Tuesday, November 30, 2010

God Save the Queen

It's taken awhile because I've developed the bad habit of reading several books at once: but I've finished Alison Weir's Life of Elizabeth.

If you're at all into Tudor history, this is the book to read. Weir has this amazing gift of really bringing the nitty-gritty of the period to life. While the major events of Elizabeth's remarkable reign get the full "History Book" treatment, the narrative is interspersed with bits about the clothes, architecture, recreation, and other everyday things that make the period seem fresh and relevant.

I honestly don't read book reviews very often, so I'm not sure why I'm writing one, other than to say "I liked it." However, what stuck with me most (aside from the fact that I would love to go back in time and visit with this iconic lady) is what fertile ground the Tudor period is for gaming (everything always comes back to gaming with me).

The best RPG set during this period would focus on espionage, I think, as Elizabeth had one of the first truly modern secret service type agencies. Read all about it and tell me that wouldn't be a fun campaign!

Finally, I saw some guy called Manuel posted this at Good Reads, and I thought it summed up Elizabeth's life rather nicely.

"Talk about having a disfunctional family.

Your Dad marries your Mom when he's still technically married to his first wife. No matter; your Dad is the King of England.

Your Dad gets bored with your Mom and she looses her head (literally). You then go from princess to bastard and get sent away until your Dad likes you again.

Your Dad remarries, and yet again a few more times. You cant help feeling a little insecure in such an unstable enviroment. You grow up loved and then hated then loved again.

Your younger brother becomes King and he has a few ideas of his own about how you are supposed to pray to God. Your elder sister gets her turn being Queen and she isnt too keen on you or your religion either.

Finally at last you get your turn at the helm and much to everyone's surprise and joy, you actually do a pretty good job. Just watch out for all those suitors asking for your hand or that nasty Spanish Armada coming your direction and how about that pesky Scotish Catholic Queen and cousin. She came for a visit and stayed twenty years, bad-mouthing you the entire time.

Such is the exciting life of Elizabeth Tudor; Queen of England for 43 years.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bullets Over Cowtown

I have created a page for BAD GUYS - Bullets Over Cowtown, a game of violent gangster action in 1920's Kansas City using a simple version of Fudge. It's probably the "prettiest" book I've made yet, thanks to a lot of great public domain imagery.

I started messing with Fudge as a test to see if I thought some form of it would work for the Cape City game. After one playtest, I think it might. We'll see. That's a huge project. This one was short and sweet and I can't wait to try it out with the "big group." The playtest group (Anthony, Brendan and Connor) had a lot of fun with it. Gangster stories, like Westerns, are pure Americana, and I have become quite interested in the rise of organized crime in the U.S. I am reading a book called First Family, and have another lined up called The Starker, about the formation of Sicilian and Jewish gangs in New York, and some of those details will most likely show up in the game in some form or another. I have been looking for a good book about organized crime in Kansas City, and while I've found plenty of interesting stuff online, I haven't been able to find a descent book that is still in print. If anyone knows of one, let me know.

Anyway, check it out!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Trigger Happy Cops Strike Again

I vowed my blog would be free of news and/or seriousness, but this press release just crossed my desk and I felt compelled to share. The emphases are mine.

"On 11/11/2010, just before 6pm, officers were dispatched to 435 Hwy and Gregory on sounds of shots coming from a white van.

Upon arrival, officers observed the white van parked on the side of the road, on Gregory. When officers exited their vehicle they heard what they believed to be sounds of shots from the white van and fired their weapons. During the incident it was discovered the sounds of shots were actually caused by the van backfiring.

No one was hurt in the incident and the driver of the van was not armed. The windows of the police vehicle were believed to have been shot out by officers exiting their vehicle.

The incident is under investigation."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Lotawana from Darren McAnally on Vimeo.

Hey all, here is my brother's short "Lotawana," in which I have a small role. This was a family affair, and also features my dad as a washed-up politician who comes to a bad end. If you like it go to Vimeo and let Darren know!

Tooting My Own Horn

I wasn't going to say anything, but why not? I have received three awards from the Missouri Press Association for my work at the Jackson County Advocate: 2nd place feature writing (for a story about a 60-year-old "rookie" cop), 2nd place series writing (for my contribution to the Advocate's "valor" series, another one about a cop), and an honorable mention for business coverage.

At first I felt too jaded to think this was cool, but I never won anything at any of my other newspaper jobs (maybe because we never submitted anything), so I'll allow myself this brief pat on the back. Looks good on a resume, in any case.

So yay for me.