Pith Helmet

McCain vs. Obama?
January 30, 2008, 11:46 am
Filed under: Politics | Tags:

In light of McCain’s taking of the State of South Carolina, the nail in the coffin of the Straight Talk Express in 2000, I predict there will be much gnashing of teeth and rending of garments today on conservative talk radio today. Listeners will get both barrels of the “McCain is a leftist” rhetoric that seems to dominate the right-leaning airwaves these days. I expect any day now for the words “Manchurian candidate” to be spoken into the Golden EIB microphone as a last ditch effort to put the Deseretian Candidate into the pole position.

I just commented elsewhere that, unless Diebold is already fudging the results, I still can’t figure how Romney has managed to steamroller Giuliani so badly. They’ve both flip-flopped on the same issues, and, out here in non-LDS red-state flyoverland, Giuliani had a heckuva lot more name recognition that the Mittster. Heck, I’ve always been something of a political junkie (the run for the White House being my Superbowl), and I couldn’t have told you what Romney looks like until 2007.

Perhaps the libs are right and a goodly number of conservatives do actually take their marching orders from Talk Radio. That is the only way I can figure that one out.

As a reluctant, yet loyal, GOPer, I think the water-boarders water-carriers of talk radio need to stop bashing McCain and start getting those folks in the states that have open primaries to vote Hillary. That way, when the Republican delegates send up the fumata bianca for McRomney, he will be more likely to be facing the Queen of Shrill rather than the man who pwns charisma. Of course, the way that Obama seems to be rolling now, all the GOPs horses and all the GOPs men couldn’t put her flagging campagin together again. Otherwise, when old, gray McCain or Hairplug Romney crosses foils with Obama in a televised debate, it will be Kennedy-Nixon all over again.

Of course, I have to hand it to Obama, it appears he has single-handedly (or double-handedly if you want to take into account Kennedy endorsement of his fellow son of Erin, Barry O’Bama) been able to accomplish what the entire Vast Right Wing Conspiracy has been able to achieve: keeping the Clintons the hell out of the White House.

But, then again, maybe all of my fellow Americans will wake up this morning, swallow the red pill, step on board the Good Ship Nebuchadnezzar and vote for Ron Paul.


Topographic Tuesday: Haven
January 30, 2008, 3:29 am
Filed under: Gaming, topographic tuesday | Tags: ,

Before I started blogging, most of my online time was spent MUSHing. I sampled a little bit of everything: Elendor, Narnia, Dune, WoD, and Star Wars, but the crème de la crème of Mult-User Shared Hallucinations was Aether.

It was a fantasy MUSH, but it wasn’t your standard “my elves are different” D&D/Tolkien dime-a-dozen ripoff (can we say “Wheel of Time”?). Based on several world mythologies, Aether was a world inhabited by four major races, each representing one of the four elements. Associated with the element of Air, the Empyreans were winged folk whose culture was Greco-Roman in flavor. Grounded in the element of Earth, the Sylvans were Fae-American-Indians. The element of Fire was represented by the Varati, who were a stout sturdy race with a strong Indo-Persian flavor. And the Atlanteans were associated with the element of water.

Although the game eventually spread throughout the continent, play was mostly focused on the city of Haven, a Classical Casablanca in which the four races could trade, interact, and intrigue.


My first character was an Empyrean named Argivus. He was a Hound, a member of the local multi-national gendarmerie charged with keeping peace among the four races. My second, and favorite, was another Empyrean, Aeneas Titus Acesian, a Praetorian Guard from a patrician family known for his patriotism (some would call it xenophobia and racism), honor, and arrogance. I eventually sampled a couple of other races, but as a Romaphile, the Empies were my favorite.

My description of Aeneas:

Aeneas is a tall, slender man of Empyreal descent. He has gray eyes, a light olive complexion that has been bronzed from exposure to hours of gliding under the Aether sun, and the lean muscular physique of a marathon runner. His stark white hair is cropped short, much shorter than Empyrean fashion dictates for its young noblemen. His face is clean-shaven and mounted with a sharp patrician nose. The face is marred by a single fleshy scar that runs across his right cheek. While his lips are quite thin and pale, his jaw is rigid and square, almost box-like. A gargantuan pair of wings sprout from the optio’s shoulder blades. While the feathers exhibit some wear, this does not diminish from the handsomeness of the snowy plumage. The mere presence of the wings seems to stiffen the man’s spine and give him a ramrod straight posture. His hands bear the typical graceful, almost effeminate, attractiveness of his race, but they also bear heavy calluses, the likes of which one would expect to see on some mongrel dockhand.

He is dressed in the uniform of a Praetorian Optio. Clutched in the crook of his left arm is a gleaming hawk-crested bronze helmet. In addition to the thick brown chlamys draped over his left shoulder, Aeneas wears a short bronze muscular cuirass, which has been stamped with the image of the dual-profile of Janus, the two-faced god. Several pteruges made of soft leather hang from beneath his armor to shield his groin area. Over his armor and a dull white short-sleeved wool tunic he wears an ornamented cingulum that loops around his waist and over his right shoulder. This baldric suspends a simple ivory-handled gladius and a pugio, a utility knife that seems almost too short to be used as a weapon. Muscular legs that seem to have marched as much as those of any Velite are protected by plain infantryman’s greaves. There is a molded crater in his right thigh – the souvenir of a Varati javelin that some Aesculapian had thought better to dig out rather than pull through. Beneath the calf armor, he wears a pair of sturdy but heavily-worn hobnailed caligae on his feet.

I’ve posted my praises for the damn thing a-plenty, but considering that the 23rd of this month would have been the old girl’s tenth anniversary, I thought the least I could do would be to post a map of the place I spent a goodly number of my Saturday nights and Sunday mornings.

Happy Birthday Aether.

Legion of Methodist Super-heroes
January 27, 2008, 1:36 pm
Filed under: comics, Religion | Tags: ,

Since it’s Sunday and it’s been a long time since I’ve made a religious post, I will do so now. Sort of. Adherents.com has made a study of the religion of comic book characters. Ole John Wesley scored Francine Peters-Silver, Amanda Waller, Sylvia Danvers, Superboy, Atoman, Church Mice, Supergirl, and Superman. Granted, I didn’t know who over half of these folks were, but it’s nice to know there’s a few folks in Metropolis who follow the Book of Discipline.


  • Legion of Methodist Super-heroes
  • The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters

  • The Unfantastic Four
    January 26, 2008, 11:39 am
    Filed under: comics, Gaming | Tags: ,

    Checking my blogroll, I found that on Saturday, the 19th, the Evil DM mentioned the most anticipated role playing game ever (at least on Planet Pithhelmet): Mission: Adventure!.

    Mission Adventure
    One of the guys looking over LoS is really pushing me to try writing “Mission: Adventure!” with the LoS rules-set rather than the FASERIP (Aka: four-color) system. He makes a good argument, since I have a system engine in place why use a different one? The LoS engine was primarily built around a low tech campaign, all I need to do is develop firearm, and vehicle rules, swap out magic for Psionics, and add some more contemporary skills.

    One of the works that the Evil DM has listed as inspiration for Mission: Adventure! is Challengers of the Unknown, a comic book about a team of “non-super powered … heroes.”

    Imagine the A-Team sans the Mini-14s that are sorely in need of some sight adjustment trapped in every episode of The X-Files or, better yet, picture Reed Richards, Ben Grimm, and the Storm kids without their superpowers fighting every Jack Kirby monster that DC Comics could throw their way, and you have Challengers of The Unknown. If these four panels don’t look straight off of Adventure Team Joe boxes, I don’t know what does.



    The four Challengers are pilot Kyle “Ace” Morgan (can we say, “Air Adventurer”?), mountain-climbing daredevil Matthew “Red” Ryan (sounds like a Land Adventurer to me), dim-witted Olympian and griz wrestler Leslie “Rocky” Davis (I’d call him a Man of Action), and oceanographer and former Navy frogman Walter Mark “Prof” Haley (Sea Adventurer anyone?).

    Debuting in DC Comics’ Showcase #6, two years almost to the day before the Big Bopper, Richie Valens, and Buddy Holly’s pilot fatally ditched his Beechcraft Bonanza in an Iowa cornfield, the four adventurers decide to band together after miraculously walking away without a scratch from their own plane crash. Choosing the hourglass as their logo as a sort of momento mori, the quartet are soon facing challenges, both superscienctific and supernatural, battling everything from evil geniuses to genies.

    There is an excellent fan site located at http://www.challengersoftheunknown.com. The cutaway diagram of Challenger Mountain alone, the team’s subterranean HQ which looks like something for which Nick Fury did the interior design, would make an excellent source for a Mission: Adventure! or even a Gamma World game.

    Topographic Tuesday: The Island of Sodor
    January 22, 2008, 11:04 am
    Filed under: topographic tuesday | Tags:

    Cleaning out my father’s closet, I found a Bachmann HO gauge Union Pacific starter train set that he had, no doubt, intended to give my son. While it is possible that he was waiting until the boy was older to give it to him, I was so overwhelmed by the gift my dad bought and never got the chance to give that I went ahead and gave it to him and told him who it was from.

    My son was so elated that he had a new “controller train,” he was dancing around, giggling giddily.

    To commemorate this event, this week’s Topographic Tuesday will be a few
    maps of the Island of Sodor, the fictional island on which the Rev. W. Awdry’s Railway Series takes place.

    My son was first introduced to and become hooked on Thomas The Tank Engine at the local Books-A-Million. Thanks to Books-A-Million’s in-store Thomas the Tank Engine play area, I, and thousands of parents like me, have spent thousands of dollars on Thomas toys, clothes, VHS tapes, DVDs, etc.

    The first map of Awdry’s world was drawn in 1949, when Thomas’ branch-line from Knapford to Ffarquhar was drawn, along with the connecting line to Tidmouth.

    However, the advent of Google Earth gave us this fan-created (Jim Gratton) Google Earth map of the Island.

    But, the one from HIT Entertainment is the most easily recognized of the lot.

    BTW, all of these images came from The Real Lives of Thomas The Tank Engine: A Railway Series Reader.

    The Novel That Never Was (But Should Have Been)
    January 22, 2008, 3:11 am
    Filed under: Uncategorized

    h/t James Groman

    The Magnificent Seven Go To Burma
    January 19, 2008, 3:55 pm
    Filed under: Movies | Tags:

    Sylvester Stallone appeared (by phone) on Friday’s Glenn Beck Show discussing the new Rambo movie.

    You know, it’s really am an act of attrition. Nobody wanted to make Rambo just like nobody wanted to make Rocky because the whole business paradigm has changed so much that it’s all about use films and concept films and Rambo‘s considered low concept compared to what’s happening today. And luckily there is a man named Javy Lerner of New Image Films, said “Let’s give it a shot.” I said we’ve got to find something pertinent to write about. So I wrote a story about Mexico and MS-13 and let’s go into that area. I thought that would be kind of intriguing like a modern day western. I thought that’s a little too close to home and I don’t know if that’s going to be around the world. So then I called Soldier of Fortune magazine and certain individuals and said where is the most egregious display of human right violations on the planet? They said, Burma, and no one knows about it because the Chinese and the Burmese spend millions of dollars a year with Washington and lobbyists to suppress what’s going on. So I investigated and it almost simplified it. It’s like The Magnificent Seven. You have a group of small peasant being overwhelmed by the second largest Army in the Far East and they’ve held on for 60 years, Glenn, and they are hanging on by their nails and they have these missionaries, these Christian workers, from Oklahoma, Chicago, bus drivers, policemen, they pool their money together, they go and they bring medicine and Bibles and I thought, I could create a story around this, of Rambo being this atheist and he’s a boatman going up and down the river and he’s the only way they can get into Burma down the river and then the adventure begins. His story begins, a man completely pessimistic about a man who spent his entire life up to his waist in blood and realizes war is natural; peace is an accident.

    Magnificent Seven? I doubt very much it’ll be John Sturges, and it certainly won’t be Kurosawa, but the whole Burma story and the comparison to the Magnificent Seven/Seven Samurai peasants may have just sold me my very first ticket to a Rambo movie.

    However, rather than comparing the new Rambo to either of those films, Beck compared Stallone’s synopsis to another classic:

    I don’t know — I don’t mean this in a bad way. It’s almost like Father Goose. I kind of got the Cary Grant image of, jeez, you’re on the boat and you are kind of going and you’re going against your will. Kind of?

    Licorice Nazgul

    (I forget for whom the hat tips)

    And people say I have to much time on my hands. Oh yeah, at least I never had the time to build a diorama of the Battle of Pelennor Fields from The Return of The King using nothing but candy.