Back in 2014 I made a cover for self-pubishing novelist Patrick F Murphy for his novel for young adult readers, entitled Attack of the Dinosaur Zombies. Earlier this year, I was commissioned to create an illustration for the sequel to that novel Howl of the Robot Werewolves.
You can not love books with those titles! Check them out at their links above.
Here are the covers I made for both novels.
Are they actually zombies? Or dinosaurs? I guess you'll just have to read and find out.
I kinda like how the reflection of the robot in the CRT screen turned out.
It appears that I have upgraded the blog from Pivot 1.4 to PivotX 2.3.11 after many months - no, years - of fretting if the CMS which has been vaporware for quite some time would die on us without warning. It was either get left behind by technology, or to upgrade. Upgrading runs the risk of causing irreparable damage. Especially to the ones and zeros that made up this weblog's flat file database.
Last weekend, I made the plunge.
It took me seven hours plus change just to import the old database to the new and there are still issues to be resolved. For example, the URL of each entry used to be ^blog/pivot/index.php?id=(number). Now their URLs end with ^blog?e=(number).
I need to read up on htaccess code to allow all the multitude of links I have dropped all over the internet over the years to be redirected to their new URLs.
Now, I think the blog looks great although I see requirements for more tweaks - especially in the template code - in the immediate future.
Finally, here is a picture I drew a month or two ago just to enliven this blog post.
Three structures in the distance.
I figured it was time to return to the source from whence my interest of simulationist/narrativist tabletop games originated: Star Wars The Roleplaying Game once published by West End Games and run using the D6 system. It was the first RPG that I ran for Irfan once upon a time and we have never played it since.
I can't read the writing on the GM screen without my glasses now.
Irfan plays Jax Hunt, a young human bounty hunter who is on his way to get his House Benelex Bounty Hunters' Guild membership card from an agent/broker in the Byblos system.
Jax wears a flak jacket body armour, a Relby-k23 on his hip and a modified helmet to protect his head. After some decades living alone and scrounging in the streets, bottom feeding, Jax had decided to pursue a career as a bounty hunter. Perhaps someday he would even be able to catch the outlaw who had murdered his family when he was a little boy.
Catch? No, kill perhaps. Someday.
Time is the Hunter
Episode 01: Point of Entry
Created by Peter Schweighofer.
A Taylander shuttle landed in one of the many gigantic hangar bays, a dot on the side of the colossal city named Byblos Tower 214. Among the passengers disgorged into the space bustling with people and cargo was Jax Hunt.
He left the hangar bay area and tried asking the locals where he could find Mr. Abbit Mowba who runs the local Benelex Guild office located at an area named Blue-772, but he was not savvy enough with the streets of Byblos to do so. (Streetwise skill roll failure, 8 on a Difficulty Number of 15.) After travelling for some hours through the vast hallways of commercial marketplaces, narrow corridors of residential areas and the local travel tube network, he found himself alone in a dingy, badly-lit street which did not have an external window illuminating it. (Irfan rolled Streetwise one more time, but failed with a 11 on a 15.)
But on the far end of the street is a heavy blast door marked Blue-772. He scanned the empty streets and saw nothing but tightly-shut doors, overturned crates and puddles of liquid created by hidden leaky infrastructural pipes. The smell was almost unbearable. (Perception failure of 6 on a Difficulty Number of 9!)
He had another block to go before he reached the blast door when a voice called from down a dark alleyway. A grimy-looking Devaronian appeared from out of the shadows. He said, "Hey. Do you have some spare change?" There was a beat-up blaster pistol in the Devaronian's hand.
"No," said Jax. "I don't have any money on me."
"I think you do. You people never have any money on you, but when we look, we'll find it."
A door behind Jax on the other side of the street opened and a Gran bounced out. His blaster pistol was pointed at Jax's back. Jax was outflanked. The Gran sneered, "We are going to eat well tonight. Search him!"
The Devaronian lowered his weapon and strode toward Jax, grubby hands going for his pockets.
We cannot afford a lot. Most of our resources are currently being used to our debts collected while living in Kuala Lumpur below the poverty line. I even think twice refueling the car.
But one of my responsibilities is to ensure the family have fun. For many years, even when we were living back at the Tenth Floor, we all take pleasure in a good drive. We tell jokes, chide each other, sing along with the radio, make funny observations and try our best to make each other laugh. And we do. Laugh that is. It seems as if we laugh more here than we did back there.
Weekends are when we take a drive somewhere. Sometimes when we drive somewhere, the time is just right for a meal. So we found ourselves by the sea in Kuala Perlis one dark, cloudy Friday afternoon after work as light began to ebb away not just under the horizon but behind thick clouds.
Storm clouds closed in and it began to rain. The rain turned into a heavy torrent as we ordered our mee goreng.
Water wound its way around pebbles and detritus on the sand below us at our table under the umbrella. Once in a while the wind pushed part of the umbrella to splash the rainwater that was collecting on it onto the ground.
Soon, a grey curtain over the sea had covered our view of Langkawi Island which we have never visited since moving here; not even a day trip from the jetty here.
Then it struck me that this was what I needed. To huddle with the family with the pitter patter of rain above us and the cold winds gusting through us. This reminded me of my childhood, of me growing up and thinking that life is not ever fully comfortable, but for every single moment you just have to be grateful for the people around you. I am grateful that they are there with me.
Then we paid, got wet even more running for the car, drove through even heavier downpour (which required me to stop for a while) and discovered that back at home, surprisingly it had not rained at all.
We all looked at the sky and went, "Huh."
This year we returned to Sitiawan for Chinese New Year because Teik Sing and family are back home from abroad! The last time we met was over two years ago when they visited us at the Tenth Floor, when Ezra was still a baby!
We met at the biggest shopping mall in Sitiawan, which in itself still causes cognitive dissonance with me because Sitiawan had no malls when I lived here and we had to travel far and away for me to reach any mall.
In any case, full complement of our families including Ivy met up in the afternoon. We occupied two tables at Secret Recipe to talk and stuff! Teik Sing and Michelle gave us a really well-sculpted NCC-1701-D USS Enterprise as a gift. I also received a drawing of BB-8 by Ashley, who is turning out to be an excellent artist! We gave Lat's Kampung Boy and Town Boy - as well a Malay language version of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (maybe Teik Sing and Michelle can read and explain the words to them some day) - to the kids.
They had some stories to tell of their Malaysian vacation what with their detour to Krabi and all!
We checked out the cineplex at the mall and planned to watch the new film Ola Bola together later that evening.
Before Ola Bola, Atok and Opah took us out to dinner at a restaurant we have never been to before, which was set up in their house's yard with lots of plants and flowers.
Ola Bola was excellent. It was a quadrilingual movie. They should make more quadrilingual movies. The film was a pastiche of the Malaysian football scene in the late 70s and early 80s, but it was more than just a sports movie. It was about people of different races surmounting their troubles to finally work together in unity, and ultimately rallying the peoples of the entire country together. Something the current sports scene lacks. Sufficed to say that for the first time in forever, I saw a film that was truly a Malaysian film.
I hope Irfan learned something from it.
It was quite a refreshing time catching up with the Tings. We spent another 45 minutes chatting at the 24-hour biriyani restaurant beside the mall until we were tired and we had to go home. I felt some sadness as I had no idea when we might meet again.
On Sunday, Ain and Irfan examined the orchids at Opah's arboretum. I mostly did a number of translation work that was pending which I found in the unit's email account. I was under no obligation to do them, but I thought, why not?
After dinner, we found ourselves staring and chuckling at the antics of over a dozen hamsters through the window of a closed pet shop.
It was Chinese New Year the next day. Another old school mate - Gnana - came to visit with his son. We talked of old things, but mostly we talked of new things. I was gratified that I managed to see a couple of old friends during the long celebratory weekend.
Early the next morning, an hour before daybreak, we bade goodbye to Atok and Opah left for Perlis.