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bloomer Visiting my blog, eh? Wise move. I think we should all try to understand other people, no matter how stupid their beliefs.

Title: The Twin Evil Guardian Servant Birds Who Guard My Trampoline At Dusk
Posted: February 21, 2010 (09:06 PM)
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Title: Bandwagon Joinup: (2005-)2009: The Year(s) in Review
Posted: February 03, 2010 (06:15 PM)
2005-2006: Wrote no reviews.

2007: Staggered back with 3 reviews.

2008: 10 reviews!

2009: Hands and arms wrecked, back to 3 reviews

April: Aztec - Apple II

I was extremely pleased with this and suggested in the RoT(day? week?) topic it was RoT worthy. In retrospect this seems charmless and gauche of me, but also true to my bloodyminded willpower and ego when I think I've done good work. I think I'm in a healthier place re: this stuff than I was back at gamefaqs (well, not surprising, I've aged 9 years, I'd hope my resolution of my self-insight has only improved, since I work on it), where I probably displayed blobs of weird passive aggression and false modesty.

May: Resident Evil - GameCube

One of my best ever I think, as I expressed a lot that I had been thinking about for a long time, and I spent more time writing this, revisiting it and carefully moving individual words around than for any other review I've ever written. It is very precise. It won 'Pretentious Bastards', and in truth of course I don't think it is pretentious, but it is not a traditional review.

June: Kukulcan - Apple II

After all the gnashing of teeth, a peaceful retreat to practical reviewing with an adventure game from my youth. I'd tweak this review a little right now but this is the end of the typing for today.
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Title: A poll on buying digital music - please reply
Posted: December 20, 2009 (07:01 AM)
I need to renew my album's commercial digital distribution arrangements for the first time in a couple of years. Originally I just went with a bunch of itunes stores.

My anecdotal sense has always been - that amongst people who will buy digital files, they're all on itunes, even if they are on other services as well. I'm just looking for any strongly contrary evidence.

To help me out with a handful more samples, could you please reply to this topic what your online music buying situation is? This could be 'I never buy any music online' to saying which services you use and like, or dislike, if you do. This includes things where you pay for any kind of streaming, or where listening to streaming music results in renumeration to the artists at some point. Thanks.
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Title: Photo of aforementioned POSSUM and magpies
Posted: December 16, 2009 (04:33 PM)
Night photo facing up into trees - (EDIT) possum discernible by glowing eyes. When I took this, I thought I was photographing the fruitbat (I was shooting in darkness blindly pointing camera up after turning off torch), but when I looked at the photo and zoomed in, I saw the tail and realised it was a possum.


A zoom of the possum:


Day photo of magpies socialising in back yard:

magpie full
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Title: "Some of my best friends are American." - An Australian
Posted: November 26, 2009 (09:39 PM)
I subtley but consistently complain a lot about America - the country, society, influence and variety of stupidity. Americans I know always seem to put up with this kindly. So today I feel like karmically repaying these kind people by talking about how I eat kangaroos.

We're blessed with lots of splendid and unique flora and fauna here in Australia, due to our continent-ness and position on the globe. And this wildlife is very accessible, even in the city. For instance, I have two possums, a tawny frogmouth and a fruitbat all just living in my backyard tree. I can go see all of them of a night with my torch (WHAT AMERICANS CALL A FLASHLIGHT), except for the frogmouths, who are blinded by light and immediately leave if they see it coming.

I also have a pet magpie called 'hoppy' (due to her damaged foot, she hops around), who will sit on the back steps or windowsill when she's hungry, and even hop into the house if the door's open, as her way of telling me she wants some bread or meat. I have some other magpie visitors, but they're less charming and I don't have names for them. Magpies are big black and white birds famous for divebombing humans and pecking them on the head during mating season (it's never happened to me, I've only been pecked by Australian Myna birds), but who are also blessed with good intelligence, evinced by their ability to recognise particular human faces, or to store / hide food or other objects.

Some of our more famous wildlife is a lot less cool than any of these characters I mentioned. Koalas are fantastically boring, grey narcoleptic furballs who sleep nearly all the time and are close to extinction because of it. A big adult kangaroo might punch and kick you if you absolutely went out of your way to piss it off in the wild, but there are a ton of roos in the outback, and we cull them variously for population control and meat acquiring purposes.

Two thirds of our kangaroo meat goes to Russia. I guess they like it. Most of the rest probably goes to our own supermarkets, where you can buy kangaroo steaks or kebabs. I don't mind the kebabs. They're inexpensive and the meat's alright.
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Title: Gonna be in Bucharest on the 23rd??
Posted: October 18, 2009 (06:27 PM)
Me neither! But I was informed yesterday my film was accepted to compete in Kinofest in Romania, which is another thing I submitted to back near the start of this year. So it's showing at Lightcinema in Bucharest this Friday. Lightcinema is in Liberty Centre, described by wikipedia as 'the fifth shopping mall in Bucharest, Romania. It features a 3D Cinema and an indoor ice rink.' Liberty Centre's website is currently promoting the Liberty Of Ice Cream Festival and 6D Cinema
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Title: Vintage ToTD site chop
Posted: October 06, 2009 (08:16 PM)
Myself, Zigfried and NickEvil used to run Taglines of the Day topics at gamefaqs back in the early noughties (2001-2002?). When this saga was well and truly over, I put a downloadable archive up on geocities containing all the topics:


Geocities closes on Oct 28. I have the site backed up and will re-up it somewhere at some point, but it's low priority for me now with my health. So if you wanna have a look at it or download files, go for it now. I hope I didn't write anything too embarrassing in there, it was maybe 8 years ago.
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Title: Gonna be in Newcastle tomorrow??
Posted: October 01, 2009 (06:36 AM)
Probably not! But if you are - and I mean in NSW Australia, you can meet me. I'll be at the screenings at the Electrofringe Festival where they're playing my video for AMay on Friday evening, between 6 and 7 pm. This is pretty exciting as it's an international program:


I will also have on me one of Moldover's 'light theremins' -


as I'm showing it to the guy doing the art for my next album, whom I'm meeting at the festival. Apparently there's also some kind of famous local milkshake or custard that I'm going to drink/eat in the afternoon.

If you haven't seen the video yet at some point, I'm going to link whore it again now.

Hi-res version for people with trouble free internet:

Youtube version for anyone (else)
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Title: Sydney sky turns red
Posted: September 22, 2009 (10:42 PM)
I woke at 6:30 am today to a faint but weird smell in my bedroom. A sort of earthy smell. I needed to go to the bathroom, which was presumably what woke me up, so I clambered out of bed and went into the back room. There, where the venetian blind was raised on the widest window on the house, I was presented with a vista of a blood orange-coloured outside world. All detail in the sky was gone, there was no depth or texture, and all the trees, houses and fences were glowing in warm colours. The air smelled weird, even in the house.


This is not my own photo, but one I found taken by someone else which most accurately reflects what I saw at 6:30.

My own guess about what was going on was that a chemical factory had exploded somewhere in the city. Though it looked armageddony, I note that I did not consider armageddon of any kind as an explanation. When I turned on the radio, I learned Sydney was experiencing a freak dust storm and gale warnings. The colour came from the red topsoil of drought-stricken areas inland that was saturating us.

By midday it had mostly cleared, but it was one of the most extraordinary things I've seen. There are already some cool photo galleries of the event popping up online if anyone's interested in more vision.
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Title: Stopped
Posted: July 29, 2009 (08:07 PM)
My game was cracking along but my hand+arm RSI came back, so I've stopped everything for now. i will only type about 2 paras a day tops for awhile if that. Otherwise i'd be commenting on many interesting reviews and things I'm seeing here.
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Title: Wanna help judge music an online music comp like I did? Read on (promptly)
Posted: July 25, 2009 (08:45 PM)
Earlier in my blog somewhere is my entry about helping judge the JPF (Just Plain Folks) music awards. You can sign on to do this as a music fan - IE not in the industry, or even in JPF. The awards are in very late stage now and they are looking for more judges. If the idea appeals (or you don't know what I'm talking about) please re-read my earlier blog entry on my experience so you get an idea of what's involved. You will probably be able to choose some or all of the genres you want to vote on. I don't know when the cut off is, so if you're interested, you should check it out soon.

Starting at this late stage, you may have less music to vet than I did, but I couldn't guarantee it. All I would say is - don't enter into this lightly. It's a very big task with a ton of instructions to follow, that you need to read and absorb first, then a looooooooot of music to listen to and sort in an online juke. It's a big time commitment and I found making decisions quite challenging. But if you're up for it, you should find it rewarding.

Pasted below is the email I received the other day with initial links and info:


Hi JPF Members,

We are now in the final stretch of judging to choose the winners for the 2009 Just Plain Folks Music Awards. Last time around we had over 8000 judges involved and we'd love to pass that number with your help this year. We use 3 distinct groups of judges: Music Industry Professionals, Musician and Songwriter Peers and Music Fans who are impartial and not connected to a nominee in the categories they judge.

This is OUR collective awards and they are the largest in the history of the world this year. Help us by choosing your favorite music. Our only criteria for judging is: Does the music move you? If you'd like to be part of the judging process, we'd really appreciate your participation!

Here’s the link to register:

Want to come to the awards show?

August 29th, 2009, Wildhorse Saloon, Nashville, TN, 5PM-11PM

Nominees scheduled to perform include: Gretchen Peters, Jeff Oster & Michael Manring, Sekou (tha Misfit), Kou Chou Ching, Rebecca Zapen, Lafayette’s Bayou Boys, Russell Smith & The Amazing Rhythm Aces, Eric Schwartz, Gravity 180, Jasmine Cain, Stephen Bennett, Bob Malone and 18 more to be announced soon! We also have a Pre-Awards Showcase on Friday, August 28th at BB Kings in Nashville featuring even more great nominees live!

Want to join us in Nashville? Here’s a link to all the info you need:

Did you miss the nominations? Find both Album and Song nominees here:

Thanks also to our sponsors: TAXI, Ourstage, CD Baby and Disc Makers!

Thanks in advance for being a part of OUR awards and for helping prove "We're All In This Together!"


Brian Austin Whitney
Just Plain Folks Music Organization
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Title: Adventure game development progress (contains detail that may be too much for the passerby)
Posted: July 21, 2009 (11:17 PM)
In the way that cars immediately fill any new road you build, any resources you add to a computer tend to be immediately drained by any new game. Still, the resources were drained a lot faster in the old days, and sometimes there was no roadwork for years. The Commodore 64 came with 64kb of RAM, and that's what it shipped with for about a decade. The Apple IIe had 64kb as well, later 128kb, and had a production run of eleven years, which I think is the world record for any PC.

If I had even the 64kb available for programming my Apple II adventure (let alone a mouth-watering 128kb), I'd be totally sorted. But if you use BASIC at all, as I am, the BASIC code can't access the second bank of 64kb. Then, after the OS and BASIC interpreter are in memory, what you've really got is about 35kb tops. Even if I run this thing on an emulated IIGS with several meg of RAM, I'm still stuck with 35kb of working space. Even when the game data and code take up almost two 140k floppy disks, only 35kb can be in memory at any one time.

If you're wondering, 'Why are you using BASIC?', it's because this is an EAMON, so I'm using the EAMON engine as a base, and it's in BASIC, so this is how its gotta be.

I realised a few days ago that the game was in jeopardy of running out of working memory before being completed. Compared to most EAMONs, it has a massive item inventory, and I've also developed some nice synonym and disambiguation code for the parser that I think modern gamers would not tolerate the game without. The synonyms and item/enemy data loaded on their own take up about 60% as much memory as the entire game code.

EAMON's main trick to be able to do what it does in the first place is to keep all static text content in random access text files on the disk. You can pluck one paragraph at a time out of these, print it and then forget about it. So if I have scores of room descriptions taking up 6kb, I can 'get' the whole lot at the price of only 1kb of working memory - the size of the file read buffer - and at the speed cost of a brief read from the drive each time the player enters a room.

To make my game have a chance of fitting in memory, I've palmed off nearly every single piece of text in the game, no matter how small, to such disk files. Even 'You see nothing special' is no longer a string stored in memory, it's part of a random access file on the floppy disk, and I have to keep an index of the 500+ paragraphs and messages needed by the game. The disk drive light will be on about 90% of the time while playing.

Another thing I did when I saw the memory danger coming was to prioritise game features. A bunch of verbs and their consequences went onto a luxury list that may never get implemented. I have to make sure the core stuff fits in first.

Nearly ever gesture you make to save memory is at the cost of execution speed. After programming and testing the game in an unlimited speed IIGS emulator, my first test of how it played back at real Apple II speed, 1 Mhz, freaked me out. The datacrunching pauses seemed huge. So I compared my game's execution speed to that of Infocom's Wishbringer as it would have run on a 1 Mhz Apple II. I was relieved to discover that my game is only marginally slower than Wishbringer, so I feel cool about that now. Besides, the pauses seem to add atmosphere, and make the action easier to follow as it scrolls by.

When the game is online, it may be able to run at 2Mhz, but any faster than that currently causes a sound bug in 'Apple II GO', though all other emulation would be fine.

So there's still the 'out of memory danger' ahead, but I feel moderately confident I can get this to work. Primary completion of the game code is still probably at least a week away. Then comes full playtesting, editing, debugging, and the biggest task of all, balancing all the weapon and monster stats. Combat is fully coded already, but everyone and everything has the same stats.
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Title: Wackier photos of oneself
Posted: July 18, 2009 (03:14 AM)
Looks like I'm performing surgery on electronic devices in hell, or something. But this is actually me playing my most recent show. A red tinted Apple II memory dump is being projected on the screen behind/over me.

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Title: Datacrunching
Posted: July 12, 2009 (08:16 AM)
I spent a lot of time writing and entering data for my game over the past few weeks. I finished the bulk of that phase tonight and will be able to progress to the programming once my brain uncramps.

A lot of it was fun, inspiring and challenging to write. The text has to work logically and emotionally, and pay important game points, while fitting into an interface that has far less room in it and is far less forgiving than that of a word processor. When you do assemble the right combination of words that you think will do a particular job under these punitive conditions, it's rewarding.

What's less rewarding is supplying data for all the less glamourous props - EG THE BANANA. I am content for the game to say 'You see nothing special' if you examine the banana. The point is, I do have to supply such information for each of the 160ish items in the game, whether they are cool things or whether they are the banana.

The game will understand about 130 nouns and 100 synonyms for those nouns. As for verbs, that's more up in the air, but my guess is it will know about 40.
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Title: Terminal Values
Posted: July 08, 2009 (08:34 AM)
I came to the moment in preparing my game tonight where I had to start specifying the details of the uniform worn by the students in the fictitious school. I already have plenty of imagination and experience to draw on, but I still typed 'designing a school uniform' into google. In the fifth result slot was someone's thesis from Virginia Polytechnic, entitled


To me, coming across stuff like this infrequently is the real weird joy of the internet.
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Title: Aeriae announcements - 2nd album 'Victris', and a videogame, 'Leadlight'
Posted: July 06, 2009 (06:03 AM)
The second Aeriae album is significantly along in development. It will be called Victris I and hope to release it before the end of 2009 through my own label Call-151 Records. The label will have a more solid identity this time around, though the logo was visible back on the Hold R1 CD. The logo has also featured in Aeriae print ads and material over time. Coming onboard for Victris's graphic design is Alex Lee of What is the Apple IIGS? fame.

All I will say about the new album content is that I feel that the sound is both more detailed and more overtly melodic than Hold R1's. This reflects the expansion of my production abilities and of my compositional ideas respectively. The latter were probably more in thrall to the impulses of the IDM project on the first record.

Another project I am working on, and which I hope to unveil around the same time as the album, is an 8-bit horror game for the Apple II computer called Leadlight. The game brings some modern Silent Hill and Resident Evil like flourishes to the old text adventure game model, and is programmed using the Eamon game engine. The game is set in a private girls' school (you play a fifteen year old girl) and I see it as my eight bit writer's take on something like Dario Argento's film 'Suspiria'. The game will run in a java Apple II emulator on the Aeriae website, so to play, all anyone will have to do is visit an URL. There will be no fiddling with disk images or ROMs or emulator software, etc.

So why make a game by such a weird and ostensibly difficult manner in this day and age? The Apple II has always been a major creative inspiration for me, and I love programming it. On Hold R1, I used Fantavision on the Apple II to animate the AMay videoclip. My label Call-151 is named for the Apple II monitor command, and I keep getting sound and imagery ideas - and sound samples - from the computer for the Aeriae project. I had wondered whether I would ever find time or motivation to make this horror game, and somehow it just seemed to be a cool idea to put the game out alongside the next Aeriae record. I hope people who know adventure games will dig it, and people who've never seen them may be intrigued. Mind you, I'm still writing and programming the game, and it's not impossible it will run into some impassable technical hurdle, but fingers crossed.
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Title: Next Aeriae gig flyer
Posted: June 15, 2009 (09:04 AM)
Bandwidth flyer

I've climbed halfway up the flyer! OKay, maybe 40%.

(This gig is in Sydney, so don't go to a place called Marrickville in your non-Australian country expecting to find this gig there.)
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Title: The HGWars Saga: 'I was a teenage cleric'
Posted: June 01, 2009 (07:53 AM)
Thrill to this reasonably complete tale of my stagger to the top in the two month saga of the first HGWars.

Why did I choose to be a cleric? It's a class I've always liked for any solo outing. The original character called 'bloomer', who has semi caused me to be known by the handle to this day, was a cleric on a MUD called Meat-MUD. He was also me.

So, as HGWars bloomer, I emerged blinking onto the field. The first days were of random, sloppy killing, fun, non-comprehension and confusion. There was some thief lass about named Wolfqueen who stabbed me an awful lot, and I would as quickly stab her back until the situation was about as violent and repeatedly fatal as a Punch and Judy show. Our relentless back and forthing was leading to mutual exhaustion and guardedness, so we signed an oversized novelty parchment declaring peace. As it turns out, this was probably the only official piece of collusion that occurred in the course of the game, and it had some positive ramifications for Wolfqueen later on. For me, it was above all a headache reducer. I can see in retrospect that it was pretty silly to be thinking about my headaches on only day three.

Clerics grew up fast, big and strong, as everyone who encountered myself or ASchultz early in the game noticed. One day I let a small ASchultz pop me for some generosity xp, the next he seemed to be walloping me pretty soundly, and it was apparent that no more generosity was needed. In fact, it seemed possible that my earlier gesture had already been a horrible mistake. Considering the two of us in our holy, hard-to-kill finery, I did think 'Now I know why everyone is railing against us.'

Some perky soldier named Janus had leveled up alongside me as a newbie on our shared night one, and he'd evidently grown alarmed when I started turning into an unslayable brick wall. For awhile he joined the railing-against-me brigade, but eventually he morphed into that big killing machine he'd probably always envisioned himself being when he signed up as a soldier. Now he could kill me pretty much whenever he wanted – yet he still wanted me dead for all times in broad and non-specific ways, and made a point of declaring his anti-bloomer stance to all and sundry. Since I ultimately won the game, I guess he was right to warn everyone.

Players began to tinker with the hiring of mercenaries. Zigfried appeared to be tinkering with the way of peace, and also the way of just not buying stuff. As we all publicly questioned the value of fighting in our lives, some of us began to save money by not buying the latest equipment. We'd hang around in our old togas with an eye towards something shinier we expected would appear later. ASchultz either didn't do this or was just making too much money for it to be relevant. He graduated pretty rapidly into some kind of brimstone fortress. I continued to stand around in a state of bedragglement with my old weaponry, wondering if imitating Zigfried had actually been a stupid thing to do. I can't remember what caused it, perhaps a change or addition to the game program, but a moment came where it seemed that everyone who'd been putting off buying shiny weaponry simultaneously decided to stop putting it off. We got armed. We were all ready to kill each other, and we did, a lot.

I was right to have questioned Zigfried's joker card like wisdom; he turned out to be just another thief. Between Vince, the hothouse beast class whiz kid who later stat heaped himself into a kind of dead end, and ASchultz, Zigfried's nefarious scheme for extracting maximum money from other players' buildings while simultaneously seeming to be kind to them was revealed. (And robbery profits were still a part of the game that hadn't settled yet, and they were unreasonably great.) I hadn't noticed the maths of all this and continued to feel like a slow person. I had been busy writing simple programs on my 8-bit Apple II to solve problems regarding property profits and timescales in this game. Normal people use a spreadsheet for this kind of thing, but I actually don't have a spreadsheet on my main computer, and I can program an Apple II faster than I can do most things.

Zigfried and ASchultz both grew too clever by half, and both removed themselves from the game after either exploring or exploiting, uh, exploits in the code. This was certainly a relief in the case of the latter, as his huge pile of money and brimstone fortress had been intimidating, but now they were gone. Wolfqueen was starting to build herself quite a nice little run of properties at this point, and while everyone else was busy assaulting those properties for the purposes of robbery, or trying to, I watched with curiosity from the sidelines, my me-and-Wolfqueen peace treaty in hand.

I seemed to be in a pretty good place now. The mavericks were gone. I was at the head of the field in power terms, with a solid and evenly developed character. I'd learned a lot both by watching wilier players and by running programs on a wonky 8-bit computer. I was following printed out lists I'd made telling me what property to buy and when. I could see that maths were going to be very important for winning this thing, and I ESP-heckled Zigfried later when he suggested that they might not be.

A young upstart cleric called Woodhouse soon started to shoulder past me in levels at a weirdly rapid rate, and while I enjoyed stabbing him in the back for up to 40 xp as he moved away from me, I didn't discern the purpose of his haste until later. Gradually I settled into a valley of steady progress, sharing it with a couple of guys in particular with whom I would spend the remainder of the game, for that part of it where I was not alone. They were Sashanan and Yamishuryou.

Sashanan was a relentless soldier marching towards me from behind. He would kill me whenever he could and he would tear down my buildings whenever he could. My response was to get into the biggest possible fortress at first opportunity, then to laboriously load that fortress with different groups of mercenaries until I found a configuration that could keep him out. The game program changed multiple times in dramatic ways over this period, and my configuration changed about as often, as did Sashanan's luck with all of these upheavals.

Yamish was a frisky thief who was running ahead of me. I flailed at his back, desperately trying to stay within 10 levels of him, because robbing his properties was bringing me enormous amounts of money. But he was a young punk and I knew he was bound to escape before long.

Thus we raced along for days, Sashanan flailing at my back, me at Yamish's. Yamish eventually slipped over the horizon in what might have been an unwise, unrealisable pursuit of Woodhouse – and so did the profits I had been raking in from tearing down Yamish's circuses and temples. Then came the day when Sashanan did not reappear on the crest of the hill behind me, either. I was tired, nervous and suspicious, but suddenly I found myself alone in the valley. I had been squinting my eyes at the far off Woodhouse, who had leveled up beyond anyone's capacity to match him, and it had pained me deeply to believe that I could not outdo him in profit in the long term if I was always going to have to pay that 15% vault tax to protect my money from my enemies, while he never would, out there in that enemy-free no man's land of his. But I had staggered into my own enemy free zone now. Here I was with my wallopingly great fortress, the one I would never have to improve upon, and with a sizeable chunk of money I'd hoarded, and a great swathe of income-generating buildings I'd erected. More buildings than anyone else in the game... except, numerically speaking, Janus, who had built seemingly hundreds of wells and toilets. My 8-bit programs had shown me that at wells and toilets was not where one should stop, and I pressed on with my plans to build more circuses, temples and brothels. I checked in with ASchultz for advice on my maths and strategies at this point. In spite of his own restart, he had come back impressively and was going to make a serious play for an end game position. I had always thought no-one would live to see the construction of one of those 1920 gold per minute ticket booths, the same way both he and I had once naively that thought no-one would live to buy a spectacular peninsula. Ultimately I was to buy 10 ticket booths, and I often bought and resold a spectacular peninsula twice a day.

My final contact with humans was on May 3rd, when I attacked Yamishuryou for the last time. I never went to the bank again, either. The sensation from this point on was like walking out into a desert on my own, with my eye on a distant point of light. For seventeen days I worked carefully to my plan and spent all money that came in on more buildings, bigger buildings. My income rose from 16,000 gold a minute to an ultimate high of 67,540 gold per minute. It was hard to remember the days of getting by on 240 gold a minute.

Wolfqueen had become prematurely content with existence, lounging about in her money and mercenary filled fortress, but she also went to another country in real life and thus exited the game, conceding to Woodhouse on her way out. (Secretly I had thought, 'We will see about that.') Woodhouse had the glory of sitting atop the leaderboard for nearly a month, but in the process apparently missed the danger posed by all of us who continued to relentlessly build infrastructure, like future threat machinery rumbling beneath his feet (good line, eh?). Another great big pile of maths led to me buying my last building – another ticket booth – around midnight of May 20. Eleven days later, and after selling most of my buildings during the game's final moments, I had 1,418,782,002 gold. I was holding it all in my hands, and had been since May 3rd. Behind me were ASchultz, Disco, HG and Yamishuryou.
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Title: The Satanism of my youth
Posted: May 26, 2009 (09:25 AM)
Between years 7-9 in high school I ran several D+D and AD+D campaigns for friends. Occasionally we would play other RPGs - TMNT, Heroes Unlimited, MERP (Middle Earth), even Judge Dredd and Toon for about five seconds each – but AD+D was the stayer, and I was the mainstaying DM.

Sometimes at weekends I'd run a game for my friend Craig and his little brother over at their house. Craig had an older sister I'll identify as N. N had used to listen to Twisted Sister, but was falling in at the time with a strongly peer-pressuring group of militant Christian friends. Their influence cut off the Twisted Sister for starters, and I seem to recall N transforming with a degree of zeal. This was not the case of a young woman reluctantly changing her habits in response to friends' chiding. She was enthusiastic about her new way of being.

I only saw these people a few times, but their presence kind of frightened me because they had the aura of unthinking possession about them. One day they swept through my friend's house while I was visiting, and one young guy from their party, after eyeing my AD+D manuals, asked if he could look at them. I felt a bit uneasy about this but I let him. He had assured me he would return them in a little while, and he did. I can no longer remember who told me or how, whether it was the Christians themselves, briefly but directly, or my friend through hearsay later, but I later discovered that the Christians had assessed the AD+D materials as being satanic and dangerous, and were all concerned about their presence.

Fortunately I never saw these people again. They had always made me uncomfortable, as infrequently as I encountered them.

I did see N again a few years later. I spotted her up on a music shell stage with some other people while I was on holiday at an oceanside location up the coast. She was helping distribute religious paraphernalia.
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Title: Anyone wanna gift me US $129.99 so I can buy this game I'm FAQing?
Posted: May 20, 2009 (07:12 PM)
I'm writing a FAQ for 'Fortress of the Witch King' for the Apple II. This will be my first FAQ in about six years.

I don't have a real copy of the game, and I checked on ebay to see what was around, mostly in case I could get the manual for cheap. The other day I think I saw the Commodore 64 version being sold in its box, but back then I hadn't developed the stronger yearning for the game I now have.

When I checked ebay last night, the Commodore edition was gone, but someone in Finland was selling the original Apple II one in mint condition for US $129.99:

Fortress on ebay

I wonder how often this stuff sells. Do these sellers just wait around for months for some rich person who really wants the thing for their collection to click 'buy now'? I imagine that's the MO. You buy a pile of rare but cheap old games virtually nobody wants, then hoist them up for a hundred dollars each and leave them on ebay for months until you strike that one target rich person.

This guy doesn't even notice the difference between an Apple II and a Macintosh, which could damage his ability to sell Fortress to some Apple II collectors who weren't specifically aware of the game. I don't feel like helping him on that point.
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