Friday, December 31, 2010

A Momentous Event

Today is my birthday, an event celebrated with fireworks all over the world (though for some reason the Chinese celebrate it a few weeks later, something I should ask them about sometime). Even more exciting, in a few hours I'll find out whether Boomer is a boy or a girl. Boomer, for those of you just coming into the loop, is the nickname The Wife and I have given to the heir to throne of House Patrick; i.e., our first child. Today, ultrasound willing, we'll know whether to buy the child a blue "Daddy's Little Linebacker" jumper or a pink "Daddy's Little Linebacker" jumper. (Wife's Sister & Wife's Sister's Husband have already ordered tiny Cleveland Browns socks, which are going to be awesome!). And come May, little Boomer will have preferred access to the treasures of a lifetime's hard work: a pretty impressive collection of Buffy the Vampire Slayer memorabelia, an eclectic assortment of post-1987 comic books, and the movie Barb Wire on DVD.

In all seriousness, I've found impending fatherhood an exciting if occasionally frightful experience. I think of the last three years following our return to Toronto from Windsor as my "dissertation years". I've accomplished a lot over that period, including finishing the aforementioned dissertation, getting married, putting together a pretty nice gift for a perfect stranger, learning to read French, directing a long role-playing campaign (admittedly an "accomplishment" only to the eyes of a particular segment of the public), etc. My only real anxiety is that the gamble of leaving a secure position as a professor at Detroit Mercy in the hopes that a Ph.D. would lead to a better spot elsewhere hasn't yet paid off, which sometimes makes me think I should have stayed (though on the other hand, as much as I feel sorry for it, Windsor is Windsor, and I can't really blame myself for taking the chance to get back to Toronto!). Unless the job-gods are especially kind, this means we'll be moving to Kingston for the duration of The Wife's mat-leave, which will be quite a transition in itself. Between grading papers for the class I'm, putting the finishing touches on the dissertation and getting ready for the defense, leading Harbingers to the decayed village of Dunwich, packing and moving, and getting ready for Boomer, the next few months are likely to be kinda crazy!

But no matter how busy life gets, there's consolation in the fact that I'll always have Barb Wire on DVD.

What I Read (2010)

Isn't this exciting!?!?

What I Read (2010)

Jan. 12, 2010 Death on Naboo by Jude Watson. "Ferus Olin tries desperately to keep Inquisitor Malorum from discovering the truth about Padme's children."

Jan. 21, 2010 Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe. "Collection of Poe's most famous stories. I especially like the detective ones, definitely the forebear to Sherlock Holmes."

Jan. 22, 2010 The Twilight Streets by Gary Russell. "Torchwood novel featuring Bilis Manger--plot contains neighbourhood Jack can't get into. Bit unclear but good."

Feb. 10, 2010 Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan. "The sixth W of T book--a bit slow in places, but an amazing ending when Rand makes the Aes Sedai kneel before him."

Feb. 12, 2010 Star Wars: The Clone Wars by Karen Traviss. "Novelization of the animated movie. Traviss always delivers surprising insight into the motivations of the characters and themes."

Feb. 17, 2010 Harry Potter et la Coupe de Feu by J.K. Rowling. "Long but very good book as Harry participates in the Tri-Wizard tournament."

Feb. 20, 2010 Into the Silence by Sarah Pinborough. "Solid Torchwood book, as alien cuts out vocal cords."

Mar. 2, 2010 L'enfant des Ombres by Moka. "Beautiful cover, but story just doesn't connect."

Mar. 10, 2010 Oz: Into the Wild by Christopher Golden. "A very good Buffy book, as Oz travels to Tibet to find a cure. Interesting & original situations."

Mar. 13, 2010 Tatooine Ghost by Troy Denning. "A nice bridge, as Leia finds all kinds of links to Anakin from Episode I & II."

Mar. 24, 2010 Les Club des Veufs Noirs by Isaac Asimov. "A nice, light collection of short mysteries, each set in a men's supper club."

Mar. 2010 Risk Assessment by James Goss. "Torchwood novel that introduces a great new character in Assessor Agnes Havisham."

Mar. 2010 The Annotated H.P. Lovecraft edited by S.T. Joshi. "My favorite is 'The Rats in the Walls.' The others didn't work for me as much. The annotations don't really add much."

Apr. 2, 2010 Emma by Jane Austen. "Emma is a very poor matchmaker, who keeps getting the wrong idea about couples' romantic intentions. A couple of well-drawn characters, but dull in spots."

Apr. 5, 2010 The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. "A very readable and thought-provoking novel, much better than the movie."

Apr. 4, 2010 No Prisoners by Karen Traviss. "An intelligence agent gets trapped behind enemy lines and must be rescued. Great insight into 'attachment' and other ambiguities. Plot shaky."

Apr. 10, 2010 The Call of Cthulhu Role-Playing Game (Sixth Edition) by various. "Sixth edition of Chaosium's famous RPG. The rules aren't always elegant and there's some odd stuff, but I can't wait to play."

Apr. 20, 2010 The Hound of the Baskervilles & The Sign of the Four by Arthur Conan Doyle. "Two of Doyle's short novels in the Worth Literary Press edition. The "Sign" ends with a great, thrilling boat chase."

Apr. 20, 2010 The Undertaker's Gift by Trevor Baxendale. "Torchwood novel, starting to get formulaic."

Apr. 26, 2010 Return to Dunwich by Keith Herber. "RPG setting book for Dunwich, a decayed Mass. town. Very detailed, though hard to picture stories."

Apr. 27, 2010 SAS À Istanbul by Gerard de Villiers. "Cold war spy novel with main character "SAS" Malko, set in Turkey as Russkies have dug tunnel under Bosporus Strait. Good."

Apr. 27, 2010 New Spring: The Novel by Robert Jordan. "Prequel to the Wheel of Time, telling how Moraine and Siuan got raised to Aes Sedai and how Lan became a Warder. Great book."

May 2010 Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn. "First book in the Thrawn trilogy--I love the opponent, epic in scope, first appearance of a lot of SW mainstays."

May 7, 2010 Consequences by Various. "Collection of five Torchwood short stories, with some loose connections. Pretty entertaining on the whole."

May 11, 2010 The English Opium-Eater by Robert Morrison. "Biography of Thomas de Quincey, Victorian-era magazine writer and "man of letters" who was famously addicted to opium. A bit boring, really."

May 12, 2010 City of the Beast by Michael Moorcock. "Kane takes a matter transmitter to Old Mars and ends up fighting blue giants to save a princess. Straight-forward, old school fantasy fun."

May 21, 2010 Clone Wars Gambit: Stealth by Karen Miller. "Anakin & Obi-Wan try to stop a bio-terror facility. Average and disappointing compared to Wild Space."

May 24, 2010 1920s Investigator's Companion by Keith Herber, et al. "New occupations & background for Call of Cthulhu. Overall a very useful book."

[DIGRESSION: In my handwritten book log, I wrote the year as "2009" for this and a few surrounding books, which just now caused a moment of panic that I'd been transcribing a log already transcribed. If anyone has the necessary device or super-power, please travel back in time and slap me upside the head.]

May 27, 2010 How I Survived My Summer Vacation by Various. "Nice collection of Buffy stories set in between Season 1 & 2. Wish they had done this every year."

June 2010 Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde. "Sequel to The Eyre Affaire, as the time cops steal Thursday's husband. Good fun."

June 2010 Lord of the Spiders by Michael Moorcock. "The second Kane of Old Mars book, as Kane gets involved in a blue giant civil war. Fast moving."

June 2010 The Paperback Book by Rick Mercer. "Not as funny as hoped."

[DIGRESSION: Some people say Rick Mercer is the Canadian Jon Stewart. These people have been paid to do so by Rick Mercer.]

June 2010 Bad Twin by Gary Troup. "Lost tie-in novel, really quite good hardboiled detective story w/ good vs. evil theme that resonates."

June 13, 2010 Passages by Connie Willis. "A book about researchers looking into near-death experiences. It has a great, intriguing beginning and some good ideas, but needs an editor and more characterization."

June 17, 2010 Missing: Coup de Foudre by Meg Cabot. "First in the series. I like the character of Jess Mastriani, and the plot is interesting."

June 2010 Dark Force Rising by Timothy Zahn. "Book 2--good but for some reason this trilogy hasn't been as gripping as I'd expected."

June 2010 The Anubis Murders by Gary Gygax. "Interesting characters, but fails as a mystery."

July 5, 2010 Baltimore by Mignola & Golden. "A great story, dark and moody, rich in atmosphere and terse in plot and dialogue."

[DIGRESSION: I believe I've mentioned in the past that I normally read books in the order I receive them, according to a strict queue on a shelf of unread books. According to the inscription, I was given Baltimore in December of 2007, which indicates that anyone who gave me a new book today should expect me to finish it sometime in July of 2013. However, The Wife, sua sponte, claims authority to insert books at any point in the queue, which sometimes creates discrepancies.]

July 2010 The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan. "Not bad, just kind of flat and over-long."

July 2010 Clone Wars Gambit: Siege by Karen Miller. "Doesn't seem to grasp the awesome scale of total war on a galactic level."

July 2010 The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King. "Good depiction of Holmes, poor resolution to mystery."

July 15, 2010 Blasphemy: Art That Offends by S. Brent Plate "A great book with full-color photos and an insightful essay."

July 2010 Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. "Contains both of Carroll's stories (I find the first more charming), along with beautiful full-color illustrations and good essays."

July 2010 A Monstrous Regiment of Women by Laurie R. King. "Second Mary Russell book, interesting social gospel character--still not a great mystery."

July 2010 Northwest of Earth by C.L. Moore "Complete collection of pulp S.F. stories, which are extraordinarily evocative but also repetitive."

July 2010 The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stiegg Larson. "A solid, intriguing mystery, great protagonists, and a hard edge make for a great thriller."

July 2010 Tarmac by Nicolas Dickner. "Interesting, original plot re: family of failed predictors of apocalypse."

Aug. 11, 2010 A Letter of Mary by Laurie R. King "Interesting theological angle, and good characterization, but still fails as a mystery."

Aug. 2010 Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr "Better than I expected. Faeries torment unsuspecting mortals, but protagonist can see them."

Aug. 18, 2010 A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers. "Memoir of raising little brother after both parents die. Extremely self-referential, but for the most part interesting."

Aug. 2010 The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie. "Interesting to see what all the fuss is about. Heavy on magical realism."

Sep. 5, 2010 The Moor by Laurie R. King. "Great atmosphere and character in Lord Saban Baring-Gould, but slow moving plot."

Sep. 2010 Le Mysterieux Destin de Timothy Hunter: Initiation by Carla Jablonski. "Tim Hunter learns of his potential to be world's most powerful wizard. I really liked portrayal of Zatanna."

Sep. 8, 2010 Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan. "The Bowl of Winds is found. Good mix of characters and storylines."

Sep. 2010 Masters of the Pit by Michael Moorcock. "Very workmanlike Mars book, out of ideas for cardboard characters."

Sep. 2010 The Last Command by Timothy Zahn. "Strong, exciting end to trilogy."

Sep. 22, 2010 Persuasion by Jane Austen. "Fairly boring as heroine finally decides to hook up with sailor ex."

Oct. 2010 Ranters Run Amok by Leonard Levy. "Odd collection of essays."

Oct. 2010 Is Critique Secular? Blasphemy, Injury, and Free Speech by Talal Asad, et al. "Big on lit-theory and post-modernism, heavy on jargon and light on substance."

Oct. 6, 2010 Secrets of New Orleans by Fred Van Lente. "Cthulhu sourcebook. Fine, but a bit dry."

Oct. 2010 Elak of Atlantis by Henry Kuttner. "Very standard, unremarkable sword-and-sorcery tales."

Oct. 20, 2010 More Annotated H.P. Lovecraft by Joshi & Cannon (eds.). Some great stories here, including 'The Call of Cthulhu', 'Cool Air', and 'Pickman's Model.'"

Oct. 21, 2010 Shadows of Yog-Sothoth by Sandy Petersen, et al. The first Call of Cthulhu RPG campaign, involves a global adventure to stop the rise and awakening of Cthulhu. Ludicrously difficult."

Nov. 2010 Jedi Twilight by Michael Reeves. "Set on Coruscant shortly after Order 66, one of the few remaining Jedi is hunted by Vader. Pretty good."

Nov. 14, 2010 Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. "A great piece of gothic literature, with memorable characters, moody settings, and a very readable plot."

Nov. 17, 2010 Recognizing Religion in a Secular Society by Douglas Farrow (ed.). "Collection of essays on religion and the state. Most argue for a gov't less hostile towards religion."

Nov. 22, 2010 The Sarmarkand Solution by Gary Gygax. "Third book with quasi-Egyptian detective. Good characters and interesting setting, but shaky as a mystery."

Nov. 23, 2010 Grotesque by Natsuo Kirino. "Character studies of Japanese high school girls who become middle-aged prostitutes. Odd but okay."

Nov. 24, 2010 At Large and At Small by Anne Fadiman. "A very readable collection of short essays on a wide variety of topics. The one on night owls should be circulated."

Nov. 25, 2010 The Camel Bookmobile by Masha Hamilton. Story of a bookmobile via camel in rural Kenya. Nice balance between Western & indigenous values, surprising but satisfying ending.

Nov. 27, 2010 The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde. "Third of the Thursday Next books, as she enters the realm of books and works as a stock character. Original and compulsorily readable."

Dec. 1, 2010 Tales of the Slayer Volume 2 by Various. "Another strong collection of stories on Slayers throughout history. Great Buffy time-travel story too."

Dec. 2010 The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stiegg Larson. "Second in the trilogy, the book in this case is far better than the movie."

Dec. 31, 2010 Nano Comes to Clifford Falls and Other Stories by Nancy Kress. "Collection of SF stories. 'Shiva in Shadows' and 'Mirror Image' are amazing, memorable stories."

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Guest Post: The Mind of a Re-Reader

The Wife, here. Our resident blogger, whose fantasy football team outscored mine over the course of the season, is owed one blog post of his choice. The selected topic: Why I love to re-read and re-watch.

As long as I’ve known him, Husband has found the fact that I enjoy reading/watching the same things repeatedly to be a bit of an anomaly. Not that he never has a repeat viewing, but he prefers a significant chunk of time to pass before he is willing to go over the same territory again. Not so with me.

I have always had this habit. I come by it honestly – my father is the exact same way, although to a much greater extreme. We used to tease him that the only movies he watched were Twister, Independence Day and Moonstruck. On the reading side, he pretty much sticks with Lord of the Rings and the David Eddings “Belgariad/Mallorean” books.

You can get him to read/watch something new, but it often involves both cajoling and forcing him to sit down and give something a try.

I do read and watch new things. However, often when I am grabbing a book, it is to relax. My work is intense and takes a good deal of concentration. When I want to chill with a book, I often find myself reaching for something familiar – because I know exactly what “mood” it is going to invoke. Looking for something sweet and domestic with hints of sadness? Grab “Little Women”. Seeking a laugh? Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels. The list goes on.

Part of what appeals to me, is that I know what is going to happen. I like to tell myself that I like surprises, but really, I am a frequent reader of spoilers. When I re-read/re-watch, I am prepared for what is coming. If I don’t want to see it/read it – it is easy enough to skip.

I also find that re-reading/re-watching gives me a deeper level of connection with a story. I tend to read quite quickly, so when I review something gain, I often pick up nuances that I missed the first time through, or I’m able to appreciate the way that the author or director laid the tracks for something that wouldn’t have been apparent on first review.

The irony of this, is that (also thanks to my Dad) I have a phenomenal memory for things that I have read/watched. Ironic because I, who seldom forget something I’ve seen or watched will re-read/re-watch over and over – while Husband, who rarely does so, often cannot recall specific details.

Dad was/is forever asking “who sang that” or “whose voice is that” and both I and Younger Sister have reams of useless trivia stuffed in our heads. Useless unless one is playing Trivial Pursuit, I should say. NEVER bet against me on the “Entertainment” squares. (Unless its music –that really isn’t my bag).

Classic example: Over the Christmas holidays, I played Trivial Pursuit with Husband, Younger Sister and Brother-In-Law. Sister was stumped on a question about A Christmas Carol (it was a bit of a trick question). To help her out, I advised her to “watch Muppet Christmas Carol in your head and you’ll figure out the answer” – which she did in about 30 seconds. Brother-In-Law declared us “weird” and he’s probably right.

Thinking about it, I guess it really all does come back to family. My parents, sister and I love nothing more than to quote at one another from our favourite TV shows/movies, etc. We can literally sit for an hour and quote back and forth from Monty Python, classic Musicals, the Simpsons, Friends, etc, etc.

Perhaps this is why Husband jokes that for Christmas/Birthdays/Anniversaries he is only going to buy me things that I already have.

Captain America: Dead Men Running [Comics]

Captain America: Dead Men Running was a 2002 three-issue limited series marked by ugly covers and muddy interior artwork. The story is halfway interesting, as Captain A is parachuted into the jungle to assist a small band of U.S. soldiers escape a drug cartel. Only, it turns, out, (SPOILER!) that the soldiers are just as bad as the cartel! A decent twist, though I think the writer was trying a tad too hard to tell a grim, moody story and ended up coming off as pretentious. The series was clearly meant for a more adult audience, and it's fairly graphic for mainstream Marvel Comics standards (nuns getting shot in the head, etc.). I'm not sure whether it's supposed to be in continuity or not, but it doesn't really matter as the story is completely isolated from anything happening elsewhere in the Marvel Universe.

Also, apparently, Steve Rogers is fluent in Spanish. He also spends most of the second issue unconscious.

G.I. Joe and the Transformers [Comics]

When it comes to pop culture, my first love was G.I. Joe. Not only did I turn my closet into G.I. Joe headquarters (complete with string-and-box elevator) and quit the Boy Scouts because it conflicted with my afternoon G.I. Joe cartoons, my first ever comic book--the one that started a (so far) lifelong obsession--was an issue of G.I. Joe (# 51, to be exact).

The 1987 four issue G.I. Joe and the Transformers limited series was thus a natural purchase for me as a kid. Unfortunately, the third and fourth issues managed to elude me for over 20 years!

The series throws everybody into the mix: the Joes, Cobra (both Cobra Commander's and Serpentor's factions), the Decepticons, and the Autobots. It all has to do with "Power Station Alpha", a massive mobile power station designed by the U.S. government. The Joes, of course, are supposed to protect it, but Cobra and the Decepticons have other plans and form a limited partnership to steal it. The Decepticons predictably betray Cobra, and then use Power Station Alpha to start a series of global catastrophes. This leads to a fun, if crowded, fourth issue which sees Cobra, the Joes, and the Autobots all teaming up in a massive invasion of the Decepticons' base. Like I said, it's busy with so many characters, but the writers actually work hard to keep the book in continuity with the main G.I. Joe and Transformers title, footnoting all sorts of stuff (a practice I miss!). With everything going on, the writers probably should've ditched a subplot featuring General Hawk's romantic liason with a Senator, and that of a little boy whose brain gets taken over by a Decepticon device.

Anyway, I don't think it was probably worth a 23 year wait to read the whole series, but if you're nostalgic for either the Joes or the Transformers, it's a fun little crossover.

Clone Wars Campaign: Corinne D'avilos, Regent of Mongui

Corinne D'avilos was an important NPC who debuted in the very first session of the campaign. As Arresta's older sister, Corinne's backstory is that she was next in line to the regency of Mongui but was disinherited by her father after she fell head over heels for a ne'er-do-well scavenger yard operator named Miklos. When the campaign began, Corinne had secretly organized a small rebel force to oust her father and seize the throne. After the PCs fled Mongui at the end of the campaign's first story-arc, open civil war broke out between Corinne and her father.

As the months of fighting continued, the city-moon of Mongui was devastated by the war. Corinne was able to triumph due to her ace in the hole--she had made Lt. Jaarza, her father's head of security, into her devoted lover. With the help of Jaarza's betrayal and sabotage, Corinne's forces captured her father and she had him executed soon after taking the throne. However, riots and unrest made her hold on Mongui tenuous, and Corinne became desperate enough to invite the forces of Purity First to help maintain security. As she should have predicted, it wasn't long before Purity First launched a coup, and Corinne only narrowly escaped capture by fleeing the palace.

Once again, Corinne found herself leading a rebel force in her own homeland. This time, however, due to the machinations of Jocasta and Stefan Cassadine, she received assistance. With her sister's aid (and that of Arresta's companions), Corinne succeeded in ousting Purity First in a vicious, brutal rebellion that left thousands dead and portions of Mongui contaminated by radiation.

In the campaign's final story arc, Corinne found herself in the unprecedented position of being a hero. She joined the final assault on the Accelerated's sphere and survived to continue her reign. With her father dead and her sister renouncing any claims to the throne, Corinne's position as regent of Mongui finally seems secure.

Personality-wise, Corinne is a classic party girl. It's not unusual for her to be involved with several guys at the same time--and she doesn't always make wise decisions, such as her dalliance with noted crimelord Bel Sekand.

In addition to mechanics skills picked up during her exile to the fringes of Mongui, Corinne's long involvement in civil wars has provided her with some combat ability.

Corinne D'avilos, Regent of Mongui

Human Female, Noble 6/Scout 6

Strength 10, Dexterity 12 (+1), Constitution 14 (+2), Intelligence 14 (+2), Wisdom 13 (+1), Charisma 16 (+3)

Hit Points: 101

Speed: 6

Damage Threshold: 26

Defenses (add 10 if not using house rules): Fortitude +16, Reflex +16, Will +14 or +19 against Deception/Persuasion

Attacks: Blaster Pistol +10, d. 3d6+6

Force Points: 10

Equipment: Comlink, Datapad, Blaster Pistol, Security Kit, Tool Kit

Talents: Spontaneous Skill (1/day), Inspire Loyalty (Jaarza), Jury Rigger, Evasion, Bodyguard, Improved Stealth

Feats: Linguist, Weapon Proficiency (Pistols), Weapon Proficiency (Simple), Unwavering Resolve, Skill Focus (Persuasion), Melee Defense, Improved Defenses, Skill Focus (Perception), Scavenger, Skill Training (Mechanics), Toughness, Weapon Focus (Blaster pistol), Skill Training (Stealth)

Skills: Acrobatics +7, Climb +6, Deception +14, Endurance +8, Gather Information +14, Initiative +7, Jump +6, Knowledge (Technology) +13, Knowledge (Bureaucracy) +13, Knowledge (Tactics) +11, Knowledge (Galactic Lore) +13, Mechanics +13, Perception +17, Persuasion +19, Pilot +7, Ride +7, Stealth +12, Survival +7, Swim +6, Treat Injury +7, Use Computer +13

Return to Clone Wars Campaign Main Page

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Fantasy Football 2010 Playoffs Round 1

Well, crap. I lost in the first round of the playoffs by the score of 199 to 195, and it wasn't really even that close. Each round lasts two weeks, and after the first week I had a pretty sizable 43 point lead! And then somehow I found myself down four points going into the Monday night game. My opponent's D/ST (Bears) was the only player left to play for either of us, and since my opponent had a slim lead he was clever enough to simply not play the Bears at all and risk negative points (he needn't had taken the precaution in retrospect, as the Bears put up 21 points). It's one of those annoying results, as the 195 points I scored would have been enough to beat every other team in the league except the one I happened to go up against.

So for round two of the playoffs, I'll be up against the # 4 seed and playing for third or fourth in the league.

The Wife dropped the first round of the consolation bracket by the score of 190 to 161.


Accelerated Sun Runners (114 Points)
QB Tom Brady (22)
RB Ahmad Bradshaw (17)
RB Peyton Hillis (9)
RB/WR LaGarrette Blount (4)
WR Danny Woodhead (8)
WR Deion Branch (21)
TE Marcedes Lewis (11)
D/ST Jets (15)
K Sebastian Janikoski (7)

Team Oool (71 Points)

QB Michael Vick (21)
RB Ray Rice (11)
RB Rashard Mendenhall (6)
RB/WR Steven Jackson (10)
WR Anquan Boldin (4)
WR Santonio Holmes (5)
TE Chris Cooley (2)
D/ST Eagles (4)
K Josh Scobee (8)


Accelerated Sun Runners (81 Points)

QB Tom Brady (14)
RB Ahmad Bradshaw (7)
RB Peyton Hillis (7)
RB/WR LaGarrette Blount (17)
WR Terrell Owens (0)
WR Deion Branch (3)
TE Marcedes Lewis (6)
D/ST Jets (12)
K Sebastian Janikowski (15)

Team Oool (71 Points)

QB Michael Vick (38)
RB Ray Rice (35)
RB Rashard Mendenhall (16)
RB/WR Steven Jackson (15)
WR Anquan Boldin (0)
WR Santonio Holmes (4)
TE Chris Cooley (14)
D/ST (None)
K Josh Scobee (6)

Ten Things I Really Like But For Some Reason Hardly Ever Blog About

Ten Things That I Really Like But for Some Reason Hardly Ever Blog About

1. The Wheel of Time Series By Robert Jordan. Gives new meaning to the term "epic fantasy." Were I stuck on a deserted island with only one book series, this would be it. The most exciting, moving action scenes I've ever read, a fascinating account of magic, layered myth-making, political manipulation portrayed masterfully, destiny and self-determination clashing time and time again. What I always dreamed fantasy role-playing games could be (and have always remained disappointed).

2. Mystery Science Theater 3000 (and off-shoots) It's not just funny, it's a certain unique kind of humor that combines wit with the sheer absurdity of terrible movies. One of the few things that has made me laugh until I've cried on multiple occasions. Newbies: start with the movie or my personal favorite, Space Mutiny. Modern off-shoots include Cinematic Titanic (try East vs. Watts), Rifftrax (which adds commentary to mainstream movies and some crappy ones; try Battlefield: Earth or Planet of the Dinosaurs), and The Film Crew (now defunct).

3. Preacher Vile, hilarious, and oddly moving comic series that's been collected in trade paperbacks. One of those things that is so good that I ration myself rather than gulp down all at once.

4. My Family A British sit-com series. When I first moved to Canada, I watched a re-run of this show every weeknight. Not exactly revolutionary, but reliably hilarious.

5. Five Bands a) The Afghan Whigs--probably the best live show I've ever been to; b) The Killers--what I listen to to get rev'd up; c) The Cranberries--I can't explain it either; d) She Wants Revenge--dark and sexy; e) The New Radicals--one and done, but worth it.

6. Claudia on General Hospital The most compelling character I've seen on a soap, tragically self-destructive.

7. On Liberty by John Stuart Mill The foundation of pretty much everything I believe about politics and civil liberties.

8. Last Night on Earth Zombie B-Movie themed board game involving tactical combat, interesting and varied victory conditions, and appropriately cheesy cinematic cards.

9. Mysteriously Yours! Mystery Dinner Theatre Amiable fun suitable for birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine's Day, New Year's Eve, etc. I've probably been a dozen times and have never won. Someday!

10. Firefly & Serenity If I had an extra $ 40 million or so, this is the one t.v. show I would subsidize new episodes of. And as for Serenity, it's the only movie I saw six times in the theater and would happily see six more times.

Well, I've shown you mine. Now it's your turn to show me yours.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


I found this a surprisingly good novel! Most media tie-in novels are mediocre, but Voices was an exciting read. Set in the second season, the plot concerns a terrorist bombing of a Psi-Corp conference. Talia is framed for the bombing and has to go on the lam. The novel focuses mostly on Talia and Garibaldi, with a healthy dose of high-quality Bester. Highly recommended!

[an old review from Amazon from before I had a blog--Jhaeman's Detritus believes in recycling!]


Accusations, the second Babylon 5 novel, focuses primarily on Ivanova and Garibaldi (despite his prominence on the cover, G'kar doesn't get much attention). The plot concerns an old friend of Ivanova who gets murdered after coming to Babylon 5 to deliver an important message. Ivanova gets framed for the murder and her and Garibaldi have to figure out how it all ties into frequent raider attacks on incoming shipments of a rare metal.
Plot-wise, this is fairly standard stuff (indeed, the framing of a character for a crime they didn't commit was used in the first B5 novel).
Accusations is well-written, however, with good characterization and a few twists. It's not the best book ever, but it's worth reading.

[an old review from Amazon from before I had a blog because Jhaeman's Detritus believes in recycling!]

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Blood Oath

Blood Oath involves a plot by G'Kar to fake his own death in order to evade assassins. The other B5 characters receiving significant attention are Garibaldi and Ivanova. The story, while mildly interesting, is not as fast-moving as the first two B5 novels. There is an interesting look at the Narn Homeworld, so G'Kar fans should pick this one up.

[an old review from Amazon before I had a blog--Jhaeman's Detritus believes in recycling!]

Clark's Law

Clark's Law continues the high standard of Babylon 5 novels. Should Captain Sheridan and the rest of the crew accede to a politically-motivated execution? A vivid portrayal of the opposing sides in the moral, religiously, and political debate over capital punishment give some real depth to a novel that holds several surprises and is well-worth reading.

[an old review from Amazon before I had a blog--Jhaeman's Detritus believes in recycling!]

The Touch of Your Shadow, the Whisper of Your Name

Although I enjoyed the first four Babylon 5 novels, I found this one rather disappointing. The plot is hackneyed and the sort of thing that has happened to the U.S.S. Enterprise about a dozen times. The conclusion is of the "ambiguous" type that doesn't indicate complexity so much as a writer apparently too lazy to give answers. Unless you're a B5 completist, avoid this one.

[an old review from Amazon before I had a blog--Jhaeman's Detritus believes in recycling!]

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Torchwood Magazine Cancelled

According to a letter from the company I subscribe with, Torchwood Magazine has been cancelled. Skimming online, it looks like a # 24 and a # 25 has been released and are probably the last issues. I guess it's not SUPER surprising since it's been a while since the show aired, the book line has been cancelled, etc. On the other hand, a comic book series was just launched and the new season is coming soon so one would assume interest would start building again. Perhaps they'll relaunch the magazine if the American season is successful?

Torchwood Magazine # 23

Captain Jack gets the cover to Torchwood Magazine # 23, with the Stars n' Stripes in the background to herald the show's new season on a U.S. network. Here's the interesting bits from this issue:

* A SPOILERY discussion of four new characters for the upcoming season of Torchwood on the Starz network. I'm doing my best to avoid spoilers from here on out, but this is what's already been released: (1) Rex Matheson is a CIA agent in his late 20s, described "fast, sharp, smart, clever, and when the situation demands it, ruthless". Sounds like Jack actually, except for that late 20s part. (2) Esther Katusi, a CIA analyst in her early 20s who is an "optimist" who is "essentially good-hearted" and "in love with Rex Matheson, though she'd never tell him"; (3) Oswald Jones, a "convicted murderer and paedophile" in his late 40s--this is the most original and potentially interesting character of the lot (Starz recently signed Bill Pullman to this role, an unusual choice if you ask me); and (4) Dr. Vera Juarez who (according to Russell Davies in a later article in the magazine) is "a vital character who gets involved in the big, worldwide story that grips everyone together" and who will probably be "a mid-30s Latina".

* The aforementioned interview with Russell Davies (Torchwood's executive producer) about the new series. Some interesting bits and with the caveat that plenty could change, he mentions the somewhat SPOILERY nugget that the season will be 10 episodes long, one big story, and will see visits to at least Wales and the U.S.

* A short story by Sarah Pinborough titled "Mend Me." Each member of the Torchwood team is visited by a stranger who repeats only "mend me." It's a fairly standard aliens-stranded-on-Earth story, and I'd give it a C+ were I forced to grade such things.

* A ten-page guide to the all of the locations in which Children of Earth was filmed. Unless you live in or near Cardiff, this will be pretty damned boring.

* "Everything's True" by Guy Adams, a short story with an interesting point of view: it's told through transcripts of a psyche doctor after disturbing events at a sanitarium. Bonus points for creativity and good artwork.

* A comic strip titled "Somebody Else's Problem." The artwork is much improved over previous strips, but the story involving alien drug dealers is a bit "meh".

* A good feature on Torchwood novels, including brief plot breakdowns and notes for each. Do I own each of the books discussed? Yes I do. Does that make me the most awesome person on the planet? I'm too modest to say so, but you can feel free.

* A short story titled "The Secret of Crow Island" that has a really interesting setting: a remote island monastery. I think the virtue of short stories and books is that they can break outside the mold of the show and put the characters in new and interesting situations (a virtue rarely taken advantage of). Although it comes to a rushed ending, this one at least has some good ideas.

* A "Beyond the Hub" feature on real-life "ghost" photography. I always like these features, as they're well-researched but readable.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Torchwood: "To the Last Man" (S2, E3)

"What am I fighting for?"
"For the future. For me."

To the Last Man (Season Two, Episode Three)

("Toshiko falls for a handsome soldier, trapped out of his time, who unwittingly holds the key to saving the world.")


* Gerald & Harriet, World War I Torchwood. Seeing operatives from different eras in the organization's history is always interesting.

* The concept: a man frozen in the vaults, woken for one day every year and maintained for some mysterious purpose? Good stuff! I would read a novel told from Tommy's point of view, as each day for him starts with a year having passed for everyone else . . .

* Tosh. She has a pretty sad love life when you think about it--waiting all year for one day with a guy who actually seems to like her (because Owen is such a doofus).

* The foreshadowing, as Ianto and Gwen talk about how Torchwood operatives almost always die young.


* The way out of left field idea that Tosh can astrally project to the past by injecting her (?) with samples of Tommy's blood. Technobabble is technobabble, but still!


* Jack mentions having been present for the worst carnage of World War I--we know he was an operative for Torchwood at this time, so what would he have been doing on the battlefield?




* Interviews with various folks about the decision to do a Tosh story, and make it a romance with a sad ending. John Barrowman has the funny (but probably not true) line that "Out of all the characters on Torchwood, Tosh is the one that gets laid the most."

* A short and rather quite boring feature on how the director handled the extras (a.k.a., "background artists") in the hospital scenes.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Last Issue Special # 19: Codename: Knockout [Comics]

SERIES: Codename: Knockout

DATE: 2003


Codename: Knockout was a fun, very silly series that lasted 23 issues (plus a "# 0") in the early 2000s. It's nominally an action/espionage series, starring Angela St. Grace and the flamboyant gay pretty boy Go-Go Fiasco as secret agents for an organization named "G.O.O.D." in the fight against the rival "E.V.I.L.". Mostly though, it's a mixture of dumb jokes, over-the-top violence, and a surprising dedication to cheesecake nudity for a comic from DC Comics (the series was released under the Vertigo banner, though it's quite different than what most expect from that imprint).

The final issue features the final defeat of E.V.I.L., all sorts of backstory revelations about Angela's parents, and Go-Go getting shot (don't worry--he's okay!). Angela reaffirms her commitment to fight bad guys all over the world and in a final half-nude pin-up says "That's all! Thanks for reading, everybody! We love you!". Isn't that heartwarming?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Buffy Comic Project: "Lost Highway"

Buffy the Vampire Slayer # 15

Dark Horse (Volume 1, 1998-2003)

Creators: Andi Watson (writer), Cliff Richards (penciller), Joe Pimentel (inker)

Setting: Season Three

T.V. Character Appearances: Buffy, Willow, Xander, Oz, Cordelia, Angel, Giles, Joyce (voice only),

Major Original Characters: Dr. Flitter (Selke's aide), Selke (vampire), Vero (vampire), Buffy Doppelganger

Summary: The Scoobies have big plans to see a new band in town, but Buffy's Mom has to work late and Buffy doesn't have a ride to the concert. One of the well-established facts about Buffy is that she is a terrible driver, so when she decides to "borrow" her Mom's SUV you know disaster is about to strike: in this case, Buffy accidentally runs over a pedestrian. Good news is, said pedestrian happens to be a vampire (not that Buffy had any clue . . .). Said pedestrian-vampire (whose name is Vero, not that it matters) gets together a posse to take Buffy down, but our blonde hero stakes them easily. Meanwhile, across town, Dr. Flitter continues his attempts to create an evil doppelganger of Buffy. His first attempt (last issue) resulted in a puddle of slime. His second attempt creates a monstrous freak that gets dumped in the sewer. The third try is the (evil voodoo) charm, however. Next issue could see Real Buffy vs. Doppelganger Buffy in a fight to the finish! Or not. This is a long, oddly paced subplot.

Review: The stuff with Buffy and the SUV was quality, slap-sticky fun. We've seen her stake vampires a million times before, so hopefully the comic will get a little more creative in that department. And it seems like the Selke subplot is finally starting to heat up. Although set in Season Three when there was plenty of angst going around, the comic remains committed to an early Season One vibe.


* The letters pages announce that February 8, 2000, will be "Seth Green Day." Fans are to celebrate "by wearing something green and watching something he's in". Reserve your copies of Without a Paddle in case it comes around again!

* Giles & Angel team-up for some vampire slaying in this ish--Giles gets all bad-ass and punches a vamp in the throat!

* Much like Buffy, when I was a teenager I once took my parents' car without permission to go meet some friends. Except I drove three hours in a blizzard and did not run over a pedestrian, vampiric or otherwise.

* A guy named Greg writes in to plug his Buffy fansite ( but it's not there anymore; get it together Greg!

Next Issue

Monday, December 13, 2010

Delhomme Continues to Stink Up the Place

The Cleveland Plain Dealer has an article on how terribly Jake Delhomme is playing for the Browns. I hate to say that I love to say I told you so, but I do. Here's my post from March: Browns Pick Up Worst Quarterback in the League, Pay him $ 7 Million.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Clone Wars Campaign: Session Recap # 43

This was the last session of the story-arc which pitted the PCs against Purity First for control of the planet Mongui. It was also the deadliest session of the campaign, as half of the group was killed in the final battle. The set-up "Turn yourselves in or the planet gets it!" was a classic dilemma, and the internal dissension amongst the PCs about what to do contributed to the carnage. Krevlax and Aaray were willing to risk their lives to save the civilians on Mongui, while Arresta and Doxen seemed genuinely concerned but ultimately too selfish to take the risk. This led to an odd, almost single-file attack on the Purity First Grand Chancellor: Aaray went in first and got killed, and then Krevlax went in and got killed, and then Doxen and Arresta arrived to clean everything up. So the two more heroic PCs died, while the two more craven ones survived! The fun and interesting thing about RPG stories is that the good guys don't always win . . .

A few other things that were interesting about this session:

* Daal's encounter with his dad. After playing it cool in their first encounters, the player running Daal really brought the quality role-playing this time around and it led to a moving moment.

* This session was shortly after we instituted a new house rule: natural 1s on skill checks are critical fumbles. Thus, Arresta's attempt to perform first aid on the guard ended up killing the poor bastard because she rolled a natural 1.

* Several adventure hooks were dangled in this session: Tarn's location, A'tel's trap, and Doxen's missing Senator friend. The last one evolved out of a desire of Doxen's player to have a story-line where his character could learn the ways of the Force and become a shaman. I like to lay out several possible hooks so that the players don't feel rail-roaded, but it of course does lead to some logistical difficulties if the PCs split up and try to follow multiple hooks simultaneously. Throughout the campaign, I handled this by either following both groups, with players who don't have their main characters present running NPCs or back-up characters, or by saying off the bat "we'll go wherever the majority of PCs go, and everything else will happen off-camera in the background."

* More classic Stefan Cassadine. Not only does he engineer the destruction of the city's food and water supply, he basically forces Arresta to forgive him for the attempted mindwipe in exchange for permission for her to go fight Purity First. By any objective standards he's a diabolical villain, but somehow became one of the most admired NPCs in our campaign.


With a resounding crash, the massive broadcast tower of the Mongui communications centre has been destroyed. As its assailants escape into the night, the deserted streets and powerless homes of Mongui are lit only by the reflected light of the massive gas giant Korvalis, around which Mongui orbits. But, as the sounds of battle from the direction of the starport begin to subside, a new star in the night sky begins to descend: The Purity First flagship, damaged and sluggish, makes its way to the Palace, bringing a very angry Grand Inquisitor….
Light years away, in the Corporate Sector, Daal Mordo, still travelling in the life boat from the Sun Runner II, arrives to find a long line of ships waiting to begin the lengthy arrival process on Etti IV. However, thanks to an altered transponder signal which recognizes his ship as belonging to an “ambassador,” he receives priority clearance to land at the Anomaly Research Centre (ARC). He finds the facility full of busy technicians, rushing about with great excitement. One of his own Computer Science Department technicians welcomes him back and informs him that the “signal analysis” is now complete, but that his team is curious about what the other departments are up to because there’s been an unusual amount of activity recently.
Once he is alone, Daal seeks out his father and, advising caution, takes the elder Duro across town to a park where they can speak privately. Daal advises his father that he wants to send his parents to a safe place, but to do so, he needs to find where Jocasta has been keeping his mother. Unfortunately, his father has no leads to share. Still, father and son are able to enjoy some quality time together after years of painful separation.

Meanwhile, on Mongui, Arresta and Doxen contact Array and Krevlax and each pair updates the other on their success at the communications tower. After hearing about how their comrades captured a tank, Arresta and Doxen encounter a strange sight: a conscript, covered in blood and muttering that everything has been destroyed and “we’re all going to starve” collapses nearby. Arresta recognizes the man as a kindly former palace guard who used to help the D’Avilos sisters sneak out of the palace from time to time. She tries to help him, but he has an allergic reaction to the medical stimulant and suffers a fatal heart attack. Suddenly, an announcement is broadcast through the dead conscript’s comlink, as well as the communications system in the purloined tank. “Immediate retreat – withdrawal plan number four”. Array convinces the others to give him thirty minutes to see if he can track down some Purity First soldiers to question.
While they are waiting, Arresta receives a text message on Stefan’s frequency: “Complete success. Starport secured. Rendezvous at Knife’s Edge, Starbay 37”. Arresta and Doxen are cautious, concerned as to the validity of the message. They begin the trek towards the starport but plan to send a request for validation as they get closer. While Krevlax guards the tank, Array stalks two members of Purity First, but his noticeable armour makes stealth difficult and he is spotted. He chases after the fleeing guards but they are able to evade him by splitting up and then taking cover.
With Doxen advising her to avoid using proper names or any mention of her daughter (for fear Purity First will recognize Allegra as potential leverage), Arresta sends Stefan a text that only he would be able to answer: “Name the hotel where we broke the bed”. As they wait for a response, they observe more departing Purity First conscripts and even several retreating Phalanx formations. Many of the conscripts have taken to abandoning their armour. Arresta and Doxen pick up two abandoned helmets in case the protective eye gear will come in handy…
A response is retrieved which confirms the original text did come from Stefan and, moreover, that he is in a jovial mood: “Why Pet, you flatter me. After this is over, we’ll return to the Crystal Hotel on Ord Mantell and try to do it again.”
The reason for Stefan’s good mood is obvious as Arresta and Doxen approach Starbay 37. Utter devastation is everywhere – piles of rubble, smoking wreckage and body after body wearing the armour of Purity First. Even worse, for the citizens of Mongui, is the fact that the massive tankers which store the city's imported food and water have been destroyed. Taken aback at the carnage, Arresta and Doxen realize that there is little chance of helping any of the wounded – the nearest hospitals are without power and they lack vehicles to provide transport. Doxen mentions that he continues to be somewhat surprised by the more compassionate side of his personality that is emerging . . . he is unused to such feelings of concern and guilt.
Arriving at The Knife’s Edge, Arresta is relieved to see it is still intact, if somewhat scorched. Miklos is hard at work with a spanner, while Siege Commander Korg can be heard rejoicing at the enjoyment he took in destroying the spaceport. Stefan, whose voice also sounds quite pleased, assures him that more opportunities for destruction are sure to be in the offering. Spotting his wife, Stefan embraces her and kisses her soundly. He is pleased at the progress of his plan and delighted that they are one step closer to completing this mission and fulfilling his obligation to Jocasta. He hands Arresta a communiqué that was received before the ship landed on the planet. He advises her that there are separate messages for Doxen and for Array. The Princess opens her message: “Arresta – I have received disturbing news. I need you, your husband, Daal and Doxen to meet me at a secure location. Please meet me at the Green Wookiee Fruit & Vegetable Shipping Co. warehouse on Coruscant. Co-ordinates included in the attachment.” The message is formally signed from “General A’tel Por’ten of the GAR”.
The Princess is confused by the cryptic and, in her opinion, strangely formal, message. She shows it to Stefan who agrees it appears somewhat suspicious. He advises though, that he is in a mood to indulge her and if she wishes to go to Coruscant, they can scout the location in advance to ensure that it is safe. Arresta seeks out Doxen and Stefan passes along his message, the contents of which upsets the Ewok greatly. Arresta and Doxen trade messages and she sees that he has received a holo-transmission which indicates that his friend, Senator Orelus, has been kidnapped by a band of Rodian pirates who have made a cryptic (or poorly translated) demand that “the furry little freak come rescue him before his furry freak friends get even worse where he came from.” Doxen is anxious to leave the planet but, even when he finds a shuttle (with a pilot he is able to bully), Array reminds him that with the orbital platforms in place, it will be difficult for him to leave safely. Array is unable to open his own message (finding it heavily encrypted) and he also ends up with a strange rash on his hand after he touches the message cylinder. Arresta receives a message that Korkoth has emerged from the sewers and is amusing himself at a local bar. She sends members of the resistance to pick him up.
Arresta and Doxen use the holotranceiver on The Knife’s Edge and although they are unable to reach A’tel, they are able to reach Daal, who rather grumpily informs them that he is too busy to do much to help them. He refuses to share any information with Arresta about Tarn, advising her that it would be better if they spoke in person. He does agree to pass along instructions from the Princess to various aid organizations so that they can get a jump start on sending food and water to Mongui. Daal, Arresta, and Doxen discuss the message from A’tel and decide that Daal will keep trying to reach their Jedi friend, while the others wrap up the situation on Mongui before returning to Etti IV for an in-person conference. Leaving the cockpit, they are in a corridor when a door opens and Horelius Creen emerges. He announces to Arresta that is it time for them to finish their conversation. Doxen waits until she assures him that she is safe, before heading off to find Array.
Inside Creen’s cabin, the Jedi Master asks point blank if Arresta knows the location of Tarn Tamarand. When Arresta coolly asks him if he is referring “ to the Tarn Tamarand that she is meant to have forgotten” he is amused at her strength of mind. They discuss his desire to track down both Jocasta and Tarn to make certain that they will not interfere with his plans. Arresta finally admits to Creen that although she does not know his location, that Tarn has been contacting her through her dreams and more recently, when she was awake. Creen appears impressed, commenting that Tarn has become “much stronger than he expected”. Arresta agrees to allow Creen access to her mind, in exchange for allowing her to journey with him when he goes to seek out Tarn’s location. She suggests that they will require a ship, which may take time to secure, as she will not rob Stefan of The Knife’s Edge. Creen suggests that he could over-power Stefan’s mind and could even “modify” him to secure compliance. Recognizing the irony, Arresta insists that she prefers her husband exactly as he is and does not want him “altered”. Creen touches Arresta’s forehead and, with a feeling of intense pain, her life begins to flash before her eyes, the moments with Tarn standing out in stark contrast. In what seems like both an eternity and bare seconds later, she finds herself in the corridor, cheeks wet with tears, but with the certain knowledge of Tarn’s most recent location.
Shortly thereafter, a broadcast booms across the various communication frequencies open on Mongui. The voice of the Grand Inquisitor announces that Mongui is a corrupt society which has sunk low and that he means to eliminate the rebellion and guarantee victory for Purity First. To that end, he announces a one hour deadline after which, if the ringleaders of the rebellion do not surrender themselves, he will destroy the atmospheric shield generator by orbital bombardment, condemning most of the population of Mongui to death by suffocation.
After a momentary silence as the stunned rebels stare at one another, Stefan begins to laugh. In his opinion, Purity First has admitted defeat and over-played their hand. The rebels are more than able to ride out the lack of atmosphere by staying inside the Knife’s Edge and the condition of the planet is immaterial to his plans. The others, including Arresta, desperately attempt to strategize any way to stop Purity First from carrying out this threat. A quick brainstorming session does not yield any strong solutions: Seige Commander Korg could not stand up to the artillery on the capital ship, even suicide attacks are unlikely to do enough damage and it would be extremely difficult to successfully compromise the ship’s own atmosphere generators to the point that Purity First would hesitate to carry out their plan.
Across town, Krevlax attempts to rally the now-freed prisoners to join the cause of the resistance. Although he inspires a few of them to gather arms, the rest choose instead to flee. Corinne and her supporters journey towards the spaceport, hoping to convince her sister and brother-in-law to surrender themselves in order to save the populace.
Aboard The Knife’s Edge, the situation is escalating: Stefan sees no upside to surrendering – Purity First will then retain control of the planet and will have a toehold to spread to other worlds – and, moreover, he refuses to allow his wife to participate in any of the plans the others are trying to conceive. As the couple argues, Array’s frustration mounts, to the point where he approaches and draws a gun, demanding that Stefan surrender himself. Further, he accuses Cassadine of being the cause of both the encryption of his personal message, as well as the cause of the injury to his hand. While Arresta draws her own weapons, firmly standing at her husband’s side, Stefan contemptuously disarms the clone and suggests that Array is free to turn himself in if he so desires. Arresta adds that as far as she is concerned, Array is in no position to pass judgement as he has willingly supported and followed all of Stefan’s orders. Doxen argues loudly that they do not have the time for this, just as Corinne arrives. She comes aboard and asks Arresta and Stefan to join her in surrender. They advise that doing so will not achieve her goals, but perhaps, if she and Array pretend to surrender, it could act as some kind of diversion. Corinne suggests that instead, they challenge the Grand Inquisitor to a duel, with a selection of his best men, in exchange for the planet. Array has reached his limit and he departs, calling back that he will give them twenty-nine minutes – after that, he will surrender himself in hopes of gaining more time.
Arresta pulls her husband aside and passionately declares to him that she wants to participate in the attempt to save the populace. He remarks that her philanthropic side is something he finds amusing, if impractical, but he is unwilling to risk her life. She tells him in no uncertain terms that she cannot look her daughter in the eye if she does not try to save these people. Reluctantly, Stefan agrees to allow her to participate on the condition that she forgives him for what “may or may not have” happened with Master Creen. With little time remaining, Arresta is quick to agree. As they return to the others, Stefan warns her that if she is seriously hurt, he will take revenge on anyone who talked her into what he still believes is a foolishly risky plan. Arresta contacts the Grand Inquisitor and questions his courage in a bid to goad him into allowing a group duel for the planet; however, he bristles at the insult and not only refuses, but also has the Purity First flagship bombard a Mongui residential area in retaliation.
Outside the palace, Array tries a different tactic, respectfully challenging the Grand Inquisitor to a one on one contest with no stakes other than their own lives. Over the comlink, Array spits one last insult at Stefan before closing the channel and contacting his fellow Null Arc, advising that he may be about to die – and that if he does revenge should be taken against the crime lord Stefan Cassadine. He heads for the throne room, where he finds the Grand Inquisitor (an imposing, red-cloaked figure wearing a strange facemask) flanked by two of his elite bodyguards. Array and the Grand Inquisitor quickly square off. The Clone fires blaster bolts and throws grenades, while the Grand Inquisitor wields strange, elongating chains attached to each wrist. The chains flail about as if alive themselves, lashing Array from seemingly every direction. Broken and bloodied, the Clone is wrapped up in the chains and pulled close to the Grand Inquisitor. Summoning the last of his strength, and realizing he is about to die, Array manages to activate one last grenade and reach out towards his enemy’s face. The explosion literally rips off half of the Grand Inquisitor’s jaws, revealing servos and circuit boards—the Grand Inquisitor is a droid! With an outraged screech, the Grand Inquisitor tenses his mechanical arms and then pulls them sharply in opposite directions, ripping the dying Clone in half.
Krevlax, meanwhile, has heard the various conversations via comlink and has decided to head toward the palace as well. He arrives outside the palace just seconds after Array’s death to find his ally’s body and the Grand Inquisitor attempting to cover his face with his cloak, waving his bodyguards back. The enraged Anx charges the Grand Inquisitor and wraps his massive arms around his chest, trying to squeeze his enemy into pulp. However, Purity First has heard about their foe’s tactics and have prepared themselves by wearing deadly stun cloaks: even as Krevlax holds on with the last of his strength, electricity courses through his body.
With two of their companions already having placed themselves in mortal danger, Arresta and Doxen finally decide to take action. Doxen hotwires a speeder, Arresta gives her husband a parting kiss good-bye, and the two head toward the palace. Before they leave, Stefan promises to have their escape route ready.
Krevlax, roaring in anger, uses his powerful arms to slowly crush the Grand Inquisitor. Even as his skin begins to char from the coruscating electricity, Krevlax’s adrenaline and thirst for vengeance against Purity First allows him tighten his grip until the body of the Grand Inquisitor crumples and the head of the droid pops off in a shower of sparks, shocking the watching Purity First guards who are aghast as their leader both falls and is revealed as a fraud.
The guards, unwilling to believe they have followed a non-human, being shouting of trickery and attack the wounded Anx just as Arresta and Doxen finally arrive. Taking in the scene, Doxen draws his rifle and takes aim at the guards battling Krevlax, while the Princess dashes over to the body of the fallen Inquisitor. Transmitting a visual signal to the Purity First flagship, Arresta persuades them that they have been following a lie. She asks if they are willing to kill men, women and children – human lives – following the orders of a droid. She calls on them to abandon Mongui and, with this shock piled on to the catastrophic defeat of the past days, they comply. The capital ship lifts off, and Mongui is free.
Victory comes at price however, as a Purity First bayonet strikes home and Krevlax falls, fatally wounded. Arresta and Doxen engage in a furious blaster battle with the remaining bodyguards. Arresta suffers serious bayonet wounds before Doxen’s deadly accuracy finishes off their foes.
Doxen approaches the body of the fallen Array and, recalling what he observed during the battle for the Joriander Beacon, he removes the clone’s ID tag, and for good measure, his weaponry. Arresta wearily sits on the dais below the throne and observes to Doxen that it is strange to be back in the home she grew up in, and to see the throne that her father once sat on. She notes that she never wanted to return to Mongui. As Corinne arrives and the sisters are reunited, Arresta advises Corinne that Mongui is now her responsibility and she hopes it was worth the cost paid in blood.
Stefan arrives with The Knife’s Edge and the sisters bid one another farewell. Doxen extracts a promise from Corinne that she will honour Array and Krevlax with statues memorializing their sacrifices. Arresta reunites with husband and, along with Doxen, they depart for Etti IV. Arresta keeps her promise to Stefan and they celebrate their success on Mongui. She hides the good-bye letter she has encrypted in their bedroom on the Knife’s Edge and devotes herself to making him happy, knowing that at some point, she will be forced to betray him by going with Creen to rescue Tarn.

[A.G. 1021]

When The Knife’s Edge arrives on Mongui, they find that the ARC is in “wrap-up” mode, with preparations under way to shut down the facility and to move on to the next “phase” of the project. Arresta and Stefan are reunited with their daughter and arrange to take up residence for a time in the rented home where their bodyguard and the nanny droid have been looking after the baby. Arresta seeks out Daal and they discuss what has been happening. Daal takes the Princess aside and informs her that, although his memories are sketchy, he believes Tarn (and Jocasta) to be prisoners on an unknown planet. Arresta informs him that she has the location and that she will be seeking Tarn out, along with Master Creen. Daal agrees to help her, if she is willing to help him. He needs assistance to provide him with the time required to hack into the ARC computer system (upgraded before her departure by Sunset Cassandra). Arresta is happy to do whatever she can to help her friend, but comments that his attitude seems unusually despondent. She suggests that Doxen would also be of great use to them. Daal suggests that they can use this opportunity to destroy the ARC. He also provides Arresta a copy of his team’s analysis of the anomaly signal. Arresta, recalling her promise to Jocasta to use her influence to persuade her friends, family, and associates not to interfere with the corsair’s plans, suggests to him that there is no need for that – it will not help him find his mother and may anger Jocasta (even if she is currently missing). They exchange differing opinions of Jocasta – with Arresta noting that Jocasta usually keeps her word, while Daal notes her habit of blackmail and coercion.
Doxen is also seeking assistance in his own mission. He contacts Ms. Prentiss and asks her to investigate what information is available regarding the investigation into the kidnapping of Senator Orelius. In time, she is able to tell him that authorities in the Republic are baffled and have few leads. Turning to Arresta, Doxen asks her to task her intelligence network to help him track down the whereabouts of the Rodian pirates. When he speaks with Daal, the Duro also agrees to help, but asks Doxen too to assist in his plan to access the computers in order to find his mother.
Arresta fears that Stefan will discover her plans to leave with Creen and asks Daal to assist her in finding a ship. He finds a potential pilot and a ship which could be of use. Citing his employers’ need for privacy and discretion, he advises the pilot that he will be in touch to set up a meeting.
Daal, Doxen and Arresta make a last ditch effort to reach A’tel, and this time, after re-routing through several channels, they are successful. Arresta advises him that they will be unable to meet him on Coruscant and inquire as to his “disturbing news”. He says he cannot tell them over this channel, but suggests an alternate meeting site. They ask him to join them on Etti IV and suggest that after they resolve some other issues, they may be free to help him with whatever problem he has encountered.
On board the Majestic, A’tel confers with Admiral Wav about the plan to lure his former comrades into Republic custody. The two decide that A’tel will proceed to Etti IV and, once he rejoins his former comrades and learns where they are headed, he will radio ahead so that the G.A.R. can be waiting.
After a brief pause, A’tel agrees to journey to the Corporate Sector, but warns that the journey may take some time. Arresta tells him that if they are unable to wait for him, hopefully they will all live to meet again. She tells him that after everything the Jedi Council and Tarn put her through, which turned her against the Order, he has somewhat restored her faith in the Jedi and she would feel much reassured if he were able to make it.
Arresta, Doxen and Daal discuss how they will distract the employees of the ARC during the length of time required for Daal to hack the system. Doxen suggests that they throw an enormous party, supposedly to celebrate the success of the venture, but in reality to distract and incapacitate the ARC employees. Arresta declines to secure the “booze and hookers” that Doxen requests, but the Princess does agree that his party suggestion has merit and agrees to take on the role of event planner.

And, across the galaxy, a fleet of freighters sent from the ARC arrive on Mongui and begin the construction of something enormous…..