mean the survival or death of the PC in question. The first time I ran across it was in an rpg.net thread that the above quote was taken out of. It was a thread that took the meaning at face value and people described a fantasy Vietnam war where the grunts were adventures, the dungeons were full of VC equivalents with all the Vietnam movie and literary tropes added. I thought this was a great idea and posted the below as an introduction to the game I wanted to run:
"This is fantasy fucking vietnam. The PCs are sent by their kingdom to a pantheon forsaken jungle to fight an expanding necromantic empire while ordered to fight under Lawful Stupid rules of engagement by naive nobles of a lower level while the real reason they are there is to keep the gold mines open and flowing into the coffers of people who aren't even in country. River cannibals led by a rebel lord. Mountain barbarians. Flights of elves on griffens that fly in and burn a village down with wands of fireballs simply because some wizard sent a message spell back to base saying they found undead activity. Add in usual tomb crawling and such too.
This is an experiment in playing D&D while exploring Vietnam war tropes of movies, novels, and pop culture. Will it be an alignment hellhole or a murderhobo paradise? It is an on going D&D game on the 3rd Thursday of every month. Due to the infrequency and experimental subject matter, each night should move quickly and be self contained and handle whoever shows up each month. There will be role play as well as combat, probably in equal amounts.
Character Creation: using Pathfinder Core Rulebook and http://www.d20pfsrd.com/
. 4d6, drop lowest, then re-roll 1's; six times and arrange for stats. Only Core races and classes. You only need to buy weapons and armor with starting money."
I now have players and we are meeting once a month to play said game. I've been watching every Vietnam movie I can get my hands on. I've checked TV Tropes. I've started collecting The 'Nam comic and reading it. I'll be posting updates about the games here and otherwise looking for comments or neat ideas I can add.
Next game: Two characters go to basic training.
|Friday, September 20th, 2013|
|Burning Man 2013
2013 was a good Burning Man. Probably not the best but, although some bad things happened, certainly not the worst. Several people this year said "You don't always get the Burning Man you want, but hopefully, you get the Burning man you need." In thinking it over, the event is a sort of spirit quest. I do not necessarily mean that is even a spiritual manner, but rather it is a major undertaking where people find themselves in an unfamiliar setting, with different social rules and mores, while suffering from the inevitable heat, cold, altitude, dehydration, sleep dep, alkaline attack of the environment, and stresses that come from trying to get things done under those conditions. After a week or even a few days of that, even when prepared, things start to crack. It's no surprise that there are common stories of friendships, camps, relationships, and even marriages breaking up before it's all over with. This is not always in a bad light. Just as often people get a look at themselves and those around them to realize what it is that is important to them and the time to be introspective about it. Another common story is that Burning Man is a life changing event, and I do not doubt that. It is a physically harsh environment which takes its mental and emotional toll and just making it through is an achievement in itself.
Anyway, some bad things happened. Several of our normal campers in Black Rock City Hardware Shoppe could not make it. Two were running a business after their partners left and could not spare the time. One was working on a tall ship during that time and would not be able to make it. One could not make it as she had no healed up enough from surgery to go and had to back out two weeks before leaving after finding even the highway trip down to Olympia putting her in too much pain. Despite being short staffed we headed down in good spirits and this was helped by making good time and a stay over at hot springs in Oregon. Then, perhaps 10 minutes after we had gotten onto the playa and been shown our assigned camp location, we opened up the truck and started throwing out the sleeping pads we had used the previous night. The first two people in line picked up the pads and began carrying them off to the side. Along the way, they began to bounce off each other like sumo wrestlers when Piston rolled her ankle, put her weight on it, and suffered a tib fib fracture. We had to stop, locate medical help, and then arrange for a car for her boyfriend to driver her into Reno. Meanwhile, the county sheriffs department and other law enforcement, in what is essentially a dispute over money since they tried to change their charges for the event but got spanked in court because there were already contracts in place, were ticketing anybody they could. They ticketed the DPW for not having a BRC DMV license weeks before the BRC DMV were even on site. They ticketed one friend who was telling other people who had gotten tickets to talk to the law enforcement liaison for Burning Man and fill out the forms asked for by law enforcement for "Obstructing Justice".
Good things happened too. Everybody joked about their tickets as they will almost assuredly be dropped. Camp got set up with no disasters despite being down many people. Our neighbor camps were old friends on all sides. Piston showed back up in good spirits. The mobility camp next door who help the disabled around the playa loaned her an electric scooter to get around on. The Clown Camp behind us offered their art car to driver her (and us) around on and watch the burn. Instead of our friend that had surgery, we took down a doll to represent her in pictures. We proceeded to spend the week getting pictures with her doing interesting things, making out with Frenchmen, and in the shower with hot girls. We met with all sorts of friends that we hadn't seen since last Burning Man, met new friends, and there were at least three different (actual real, binding) weddings on the playa between friends. The art was amazing. The Burn was awesome. There was too much to do.My 2013 Burning Man PhotosTrey Ratcliff's Burning Man PhotosBurning Man 2013 Time-Lapse: Seen Miles Away From A MountainIRDeep's 2013 Burning Man PhotosThe Atlantic Magazine 2013 Burning Man Photos
(#24 is a bad picture of the art car I was on during the burn. The one in front of the octopus.)Scott London's Photos of 2013 Burning Man
Hello, Livejournal! It's so nice to see you again, with all your content from people I know. You're not filled with nothing but links to website lists, internet rants, or cat macros. We should hang out more often. I know I've said that in the past, and I've meant it. I just procrastinate a lot.
|Wednesday, February 6th, 2013|
|Trip from Portland to Communist Poland
Ah, the things that one thinks up on long lonely drives between Seattle and Portland. I just remembered a rather long and detailed idea I had for a video series while heading down there at the end of last year for the Vespertine Ball. I had been wanting to do some video that year and thus had it on my mind and came up with the idea, or rather a couple of ideas and over the trip stitched them together into a whole story in my head. Now writing them down so I can remember them better.
Story starts out with the words "Communist Poland, 1996". As we follow our protagonist, we discover that the iron curtain did not fall. Rather than let Poland and other countries open up, Russia opted for war rather than collapse and declared martial law and occupied the Warsaw Pact states. The Cold War continues hotter than ever with constant threat of World War 3. This is all learned from context as it is way above our protagonist, a lowly factory worker who has is own problems as his wife and only child have recently died in an accident. The episode ends with him in his kitchen drinking with the radio playing while holding the letter that informs him that he is no longer employed. Most episodes were meant to end this way, him drinking at his kitchen table after something bad has happened, and we learn a little bit more about the world via what is on the radio. The second episode ends with him being broke and facing eviction. The series was to follow the model of Breaking Bad and the Eastern European saying that "Things can always get worse." (This will not be a nice story.)
From there, he falls in with the wrong crowd in an effort to make money and things look better for him. He ends up doing some horrible things, and betraying some old time friends and burning some bridges in the process. After a warehouse torture scene, his new friend and ally reveals that he is not actually working for the mob, but for the KGB in their take over of the Polish mob. Our protagonist is dumbstruck till his new, only friend not only insults Poland which our protagonist takes in stride, but his dead wife and kid. At that point, he picks up a length of 1" rebar and beats the KGB agent to death with it. From there things go downhill with him having burned his bridges and killed the only person protecting him. He ends up caught and sent to a prison camp with one suitcase of clothes.
In the camp, he deals with prison life, makes more mob contacts, and finally is adopted into a group that is going to escape or die. Some escape and some die, but our protagonist and his new friend end up in Warsaw. There with his new rep having escaped the camp with a mob boss regaining his status, he starts to move up in the ranks. One of the main visual points I built the story around happens at this point. For his status, he needs a suit as all the Polish wiseguys wear suits. Indeed, all the important people wear suits, and those that are part of the establishment wear communist pins on their labels. He has no good clothes and is being made fun of by those around him for it so he goes to have one made only there is no good material due to Russians, rationing, etc. He thus opts to have one made out of gaudy material, perhaps upholstry, so he now has this nice tailored suit of this horribly guady material. While the girl tries to sell him a communist lapel pin, he says no and instead tells her to give him a pin of the Polish flag as a joke. Of course, everybody laughs at his suit, but continues on. As he moves up in the ranks and gains status, the other younger wiseguys start appearing dressed in similar suits of gaudy material. Eventually, even the older guys start wearing them as it becomes a symbol along with the Polish pin on the lapel.
|Sunday, December 30th, 2012|
|2012/2013 Yearly Goals
First, we look at the 2012 yearly goals:
1) Work on videos/movies - I did not even buy a video camera. I'm a bit up set this never happened. Seemed like a good skill to have and despite my work asking for something along the same lines, the answer was easy and doable with photoshop.
2) Build props/costume - Did this. Bought a bunch of stuff and worked in Luke's shop and made a Van Haller lightning gun that I entered into the SteamCon costume contest with. It was fun and I want to do more prop making in the shop.
3) Gothic Tea Party - Set up, bought stuff, invited people over and had a nice party but never even took any photos. Didn't get my pig but did have absinthe. I'l consider this one done although I do like bigger, more elaborate parties.
4) Compose a history of Oklahoma Hardcore - Got on this early and wrote some and contacted many people in the OK HC scene I knew from back in the day. I downloaded some music and pictures and was getting a good start on the thing. Then I never did any more. Still want to do this and put it out as a separate small book.
Two out of four isn't good but I also did my NaNoWriMo task from the early 00's and finished a 50k story in one month. So all is not lost. I expect to continue on the two I didn't do and eventually complete them.
Yearly Goals for 2013
1) Work in new media, painting - I figure I'll try something besides photography. So I'll attempt to paint some photos I've done and experiment. If I can get them into some art shows, that would be even better.
2) New event - I'd like to commit to the Edwardian Ball (a dance based on the works of Edward Gorey) but I'm still waiting for the lazy SOB of a manager to get my on call schedule done for the next year. Anyway, if I can't do that, I plan on checking off some event that I want to attend that I haven't yet.
3) New Country - Once again, I'd like to commit to something more specific, but I don't have my schedule for next year. Thus, I'm just putting the goal out there for a new country. I currently have plans to attend WGT in 2013 and visit either Paris or Greece before or after, but in the end, I'll settle for flying to Iceland.
4) Do Christmas - The plan for 2013 is to do all the Christmas stuff I never do, cards, presents, cookies, etc. So, December of 2013, I expect to be a buzy little beaver getting presents and coal ready for all my friends. Back in college, I did cards a couple of times and liked it. This year, I'll try and get on the ball and do all that.
|Wednesday, November 14th, 2012|
26,000+ words so far. Story is winding down but hopefully can get 35k out of it before I start padding. Somewhere in my house there is a book and a spiral notebook with notes on historical and fictional events to pad with, but I can't find them. Meanwhile, as it is a homage to H. P. Lovecraft, it lends itself to some short stories which I'll probably put as appendixes and documents mentioned in the story. They are:
1) The Cases of Theodore S Black - The protagonist's case files as he starts off the story as a 1930's FBI agent essentially handling the X-Files. Lovecraft had government agents involved in several of his stories such as Shadow over Innsmouth where they locked up all the inhabitants of Innsmouth and bombed Devil's Reef in 1931.
2) The Journal of Erick Wilhelm Schmitt - a journal entry of an SS officer as he learns the true meaning behind the "Master Race"
3) Tale of the Submariner - Diary entries of an American submariner in the south pacific during WW2 is sure that something is not only knocking on the outside of the sub, but also singing a song only he can hear.
4) Report to Admiral Byrd - Otherwise known as Return to the Mountains of Madness by an organized military expedition plus Nazis.
If I get 2-4k out of each of those, I should be pretty close to done well before the end of the month.
|Thursday, November 1st, 2012|
Hello LJ, I have missed you and content and keep meaning to come back and post. Now, I have stuff to post that requires space and lots of text which is unsuited for other venues.
So once again, I have joined NaNoWriMo. I did it before back in 2002 as one of my yearly goals. It is not a yearly goal this year, but I didn't finish it then so this is an attempt to complete that yearly goal for 2002. Then I had no real idea or novel. This year, I do. For another yearly goal, I decided to write and publish an RPG and also do more photographic art for it but have never completed it. While looking at a theme to do photography and RPGs with, I came up with the SS because I do WW2 re-enactment and have access to WW2 uniforms and gear, and flying saucers because it was just over the top. Basically, in their expeditions to Tibet and Antarctica, the occult Nazis actually discovered things, namely an ancient alien civilization and cities where they picked up the flying saucers. From there, you move into the occult being based on the ideas of Willhelm Riech, the science on Tesla, and the reveal that there was actually something to their "master race" which is borrowed from Lovecraft. It was supposed to be an RPG, but I figure I can write a story as the game is supposed to take place in 1948 near the final clean up. I think the idea is fairly original so I thought a novel might consolidate all my IP and world of the setting and this is an attempt to get it all down on paper in a form I can show.
The following is the Introduction to the book as written by our narrator.
No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter. It is possible that the infusoria under the microscope do the same. No one gave a thought to the older worlds of space as sources of human danger, or thought of them only to dismiss the idea of life upon them as impossible or improbable. It is curious to recall some of the mental habits of those departed days. At most terrestrial men fancied there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise. Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us. And in the twentieth century came the great disillusionment.
My apologies to H. G. Wells.
It has finally come to a time where enough of what has happened during the Second World War has been revealed that I can finally write a description of experiences. Because of my experiences in the Federal Bureau of Investigation, I was inducted into a secret branch of the OSS and later the CIA. The people I worked for and with sought to investigate the strange technologies and secrets that the Axis had been using against the Allies openly ever since the London Blitz. Finally, enough material has been declassified by the various governments that not only can I describe what happened in such a way that it makes sense as well as passes the censors, but also that, additional resources exist to be cross checked and referenced so that the reader does not think that I am delusional. These words follow my adventures throughout the course of the War, the horrors discovered within, and into the years afterwards as we tracked down Hitler, the final remnants of his SS, and their alien compatriots as they sought to conceal themselves and build up again away from prying eyes.
Those were by far the most dangerous days not only for democracy, freedom and the United States of America, but also for humanity itself. Even though we now exist in a cold war with the Soviet Union and their allies after having divided up the secrets revealed to the Nazis, mankind is at least back in control of our own destiny. The threats of nuclear war and worse that now pose to us are nothing compared to the horrors that threatened us during the fight against the Axis during the Second World War. Humanity has only a glimpse of how closely we came to being extinguished in those days. Even as I describe the plight here with as utmost importance as I can give it, the true staggering magnitude of what we faced cannot truely be stated.
Major Theodore S. Black, US Army ret., Chicago 1968"
|Thursday, September 20th, 2012|
|Burning Man 2012
Following is the blurb I wrote up to send to friends and coworkers who asked for my Burning Man photos who had never been before. Sorry for ignoring you LJ land. I really do like you more than FB.
About Burning Man 2012
Here is a quick introduction to Burning Man as I precieve it.
Burning Man started in 1986 when a guy named Larry Harvey went to the beaches of San Francisco with a group of friends in an effort to get over a bad relationship and ended up building a man out of driftwood and burning it. It was generally agreed to be a pretty good time so they decided to do it again the next year where it became a yearly event. Eventually (1990) the crowds and event started to get larger than the beaches of SF could handle so at the suggestion of some industrial artists, the event was moved to the Black Rock Desert, known as “the playa”.
The playa is a large desert in Nevada that used to be an ancient lake bed that is now part of BLM (Bureau of Land Management) holdings. It is the flattest place on Earth, where the land speed records are attempted at, and probably what you see anytime a car commercial comes on with a car driving across a flat featureless plain. It is basic in nature, bubble if vinegar or some other acid is poured on it, and will corrode metal if moist. When wet if forms a clay like substance and when drying will harden but will break apart. Under the constant tread of feet or vehicles it will eventually turn into a powder like chalk dust that the wind will blow at times to white out conditions.
The early years on the playa were the wild west days of Burning Man which many people heard about it first. It was the time of the “drive by shooting range”, the “molotov cocktail practice range”, hot springs with people covered in mud, random fireworks and flares, and burning cars. As Burning man grew many of these activities had to be given up not only for safety reasons, but also to protect the surrounding lands by useage of thousands of people. Many of these activities are still done on the 4th of July (4th of Juplaya) when thousands of people go to the playa as campers in small groups.
Now, Burning Man is a private arts festival consisting of near 60,000 people. Although still run by Larry Harvey and the LLC he created, it is currently in the middle of a five year transition period where control is given over to a non-profit group meant to take over as he steps down. The idea is to create a community where everybody participates and nobody is a spectator. Most of the working positions, the people who show up months ahead of time to survey and lay out the roads, those who build the Man and other public structures, the people who man the gates, the people who work in the cafe, and the people who clean up after the event is over are volunteers receiving no pay but room, board, and a ticket to next year’s event.
What the event and the city means is different for everybody who attends. Like any city, there are many things that go on, and different people are interested in a variety of different things. Asking what Burning Man and getting a correct answer as it is about different things to different people. With that many people and things going on, one person may spend their entire week doing things that another person never even knew were happening. With the number of theme camps and art installations, it would be impossible to visit them all, let alone experience each one as intended by the people who built them. There are a number of things that Burning Man is supposed to stand for and adhere to and those include:
1) Leave No Trace - The playa, being a flat featureless plain, can be thought of as a blank piece of paper. Part of the ageement with the BLM is that when Burning Man leaves, there will be no trace it was there. People are to pack out everything they brought with them. There are porta-pottied, but there are no trash cans or recycling except for aluminium cans. Whatever trash one creates while there should be carried back out when you leave. If you see trash, it should be picked up and carried out. When your camp is broken down, holes should be repaired, marks errased, and nothing that would cause damage to the playa left unrepaired.
2) Gift Economy - Except for drinks and ice in the center camp, no money is supposed to be used at Burning Man (and in those cases, all profit goes to the local school district). Instead the idea is that things should be given if exchanged. Originally, it was a barter economy, but people just ended up with a box of useless Archie McPhee junk that nobody really wanted so it was easier all round to just give stuff away. The places that serve food, and the bars that serve drinks just give it away. It’s easier on everybody that way. Some places might still require payment in the form or jokes told, talents performed, or participating in whatever that particular camp does. Payment in the form of trinkets (ie swag), cigarettes, food, or other gestures are still done to show appreciations or required for things that might have a fairly high value in the “default world”.
3) Be a Participant, not a Spectator - Ideally, everybody there should be there to add something to the event, not just to watch what other people do. Be in the theme camp, volunteer for one of the many jobs needed to help put on the festival, or just share what you have to bring. This is also for people’s own enjoyment. Go there expecting to be entertained and you may wander around aimlessly for days as it’s nobody’s job to make sure you have fun. Almost everybody there, even the guys driving the heavy machinery frantically yelling into their radios are on vacation just like you. Go there expecting to entertain instead, and you’ll have thousands of people to interact with.
Most people go as a part of a Theme camp. Theme camps are like any other group of campers but usually have a theme that binds them together. They might invite people into their camp to entertain them, run a bar, give out food, provide a stage for others to perform, or have some other set purpose such as being a roller skating rink or theater for example. Others may work together to build and support an art installation on the playa or an art car. Some are just common places for people to camp while they go do other things.
Then, there is the burning of the Man which happens on Saturday night. It’s hard to describe 60,000 people all gathered around for the Burn. A perimeter is set up around the man during the day as it is gotten ready for the burn by removing things that need to be saved, setting up fireworks, and setting up the other pyrotechnics inside the Man. People will start to gather around the perimeter and be asked to sit down by the Rangers (Black Rock Rangers, not the BLM Rangers, another volunteer group for the event that generally tries to keep people from hurting themselves and otherwise get along). The crowd of people sitting will go back about fifty feet where the crowd will be standing. That will go back another fifty feet or so until you start to reach the sea of bicycles laying around where all the sitting and standing people left them. Outside of that will be the ring of art cars that surrounds the entire ordeal providing their riders a platform to see over everybody else and blasting their music. Other people will be watching from much farther back, even from back at their camps almost a mile away as the height of the man and absolute flatness of the playa means that even an 8’ platform will put you above everything but the tallest art cars between you and the Man. Once night hits, the man will be lit up with neon and eventually the arms will raise to the traditional Burning Man stance. This is the sign to everybody that the Burn should be in 20 minutes. The Burn proper starts with the fire conclave, consisting of hundreds of fire performers, coming out and doing their thing between the crowd and the Man. They might also be joined inside the perimeter by marching bands or art cars that will circle the Man. As everything winds down, then the fireworks will begin, which will include water falls of sparks and other pyrotechnics that will begin to set the man on fire followed by large fireballs that will accelerate the process. Once the Man is burning well, the fireworks will be over and it’s just a matter of time till he and the structure it was on finally falls. Once that happens, the perimeter is opened up and things go crazy as this is the point everybody has waited for.
Other large artworks are burned too, some before the Man, and some on Burn night, but the next main burn is the Temple on Sunday night. The Temple was originally built to remember an a member of the designer’s crew that had died prior to the event. Now the Temple is used as a cathartic event to get past things that have happened, namely when people have died. The wooden walls are filled with writings, photos, and other items detailing people, pets, relationships that have been lost that will all be burned with the Temple. The Temple burn is a much more subdued event than that of the man. The art cars do not play any music. People speak in hushed tones. Despite still being in a crowd of thousands of people, you can hear the fire crackle as it burns and a person cough 50 yards away.
My photos from Burning Man 2012http://www.flickr.com/photos/mschiermeier/sets/72157631488364480/
Black Rock City Hardware Shoppe
This is my theme camp. We’re a close group of friends that go out to Burning Man every year to run a hardware shop. We bring tools and supplies to help people who have things break on them out in the middle of the desert or need help building things. While we do a lot of work on bikes, we’ve also fixed shoes, art cars, art installations, generators and all sorts of other stuff as well as given out nuts, bolts, rope, nails, etc that people find they end up needing while in the desert and a four hour drive minimum to anything larger than a gas station.http://brchardware.org/
All my photos of Burning Manhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/mschiermeier/collections/72157626513889961/
This is the actual web page for the event with lots of information on what goes on and why.http://www.burningman.com/
Current TV - The Burn
A 30 minute video of The Burn and its highlights should you want to watch it.http://current.com/groups/on-current-tv/89322039_the-burn.htm
Current TV - Crude Awakening
A video on one of the art projects on the playa back in 2008.http://current.com/groups/on-current-tv/77603201_crude-awakening-burns.htm
Current TV - Thunderdome
A video on Thunderdome, which is the project done by Death Guild, a goth bar in San Francisco, that has been a camp for more than a decade.http://current.com/groups/on-current-tv/89250807_welcome-to-thunderdome.htm
Other Links to Burning Man 2012 pictureshttp://duncan.co/http://www.capacityanddesire.com/
Rueters photos on The Atlantic site
Picture 33 are some of my camp on our friend’s art car shooting the flame throwers.http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2012/09/burning-man-2012/100363/
|Tuesday, December 13th, 2011|
|2011 & 2012 Yearly Goals
Let's recap my goals for 2011:
1) Go to Rome - Did that and was there for about a week. Got some good photos and did lots of stuff. Saw all the old Roman things I wanted to see and other things I didn't know about. I think the best thing to happen from that is when I was reading a comic where the main character was in Rome, although I had read it before, this time, i recognised all the place the character was at by landmarks as I'd been there also.
2) Go to Treffen again for my 10th anniversary (and it's 20th anniversary) - I did that and did it with a vengeance. Not only did I go to WGT again, but a friend put me in touch with people there and I got my photos and writing in the 20th anniversary book that was done and got a photographer pass. I saw 20 bands and got plenty of photos, including of Chris & Cosey.
3) Use Print on Demand to make a book - I did that with my concert photos. Wrapped it up and sent it off to be published last night. It has lots of problems (I am not a graphic designer.), but this should be a good proof copy to see how it does and do some other projects including photo books of Burning Man, Unhallowed Metropolis, and maybe some RPGs I'm working on if I ever get them finished.
4) Do art for Burning Man - Didn't do this. Couldn't think of anything to do by myself, and looked around for a project to join in on but also couldn't find anything. thought about just chipping into somebodies Kickstarter BM project but that got lost in the preparation for the actual event. Maybe I'll get around to it in 2012.
Goals for 2012 -
1) Work on videos/movies - Might as well get a video camera and play around with doing some video. Not sure what I'll do. If I get serious I can finish the screenplay I was working on with Anthony on our apocalyptic submarine movie parody, Das Truk.
2) Build props/costume - Steampunk seems to be in and I need a costume for next halloween, so I'm thinking about working on a Deathwatch outfit from Unhallowed Metropolis complete with lightning rifle.
3) Gothic Tea Party - This year, since my birthday is on a Friday, the idea will be to basically get people together, dressed up in my studio for a tea/absinth/dinner party, do some photo shoots, and have fun.
4) Compose a history of Oklahoma Hardcore - A possible project for that PoD books. I plan to write down my experiences as a punk rocker in the 80's and 90's in Oklahoma as well as those of others, and try to put together some history of OK's punk rock scene. This will involve tracking down a bunch of the old school OK punks (some of which live here in Seattle), getting their stories and recollection of bands and other things from 'back in the day'. I'll have to try and interview NOTA since they are the closest thing to a punk rock band from OK that 'made it' (not counting The Flaming Lips who really didn't make it as a rock band but were part of that scene). Ideally, I'd also like to collect songs from those bands and put together a CD.
|Thursday, June 23rd, 2011|
|Tuesday in Rome
Tuesday in Rome was spent with two goals: seeing the Altar of Peace and the Vatican. I jumped on the subway and came out at the Spanish Stairs which seemed the best place to start my daily wandering or Rome. From there, I walked up and down the Spanish Stair and across downtown Rome to the Altar of Peace which was right next to the Mausoleum of Augustus, but I had missed it the day before. ( Read more...Collapse )
|Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011|
|Monday in Rome
Monday was my first day in Rome and I took off over the path I had travelled the previous night as it was now daytime and not raining. After seeing the Colosseum, forum, Vittorio, Trevi fountain yet again, I decided I'd probably take the subway from now on and skip that two miles of sightseeing (although I'd end up seeing them all several more times).( Read more...Collapse )
|Tuesday, June 21st, 2011|
|Arrival in Rome
My trip to Europe, via a near polar skirt of the darkness, managed to land me in Rome the next afternoon without ever having seen nighttime. I was awake, not wanting to really mess up my sleep schedule by napping, so after making it to my hotel and checking in, I took off towards the colosseum which was a short ways away. I found it and was met with rain and countless men selling umbrellas as tourists huddled around it for shelter. Personally, I found it much like the Seattle I had left and dismissed all sellers of umbrellas and panchos away from me. Even later when it rained even harder and I was already soaked, it was a warm rain and I only worried for my camera and iPad in my camera bag which proved to be suitable rain proof.( Read more...Collapse )
|Monday, June 20th, 2011|
|Back till Burning Man
Ok, I have been to Canada for Kinetik Festival and then off to Europe for Rome, Wave-Gothic-Treffen, and then a visit with my cousin and his family in Western Germany. I am now back. I took lots of photos and should be doing a write up soon.
|Friday, May 13th, 2011|
A couple of months ago, I was at the Noc Noc with friends and doing some people watching. One woman stood out in her 1950's style outfit and I'm not above approaching an unknown woman as a photographer. She was dancing, so I just left one of my cards on her table. She called did call and after talking and meeting up IRL, arranged a photo shoot. Of course, I had to include guns, and also did some shots for the RPG I am writing, Flying Saucers of the SS, which is about 50's b-style sci-fi flics. Here are some of the photos: ( Read more...Collapse )
|Saturday, April 9th, 2011|
I've always had a bit of a magazine fetish, and have just spent the morning re-organizing my collection. I like to read and collect them, especially those dealing with particular subcultures. It's almost sad to go through all the old magazines and remember all the good magazines that were out there once but no longer. It's like looking at clubs that have come and gone though out your life. I'm upset that I left all my original Mondo 2000 and Boing Boing (before the web, it was a magazine) magazines back in OK when I moved. Thankfully, I did bring my Propagandas, Industrial Nations and Permissions up to Seattle. I also still have the originals of my punk rock 'zine, Dachau, but have possibly lost to copies of Doublethink, the arts and entertainment magazine, to one of the other persons I worked on it with. I still have copies of Voltage which was the magazine we made once in Seattle. I also have random bits of all sorts of magazines I have found through the years: Dark Angel, Paranoia, mk Ultra, Meltdown, Vial (still printing I think), Sandmutopia Guardian, and a dozen random issues of magazines that happened to have interviews with Genesis P'Orridge or Coil. I've made a habit of searching eBay for missing issues almost every day (although more out of boredom than any real obsession).
Things are changing now however. Print, especially for what I like is even harder to find. There are no more magazine stands on Capitol Hill. There doesn't seem to be any magazines to buy there even if there was. I'm not sure if things are getting worse though. POD is getting fairly big and while looking around I have run across several magazines that sell such (although usually at high prices). I've even contributed to one called Graceless
. Then there are the PDF downloads. I've found a selection of magazines that are such. It looks like I may be getting an iPad just to read them as doing so on a laptop is unsatisfying. Their seems to be plenty of life out there but it is changing.
The one thing that I really wonder about and that maybe somebody out there with some library skills can enlighten me on, is 'how are they handling citations if everything moves to the web and digital?' Webpages change and often do. News websites change stories and re-edit articles without to much thought or notice. They get moved, taken down, etc. How do we reference such information especially since serious research requires such? What will the Oxford English Dictionary do once there are no more dead tree books to show as examples of a new word? Can a PDF be treated as a book? Will there be a standard that professional websites will have to adhere to be allowed as a reference? This topic really does bug me.