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alChandler's Halls

Spreading optimism since 1999

Newton Verses Saruman the White

When I get ready to leave my office for an extended period, I have make sure that Newton will leave too. He's been with me for 10 years and he still chews wires. Sometimes he'll leave willingly, other times he'll hide behind the printer table, hoping that I won't notice. When that happens I have to squirt him with compressed air to dislodge him and it's a pain in the ass, or it used to be.

Now when he does that I say, in my best Christopher Lee voice, "I gave you the chance of aiding me willingly, but you have elected the way of pain!" Then I squirt him with compressed air. Because if you have a chore that you don't like, find a way to make it fun.

May 18, 2024

America First

I went to the vet's this morning and I was wearing that t-shirt, it's a picture of a vulture perched on a dead armadillo. As I was leaving the office a woman held the door open for me, looked at my shirt and told me she liked it, then she said, "America first." I was going to correct her but then I thought it wouldn't do any good and besides, she's not totally wrong.

May 16, 2024


They're placid, they're big and they're the only machines who aren't trying to kill you. They're the game's version of Google Maps and I get a kick out of them.

May 16, 2024

The Official Portrait Of King Charles III

Now that he's King, Charles no longer has to hide his allegiance to Astaroth, Duke of Hell.

May 15, 2024

Rings of Power

At best Rings of Power has only a nodding acquaintance with Tolkien's writings. That being said, I find myself looking forward to season 2 after seeing this trailer.

May 14, 2024

Newton the Computer Geek

Last year I introduced Newton to videos designed for cats, now watching stuff like this is part of his daily routine. Quality time with the cat.

May 14, 2024

Aloy and the Tremortusk

Ok, some of Horizon Forbidden West's backstory coming up. Near as I can remember, there was a meeting that was supposed to reconcile the three Tenakth clans with the Carja (the previous leader of the Carja practiced human sacrifice and the Tenakth are still a bit miffed about that). Unfortunately Regalla, a rebel Tenakth, attacked everybody at the meeting for her own reasons (I really don't give a shit about them, she's a villain).

Anyway, I doubt my character, Aloy, gave a shit about Tenakth politics either, she just wanted to head west to reboot the computers controlling Earth's environment. But to do that she has to cross Tenakth territory and that won't happen until the Tenakth get their act together. And before the Tenakth can do anything, the leaders of their three clans have to send warriors to something called a Kulrut. The warriors will have a knock down drag out, the survivors will become marshals and then stuff can be decided, like what are they going to do about Regalla.

Still with me? It turned out that the leader of the Sky Clan, Tekotteh, isn't sending anyone to the Kulrut. His capitol is protected by a natural wall called the Bulwark. So, no Sky Clan, no Kulrut, no resolution, and no traveling west for Ahoy.

At this point you're probably amazed at my command of the intricacies of Tenakth politics. To be honest, I'm looking stuff up from the Horizon Wiki. When I play it's more like, ok guys who do you want me to fuck up today? But moving on, there's one survivor from the massacre at the meeting, Kotallo. He lost an arm in the fight and while he's still a marshal, he's a one armed marshal and given the mind set of a warrior clan folks talk behind his back. He's convinced that the Bulwark won't protect the Sky Clan when Regalla shows up and while he has little use for Aloy, she's his only potential ally and the two join forces.

Aloy scans the Bulwark with her focus and discovers a way inside. She goes inside and discovers there's a machine left over from the old days. It's brimming with energy and if it blows up it will take the Bulwark with it. Aloy and Kotallo realize that if Aloy can discover it, Regalla can too. So they need to blow it up themselves to show Tekotteh that he needs to get with the program and send a few guys to the Kulrut. Aloy has nothing that can do that, but Aloy and Kotallo figure that Regalla's people do and wouldn't you know it, a little way from Tekotteh's capitol is a rebel camp. Bet they have something.

And that's where I left off a week ago. Last night I resumed the game, worried that I would have lost my grasp of the many keyboard commands. But no guts no glory, Kotallo and I go to the camp and there in a stall formed by two walls is a tremortusk, a big metal elephant. It's not just an elephant, it's also a boss. Kotallo goes off to deal with the soldiers leaving the tremortusk to me.

I'm not very strategic so I charge the thing, it comes out of its stall and kills me. After my fourth death I decide to use my head and sneak behind the thing in its stall and start to whack at it. The elephant can't turn around in the stall and by the time it moves out of the stall and turns around to deal with me it's down to a quarter of its health. I take it down to the applause of millions and the grudging respect of Kotallo.

I search the elephant, find a big gun and lug it back to the Sky Clan's capitol. We fire a blast at the Bulwark, Tekotteh comes out to scoff, we fire a few more shots and a whole section of the Bulwark becomes rubble. Tekotteh starts going into, "we will rebuild," mode, sees the looks he's getting from his warriors and agrees to send some guys to the Kulrut.

It's been some time since I really talked about a game I was playing so I decided to indulge myself. It also gave me an excuse to get the convoluted politics of the game straight.

May 13, 2024


Last night Donna called to tell me that Bean had to be put down, Bean had bladder cancer that had metastasized and was spreading rapidly. I expected that Bean would turn out to be one of those dogs who would make it to 20 but she was only 10. Bean was a friend of mine and a complete asshole, the two are not mutually exclusive.

That's Bean in Mexico, snarling at something, it could have been anything from another dog to one of the Nazgūl, it wouldn't have mattered to her. When Donna would take Bean to Manhattan and walked her Bean would growl at well behaved dobermanns who would look at their owners, wondering if they had done something wrong. In Sparta Bean used to chase deer that would sometimes cross the bridge over to the island (I suspect the deer ran from her just to be polite). As I said, she was an asshole. That's why we all enjoyed the Our Lady of Sorrows picture, Bean playing against type.

But Bean was loyal to her friends, when I'd visit, we'd hang out.

Bean never had any use for toys until a few years ago when she fell in love with some toy that looked like a uterus with fallopian tubes. She loved that thing and would play fetch with it.

And yeah, I know it's supposed to be some kind of animal but I stand by my description.

I was looking forward to seeing Bean in New York next month, I'll miss her.

May 13, 2024

The Changeling

That's the episode of Star Trek where the Enterprise encounters Nomad, a homicidal space probe. I would love it if somebody replaced the probe's original voice with Siri's or Alexa's

May 12, 2024

Peggy Moon 2.0

May 11, 2024

Fucking with the Cat

May 11, 2024


I'm not a visual person and while I can recall visual images, most of my thinking is in speech. But the other day I was at a site called The Beautiful Book. Nothing but book covers and artwork from inside the books. And all of them are from older books whose copyrights have expired.

Older books have a certain smell caused by:

Paper is an organic material, and with age the components are broken down by acid hydrolysis, giving off volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air, which may have hints of vanilla (vanillin), almond (benzaldehyde) or musky florals (ethyls, tolulene, and hexanol).

When I was a kid I hated that smell, mostly because it made me sneeze a lot. But while scrolling through the site the smell came back quite strongly and damn if it didn't smell wonderful, it really took me back. That sort of thing has never happened to me before.

The last time I read a traditional book was when the Folio Society's edition of The Book of the New Sun arrived, that was several years ago. I'm rereading it today on my kindle and I'm enjoying it more that way. But you can't get that smell from an ereader.

May 9, 2024

Helldivers 2

Helldivers 2 is a third person co-op shooter that was released in February for Windows and the PS5; Arrowhead Game Studios developed it and Sony distributed it. While I'm not particularly interested in third person co-op shooters, I noticed the positive buzz around it. The buzz turned negative when Sony announced on 5/2 that starting on 5/6 new PC players would have to link their Steam account to a PlayStation Network account to play the game. And it got better, people who already had the game would have to get a PlayStation network account by 5/30 or they'd no longer be able to play.

Steam is a world wide store and people in 177 countries were able to buy the game but don't have the ability to open a PlayStation network account. Sony handled that by stopping sales in those countries. I'm assuming Sony's attitude towards the poor bastards who already bought the game from Steam was a cheerful, "Go fuck yourselves." Meanwhile the folks who purchased the game from Steam balked at opening a PlayStation Network account.

Steam has an under two hours of play refund policy. But Steam waived that provision for Helldivers 2, anyone could request a refund, even if you've been playing the game for a couple of months. Meanwhile, some 200,000 negative reviews appeared on Steam. Yesterday Sony backed down:

I don't know what the business arrangement is between Arrowhead and Sony but I suspect that if anyone is going to get fucked by this debacle, Sony will ensure it's the studio.

My experience with portals run by gaming companies like Ubisoft and Electronic Arts has been that they're useless to customers but provide information to the companies. But Sony's move was classic bait and switch and I'm glad they got reamed for it.

May 6, 2024

Tom Mix

Last night I watched Sunset, it was directed by Blake Edwards and starred a young Bruce Willis as Tom Mix and James Garner as Wyatt Earp. The idea was that Earp would be brought in as a consultant for Mix's movie and the two men end up solving a mystery. It's not something I'd normally watch but the movie was released in 1988 when dad was 68 and since I'm 68 now I decided to give it a go.

My dad never said much about his childhood save to tell me that his father was a fall down drunk alcoholic. But he did occasionally mention Tom Mix. Mix was a big star in the 1920s and dad would get a glow in his eyes when he mentioned Mix's westerns. Tom Mix was one of the few good things in his childhood.

Sunset wasn't a good movie and it should go without saying that Mix and Earp never solved a murder together, however Earp was living in Los Angeles in the 20s and Mix and Earp were good friends. But Earp did not look like this:

He was 80 and looked like this:

Earp did act as a consultant on some movies, hoping he could persuade somebody to make an accurate film about his famous gunfight. By 1928 Earp was the last survivor of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, he never got the movie made and died in 1929. But had he been able to hang on until 1932 he would have been able to see Law and Order starring Walter Huston as Frame Johnson (Wyatt Earp). There have been a lot of movies about the gunfight since then.

Meanwhile, I watched one of Tom Mix's best films, Riders of the Purple Sage based on the novel by Zane Grey.

It's the second time I've watched it and the first time I saw it with Newton. He watched it for about 20 minutes and would have stayed longer but I coughed and he took off in a panic. I know what it's like to be so into something that you forget people are around you.

I don't think dad would have liked Sunset. I'm sure he would have loved to have seen Riders of the Purple Sage again but things like YouTube and video on demand didn't exist. But it was enough that the movie was there when he needed it.

May 5, 2024

Baldur's Gate and Others

Rolf is still playing BG3 but I bowed out. If this had been my first attempt at playing the game I might have stuck it out, even though I was not having a good time, but it was my fourth. After 477 hours, I'd had enough, I simply hate the game's third act and that's that.

Rolf was gracious about my withdrawal and he has custodianship of the version of alChandler that's been playing this time so we're all good.

After I took BG3 off Kosh I jumped back into Horizon Forbidden West. That game has stuff you can do for experience that has nothing to do with the plot, such as snagging a drone, downloading a picture from the thing and trying to find the location of the object in the picture. I got the drone, went off to the area the picture was taken from, and ran into these guys.

They're called sunwings and I could, with a lot of effort, kill one of them but there were three of the things and they kept kicking my ass. Then I remembered I had this.

It's called a boltgun and it's a rapid fire crossbow that fires metal spikes. It wasn't like I could just stand and Dirty Harry it, but I managed to kill all three of the sunwings. Then I took my picture and got the experience. And that made me very happy.

May 3, 2024

The Twisted Ones

I read The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher about four years ago. It was a riff on Algernon Blackwood's novella The Willows. I hadn't read Blackwood's novella before I tackled Kingfisher's novel so I probably missed some stuff. If I ever reread the book it will be Blackwood first, Kingfisher second.

By the way, T. Kingfisher's real name is Ursula Vernon. She started out writing books for children and when she wrote her first book for adults she chose T. Kingfisher as a pseudonym to distinguish her adult work from the stuff she wrote for kids. As to why she chose that name, she thinks kingfishers are awesome.

Last night I reread House of Souls by Arthur Machen. Among the stories in that book was one called The White People, about a girl who starts messing with a pagan cult. Having finished that book, Kindle suggested the Kingfisher's novel The Twisted Ones. Just as The Hollow Ones was a riff on Blackwood, The Twisted Ones is a riff on Machen.

You'll have to pay to read Vernon's adult books (or her books for children for that matter) but Machen and Blackwood's stuff is free via Project Gutenberg.

April 30, 2024

Governor Kristi Noem

What surprises me is not that Noem killed her dog because she never bothered to train the poor bastard, there are lots of psychopaths out there. But most psychopaths, even dog killing ones, have enough sense not to brag about that in their autobiographies. Noem doesn't even have that slender toehold on reality. Hell, even conservative Republicans are backing away from her.

April 28, 2024