Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Just because I'm like that

SuperWife just printed out a new hard copy of my HeroClix House Rules for me, so, naturally, I had to sit down today and add six more original Team Abilities --

YOUNG AVENGERS: Prerequisites: Stature, Patriot, Hulkling, Wiccan, Iron Lad When any two members of this TA are adjacent to each other, their controller can roll 1d6. Do the resultant number in clicks of healing to one member of this TA, and the resultant number in clicks of damage to the other member.

STARJAMMERS: Prerequisite – Corsair, Raza, Hepzibah, Majestrix Lilandra, Binary, Havok, Polaris, Jean Grey – If a Starjammer is adjacent to an opponent, any Team Abilities that opponent may have are countered.

NEW WARRIORS: Prerequisites – Kid Nova, Nova, Night Thrasher, Justice, Firestar, Namorita – Any New Warrior may use any power on any adjacent New Warrior’s dial as if it were on their own dial. They may no longer use each other’s powers when they are no longer adjacent.

SHI’AR: Prerequisites - Deathbird, Majestrix Lilandra, Shi’ar Warrior, Shi’ar Borderer, Shi’ar Admiral, Gladiator – Shi’ar ignore the effects of Elevated Terrain, may make close combat attacks on Soaring opponents when in adjacent squares, and do not halve their range values when attacking Soaring opponents.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: Prerequisites – Vance Astro, Vance Astrovik, Aleta, Starhawk, Yondu – When Guardians of the Galaxy are dealt pushing damage, any adjacent opponent is also dealt one unavoidable click of damage.

BADOON: Prerequisites - Badoon Warrior, Badoon Guard, Badoon Commander - Opponents cannot breakaway from any adjacent Badoon. Badoon are considered to qualify for any Feat.

I don’t know why I keep noting this stuff here. It’s not like anyone but Mike Norton ever reads the clix stuff, or cares.

As to new hard copies, it's not really a problem... I can just reprint the Team Abilities section at home.

Assuming, of course, that anyone ever wants to play a game of HeroClix with me again.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Riding out on a horse in a star-spangled rodeo

My email seems to be broken.

Also, the comments section on SuperWife's blog seems to be down for repairs, too.

(This is actually sarcasm, just in case you can't figure that out.)

When I'm a successful, semi-famous author, THEN people are going to swarm all over this blog and my wife's blog and I'll have to get a new email address because the old one will be constantly flooded with cards and letters from people I don't even know.

THAT will be cool.

You people should try to beat the rush, I'm thinking.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Perfect Plan

So, yesterday, SuperDependable Teen was telling me she had to write a comedy sketch for her e-school teacher, and then call said e-school teacher up on the phone and do the sketch for her out loud.

She’s not thrilled about it, and I wish I could help her with it, as I love to write comedy, even though few if any actually seem to enjoy the comedy I write. But her plight reminded me of a Monty Python type skit I myself wrote back in high school, while, of course, under the influence of regular weekly hits of FLYING CIRCUS on the local PBS station, interleavened with showings of HOLY GRAIL every three or four months (whenever they were having a pledge drive) .

I think I actually wrote it all down in a notebook somewhere back in like 11th grade, but I foolishly threw out a drawer full of notebooks and sketchbooks and old character sheets from early college superhero RPGs and letters from old girlfriends and a lot of other rubbish like that during a move from one apartment to another back in the mid 80s. It’s one of those decisions I deeply regret now, as I’m sure there was stuff in there that I could no doubt use to blackmail award winning comic book writer Kurt Busiek with to a very lucrative tune indeed. Alas, it’s all in a landfill somewhere in Upstate New York now, no doubt rotted into mulch.

Still, having recounted the outlines of the sketch for SuperDependable Teen and SuperAdorable Kid yesterday, and then been forced by them to re-recount it to SuperWife when she got home, because they thought it was so funny, I feel like I may as well while away a few idle hours trying to set it all down again.

SuperAdorable Kid is up at the moment, and in the back bedroom watching something truly horrifying on Nickelodeon, because I just couldn’t take listening to one more nanosecond of it.

Okay. Here we go:

OPEN in a dingy hallway. As we pan down this hallway, we see a bench running along one side of it that is filled with unsavory characters – characters, in fact, that are dressed so much like criminals as to be visual near-parodies of various sorts of robbers and burglars. Many of these characters are just extras, but the sharp eye will pick out, scattered amongst them, most of the members of Monty Python – Graham Chapman is there, dressed in a striped shirt with a number stenciled on it with a ball and chain still attached to one ankle, Eric Idle has a black wool cap and a domino mask and is wearing a black sweatshirt and black trousers, Michael Palin looks like a riverboat gambler with an elaborate suit, long mustachios, and a filigreed walking stick, etc.

The camera POV arrives at a door leadinginto a small, shabby office just as the door is opened from within and yet another obvious criminal type, perhaps Terry Jones dressed as a Chicago era gangster complete with violin case, exits, obviously disgusted. He calls back into the office as he leaves:

JONES: And you can take all your sodding kangaroos and shove them right up your…(JONES realizes he has an audience – pauses, turns to next fellow in line) oh, right, sorry, yes, you can go in. Good bleeding luck to you!

We see GRAHAM get up and shuffle inside the office. We follow him inside, and see JOHN CLEESE, nattily dressed in a nice business suit, sitting behind a desk that has several file folders scattered around on it. There is an empty chair in front of the desk. CLEESE waves GRAHAM into it.

CLEESE: I don’t see what’s so damn difficult about some kangaroos… well, then! Hallo! Good to see you! Have a seat. Now, you are…

CHAPMAN: Diggory, sir, an’ it please you.

CLEESE: Mf, Diggory, yes, it looks as if you’re a bit Diggory indeed! Just tunneled out of some place, did we? Heh heh.

CHAPMAN: Er… yessir… (glances around furtively, in a paranoid fashion) Er… about this job, sir…

CLEESE: Yes, yes. Well. As you’ve read the advert, you know. What we’re looking for here is The Perfect Plan for robbing the Bank of London.

CHAPMAN: Yessir. (Takes out a small notebook, begins flipping through it. ) Now, what I’ve got…

CLEESE: Now, you understand, when I say perfect, I mean PERFECT. We’ll accept nothing less. Every possible contingency must be catered for well in advance.

CHAPMAN: Uh… yes sir… I think I’ve covered the waterfront, so to say…

CLEESE: WELL in advance. That’s what I’m saying. Every POSSIBLE contingency. You do see, don’t you? It’s a mad world, after all, and anything can happen, and we don’t want to get pinched, do we?

CHAPMAN: Uh… well, yessir. Um… see, by my plan, we need a squad of six men. Three on the drills, three to scoop out the loose rubble…

CLEESE: Ah, so it’s a digging plan. Tunnels, eh? A digging plan from Diggory. Well, I’m breathless with anticipation. Do you have details?

CHAPMAN: Yes sir, if you’ll look here (leans over desk, shows CLEESE notebook – CLEESE pages through it a bit, ooohs and ahhhs)

CLEESE: Well, this looks very good. VERY good indeed. (CHAPMAN sits back in his chair, looking pleased. ) But, I do have a few questions, about your contingency planning. Now… (CLEESE opens a file folder, picks up a piece of paper, then puts it on the desk and points to a place on it. CHAPMAN leans over to study it. ) Here, you see… this is the main checkpoint, with four guards stationed here at all times. Now I understand you plan to tunnel underneath and avoid the guards all together, and that’s just brilliant, really. But… suppose one or two of these guards has gone to the loo, which is down these stairs nearer the vault, and thus, they hear your drills and sound an alarm?

CHAPMAN: Well, sir, my wife and her sister… rather smashing birds, a good bit of the all right, if you know what I mean… they’ll be stationed inside the main lobby while we drill, and their job is to keep those guards distracted. And believe you me, they’ll have no trouble doing it.

CLEESE: Excellent. (CLEESE replaces the piece of paper in a file folder, opens another folder, studies a piece of paper, then pushes it towards CHAPMAN. ) Very well, let’s try this one. Somehow or another, an alarm has been set off and the coppers are on their way. What, if anything, do you do?

CHAPMAN: Ah. Well, sir, my nephew is a bit of a wizard with the electricals, and by that point he would be stationed in the service tunnels just down the thoroughfare. At a signal from me, he would cut several wires, causing all the traffic signals in downtown London to go barmy at once, utterly paralyzing traffic. In the confusion, we would nip off smartly in our miniature helicopter, and be on the beach in Belize before the coppers got their knickers straightened.

CLEESE: Excellent. Yes, just excellent. Well. I can see you’ve a wonderful plan and have thought it through very well… hmmm. Well. No more of these run of the mill questions for you, let’s just… yes. The fellow who was in here before had a lovely scheme, too, but then this one question tripped him up. Shall we try it out on you?

CHAPMAN: I’ll ‘ave a go, sir, if you please.

CLEESE: Good man. Very well. (Opens file folder, takes out another sheet. ) Jolly good, here it is. Suppose, in the middle of your robbery, a herd of feral kangaroos somehow appears in the vault with you and begins hopping about, you know, rather violently. (CLEESE demonstrates how the kangaroos would hop, with his fingers on the desk.) What would you do?

CHAPMAN: (sits silently)

CLEESE: Come now, man, it isn’t that difficult! Feral kangaroos! Dozens of them! Leaping about insanely, cavorting like maddened trolly-mongers all over the beastly place! It’s chaos! A right bloody shambles! They’re biting you about your bollocks and causing untold havoc! Your whole heist is going pear shaped and lolly doodle all around you! Surely you have some sort of plan!

CHAPMAN: Uh… (pages through notebook) Right, sir, I’m sorry, I just had a little plugged up sinus for a moment there… I’m fine now… let me see… yes, here it is. Out of our six man squad, two men would break away and deploy the large, weighted nets packed along specifically against this contingency… well, against animal incursions in general, I should say. These things will hold anything… maddened alligator, rogue gorilla, enraged terrapin, rabid whelk… they’ll do a few feral kangaroos a treat, let me tell you, guv. And while that’s being dealt with, the rest of the robbery proceeds smoothly.

CLEESE: Really? Let me see that. (CHAPMAN hands CLEESE the notebook, CLEESE pages through it for a moment. ) Well, this is really quite extraordinary. Wizard! Yes, this is brilliant. BRILLIANT. All right then. I think we may have found our plan. Just one more question.

CHAPMAN: Yes sir?

CLEESE: What… (CLEESE pauses melodramatically for a beat) …if the sun goes nova?

CHAPMAN: (stares at CLEESE as if CLEESE has lost his mind) I… what if WHAT?

CLEESE: The sun. Goes nova.

CHAPMAN: (stares at CLEESE in utter bewilderment) You’re not bloody serious.

CLEESE: EVERY contingency. Must be planned for. WELL in advance. (CLEESE waits a moment. CHAPMAN says nothing, obviously astonished. CLEESE gets up behind desk, walks around to clap CHAPMAN on the shoulder. ) Well, rum luck, then. Thank you SO much for coming by. Send in the next fellow, will you?

CHAPMAN: It… I… wait. You want a plan that takes into account the bloody sun bloody BLOWING UP?

CLEESE: Yes, yes, every contingency… (leans out office door, calling down hall) Next, please…

CHAPMAN: But we’ll all be fookin’ DEAD, won’t we? I mean, if the bloody sun goes nova, then…

CLEESE: (pushing CHAPMAN out door as ERIC IDLE attempts to sidle in past him) Yes, yes, best of luck, do run along, HALLO! Nice to see you, do come in! (CLEESE shoves CHAPMAN out the door, closes it firmly, goes back behind his desk. IDLE sits down. )

CLEESE: All right. Now, look. You have a plan for robbing the Bank of London?

IDLE: Oh, yes sir.

CLEESE: Jolly good. But, see here, my good man. Normally I’d look at your plan and review it and then go over a few contingencies and… but, you see, everyone is getting into a spot of bother a bit later on in the process, with what seems, at least to me, to be some very simple, easily foreseeable… mmmm… glitches, yes. So, would you mind if I just skipped to the tougher inquiries, to save time?

IDLE: Not at all. However you like.

CLEESE. Excellent. Very well. Hmmm. (glances down at paper still on his desk) . So, then… in your plan for robbing the Bank of England… your PERFECT plan… what if the sun goes nova?

IDLE: Ah. In that case, sir, what would happen is, Team Gamma would immediately deploy the experimental Solar Shields. Field testing indicates that these portable radiation filters would provide Teams Alpha and Beta with sufficient protection to complete the robbery in ample time, and get to their escape vehicles. In fact, should the sun go nova, it will actually help the caper, as, you know, all the guards and coppers and such will be too busy screaming and exploding into flames and falling into little heaps of dust to be much bother to us.

CLEESE: (peers with some disbelief, but dawning hope, at IDLE) You… solar shielding? You actually have… you don’t find it to be an absurd question?

IDLE: Oh, no sir. The sun could actually go nova at any instant. Crazy world, anything can happen, you know. You have to plan for these things.

CLEESE: Well, then. Hm. (lifts up cover of another file folder furtively, sneaks a glance into it, looks at IDLE, then pounces: ) Feral kangaroos!

IDLE: (waves hand contemptuously) Riot control shotguns, sir, loaded with dense rubber pellets, set to spray over a wide dispersal cone. That’ll sort out those rompers in jig time.

CLEESE: (smiling hugely) You give me hope, sir. Hmmm. Let me see. Now, if the guards from the central command post are out of position, say, down near the loo. What would you…?

IDLE: Knock out gas infiltrated into the air conditioning vents five minutes before Teams Alpha, Beta, and Gamma enter the building, sir.

CLEESE: Excellent, excellent. So… going back to the beginning, then… what is your basic plan for getting into the vault? It’s a tricky time lock…

IDLE: Er… the vault, sir?

CLEESE: Yes. The vault. Where they keep the money.

IDLE: Well… I… they keep the money in a vault? With a lock and all? Well, that’s… hmmm. That’s rather hard, sir. I… I hadn’t considered that.

CLEESE looks horrified and appalled. Opens his mouth –


Friday, July 20, 2007

Early morning tweaking

With SuperAdorable Kid on a sleepover at her aunt's, it's a rare opportunity to get on the computer for a few uninterrupted hours while the other two SuperKids sleep in. So, I've wasted my morning correcting some formatting problems to my HeroClix House Rules, and making a few minor tweaks, as follows:

A new character type:

Tiny Characters

Although there is no dial symbol that reflects this, certain characters are considered to be Tiny and to have specific power and movement affects from this size mode.
  • Tiny characters cannot carry any character who is not a tiny character.
  • Tiny characters ignore all effects of Hindering Terrain and other characters on their movement.
  • Tiny characters do not block line of fire.
  • Tiny characters modify Attack and Defense Values by +1 against normal sized and larger characters. They modify their damage values by -2 against normal sized and larger characters (minimum 0). They can be carried or thrown by any normal, Giant, or Colossal sized character, as if that character were a flyer with Super Strength.
Tiny characters to date: Ant-Man, Dr. Henry Pym, Yellowjacket (IC puck), Wasp, Atom, Shrinking Violet.

ERRATA: Shrinking Violet is considered to have the wing movement symbol.

All of which will let Tiny Characters like, for example, the Atom, be picked up and thrown by normal sized characters... which I don't expect to happen much, but, still, it would allow an approximation of the Atom riding around on Green Arrow's arrows, which he has done in various comics stories. It also keeps little folks from blocking line of sight, and makes a few other common sense improvements in how such tiny figures should be treated, as well.

Back before I was banned for all eternity from HCRealms for the grotesque sin of being rude to a (subliterate) moderator, I posted a first draft of these Tiny Character rules there looking for feedback, and discovered a curious thing: most HeroClix players seem to find the very concept of tiny characters extremely annoying. I got several useful suggestions, and incorporated them into the above rules, but also got several objections to modifying the stats on the dials in any way at all (or, at least, in any way that would make Tiny Characters more able to hit a normal sized target) or to making any other rules mods that would in any way make a tiny character's size any kind of advantage in combat with a normal character.

For example, a great many people thought that normal sized characters should not have to roll breakaway from Tiny Characters; they were rather annoyed when I said that in point of fact, where Ant-Man, the Wasp, or the Atom could fairly easily tie up a normal sized character, I felt that a Tiny Character such as that could just as easily break away from a normal sized character without making a roll. After all, if Ant-Man decides to go somewhere else, how are you going to stop him? On the other hand, you ignore the Ant-Man, or the Wasp, or the Atom, at your peril.

Basically, many clix players seem to feel that normal sized characters should be able to ignore Tiny Characters with impunity... that Tiny Characters should be nothing but minor, gnat like annoyances, at best. Now, that's not how I remember it working out in various ATOM and ANT-MAN stories I fondly remember from the Silver Age, so that's not what my rules reflect.

Under Objects:

Heavy, light, and movable special objects may also be used to hinder or obstruct the movement of opponents, as follows:

Any two characters may pick up and move a light object for purposes of hindering or obstructing an opponent’s movement. These two characters must each be able to move adjacent to the light object and move it to the desired square within their normal movement values. Each character subtracts one from its remaining movement when it picks up the light object, and both characters move simultaneously. Each character receives an action token. Once a light object is moved this way, it is considered to become Hindering Terrain for any opposing character that encounters it, with all attendant movement effects, until it is moved again, or destroyed. If a light object is moved this way and placed on a square occupied by an opposing character, the opposing character must effectively move out of Hindering Terrain on the following turn, and cannot use the light object moved this way for purposes of Stealth or to increase its defense value against ranged attacks.

Heavy objects may only be picked up and moved by characters with Super Strength or Telekinesis. If picked up and moved for the specific purpose of hindering or obstructing an opponent’s movement, a Heavy Object will be treated as Blocking Terrain filling the entire square that it is set down in until it is once more moved or destroyed. If a Heavy Object is picked up and moved this way onto a square occupied by an opposing character, that character is considered to be pinned by Blocking Terrain on all sides until the Heavy Object is either moved or destroyed.

This is because it seems to me that you should be able to pin certain types of characters under, say, a dumpster, or at least, slow them down by throwing a desk or something at them. It has the salubrious effect of giving a TK figure something effective to do, since under my House Rules, No Action After Taxi has been expanded to include Telekinesis... and if you can't use a TK character to 'cannon' another character up next to an opponent and get in a quick hit, TK has no real use at all, under normal WK rules. I've tried to make TK more useful by expanding its applications enormously, but even so, you still don't get a lot out of it. So this is one more potentially useful tactic for the TK repertoire.


This character can stretch his body into any shape. (Optional) This character only fails to break away on a die roll result of 1. Opponents trying to break away from a character with Plasticity must roll a 6 to successfully break away. Characters with Plasticity may make Close Combat attacks against opponents up to their full range value away, or, if their printed range value is less than 4, then out to 4 squares away, maximum.

This makes Plasticity a little bit more effective by bringing it closer to what it's supposed to be, i.e., the classic superhero ability to stretch one's physical form out and effect objects or people at a distance. This won't be all that useful except for figures that have both Plasticity and Close Combat Attack, or, I suppose, Plasticity and a range value less than 4, which is probably a little more common. Hmmm... or Plasticity and Blades/Claws/Fangs, I guess... it actually doubles Medusa's effective range on her first two clicks... hey, I may have hold of something here...

And a new Team Ability:

INVADERS: Pre-req: Captain America, Sub-Mariner, Human Torch, Bucky, Cap and Bucky, Toro, Spitfire, Union Jack, Blazing Skull, Thin Man. As long as there are two or more members of this team on a force, members of this team on that force succeed with any attack where the attack total equals or exceeds their target’s defense value. Members of this team may choose to reduce their Attack Values by 2 when making an attack; if they do, and their attack total is higher than their target’s Defense Value, they deal +1 Damage from that attack. (Duo Characters count as ‘two or more members’).

This has the unanticipated, but still pleasant, effect of making the Cap and Bucky Duo Character even more effective in combat than it already is, as the two of them will always qualify for the Invaders TA, even if included on other forces (such as, for example, if one were to let various Easy Company soldiers substitute for Howling Commandoes under Cap's leadership).

Okay, that's all you get right now.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

It's still good

Yesterday brought a package from Mike Norton in the mail containing a few of his extra AVENGERS clix, as well as the survivors (i.e., Those That Did Not Get Bought) of the clix I sent him to auction off on Ebay.

So today, SuperWife and the SuperKids are happy to see a few of their favorite little plastic figures restored to the places they belong on my display shelves, and I'm pleased to be able to add a dozen or so new pieces to said shelves. I can't recall all that Mike sent me this early in the morning, but I know I got quite a few more Invaders (enough to send me looking through my extra clix for figures of Cap, the Sub-Mariner, and the Human Torch to use as center pieces to the new display), a Shang Chi, a Stingray... and several others that, as I note, my fuzzy wuzzy brain can't name at the moment. So once again, a tip of the Ears of Evil to Mike Norton.

As to the rest of the day, I have only one word for the elite few of you apparently still reading this blog:


Say it softly, and with reverence. Roll it over your tongue like a fine Brazilian chocolate. Savor the richness of the syllables, the promise they seem to hold. Taste it at the back of your throat... Impellizzeri's. Mankind rarely aspires to perfection of any sort, but at Impellizzeri's, perfection lives and breathes.

Impellizzeri's is a pizza place in River City, or was, for a while. Apparently, they once had a location a hundred feet or so from the building where I currently live, but that location closed shortly before I arrived here. SuperWife, then SuperGirlfriend, advised me when I moved here that it was a tragedy to a pizza maven such as myself that Impellizzeri's wasn't there any more, but not knowing any better, I simply wandered into Fat Jimmy's a few nights after arrival and, having found a finer brand of pizza than exists in all the benighted isthmus of Florida, pronounced myself (while burping) well content.

And then we went to Wick's, and, you know, while I wouldn't say Wick's produces better pizza than Fat Jimmy's, it's a different kind of pizza (a much more heavily loaded kind of pizza, for one) and in its way, every bit as good. So... then there were TWO excellent pizza places within easy reach of my new abode. Life... was good.

But while we were out cruising around on SuperWife's lunch break yesterday, we noticed that a new Impellizzeri's location had apparently opened down near Wick's, and decided to stop in.

SuperWife was afraid, after all her build up over the past few years, that I would inevitably find the reality that was Impellizzeri's disappointing. And, well, initially it seemed she was correct. The service was cheerful but inconsistent, the sodas were mixed poorly, and SuperWife's salad, when it was finally brought to her, was merely mediocre, a big heap of lettuce and cheese with a 'house blend' dressing straight from an inferior bottle.

I'd looked over the menu carefully before ordering. Unlike a great many pizza places, Impellizzeri's offered more than just the pie; in addition to a reasonably extensive appetizer menu, they also have a full sandwich menu and a few pasta dishes, as well. But none of that distracted me, I was there for the pizza. They offered three types of same -- the Impellizzeri's Original, the Sicilian Style Impellizzeri's, and the Impellizzeri's Bambino, which, when I inquired of our wandering, rambling waitress, I was told was a 'lighter' version of the Impellizzeri's Original. At $12.99 for a two topping small 12' Bambino pie, as opposed to $16.99 for the same size Original, it seemed this must be a MUCH lighter version... but having eaten at Wick's, I approach the offerings of a place that prides itself on 'heavily topped pizza' with caution. SuperWife and I had other places to be that afternoon, and no forklift or winch with which to load heftily burdened leftovers into our trunk, as is often a requirement when we eat at Wick's.

So I ordered a pepperoni and sausage Bambino, and then we waited for what seemed a fairly interminable time, and then... oh, THEN...

At long last they brought our pizza to the table. And the smell itself was heavenly. I was initially dismayed to see that they apparently serve their 'hand made sausage' as a ground up, thick dust all over the pizza, rather than in little chunks, as I prefer... but one bite put all such quibbling far behind me.

I don't know what makes a pizza work for you, and, well, it's a combination of things for me, but perhaps primary in that formula is the crust. If you don't get the crust right, you just can't recover from it. Fat Jimmy's has a wonderful crust, and Wick's has a fabulous crust, but Impellizzeri's... oh my. In that very first bite, I knew. At long last, after a lifetime of searching, I had finally found The Perfect Pizza Crust.

Now, you gotta have good sauce and good cheese, too, of course. Papa John's actually has a decent crust (as can be seen by the general excellence of their cheese bread appetizers). Where Papa John's fails miserably for me is in their sauce and, to a lesser extent, in their toppings.

Impellizzeri's pizza failed in no regard to command my respect and admiration. Tremendous sauce, astonishing cheese, and toppings that so excelled as to even overcome the dreadfully unfortunate decision to grind their wondrous sausage into a fine powder before placing it into play. Biting into a slice of Impellizzeri's pizza is like everything good you've ever experienced distilled into one fabulous sensation. With some pizzas the textures are good but the tastes aren't quite there, with others, the taste is delicious but the feel of the food doesn't seem quite right. Impellizzeri's pizza is simple perfection. The crust is exactly as soft, as thick, as crunchy, and as tasty as you need it to be at any given moment. The cheese is hot and gooey and the very earthly avatar of cheesiness. The sauce is sharp yet sublime and a perfect complement to every other ingredient. The toppings are tremendous, and if a Bambino is a lighter version of a regular Impellizzeri pizza, I am living in fear of the Original Pie. You will be well advised to borrow a powered pallette lifter from a local warehouse and take it along if you decide to adventure into Original Impellizzeri territory; you will need it to take away your leftovers. And there will be leftovers; Chuck Taine himself could not finish even a small Impellizzeri's Original in one sitting, with all three Luornus industriously chomping away right along side him. And even four Legion flight rings straining together would barely get the remaining slices out to their Legion cruiser.

Impellizzeri's pizza. You order it, they make it, they bring it to your table, you eat it, and your life is complete. Until you're done with it, and then, your life will be an empty, hollow, shabby thing again, until next you once more find your way back there and order another pie.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

It's all good

So. Um... what's been going on around here?

Well, the Ebay auctions are over, at least, for the moment. The Heroclix population hereabouts has been thinned considerably, but I'm very pleased to report that, due in large part to Mike Norton's tireless efforts on my behalf, and my own recent victories over the local bureaucratic labyrinth, I've managed to amass a sum sufficient to (a) get the middle SuperKid started on some pretty expensive orthodonture, and (b) pay the rent for a while, thus keeping a roof over my wife and kids' heads for a while longer. Each a cause well worth the investments of time and effort, and the sacrifices of some little plastic figures.

For the first time in several months, I feel (however briefly) as if I'm making a contribution around here again. It's a nice feeling; I just hope it's not a fleeting one.

Nate's moving down here in a few weeks, and we're keeping busy trying to find an apartment for him, but I'm very much looking forward to having him nearby. Yet another reason to believe things may finally be looking up for all of us.

And if you go here, you can find the second issue of ON THE PREMISES e-magazine, which is publishing one of my short stories as "Honorable Mention #2". My short story was chosen #4 out of 5 winners, out of a field of 30 entries, and netted me $20 cold hard cash. I suppose this means I'm a professional now. The story is far from being one of my personal favorites, and SuperWife doesn't like it much, either, but like Dick Jones and Clarence Boddicker, I say good business is where you find it.

On other fronts, let's see: I've finished reading Vernor Vinge's RAINBOWS END recently. It's not the best Vinge ever, but Vinge doesn't seem to be writing the best Vinge ever any more, and this is pretty good. In fact, the only real problem I have with the book is that it's a very thick, very long, very complex book, and yet, when you get to the end, it seems as if really, very little happened at all. It's a great deal of style, and very little substance -- and while we are told that the main character has changed enormously over the course of the novel, really, the only evidence we have for that is that Vinge tells us it's true.

Still, I enjoyed it while I was reading it.

I'm now whizzing through CHANCE, one of Robert B. Parker's Spenser novels. As with every Spenser novel after EARLY AUTUMN, it's pretty much Spenser-lite, a mawkish, formulaic adventure where Spenser bops around doing pretty much all the same stuff we've seen him do several hundred times prior to this, dealing with the same sorts of people in the same sorts of places while doing the same sorts of things he always does, and, as usual, he's got Susan Silverman and Hawk along for the action, too. It's enough to make the discerning Spenser fan nostalgic for the days of Brenda Loring, or, at least, a time when Spenser wasn't so pussy whipped by Susan Silverman that he would occasionally get boo-jiggety with someone besides a bitchy middle aged Jewish psychiatrist. (It's occurring to me as I type this that Spenser never once cooks anything in the course of this novel, either, which is an element I also miss. However, he does get pissy about rock music at least once, which is another ever recurring element of Spenser novels I certainly wouldn't miss, if Robert B. Parker could ever bring himself to write an entire novel without at least one of these "you kids get off my lawn!" type tirades.)

You might wonder why I'm bothering to read the damn thing if this is how I feel about Spenser novels since, I don't know, what, 1982? But the Spenser series up through EARLY AUTUMN was just so fabulous that I still live in hope that at some point, Parker may write another good one. So far, the closest he's come is PLAYMATES, which was quite astonishingly good for a post-early 80s Spenser novel, but then when I got done with it, I realized why -- it was essentially just a retread of MORTAL STAKES, with all the professional baseball elements swapped out and college basketball retrofitted into the plot in their place.

Here's an interesting realization I came to a little while ago, not about Spenser novels, but, about life in general. In my late teens or early twenties, I either formulated a philosophy, or read about one somewhere that I liked a lot, and I've spouted it off to nearly everyone around me ever since, and more or less tried to live by it. And it goes like this -- there is no 'should'. There is only need, and want. By which I mean, there is no category of 'things you should do'. The only real categories of actions in the world are 'things you have to do' and 'things you want to do'. When somebody starts talking about something you should do, I have often opined in my best sage, worldly wise tone, you need to keep one hand on your wallet, because 'should' is a word that generally means "here's what I want you to do, that will benefit me".

For the longest time, this seemed like real truth to me, and for the most part, it was intended to avoid being able to blame other people for my decisions by requiring me to acknowledge that, if I made a decision or took an action that I wasn't being forced into by necessity, well, then I was entirely responsible for that decision or action, because if it wasn't something I had to do, then it was something I wanted to do.

But I've very recently realized that this is an overly simplistic way to look at life. There is indeed a 'should' category, except that calling it that is sloppy semantics, and therefore, sloppy thinking. Instead of 'things I should do', this category would better be called 'the right thing to do'.

See, that works much more neatly. There are three kinds of actions in this world --

  • The things you have to do
  • The things you want to do
  • The right thing to do
See, the third is often a separate category -- maybe it's always one, I don't know. But I do know that if you genuinely need to do something, for whatever reason, morality rarely or never enters into it. And often times, if you want to do something, then that desire is either morally neutral, or, worse, actively immoral to act on. (That is, alas, the human condition; it's just how we work -- many of our desires come from the primitive id, and are anti-social, and therefore, by nearly any cultural moral standard, wrong.)

The right thing to do, it seems to me, is almost never a necessity, and hardly ever anything we want to do. And, given this -- that we're rarely forced to do the right thing, and doing the right thing is rarely something we would choose to do (if only because it's almost never the minimum effort choice; doing the right thing is nearly always much harder work, with far less pay off, than doing the expedient thing, or merely choosing to opt for personal comfort and/or pleasure).

This, I think, is where the element of personal character comes into play. If you don't have to do something, and you don't want to do it, but you do it anyway, simply because you know it's the right thing to do, when you don't get anything out of it and, in fact, it may very well cost you something as a consequence... well... that's a demonstration of character. Like Fast Eddie conceding his match after he finds out that Vincent let him win in the previous round. he didn't need to do it, and certainly didn't want to... he had nothing to gain from it, and a lot to lose... but it's the right thing to do.

The only thing that's happened recently that isn't all good is that I seem to have a cyber-stalker from Texas; someone who shows up randomly on this blog, or SuperWife's blog, sneers something nasty in the comment threads about my lack of character or parenting ability or general worth as a human being, and then buggers off again. This person posts anonymous, of course, because that's what sad dumbass little losers like this always do, and I don't let the comments get through my own moderation filter, because I'm the kind of hypocrite who demands my own completely untrammeled freedom of speech on every site I post comments to, but who refuses to accord that same liberty to turdmouthed little trolls who seem to have nothing better to do but launch tiresome, tedious, and subliterate attacks at me from several states away.

I have a pretty good idea who this person is, but, honestly, I can't be bothered to care much about this kind of sneaky little shit, anyway. If this is the worst thing to happen to me and my family recently -- and it seems to be -- then life is good, indeed.

Hey, SuperWife and SuperDramaTeen are playing Magic in the kitchen without me. That will NEVER stand.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Whiney bitches speak up for censorship!

So, I took the entry, below, and posted it over on HCRealms, after spending nearly half an hour going through and taking out all the swear words, substituting other words, and typographical symbols (#@$%!!!) to preserve the general tone.

As a reward for my diligence, I got the following private message from Some Dick:


Since you didn't get the message last time. Stop trying and bypassing the swear filters. They are there for a reason, and if you don't like them, you don't have to be a member of this site. We have them for a reason. You might not like the reason, but nonetheless, those are the site's rules.

To which I responded:

Last time? I can't remember ever getting a message from you prior to this.

As to the remainder of your message... while I can more or less understand, if not respect, suppressing people's free speech as regards actual profanity, this site's filters will not even allow people to use words like 'crap' and, as I've recently discovered, 'retarded'.

I realize that there can be little meeting of minds between those who adore censoring the speech of others and those who, well, don't, but even you must see how absolutely idiotic expanding your definition of 'obscenity' (or, as you so cogently put it, 'swears') to include words that aren't actually obscene, is.

Here's the thing -- keeping people from launching 'flames', i.e., personal attacks against each other, is fine. I believe in a civil discussion, too. But telling people "say, there's a list of words we will not allow you to publish on our site, and it's an entirely subjective list based on our own tiny minded little prejudices, and it doesn't matter what context you use these words in, we're still not going to let you use them, and we're not going to let you substitute other, similar words, or typographical symbols that represent the emotional feeling of swear words, and to top it all off, we're not even going to publish the list of forbidden words anywhere, either, we're just going to program it into our filters and when you stumble across one by accident THEN we'll send you snarky little notes telling you that if you won't censor yourself then you can't hang out with us cool kids"... well, at that point, you have lost your #@$$%!!! mind. And you can kiss my #@$$%!!!!. And if you want to toss me off the site, that's fine; if I feel like coming back to this lame @$$ place, I'll just do what everybody else does and create another account name.

Thank you for your time and attention. Now, go read a book.

And now, I get the following message when I try to access the site:

You have been banned for the following reason:

Date the ban will be lifted: 07/09/2007, 16:05

Isn't that sweet? You can be banned from HCRealms for no reason at all.

Bitchez rule!



And the entry I put up at HCRealms is gone, too, replaced with Idiot Boy's message to me. So now, all the replies regarding the entry seem pretty non-sequiteresque. But censors rarely worry about things making sense, as long as nobody is saying a bad word where their delicate ears could get singed by it, or something.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Avengers -- run away! run away!

Having seen, at least, pictures of every sculpt and graphs of every dial for the AVENGERS set, at this point, I'm willing to say -- it's a huge disappointment to me.

Here, once again, is the list, annotated to indicate some of my major areas of disappointment:

001 Captain America Ultimates, WWII
002 Iron Man Ultimates
003 Captain Britain Ultimates
004 Gargoyle - JACC
005 Guardsman*
006 Moon Knight - retread
007 Crossbones - JACC
008 Wonder Man*
009 Hulkling YAHS
010 Patriot YAHS
011 Stature YAHS
012 Shang-Chi***
013 Piledriver**
014 Stingray**
015 U.S. Agent*
016 Luke Cage BB
017 Living Laser**
018 Blazing Skull - Invaders**
019 Darkhawk - JACC
020 Dragon Man***
021 Toro - Invaders***
022 Iron Widow Ultimates
023 Lionheart - JACC
024 Black Panther - retread***
025 Quicksilver Ultimates
026 Scarlet Witch Ultimates
027 Vision Ultimates
028 Wasp Ultimates
029 Taskmaster - retread
030 Iron Lad YAHS
031 Ronin BB
032 Red Skull - retread*
033 Abomination Ultimates
034 Baron Zemo - retread
035 Bucky - Invaders***
036 Falcon Ultimates
037 Thin Man - Invaders**
038 Giant Man***
039 Spitfire - Invaders**
040 Namor Ultimates
041 Union Jack - Invaders**
042 Starfox - IDC
043 Molecule Man***
044 Grim Reaper***
045 Thunderstrike**
046 Namorita*
047 Wiccan YASH
048 Yondu***
049 Two-Gun Kid**
050 Winter Soldier - JACC
051 Spider-Man BB
052 Citizen V - IDC
053 The Colonel Ultimates
054 Ares BB
055 Hulk Ultimates
056 Hawkeye***
057 Scarlet Witch*
058 Quicksilver*
059 Wasp**
060 Cap and Bucky***


* A fig I want. The more *'s there are, the better I like it and the more I want it. This doesn't mean these figures are perfect -- Giant Man, for example, badly needs a higher Attack Value and some Outwit on his dial -- but still, these are figures I'm pleased to find in this set, and if every figure in the set was at least this good, I'd be very pleased with the expansion.

BB - Bendis Bullshit. A waste of plastic. The day Marvel lets me write AVENGERS is the day every single dumbass thing Brian Bendis has ever inflicted on the Marvel Universe gets undone. In the meantime, I'd be way happier if WizKids would pretend I've already gotten to do that, and completely ignore all Bendis Bullshit when they plan out expansion sets.

YAHS - Young Avengers Horse Shit. Not quite as severe a waste of plastic as Bendis Bullshit, but nearly so. Don't need them, don't want them, where the hell is my Beast with an Avengers TA?

Ultimates - the Ultimate waste of plastic in a HeroClix expansion, egregiously so in a set named AVENGERS. Can you count, suckers? 13 out of 60 slots in this expansion have been shamefully squandered on these toxic conceptual abortions, and I think someone should pay for it. I want indictments, I want trials, I want convictions, I want mandatory minimum sentences and no goddam Scooter Libby commutations. Somebody somewhere said "Say, we're doing a 60 figure set called AVENGERS, let's use 13 of those slots for fucking Ultimates!" I want that person doing hard time.

Retreads - slots wasted (for the most part, with a few exceptions) on retreads of characters that we didn't need another version of and that generally did not improve on the original. Exception to this: the new Black Panther is a definite upgrade over the IC version. He disappoints in that the new Special Power feature should have been employed to give him some kind of built in Stealth, and it wasn't. But otherwise, he's a solid piece. Also, while I don't think we needed a new Moon Knight, this new dial is easily as good, and in some ways better, than the previous version. The new Red Skull is also an improvement, but badly misdesigned given that it's supposed to be a version of the character who is, essentially, omnipotent.

Beyond that, all the other retreads are pointless, stupid, poorly designed, and aggravating.

It's worth noting that several of the Ultimates characters in this set are also retreads, which is especially, and sickeningly, obnoxious. Bad enough WK wasted plastic on the fucking dumbass characters once, they had to go and do it all over again in a set called AVENGERS? I swear, I want somebody to go to prison for this.

JACC - Just A Crappy Character. Not an Ultimate, not Bendis Bullshit, not associated with the Young Avengers, and not a retread, but, in my opinion, a waste of space and material anyway. Easily the most subjective of categories; I hate all these characters and would never award them their own HeroClix figure if I were in charge of such things, but other people love these characters and have been clamoring for them to get figs, sometimes since the very first HeroClix set ever.

IDC - I Don't Care. If the rest of the set were cool, I'd let these slide. As the rest of the set mostly blows gigantic toads, however, I'm not wild about these, either. There are only a few of these IDC characters in this set, but I'd love to be able to take those slots and repurpose them to figures of much more deserving characters.

Counting it up, there are 28 figures I'd like to have out of a 60 figure set. A little less than half. I guess that wouldn't necessarily be bad, but, you know, as an AVENGERS fan since the early 70s, it deeply, deeply pisses me off that there are 32 fricking figures in a set named AVENGERS that I have no goddam use for whatsoever.

In addition to hating most of the set, I hate even more the things that should be in the set, and aren't. Leading that pack? Say, WizKids, where the fuck is my Golden Age Human Torch?

I mean, honestly, I simply cannot understand what they're thinking here. They fill out the rest of the Invaders squad, both sidekicks, a Duo Character sculpt of Cap AND Bucky, and they throw in Union Jack, Spitfire, and several Golden Age Marvel characters that weren't even original members of the team -- and we get no Golden Age Human Torch? I mean, seriously, WTF, WK?

Yeah, yeah, we can USE any of several Johnny Storm Human Torches, and certainly, we WILL, but honestly, you're going to give us the WWII version of the Ultimates Captain America and we can't have a Golden Age Human Torch? Is someone drunk?

Major disappointment #2 - No alternate TA for the Invaders. MotherFUCKers. We get, what, six more Invaders in this set, all with the Defenders Team Ability, and we get no alternate Invaders Team Ability? This shall not stand.

Major disappointment #3 - All this CRAP, 32 figures worth of CRAP, and we get one lousy Guardian of the Galaxy? We couldn't get a Charlie 27 and a Martinex instead of a frickin' retread of Taskmaster and a retread of Baron Zemo nobody needs or wants? This is lame. This is totally lame.

Major disappointment #4 - Knock knock. Who's there? No Beast. No Beast who? No goddam Beast with a goddam Avengers TA, that's who, and I say again, WTF, WK? We get a retread Wonder Man whose dial is only exceeded in crappiness by his sculpt, and two more Quicksilvers and Scarlet Witches (characters that are retreads of frickin' retreads, for the love of jebus) and we can't get a Beast with an Avengers TA? We have a Beast with a DEFENDERS Team Ability, but not one with an Avengers Team Ability? This is ridiculous and retarded. The Beast is essential to any Silver Age Englehart Avengers line up, and I goddamned well want a Beast with an Avengers Team Ability, RIGHT NOW.

Major disappointment #5, and this one really baffles me - every Invader in this set gets a Defenders Team Ability, except the Cap & Bucky Duo Character figure, which gets an Avengers TA. Why? Are we supposed to occasionally use this figure as Cap & Rick Jones? Also, if you're going to give this/these figure(s) a chance to dodge an incoming hit on a d6 roll and call it "Look Out, Cap!" on the character card, it would make more sense for that power to be Super Senses instead of Shape Change. The powers work out nearly identically now that WK has modified Shape Change to activating on a 5-6, but I just think the one makes more sense than the other in application. A figure with two sets of eyes and ears is going to, effectively, have Super Senses, but while Cap and Bucky can do many, many things, Shape Change isn't one of them.

Major disappointment #6 -- did all the double digit attack values fall off the back of the truck on the way to the set design studio? I feel like I'm flashbacking to SINISTER, but with much, much worse character choice.

Having said all this, let me close with the AVENGERS set I'd have done, were I WK's HeroClix set designer:

001 Captain America (WWII), Defenders/Invaders TA
002 Lava Man (generic)
003 Moondragon, Avengers TA, or maybe Defenders
004 Doc Samson, SHIELD TA
005 Guardsman
006 The Thing, Avengers TA
007 Man-Ape
008 Wonder Man (I'd have given him a better dial and sculpt)
009 Beast, Avengers TA
010 Hulk, Avengers TA
011 Attuma
012 Shang-Chi
013 Piledriver
014 Stingray (needs a WAY better dial)
015 U.S. Agent
016 Hercules, Avengers TA
017 Living Laser
018 Blazing Skull - Invaders
019 Gray Gargoyle
020 Dragon Man
021 Toro - Invaders
022 Human Torch, (WWII) Defenders/Invaders TA
023 Whizzer (WWII) Defenders/Invaders TA
024 Black Panther (Special power: Autostealth)
025 Miss America (WWII) Defenders/Invaders TA
026 Power Man (Masters of Evil)
027 Enchantress
028 Wasp, Ultimates -- I'll throw one to the Ultimates nutjobs, just not a retread, and not more than one, you bastards
029 Living Lightning
030 Black Knight (Masters of Evil)
031 Melter (Masters of Evil)
032 Red Skull - not the one with the Cosmic Cube, but we need a better Red Skull, yes
033 Batroc ze Leaper (spelled that way on the dial, dammit)
034 The Cobra (Serpent Society TA)
035 Bucky
036 The Eel (Serpent Society TA)
037 Thin Man
038 Giant Man
039 Spitfire
040 Super-Adaptoid
041 Union Jack
042 Starfox
043 Molecule Man
044 Grim Reaper
045 Thunderstrike
046 Namorita
047 Charlie 27
048 Yondu
049 Two-Gun Kid
050 Martinex
051 Spider-Woman (blue costume)
052 Sandman (Avengers TA)
053 Rage (Spider-Man TA)
054 Spider-Man (Power Cosmic TA)
055 Wolverine (Spider-Man TA, sorry, it's the closest I can bring myself to giving him an Avengers TA)
056 Hawkeye
057 Black Widow (original costume)
058 The Collector, Power Cosmic TA
059 Wasp
060 Cap and Bucky (but with Defenders/Invaders TA)

As to cards, I'd have re-released Thunderbolts (the Avengers TA is much too weak without it) and definitely would have come up with some kind of Invaders TA.

Value added, obscenity laden ADDENDUM!

So, I took the entry, above, and posted it over on HCRealms, after spending nearly half an hour going through and taking out all the swear words, substituting other words, and typographical symbols (#@$%!!!) to preserve the general tone.

As a reward for my diligence, I got the following private message from Some Dick:


Since you didn't get the message last time. Stop trying and bypassing the swear filters. They are there for a reason, and if you don't like them, you don't have to be a member of this site. We have them for a reason. You might not like the reason, but nonetheless, those are the site's rules.

To which I responded:

Last time? I can't remember ever getting a message from you prior to this.

As to the remainder of your message... while I can more or less understand, if not respect, suppressing people's free speech as regards actual profanity, this site's filters will not even allow people to use words like 'crap' and, as I've recently discovered, 'retarded'.

I realize that there can be little meeting of minds between those who adore censoring the speech of others and those who, well, don't, but even you must see how absolutely idiotic expanding your definition of 'obscenity' (or, as you so cogently put it, 'swears') to include words that aren't actually obscene, is.

Here's the thing -- keeping people from launching 'flames', i.e., personal attacks against each other, is fine. I believe in a civil discussion, too. But telling people "say, there's a list of words we will not allow you to publish on our site, and it's an entirely subjective list based on our own tiny minded little prejudices, and it doesn't matter what context you use these words in, we're still not going to let you use them, and we're not going to let you substitute other, similar words, or typographical symbols that represent the emotional feeling of swear words, and to top it all off, we're not even going to publish the list of forbidden words anywhere, either, we're just going to program it into our filters and when you stumble across one by accident THEN we'll send you snarky little notes telling you that if you won't censor yourself then you can't hang out with us cool kids"... well, at that point, you have lost your #@$$%!!! mind. And you can kiss my #@$$%!!!!. And if you want to toss me off the site, that's fine; if I feel like coming back to this lame @$$ place, I'll just do what everybody else does and create another account name.

Thank you for your time and attention. Now, go read a book.

And now, I get the following message when I try to access the site:

You have been banned for the following reason:

Date the ban will be lifted: 07/09/2007, 16:05

Isn't that sweet? You can be banned from HCRealms for no reason at all.

Bitchez rule!


Second addendum:

And the entry I put up at HCRealms is gone, too, replaced with Idiot Boy's message to me. So now, all the replies regarding the entry seem pretty non-sequiteresque. But censors rarely worry about things making sense, as long as nobody is saying a bad word where their delicate ears could get singed by it, or something.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Deep fried actuality

...which is to say, plastic isn't actually what's for dinner at Castle Anthrax tonight. What we're really having is fried fish, homemade hush puppies and french fries, and deli bought macaroni salad.

The fact that none of you are here enjoying the fruits of SuperWife's culinary genius, like I am, probably doesn't indicate some long overdue karmic retribution for horrible, horrible crimes committed by you in a previous life.

I imagine it's just your really, really bad luck.

::chomp chomp chomp::

Plastic - it's what's for dinner

Or something.

Miraclo Mike Norton has got my auctions up for me over on Ebay
. It's painful to part with many of these figs, but even more painful to get eviction notices nailed to the door by husky deputy sheriffs, so, what were once vices are now cash cows... or something.

It's tough, selling off something you love and cherish, even if it is something you don't get much day to day use out of. I've never been one of these people who collects stuff that has no utility besides decoration, and due to that, I've never spent a lot of money on the kind of collectible merchandise many sink thousands of dollars into over the course of a fannish life. Whether it's an autographed basketball jersey or a wonderfully sculpted bust of Neil Gaiman's Endless, if there isn't some purpose to the item besides sitting in a display case, I've never been interested enough to get out my wallet. Yeah, I feel the tug of the fabulous sculptures, action figures, and other items I see on display at the local geek shops, sure I do. But it's a small tug, one I easily conquer by mildly interrogating myself as to exactly what I'd do with the cool classic X-Men sculptures in their blue and gold costumes once I got them home.

Nope. For me, if it isn't usable in some way, I can't see much point to it... especially at inflated collectible art prices. Oh my no.

This is why I fell so hard once my younger brother PeeBee hit me with the HeroClix hammer lo these many Christmases ago. It was just a silly little INFINITY CHALLENGE starter set; I think the most powerful figure I got out of it was a veteran Mr. Hyde... but I was lost from the second I opened it. Here were awesome little superhero figures, AND they were game pieces, too! Whoa! All that pent up yearning for cool collectibles suddenly burst free, because these collectibles were actually useful... admittedly, in an entirely geekish, completely pointless context, but, still...

So, I became a HeroClix collector and occasional player. And right from the start, I was pretty much kidding myself, because right from the start, my own innate and utterly intransigent perfectionism -- that trait that causes me to pen hundred thousand word bitch-fests about how the vampire mythology and metabolism in BUFFY and ANGEL makes no consistent sense at all -- had pretty much doomed my clix collection to pointlessness anyway, because, well, the actual RULES to the game of HeroClix don't work for me. They constrain the behavior of the figures in ways I cannot tolerate, and so, I had to create my own House Rules, which have become increasingly more complex over the years (to think, they started with a few simple refinements/limitations on Fliers and Stealth, and my, how they've grown) and since I won't play the game by any other rules, it's become nearly impossible for me to find people who will play with me.

Which means, yeah, my vast array of clix collectibles? Pretty much pointless, other than to look at, and occasionally, take down and fondle -- just as, I presume, all the other collectors of pointless memorabilia do with their own particularly pointless objects of affection.

Still, I hate to part with them. Even the ones that represent characters I normally abhor, in the comics themselves, I hate to get rid of. And the worst part is, many of my most expensive figures were gifts from my beloved SuperWife, making it especially painful to sell them off again.

But here's the deal -- I have a wife, and I have kids, and however much some people reading this are no doubt sneering derisively at the notion of me taking myself seriously as a parent, nonetheless, I am one and I have to act like one. Whether through bad luck, arbitrary management whim, or undeniable character defect, I've put my family in a precarious financial position. I'm doing my best to get us back out of it, and have hopes I'm making headway there and will have some real progress to report soon -- but the first of the month waits for no man... well, not much longer than a week or so, anyway... and I gots bills to pay. And given that it's on me that we're where we are right now, it's up to me to get this fixed.

What I'm trying to do is take the hit entirely on myself, where that's possible. When you're in a positive relationship, you can't entirely confine that stuff to yourself -- one of SuperWife's biggest stress relief valves has been buying stuff for me, specifically HeroClix, because I love them and she loves to please me, and because of me, we don't have the disposable cash right now to let her spoil me the way she likes to. And it's hurting her, and I know it is. There's a new clix expansion out right now, and a new starter set, and I badly want both, and she badly wants to buy me both, and we just can't afford it. And I'm sorry she has to take that hit, and I wish I could take it for her. And I'm also sorry she has to take the weight of watching me sell off figures she's given me, that she knows I love and cherish.

But, again -- when you're a parent, the kids have to come first. So... the auctions are up. If you're one of the five or six people still reading this blog and you want some rare out of circulation HeroClix (most of which are amazingly powerful, too), head on over and buy, buy, buy! The money goes to a good cause (food and shelter for the SuperKids) and the clix will give you endless hours of enjoyment -- or, you know, you can probably turn around and sell them again for a nice profit in six months or so.

And, once again, I must thank Mike Norton for his endless patience and willingness to help. He's gone far above and beyond the call of duty this time, and unfortunately, all I can say is, I deeply appreciate it, and hope to someday be in a position to return this and the many other favors he's done for me over the years we've been friends. Although, at this point, that would mean I'd pretty much need a Cosmic Cube, just to get even.