The Untimely Death of Commander Fluffy

The Untimely Death of Commander Fluffy
A True Story

When my brother and I were younger, our toy budget was not very big. We were forced to make toys out of whatever was handy. One of the luxuries afforded to us was a small army of stuffed animals, which we collectively dubbed “huggies.” Where this term originated from is lost on me at this point in my life, but the important thing is that they represented our personal reflection on life as we saw it in the real world and especially in entertainment. From our two armadas of huggies, Merrick and I each chose an elite task force comprised of the smaller, pocket-sized animals.

My selection was called Hogan’s Heroes, a five-animal team consisting of a skunk (Hogan), a moose (Morgy), a blue bunny (Hippity-Hoppity), a crocheted pig (Truffles), and a toucan (Seafird). This team of commandos would invariably be pitted against diverse threats, from the common house cat to select rubber monsters from my airline carry-on bag of doom. Occasionally, Hogan’s Heroes clashed swords with Happy Harry’s Assault Team, a task force named after Merrick’s favoured stuffed lion. These commandos were outfitted with the latest in technological warfare…tiny cap guns and rifle-shaped pens that were perfectly to scale with their miniature stature, including satellite-guided boomerangs and a tiny set of handcuffs (a human might consider it a key chain). Hogan’s Heroes’ base of operations was adapted from a small set of shelves, complete with supercomputer and elevator. I recall the best office chairs were made from old styrofoam Big Mac containers–the kind they no longer make.

When we played at an even smaller scale, there was a whole new set of heroes. The playthings were tiny pom-poms with googly eyes affixed to them, and sometimes balls of lint that we fished out after a good load of laundry. When they dried, they would fluff out to become the protagonists in epic adventures of danger and intrigue.

One such hero was Commander Fluffy. This was Merrick’s most cherished tiny toy. Although Commander Fluffy was nothing more than a ball of animal fur, not exceeding an inch in diameter when dry, he himself had his own base of operations and even had his own space ship. The ship was a rather odd orange, bullet-shaped pill container that Merrick had painted up with some kind of star command logo…the cap did bear some resemblance to a thruster from a star destroyer. Commander Fluffy and his buddies went on many celebrated odysseys, and he was even the star of Merrick’s only childhood comic strip, called Space Wars and co-starring a snowman-like race of creatures called the “boing-boings”, who were united in defending the universe against the evil “blithens.”

Meanwhile, back in the real world, Merrick would once in the while let me play with Commander Fluffy and company (or, more likely, I would take without asking). One of the many challenges of working with Commander Fluffy was his size and malleability. As nothing more than fur, Commander Fluffy could be compacted into a very small area. Indeed, this was how he fit into his pill-ship. Once C. Fluffy was stuffed inside the ship, it would take no small amount of dexterity to fish him out. Usually this involved jamming a pen, cotton swab, or some other long utensil into the ship, but if those weren’t available, there was another method–sucking him out. This was a relatively simple process that involved putting your bared teeth up to the open pill-container and sucking till Commander Fluffy was forced against your teeth. Then you could simply grab the exposed fur and pull him out to fight crime and injustice in a cold, unforgiving universe. As I was to learn, this method was not foolproof.

One day, while Merrick was in fact nearby, I was using the sucking method to coax Commander Fluffy from his usual hiding place. (That sounds incredibly suggestive, but let’s continue.) On this specific occasion, I had forgotten to keep my teeth together, and I sucked him not only out of his ship, but into my throat as well. The look on my face was no doubt priceless as I realized that Commander Fluffy was halfway into my trachea, and by anyone’s standards, that was simply not right. Here I was, choking on one of our household’s greatest heroes, but my only thought was for my own survival. In a split second the involuntary reaction had been made, and Commander Fluffy was coughed from my trachea to my esophagus, and down into the warm wet hell that is my stomach. It didn’t take long for Merrick to realize what it was I was choking on, with Commander Fluffy’s ship still in hand, and it soon became painfully apparent that the danger I faced choking on Commander Fluffy was negligible compared to the wrath of my older brother at the loss of his champion.

It is a good thing that our mother was on hand to restrain Merrick, or I might not be typing this story today. How ironic that what the blithens had failed to do over the course of decades (in comic book time), I had managed to do quite by accident in a moment of carelessness. My own titanic breath had led to Commander Fluffy’s untimely demise, but even to this day I will never forget his poignant eulogy, as my brother put it so eloquently at the time of Fluffy’s passing: “Tory, you’re searching through your poo with a q-tip until you find Commander Fluffy!”

Toren’s Guide to Star Trek Voyager Season 7

Click here for Season 1
Click here for Season 2
Click here for season 3
Click here for Season 4
Click here for Season 5
Click here for Season 6

UNIMATRIX ZERO PART 2

Oh snap you think that Tuvok, B’elanna aknd Janeway are borgified but they still have their individuality thanks to the Doctor! The queen threatens to destroy the entire borg collective which for some reason makes Janeway worried for a second. Seven kisses her literal dream man. 5/10

IMPERFECTION

All the wee borgs are taken away to live their lives except Icheb. Then Seven’s important borg bit fails and she will die if they don’t get a replacement from some other borg. Dead drones don’t work so Icheb gives up his, which he of course can get along without because he’s immature or something. 6.7/10

DRIVE

I thought B’elanna and Tom were already married but I guess not, so Tom proposes just when B’Elanna thinks it’s not going to work out between them because Tom loves racing more than her. 6/10

REPRESSION

Some ridiculous Maquis Bajoran mind control expert did a number on Tuvok years ago and now he’s spreading his mind control to all the Maquis on board until they mutiny and take over Voyager. It’s the Manchurian Candidate in space! Also we learn that there have been Bolians on board, I guess they were hiding for 7 years. 5.5/10

CRITICAL CARE

The Doctor is stolen and ends up in a hospital that gives medicine that could cure fatal disease lower class to the upper class that merely extends their lives. The Doctor is on ethically shaky ground when he breaks the rules to … 8/10

INSIDE MAN

Deanna Troi sets up Lt. Barclay on a date. But before that, an evil, cleavage-sporting dabo girl working with the Ferengi appropriates Barclay’s hologram that he sent to Voyager, so that the Ferengi can get Seven’s nanoprobes via a “geodesic fold” which will kill the crew. Kim eats green pie at the end. A bit anticlimactic but not bad. 7/10.

BODY AND SOUL

 

Doctor in Seven’s Body 7/10

NIGHTINGALE

Kim commands an alien vessel 5/10

FLESH AND BLOOD

Holograms revenge against hirogen 7/10

SHATTERED

Oh no! Another space cloud! This time it causes different parts of the ship to exist in various time periods, and only Chakotay can pass through. It’s like a clip show from previous seasons but he interacts with them. Also we get to see Voyager in the future with a grown up Naomi Wildman, which we know will never come true because of what happens in the series finale. Not bad at all, really! 7.3/10

LINEAGE

B’Elanna is pregnant and she wants to make the baby non-Klingon because of daddy issues. 8/10

REPENTANCE

prisoner is cured 7.5/10

PROPHECY

Klingons in the delta quadrant, of course they meet Voyager, why not? It’s all part of a Klingon prophecy, so that works out. Tom accepts a bat’leth duel and Neelix gets laid. 6/10

THE VOID

Janeway makes a mini Federation to get out of the void 7/10

WORKFORCE

Crew abducted, the Doctor becomes a command program. Janeway falls in love. 7/10

HUMAN ERROR

Seven neglects her duties and gets it on with holo-Chakotay. 6.5/10

Q2

In a rehash of “Q Who” a Q has to learn how to be a decent entity by becoming human. 7/10

AUTHOR, AUTHOR

 

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

FRIENDSHIP ONE

10

NATURAL LAW

oh no!/10

HOMESTEAD

Goodbye Neelix

RENAISSANCE MAN

Sabotage traitor!/10

ENDGAME

so long! /10

 

Toren Has a Quest for You in Fallout 4 "Musician's Mod"

toast0
There are two locations in the Commonwealth wasteland that are very appropriately named for your favourite Lovecraftian rock band. Toren can be found at one of them. Fulfil his quest!

What if I told you that you could meet The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets’ singer Toren in the Boston Wasteland and hear exclusive Thickets tunes on the radio in Fallout 4? 

It’s true!

Thanks to our skilled superfan John Peacock and Dave Johnson, the “Musicians Mod” adds a radio station in the town of Goodneighbor. Once you complete the quests, including one given to you by Toren to find Mario’s guitar, you can listen to the new radio station which includes (among many other bands) four acoustic Thickets songs – both old and new – made exclusively for this Fallout mod, as well as the Spaceship Zero radio plays. You can also find Thickets clothing for your character to wear. Plus Toren provides a number of voices, both on the radio and in the wasteland.

Also, Three Dog is back! Check out this video to see what it’s all about and the cool features:

Check out that tentacular Thickets t-shirt! 

The mod is available for Xbox 1 and PC. PS4 gamers will have to wait a bit longer. Crawl out through the fallout and follow the links below!

Bethesda XB1: https://mods.bethesda.net/#en/workshop/fallout4/mod-detail/2114472

Bethesda PC (pending): https://mods.bethesda.net/#en/workshop/fallout4/mod-detail/3073130

Nexus PC: http://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/19900/

You can also comment on Reddit: https://redd.it/5c9aj7

Toren swears he did not kill and eat the rest of his band.
Toren swears he did not kill and eat the rest of his band.

 

THE ORCS ARE CHARGING! A Gamer’s Guide to Battle Music Curated by Toren Atkinson

So you’re running a D&D game and you want some suggestions for background battle music? I’m here to help. I’ve been running D&D for decades and I think these will help.

Now these are not the songs that you play while the players are plotting their next move at the inn, or tending their wounds between battles. These are tracks to use when the dragon bursts out of the keep or the goblins start poring out of shrubs!

All Drums Go To Hell: “Barrage of Noise”
These are short!
See also “Norwegian Devil” “Armored Cars” “Code of Honor” “Death Came Early That Year” “Guerilla Raid” and “Images of Horror”


Continue reading “THE ORCS ARE CHARGING! A Gamer’s Guide to Battle Music Curated by Toren Atkinson”

Toren’s Guide to Star Trek: Voyager Season 6

Click here for Season 1
Click here for Season 2
Click here for season 3
Click here for Season 4
Click here for Season 5
Click here for Season 7

EQUINOX PART 2

Starfleet Captain Ransom, also stranded in the Delta Quadrant, is doing bad things and violated the prime directive. Janeway goes crazy koo-koo and prioritizes laying down the law on Ransom rather than defending her own crew from dimensional shamblers. Meanwhile, evil Doctor is over the top. 6/10

SURVIVAL INSTINCT

You thought Seven was the only borg separated by the collective! Because they keep saying that. However, by sheer coincidence she comes into contact with three other ex-borg who aren’t linked to the collective but are constantly nightmarishly linked to each others thoughts. Doctor severs their link but gives them only a month to live. The Bajoran ex-drone decides to spend her remaining days aboard the ship. We never hear about her again. 6.6/10
Continue reading “Toren’s Guide to Star Trek: Voyager Season 6”

Toren's Resto Rants: El Santo

“A Rip off” – Mom

El Santo (Mexican Restaurant)

Their blurb:  Contemporary. Social. Fresh. A restaurant experience that’s uniquely New West. This is a place for you to unwind. … And most importantly, to leave satisfied and happy.

MENU

Address: 680 Columbia Street, New Westminster, BC
Open 11:30am – 10pm
Booths? Yes.
When I dined: 6:30pm on a Thursday
Noisy? Very
Candies with your bill? Tiny spicy marshmallows
Lives up to it’s name? El Santo translates to “The Saint.” So…no.

My dear old Ma floated in to town on a cruise with a bunch of old folks. Her submarine parked in New Westminster and she asked me to come out for dinner. I skytrained out and met her at her hotel, which has a Boathouse Restaurant attached. The Boathouse got crap reviews so I polled my facebook feed to see what other dining venue we might explore. The top two suggestions were Re-Up BBQ and El Santo. I was warned Re-Up was not a sit-down restaurant so Mom opted for El Santo.

Entering the restaurant, it looked nice. They had big green booths where I wanted to sit. They did not sit us there. They had smaller tables isolated from other patrons where I wanted to sit. They did not sit us there. They sat us next to a couple who were ignoring their churros.

The menus were a bit of a chore to get through, especially if you don’t know Spanish – with the additional confusion of having a bunch of French words mixed in. The menus come on a clipboard with three sheets. To get to page 2 and 3 of the menu I had to unclip them all and suddenly I now have to clean up the table. More tragically for me, as I don’t really drink, those pages were all booze. Oh, I should probably say that part of the recommendation from my friends were the drinks. So maybe those would have been great…if I had come to New West to get drunk with my mom.

There was a starters section on the menu AND a ‘shared plates’ section AND a “to share…or not to share” section. Without looking too closely Mom assumed the $26 pollo a la granada (chicken & corn bread) plate would be ok for two people, not a terrible unreasonable assumption since the word “share” was used on the menu, and it was more than 15 bucks. I suggested ordering something else and Mom said we can order more later if we’re still hungry. When the entree showed up it clearly was not suitable for two people. The food was all prepared well and tasty. But while we were waiting the 20+ minutes for our dish a trio of musicians set up and started playing. We couldn’t hear each other. If ordering more food meant waiting another 20 minutes without being able to carry on a conversation, we couldn’t wait to get out.

BUT I had already ordered dessert, which came promptly. The chocolate empanadas were outstanding. $8 but worth it. Also could have been a bit bigger but maybe that was because the entree was so meager. Tough luck for you if you want to try this dish, as I was warned they’d be off the menu by the time you read this.

The single person bathrooms were fine and welcomed as always, except I couldn’t tell if the door was locked when I was in there, as there did not seem to be any visible mechanism. Luckily since I was only there to wash my hands after touching every clammy metal bar on the skytrain, there was no chance of Jonny Rando busting in on me with my knickers down. The downside of the single person bathroom is that after you have to put your freshly washed hand onto the doorknob to escape. Did you know that according to some probably flawed data I found on the Daily Mail site, 62% of men don’t wash their hands after going to the bathroom? I couldn’t even use a paper towel as a makeshift glove to open the door, since the method of hand drying there is the space-age air-blowing dealio.

The service was very pleasant and efficient. Water flowed freely. The food while expensive was good, but this dining experience just didn’t work for us. As we walked back to my Mom’s hotel we passed Re-Up BBQ, which was just about to close up. We could have had some $10 beef brisket and enjoyed the ample seating and quietness. Next time.

Biggest Rave: Besides the dessert… the paper napkins were stellar. Firm, sturdy, and pleasant to the touch. We got three and Mom pocketed two of them. True story.

Biggest Rant: I don’t mean to single out El Santo for this, but why when there are five tables in a row does the hostperson have to sit me next to the one table that is already occupied by a couple? I don’t want to hear their conversations, and I’m damn hell ass sure they don’t want to hear mine. Put me at least one table away so I don’t have to suffer from conversational overflow. Also…restaurants with live music – cut it out.

Toren’s Guide to Star Trek Voyager: Season 5

Click here for Season 1
Click here for Season 2
Click here for season 3
Click here for Season 4
Click here for Season 6
Click here for Season 7

NIGHT

The guys who seem evil are good, and the guys who seem good are evil. Janeway becomes a seclusive weirdo who won’t come out of her ready room or see any of the crew. That seems like grounds for dismissal but luckily I’m not a counsellor or doctor so yeah, go nuts Janeway. Also did you know that space can be polluted with radiation? 5.5/10

DRONE

Ensign Mulcahey, Seven’s nanoprobes and the Doctors mobile emitter have a baby. Bit of a rehash of “I, Borg” from TNG with Seven in the mix. 6.9/10
Continue reading “Toren’s Guide to Star Trek Voyager: Season 5”

Toren’s Guide to Star Trek: Voyager Season 4

Click here for Season 1
Click here for Season 2
Click here for season 3
Click here for Season 5
Click here for Season 6
Click here for Season 7

SCORPION PART 2

The Borg send a drone that just happens to be human to work with the Voyager crew on a weapon that can defeat their nemesis, Species 8472. Despite the fact that they are from another dimension, Kes communicates with them telepathically. The Voyager-Borg alliance prevails but the borg double-cross forces Janeway to destroy all but Seven of Nine. 6.5/10

THE GIFT

Once stripped of her human identity by the borg, Seven now has her borg identity stripped by Janeway. This causes an ethical dilemma for The Doctor but luckily not for Janeway. Meanwhile Kes’ mental powers are blossoming dangerously and we finally get a conversation between Neelix and Kes about their mysterious breakup. Kes explodes into who-knows-where but not before sending the ship out of Borg space with her powers. 6.5/10

DAY OF HONOR

Paris and B’ellana get mushy in space suits while marooned in space. 5/10
Continue reading “Toren’s Guide to Star Trek: Voyager Season 4”

Top 3 Star Trek: Animated Episodes

A few facts about the 1973-1974 Star Trek: The Animated Series:

  • All the original series actors returned to voice their characters except for Walter Koenig, who was not asked for budgetary reasons. James Doohan did several ancillary characters.
  • It was produced by Filmation, the same studio that brought us He-Man and Fat Albert.
  • It was the first Star Trek series to win an Emmy Award.
  • The animated series introduced the concept of the Holodeck, best known from ST:TNG and introduced Kirk’s middle name as Tiberius.
  • Two new alien crew members were introduced (to replace Chekov) – the feline Lt. M’Ress and the orange, six-limbed Lt. Arex.

toastThe Slaver Weapon

Season 1 episode 14

Written by Larry “Ringworld” Niven, who I kind of interviewed on my podcast Caustic Soda. He incorporated his own “Known Space” mythos including the cat-like Kzinti. Spock, Sulu and Uhura are captured and have to prevent an ancient weapon from falling into the hands of the Kzinti. Rather unfortunately, in my opinion, instead of having the characters wear space suits on the inhospitable alien planet, the series uses the very cheaty “life support belts.” The only Kirk-era episode of any series to not include Kirk! Alan Dean Foster adapted this episode into a full length novel.

toastYesteryear

Season 1 episode 2

Spock uses the Guardian of Forever – which was introduced in the classic series episode “City on the Edge of Forever” – to travel back in time to when he was a child on Vulcan and prevent his own death. Written by Dorothy DC Fontana who wrote many great original series episodes, and Mark Lenard reprises his role as Spock’s pappy, Sarek. Keep your eye out for the Enterprise’s Andorian first officer and the introduction of the Vulcan animal sehlat which they brought back for the ST: Enterprise episode “The Forge.”

toastThe Survivor 

Season 1 episode 6

A missing Federation philanthropist is found on a damaged spacecraft and reunited with his old flame aboard the Enterprise, but he is not what he seems. Also he has a crazy space moustache and cravat tie. Here we get an idea of the kind of alien they could do in a cartoon but never in the original live action series. Carter Winston was voiced by Ted Knight (Mary Tyler Moore, Caddyshack)

 

Resto-Rants: Seasons In The Park

If you didn’t enter this restaurant with a reservation, you’ll have plenty of them by the time your meal is served.

Seasons In the Park

Their blurb: none, thankfully.

MENU

Address: West 33rd Avenue and Cambie Street, Vancouver, BC
Open 11:30am – 10pm
Booths? No
When I dined: Victoria Day (Monday) at 2pm
Noisy? No
Candies with your bill? No
Lives up to it’s name? Seasons? The service made me think of a long cold winter, and the food had all the freshness of autumn. Spring and summer were not present.

I came here with a friend and her family, four adult diners. When we arrived on time for our reservation the hostess was expecting 3 adults and a child, but that got sorted without difficulty and we were seated by the window overlooking the park and with a view of the city. This is the selling point of the restaurant I suppose, and luckily the staff can’t fuck that up short of pulling some blinds down.

It wasn’t very busy when we arrived and it became less so as we waited. It was some time before our server showed up and while he was very pleasant, his presence was frequently missed. Throughout the visit I pined over my oft-empty glass of formerly water.

We ordered the vegetarian tasting board, which was the only item to arrive promptly. Everything on the board was listed on the menu but it was mostly very sad. The grilled asparagus, as lifeless as it was, was still probably the highlight of the dish. A tiny bowl of mixed nuts and tiny salty pickles made me shake my head. There were only three small pieces of bread that came with. If it weren’t for the complimentary bread that came some minutes afterward, we would have had to dig in to the mediocre camponata and hummus and eat it off our cutlery or filthy fingers. That complimentary bread, by the way, was good and warm, but the butter that came with was cold and hard, prompting me to tear open the bread and bury a chunk of butter inside the bread in a vain hope that the butter would at some point become spreadable.

The QE Burger, according to my friend, was ok – not great. I tried one of his fries and they were nothing to write home about. The brunch pizza with roast potatoes, egg, bacon and onions sounded and looked promising, but a bland, floppy crust neutered it. Only the zesty dill cream cheese offered any redemption there. Apparently the seafood linguine carbonara was the winning dish of the meal, but since I don’t eat seafood I didn’t touch it. My loss.

My own food consisted of two items.

Firstly, cauliflower gratin, which was reasonably priced for brunch but was seriously underwhelming. I left half of it uneaten.

The lowlight of the meal was, for me, easily the stir-fried chicken with soy sesame sauce. Friends, I am here to tell you, this dish was an insult to my mouth, my pocketbook and probably all Asians everywhere. You know that hole-in-the-wall Chinese fast-food joint Buddha’s Orient Express at the Commercial/Broadway skytrain station? The place that is basically mall food fair Chinese “cuisine” but not as good as most mall food fair fare? Season’s was a quarter step above that. Now I don’t consider myself a food snob – maybe you like Buddha’s Orient Express and if you do, more power too you. But I ate there once. ONCE. And Season in the Park’s stir-fried chicken with soy sesame sauce is some low budget sloppy-ass prison food.

DO NOT RECOMMEND.

Biggest Rave: Now that I have experienced the view and the lackluster food here I can look forward to a bright future of never having to come here again.

Biggest Rant: The menu here is more expensive than I’m used to, so I hoped that the food and service would match the cost. My hopes were drawn and quartered. Before I got my food, I held great resentment for the couple next to us who arrived well after we did and were served their food well before us. After I got my food, I held great resentment to everyone else.

Enjoyed this review? Check out all my Vancouver restaurant reviews at http://www.thickets.net/toren/category/resto-rants/