Tag Archives: The Bearded Goose

Non Sequitur: Sixteen Things

Once again, I have been tagged to enumerate some random tidbits (factual, one presumes) about myself. The magic number here is sixteen and the tagger was none other than Chris Miller.

Off we go.

  1. My most recent meal (as of this writing): four sliders and half an order of Not-So Fries at Yours Truly. This is just part of the reason I’ve found the weight I lost last summer.
  2. I play with my wedding ring a lot; it drives Laura nuts. On long trips (such as driving up to my parents’ house), I occasionally take the ring off and place it on the little joystick for adjusting the side mirrors. I often take it off or switch it to my pinkie finger when I’m typing.
  3. I still have my tonsils and they are ginormous, even more so when they’re infected (which seems to happen once or twice annually).
  4. The first Star Wars film I saw in the theater was Return of the Jedi at the Lode Theater in Houghton, MI. I was a little concerned that my eight-year-old brother, Adam, might not be able to keep up with the subtitling of Jabba the Hutt’s dialog, but I don’t think he had any problem with it. After the movie, we ate dinner at the Douglass House across the street. As we were leaving the restaurant, I realized I’d left my jacket in the theater, so went in to retrieve it. Luke and Leia were chasing scout troopers on speederbikes and I found my jacket with no trouble.
  5. I once lived in an apartment above a video store and still could not return a rented movie on time, even though I could have easily dropped the tapes through the hole in my bathroom floor directly into the video store.
  6. The last time I assembled one of these lists, my wife indicated that she could come up with seven weirder things about me than I had. She has yet to deliver.
  7. Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition, No. 12
    image-1706
    I still remember the cover of the issue of The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition my mother bought me the day I got my first pair of glasses, way back in elementary school. The feature that I remember most distinctly: Stilt-Man’s leg, which is the only part of the villain visible on the cover and extends up beyond the boundary of the image.
  8. I have smoked precisely one cigar in the thirty-five and a half years I’ve been on this planet. I do not intend to smoke another, no matter how many more years I remain here.
  9. I once stuck my tongue on a metal handrail in the middle of winter. I was at school and had snuck outside, so no one knew where I was. After a brief bit of panic, I tore my tongue loose, and the next several meals I ate were incredibly unpleasant. I didn’t tell anyone about it until years later.
  10. If I were compiling a list of United States I don’t feel compelled to visit, I would probably put Idaho at the very top, but only because I’ve already been to New Jersey.
  11. I spent two weeks trying to “hack” a broken copy of Hacker II: The Doomsday Papers for the Apple //GS before giving up and calling Activision Customer Support only to learn that the game was not supposed to boot to a command prompt after all. They sent me a replacement copy and I eventually beat the game.
  12. The only items of clothing I have purchased for myself since getting married are hats, gloves and winter boots. I will probably purchase a pair of gloves on the way home from work today.
  13. I always put my shopping cart in the corral; if there’s no corral, I’ll return it to the store. I do this simply out of a desire to feel morally superior to those people who leave their carts in the middle of the parking lot.
  14. The Rocketeer' class=
    image-1707
    I think The Rocketeer’s helmet is one of the coolest things ever. If I could have one accurate replica prop from a movie, that helmet would be it. If I could have the entire costume, I might never take it off.
  15. It was a list like this one that convinced Laura she needed to introduce herself to me more than fifteen years ago.
  16. I often clean my glasses in the morning with the underwear I am about to don. The cloth is clean, soft and apparently lint-free, so it’s pretty much perfect for the job. I’m well aware that this is probably something you neither needed or wanted to know, but that’s the risk you take when you read one of these lists. Let it be a lesson to you.

Do I even know sixteen people to tag? Let’s try Jason Penney, Rachel Ross, Eric Feldhusen, Rae Lamond, Eric Bork, Sam Chupp, David Moore, The Bearded Goose, Sudrin, Jude, Not Andrei, The Cynical Optimist, Wesley, Jaxvor, Slowhand and Laura Johnson. Yes! Laura Johnson, who does not have a blog. Get one! Your husband can help!

How Not To Grow a Beard Month 2008: The Halfway Point

As we approach the middle of november, the beards on display at HoNoToGroABeMo.org are…well, I don’t think words can really do them justice, so here are a few of my favorite photo submissions from the first half of the month. Many, if not all, of the photos below can be clicked for embiggening.

HoNoToGroABeMo: Bob, Day 01
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Day One: Bob kicks things off with his Creepy Stare theme, which has continued through the first two weeks.

HoNoToGroABeMo: Kris, Day 04
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Day Four: Is this really the face of democracy?

HoNoToGroABeMo: Chris, Day 06
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Day Six: Chris has already gone over to The Dark Side of The Beard.

HoNoToGroABeMo: David, Day 08
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Day Eight: I am convinced that David has only two facial expressions. This is the other one.

HoNoToGroABeMo: Nev, Day 10
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Day Ten: Nev shows off his pearly whites. In the United Kingdom, “jammyknashers” is common slang for “teeth”. ((No. Not really.)) English is a beautiful language.

HoNoToGroABeMo: Wesley, Day 11
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Day Eleven: Wesley survived this vicious gargoyle attack, but just barely.

HoNoToGroABeMo: Jeff, Day 12
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Day Twelve: Emo Jeff is emo.

HoNoToGroABeMo: Gus, Day 12
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Day Twelve: Gus is more beard now than man; twisted and evil.

Finally, we have an honorable ((“Honourable” for you, Nev.)) mention from Day Seven, featuring far, far too much Jeff.

HoNoToGroABeMo: Jeff, Day 07
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Non Sequitur: Seven Random/Weird Things. About Me.

I have been tagged by Jason Penney, and that makes me “it”, I suppose. To comply, I must do the following:

  1. Link to the person that tagged you, and post the rules on your blog.
  2. Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself.
  3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs
  4. Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

I’m going to ignore rule number four, just because I don’t like leaving comments that aren’t related to posts.

Seven things, eh? Random and/or weird. Oh, I can handle that.

  1. FACT: I can cross my eyes independent of one another.
    Crosseyed
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  2. FACT: The first compact disc I ever purchase was from a group named Holiday Ranch. I split the cost of the CD with my friend, Eric, because I didn’t own a CD player at the time. I have no idea where that disc is today.
  3. FACT: I created my first web page in the early 1990s while working as a “lab consultant” at the Center for Computer-Assisted Language Instruction at Michigan Technological University. The only content I can specifically recall was a scan of an Arlo and Janis comic strip. Yes, my first web page prominently featured copyright infringement.
  4. FACT: I am a founding member of the Benevolent Order of Scrimshankers.
  5. FACT: I do not like cold Swiss cheese.
  6. FACT: I once dreamed that I was being pursued by Darth Vader, who was driving a white van and intended to cut my legs off when he caught me; it has been at least twenty years since I had that dream, but I still remember it quite clearly.
  7. FACT: I have never seen any movies in the Godfather or Rocky series. I actively avoid the latter. There is no rational reason for this; I just do.

Now, to the tagging of others.

  1. Chris Miller. This one is a total cop out, as Jason already tagged him.
  2. Nycteris.
  3. The Bearded Goose.
  4. Greg Howley.
  5. Sam Chupp.
  6. Technohippybiker.
  7. The Cynical Optimist.

Game Night: Outbreak!

Game Night Badge courtesy of FreshBadge.comIt seemed like any other Game Night: Chris was running us through another session of his homebrew campaign (based heavily on the world of Amber, created by Roger Zelazny), we were spending about as much time on conversational tangents as actual roleplaying, and there was cake.

A Tuesday night like many before it, until the deep, concussive sound of an explosion rattled the windows of the International House of Johnson.

“What the—?”

“Holy—!”

“Was that—?”

Dave, Chris and I ran for the front door. Laura turned on the television and tuned to the local news on Channel 5. Rachel sent a message to Twitter from her cell phone; 140 characters announcing to the Internet that something nearby had exploded.

We scanned the treeline and saw it: a large mushroom cloud—too small to be nuclear; besides which we’d already be dead if it was—to the northeast, somewhere near the junction of Route 2 and SOM Center Road. No sooner had we registered the cloud than we heard the screaming. People all through the cul-de-sac had come out of their homes and the sounds of agony surrounded us. We watched in horror as across the street Rick fell to his knees, his face a mass of hideous, black blisters that burst and sprayed a tar-like substance over the pristine concrete pad of his driveway. Something in the house next door exploded, a soft whump followed by the shattering of windows…then flames licking toward the early evening sky from inside.

The idea that I should attempt to extinguish the fire was pushed to the back of my mind by more screaming, this time from right behind me. I turned to find Dave in the grip of some unseen agony. Unseen, that is, until his shirt split at the seams and I caught a glimpse of green scales. I took a step back and nearly tripped over whatever it was that now occupied Chris’ t-shirt and khaki shorts. The thing—gelatinous and translucent, seemed to melt, oozing out of—no…no absorbing—the clothes and coalescing into an amorphous blob that slid down the gentle slope of my lawn toward the street, leaving a wide scar of burned grass in its wake.

Dave was on the ground now, writhing and twisting as his body expanded well beyond the capacity of his clothes. I took another look…and ran. Ran away from the horrors that used to be my friends and back toward the house.

There was no question about what had just happened: somehow, somewhere nearby the wild card virus had been released in the eastern suburbs of Cleveland. Rick—and most of my other neighbors, it seemed—had drawn the Black Queen: a mutation that meant death, usually a very, very painful death. The same appeared to be true of Chris, while Dave had probably drawn a Joker as the virus invaded his body. A Joker meant that Dave would live, though whether that made him better off than those who didn’t might be a matter of perspective; the virus didn’t kill him, but it was mutating him into something that probably wouldn’t resemble a human being for much longer.

I dreaded what I would find inside. There was no screaming from, but that could mean that Laura had drawn the Black Queen, too. No, there she was, very much alive and looking very much like Laura. She was  kneeling over a prone figure on the floor.

Rachel, like Dave, had drawn a Joker. A spiral horn had erupted from her forehead, and I couldn’t help but think of unicorns…and faeries—a pair of gossamer wings spread from between her shoulderblades. Her hair was longer, too, at least waist-length and a rich red in hue.

Laura saw me then, and we quickly reassured one another that we were fine, though Laura said she felt “weird”. (I chalked it up to the fact that something had blown up near our neighborhood and our friends were mutating into bizarre conglomerations from J.R.R. Tolkien’s nightmares.)

“We have to get Rachel to a hospital,” Laura said.

My mind raced in a hundred different directions at once, but I couldn’t focus on a clear course of action. I nodded, glad to have the decision made for me. I half-lifted, half-dragged the unconscious Rachel to the front door.

“Where’s Chris?” Laura asked. “His van is blocking the driveway, we’ll have to take it to the hospital.”

“I…I think Chris is dead,” I said. “He…he melted.”

“Take…my…Humvee.”

I whirled toward the source of the pained, gutteral words. Dave was on all fours, doubled over in pain. Scaly protrusions outlined the ridge of his spine and a thick, green tail jutted from just below the small of his back.

Dave’s gas-guzzling, military-inspired monstrosity was parked on the curb. The keys were in the shredded remains of his pants and Laura, when she recovered from seeing the ex-Navy SEAL transformed into a human-lizard hybrid, retrieved them with trembling fingers.

I shouldered Rachel into the back seat, then went back to help Dave. He was impossibly heavy; there was no way I’d be able to even drag him across the lawn, much less lift him into the vehicle. He fought through the pain, staggering to his feet and stumbling toward the Humvee.

“Drive!” he muttered, climbing into the back seat next to Rachel. The Humvee listed as Dave managed to somehow cram himself—tail and all—into the back seat. Laura climbed into the front passenger seat as I pulled the driver’s door closed.

I hadn’t driven a standard transmission in at least ten years, but necessity trumped nerves and seconds later the Humvee was swinging around the cul-de-sac and roaring toward Euclid Avenue.

I uttered a curse—probably several—and slammed on the brakes. Euclid was a snarled mess of cars and trucks, some trying to maneuver toward East 305th Street, others stalled or crashed and now blocking traffic, their drivers either dead at the wheel or having abandoned the vehicle in the street. As bad as it had been in the cul-de-sac, it was a thousand times worse on the most traveled surface street in Lake County. Horns honked, people shouted (or screamed, as the Black Queen took her sweet time finishing a few of the unlucky ones off) and a logjam of steel and fiberglass stretched out in both directions.

It took me a moment to free myself from my usual minivan mindset and realize that I was driving a Humvee. I shifted into four-wheel drive and pushed the big truck into the fray. Metal shrieked, glass broke and rubber stuttered on concrete as I pushed cars out of my way, not caring whether their occupants were alive or not. Ploughing toward the opposite side of Euclid Avenue, I finally encountered an obstacle that the seemingly-irresistable Humvee would not move: a large black SUV.

I uttered another curse and felt the Humvee rock on its suspension as Dave hauled his bulk out of the back door. Slack-jawed, I watched as Dave—at least eight feet tall now—gripped the rear bumper of the Escalade and lifted. The SUV rocked and I recovered my wits enough to let my foot off the Humvee’s brake. With Dave’s help, I pushed the Escalade onto its side and we were able to squeeze past it.

We ploughed along, parallel to Euclid Avenue, cutting through the parking lots of a lawn tractor dealership, a bar and grill, a convenient store. Dave added his power to that of the Humvee when our forward progress was arrested and we rolled through—and in one case, over—the dozens of parked cars between us and East 305th Street.

It took us an hour to reach Route 2, the freeway I hoped would whisk us to downtown Cleveland and The Cleveland Clinic, but the sight we found when we finally crossed the railroad tracks made my heart sink: a virtual lake of vehicles, none of them moving, many of them sporting familiar red-and-blue flashing lights. Route 2, and by extension The Cleveland Clinic, was simply out of reach; we were going nowhere.


With apologies to Chris Miller. We didn’t mean to kill you, really.
Wild Cards CakeThe Game: Wild Cards, a Mutants & Masterminds sourcebook from Green Ronin Publishing. Written by John Joseph Miller and designed by Steve Kenson.

Wild Cards is based on the series of novels by the same name, edited by George R.R. Martin and featuring stories by Melinda Snodgrass, Roger Zelazny, Walter Jon Williams, John Joseph Miller and many more.

On September 15, 1946, the alien xenovirus known as Takis-A was released over an unsuspecting New York City. The virus killed most it infected instantly, while a lucky few were granted superhuman abilities and others were horribly mutated.

On August 26, 2008, a new outbreak of Takis-A occurred in the east suburbs of Cleveland. How the virus was released is not yet known, but northeast Ohio will never be the same…

GM: Gus “I don’t exist in this reality” Gosselin
Players: Dave “Scales” Berg, Kris “I Feel Fine” Johnson, Laura “I Feel Funny” Johnson and Rachel “@TheInternet OMG, Something Just Exploded!” Ross.

Up Next: Aces! (Session 1, Part 2)