Thriller that tells the story of Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain) a beautiful, young, Olympic-class skier who ran the world's most exclusive high-stakes poker game for a decade before being arrested. Her players included Hollywood royalty, sports stars, business titans and finally, unbeknownst to her, the Russian mob. Her only ally was her criminal defense lawyer (Idris Elba), who learned that there was much more to Molly than the tabloids led us to believe. Kevin Costner, Michael Cera, Chris O'Dowd and Bill Camp are also part of the cast. Directorial debut of renowned screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, Steve Jobs, The West Wing).
If you like what you see, and want to shorten the waiting period until the movie gets released, I recommend watching Miss Sloane.
The Death of Stalin HD720p 21MB
Dark comedy about the internal political landscape of 1950’s Soviet Russia, directed by writer/director Armando Iannucci (In the Loop, Veep, Alan Partridge). In the days following Stalin's collapse, his core team of ministers tussle for control; some want positive change in the Soviet Union, others have more sinister motives. Their one common trait? They’re all just desperately trying to remain alive. All-star cast includes Steve Buscemi, Jason Isaacs, Jeffrey Tambor, Rupert Friend, Andrea Riseborough, Simon Russell Beale, Paddy Considine, Michael Palin and Olga Kurylenko.
Hilarious. Looks like some of the scenes could've easily been taken from the current White House.
The Florida Project HD720p 82MB
Moving and poignant look at childhood. Set on a stretch of highway just outside the imagined utopia of Disney World, the movie follows 6-year-old Moonee and her rebellious mother Halley over a single summer. The two live week to week at a budget motel, but despite these surroundings, the precocious and ebullient Moonee is filled with joy, her endless afternoons overflowing with mischief and adventure as she and her ragtag playmates fearlessly explore the unique world into which they’ve been thrown. As Moonee and Halley make the most of each day —including their alternately friendly and argumentative encounters with the motel's stern but compassionate manager (Willem Dafoe) - the film demonstrates that anywhere can be a Magic Kingdom. Directed by Sean Baker (Tangerine, Starlet).
This looks nice. Different role than usual for Dafoe. Was very well received at festivals.
The Wilde Wedding HD720p 64MB
Comedy in which a now-retired film star (Glenn Close) prepares for her wedding to husband number four (Patrick Stewart) after a whirlwind courtship. At her upstate New York home – in the presence of both her first husband (John Malkovich), and their collective families (Minnie Driver, Jack Davenport, Yael Stone, Peter Facinelli, Noah Emmerich, Grace Van Patten) – the long summer weekend offers the opportunity for everyone to get to know each other a bit more intimately. As sexual sparks begin to fly, there are unforeseen consequences abound.
I fear it will be not as funny as it should be given its cast.
First They Killed My Father HD720p 21MB
Drama based on the memoir by Cambodian-born Loung Ung, which recounts the author’s horrifying childhood experiences under the murderous Khmer Rouge regime in her native Cambodia. Directed by Angelina Jolie (By the Sea, Unbroken, In the Land of Blood and Honey).
There's apparently already some controversy about the movie. It will start streaming September 15 on Netflix.
I had nearly finished this hours before deadline... and then I had to rest my eyes. Now it's well over an hour past deadline. One little pony in great distress, searches everywhere for a saddle-like dress. If she can't find one smaller than small, then she can't go to the Ponyville Ball.
Back to bed for 50 minutes of sleep before the alarm goes off.
Fawn Weaver on a farm in Lynchburg, Tenn., where Nearest Green and Jack Daniel first began distilling whiskey together.
The whiskey maker backed away from a promise to acknowledge its debt to a black distiller — until Fawn Weaver swooped into town and took up the cause.
By CLAY RISEN
The Grand Hyatt Resort, bottom left, sits about a mile and a half away from a proposed dairy farm in Poipu, Hawaii, owned by the eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.
EBay’s Founder Has a New Idea: Build a Dairy in Hawaii
Kauai residents who object are teaming up with owners of resorts that line the island’s famous beaches to try to block the dairy.
By STEPHANIE STROM
The new season of “The Great British Bake Off” will be hosted by, from left, Paul Hollywood, Sandi Toksvig, Noel Fielding and Prue Leith.
‘The Great British Bake Off’ as We Know It Is Over. What Comes Next?
The cheerful British hit has been rocked by drama since it left BBC last year. Here’s what is next for the show and its original hosts.
By LIAM STACK
The fruitcake found at Cape Adare, Victoria Land, East Antarctica, thought to be from Robert Falcon Scott’s Northern Party (1911).
Fruitcake From Robert Scott Expedition Is ‘Almost’ Edible at 106 Years Old
Conservationists who found the ice-covered dessert in Antarctica believe it once belonged to the British explorer.
By YONETTE JOSEPH
Members of the Long Island Vegetable Orchestra practicing on their vegetable instruments for a performance in July at the Oyster Bay Music Festival on Long Island. From left: Solomon Elyaho, Daniel Battaglia and David Elyaho, Solomon’s twin brother.
Cue the Carrots! Strike Up the Squash!
By ANNIE CORREAL
The musicians of the Long Island Vegetable Orchestra make their instruments from things that grow in the garden.
One article on the buttered roll and a writer gets flamed.
Buttered Roll Redux: A Lowly Breakfast Food Begets High Drama
“With the amount of breaking news stories in the world, who could possibly be that interested in a little essay about buttered rolls?”
By SADIE STEIN
We Need to Talk Some More About Your Dirty Sponges
By JOANNA KLEIN
For Niven Patel, Farm-to-Table Cooking Means Taro and Mangoes
The Miami chef grows produce in his backyard in Homestead, Fla. — the only part of the contiguous United States with a tropical monsoon climate.
By RACHEL WHARTON
Recipes: Eggplant Ravaiya | Roasted Mango or Banana Lassi
Classic deviled eggs.
Embrace the Egg!
In summer, the humble hard-boiled egg can turn a tomato sandwich into dinner, or a potato salad into a vegetarian main course. Make some today.
By JULIA MOSKIN
Crescent cookies are an easy way to celebrate the total solar eclipse.
Meals for Your Eclipse Menu
In parts of the United States, the eclipse will occur around lunchtime. Consider planning a picnic. (At least, have a crescent-shaped cookie.)
By SARA BONISTEEL
More: Solar Eclipse Recipes from NYT Cooking
Fruit Cobbler Shows Off Its Many Sides
A Good Appetite
By MELISSA CLARK
Recipe: Fruit Cobbler
Swap the Hot Grill for a Cool Drink and Low Oven
Thai-style pork ribs, marinated with honey, soy and ginger, just need a turn in the oven before being painted with glaze.
By DAVID TANIS
Recipe: Thai-Style Spare Ribs
Elevating the Humble Cookie
Pierre Hermé’s raspberry and rose sablés taste wonderfully complex, but making them is easy.
By DORIE GREENSPAN
Recipe: Pierre Hermé’s Ispahan Sablés
Warm tofu and fresh soybeans cooked in salted French butter and celery-seed gastrique.
How to Have Your Health Food and Love It, Too
Make your own tofu, then serve it with a French butter sauce – the best of two very different kinds of cooking.
By GABRIELLE HAMILTON
Recipe: Warm Tofu and Fresh Soybeans Cooked in Salted French Butter and Celery-Seed Gastrique
WINES OF THE TIMES
Though not the typical thirst quencher, good white Rioja is both refreshing and interesting.
Rich and Okay, White Rioja Bends the Summer Standard
By ERIC ASIMOV
the Founder: Story of the founding of the McDonald's empire and the man who helped build and steal it from the original McDonald brothers.
Arrow s.1: Where that whole Berlanti/DC 'verse begins. And its..nice? Sure, nice to see that Ollie can be just as much of a bonehead sometimes as his buddy Barry.
I built on some rolling and sunbathing equines I've photographed, but I had to hunt down several images for reference, my best bets came from the 'baked bads' and the 'bunny stampede' scenes. Thank Calpain there's an extension, I had to grab a few winks and get up at 2:30 in the AM to finish this. Looks OK now, I'll probably hate it later.
So recently, at Barnes & Noble, my attention was drawn to a hardback on the “fantasy new releases” table, featuring what was described as “flintlock fantasy with airships, a touch of humor, and an engaging female hero.”
I nearly burned the place down. ¬.¬
After the writing, revising, submitting, re-revising, submitting again, and so forth that Sky Pirates of Calypsitania has gone through, to see this thing sitting there made me want to scream at the top of my lungs, “THIS SHOULD BE MY BOOK!”
So. Yeah. I was upset. Deep breaths. Let’s work this thing out.
On the positive side, clearly someone must think there’s a market for the kind of books I want to write. I mean, there it is. But I have to connect to it.
And to be clear, I’m pretty sure that the author of that book worked just as long and just as hard on it as I did on mine. My own personal green-eyed-monster popping out notwithstanding, I wish them success.
That doesn’t alter the fact that I had this extreme, intensely emotional reaction to seeing “my book with someone else’s name on it” right there on the very table where I have been trying to get my book for years now. What I have to do, is direct that energy in a positive direction.
If this is the team that put the book on the table, I reasoned, then it could serve me well to hook up with that team. A little research turned up the agent of not-my-book. I went back and rewrote the opening, again, to address feedback the book had received on the previous round, getting thumbs-ups from my beta readers, and sent it to that agent. Given that this particular agent has a strict “Don’t call us, we’ll call you,” policy, however, the response could easily range from an excited followup any day, to chirping crickets until forever.
I don’t intend to wait. As far as I’ve been able to make out, the main thing that makes a writing career succeed (besides lightning in a bottle) is sheer volume. The most popular and well-paid writers I know get that way by writing a lot of books. And as much as I love Sky Pirates of Calypsitania, it is only the one.
What this boils down to is, I need to work on another book. I’ll keep shopping Sky Pirates around as long as it takes, but I can’t leave my career on hold waiting for any one project to move.
I have been trying to write a more “mainstream” fantasy, and I got maybe a third of it done as part of last year’s NaNoWriMo, but I keep running into a fundamental paradox: in trying to adhere to more standard tropes in order to make the book “sellable,” I feel like I’m just aping other people’s work, which in turn makes for a book that I’m not sure I would read, myself.
Of course, it’s just the first draft of said book, and so there’s an argument that I should just finish the thing, with “rip out all the Tolkien” being one of the goals of the second draft. But if I know all the Tolkien needs to come out anyway, then leaving it in there for the first draft feels like creating work I don’t need to do.
So perhaps I should just leave that one in the drafts folder and start a whole new project that’s more like what I want to write.
But I need to do something. I need to get somewhere.
Mech Cadet Yu #1: Written by Greg Pak, Illustrated by Takeshi Miyazawa, Colored by Triona Farrell & Lettered by SImon Bowland. Who loves giant robots? Everyone. Everyone fucking loves giant robots.
Groo: Play of the Gods #2: by Sergio Aragones, Wordsmith Mark Evanier, Colorists John Ercek & Tom Luth & Letterer Stan Sakai. Groo, Ahax, Taranto, Taranto's men and the religious missionaries arrive in the new land. Full of gold and gods.
the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #23: Writer Ryan North, Artist Erica Henderson, Color artist Rico Renzi & Letterer Travis Lanham. Nancy kind of flirts with a nice nerdy Latverian lad. All while everyone tries to nerd-up a solution for the failing Savage Land climate control machinery.
I considered creating a Planet of the Tapirs. Too complicated. I tried to spin an Equestria flying Squirrel into a Rocky the flying Squirrel (voiced by June foray who died a couple of weeks ago). Didn't work. So, my fall back plan, plan C, was to find a in-show parody and draw that. Thus, the Grady Twins from The Shining and the Season Six episode, Where The Apple Lies. Not easy drawing identical twins.
I circumvented the multi-pony complexities that would have kept me up until the wee hours by making it a party of one. I chose this frame for the unusual expression and body. I see now that Pinkie has become flat, losing the overlap where her legs bend and that her haunch appears as flat as a paddle. I tried to defeat the size, position and articulation gremlins by sketching everything fast, before I lost track of how big or how small such and such part should be. The gremlins won, again. My body was too long. I shrank it. It's still too long. Or worse, my legs are too straight and that accounts for the gap. She's leaning slightly forward and I've lost that. ...May have fixed that and the length... rats, leg is too fat. Curse, erase, erase, erase.
Fell on one of the in-laws cars, but no discernible damage. Just one electric garden lantern was knocked over.
Emer Reynolds’s dazzling film traces the history of Voyager 1 and Voyager 2. Like the NASA team that produced these spacecraft, it inspires awe.
By ANDY WEBSTER
NYT Critic’s Pick
Director Emer Reynolds
Writer Emer Reynolds
Stars Frank Drake, Carolyn Porco, John Casani, Lawrence Krauss, Timothy Ferris
Running Time 2h 1m
Genres Documentary, History
Corky was found to have disk disease when I took him to the Animal Medical Center a couple of weeks ago; clearly this had started some time ago but no vet had diagnosed it—during the time he'd had Cushing's disease, that was his primary problem—and I wasn't aware enough of the symptoms to know what was going on.
I was ordered to crate him in order to rest him, but this made him so crazy he began to self-mutilate. He was also crying out in the night from the pain.
Saturday I took him to a vet downtown to address the situation, including the stress of being crated. By this point, Corky wasn't able to walk easily, and I had to carry him up and down five flights of stairs. True, he was a 14-pound terrier, but it was still difficult.
Dr. DeLorenzo was patient and asked me a couple of times if I was sure I wanted to do this; I had to admit it was the best thing to do, since there wasn't even a pain reliever I could give him. Baby aspirin didn't help.
She started him with a drip of Valium, then gave him sodium pentobarbital. I know it was the right thing to do, but it's less than a week and the house feels empty. I'm so sad that he's gone, and even though I have photos of him, this is the third death I've had to deal with in less than a year. The effect is cumulative; it's just not fair.
I had tried to keep him healthy, and even brushed his teeth every night, so this really came out of left field. I'm so tired of death.
Sombra's chasing that dream and reaching for the Crystal Heart.
Not too crazy about this prompt. Not only is it like a variation on yesterday's adventure/journey prompt, it feels more like a writer's block prompt than a learn to draw prompt. I should be getting prompts that explore posture, expression, angle, light, shading and perspective, not story ideas. I wasn't keen to start a new page for this sketch so I found a corner on a previous page and used that instead. Maybe I should do a Hello Kitty series with a static pony redrawn dressed up to match each prompt. 8^p
Enh. Pretty good movie though. Harrelson's Crazy Colonel is a little over the top. And I kind of wanted someone to point out that humans are as much an Ape sub-species as chimpanzees, gorillas or orangutans. But I liked how the remnants of the previous movies' Ape schism were now human collaborators. And the implication that the Sentience Formula went globally viral so it wasn't just Caesar's tribe.
Preliminary data from a large, new national study suggests that over half of American adults with a food allergy developed it after age 18.
By SOPHIE EGAN
Microwaving your dirty sponge will only kill some of the bacteria on it, leaving the strongest, smelliest and potentially most pathogenic strains.
Cleaning a Dirty Sponge Only Helps Its Worst Bacteria, Study Says
Researchers found that microwaving, boiling or throwing used sponges in the dishwasher encouraged the proliferation of its strongest microbes.
By JOANNA KLEIN
Icy, Sweet and Instagram-Ready
Ingenious takes on soft serve, shaved ice and other treats from Thailand, Japan and South Korea are putting the American scoop shop to shame.
By JULIA MOSKIN
Mastering the Art of Home Restoration: A Julia Child Sequel
A new owner is undertaking efforts to revive Mrs. Child’s Georgetown home, which has fallen into disrepair in recent years.
By NOAH WEILAND
Free Alaskan Salmon: Just Bring a Net and Expect a Crowd
Amateurs pack the shores of the Kenai River, perhaps the most colorful, and contentious, fishing spot in America.
By JULIA O'MALLEY
An Impossible Burger, which resembles meat but is made of plant products.
Impossible Burger’s ‘Secret Sauce’ Highlights Challenges of Food Tech
The start-up is finding out what happens when a fast-moving venture capital business runs into the staid world of government regulation.
By STEPHANIE STROM
A GOOD APPETITE
Grilled steak tacos with a cherry tomato salsa.
These Tacos Get Their Fire From the Grill
A stint over the flame brings out the best in all the components of these skirt steak tacos — even the salsa.
By MELISSA CLARK
Recipe: Grilled Steak Tacos With Cherry Tomato-Avocado Salsa
A Cool Solution for Hot Summer Nights
This supper is the ideal opportunity to use all those glorious vegetables at the farmers’ market.
By DAVID TANIS
Recipes: Green Beans With Herbs and Olives | Tomatoes With Basil and Anchovies | Okra Salad With Toasted Cumin | Grilled Eggplant, Peppers and Onions | Lemony Zucchini Slaw
Preserves and marmalade from Gregory Benjamin.
Award-Winning Marmalades to Gift or Devour
Gregory Benjamin Preserves and Marmalades are made in a church kitchen in Carversville, Pa.
By FLORENCE FABRICANT
Some cherries from Hood River Cherry Company are available until the end of August.
A Dark and Sweet Cherry for the Dog Days of Summer
Hood River Cherry Company ripens its cherries on the branch, which extends the season till the end of summer.
By FLORENCE FABRICANT
Ice creams and sorbets come in Scandinavian and traditional flavors at the new Great Northern Creamery in the Great Northern Food Hall at Grand Central Terminal.
Bracing Ice Cream Flavors From Scandinavia
Frozen desserts made with sea buckthorn berries and rye are the stars at a new cart in Grand Central Terminal.
By FLORENCE FABRICANT
Cream of crab soup from Cameron’s, which has started shipping its products fresh nationwide.
Crab Cakes Fresh From Maryland
Cameron’s, a seafood company, is now shipping its crab cakes and cream of crab soup nationwide.
By FLORENCE FABRICANT
Why You Should Burn Your Vegetables
Hot slaw, Mexican-style.
For this Mexican-style slaw, use the power of fire and smoke.
Recipe: Hot Slaw, Mexican-Style | Crema
By SAM SIFTON
At Pépé Le Moko in Portland, Ore., new versions of, from left: an amaretto sour, a Blue Hawaii, a Long Island iced tea and a Grasshopper.
When Bad Drinks Go Good
The Long Island iced tea, the Midori sour, the Blue Hawaii: Fussy bartenders are upgrading these decidedly down-market cocktails.
By ROBERT SIMONSON
Recipe: Amaretto Sour
“I have never heard of ramisco being able to grow anywhere else, and I know a lot of people tried,” Nuno Ramilo said. His family’s business, Casal do Ramilo, has been making wines from the clay soils in the Colares region of Portugal since 1937.
Colares, Where the Vineyards Snake Through the Sand
The savory, distinctive Portuguese wines come from unusual vineyards along the Atlantic coast, continental Europe’s westernmost growing region.
By ERIC ASIMOV
Olive juice formulated by Gaea for vodka and gin.
Dirty Cocktails Without the Pits
Juices for those who like their martinis dirty but free from olives.
By FLORENCE FABRICANT
Christian Millau and Henri Gault, behind him at left, in a Paris restaurant in 1977 to promote a new edition of their “Gault and Millau” restaurant guide.
Christian Millau, 88, Co-Founder of Lively Restaurant Guide, Dies
Mr. Millau, with Henri Gault, took aim at the Michelin Guide, which he called stodgy and as terse as “a telephone book.”
By WILLIAM GRIMES
Remembering Judith Jones and Her Recipe for Food Writing
The cookbook editor, who died Wednesday, inspired and sometimes intimidated the chefs and writers she guided.
By KIM SEVERSON
Judith Jones, Editor of Literature and Culinary Delight, Dies at 93
Ms. Jones discovered Julia Child and other venerated culinary writers, and pushed for the American publication of Anne Frank’s diary.
By ROBERT D. McFADDEN
It’s weird how I go through these phases. Like, I haven’t played a game of Overwatch in months. I have signed on once or twice to update the app, but I haven’t actually played any.
It’s a side-effect of energy level. Since the heat wave around AnthroCon, I have spent most of my time pretty much as pictured above. What productivity and energy I’ve had has focused on my writing, because that mostly uses my brain and my fingertips. When I log into a game, it’s Lords of the Rings Online, for the same reason. (And also because LotRO finally got to Mordor, and there are lots of rumblings about the state of the game and the company that runs it. There’s a non-zero chance LotRO may not be around forever, and I want to get the most out of it while I still can.)
I still like Overwatch and at some point I’m sure I’ll get excited about it again. I’m a little surprised the Summer Games event hasn’t lit that spark, considering how much I loved Lucioball the first time around. But right now I’m just not feelin’ it.
But one thing this has definitely taught me: I am not cut out to be YouTuber/streamer. Not in the way the industry exists right now, anyway. I can’t (and don’t really want to) knock myself out trying to grind out 10+ minutes of content to post as-close-to-daily-as-possible. As a general rule I dive deep into projects and come up for air weeks or months later, producing something big when I’m finished (e.g., that D&D map, or a novel).
This has always been the biggest challenge of doing a comic, fighting with having to keep feeding the beast when there are other things I want to do instead. The only reason the comic actually keeps going is because a) I love it, and b) there are too few good furry comics as it is.
I’m sure that when the Overwatch bug bites again, I’ll be streaming and posting and all that jazz just as I’ve been, but purely for the fun of it. I’m not going to chase viewers or subscriptions. There’s a fair chance I won’t hit master level with Mercy because I’m not competing enough, and eh, that’s okay. It’s an artificial goal designed to give me a destination anyway, not something I had a driving passion for in and of itself. I’m still going to do my best. 🙂
But only when it’s fun. ;P
In terms of round-by-round, 5E is great. It doesn’t have the grind-grind-grind problem of 3.x/PF, nor the “everybody is a sorcerer” problem of 4E (which, I’m told, also gets ridiculously grindy in short order).
But structurally, in terms of encounter building and monster design (and how that ties in with rest and advancement), I feel like it still has problems.
The Resource Management Game Nobody Plays
The “15-minute workday” is still a thing in 5E. The game is balanced around the notion that every two encounters (or so) the characters will take a short rest, and that after their sixth encounter of the day they’ll take a long rest.
In order for that to work, most of the individual encounters need to not be that tough. The party uses a big spell in one, the fighter loses some hit points in the next, and so on, but they can soldier on through. Because no one encounter is likely to wreck the party, they can keep on going until they’re out of Adventure Fuel (i.e., hit points and spells), and then recharge with a long rest.
The problem there is that, narrative wise, this can get real boring. If the stakes are that low for almost every encounter, and you have limited game time, there is a strong desire to “skip to the encounter that actually matters.”
So there is a strong inclination to beef up individual encounters, so that each one feels more significant. Instead of six rooms with six orcs each, the party finds three rooms with twelve orcs each. (Of course, in a well-built dungeon, there’ll be more variety than that. But you get the idea.)
But! When confronted with tougher encounters, players inevitably go nuclear on them– the wizard opens every fight with a fireball, the fighter uses their action surges, etc.– and it makes perfect sense for them to do so. The players don’t know how tough the encounter is or isn’t, or what the GM might have up their sleeve. Better to blast the hell out of everything and be reasonably sure you got it all, than to get one-punched by something without ever getting a spell off.
And what do players do after they’ve gone nuclear? They want a long rest to recharge! If that means backing out of the entire dungeon and coming back the next day to take it one room at a time? That’s what they’ll do.
Fighters get the shaft in a situation like this– their strength relative to magic-users is they can keep fighting all day without expending resources. But if the wizard gets recharged every time, the endurance of martial classes is irrelevant. (This is why everyone was a sorcerer in 4E.) Action surges and stuff like that make fighters a little more bursty to compensate, and of course 5E rogues are OP no matter how you slice it, so it’s not as bad as it was in 3.x/PF, but it’s still a thing.
The NERF™ Monster Manual
My campaign currently has a very large party. Six PCs, plus 1-3 NPCs of varying power levels depending on the scenario. This utterly breaks the action economy as it is, but even moreso once Bounded Accuracy comes into play.
Far from making it so that “even goblins can stay viable threats,” with a party this size B.A. makes it so that “even dragons are never a viable threat.” ;P In my last session, the 5th level party went into a fight with three wights and six zombies, and didn’t break a sweat. They were a little annoyed at the way the zombies kept standing back up again… but it wasn’t scary, so much as a nuisance.
Dammit, I want wights to be scary. -.-
When you have an edition in which levels 1-2 are pretty much intended to be skipped, but 60% of the monsters are CR 3 or lower, you end up with things like this. When you then combine NERF™ monsters with beefed up encounters, you suddenly have 5th level parties facing beholders. Combat then becomes very, very swingy, a game of rocket tag in which the only roll that matters is “initiative.”
Not great for “heroic fantasy” style gameplay. Also not great when the players have six chances to roll higher initiative than the monsters. ;P (Savage Worlds, a game that deliberately has rocket tag combat, also makes you check initiative fresh at the beginning of each round to at least add a little more uncertainty to this.)
Encounter Inflation and XP
The other danger of beefed up encounters, using the default assumptions of XP and level advancement, is that characters get beefed up XP, which in turn makes them advance faster, and the whole thing just explodes geometrically.
This can be avoided by decoupling XP from monster CR (or at least minimizing it), which a lot of my favorite RPGs of the past did by default. The HERO System for instance gave a pretty flat “3 XP per session, +/- 1-2 points for dull/easy or awesome/tough sessions.” You could (and our group often did) go through whole sessions without anyone so much as throwing a punch– and as long as everyone had a good time, you didn’t feel like you’d been shafted in the XP department for it.
The most recent Unearthed Arcana column has an interesting take on this, proposing a “100 XP per level” model in which exploration, interaction, and combat all have 1-4 tiers of difficulty, and any given encounter would give (10 x tier) XP.
I think this is a neat idea, although the first thing I notice is that it flattens XP progression back out. 5E is famously designed so that you fast-forward through levels 1-2, slow down for 3-10, and then pick up a little from 11+. The XP for monsters might still need work tho– it basically boils down to “5 XP per normal monster, 2 XP per minion, 15 XP for something way out of your league.” In the case of my party vs. the not-terribly-scary wights, that would have been 22 base XP, halved for having more than 6 characters, or 11 XP. Was that encounter really worth 1/10 of a level?
The tiers for treasure and interactions are also sorta arbitrary. Tier 4 exploration (worth 40 XP) is the discovery/wresting from monsters a “location of cosmic importance,” for instance. If a campaign starts doing the whole plane-hopping thing later, you’ll be discovering cosmic locations all the time, won’t you?
But the key thing is, with this system, combat is no longer the benchmark for character growth. Like the original “1 GP = 1 XP” model, characters who like to talk, sneak, or otherwise do things besides fight all the things have an alternate progression track, and that makes for a more varied and potentially-interesting game.
So What Does It All Mean?
Based on all this, I think I would prefer:
- Beef up monsters a bit. When 1st level lasts a while, a CR 3 monster (like a wight) is scary longer. When the game starts at 3rd level and goes up from there, a CR 3 monster becomes the new baseline. By that reckoning, a lowly goblin should be at least CR 1, while a wight should be something like CR 5. Almost everything in the Monster Manual needs at least +10 hit points and +2 to their attack rolls. 😛
- Tweak rests. This post is hella long already, so I will have to save the “rest” issues for another day. Something that will allow for tougher individual encounters, without screwing over the fighter types and/or creating 15 minute workdays is a big challenge.
- Non-Combat XP is Best XP. A tier-based system in which each encounter (whether it is a puzzle, a roleplaying moment, a fight, a treasure looted, whatever) gains about the same XP makes for a much more interesting game. Is talking to the shop-owner as much of a learning experience as fighting for your life? Well… maybe not. But if it’s a great moment in the game, it should be more rewarding than just tossing a fireball at 2d6 orcs.
What do you think, players?
Okja: One girl's quest to rescue her mutant giant pig friend from an evil AgriBusiness and their washed-up animal show host lackey. With assistance from an animal liberation/rights group that somehow isn't terrible.
Legends of Tomorrow s.2. I actually started with the finale of s.1 as that was about the maximum Vandal Savage and the Hawks I wanted to deal with. Golden Age Vixen, Steel and the Legion of Doom were a much needed replacement. Plus the JSA, King Arthur and Jonah Hex.
the Incredible Jessica James: Entertaining romcom with former the Daily Show correspondant Jessica Williams and the IT Crowd's Chris O'Dowd.
American Ultra: Basically What If the Jason Bourne movies were stoner comedies. Jesse Eisenberg makes a surprisingly competent action guy, Topher Grace is unsurprisingly a super-face punchable government douchebag and even as midlevel CIA agent Connie Britton makes a great mom.
Trailer for a psychological horror thriller written and directed by Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, The Fountain, Requiem for a Dream). Brief summary reads that a couple's (Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem) relationship is tested when uninvited guests (Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer) arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence.
Will take part in the official competition next month in Venice. I'll edit the post when a technically better version becomes available. Done, entry edited.
Marjorie Prime HD720p 15MB
Drama set in the near future, a time of artificial intelligence: 86-year-old Marjorie (Lois Smith) - a jumble of disparate, fading memories - has a handsome new companion (Jon Hamm) who looks like her deceased husband and is programmed to feed the story of her life back to her. His immersive presence ignites feelings and memories both good and troubling for Marjorie, her daughter (Geena Davis), and her son-in-law (Tim Robbins). Directed by Michael Almereyda (Hamlet, Experimenter, Nadja).
You can see that it was based on a play. Was mostly well received at Sundance.
Call Me By Your Name HD720p 83MB
Relationship drama set during the summer of 1983 in northern Italy, in which Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet), a 17-year-old American-Italian boy, spends his days in his family's seventeenth century villa lazily transcribing music and flirting with his friend Marzia. One day Oliver (Armie Hammer), a charming, 24-year-old American scholar working on his doctorate, arrives as the annual summer intern tasked with helping Elio's father (Michael Stuhlbarg), an eminent professor specializing in Greco-Roman culture. Amid the sun-drenched splendor of this sensual setting, Elio and Oliver discover the heady beauty of awakening desire over the course of a summer that will change their lives forever. Directed by Luca Guadagnino (A Bigger Splash, I Am Love).
Was very well received at festivals.
Loving Vincent HD720p 71MB
A fully oil painted feature film, that brings the artwork of Vincent van Gogh to life in an exploration of the complicated life and controversial death of one of history’s most celebrated artists. More than six years in the making with the help of 125 specially trained painters, the movie is a uniquely animated film composed of 65,000 painted frames. Among the actors that are painted are Douglas Booth, Jerome Flynn, Chris O'Dowd, Saoirse Ronan, Eleanor Tomlinson, Aidan Turner, John Sessions and Helen McCrory.
The style is clearly based on van Gogh's. But is looks similar to the rotoscoping used in Waking Life. But certainly an interesting mix of film and painting.
LBJ HD720p 24MB
Biopic about U.S. President Lyndon Baines Johnson from his young days in West Texas to the White House, directed by Rob Reiner (A Few Good Men, The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally). After John F. Kennedy's assassination in November 1963, it fell immediately to Vice President Johnson (Woody Harrelson) to take up the mantle of Commander in Chief. No other president of the last century began his time in office under such sombre circumstances, and few have begun their terms attempting to navigate such national turmoil. This was the era of the Civil Rights Movement and the escalation of the Vietnam War. Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jeffrey Donovan, Richard Jenkins and Bill Pullman are also part of the cast.
Festival reviews from last fall weren't too kind.
After a ten hour work day I didn't have the spoons to get out my sketchbook even though I knew what I was going to draw for this -- Twilight grappling with her winter saddle. The prompt asked for fighting/grappling. Getting up in time for deadline was a bear. By the time I sat down with a pencil I had only 20 minutes left. That was not enough time, even for a sketchy sketch, I finally got this in 45 minutes late. Maybe I'll rework this for the makeup gallery. Nice horsey anatomy in this model.
The prompts so far have been a cut above those of recent ATG's! They're keeping me guessing as to what is next and I'm not having déjà vu when they appear.
Back to sleep for an hour and a half.
It turns out that doing biology is really hard. There's a lot of tacit knowledge involved. Knowledge that might only be in one person's head that they haven't documented. And there are probably issues related to highly specific equipment.
This piece is funny, at least if you like tales of human purpose frustrated by an uncooperative universe.
It cites Overly honest methods.
Link thanks to https://www.gwern.net/newsletter/2017/
Later in the evening I got to play the Red Dragon Inn card game. In that the players are adventurers relaxing at a tavern, spending their loot on booze. Each player has an adventurer deck, i was Zot the Wizard. Another player picked Pooky the Bunny, my familiar. The goal is to force the other players out, either by making them pass out from a combination of damage and drunkeness or by losing all your money. I managed to help push out the enchantress, the drunken monk, the time wizard, the fighter AND my familiar. But the shaman managed to block several turns of my attacks on him while right on the edge and come from behind to win.
The prompt asked for a crush. You say 'crush', I think 'massage!'. Remember Bulk Biceps the masseuse? What if picking up ponies and crushing them between his biceps was a key part of his 'Extra-strength-hot-stone-deep-tissue massage' technique? What would that look like? Apparently too creepy to put on a Harmony Day cake. Here he is putting the crush on Rarity. YEAH!
Heroines #3: Creator/Script/Art Ted Naifeh & Letters Taylor Esposito. Jones' back-story and Marcy learns more about her team's benefactor.
Giant Days #29: Written by John Allison, Pencils by Max Sarin, Inks by Liz Fleming, Colors by Whitney Cogar & Letters by Jim Campbell. Esther vs. Emila for lit-nerd dominance.
Knights of the Dinner Table #245: E-i-C Jolly R. Blackburn & Devlopment Team Steve Johansson, David S. Kenzer, Brian Jelke & Barbara Blackburn. Brian's plan for the Warhouse Spree almost comes to a damp, crashing failure but is ironically saved by diplomacy and surprise hirelings.
Although it's debatable that the Mane Six ponies are still connected to their tangible Elements, I think that they are still the embodiment of their Elements in spirit... I don't know if that's enough for them to channel any rainbows in the future. Lately they've been relying on their wits and the kindness of friends. Rarity still gets a cake.
I bought a mocha cake, whipping cream, got out my rice paper and my food dye and voilà, Rarity on a mocha flavoured cake! You know, they don't give you instructions on how to make whipped cream on the carton or much in the way of details in Joy. I managed. It took the big electric beater to whip it good. That little battery-powered gizmo I have isn't up to snuff.
I took it to work just in time for my department to arrive for morning break. The cake was good but the paper still tasted like paper, just a bit sweeter (I spread sugar on it). The cake has been eaten but the swag will be given away tomorrow after everyone in my department has had a chance to sign up for the draw.
Have I moved back into a sitcom?
However, there's another side-- what stigma against fat people costs everyone. I've read a lot from women who put off their ambitions for both work and love until they lose weight, which may never happen. It wouldn't surprise me if the same pattern (starting at higher fat %s) occurs for men, it's just that I haven't heard about it.
How much accomplishment and love haven't happened because of people who don't try until they think their bodies would be approved of? And they aren't hallucinating the prejudice-- how many fat people get turned down just because they're fat?
So, to Trump, because everything seems to get related to Trump. Unless I'm missing something, Republicans are more willing to accept fat candidates than Democrats are. Is it possible that Democrats are throwing away more talent than they can afford to? (I'm not extremely sure of the premise here-- let me know about if there are fat Democratic politicians which would contradict my theory.)
In addition to the specific case, the article has a history of prosecutors withholding evidence and the laws related to that. It's been very bad, but recently, some prosecutors have been supporting broad disclosure, a requirement that *all* the evidence be shared.
I'm not convinced that this will be enough, though it seems like a good idea.
I think great deal of the problem is the adversarial approach to trials. It seems unlikely that Americans will give up the prosecutor vs. defense system, so I propose adding a third person to trials who's not allied with either side-- their job is to repeatedly address the question of whether the arguments make sense.
Zande Myrande wrote up a beginning of a trial which includes a third advocate-- this may make the idea clearer.
Considering how popular they are, being unsearchable may be something a lot of people want a lot of the time, but I find that I'd like to refer back to what I've said now and then. This means getting better about tagging things, too.
Facebook is evil for many reasons, but a big one is that it sort of implies reliable contact between people, but it makes contact very unreliable.
"Who's that?" I ask.
"My brother." Someone answers, who had eight brothers and two sisters, now only seven brothers and two sisters.
"Which one?" I ask.
"From the farm." Someone answers, which narrows it down to two.
"Which one?" I ask.
"The short one." Someone answers.
NYT Critic’s Pick R Action, Crime, Mystery, Thriller Directed by Taylor Sheridan
A rookie investigator meets her match while investigating a murder on an Indian reservation.
By GLENN KENNY
NYT Critic’s Pick
Director Taylor Sheridan
Stars Kelsey Asbille, Jeremy Renner, Julia Jones, Teo Briones, Apesanahkwat .
Running Time 1h 47m
Genres Action, Crime, Mystery, Thriller
NYT Critic’s Pick Comedy, Drama, Romance Directed by Kogonada
The video essayist Kogonada uses architecture to pose larger questions in a small Indiana town.
By BEN KENIGSBERG
NYT Critic’s Pick
Stars John Cho, Haley Lu Richardson, Parker Posey, Erin Allegretti, Rory Culkin
Running Time 1h 40m
Genres Comedy, Drama, Romance
The Incredible Jessica James
NYT Critic’s Pick Comedy Directed by Jim Strouse
Jessica Williams shines as a young playwright struggling with rejection — professionally and romantically — in this film streaming on Netflix.
By NICOLE HERRINGTON
NYT Critic’s Pick
Director Jim Strouse
Writer Jim Strouse
Stars Lakeith Stanfield, Chris O'Dowd, Noël Wells, Jessica Williams, Zabryna Guevara
Running Time 1h 25m
NYT Critic’s Pick PG Drama Directed by Joshua Z Weinstein
In this sweet, often understated film set in a Hasidic neighborhood, the title character is a widower who must remarry to regain custody of his son.
By KEN JAWOROWSKI
NYT Critic’s Pick
Director Joshua Z Weinstein
Writers Alex Lipschultz, Musa Syeed, Joshua Z Weinstein
Stars Menashe Lustig, Yoel Falkowitz
Running Time 1h 22m
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power
NYT Critic’s Pick PG Documentary Directed by Bonni Cohen, Jon Shenk
A follow-up to “An Inconvenient Truth,” with new information on climate change and even some positive developments.
By BEN KENIGSBERG
NYT Critic’s Pick
Directors Bonni Cohen, Jon Shenk
Stars Al Gore, Barack Obama, Donald J. Trump, Tom Rielly
Running Time 1h 38m
NYT Critic’s Pick PG-13 Comedy, Drama Directed by Dave McCary
In this absurdly charming film, Kyle Mooney plays an obsessed fan who discovers that there is an entire world waiting for him beyond his TV.
By MANOHLA DARGIS
NYT Critic’s Pick
Director Dave McCary
Stars Mark Hamill, Claire Danes, Kyle Mooney, Greg Kinnear, Andy Samberg
Running Time 1h 40m
Genres Comedy, Drama
NYT Critic’s Pick Not Rated Documentary Directed by Michael Almereyda
In this engaging documentary, Michael Almereyda looks at the screenwriter Hampton Fancher, one of the seers behind the 1982 “Blade Runner.”
By MANOHLA DARGIS
NYT Critic’s Pick
Director Michael Almereyda
Writer Michael Almereyda
Star Hampton Fancher
Rating Not Rated
Running Time 1h 29m
-- Of Possible Interest --
The Dark Tower
Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey star in “The Dark Tower,” a mess of a movie based on Stephen King’s sprawling, multivolume series of the same title.
By MANOHLA DARGIS
Director Nikolaj Arcel
Stars Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Taylor, Katheryn Winnick, Jackie Earle Haley
Running Time 1h 35m
Genres Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi, Western
Trapped under the ice, there's some mortal peril for you there. I mostly referenced ice, ice transparency and ice inclusions for this, my pony anatomy is for the most part, guesswork. This is a bird's eye view, so you are looking down through the ice, and she's looking up.
Time for a few hours sleep.