lost time incident 66 – epitaph for a dying world

lost time incident 66
Hey, everybody! How are you doing? (Please address your answers directly at whatever screen you’re reading this on. Don’t worry, I’ll get your reply. Technology is amazing.)

Speaking of technology, I’m trying something new this weekend. I finally broke down and decided that if I was serious about getting some writing done, I was going to have to cripple my computer so my time-wasting proclivities were rendered unavailable. I got a browser plugin that blocks websites, gave it the URLs of all my favorite time-sucks, and said: Please keep these from me between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.

(Actually, as a baby step, I allow 30 minutes of goofing off during that 7 hour window, but after that’s gone, the sites are blocked.)

Now that I have a technological babysitter, the word count progress has gone up, folks! Managed a scene and a half for my current big fiction project yesterday! Today, I’ve knocked out a long personal email, then put this together, and it’s not even noon.

Oh internet, you devil! Get thee behind me!

So what do we have for you this week? We’ve got video game titles and another riff on women’s health blog titles, plus a fictional fragment born of too much time spent on YouTube. Then we wrap things up with a tour through a lifetime of questionable role-playing game character choices.

Sound good?

Let’s go!


add to cart
Welcome to Biff’s House of Discount Video Game Titles! How can we help you today?

We’ve got ’em all, we’ve got:

  • BZORK II: Quest for Bzork I
  • Blood and Helmets
  • World Rainbow Clash
  • Bird Boxing
  • Caverns of Goop
  • Quarter-Eating Maniacs
  • Centimillipede: TOO MANY LEGS!
  • Winds of Elgorathathoninite
  • HEY! The Game
  • Skate or Die or Do Something Else
  • Rose Pruning Emulator 2009
  • Wheels of Elves
  • 16-bit Bit Collector
  • The Quest for Eight Cheeses
  • Press Any Button to Win


skip in 5
Before my uncle’s funeral, an ad starts and we, the family, look at each other awkwardly. Is it rude to skip the ad after 5 seconds because it makes us look eager to mourn? Or is it worse to watch the entire ad?

What if the company is advertising a way to bring my uncle back? What if we’d only find out at the end, after the pretty people finish driving their new car down winding roads to ukulele music, hair blowing in the wind, a young woman’s foot out the window bobbing in time?


7 things that make you look older than you really are

  1. Not getting enough sleep
  2. Overindulging in alcohol
  3. Accidentally referring to your friends by the names of the ancestors they resemble.
  4. Ignoring horoscopes because “All the stars move anyway, so who cares.”
  5. Enjoying swing music.
  6. The section of your wardrobe made from woven reeds and lizard pelts.
  7. At every opportunity, you mention “This all used to be underwater” while gesturing at everything. “Learning to breathe oxygen on land was a mistake.”


autobiography: terrible role-playing characters i have been
I was exchanging emails with a friend recently, comparing the extent to which our lives have been infused with geeky pursuits. I ended up revisiting the role-playing characters I have played in various groups and a common thread emerged: They were mostly terrible.

Let’s visit some highlights, shall we?

Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play
Man! Look at that cover! Monsters getting stabbed up! A dwarf with a punk rock haircut and tattoos! I was maybe 10 years old and was invited to play Warhammer with the son of my piano teacher and his circle of friends. I didn’t know any of them. My piano teacher invited me to join them, so I was forced on them. They were nice enough about it.

For some reason, when I was asked to create a character, instead of an amazing wizard or berserk dwarf, I said “I’m going to be a human. A hypnotist.” In this game, the variety of jobs and backgrounds you could choose from was, frankly, overwhelming. That doesn’t explain why I picked “hypnotist” besides being amused by the fact that it was even listed.

Would you believe that hypnotism never came in handy as we ventured in the woods and fought little green monsters called Snotlings?

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons
I was in high school and some well-meaning teacher told me my attempts at poetry were pretty good. It was a nice gesture, but that teacher has to take some of the blame for why I thought it would be fun to play a poetry-spouting bard. Ugh. Awful. Would you believe poetry never helped us win a fight? Or advance the plot?

Vampire: The Masquerade
In high school, I somehow managed to befriend the coolest oddball in town: a young man named Jim who had long hair, shaved on the side, wore a leather jacket, was emancipated from his parents, had a delightfully dry wit and laconic delivery… all rarities in suburban Wisconsin. He was a year or two older than I was and had actual living-in-the-adult-world adult friends who still role-played together, and participated in Rocky Horror Picture Show screenings and whatnot. I once tagged along with Jim to a couple’s apartment in Milwaukee to play Vampire. The vampire character I created was a priest. (Oooh! Ironic!)

I also decided I wanted this character to know Jean-Claude Van Damme-levels of martial arts because I was a teenage boy. During the adventure, I realized that because of how I had apportioned my character’s skills, I had somehow overlooked selecting any actual expertise in religion. The Catholic collar he wore was 100% affectation, it turned out. He did manage to kick somebody’s head off with his kung fu, but then enemies with guns showed up and it was made clear that I had continued my streak of next-to-worthless party members. You can’t punch bullets.

Call of Cthulhu I joined a virtual session of this game where the participants were all on webcams. Prior to playing, I had been purchasing and reading true crime magazines from vintage bookstores like Kayo Books in San Francisco, so I decided my character should be the editor of a true crime magazine.

This editor joined a librarian and a gangster to solve a possible murder at a lighthouse, but when night fell and supernatural horrors were encountered, it became abundantly clear that a guy with a camera and a pocket knife was well out of his depth. (And the camera was back in the car, actually.) I actually had my character sensibly run away when the first demonic opponent appeared. I was free and clear, having successfully abandoned the party. But then I realized that if I was true to my character, he wouldn’t stop until he had fled the city and likely the state and my part of the game would be over. And then what was I going to do with my night?

So against all common sense, I had him turn around and attempt to be a hero. But really, it was the gangster and his gun who handled everything.

I don’t have any answers for how I was consistently the least useful party member of any roleplaying group I was invited to join. But the evidence is damning.


ending theme song
Doo doot doo-doo dooooooo. Do laaaaaaa la la la dooo.

You have successfully reached the end of this adventure. Jot down on your character sheet that you’ve got 250 experience points. You also have 38 gold pieces, 18 silver pieces, and an Elven Necklace of Shielding. Way to go!

—Michael Van Vleet

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