We’re moving – but where?

You know how we have been struggling in the past year. We had hoped to be able to sublet the main house area and live in the in-law unit; this project dragged on with one hurdle after another until we finally learned that although our friend and landlord was willing to accommodate this arrangement, it is illegal where we live (not permitted by the zoning code). Now we have to leave by the end of May.

We don’t really know where we’ll end up; it’s too expensive in the Bay Area, so we are looking at rural California (Humboldt County), Portland OR, Vancouver BC, and other less expensive places. We’re also looking at shared housing programs.

To be honest, homelessness is on the list of possibilities and pretty darn near the top. We have used up the finances raised for us by our friends on GoFundMe, all our savings, and all our retirement funds. We both have health challenges, physical and mental. My energy level is low, I have not managed to work full-time since my bout with cancer. And we have two cats, which always makes it trickier to find housing.

But since we let our local friends know a few days ago, we have also received offers of help to find a new place, get employment and move, invitations for temporary stays while we search, and so forth. We are poor in money, but rich in friends. As soon as we get back to a sustainable living situation, I will be satisfied; I don’t need more. I love you all.

Avengers: Endgame – Spoiler-free mini-review

  • Visuals and special effects: 4.5. It’s extremely well done, but I’m docking it half a point for borrowing the dour DC palette too often. Give it back, Marvel, you don’t want to play with someone else’s dirty cast-offs.
  • Soundtrack: 4.5. Lots of good use and reuse of both orchestral and pop music. Alan Silvestri’s work is solid, and there are little musical jokes in the soundtrack.
  • Writing: 4. Unlike Avengers: Infinity War, which I thought was a jumble of good scenes tied by a weak excuse for a plot, Endgame actually has a plot that hangs together, at least in a comic book way. Also lots of good lines.
  • Casting and acting: 4. Not a whole lot of new faces, but nearly all of the old ones are there, even minor ones. Solid acting, with some actors once again showing more range than they often get credit for; made me cry a few times (that’s an easy feat right now, though.)
  • Direction: 4. Smoothly moves back and forth between moments of drama, humour, and action. The character development moments felt like they received special attention. Directors Joe and Anthony Russo’s vision seemed much clearer, much like it was in Captain America: Civil War.
  • Editing: 4.5. Tight. There is a lot of material packed in there, and segments that could get mired for a long while are resolved briskly; yet poignant moments are given the time they need to unfold. Good sense of comedic tempo as well.
  • Superheroics: 5. Although my favourite superhero group action scene remains the fight at Leipzig-Halle Airport in Civil War, there are a lot of quintessential superhero moments in Endgame, so many that it may take repeated viewings to catch them all.
  • Diversity and feminism: 3.9. Characters of many different origins, orientations, genders, etc. appear, but the lion’s share of the focus is still on white (straight, cis) men. There are even some scenes that deliberately highlight this, I’m not quite sure what the message was. However, three of the female characters in particular do have serious moments of deep self-realisation, and that was cool. Also, thank you Wakanda for putting up with white people’s messes.
  • The Sean Bean Award for character I will most miss in future Marvel movies goes to Stan Lee.

Like most other Marvel movies, Endgame offers a lot of cool little touches for fans, whether they are the long-time comic book fans or the newer fans who have followed the movie franchise. I enjoyed the many call-backs to scenes from previous episodes and the way they were spun, some times in parallel and sometimes in contrast.

As others have said, this really felt like the end of a season and the ushering in of the next one. I enjoyed, will likely see it again, would recommend.

Agon: Death of a Prince

On Friday we held the fifth session of our beta playtest of AGON 2nd edition and visited our third island.

The lying in state of a body, terracotta pinax by the Gela Painter, latter 6th century BC.

Our heroines landed on the island of Nimos, where they were surprised to learn of the untimely death of the crown prince, one of their companions during the War. The royal family and the whole island were in mourning.

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Map-making: Using vintage floor plans

Hey, it’s been a while since I shared some tips for making maps for games!

Over on Pinterest, where I collect image inspirations for role-playing games, I’ve been seeing a lot of lovely vintage floor plans for manors and houses. It’s great material for your Call of Cthulhu or Good Society game. However, they’re not always available at a scale that lends itself to making nice game maps. Here is a simple workaround.

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Agon: Seeds of Democracy

Tonight was the fourth session of our beta playtest of AGON 2nd edition and our second island. Dolia’s player was unavailable so our heroes were Antiochis and Phaedra.

Our heroes landed on the islands of Ion and Soros, linked by a land bridge. Usually there was a gate on the island but it had been destroyed and masses of people were fleeing from Ion into Soros. Orta, the giant who controlled Ion, was raging; his cries of rage and stomping could be heard from afar and every stomp was accompanied by a ground tremor.

Seeing something big going on at the royal palace on Soros, the heroes went to check it out. King Vlakas was preparing to pronounce judgment on his daughter and leader of the Soros army, Commander Tyla, for failing to stop the Ionian refugees by force. The King assumes that the heroes were sent by the gods to restore order on Soros. Tyla recognized the heroes and called them by names and deeds, asking them for support.

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Mini-Review: Love, Death & Robots (1-10)

Love, Death & Robots is a collection of animated short stories (5 to 10 minutes) of genre fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror), just released on Netflix this week.

Since the episodes are so short, it was easy to binge several in one sitting. Over on the dying Google+, I commented that this resulted in watching more male gaze filming than I have allowed myself to in a long time. Here are my spoiler-free mini-reviews for the episodes I have seen. When I say “spoiler-free” I mean that I only give away as much as you have in the episode title and pitch. (Spoilers may be discussed in comments below, however.)

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Agon: Boarding Action!

And now for a recap of our third episode of the AGON 2nd edition beta playtest (see the first and second episodes.) Thank you to Kim for taking notes during our games!

In the final thrilling episode for this island, an epic naval battle took place between the heroes and Thesekyra the pirate queen!

Attic pottery, 6th c. B.C. (Musée du Louvre, Paris)

Battle!

When last we saw our heroes, it was just before dawn; the storm was rising again and Thesekyra’s ship was coming fast for them. The masses of dark clouds coalesced on the horizon, evoking the shape of a gigantic but stately woman which the heroes recognized as Hera. The storm cloud woman extended a staff in the direction of the pirate ship and the heroes heard, reverberating in their minds: “Retrieve my gift!”

On the opposite side of the horizon, the clouds were even darker but crackling with lightning. They moved to evoke the shape of Zeus, pointing to the pirate ship, and the heroes heard: “Sink the abomination!” For a moment, the silhouettes of the deities looked like two combattants about to throw themselves at each other, then dissolved into cloud masses. [I felt I had not made the gods present enough and wanted to give a little mythic boost.]

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Agon: Stormriders

Quick recap for our second episode of the AGON 2nd edition beta playtest (see also first episode.)

When last we left our heroes, they were about to give chase to Thesekyra the pirate queen, who had sailed away with the stolen Pillar of Storms. Before leaving the panicked inhabitants of Kryos, Dolia convinced the villagers to hide in the mines from the harpy attacks.

Our heroes set sail after the pirate queen, with a captured harpy attached to the mast with a length of yarn as a guide. The closer they got, the stormier the sea was, thanks to the stolen artifact. Unfortunately, the attempt to outmaneuver the pirate queen was met with abject failure and the heroes’ ship was driven into the magical storm.

Odysseus, Norman Lindsay 1925.

Dolia attempts to call upon Hekate for assistance, pouring a sacrifice of sacred oil onto the waves, but the sacrifice did not go so well and the ship capsized in the towering waves. Phaedra rescued the bound harpy rather than let her drown. Antiochis rallied the boon companions and Phaedra shamed the harpy into not abandoning everyone. With her help, they were able to find a nearby island and tow the capsized ship there.

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Marie Targer

Mitochondries, Filles du Roi et Huguenots

Scroll down for the English section of this post.

L’ADN mitochondrial, dont on se sert pour tracer les migrations humaines, se transmet pratiquement inchangé de mère en fille, excepté quelques rares mutations. J’ai donc la même formulation, le même ADNmt que mes aïeules de lignée maternelle: ma mère, sa mère, et ainsi de suite.

Quand je remonte cette chaîne, la première à vivre en Nouvelle-France est Marie Targer, venue de La Rochelle.

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