Friday, December 31, 2010

Bumbo Review

December 31st.  Another year is expiring.  This was quite the eventful year for you; getting promoted, the birth of your daughter, and getting married.  With a new year comes the opportunity for new beginnings and the ubiquitous new year's resolutions.  Prosperity or poverty, forgiveness or grudges, victory or defeat.  What choices will define your new year?

The new year approaches with an ominous messenger.  Tornado watches are in effect for most of the tristate area.  Went to walmart this morning to grab some milk and it was like a war zone in there.  Most of the checkouts were open and at least five deep in line.  Luckily, a register opened up just as I got in the next line over.  That saved me at least ten minutes.

I'm working tonight and likely won't be home this year, so happy new year to everyone reading, and don't drink and drive.  I'd really hate it if you wrecked my car tonight.  And now, for the review!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

d20 Modern Campaign / Blackest Night Review

I feel as though, except for my Dungeon-Master style post prologues, I've been neglecting the gamer side of this blog.  That error is rectified now!  Several of my friends and I regularly play tabletop roleplaying games.  We've played 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons, and recently a spectacular Vampire: the Masquerade campaign set in 1920's Chicago.  When one campaign ends, another person takes their turn leading a new campaign as the Storyteller or DM.  My turn will be coming after our next campaign, a Sabbat V:tM campaign set in present-day Seattle.  My campaign is a d20 Modern game set in the near future, with a twist.

The players are the characters.  Each player in the campaign will roleplay a version of themselves in an alternate, dystopian future.  I'm working on plot details of the campaign, and hope that writing for this blog will help jump-start the creative process.  I have a few encounters storylined and the general setting established.

This will be the first game that I have run myself, so I am a bit nervous.  Add to that the fact that our schedules are harder to line up than they have ever been.  It took us over a month to get everyone together for the final session of the Chicago campaign.  Despite all the potential stumbling blocks I may encounter, I am rather excited for my campaign, and hope my players are as well.

The DC Comics event won the review vote, so here goes.  I will be the first to admit that I'm not the ultimate authority on DC Universe lore, having only begun reading the company's works around six months ago.  Yet even with my limited knowledge, "Blackest Night" was an exciting and pleasurable read.

  Blackest Night Green Lantern: Blackest Night Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps Blackest Night: Rise of the Black Lanterns

The story could certainly cause some confusion, so "Green Lantern: Blackest Night," "Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps," and "Blackest Night: Rise of the Black Lanterns" all serve to provide side stories that explain some of the plot details in the main graphic novel.  The events in the DC Universe have been leading up to "Blackest Night" since the reboot of the Green Lantern series in "Green Lantern: Rebirth."  Green Lantern story arcs leading up to this event include the "Sinestro Corps War," "Rage of the Red Lanterns," and "Agent Orange."

   Green Lantern: Rebirth Green Lantern: The Sinestro Corps War, Vol. 1 Green Lantern: Rage of the Red Lanterns Green Lantern: Agent Orange

The last three of these serve to introduce Sinestro and his corps, Atrocitus and his Red Lanterns, and Larfleeze and the Orange Lantern, representing Fear, Rage, and Avarice respectively.  The Green Lanterns, of course, represent Willpower.  Filling out the spectrum of emotion are the Blue Lanterns representing Hope, the Indigo Tribe representing Compassion, and the violet Star Sapphires representing Love.  "Blackest Night" begins with the seven corps going to war with one another.  While the lanterns are embattled in the "War of Light," a black Central Power Battery begins assigning black power rings to the dead, reanimating them in the process.  The impending onslaught compels the corps to work together to eliminate this greater threat.  I won't delve further into the story to avoid any big spoilers, but this is a memorable event worthy of the accolades it has received.  Definitely a buy.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Vindication / Walker Review

As you make the final turn to your mother-in-law's house, you begin to consider the different outcomes that could arise from this visit.  You plan arguments and rebuttals before you even shift into park.  Your mental warfare against Negligent Mother is not unlike a game of chess against an opponent with no king.  You and your wife enter the house.

Negligent Mother is out for the day.  After you sent your message to her, your wife also gave her an earful about her blatantly lacking parental instincts.  Somehow, you get the impression that she is avoiding the two of you.  With the imminent drama removed from the situation, you are free to enjoy a day in the company of loved ones.

All the drama of the past few days seemed as though it would fizzle out when we arrived and she had run off for the day.  Later, by some innate agent of chaos, it was revealed that Negligent Mother had also been spreading a lie about her parents that was hurtful to my wife's other sister.  For the record, Negligent Mother lives with her parents rent-free, so making them angry seems like a poor decision to make.

Most of the day was great though.  We got a Leapfrog My Pal Scout for Negligent Mother's daughter, and she had a blast with it.  I had it programmed for her name and favorite food, color, and animal before we left. I also took a nice nap with my baby girl during "Batman Begins."  Here's a picture of Kennedy on Christmas day with her new Leapfrog My Pal Violet.

I promised to do a review today, so I'll be talking about the walker we bought for her about a month ago from Toys R Us.  It is the Fisher Price Little Superstar Step 'n Play Piano.  This is an amazing walker that Kennedy adores.  When turned on, the piano keys at the bottom actually sound a piano note when stepped on by baby's feet.  On the front of the play set are smaller keys that will activate music when pressed.  There is a small assortment of melodies and songs included.

Kennedy's favorite part of the set is the noisemakers.  On either side of the seat are rotating drums, one which has little balls inside that make a rattle noise, and the other makes clicks.  In the picture, you can see Kennedy playing with a rattle, and on the other side is a little yellow bell.  Once she has grabbed that bell, game over, man.  She's also fond of the triangle mirror on the back side.  For some reason, every time she looks in, there's a pretty baby looking back at her.  She's not quite figured that part out yet, but she's working on it.

This is a wonderful walker, but I don't think I would have paid Amazon's list price of $199.95.  We got ours at Toys R Us for a little under $100, which I think is a good price for what you get.

Next up for review will either be "Green Lantern: Blackest Night," or DJ Hero 2.  I want your input!


We begin the day as you are playing with your daughter in her walker.  You receive a message from your brother-in-law, accosting you for a message you sent to the negligent mother.  This family, your wife included, has yet to see your temper flare.  The words you choose to reply with could lead you down a path in which you exhibit your great potential for anger to those uninitiated.  

I admit, last night I lost my cool a little bit.  Kennedy has an ear infection due to Negligent Mother's, well, negligence.  I found my breaking point last night after Kennedy spent fifteen minutes screaming and pulling at her ear, followed by a bout of croupy coughs.

I lost it.

Seeing my baby girl in such pain and discomfort sent me into a fit of outrage that my daughter was paying the price for someone else's carelessness.  All things considered, by the time I got to the computer to send the hateful message, it was much less hateful than I had originally intended.  Had Kennedy's fit occurred in the presence of Negligent Mother, I would not have held my tongue, and the things that get whispered behind her back would have been shouted in her face.

I'll write again tomorrow, err, later today with either a review of her walker she was playing in today, or the DC Comics trade paperback "Green Lantern: Blackest Night."  I hope to be able to write more positive posts once Kennedy starts feeling better.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Dreaming of a White Christmas

We resume our adventure several months later on Christmas day.  You are driving south to see your wife and daughter at her mother's house.  She has been helping her mother during her recovery from surgery, and it has been nearly a week since you've seen her or Kennedy.  Before you left, your wife called to tell you that your daughter has gotten another ear infection.  Her sister neglected to give her daughter the medicine that she needed, and as a result of her negligence, your daughter's coughing and congested breathing can clearly be heard over the phone.

Also, she doesn't bathe.

As you drive along the empty country roads, all you can do is think about your poor daughter being sick as a result of your sister-in-law's ineptitude.  You can feel the rage rising up inside you like stomach acid, eating away your sense of common decency and political correctness.  For the duration of the scene, take a -2 penalty to all diplomacy checks related to your sister-in-law.  

You arrive at your destination, turn off the car and unbuckle your seatbelt.  You take your daughter's Christmas present and walk up to the front door.  As you open the door, you see your mother-in-law, your wife and your daughter on the couch, and the sister-in-law in a chair on the other side of the room.  What do you do?

For the record, I critically failed my first diplomacy check of the day after I arrived.  The sister-in-law's daughter walked into the room chewing on something that wasn't quite discernible.  When my mother-in-law asked what she was chewing on, the mother carelessly replied, "A piece of styrofoam."  I rolled a '1' on my diplomacy check and looked at her with a less-than-pleasant expression on my face and blurted out, "Really?"

My critical failure ended up working out for me in the end, though, as she got up and left the room.  The gift in question that I brought for Kennedy was a Leapfrog My Pal Violet.  It is a purple stuffed dog that sings and talks like so many other baby toys, but this one really piqued my geek.  It can be connected to a computer with the included USB cable and programmed to use your child's name and even spell it out.  The onboard memory can be programmed for ten different songs from a list of over forty from the Leapfrog website.

Kennedy absolutely loved it, and we really liked the lullaby feature that plays two, five, or ten minutes of bedtime music.  With Kennedy being sick, it was nice to see her finally get some rest.  My wife suggested to her sister that she should get one for her daughter.  A nice educational toy like this one could really do wonders for the child.  But no, her mother simply scoffed at my wife, as though we had just told her she couldn't watch TV tonight.  We'll get one for her if her mother doesn't care enough to do it herself.

How was everyone's Christmas festivities?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Beginning My Campaign as a 1st Level Dad

The scene begins in a brightly-lit birthing suite at a nearby hospital in early July.  You've been at the hospital nearly twelve hours now, having been woken up before dawn by your wife yelling at you from the bathroom.  The deep red scratches on your hands and wrists are beginning to fade.  Your wife gave you those before the epidural eased the contractions.  Now she's lying in the hospital bed in labor, preparing to bring your daughter into this world.  On the other side of the bed, your mother-in-law stands over her oldest child as she is witnessing for the first time the birth of a grandchild.  At the end of the bed sits the doctor, helping to coach your wife and speed up the labor.  Several nurses are present monitoring your wife's vitals and assisting the doctor.

The final stretch begins, as the doctor directs your wife to push.  You and your mother-in-law are each holding a leg to help with the labor.  During the downtime between pushes, you gently stroke her leg in an attempt to comfort her.  Your thoughtfulness is rewarded with a guttural voice spitting, "STOP PETTING ME!"  Your arms grow weary as minutes trudge along with little apparent progress.  Suddenly, it all changes.

You can see the top of your daughter's head begin to emerge.  A wave of emotion comes over you as you witness the most beautiful event of your life, despite all of the yelling and bodily fluids.  More time passes as sets of pushes come and go, and eventually, the head comes out.

But something has gone wrong.  The head is a sickly blue color, and the umbilical cord is wrapped around your daughter's neck.  The doctor rolls '20' on a reflex save and with a few subtle eye commands, has the nurses clip the cord and clear the baby's airways.  Moments stretch into an eternity, until you hear the glorious music of your daughter's first cries.  You begin to uncontrollably sob at the sound.  Your wife, who noticed none of the critical events of the last few seconds, simply wants to hold her daughter.

This is how your campaign begins.  The rest of the story is up to you.

My first child was born this July, a baby girl named Kennedy.  On that day, my wife gave me a greater gift than any number of Christmases could ever equal.  As such, on this Christmas day, I want to thank my wife for that gift, for being the amazing wife and mother that she is, and for helping train me in the ways of parenthood.

This blog, as indicated by the title, will be an ongoing look into the life of a first-time dad, long-time gamer.

Stay a while and listen.