November 14th, 2006

there!, Hello

Movies, Zombie Poetry and Paranoia

So, Trista and I went to the movies twice, last week. Saw The Prestige, which we were both absolutely blown away by. A tale of rival magicians in the 19th century is both gorgeous and exceptionally well written. Had to buy the novel, after seeing it. I am well aware that many changes are necessary when bringing a novel to screen--I have tried my hand at adaptation on a number of occasions, though none of these scripts has been produced--so I'm eager to see what delightful origins the movie blossomed out of. David Bowie's portrayal of genius physicist Nikola Tesla truly stole the show.

On Veteran's Day (observed), Trista and I also caught Flags of Our Fathers, a fine film directed by Clint Eastwood. This piece is a fine meditation on the American attack on Iwo Jima, the origin of that iconic photograph (Heroes? For raising a pole?) and the very strange whirlwind of events following this act when the three surviving men from the photograph are pulled into political machinations to convince Americans to 'Buy War Bonds'. At times touching, at times heart rending, and all together a soul numbing film that suggests though a man can physically depart from a battlefield, he cannot truly leave it behind.

Over the weekend, T and I watched a couple of movies from Netflix. Night Watch, the Russian supernatural action flick (first of a trilogy), is an enjoyable (and rather gory) flick. Not in the same league of film as the first two reviewed here, but entertaining never-the-less. Essentially, it encapsulates much of White Wolf Game Studio's World of Darkness, in which the world is ours made different through the addition of supernatural various societies. The eponymous Night Watch is a policing force by which the side of 'Light' can monitor the side of 'Dark.' Of course, there is a prophecy that an Other (aka monster person, be it vampire, lycanthrope, seer/mage, whatever) of immense power/potential will come to light and be forced to choose a Light or Dark side alliance. This plot plays out against a very strange (very Russian) end of the world bit, in which a cursed person becomes a focus point for the unraveling of the world. The exotic qualities are the most interesting aspects to this flick. I've heard it called "Underworld done right," and that's a pretty good assesment.

Yesterday, Trista and I watched Takashi Miike's movie for children The Great Yokai War. Yes. Takashi Miike (auteur of Audition, Fudoh, Visitor Q, and several other hard R-rated examples of extreme cinema) made a movie for kids. A boy is chosen to be a spiritual 'protector' in a village ceremony, only to find himself drawn into a very real war among the Yokai (spirit folk) of Japan. The costumes are imaginative, the story is compelling (even with an overly cute, squeaky voiced, animatronic puppet critter), and the action is pretty cool. I suppose this might be regarded as Harry Potter done right (if Alfonso Cuaron had not already DONE Harry Potter so well in The Prisoner of Azkaban). No, forget about comparisons. This is a delightfully original piece, filled with exotic creatures (a couple dozen of which I knew from my scant learnings of Japanese folklore/myths) and adventure. If I were seven years old, I would probably love this movie a little more than I do at thirty-one. Young/Old as I am, I'm stuck in the American mindset that special effects need to look real, it took me a little while to appreciate them for looking cool. This movie is pure wonder, sorrow and joy.

So, my zombie poem "For the Ear Departed" is available in Rogue Worlds Issue 14. Was made available on Halloween, actually. It's in both a print and e-edition. Here's a link:

Attention Gamers!
This one almost slipped past me. Anyone recall that I sold an article to Signs and Portents magazine? No, you say? What's Signs and Portents, you ask?

S&P is Mongoose Publishing's magazine for gamers. And I sold them an article (called "Paranoid Paperwork") for Paranoia XP, which is the latest edition of the darkly satiric sf roleplaying game of a distopian future. I wrote the article before the game was even released. Sold it before copies of the core book hit the shelves. How, you might wonder? Well, as it turns out, I've been a fan of Paranoia since the late 80s (though the game's supplements/releases went some places I really didn't enjoy all that much in the nineties; then again, I recently find out that most people didn't like the places the game went in the nineties). So, anyway, when I found out a new edition of Paranoia was in the works, I got super excited, took my love for the game (that used to be) and wrote up a supplement. A trio of documents from the future. A little humorous, a little eerie. Lo and behold, the editor of S&P dug it. Gave me my second acceptance letter in August 4th, 2004 (my first was for a short story I wrote back in 1999 for a webzine called Dark Annie) and my first for Game Related material (this acceptance turned out to be the first push for me to get going with the writing biz, and I was quite proud of it, if for no other reason than it was a paying market offering 2 cents per word). Then, it went off to be edited and put into the magazine.

Now, read that date again. August 2004. I bought the magazine every month from my friendly local gaming store, Gameboro, until that store went the way of the dodo. Then, I picked up a couple of issues online. No article. Hmmm. Then, the magazine became solely an electronic edition. And free. I downloaded it directly from the publisher's website (which anyone can do). No word about the article. Two years later.
Cut to yesterday. I was doing a search of the Mongoose Publishing website looking for Paranoia stuff and found out my article is now available! BAM! Available in issue 37 (published LAST MONTH) of Signs and Portents. Download it for free from the publisher:
So, if you play Paranoia and you're looking for a new way to hose your players, why not give my article a try? Enjoy!

-- Daniel R. Robichaud
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    Tori Amos' Strange Little Girls album