Lost Pet

I seem to have fallen completely out of the blogging thing and social media. Sorry, world. (edit)gretel last picture web

Gretel, right after having been euthanized. I held her head in my hands as she died. R.I.P., dear friend. We will miss you.

One of our dogs had to be put down last week. Gretel was about 12 and half years old — she had a sudden and aggressive tumor growing in her jaw on the right side of her face. She was a chow/lab mix from the local rescue shelter and had one of the sweetest dispositions of any animal I have ever known — although this dog was a plague upon the local squirrel and groundhog populations. She just liked killing things.

I kind of doubt I’m going to continue blogging here (or anywhere else). I just don’t have the feeling that anything that I have to say is worth sharing.

(later edit: I’m told this post is unusually cryptic and despondent sounding. I’m not intending to inspire a pity party — I just feel like I might be done with blogging. I used to be interested in what other people were writing and looked forward to what I would be writing/thinking/posting next… and at some point that enthusiasm evaporated. Part of it was, well, the general douche-y-ness of so many members of ye olde internet. But I also just wasn’t interested in hearing my own voice within the echo chamber anymore.  Maybe I’ll blog again, but probably not about OSR gaming).


Happy New Year; Kim Jong-il looks at things

This is your obligatory ‘Happy New Year’ post.

Also, I have finally found a use for ‘Tumblr.’  Today I discovered a Tumblr collection of photographs of the late Kim Jong-il looking at things.  These include pictures of the late dear leader looking at plants, food, shops, products, farms, people, etc.  The Tumblr site linked above also sells a book.

Here is a favorite: Kim Jong-il looking at very large watermelons:

kim jong-il looking at watermelons

Bad Treebeard

Bad Treebeard

Those tree people always seemed so nice in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ movie. But, looking at this picture, I am no longer so sure. What did Johnny do to deserve getting ‘manhandled’ by a tree like that?

Excellent picture courtesy of “The Horrors of it All“!

Fletcher Hanks

I’m avoiding doing some chores by posting these excellent images by Fletcher Hanks:



wild and primitive




flying head fanta09


Cave Worms

I’ve been going through some serious artists-block lately. Here’s one drawing I did in my notebook while sitting at the airport that I kind of like — perhaps the first step to conquering the creative constipation.

airport cave worms

“Into the Demon Idol”

Jobe Bittman (also see Spellburn) was part of a one page dungeon contest a while back (see his really great map here — I love love love 3d cut-away illustrations)… and he turned that 1 page into a little book which apparently you can buy soon (I don’t have that info yet; will update when I do).

He asked me to do the cover/1st page illustration, which is pretty cool — see somebody’s autographed copy below. I’ve seen the front cover in a PDF version (I don’t have the real thing yet) and it is HELIOTROPE done up in the old circa 1978 TSR 2 color printing style — looks really cool.

photo (26)

Will add more details when I get them!

This photo is from Rick Hull, someone on Google+ who owns this copy and was showing it off on google+.

UPDATE: Here is the cover in color. The lizard dude who is getting squished in the demon idol’s hands and has his eyeballs popping out cracks me up:

into the demon idol

Portugal and Quinta Da Regularia

We finally got back from our 2 weeks in Portugal. We had an excellent time but I am still catching up on sleep. We spent time in Lisboa, Sintra, Ericerea, Evaro, Coimbra and Porto — not enough time in any one place, but we only had two weeks. There was so much to do, but I think my favorite thing was visiting Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra. All of Portugal is great — the people are great, the food is great, and there is a castle on every hill and a fantastic looking church down every narrow, crooked street, but the Quinta Da Regularia was really weird and fun.

The Quinta was built in the early 1900s by some millionaires with all sorts of strange ideas about alchemy, the masons, astrology and I don’t know what else. They were also probably pretty devout Catholics since they built a really fancy chapel on the property. The property is fairly large and wooded, but filled with small paths, gardens, caves, grottoes, amphitheaters, etc. I get the impression that the place was constructed as a ‘symbolic artwork’ that you were supposed to walk through, by passing through certain passages and tunnels, you were suppose to symbolize the transmutation of lead into gold via alchemy (or something like that). There were tunnels and grottoes everywhere, and a really elaborate ‘palace’ house, extensive gardens and even some secret stone doors.

Typical tower

Typical tower

There are towers like this one (above) scattered all over the property. While they provide negligible defensive value, you can climb up ‘em and look around. The place is such a maze it’s really hard to get a sense of how big it is.

spiral stairs

spiral stairs

You can climb up the towers via tiny little staircases that might be a problem if you are a ginormous fatty — while walking the whole Quinta is not particularly hard exercise, if you can’t walk 100 paces without stopping for a rest, it will kill you and they will have a really hard time getting your body out because some of the places are pretty tight.


Once you climb up one of these many towers that are dotted all over the landscape, you will probably see something like this (above). Like all of Sintra, it’s on a hillside and the builders added paths, streams, walls, statues, gardens, etc. You can walk 10 or 20 feet and discover a new grotto or path or statue. It’s fun to just explore.

Annie opens a secret door

Annie opens a secret door

Here Annie is opening one of the three different stone ‘secret doors’ we found (above photo). You have to be pretty strong to open them; Annie keeps herself fit and is up to the task. The stone doors lead to tunnels, staircases and passages (which are pretty fantastic but I didn’t get a lot of photos because they are really dark inside). Some of the tunnels terminate in one of two ‘wells’ that are deep pits with spiral stairs that curl around the shaft so you can climb up and look down or down and look up. Like this:

Down inside one of the wells looking up

Down inside one of the wells looking up

There’s really so much more, and these crappy photos don’t do it justice — after a while I just stopped bothering to take pictures because they really didn’t give a good sense of the place and I just wanted to keep looking and experiencing it rather than trying to figure out how to take pictures of it. But a lot of Portugal was like that.

This map probably give a better idea of how elaborate and fantastic this place is:



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