Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday Flash Fiction: "Guys and Dolls"

This story has absolutely nothing to do with the Broadway musical. But here's a song anyway:

Read "Guys and Dolls" at 512 Words or Fewer


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

SnoutCast #26: "Why YOU Should Run a Game"

Yes, you. I'm talking to you. You should run a puzzle hunt event. And here's why! (Apologies for the extra-long podcast this week, but we had a lot to say on this topic; also, many thanks to Scott for letting us re-use his original content.)

[ Download mp3 - 39 MB ]

00:59 - "scientific"
01:58 - as Jeff used to say: "Run more Games!"
04:07 - DeeAnn enjoys doing research
05:01 - Puzzalot blog post: "What's happening this year [2010]?"
06:35 - passing the SNAP baton (or not) to the next GC
08:22 - how Seattle differs from the SF bay area, Game community-wise
09:35 - why DASH may become an annual event (a hypothesis)
10:44 - yes, apparently we can talk about Dr. When, The Game (target: May 2011)
12:22 - the Microsoft Puzzle Hunt (MSPH) gap
14:42 - yay for Shinteki!
15:41 - available any time: 2-Tone Game
16:14 - investigating the claim that "no more [west coast] hunts this year...would be the first time there hasn't been a BANG, a Game, and a MSPH in the same year since the BANGs inception."
19:16 - diversity is good, QED
19:57 - try something new! e.g., 2-Tone Game, Puzzled Pint
20:50 - reviving the YABA Treasure Hunt
21:55 - Puzzle Hunt Forum poll: "Why aren't you running a Game?"
23:32 - ...current results: "Not enough time" and "Don't have a consistent team" have the most votes
24:31 - "There's important context here!"
25:19 - see also: Red's GC Summit talk
25:59 - DeeAnn explains how to get around "Not enough time"
28:18 - ...and how to deal with "Don't have a consistent team"
29:30 - Team Snout believes seven is the magic number for core GC
30:22 - (Yeah, Curtis doesn't speak French very well.)
33:55 - do what you like in your Game, q.v. Jan's GC Summit talk
35:48 - PRO TIP: they'll never miss what they didn't expect
37:12 - You should run a Game because it's FUN.
38:35 - "We're pathological?"
39:19 - all hobbies involve work, but they're still fun
41:19 - many thanks to Scott for Puzzalot and the Puzzle Hunt Forum!
43:15 - The End

Music: instrumentals from "Code Monkey" and "Tom Cruise Crazy" by Jonathan Coulton

[ Subscribe to SnoutCast / iTunes link ]

CKL DeeAnn

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Flash Fiction: "Falling"

What do you get when you mash up Ted Chiang's "Story of Your Life," my unpublished short "Fish Story," and "Space Seed" (as seen at Trek in the Park)?

That's not the most relevant scene from the performance in question, but it gives you the flavor of the proceedings. Anyway. This is what you get:

Read "Falling" at 512 Words or Fewer


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

SnoutCast #25: "Puzzled Pint #1 Debrief"

In which we celebrate the success of the inaugural Puzzled Pint event in Portland, Oregon, and foreshadow the next event on August 10th!

[ Download mp3 - 26 MB ]

00:00 - Random Teaser™: a beastly insult
01:12 - "loving"
01:41 - what is Puzzled Pint?
02:53 - Curtis is a poor voice talent director, QED
04:12 - how it works, part 1: location puzzle on
05:28 - how it works, part 2: packet o' puzzles to solve in the pub
06:05 - declaring victory (or not)
07:03 - the low-key GC experience
09:31 - "an interesting experiment in growing a puzzle hunt community"
12:18 - cf. Stumptown Challenge, Urban Challenge
13:32 - speaking of "conference room" puzzle hunts...
15:13 - DeeAnn's favorite quote: "Weren't these supposed to be puzzles you can solve when you're drunk?"
15:41 - current slogan: Portland + puzzles + beer = Puzzled Pint
16:50 - as always, word-of-mouth is the best advertising
17:48 - hooking newbies, and Ian's GC Summit talk
20:46 - but, you know, putting up some flyers couldn't hurt
21:36 - yay for Puzzled Pint organizers Vic, Ana, and Matt!
22:29 - what Curtis and DeeAnn bring to the party (a hypothesis)
23:34 - Listener Mail x3
27:49 - The End

Music: instrumentals from "Code Monkey" and "A Talk with George" by Jonathan Coulton

[ Subscribe to SnoutCast / iTunes link ]

CKL DeeAnn

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Why Everyone Should "Write The Other"

I've been downloading TED talks in iTunes, since they make for good, quick, off-line viewing, and are generally entertaining and/or educational. We watched this one over breakfast today:

Being a minority writer myself, I feel some of the same pain she describes. In many ways, I'm always writing the other, because I rarely draw upon my own life experiences for my fiction--like Laura Anne Gilman, I believe that "Write what you know" means learn more, not write less. I want to use my imagination. I don't just want to be a reporter (though those skills are very useful, craft-wise); I want to create.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday Flash Fiction: "I Can Buy Pickles"

In case you're wondering where this week's title came from, just watch the first two minutes of this video (and then feel free to continue watching):

(Part 2 of that episode:

And yes, it took a tremendous effort to resist titling this one "No Guts, No Glory." But I was strong.

Read "I Can Buy Pickles" at 512 Words or Fewer


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Comic Book Report: Alias Vol. 2: Come Home

This is one case where I was attracted to a title because of its creators--primarily the writer, Brian Michael Bendis--but became less enthused after experiencing the actual work. Alias is decent, but this volume in particular seemed rather self-indulgent and more about Big Important Issues than actual story. I don't deny that the Issues addressed are Big and Important, but the presentation here just didn't work for me. YMMV.

Buy the book: Powell's, Amazon (affiliate links)


I Continue to be a Professional Writer

Received in the mail today: my contributor's copy, payment, and publishing contract for "At Long Last, Love," a short story in the anthology From the Porch Swing: memories of our grandparents. (If you look closely, you can see that I was paid the princely sum of ten whole dollars.)

One day, I hope to be prolific and successful enough as a writer that a small thing like this will merit no special celebration. But for now, it's still a novelty. So there you go.

Buy the book!


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

SnoutCast #24: "From Amazing BANG to Zorg Redux"

So, clearly, we need to record these podcasts earlier in the day.

[ Download mp3 - 32 MB ]

00:00 - Zen Teaser™: salty cake-ness
02:53 - "apathetic"
03:15 - time sensitive plug: Puzzled Pint (July 13th)!
04:25 - revisiting Rich Bragg's talk from GC Summit 2008
05:53 - ways in which puzzle hunt events vary
06:53 - barriers to entry for such events
07:56 - are certain environments more conducive to puzzle hunt creation?
09:20 - digression into commercial events, like the Da Vinci Code Quest on Google...
11:30 - ...and Day in the Cloud (which Jan won!)
13:51 - what factors are most likely to influence your decision to play in an event?
16:30 - the common thread: "team-based puzzle solving to achieve a goal"
17:51 - e.g., Team Snout's goal for Shinteki Field Trip: Disneyland
18:46 - terminology trouble: "hunt," "Game," etc.?
21:25 - the overnight factor
23:10 - we debate Rich's definition of "mini-Game"
23:56 - speaking of which: Shinteki SF Scramble (July 17th)!
25:51 - ascension of the term "puzzle hunt"
26:49 - Actually, National Treasure: Curse of the Golden Monkey-Swan might have been a better movie.
28:10 - total aside: downtime
29:00 - there is no cat in team
30:42 - by the way: Puzzled Pint (July 13th)!
32:25 - and you can play the 2-Tone Game in San Francisco any time
34:00 - The End

Music: instrumentals from "Code Monkey" and "Re: Your Brains" by Jonathan Coulton

[ Subscribe to SnoutCast / iTunes link ]

CKL DeeAnn

Friday, July 09, 2010

Friday Flash Fiction: "Transport"

You're probably seeing this post a few days late, because my ISP has been down since Thursday, due to "fiber disruption" (I've been trying to get more details).

I am not happy about this, but contrary to popular belief, my life does not depend on the Internet. In fact, you could say that... LIFE GOES ON.

Thank you and good night!

Read "Transport" at 512 Words or Fewer


Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Comic Book Report: Star Trek Archives Volume 1: Best of Peter David

This was an "impulse buy" at the library, found while browsing the comic books (which always appear to be shelved in the "teen" section, unless they're black-and-white indie titles--but that's another topic).

I think I actually own most of the original issues collected here, but this was much more convenient than digging through my parents' garage. The first story is the best; it's commonly known within Trek fandom as "Scotty's Story," and it is an unabashed tearjerker. Some say that Trek is best when it's not being Trek--i.e., when it's not telling a straight science fiction story, but simply using the setting as a backdrop and mining the well-established characters and relationships for drama--and this is a perfect example.

The other two stories in this collection are okay, but not great. The "Worthy" three-parter, co-written by Bill Mumy, strains credibility and falls pretty flat if you don't pick up on all the Lost in Space references. "Once a Hero" does a decent job of dramatizing the plight of the redshirt, but the TNG episode "Lower Decks" did it much better.

Buy the book: Powell's, Amazon (affiliate links)


SnoutCast #23: "Live from San Francisco"

Our special guest this week: Larry Hosken, purveyor of the San Francisco-based 2-Tone Game!

(You may notice a lot of what audio engineers call "room tone" or "crappy sound" in this week's podcast. This is because we didn't have a proper mixer for recording off the telephone call. We apologize for being complete amateurs.)

[ Download mp3 - 29 MB ]

00:00 - promo teaser: GC Summit 2010 videos online
01:09 - "independent"
01:26 - ObligatoryMontyPythonReference
01:45 - how does Larry feel about food and cooking?
03:13 - Listener Mail!
04:58 - whence the 2-Tone Game?
06:27 - "so you made a puzzle hunt because you wanted to play with a tracking system?"
07:29 - hooray for playtesters!
08:34 - 2-Tone Game is location-specific, but not time-specific
09:40 - total solve times range from less-than-one-day to not-yet-finished
11:06 - "I'm looking at the logs, and here's someone..."
12:33 - stat fact: most players have started but not finished
13:20 - "Is your first puzzle hard?"
14:18 - "Is the game completely linear?"
15:58 - and what if you're stuck in Omaha?
17:24 - "Is there a question anywhere in our future?"
18:39 - Larry prefers to play location-based Games
20:01 - what kind of Game does GC want the players to experience?
21:29 - and what kind of experience does GC want to have?
22:23 - ObligatoryHogwartsGameAnecdote
23:00 - DeeAnn has no idea what Curtis is talking about
24:47 - Larry's parents played 2-Tone Game recently
26:44 - play 2-Tone Game at
27:49 - Larry will release his source code Real Soon Now
29:10 - read more from Larry at
29:45 - don't forget: Shinteki SF Scramble on July 17th
30:59 - The End

Music: instrumentals from "Code Monkey" and "Ikea" by Jonathan Coulton

[ Subscribe to SnoutCast / iTunes link ]

CKL DeeAnn Larry

Friday, July 02, 2010

Roasted Vegetables

Wow. Has it ever been a long time since I posted a blog entry. This one's a doozy, so brace yourselves. I probably wouldn't be posting now, except that I believe Jeffrey needs a little guidance on how to roast some satisfying and tasty veggies.

Actually, I believe that everyone needs some roast veggies in their cooking repertoire. They are just too versatile: eat them hot, room temperature, or cold; they're a complete dish on their own and make a great supporting player in soups, salads, omelettes, pasta, rice, polenta, hash... and whole lot of other dishes.

This is how I make Roasted Vegetables.

First, gather some supplies. I use
  • a cutting board & knife
  • a big baking sheeting & stirring implement
  • three or more types of veggies
  • salt, pepper, oil and something sour.
In this case, the veggie role is played by potatoes/onions/red peppers/carrots and the oil/sour role is played by some salad dressing I wanted to use up.
Cut everything up. I like relatively firm potatoes so I cut them larger than everything else. I only used one onion (they were huge) and I stole half of one red pepper to use in chili.

This step is optional, but I like to see how pretty the veggies look together, so I mixed them up.

Pour on the oil/sour mix. I usually use equal parts of oil and a vinegar (or lemon juice), but salad dressing works just fine, too.

Mix well. The veggies need to be thoroughly coated*. The oil coating helps conduct the heat; in effect frying the food in the pan. A few puddles on the bottom of the pan is okay, but the vegetables should not be taking a bath in salad dressing.

Salt & pepper the bejeezus out of the veggies, shake the pan to get a more-or-less single layer, and the veggies are all set for the oven!

Turn the oven to whatever setting gives a temperature of about 450 degrees Fahrenheit. No need to be terribly precise here. Less heat + More time = More heat + Less time (more or less; although the latter will char the edges of the vegetables more.)

This is what the vegetables looked like after 20 minutes. The temperature in my oven is 425 degrees.

This is what the vegetables looked like after another 20 minutes (40 minutes total), and a quick stir to expose a different side of the vegetables to the dry oven air. The temperature in my oven is 475 degrees.

This is what the vegetables looked like after a final 20 minutes (60 minutes total). The temperature in my oven is 450 degrees. I test a potato and declare the dish done.

Sometimes I cook my veggies until the onions are all but black--yummy--but this isn't one of those days. The vegetables are still good: moist and withered, with some tasty crusty** bits along the edges.

I forgot to take a picture of what the veggies looked like on the plate, so you'll just have to imagine that. Sorry! Here's the finished dish:

But, trust me, they are good.

Vegetables will roast just fine with lot less oil. Just make sure that they are well-coated. I've had a lot of success with a 3/4-full gallon-sized zip top bag with a tablespoon of olive oil and two tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice. When doing this, it's usually a good idea to grease the bottom of the pan with to help with cleanup.

**Yes, the pan is crusty, too. It seems like cleanup should be intimidating, but it really isn't. Just put water in the warm pan and soak it overnight. A quick pass with the scrubber sponge and the pan'll be ready for the dishwasher.


Friday Flash Fiction: "Scene from a Buddy Movie"

This is NOT the scene in question:

...but it is a necessary musical foundation for understanding this week's story.

Read "Scene from a Buddy Movie" at 512 Words or Fewer