Thursday, June 12, 2014

It's Quiet...too Quiet

Hey everyone.  I am still alive.  I know it's been a little while since I've updated.  That actually isn't changing any time soon either.  That F'ing Monkey is going on break until August 25th.  Things have slowed down on the site a lot since last November when I get things back on track I want to make sure I can keep a steady update schedule.  There is a lot of crazy life stuff going on behind the scenes, but that will get better in time.  If this break causes you to go into Ken O withdrawls you can still check me out on Twitter @FingMonkeyKenO. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Baby Skeletor

MattyCollector has announced they will be releasing a Baby Skeletor figure.  The figure will measure 12” tall with articulation in the legs, shoulders, and neck.  The figure comes with a removable T-shirt that says “Born to Rule” and a rattle version of his Havoc staff.  The box he comes in will look like an Eternian bathroom and Baby Skeletor comes with a tiny toilet for him to sit on.  The figure will be in line with Matty Collector’s prices, so he will run you 35 dollars if you need to own this tiny terror.

So you may be asking yourself why this exists.  It’s a pretty valid question actually.  The figure is based off a Robot Chicken sketch where Skeletor turns himself into a baby to sneak into King Randor’s castle.  It’s Robot Chicken so Skeletor ends up with a spanking fetish at the end of it.  Anyway it’s not the first Masters of the Universe figure to be produced because of Robot Chicken, but it may end up being the strangest. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

LEGO Batman 3

The new Lego Batman game has just been announced.  This one is subtitled "Beyond Gotham" and the video features the Justice League hanging out in space.  Hopefully this means that DC's other heroes will get more game time in this one.  I would be much more excited if the game was called DC Heroes and not Batman 3. 

When Marvel released their Lego game it wasn't called Spiderman, Avengers, or X-Men.  They were brilliant in just using the generic Marvel Heroes.  Sure Spiderman, Wolverine, and Iron Man get a lot of screen time in the story but a lot of other characters get their time to shine.  I wish DC would have done the same this time around. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Hangover Thrusday: Black Ops

It’s Hangover Thursday, how’s your head?  I know it’s been a very long time since we’ve run a Hangover Thursday.  One of the biggest reasons is I just haven’t had the time to hang out at bars as much as I used to.  Drinking out at the bar is also way more expensive than sitting at home and cracking a few open with friends.  I went out to watch some hockey on Sunday and bought the most expensive bottle of beer I’ve purchased. 

The back of the Black Ops bottle reads:  Brooklyn Black Ops does not exist.  However, if it did exist, it would e a robust stout concocted by the Brooklyn brewing team under cover of secrecy and hidden from everyone else at the brewery.  Supposedly “Black ops” was aged for four months in bourbon barrels, bottled flat, and re-fermented with Champagne yeast, creating big chocolate and coffee flavors with a rich underpinning of vanilla-like notes. 

So every year Brooklyn does a very limited run of Black Ops and every year the beer is a little bit different.  I had a bottle from the 2013 batch which had an ABV of 11.5%.  I’m a big fan of Russian Imperial Stouts anyway, so I was very excited about this one.  So how was it?  The first thing I noticed was how strong the bourbon smell was.  I expected that smell to carry over to the taste but it didn’t.  What I got was a smooth chocolate stout up front followed with that bourbon kick. You tasted that 11.5 in the end, but it was never overpowering.

I don’t know that I’ll ever see a Black Ops in the wild again.  I enjoyed my first though. It was not my favorite stout but if the price was right I’d certainly pick up another bottle or two.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Dark Dungeons: The Movie

It’s time for a history lesson!  I started playing Dungeons and Dragons in the 80s.  I wasn’t even in my teens when I started so I had to have my parents take me to game stores.  I was lucky too; there were a few really good ones around us at that time.  So my parents were aware of what I was doing with all the dice, notebooks, and miniatures.  It was also around that time I first saw all of the religious warnings about how dangerous Dungeons and Dragons was.  The most famous of these is the mini comic from Jack Chick called Dark Dungeons.

That comic was released way back in 1984.  Now it is becoming a licensed movie.  Sure it’s a low budget movie that is premiering at GenCon but it is still official.   The movie started with JR Ralls winning 1,000 in the Oregon lottery.  After that he wrote to Jack Chick and somehow was given the rights to make this movie.  Finally Ralls took the idea to Kickstarter to round out his funding. 

The movie can be preordered at  This is really a must own for anyone who has spent time around a table throwing funny dice and pretending to be fantasy warriors.  The movie is going to be a faithful adaption of Chick’s original comic; which means it is going to be so over the top insane that I can’t wait to see it. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

What We Do in the Shadows

What We Do in the Shadows is a mockumentary about three vampires living in a flat together in New Zealand.  The movie is loosely based on a short film that Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi made in 2005.  The duo have co-written, co-directed, and co-star in the 85 minute full length version.  The trailer below explains the premise far better than I can.

The movie already looked amazing and then Rhys Darby showed up.  I can’t wait.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Lego: Edge of the Empire

I’ve been very happy with Fantasy Flight’s Edge of the Empire role playing game.  It receives a lot of criticism because of its use of proprietary dice but I think the system works perfectly.  I started with Star Wars RPGs way back in the West End.  The license has gone through a lot of variations and a handful of different companies before arriving at where it is today. 

I’ve been running an Edge of the Empire campaign for a few months now and despite some rocky parts I couldn’t be happier about where the game is headed.  Because I enjoyed it so much I ended up creating Lego figures of all the characters.  Ofanea Antath is the Twi’lek, the astromech is R2-X8 (Rx for short), Miran Quix is holding the knives, and Jelnik Pelo is holding a blaster.

The group is currently exploring ancient ruins for a Datacron, on the run from a Hutt crime lord, searching for leads on a mysterious Crystal Nexu statue, and hunting down an ex-partner who betrayed them all.  Needless to say there is a lot going on and the player’s don’t currently know the half of it.  If you like to throw dice and pretend you’re a scoundrel I can’t recommend Edge of the Empire enough.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Marvel Infinity

The Skylanders model of toy + video game was a huge success.  So much so that Disney followed it up with their Infinity game.  Sure there are differences in what you can do with the games but the most basic concept is the same; put a toy on a reader and it does something in your game.  I grabbed the first Skylanders when it came out because I thought the concept was so interesting.  That and I could make a walking shark wear a pirate hat and punch things with brass knuckles. 

Despite really liking the blocky art style of Disney’s Infinity game I was okay with admiring them on the shelves and not jumping into that game.  Disney is ready to start talking Infinity 2.0 and that involves Marvel.  To start with we’ll be getting the Avengers cast.  There will be 20 playable figures released, so we can start speculating on who those will be.  Spiderman and the Guardians of the Galaxy both show up in the teaser video.  The characters keep the Infinity style and it works for most of them; I didn’t care for the Modok in the video.  I don’t know that I’ll be picking up the game but I’ll be watching the release closely.  Hopefully they’ll make an Iron Fist figure. 

The other  thing to remember is that Disney owns another big franchise that would do very well in an Infinity style game.  Seriously if they start making Star Wars Infinity I’ll probably have to sell my house. 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Pop! Sharknado

Funko has a army of vinyl figures on store shelves right now and it doesn’t look like they are going to stop any time soon.  The group has covered comics, Disney, Star Wars, wrestling, television shows, and horror movies.  There are solicits for new figures all the time and I usually don’t mention them unless they really stand out to me.  Well in June Funko is releasing a Sharknado.  A tiny shark suspended in a tornado that you can place on your desk or shelf.  It’s adorable.  I might need it.  I probably need it.

It’s good timing of course, because Syfy will be debuting the Sharknado sequel this summer; the amazingly named “Sharknado 2: The Second One”.  Just as everyone is talking about the movie the vinyl figure will be showing up on store shelves.  It’s almost like they planned it that way.  I still think Sharktopus is superior to Sharknado, so I hope that Funko one day sees things my way and gives us Pop! Sharktopus.   

Friday, April 25, 2014

Flash Friday: Sticker Scandal

Happy Flash Friday everyone!  I’ve been pretty behind on updates lately and I want to apologize for that.  Life has a way of throwing personal and work issues at you sometimes and I’m just trying to keep my head above water.  Today is possibly the strangest topic we’ve ever had for Flash Friday and quite frankly I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. 

To start with we have to go back to a Flash Friday I made back in March of 2011.  As I was reading the current Flash book at the time I had noticed how often coffee was brought up in the story.  Iris’ text boxes were even notated with a tiny coffee cup.  Because I thought it would be funny, I jumped into Gimp (the art program not the sex slave) and modified a Starbucks logo so it read Flash Coffee.  I joked that it was a million dollar idea and that DC should run with it.

Yesterday morning I pull up because it is an amazing Flash site.  In Kelson’s Instagram feed I see the Flash Coffee logo.  I wonder to myself why he linked to that after all this time and click on the link.  The picture’s caption read, “Flash coffee sticker #WonderCon #theflash #coffee”. I quickly jumped back to my site to make sure I hadn’t gone insane.  I had been ripped off.

Except I don’t own the Flash logo.  And it wasn’t done by some huge company; it was a guy at a convention that sold vinyl stickers.  It’s also possible that someone else had the exact same idea that I did.  The use of the all black Flash symbol makes me think my image was used for the sticker but I’d never be able to prove it.  I’m oddly conflicted about the whole thing.  I did something cool enough that someone wanted to steal it, but someone did steal my work.  It’s not like anyone is going to make a lot of money off Flash Coffee stickers either.  The vendor is probably lucky to break even on them.  I do wish they would have sent me a handful of them though, I was pretty happy with the design.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Dragon Age Inquisition

Thanks to the Dragon Age Facebook page we now have the cover of the new Dragon Age game.  The cover is gorgeous and does something that really impressed me.  Bioware likes to give its player’s choices, I’m not saying all of those choices actually mean anything, but they are there.  One of those choices is the sex of the game’s main character.  When Mass Effect 3 came out they had two covers; so players could show off a male or female Shephard. 

The new Dragon Age cover simply made it impossible to tell which gender the character is.  It’s a simple solution that works perfectly in this instance.  We still don’t have an actual date for the new Dragon Age’s release, but I’m sure as that date gets closer and closer I’ll be completely consumed by it like I have been with the other games.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Warhammer Quest: Free This Week

If you’re on an IOS device than you’ll want to check out the free App of the Week; it’s the Games Workshop branded Dungeon Crawler, Warhammer Quest.  I purchased this game almost a year ago and I’ve spent a lot of time putting down orks and goblins with bows and axes.  The core game gives you four characters to go adventuring with a human Marauder, wood elf Waywatcher, dwarf Ironbreaker, and a human grey Wizard.  Each character will gain new abilities as they level and pick up all sorts of different loot. 

I think it’s pretty important to point out that you don’t have to be familiar with Warhammer lore to enjoy the game.  Group of adventurers pick up quests, kill bad things, and get new equipment is a pretty standard set up.  If you do know your way around Warhammer you’ll find the fluff around the game even more enjoyable.

There is also a lot of additional content available for purchase.  If you aren’t happy with your first four warriors you can pick up a high elf Archmage, human Brightmage, dwarf Trollslayer, high elf Shadow Warrior, ogre Irongut, human Warrior Priest, or a human Witch Hunter.  The new character run 3 dollars each.  There are two region packs that add new enemy types and open up new regions on the map.  Each of these are 5 dollars and add skaven and savage orks to the game.

There are a series of Legendary Weapons.  They each cost a dollar if you really want them.  Finally there are Dungeon Packs.  Each of these costs 3 dollars.  One pack adds Necromancers and skeletons, the second adds vampires and zombies, and the third adds vampire themed tilesets into the dungeon.  So you could easily drop more than 20 dollars on add-ons, but you don’t need to.  The core game is a great turn-based dungeon crawler.   I really recommended it to people before it was free, so if you haven’t downloaded it yet I highly recommend you do so.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Teemu Selanne

Yesterday was the last day of the NHL regular season.  The playoffs are just around the corner and I’m excited.  Just looking at the brackets it’s easy to see there are going to be some amazing games.  Even before the playoffs start we are already seeing big changes.  Martin Brodeur received a huge standing ovation in New Jersey Sunday after playing what might be his last game as a Devil; a team that he’s played on for 20 years.  We’ll have to wait till summer until we find out exactly what will happen there.

Then we have Teemu Selanne.  The Anaheim Duck Right Wing announced early this season that this would be his final season of his NHL career.  Now the Ducks are in the playoffs, they’ll be facing the Stars in the first round but Sunday was his last regular season game.  To show their love for Teemu he was named as all three stars in the game.  As he is making a victory lap he sees his former teammate Jean-Sebastien Giguere.  CBS Eye On Hockey has the video below.

Things like this are the reason I love hockey.  Sure it’s fast.  The hits and fights can be entertaining.  When you have players who play with one team for their entire career like Brodeur it just seems special.  When you have players from different teams being celebrated together because they were teammates in the past there is a level of respect that I haven’t seen anywhere else.   I love hockey, I love the playoffs.  I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Flash Friday: Car Emblems

Happy Flash Friday everyone!  I know it’s been a while since I’ve actually had two Flash Fridays in a row.  What’s even more mind blowing is that I should have one for next week too!  Today’s update is about car emblems.  I don’t mean stickers, but the plastic shapes and figures that people stick to the back of their car.  Things like the Jesus fish, Darwin fish, Spaghetti monster, etc…  There have been a bunch of DC themed car emblems recently released and it will surprise no one that most of them are Bat or Super related. 

They did manage to get a Flash into the line though.  Instead of the more common “running straight at you” pose that is used on a lot of Flash merchandise this one goes for a side view.  The emblem is about 4 inches long and close to 2.5 inches tall.  The costume is a pre-New 52 Barry which is actually a plus in my book.  I find it strange how often I’m still seeing pre-New 52 costumes used products.  There isn’t very much more I can say about these; the cost around 20 dollars and you stick them to your car.

I did also want to mention Aquaman’s addition to this line.  Not because I want to make fun of Aquaman, but because I thought it was funny they still included the water lines around him.  I’ve obviously been playing too much of the Marvel Lego game; the first thing I thought of when I saw him was the Human Torch.  I wonder how well it would hold up if you stuck it on a boat. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Playoff Streak

There has been a lot of talk about streaks this past week with Brock Lesnar defeating the Undertaker.  Last night the Detroit Red Wings lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in a shoot out.  Wings fans everywhere were celebrating the loss because that one point was all they needed to make the NHL playoffs.  This will be Detroit’s 23 consecutive year in the playoffs, the longest active streak in professional sports.  

Detroit managed to tie the game with only 1:10 remaining on the clock.  Overtime turned into a shoot out and the Penguins were given the win.  In the NHL a team that loses via shoot out is awarded 1 point.  That point was enough to clinch a Wild Card spot.  Columbus also won their game last night so they will be taking the East’s second Wild Card spot. 

It’s very likely that Detroit will be facing Pittsburgh in the first round of the playoffs, so this will probably be the last time Detroit fans are celebrating a loss to the Penguins.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Postmodern Jukebox is Going on Tour

Postmodern Jukebox is one of those things you’ve probably stumbled upon while browsing YouTube or had sent to you.  They take modern songs like “Thrift Shop” or “Royals” and re-imagine them in a different musical style.  Some of the songs are good; most of them are incredible.  In June the band is taking the show on the road.  Sadly this is only a six show tour, so if you’re like me the band might not be playing anywhere near you. 

The tour is taking the band to Montreal, Boston, New Haven, Providence, New York, and DC.  I wish it was a larger tour but you can’t blame them for taking it slow.  It has to be an intimidating leap to see how many YouTube views turn into concert viewers.  If you’ve spent the entirety of this update wonder just who I’m talking about, let me leave you with my absolutely favorite video they’ve done.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Baked Potato

That F’ing Monkey is not a great repository of Mr. Potato Head trivia and news.  Sure I had one as a kid but even then I don’t remember playing with it often.  I do remember walking around with his pipe and pretending I was smoking, so it isn’t surprising that he doesn’t come with that accessory anymore.  For the past couple of years they’ve really been trying to push Potato Head as a pop culture thing.  I believe it started with Darth Tater and then spilled over a bunch of different movie properties.

Coming in September are 3” vinyl potato heads.  These tiny taters are dressed to represent different things like surfers, race fans, and doctors.  It looks like they’re trying to capitalize on the niche the Smurfs filled in the 80s.   Oh, you like coffee so here is a coffee drinking smurf for your desk!  The initial solicits only show illustrations of the product so you can’t even see if the face pieces can be removed.  I’m sure I could do some research here and find that out for you, but I’m not really talking about these guys because I’m excited for them.  I’m talking about them because one of them is funny as all hell.

Among the rapper and the hippie they are releasing a Baked Potato.  Take a closer look at the picture above.  Those eyes.  That smile.  That potato is high as fuck.  Stoners everywhere are going to be buying the baked potato.  If I’m right, he could become pretty hard to find, maybe even a collector’s item if he gets pulled from the line. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April 1st: Question Everything

It's April Fool's Day so expect tons of fake articles all over the internet.  ThinkGeek has made it a yearly tradition to post fake products.  Some of them are such good ideas that they eventually become real items.  I feel like they've taken the joke and turned it into a strange product testing.  They take some slightly humorous ideas and make a few mockups.  If the internet reacts then they can try to actually create the product.

I mean who doesn't want a giant Nerf rocket that launches Nerf darts? 

Or BMO?  Everybody wants BMO.

Just make that shit already Think Geek, you know everyone is going to want it.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Flash Friday: itty bitty Flash

Happy Flash Friday everyone!  I know it’s been forever since I’ve done one of these, but I really haven’t been picking up too much Flash merchandise lately.  Of course the big news is the Flash television show, but there are a lot of sites covering every detail of that.  Today’s update is happening because I ended up at the mall with some family.  As we’re leaving the Hallmark I see a familiar red outside the corner of my eye.  I turn to get a better look and see shelves of small plush characters.  Sure enough there is a scarlet speedster in the mix.  As my mind is processing finding a Flash toy in a Hallmark I hear, “What are you waiting for, you know you’re going to buy it.”  My family knows me well.

I can’t lie; the Flash itty bitty is fucking adorable.  There isn’t a whole lot you can say about a tiny plush figure.  He runs 6.95 and Hallmark was running some kind of special if you wanted four of them.  They’d even pack them in what looked like a fast food drink carrier.  There are four DC itty bittys; it isn’t hard to guess who the other three are.  That’s right Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman are all included. 

The majority of the line is dominated by Disney.  Classic Disney characters, princesses, and Monsters Inc are all already on the shelves.  Star Wars will be joining them in September.  The itty bittys are cute, have a low price point, and are covering pop culture icons.  Too me it seems like these are made to compete with Funco’s Pop series. 

See you next Friday for even more Flash Friday goodness!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Metal Beard's Rules of the Sea

So lets say you've seen the Lego movie, fallen in love with Metal Beard, and want to follow his Rules of the Sea.  The problem with that is the movie only showed you one of those rules, "Never place your rear end on a pirate's face."  What are the other Rules of the Sea?  Thankfull the Lego Movie Facebook page posted all of Metal Beard's Rules of the Sea.  This is probably to get people excited for an upcoming BluRay release but they're too much fun not to share.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Table Titans Kickstarter

Scott Kurtz is more famous for PVP, but he’s been producing a second strip based around and group of people playing Dungeons and Dragons.  The strip switches its focus between what is happening in the player’s lives to what is happening in their game.  Scott took everything he learned about comics and storytelling over the years on PVP and produced a fantastic strip.  I’m biased to the subject manner, but Table Titans has become one of my favorite web comics.

The first volume of Table Titans is now on Kickstarter.  We’re at the midway point in the Kickstarter and the book is already fully funded.   That means it’s time to watch the stretch goals.  There have already been a couple of things unlocked, like a playable adventure module so you can send your party on the same adventure the Table Titans went on.

In addition to the book and the stretch goals there are also a couple of additional items you can pick up by donating at a higher pledge level.  Pinny Arcade pins, beholder dice bags, shirts, and vinyl figures are all available if you have the funds.  If you like role playing games check out Table Titans, if you’re already a fan make sure you check out the Kickstarter. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Gwar: The Road Behind

"You know I snuffed a million planets but I still found time to cry."  I meant to attach a video to yesterday's update but I wasn't really thinking to clearly. 

Thank you Dave, it would be impossible to count the hours of enjoyment you've given me.  

Monday, March 24, 2014

RIP Dave Brockie, Oderus Urungus

There are several news reports coming out now that Gwar lead singer Dave Brockie passed away yesterday.  He was found sitting in his chair.  According to the results drugs, suicide, nor foul play are suspected.  There will be an autoposy to deterime the cause of death.

I just found out myself minutes befomre writing this update, so it may ramble a little.  I had to go back and look up when Corey died because it seems like it was just a little while ago; but that was back in November of 2011.

Dave was funny, intelligent, and of course vulgar as all hell.  I first discovered Gwar not long after Scumdogs of the Universe came out and have been following them ever since.  Somewhere tucked back in my closet is the first shirt I ever wore to a Gwar show, its mostly pink from when someone tried to wash it.  Gwar is easily the band I've seen the most live.  The few times I had run into the guys, they were all incredible. 

My thoughts go out to Dave's friends, family, and bandmates.  There will never be another person like Dave Brockie. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Medieval Land Fun-Time World

From the Bad Lip Reading channel on Youtube, this is the trailer for Medieval Land Fun-Time World.  Sure it may look like a very popular fantasy series on HBO, but I assure you this is something completely different.

All nonsense aside, I needed a good laugh today and this helped.  Thanks BLR.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Today’s update goes out to all those Game Master’s out there creating maps for your players to loot their way through.  Dungeon Masters, Storytellers, or whatever your game system calls them put a lot of time into running their role playing games.  One of those time consuming things can be creating maps for your locations.  Sure graph paper has been the old stand by for years but there are other options out there.  The ANAmap creator is one of those things.

The ANAmap tool is a free map editor.  It’s simple to use too.  The editor has a list of items you can add to a map; clicking on a space adds that item to the map.  Once you have everything laid out the way you want to you can add text to the map.  Then you can export the entire thing to a PNG and print it off for your next game session. 

There isn’t a whole lot you can say about the tool.  It’s incredibly simple to use, super convenient, and free.  I’ve already started using it for the game I’m running.  Check it out for yourself by clicking HERE. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Aaron Allston

I feel like a horrible person.  Today’s update is going to ramble for a little bit, so I apologize in advance.  To start with we have to go back a little more than 15 years.  I was in the service and living in a tiny dorm room with no cable.  Because I worked odd hours I was usually up all night.  I watched a lot of VHS tapes since there isn’t much to watch at 2 a.m. even when you have cable.  I watched a lot of the original Star Wars trilogy.  That led me to reading a lot of Star Wars books and I hated most of them.  There were a few authors I did enjoy though and my favorites quickly became the Wraith Squadron books Aaron Allston wrote for the X-Wing Series.

I was spending a lot of time on X-Wing related message boards and eventually started putting together a pilot costume for myself.  Then a small North Carolina convention rolled around and Aaron was going to be there.  I brought the first Wraith Squadron book for him to sign and went to his speaking events.  He was the warm, funny writer who was far too nice to the idiot dressed like an X-Wing pilot and reeking of booze.  We seemed to be hitting the same convention circuit so I saw him a lot. 

Each time I saw him I brought one novel for him to sign.  He asked me about it probably the third time I saw him.  It was obvious I had all the books, why didn’t I just bring the whole stack at once?  I told him something along the lines of I didn’t want to be rude.  He found it funny, since my normal convention mode was that of a loud, boisterous drunk.  The insides of my X-Wing books document my first meetings with Aaron.  They go something like “Good to meet you”, “It’s nice to see you again”, “It’s nice to have a reliable stalker,” etc.

He would laugh at my outrage.  I had told him he was the only Star Wars writer that seemed to understand that a character didn’t need to be a Jedi to be interesting.  I’ll never forget how much he laughed when I told Michael Stackpole that Michael ruined the character Corran Horn by turning him into a Jedi.  It was really fun to make Aaron laugh.

By this point we talked about a lot more than Star Wars.  I had fallen in love with his Doc Savage inspired character Doc Sidhe.  We’d email regularly.  There was a period where I was trying to replicate a coffee/chocolate drink from his novel and we laughed about how poorly some of my experiments had come out.  We talked about roleplaying games and any other nonsense I could think of.  I always looked forward to hearing from him and it was even better when we got to talk in person. 

Life happened.  I stepped away from the Star Wars fan community.  I stopped going to conventions as much as I could when I was single.  I didn’t spend all night in my email blasting off messages to friends all over the world.  I drifted out of contact with Aaron without realizing it.  I was reading a Star Wars rpg thread on a message board last night and I just froze.  I didn’t want to believe what I had just read and went scrambling for an official word on the matter.  It was true, my friend Aaron Allston had passed away on February 27, 2014. 

Not that me knowing sooner could have changed anything of course.  It makes me feel like I somehow betrayed our friendship.  How the hell did I not know?  Rest in Peace Aaron, you were far more wonderful to me than I ever deserved.  You were a true friend and I already miss you.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


I am eternally grateful that my son loves books.  He’s not quite at two yet and he’ll sit down with a pile of books around.  Because of this I’m always on the lookout for new books that I can give him that are going to be fun for his parent’s to read him and ones that will be educational for him.  This weekend I found the charming BabyLit on the shelves at my local Target.  There in the 0-2 section was Alice in Wonderland, Pride and Prejudice, and Dracula.

I don’t think it’ll surprise anyone that I immediately checked out Dracula.  A missed the line on the cover that said, “A counting primer by Jennifer Adams,” so I wasn’t really sure how they were going to make Dracula a kid’s book.  Inside were wonderfully illustrated pages counting things like wolves, rats, and castles.  The characters were all there too. 

The concept is wonderful.  The books teach things like numbers, colors, animals, and weather.  The illustrations are charming.  It’s almost like an inside joke for the parent’s; they see elements from these classic books while still getting educate and entertain their children.  Check out the BabyLit website for more about their lineup.  It's worth looking at even if you don't have a little reader of your own, the site sells other items with the wonderful artwork form the books.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Blue Dungeon Tiles

I’ve been rolling dice and filling in character sheets for a very long time.   Over that time I’ve seen a lot of different table set ups.  As some roleplaying games have become more and more dependent on having some sort of representation for players and their enemies.  There are numerous products out there to help build dungeons; maps, white boards, and tiles are all very popular options.  There is a project up on Kickstarter right now that combines a few of these ideas.

Blue Dungeon Tiles are pre-printed tiles that act as miniature white boards.  The Kickstarter also states that permanent marker can be used on these and then still erased by covering that marker with an erasable one and then erasing both.  The basic set is 48 tiles that contain rooms and hallways with solid blue walls and borders.  The blue was chosen so that black markers will show up on both the white empty space and on the blue spaces.  The blue also matches blue painter’s tape, so if you need to tape pieces together it will look seamless.

As of this writing the Kickstarter has 48 days to go and has already raised 6,000 of it 9,500 dollar goal.  There are two sets of “expert tiles” that are currently set as stretch goals.  These expert tiles have more specialized designs like curved walls or diagonal hall ways.  There is also good number of add-ons that you can include with your pledge.  If you are looking for something new to bring to your gaming table check out the Blue Dungeon Tiles on Kickstarter by clicking HERE.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Godzilla Extended Snickers

I knew the Godzilla marketing was going to be hitting pretty heavy soon.  I was not expecting him to show up in a Snickers commercial.  My favorite part is the warning at the bottom of the screen that says "Do Not Attempt".  What aren't we supposed to attempt; partying with Godzilla or driving an ATV in a Godzilla suit?

The extended version of this masterpiece is posted above.  I can't tell you how many times I've watched this already.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The True Meaning of Easter

A trip to the local Target made it very clear that Easter is coming.  The seasonal shelves are full of candies and chocolates shaped like bunnies, chicks, and eggs.  In a day and age where the true origin and meaning of the holiday is usually lost in a sea of consumerism I think it’s important that we take just a moment to talk about Easter.  Thankfully I found a basket at Target that helped remind me.  It was before Peter Cottontale, Jesus returning from the dead,  and ancient pagan rituals.  You see this Easter basket reminds us that a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away Han shot first.

No seriously, this is a thing you can buy; Greedo’s face with the reflection of his killer showing up in his alien eyeballs.  It stopped me in my tracks when I saw it on the shelf.  Each side of this Easter basket contains a different face but this struck me as so morbid I stood there staring at it for probably five minutes before I started taking pictures.

As I said, there are other sides to the basket.  The Vader, Stormtrooper, and Fett sides just don’t strike me as odd as Greedo though.  Still this basket of death is probably on the shelves of your local Target if you need one.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Sleeping Dogs Revisited

A month ago I mentioned how I had started playing Sleeping Dogs and was really enjoying the experience.  This weekend I finished the game and the story DLC add-ons.  I honestly enjoyed the game so much I wanted to talk about it some more.  The Arkham-like combat system already had me sold, but the story really blew me away.  The story was full of loyalty and betrayal and when I finished the story I was blown away by how satisfying the ending was.  Think about that, after I finished I was so happy with how it ended I immediately started looking at the post game DLC.

Before I start that I will also say that during the game I had picked up the Wheels of Fury Pack and the Dragon Master Pack.  Wheels of Fury provided the best car in the game and a few fun driving missions.  The car in that pack made every A level race a cakewalk.  The Dragon Master pack didn’t really add much besides a few vehicles and clothes.  In retrospect I would have skipped the Dragon Master pack and kept the Wheels.

Zodiac Tournament
The Zodiac DLC is a homage to the martial arts films of the 70s.  Head to a mysterious island and fight different warriors, each with their own unique style.  The fights in the DLC are a lot of fun and the setting is perfect.  The story is where it falls apart.  The game mentions you’ll be on the island for a few days, but the DLC is so rushed it feels like you just run from one fight to the other.  The main game is so good at telling a story that I was really underwhelmed by Zodiac’s story.  If you’re just looking for some more combat, check it out.

Nightmare in North Point
Nightmare is different in tone than the others.  It’s no longer a Hong Kong action flick, it’s a horror movie.  You’re fighting ghosts and Chinese vampires.  The important thing to mention is that this DLC is not launched within the main story.  So any of the clothes or vehicles you’ve bought won’t be available.  Any of the abilities you’ve unlocked won’t be available.  It’s a pretty short DLC with a fun little story.  There are 10 shrines hidden in the game; each of them upgrades your attacks in the DLC.

Year of the Snake
Like Nightmare in North Point, Year of the Snake is launched from a separate link.  You’re still not given all of your martial arts moves.  Your clothes and vehicles aren’t carried over either; but because of the story that part actually made sense.  The story revolves around a doomsday cult and was the strongest of the DLC.  There are a number of hidden satchels in Year of the Snake that were unnecessary, they just seemed to be added as filler.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Cracker: Eurotrash Girl

This week has been an extremely busy one for me at work, so I haven't had as much time as I'd like to make updates here at That F'ing Monkey.  So today we have a serving of Cracker.  My favorite song by them, "Eurotrash Girl".


Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Valve is beloved by the PC gaming community.  It was already a fan favorite for games like Half-Life but when they created the Steam platform changed the way people play PC games online.   Gabe Newell, one of the company’s co-founders is revered across the internet.  So when a user on Reddit claimed that Valve’s anti-hacking software VAC was reading every domain you visited and sending that information back to Valve.  It’s a very serious claim, serious enough that Gabe Newell posted a reply on Reddit.   It’s long, but it’s a very good read.

Trust is a critical part of a multiplayer game community - trust in the developer, trust in the system, and trust in the other players. Cheats are a negative sum game, where a minority benefits less than the majority is harmed.

There are a bunch of different ways to attack a trust-based system including writing a bunch of code (hacks), or through social engineering (for example convincing people that the system isn't as trustworthy as they thought it was).

For a game like Counter-Strike, there will be thousands of cheats created, several hundred of which will be actively in use at any given time. There will be around ten to twenty groups trying to make money selling cheats.

We don't usually talk about VAC (our counter-hacking hacks), because it creates more opportunities for cheaters to attack the system (through writing code or social engineering).

This time is going to be an exception.

There are a number of kernel-level paid cheats that relate to this Reddit thread. Cheat developers have a problem in getting cheaters to actually pay them for all the obvious reasons, so they start creating DRM and anti-cheat code for their cheats. These cheats phone home to a DRM server that confirms that a cheater has actually paid to use the cheat.

VAC checked for the presence of these cheats. If they were detected VAC then checked to see which cheat DRM server was being contacted. This second check was done by looking for a partial match to those (non-web) cheat DRM servers in the DNS cache. If found, then hashes of the matching DNS entries were sent to the VAC servers. The match was double checked on our servers and then that client was marked for a future ban. Less than a tenth of one percent of clients triggered the second check. 570 cheaters are being banned as a result.

Cheat versus trust is an ongoing cat-and-mouse game. New cheats are created all the time, detected, banned, and tweaked. This specific VAC test for this specific round of cheats was effective for 13 days, which is fairly typical. It is now no longer active as the cheat providers have worked around it by manipulating the DNS cache of their customers' client machines.

Kernel-level cheats are expensive to create, and they are expensive to detect. Our goal is to make them more expensive for cheaters and cheat creators than the economic benefits they can reasonably expect to gain.

There is also a social engineering side to cheating, which is to attack people's trust in the system. If "Valve is evil - look they are tracking all of the websites you visit" is an idea that gets traction, then that is to the benefit of cheaters and cheat creators. VAC is inherently a scary looking piece of software, because it is trying to be obscure, it is going after code that is trying to attack it, and it is sneaky. For most cheat developers, social engineering might be a cheaper way to attack the system than continuing the code arms race, which means that there will be more Reddit posts trying to cast VAC in a sinister light.

Our response is to make it clear what we were actually doing and why with enough transparency that people can make their own judgements as to whether or not we are trustworthy.


1) Do we send your browsing history to Valve? No.

2) Do we care what porn sites you visit? Oh, dear god, no. My brain just melted.

3) Is Valve using its market success to go evil? I don't think so, but you have to make the call if we are trustworthy. We try really hard to earn and keep your trust.


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